HC Deb 22 October 1942 vol 383 cc2145-6W
Sir H. Williams

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the congested travelling conditions in respect of long distance railway travel arises mainly from the travelling on leave of Service men and women and of civilian workers directed to work away from home; and whether, in these circumstances, he will represent to the Service Ministers and the Ministry of Labour the importance of posting as many persons as possible near to their own homes?

Mr. Noel-Baker

My Department is constantly in touch with the Service Departments and the Ministry of Labour and National Service with the object of avoiding all unnecessary travel; but it would not be practicable or consistent with the needs of either operational or training requirements to insist that Service personnel must be stationed near their own homes. In the case of civilian workers, the considerations to which the hon. Member refers are taken into account as far as practicable, but the needs of war industry must be paramount.

Mr. G. Griffiths

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the inconvenience caused to troops through the absence of any catering arrangements on long-distance trains and the fact that through these trains not running to time it is often impossible to obtain refreshments at station canteens, he will consider asking the Young Men's Christian Association and the Salvation Army to run canteens on these trains for the use of troops only?

Mr. Noel-Baker

My hon. Friend's proposal would involve the re-introduction of restaurant or buffet cars. This would inevitably reduce the carrying capacity of the trains. I regret that in view of the present restricted services and the increasingly heavy traffic which must be expected, I do not think it possible to adopt it. I would remind my hon. Friend, however, that Army and R.A.F. personnel who are travelling on leave or on duty, are given rations for their journeys, while special arrangements are made for the provision of meals for naval personnel travelling long distances on duty.