asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he can make a statement regarding increased rates and fares on the ferry service between North and South Queensferry?
The ferry service between North and South Queensferry is operated by a private firm under agreement with the London and North Eastern Railway Company. The operators are entitled, under this agreement, to make charges not exceeding those for which the Company have statutory authority. The recent increase of 10 per cent. brings the total increase over pre-war charges to 20 per cent. on motor goods vehicles and 25 per cent. on other traffic, but the firm have, where necessary, so limited the increase made as to keep the new charges within the statutory maxima. My hon. Friend will understand that the increase did not require any authorisation by my Noble Friend. From such financial information as I have so far received, however, I am not satisfied that the increase is justified, and I am calling upon the operators to show reason why it should not now be withdrawn. If they cannot show good reason, and are not prepared to withdraw the increase, I will consider whether action can be taken under Defence Regulations.
While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him to recognise that there is a strong opinion that the increase in these charges does not add to the revenue of the ferry but actually decreases it?
I know that is a point that is made, but I am not quite satisfied it is right, and there are other points about which I am not quite satisfied. I have given the hon. Member my present opinion.