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Omnibus Facilities (Workers)

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 30 June 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that the withdrawal of unlimited travel facilities by the West Yorkshire Road Car Company, Limited, and other omnibus operators, increases the cost to the workers without curtailing travel, as most journeys made by contract tickets are unavoidable; and whether he will issue instructions that some other method of curtailing travel is to be sought?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

I regret that I cannot accept the assumptions made by my hon. Friend in his Question. The withdrawal of tickets allowing an unlimited number of journeys has undoubtedly reduced the amount of unnecessary travel and has, I believe, done so without causing any avoidable hardship. In the area to which my hon. Friend refers, multiple journey tickets or daily workmen's return tickets have been substituted for unlimited travel tickets. They are available on the outward journey up to 9 a.m. and are also provided for Sunday and night shift workers. Some workmen's tickets are cheaper and are available till a later hour than they were before. Similarly, for some tickets which allow six return journeys a week, the fare is less, while in others where there is an increase, the amount of the increase is very small.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the implication of his statement is that workmen will take their meals in restaurants instead of at home, thus throwing a burden on the Ministry of Food, and, further, is he aware that this step has caused great indignation, as has been shown by the many petitions and resolutions of councils?

I regret that we have had to make similar arrangements in many different parts of the country. They have caused a certain amount of inconvenience to begin with, but they were accepted as being necessary in the national interest.

Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter to see that workers are not charged more; under the new conditions and so that they can go back in the middle of the day?

As I have explained, in some cases workers are actually being charged less. Where the charge is higher it is only a very little higher, and I think that on the whole it has come out extremely well.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that facilities are adequate, especially in the Elland Division, where they are all cross-country and there is no real sectional transport road?

The definition of the word "adequate" varies according to what the hon. Member has in mind. Unfortunately, we have to do the best we can with our limited resources, and we have to hold the balance equally between the different areas.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some workers are paying 16 guineas a year more under the new travel system?