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Sleeping Facilities

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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asked the Minister of War Transport what priorities are still observed in regard to first and third class sleepers.


asked the Minister of War Transport if now that the war is over, he will cancel immediately the priority for Government officials booking sleeping berths in railways trains.

Since 17th September, about 50 per cent. of all first class and 75 per cent. of all third class sleeping berths on trains have been available for booking by the public through the Railway Companies. The percentage varies on the different routes. The remainder are reserved for allocation to Members of Parliament travelling between London and their constituencies or elsewhere on the business of the House, and to persons travelling on urgent business of national importance where the journey must necessarily be made at night and is sponsored by the Government Department concerned. Only a small proportion of the priority berths is in fact allocated to Government officials, and only senior officials are eligible for them.

Why should there be any such priorities now—that is, barring present company, of course—since they must be at the expense of the ordinary citizen, and surely at this time the ordinary citizen should have some of his rights restored to him?

I would like to remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the facilities afforded to the general travelling public have been considerably increased, and when the matter of priorities is being considered by this House the House must bear in mind its own position with regard to facilities for its own Members travelling to and from their constituencies.

Is it not true that the medical profession are now very helpful to the general public in providing medical certificates for persons to travel, and undoubtedly the Minister of War Transport is helping to carry people who are supposed to be sick but who are not?

I am afraid I cannot enter into a question concerning certificates issued by medical specialists.

Why should there be any priority at all? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that business men engaged on vital and important business necessary to this country cannot keep their business appointments? Why should not Government officials, however small the percentage, be treated like ordinary mortals?

The hon. Gentleman will probably be surprised to know that the majority of the priority reservations issued from this Department is for business personnel.