asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the report of the Transport Commission for 1949.
asked the Minister of Transport when he proposes to publish the British Transport Commission's annual report for 1949.
I am informed that the preparation of the report and statement of accounts of the British Transport Commission for 1949 is now almost complete and that the printing of it is well in hand. I hope to make formal arrangements for its presentation to the House before the Summer Recess and to publish it in September.
Do I understand that it will be in the hands of Members before we rise for the Summer Recess?
Not the actual accounts. We very much regret that it has not been possible to put them through and to publish them in time for the Summer Recess.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is putting the House in a really intolerable position? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Certainly. The idea was that these accounts should be debated. If the accounts for 1949 are not available to the House until September of 1950 it puts the House into an impossible position, because we cannot discuss them. Will the right hon. Gentleman convey our displeasure to Lord Hurcomb?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is likely to be again a most voluminous report, requiring a great deal of study, and that if hon. Members are to learn about integration they will require the best part of their Summer holidays in which to make the study? Will he bear that in mind?
Apparently our arrangements fit in with that request.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many private companies carrying on much smaller businesses are only now publishing their accounts for the calendar year 1947?
Did I understand the Minister to say that the printing is now well in hand, but that the documents will not be printed until September? Is that what he said?
That is a bit surprising.
It was desirable that, if possible, we should have had these accounts presented before the House rises for the Summer Recess. That would have been a great convenience for Members. Subsequently, that was found to be impossible. There have been special difficulties just now. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] One factor has been that the principal finance officers have been involved very considerably in the London interim charges scheme. That has altered the date. It is a very voluminous report. The Commission try to give hon. Members and the public full information, and I think they have done their best in very difficult circumstances.
Is the right hon. Gentleman now telling the House that the finance officers of the Commission are so busy asking for even higher charges for 1950 that they have not got time to produce the accounts for 1949?
This is a very awkward situation we have got into. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider if it is possible to separate the report and the accounts and publish them separately? Will that expedite things?
As to whether anything of that description is necessary in the future, at the moment, of course, I should not like to commit myself. I think that this matter has been unduly exaggerated. We could not have discussed the report probably this side of the Summer Recess, and I think it is very essential that these accounts and reports should be completed before they are finally published.