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Passenger Charges Schemes (Objections)

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 7 July 1954

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34.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will introduce legislation to amend Section 78 of the Transport Act, 1947, in order to ensure more effective publicity in connection with the lodging of objections with the Transport Tribunal to any new British Transport Commission (Passenger) Charges Scheme.

Is the Minister aware of the circumstances in which the objection of the London Passenger Association to the recent fares increase by the London Transport Board was not heard by the Tribunal? Does this not indicate that the publicity arrangements are not satisfactory? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider urging the Tribunal to improve them and, possibly, to use the same kind of arrangements as are used by licensing authorities in similar circumstances in the provinces?

The association concerned, whose late application was rejected by the Transport Tribunal, is, I think, well aware of the procedure, having lodged objections on previous occasions and having been heard. The requirements are laid down in the Transport Act, 1947, and the Transport Tribunal Rules, 1949, and, I think, are working quite smoothly.

Would the Minister not agree that, in view of the fact that this transport undertaking has a monopoly, it is most important that everything is done to ensure that travellers have the fullest opportunity of making objections when fares increases are contemplated?

Is the Minister aware that many of the public representations that are made to the Transport Tribunal are simply nonsense? Will he be behind the B.T.C. with a view to enabling the railways to have a square deal as far as their charges are concerned, in order that they may undertake capital development and provide decent wages and conditions for their employees? They are about the only section of people who are subject to so much public scrutiny before fares can be adjusted to meet increase in costs.

Is the Minister aware that the London County Council is very effectively appearing before the tribunal on behalf of the travelling public and that there may be others as well? Would he agree that it would be unfortunate if the idea were spread abroad that the travelling public's case was not being heard by the Tribunal?

I think the travelling public's case is being heard and the Tribunal have made several suggestions.