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Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 7 July 1954

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Passenger Charges Schemes (Objections)


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.

Scottish Airfields (Passengers And Freight)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give figures to show the increased use, both passenger and goods, made of East of Scotland airfields during the last six months, as compared with 1953; and what further expansion he anticipates in the immediate future.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
(Mr. John Profumo)

In the six months ending May, 1954, 62,300 passengers and 232 tons of freight were handled at aerodromes in the eastern half of Scotland. This compares with 56,800 passengers and 233 tons of freight in the six months ending May, 1953. So far as I can foresee, the annual increase of about 10 per cent. in passenger traffic over 1953 will continue into the immediate future.

Anything which helps to increase the movements of civil aviation will always have tributes paid to it by my right hon. Friend.

Can my hon. Friend say how much of this traffic figure passes through the airport of Errol?

Requisitioned Properties


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many properties are still held under requisition by his Department; if he will order a new investigation into the circumstances of each case; and if he will take steps to ensure that the rights of the original owner, or owners, are safeguarded whenever a sale is contemplated.

Seventy-seven, of which 67 are bombed sites used temporarily as car parks which would otherwise be put to no useful purpose. These will be restored to their owners as soon as they obtain building licences. In addition, the Air Ministry holds on requisition on my behalf 70 properties used for aerodrome purposes and 57 small sites for navigational aids. The position is under continual review so that these properties, if not to be purchased or leased, are returned as soon as possible to their owners or the requisitioning authority. I have no power to sell property held on requisition.

Will my right hon. Friend not relax his efforts to divest himself of these properties in spite of the fact that his Department is in a much more favourable position than some other Departments?

I keep a constant watch on this, but a large number of these properties are round about most important aerodromes which are used by the general public of the country.

Smoke Pollution (Chalk Farm)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why he has refused to receive a deputation from St. Pancras Borough Council, including the hon. Members for Holborn and St. Pancras, South, and for St. Pancras, North, to discuss the question of authorisation of additional capital required by the British Transport Commission to deal with smoke pollution at Chalk Farm.

I am sorry about conditions at Chalk Farm. I know that the St. Pancras Public Health Committee have had a very full discussion of the problem with a senior railway officer and the British Transport Commission have promised to do all they can to reduce the smoke and grit. But what the council raised with me was the electrification of the whole railway system out of Euston. This is clearly a far wider question, and I do not think it would help for me to receive a deputation from them about this. But I would be very ready to meet the hon. Members concerned and discuss the problem with them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that it was arising out of a meeting with the British Railway representatives that the council were told that only major capital which the Minister could authorise would solve this intolerable nuisance at Chalk Farm, that a request for the deputation was then made, and will he not reconsider asking not only my hon. Friend and myself but representatives of the borough council as well to see him and so try to redeem his earlier discourtesy in this matter?

There is no discourtesy, but the question of the electrification of the whole of the former London, Midland and Scottish system is not one that can properly be discussed by the Minister with a local authority, however important. I am very ready to see the Members of Parliament concerned and explain the difficulties to them, also my constitutional position, and listen to what they have to say.

Traffic Receipts

50 and 51.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (1) if he will give the net traffic receipts for British Railways for the year 1953;

(2) if he will give the net traffic receipts for British Road Services for the year 1953.

These and other figures which, taken together, represent the financial results of the British Transport Commission for the year 1953 will be contained in the Commission's annual report which will be laid before the House as soon as it is printed. I do not think it would be right to extract isolated figures, such as the net traffic receipts of particular sections of the undertaking, in advance of the report and accounts as a whole.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when this report will be available to hon. Members for study?

The British Transport Commission informed me that, owing to its preoccupation with the railway re-organisation scheme and the merchandise charges scheme, it regretted that the report will be issued a little later this year than in the last few years. I hope that it will come along fairly soon.

Passenger Service Vehicles (Private Hire)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when he proposes to introduce legislation to amend the existing law, in view of the uncertainty which exists throughout the road passenger industry at the present time concerning the operation of passenger service vehicles on private hire work in consideration of the payment of separate fares.

I hope to introduce such legislation at the earliest opportunity that the Parliamentary time-table permits.

Public Transport (Section 72 Prosecutions)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will furnish particulars of prosecutions instigated by his Department during the last two years for alleged contraventions of the provision of Section 72 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, against companies owned or controlled by the British Transport Commission, companies owned or controlled by the British Electric Traction Company Limited, and other operators, respectively.

One thousand and seventy-four prosecutions were undertaken by the licensing authorities for public service vehicles in the two years ended 31st March, 1954, for contraventions of Section 72 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930. I am afraid it would not be possible to break down this total in the manner desired by the hon. Member without considerable research.

Transport Commission (Pensions Scheme)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will now make a statement about the establishment of a pension scheme for wages grades employed by the British Transport Commission.


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether the details of the new pension scheme for railway wage grades have yet been agreed by the British Transport Commission and the trade unions; and whether he will make the full scheme available to hon. Members at the earliest possible moment.

I am very glad to inform the House that, following complete agreement between the British Transport Commission and the trade unions upon the terms of a pension scheme for male wages grades, I have made Regulations establishing this scheme as from 1st October next. These Regulations have been laid before Parliament today and copies will be available to hon. Members. The scheme provides a pension of 30s. a week at 65 after 40 years' membership, with a further 10s. for certain senior grades. With permission, I will circulate a summary of the main provisions in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement will give great satisfaction to all those concerned?

Will the Minister take note of the fact that it is not until we get public ownership of the transport industry that it is possible to get a pensions scheme for wages grades?

I take notice of the fact that nothing happened in the six years of Socialist Government.

Following is the Summary:

The Scheme applies to British Transport Commission male wages grade staff in the service of British Railways, the Docks and Inland Waterways, the Hotels and Catering Services, the London Transport Executive, and at Headquarters.

The Scheme, which commences on 1st October, 1954, is in two parts: Section A—the main scheme—and Section B—additional pension for certain senior grades.

Membership: Compulsory for new entrants to the service; optional for existing employees.

Persons eligible: Section A—new entrants—appointed whole-time employees aged 21 to 45 after 12 months' service. Existing staff will have a six-months' option to join, if they have completed or can complete 20 years' service by age 65. Section B—persons joining Section A who are employed in the senior grades listed in the First Schedule to the Scheme.

Members' Contributions: Section A—1s. 8d. a week for entrant at age 21 rising to 2s. 5d. for entrant at age 54 or over. Section B—additional contribution from 8d. to 11d. a week according to age at entry.

Minimum pensionable age: 65.

Pension at minimum pensionable age: Section A—30s. a week after 40 years' membership, diminished proportionately for shorter membership. Section B—additional 10s. a week after 35 years' membership of Section B, diminished proportionately for shorter membership.

Back-service credit: Existing employees aged 52 and over joining Section A will be given credit (at the cost of the Commission) to secure a minimum pension of 9s. 9d. a week at age 65.

Deferred retirement: Normal pension increased by 1/15th of Section A pension and 1/10th of Section B pension for each year's service after 65 up to a maximum of 5 increases.

Ill-health retirement: After 10 years' membership, proportionate pension based on years of membership; under 10 years' membership, return of contributions with interest.

Death benefit: Lump sum payment representing approximately return of member's contributions with compound interest.

Transfers: A transfer value will be paid to the salaried staff scheme when a member of the wages grade scheme is promoted and enters the salaried staff scheme. A transfer value will also be paid where a member with 10 years' membership leaves the Commission's service and enters other employment in respect of which there are reciprocal arrangements for transfer of pension rights. There is provision for acceptance of transfer values from other schemes and for the employees concerned to enter the Commission's scheme with waiver of age limit.

Administration: The Scheme will be administered by a Central Committee of 20 persons, 10 appointed by the Commission and 10 nominated by the Trade Unions.

Review: In the event of changes in National Insurance pension conditions the Commission are to review the Scheme and if necessary request the Minister to amend the rules.

Set-off of Existing Wages Grades Pension Rights: Any benefits which the Commission are at present liable to provide under existing wages grade schemes or customary practice for existing staff who join the new Scheme will be set off against the Commission's share of the benefits due to those persons under the new Scheme.

Division of Cost: Apart from the cost of back service credit, which is borne by the Commission, benefits are provided as to one-half by the employee's contributions and as to one-half by the Commission. The cost of administration will be borne by the Commission.