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British Transport Commission

Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission that it should deal with all complaints when informed that unsatisfactory replies have been received from the regions.

No, Sir. This is a matter of administration for the British Transport Commission to decide.

Is the Minister not aware that several Members of Parliament have received very discourteous replies from Dr. Beeching when they have put complaints to him? Is he aware that I have been told by Dr. Beeching that he has no time to deal with complaints and will I not trouble him further? Would it not be a good idea if the right hon. Gentleman told Dr. Beeching that one of the points of a public service is that it should serve the public?

I read part of a letter which Dr. Beeching sent to the hon. Member in The People on the same day that I read an article by the hon. Member. I read both most carefully. I believe that Dr. Beeching probably wants to delegate individual complaints so that he can concentrate on major policy. The larger the business the more important is the excellent principle of delegation.

While not being aware of the correspondence between my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) and Dr. Beeching, may I ask whether it is not the fact that in the past, under Sir Brian Robertson, the relationship between Members and the Chairman of the Commission have been extremely good and every courtesy has been extended to Members of the House? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter and ensure that the same tradition will continue under Dr. Beeching?

I am sure that Dr. Beeching will be courteous, but at the same time it is usual in major tasks to delegate questions of individual complaints. I think that that is a matter for Dr. Beeching's judgment.

Is it not true that the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer who have a large amount of work to do delegate functions but at the same time have time to answer Members?

That may be the case, but Dr. Beeching has taken over a large administration employing well over half a million people and this is a matter for him.