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Travel Facilities (Members)

Volume 895: debated on Monday 7 July 1975

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asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will arrange for similar travel facilities as are available to staff of the House of Commons after late sittings to be available to those Members who wish to use them.

I recognise that late sittings impose a heavy burden on many Members. The arrangements that operate for members of staff would probably not be ideal for Members, but if there is strong feeling on this I will consider it.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that those who have constituencies a considerable distance from the House are forced in present circumstances, when there is a late sitting, either to possess two cars, which is beyond the means of most of us, or to travel home by taxi, for which at most we can claim 7ยท7p per mile? Is he aware that that is not adequate and we should be glad if he would do something about it?

May I, for the benefit of hon. Members, make the position quite clear, because my hon. Friend did not get it quite right? Perhaps I may put on record exactly what is the present position.

Hon. Members travelling home by their own cars may receive the car allowance. Hon. Members going home by taxi can claim the car allowance and charge any difference between the taxi fare and the car allowance against tax liabilities. Hon. Members who travel by rail can use warrants. Bus fares paid to get home can be reimbursed. Hon. Members can use their travel allowance to enable them to travel either to and from their constituencies or in London. A scheme was introduced on 17th March 1947 but it was so unsuccessful that it was suspended on 23rd April 1947.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be careful to avoid any further measures which tend to equate hon. Members of this House with paid servants of the Crown?

Without commenting on that, what I said was that if there was a general demand for me to look at it I should be prepared to do so. I have looked carefully at the scheme introduced in 1947. It was very difficult to organise, and in the end it had to be abandoned.