asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport what is the size of the staff employed in the statistics section of the Ministry; whether the rates tribunal have been consulted as to what figures they may and do require; and whether the Railway Clearing House is able to supply statistics on all rating matters.
The number of officials of all grades employed in the statistics section of the Ministry at the present time is 31. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to Section 22 (2) of the Railways Act of last year, which provides that the Minister shall give to the rates tribunal such assistance as the tribunal may require, and shall place at the disposal of the tribunal any information in his possession which he may think relevant to the matter before the tribunal. The statistics referred to are essential to the proper carrying out of this duty imposed by Parliament upon the Minister. I am not aware that, apart from the returns required by the Minister under his statutory power, the Railway Clearing House is in a position to supply all relevant statistics on matters affecting rates and fares, and, in addition, I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that it is necessary that such information should be made available to the traders and to the public generally.
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the discussion on these statistics during the proceedings on the Railways Bill last Session before Standing Committee B, of which he was a member. I would also refer him to the answer given to a somewhat similar question by the hon. and gallant Member for Clackmannan on the 20th instant.