asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider the advisability of having Members supplied with railway season tickets instead of the present free ticket vouchers; whether he is aware that, for example, the cost of 60 return tickets between Manchester and London is £231 10s., as compared with £124 8s. 6d. for a year's contract; and whether His Majesty's Government would be able, as large traders with the railway companies, to obtain for Members traders' contracts at still less cost?
This matter is occupying my attention, but until further experience has been gained of the extent to which vouchers are used by Members of the present House I do not feel justified in recommending any change in the present system. I hope to re-examine the matter as soon as possible after the House rises for the Summer Recess. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on the 11th June to the hon. Member for North Bradford, of which I am sending him a copy.
Would the right hon. Gentleman circularise the Members of the House and ask them to state, approximately, how many journeys per annum they make between London and their constituencies in order to provide himself with the necessary information on which to base his decision?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the time taken up by going to the booking office and filling up the voucher, and then giving it in exchange for the ticket has on several occasions on a Friday afternoon led to hon. Members missing their trains?
The second supplementary question, if I may say so, rather supplies the answer to the first; because hon. Members are not, in advance, able to say they are going to travel, as it was found in the Parliament before the last when this matter was discussed. It is a natural tendency on the part of any Member to prefer a season ticket because it saves him the trouble of filling up the forms; at the same time it is not fair to the taxpayers of this country that they should be involved in the extra expense.
It will be time enough when we see that on the basis of the season tickets there will be a saving. So far as I can judge at the present time, season tickets, if applied generally, would mean an immense additional cost.