asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he has any statement to make respecting first-class and third-class railway travelling so as to remove the distinction between the two which is causing trouble and inconvenience at the present time and preventing the full use of seating accommodation?
My hon. Friend is, no doubt, aware that first-class accommodation has been withdrawn in many areas for short-distance travel. The reasons for its maintenance on long-distance trains still hold good. On the whole, I consider that the present arrangements are working well, and I have not received any evidence which supports my hon. Friend's suggestion that full use is not being made of the available seating accommodation on the trains.
My hon. Friend's experience is not like mine. I travel pretty frequently to and from London and I see the difference between first and third-class compartments. If the first-class accommodation was fully utilised one could agree with my hon. Friend but it is not.
If my hon. Friend can send me evidence of the non-utilisation of any first-class accommodation I will have it looked into. It is a very difficult matter but I think that in very difficult circumstances the railway staff are doing pretty well.
When I have taken a first-class ticket I have never travelled with less than six or eight people, sometimes 10, in the compartment, and the first-class accommodation has been fully used.