asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will reduce the number of railway porters waiting in order to reserve first-class seats at Euston and London Road Station, Manchester; why they are allowed to carry light suitcases and use trucks for the carrying of personal luggage while men and women of the Armed Forces have to carry their kit and equipment and women have to carry their young children, and other cases; and what action he intends to take?
I am assured by the competent authorities that the number of porters at these stations is not excessive in view of the various duties which they have to perform. Their services are available to all travellers, both Services and civilian alike. Inquiries have shown that more third- than first-class passengers ask porters to help them to carry their luggage, and that a high proportion of those who do so belong to the Armed Forces. As I have just told my hon. Friend, instructions have been given to porters that they are not to reserve seats for passengers either in first- or third-class carriages unless the passengers are themselves present when the luggage is placed on the seats. The porters regard it as part of their duty to assist passengers generally to find seats, and in particular to help invalids, children, and also passengers such as troops, for whom special accommodation may have been reserved.
I certainly wish to do everything to ease the burden on Service travellers, especially women Service travellers. We have been negotiating with the Service Departments in the hope that women will be allowed not to carry their kit with them every time they go on leave.