Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons (Late Night Transport)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th June 1947.

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Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey Rotherhithe 12:00 am, 10th June 1947

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will make a statement on the operation of the late night transport scheme for Members and others.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

Yes, Sir. Returns for the period up to 10th May show that on average, the number of Members using the buses was no more than 34, or about three per bus, and their fares have contributed only £45 towards the £394, which represents their share of the cost. The number of staff using the buses averaged £27. It was felt by the Government that, in these circumstances, continuance of the service could not be justified. The question whether any alternative facilities should be provided for the staff is now under consideration.

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey Rotherhithe

When will the Financial Secretary be in a position to let us know when this alternative scheme will be available, as there are still a number of Members, particularly on this side of the House, who require this alternative transport in the early morning?

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I am sorry that I am not in a position to give that information. I am unable to state a date, but we are doing our best to see whether an alternative form of service is possible.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

Is not the best way to deal with this problem to abolish late Sittings?

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Holderness

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury between what dates the special late omnibus service for hon. Members and staff of this House was operated; whether any financial loss was thereby sustained; and, if so, how much.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

The service was in operation between 17th March and 23rd May. Up to 10th May, the latest date for which figures are available, the excess of costs over receipts, was £750 13s. ld., of which £348 8s. 4d. was due to conveyance of Members.

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Holderness

May I ask whether this loss falls upon the taxpayer, and, if not, by whom it will be borne; and, secondly, whether these vehicles will now be transferred to the service of the noble Lords in another place, who, I understand, are now sitting inordinately late?

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

The answer to the first question is that we have agreed to a Supplementary Estimate to meet this, and it will be a matter for discussion when we come to consider the Estimates next time.

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Holderness

When this service was originally under consideration, did not the Financial Secretary say it existed on the basis that cost would fall on the taxpayer?

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

Yes, Sir, but I did say that we were working completely in the dark, that the service was an experimental one, and that we were basing the fares on what had been given to us as a reasonable basis, which would mean that Members would pay their proper share towards the costs.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

If the Government's economic planning turns out to be an equally bad failure will they similarly review it?