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British Transport Commission (Annual Report)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st December 1949.

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Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby 12:00 am, 1st December 1949

Yes, but what is worrying me is that there is an estimated decrease of 129,000. In 1947, at the time of the fuel crisis, which lost us £200 million worth of production of exportable goods, the shortage of wagons was a most important element in that crisis. I am worried that the Commission think it is right to tackle future bad winters with 129,000 fewer wagons than in 1947. The repair figures speak for themselves. I do not want to rub anything in, but perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us whether the figure of 11.5 has been improved. It should have been. I find that the absence of any plan by the Executive to deal with branch lines is rather disquieting. Losses can be increased as a result of that, and we ought to know definitely what their policy is.

I should now like to deal with the question of goods traffic coming under the Road Haulage Executive. I regret having taken so long, but I have had to deal with a number of interruptions and it is difficult to speak on so large a subject in a short time. There is the question of provisional payments for those whose business is acquired, the question of what is normal vehicle condition, fleet discounts and compensation for loss of office. I could give the Minister examples of the way in which people are worried about these matters. I should be grateful if he would look into the question of original permits, because there has been the feeling that the Executive has been too strict in anticipating what was original business. If a firm has become a company, or a man has died and his business has become his widow's, they ought not to lose their benefits. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that a short Parliamentary Bill is necessary to deal with this matter we shall not hinder its progress.