Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd March 1952.

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Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock 12:00 am, 3rd March 1952

I am not a railwayman, but I have had sufficient experience to know that the railways were in a bad state. As to my experience, I remember getting on a train in a station in Ayrshire. The driver was my father. The fireman was an uncle of mine. In order to see that everything was right, I looked down at the guard, who was my grandfather. I have had a great experience of railway conditions in the past, and I represent the railway centre of Kilmarnock.

We need a greater degree of capital investment than we have at the present time. It is inevitable that our railway system, like others, should be bogged down in a financial crisis, but what I object to is that, since the return of the present Government, there has been some reaching out towards the same old cure of economy, which must come out of the standard of living of the men and out of the condition of the railway service itself. We have had experience of that in Scotland, in the cutting down of services to the Clyde coast piers, to take one example alone. The Minister of Transport should urge on the Railway Executive that one way of economising would be to have a little less blundering and meandering in the way they do things in Scotland, and to save on the number of public relations officers who have to go round explaining what the Railway Executive really mean.

I would remind the Minister of the trouble which he is running into in extending the policy of centralisation of locomotive repair shops in Scotland. Some hon. Members may think that centralisation is being sprung upon us, but we have had all these things before, as we know if we delve into the days of the Glasgow-South-Western Railway and see how it developed into the L.M.S. It is to prevent the errors of the past being repeated that I make this plea to the Minister that it is his job and his responsibility to look after the proper running of the transport system and to take particular action.

In Kilmarnock we have a railway locomotive repair shop which has been doing that kind of work for 100 years. Now the Executive have tried to effect a closure in order to transfer the work to St. Rollox, in Glasgow. The existing agreements with the trade unions do not allow that high-handed action, which has caused a considerable amount of trouble on the spot. The men in Inverurie feel that they are going to be next. There has been a failure to have proper consultation at the right time. This is a matter of policy throughout the whole of railway working, and it ought to be attended to.