§ 10. Mr. Neubert
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will meet representatives of the National Association of Rail Passengers to discuss the problems of commuters.
§ Mr. Neubert
Can the Minister assure us that he understands that rail commuters, by and large, are not wealthy people with bottomless pockets? Is he aware that they have to pay higher fares with constricted incomes, on which they have been taxed? There is a special problem in commuter operations, because of the intensified use of rolling stock and of staff. As we are all workers now, if British Rail were to reintroduce a workers' fare would he support it, and will he institute a new Government campaign for staggering work hours?
§ Mr. Horam
We understand the problems of commuters and, with the squeeze on incomes in the last few years, that fares have gone up faster than retail prices and most other prices. That is the cause of the problem. I cannot undertake to give even more subsidies by way of a workers' fare, especially as we are all workers now, if that is what the hon. Member is suggesting. Nevertheless, we must look at the problems sympathetically.
§ Mr. Whitehead
In the context of the White Paper does my hon. Friend agree that much of the subsidy for commuters is another way of saying that we are paying money out there instead of constructing new urban motorways, which 1390 would be needed if people could not travel by rail?
§ Mr. Bowden
Is the Minister aware that there is deep anger among members of the National Association of Rail Passengers at the refusal of his right hon. Friend to see them? Is he aware that these are people at the sharp end, travelling between London and their home town? Will the Minister undertake to think about the matter again and agree to meet a deputation led by hon. Members from both sides of the House?