The circular stated that the alarming accounts respecting the failure and disease of the potato crop had caused such excitement that meetings were held all over 798 the three kingdoms to devise means for mitigating the impending evil, and to petition Government to open the ports; that this excitement acted upon the money market; and that circumstance, together with the Railway Crisis, which all prudent men had looked upon as inevitable, had deranged the general trade of the country, the evil being completed by the unexpected announcement of the resignation of Ministers; that experience had shown that the first cause of alarm was greatly exaggerated; that subsequent returns proved that the average yield of the corn crops was not much deficient, while there was at the same time a supply from the surplus of the preceding year; and that though there had been extensive loss in the potato crop, the public mind was relieved from great anxiety on that point, which result they attributed to the wisdom of the advisers of the Crown, who had withstood the overpowering demands that had been made to them to open the ports, the sudden compliance with which would unquestionably have led to great embarrassment.
Whatever may be the ultimate effects of the 1953 Act, therefore, the Railway Crisis of 1954–55 has nothing to do with the effects of that Act up to the present.
In 1955 it began, very naturally, with an allusion to the then Railway Crisis.
Those are the reasons for the worldwide Railway Crisis, and the only way to solve it, as we have said repeatedly, is by an integrated transport policy which does two things: first, ensures that the profits creamed off from rail to road are brought into the transport pool, where they belong, and are not siphoned off by the owners; and, secondly, ensures an economic division of traffic between road and rail.
He then went on to make a highly political speech, and said: "The Railway Crisis began from the moment that a doctrinaire Government scrapped the idea of a national integrated transport policy, and the Beeching Report is the consummation 1439 of that policy.
to pursue further the question of threshold agreements, bearing in mind that if the Government had encouraged rather than discouraged agreements of this kind, we might not be facing a Railway Crisis?
Will the right hon. Gentleman also tell me when we shall get the statement - for which I have asked for two weeks now, or at any rate for one week-on the financial Crisis in the Railways, which is a matter of major importance for the country's economy as a whole?
The present Crisis in Our Railways is well presented in the recent modern railways publication Insight, which I hope the Secretary of State will have read.
9, for the purpose of discussing a specific matter of public and parliamentary importance that should have urgent consideration, namely, "the Railway Crisis, which may lead to a national railway strike and which may cause industrial strife throughout the country".
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs) gave me notice before 12 noon today that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House to discuss a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, "the Railway Crisis, which may lead to a national railway strike and which may cause industrial strife throughout the country".
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman's reply about the Railway Crisis is anything like sufficient.
Finally, will the Secretary of State recognise that the Present Railway Crisis owes much to the policy of the Government in its making and that his role in the matter is an abrogation of his responsibility to try to get the railways running again?
When I hear the right hon. Gentleman apportioning blame for the Railway Crisis, I feel that we should all refer to the words of Mr. Sidney Weighell:We have grave doubts about you and Albert.
What the Opposition want is a response to the proposal that Mr. Weighell includes in the letter for an initiative by the Government to help to deal with the growing Railway Crisis.
In view of the totally unsatisfactory answers on the Railway Crisis that we received from the Prime Minister at Question Time, is it not necessary to hold a debate on that subject, and to hold it in Government time?