Transport Undertakings (Short-Term Permits)
asked the Minister of War Transport whether in view of the large number of short-term permits granted to transport undertakings, which had been terminated and the increasing demand for transport, he is now in a position to announce his policy and at the same time give an assurance that every endeavour will be made to discontinue the withdrawals of these short-term permits.
During the war the normal licensing procedure was suspended and permits were issued instead. These permits are being reviewed as a preliminary to a gradual reversion to licensing procedure. Comparatively few permits have been withdrawn and only in cases where the Regional Transport Commissioners were satisfied that the need for them no longer existed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many small transport undertakings have been handicapped by the failure to speed up these short-term permits, and will he give us some assurance that this riot of red tape and redundant regulations will come speedily to an end?
The use of the word "many" is an exaggeration. The other points are receiving consideration.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not "many", it is an enormous number? The right hon. Gentleman cannot dispose of me in that way.
Omnibus Services (Rural Areas)
asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is aware of the serious shortage of motor-omnibuses in rural areas; and what steps he is taking to extend the present inadequate services now that the war is over.
the Minister of War Transport when he expects to be in a position to augment the present inadequate motor-omnibus services in rural areas and to provide such services in areas where public transport facilities are lacking.
Considerable improvements in the services in rural areas have already been effected, but I am aware that in many cases they are not yet adequate to meet the reasonable needs of the public. They will be progressively improved as the necessary crews and vehicles can be made available.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this matter is closely associated with the shortage of agricultural workers, and that his Ministry could make a great contribution to the increase of home-grown food if these facilities were increased?
I am fully aware of the urgent need, from many angles, for improving rural services. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that every effort will be made to accelerate that progress.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some areas Italian and German prisoners of war are still being conveyed to and from their work in coaches? Could they not be taken in Army lorries and the coaches released for civilian purposes?
I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member puts down a question if he desires a reply on that point.
Cycles (Rear Lights)
asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is proposing to permit pedal-cyclists to dispense with rear lights and to revert to the use of rear reflectors.
I have no power to dispense with the obligation to carry red lights imposed on pedal cyclists by the Road Transport Lighting (Cycles) Act, which was passed by Parliament earlier this year after full debate.
Will the right hon. gentleman consider introducing the Continental practice of adding small reflectors to the pedals of pedal cycles, so that cyclists can be more readily seen in the dark?
If the hon. and gallant Member wants further information on that matter I suggest that he puts down a direct question on it.
Taxi-Cabs And Private Hire Vehicles (Operation Radius)
asked the Minister of War Transport whether he will consider removing the present restrictions on the radius of operation of taxi-cabs and private hire vehicles.
I have been asked to reply. In view of the present petrol position as disclosed in my statement last week, I am unable to withdraw the limitations imposed upon the movement of taxi-cabs and hire cars, since this would mean either that the rations granted to these vehicles would need to be increased or that the normal transport needs of the localities immediately served by these vehicles would not be met.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this restriction causes very great inconvenience to the public for a remarkably small saving in petrol?
That may well be, but if I relaxed the present restrictions it would cause more inconvenience to others.
But really, the right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with it like that. What is the estimated amount of petrol saved by the continued imposition of this restriction?
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman puts the question down I will give him a reply.
The right hon. Gentleman should have known it.
asked the Minister of War Transport when it is intended to rescind Regulation 73B, in so far as it prohibits the carriage of goods on roads in mechanically-propelled vehicles over a distance of more than 60 miles without official approval.
This Regulation must be retained so long as the Road Haulage Organisation continues.
For how long are these unnecessary restrictions to be maintained?
At the moment I am not in a position to give the hon. and gallant Gentleman any date.
How long are we to endure this?
Tyres And Spare Parts
asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is aware that many C licence holders are experiencing great difficulty in transport matters at the present time, owing to the shortage of tyres and spare parts, and whether consideration will be given to ensuring that commercial road transport shall receive some priority in this matter, pending the return to normality in this field.
The policy of my Department and of the Ministry of Supply, which is responsible for the distribution of tyres, is to increase the supply of those tyres and spare parts which are still in short supply and to ensure that vehicles engaged on essential work have first call on them.
What is the use of granting Class C licences to people unless they have facilities to carry out servicing? Why not give them priority?
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman ought to realise that these are two separate processes, and it would be no service to retailers or others with C licences to withhold the licence on the ground of the difficulty of spare parts.
The vehicles have not got spare tyres or spare parts.
Tie them with red tape.
asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is aware that traders and coach owners who have had vehicles requisitioned, and have voluntarily surrendered them to the Services, or have had to dispose of them because of temporary closing down of their businesses, cannot obtain replacement of them as in the case of those which have been worn out; and whether steps can now be taken to modify the rules applying to replacement of vehicles so as to assist traders in re-establishing their businesses.
Regional Transport Commissioners are prepared to consider applications for licences to acquire new goods vehicles or coaches from applicants who during the war have had their vehicles requisitioned, or had voluntarily surrendered them to the Services, or who had to dispose of them because of the temporary closing down of their businesses. Such applications are dealt with on the same footing, namely, whether it is in the national interest that a licence should be granted having regard to the vehicles available and the applications made for them.
In the granting of these licences could not preference be given to the people who surrendered their vehicles in the national interest to purchase them at a fixed price and not have to bid for them in the open market?
They are not obliged to bid for them in the open market.