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Roads

Volume 414: debated on Monday 22 October 1945

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Official Cars (Priority Badges)

1.

asked the Minister of War Transport why official cars allotted to Ministers and Government officials are still permitted to carry priority labels.

Instructions have been issued to all holders of these badges to discontinue their use and the badges are being returned.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for this overdue release from bureaucracy may I ask whether he will consider transferring these priorities to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in order to assist him to build some houses?

I would like to remind my hon. Friend that this was a left-over from the last Government. We have soon remedied it.

Hauliers' Licences

4.

asked the Minister of War Transport whether steps are being taken to see that road hauliers who surrendered A or B licences during the war are regranted such licences and assisted to secure vehicles.

Applications for A or B licences by operators who held such licences before the war and have surrendered them owing to call-up for the Services or other good reason will be sympathetically considered except where their business has been sold. Similar consideration will be given to applications by such persons for licences to acquire goods vehicles.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an absolute assurance that ex-Servicemen shall be granted their licences as of right, and not at the discretion of some official in a regional office?

Prisoners Of War (Transport)

9.

asked the Minister of War Transport how many coaches and omnibuses are being used for the transportation of German and Italian prisoners of war to and from their work; and if he will arrange for these prisoners to travel in lorries so that the coaches and omnibuses maybe made available to augment the public transport facilities, particularly in rural areas.

There are about 250 coaches and omnibuses operated for this purpose by those employing the prisoners, usually with the employer's own driver. About 1,200 are operated by road passenger operators and most of these are engaged on, or available for, other work as well.

The arrangements vary according to local conditions. As a general rule coaches and omnibuses are not used where lorries are available, but in some instances coaches and omnibuses are used to carry prisoners of war because they are not suitable for ordinary public transport or cannot be used for that purpose owing to lack of crews.

:Is the Minister aware that the use of these coaches in country districts causes great exasperation to country people who often have to walk long distances to work and who have to stand in the hedges to allow these coaches carrying prisoners to pass by?

I am quite aware of the feeling on these matters, and I hope the answer I have given will go some way to alleviate it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many Army lorries parked in different parts of the country which could be used to carry these prisoners, thus releasing the coaches to convey civilians?

War-Time Accidents

11.

asked the Minister of War Transport how many persons were killed and injured on the roads during the war.

From September, 1939, to August, 1945, inclusive, 44,307 persons were killed on the roads. The reporting of injuries was discontinued from September, 1939, to March, 1941, inclusive, but from April,1941, to August, 1945, inclusive, 608,940 persons sustained injuries due to road accidents.

Has the Minister any plans other than those of his predecessor for diminishing this appalling carnage?

Yes, Sir; if the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to wait about two weeks longer, certain plans will be launched which it is hoped will effect a considerable reduction in road accidents.

Cattle Grids

16.

asked the Minister of War Transport whether he will introduce legislation to enable local authorities to make payments in respect of the provision of cattle grids on roads under their control.

I will bear the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion in mind when a suitable opportunity for legislation on this subject occurs.

Motor-Cars (Purchase Permits)

23.

asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is in a position to state how many applications he has received since the end of the European war for permits to purchase new motor-cars; how many permits have been issued; what is the present rate of delivery of new motor-cars for the home market; and what steps he is taking to accelerate it.

Over 33,000 applications for licences to acquire new motor-cars have been received;8,000 licences have been issued and about 1,700 cars have been notified by the manufacturers as having been delivered. The programme of production authorised by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply and Aircraft Production provides for avery considerable increase as rapidly as the manufacturers can achieve it.

24.

asked the Minister of War Transport what conditions govern the grant of permits to purchase reconditioned cars; what is the present output; and whether the supply can be increased.

:Owing to the heavy demand and the small number available it has become necessary to restrict the issue of permits to purchase reconditioned cars to nurses, midwives and badly disabled ex-Servicemen who need a car to follow an occupation. The number of these cars available during the six months ended 30th September was 405. I am informed by my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Supply and Aircraft Production that there is little likelihood of any material increase in the near future.