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London Omnibuses (Standing Passengers)

Volume 415: debated on Monday 5 November 1945

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(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of War Transport if the action being taken by conductors of the London Passenger Transport Board to prohibit or restrict passengers standing in omnibuses is with the agreement of his Ministry, and what steps he proposes to take to provide sufficient transport for the people of London, especially during the rush hours?

Any such action on the part of conductors in refusing to carry any standing passengers at off-peak hours is without authority. I should explain, however, that to ease the strain on the staff, I have agreed with the Board that the number of standing passengers shall be reduced from 12 to eight at off-peak periods. This comes into force on Saturday. Details have already appeared in the Press. As regards the second part of the Question, the Board's services are being improved as fast as new staffs become available.

Since the action now being taken appears to be quite illegal, is this another example of the Transport and General Workers' Union having lost all control over its members?

I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend is at all entitled to draw that conclusion. After all, this is a Private Notice Question, and I have not had very long to look into the circumstances.

Would the right hon. Gentleman look into this question again? Is it not apparent that the difference between the bus workers, on the one hand, and his Ministry, on the other, is whether eight people or five shall stand, and at the moment, as he says eight, they say that none at all may stand, cannot we have reason brought to bear, if the difference is only three, and have good will all round?

If hon. Members will take the trouble to read my reply to this Question, they will see what are the facts at the present moment, and that any action taken before next Saturday is unauthorised. The repercussions of this will continue to receive my attention.

Will the Minister explain to the House why it is necessary, in view of the very great inconvenience to a large number of travellers, for this to come into force only on Saturday? Is it not possible to make it applicable a little earlier?

This does not add to the comfort of passengers, because many passengers who hitherto have been carried on the buses may not find themselves able to procure even standing room. One has to balance the advantages and disadvantages of a proposal of this kind, and Saturday is a very good day to bring in the change.

Does the Minister advise the public to exercise their right to stand, within the limits allowed, and to refuse to leave at the bidding of conductors?

What I have stated is, I think, perfectly plain, and if that receives the publicity which I hope it will receive, both the public and the staff of the London Passenger Transport Board should know exactly what is the position.

:Is the Minister aware that I and a friend coming to this House by 'bus this morning were two among 10 standing passengers?

Is the Minister aware that the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Studholme) was refused permission to stand in a 'bus today, when there were no people standing?