HC Deb 17 August 1893 vol 16 cc417-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that many omnibus proprietors place inside their vehicles movable boards with scales of fares painted thereon, which are so affixed as temporarily to conceal the permanent scales of fares painted on the wall of the omnibus itself; and is this practice in accordance with the law; whether he is also aware that much deception is practised on the public by certain omnibus proprietors who paint inside their vehicles scales of fares not only unusual but unreasonable in themselves, as in the case of omnibus No. 2151, which demands the usual fare of 2d. for the journey from Chapel Street to Charing Cross, while it also demands 2d. for less than half of the same journey—namely, from Oxford Circus to Charing Cross; and can any steps be taken to protect the public in this matter? At the same time, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been called to a ease tried in the West London Police Court, on the 14th instant, from which it appeared that the scale of fare painted inside au omnibus was 1s. any distance, the public having entered the vehicle in the belief that the usual fares wore in force; what degree of permanence is required in the fixing and exhibition of scales of fares painted on omnibuses, so as to meet the requirements of the law; and whether he will consider the advisability of amending the law, if such is necessary, to prevent impositions on the public in the matter of omnibus fares?


The late Chief Magistrate expressed an opinion that the fares may be painted on a board secured by nails or screws on the inside of an omnibus. The fraud to be guarded against is a change of tariff during a journey; but the proprietor may change his tariff at the end of every journey. The painting of the faros on the actual body of the vehicle would prevent the proprietor from exorcising his undoubted right. The present Chief Magistrate—Sir John Bridge—also is reported to have said that he considered no offence had been committed even when the board containing the table of fares was not screwed or fixed to the omnibus, and to have dismissed the summons in a case where the board was only hanging by a string. An omnibus proprietor may charge what fares he likes so long as he keeps distinctly painted in a conspicuous manner inside the omnibus a table of fares, which are deemed to be the only lawful fares. As the law at present stands, no steps can be taken except by legislation to protect the public in the matter. Passengers might, to some extent, protect themselves by asking before entering an omnibus the fare from one place to another. I shall consider, in consultation with the Commissioner of Police, whether it is desirable and practicable, by any and what change in the law, to secure a greater degree of uniformity in omnibus fares, and to protect the public against deception.