§ Lords Amendments considered.
§ First Lords Amendment agreed to.
In page 1, line 23 to leave out Clause 2,
§ Read a second time.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE, Leeds, W.)
, in moving that the House do disagree with the Lords in their Amendment to maintain the privilege cab system at the London railway stations, said that he hoped those in another place would see on reflection that the public interest had been fully safeguarded in this matter. The cabmen had given positive assurances that they could and would serve the public interest adequately and faithfully. In the next place, the Home Secretary had reserved power under the Bill to relieve in whole or in part any station in the metropolis; and it would be his duty, if there were any breakdown in the system to the prejudice of the public, to use his powers. The opposition to the Bill had come entirely from the railway companies, whose 411 interests must come after those of the general public. Those who argued that public interests were endangered by the Bill had not considered the question, which had been under Parliamentary consideration for fifteen years. Twelve years ago a Departmental Committee reported in favour of the abolition of the privilege system, and last year a representative Committee went exhaustively into the question and reported unanimously in favour of abolition. On the division on this clause only twenty-four members voted against it and 176 for it. In these circumstances the Government had no option but to ask the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment. If the Lords insisted on rejecting this clause, on them must rest the full responsibility for the loss of the Bill and its many valuable provisions framed in the public interest.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said that the assurances which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken of were given by the Cabmen's Trade Union, which represented about 8,000 men. But the union had no power to compel the men to go to a railway station. With all the desire in the world, it was impossible for the union to secure an adequate supply of cabs. It was not quite correct to say that the opposition came only from the railway companies; but, even if it were so, surely those who should protest were those who knew? He quits admitted that, from the point of view of the Cabmen's Union, this was a capital Bill; but the interests of the members of the union and those of the public did not coincide. There was a statement in The Times the other day from a man who pointed out that at Waterloo, whore the open system prevailed, it was impossible to got a cab on arrival, and that it was necessary to rush a vehicle which was bringing a passenger to the departure platform.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had tried the experiment. The real origin of this Bill was the demand of the London Im- 412 proved Cab Company for taximeters, and had nothing whatever to do with the privilege cab system.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said the hon. Baronet was quite mistaken. This question had been going on ever since the Committee reported, and at that time he announced in the House and elsewhere that if he could not come to an agreement with the railway companies on the privilege system a Bill would be brought in. That was over a year ago.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he did not deny that the right hon. Gentleman said he would bring in a Bill, but, as these two matters were quite distinct, he ought to have brought in a Bill relating to taximeters and another relating to the privilege system. The only interest those who were opposing the Bill had was to ensure that there should be a sufficient supply of cabs at the stations, and he hoped the Lords would insist on their Amendment.
§ * MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
expressed the opinion that it would be difficult, unless there was some system like this, to make a proper provision of cabs at the great termini. He was sure this case was prejudiced by the name privileged, but he regarded it as a privilege, not for the cabmen, but for the public, and, in saying this, he desired his right hon. friend the Home Secretary to understand that he was not speaking on behalf of the railway companies, but as one of the public, who knew what it was to find a good cab ready as one did at Euston and what it was to find no cab as one did at Waterloo. He wanted to see the Bill, which was an excellent one, passed, but he could not see that this abolition of the privileged cab system formed an integral part of it. He knew how slow cabmen were to adopt new systems or even to discover a new terminus. Even now they hardly realised the existence of Marylebone, and cabs there would be hard to get but for the privileged system. It took cabmen long to get accustomed to a new station. Every cabman was conservative just as every faro was, or was expected to be, liberal. He thought the Bill might very well stand without this provision, as it came back from another place. But he did not want to see it lost.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said the London Members were, by an overwhelming majority, in favour of the abolition of the privilege system, and he thought another place would be well advised in reconsidering their decision.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.
§ Committee appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to one of their Amendments to the Bill.
§ Committee nominated of,—Mr. Secretary Gladstone, Mr. Lough, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, Mr. John O'Connor, Mr. Pickersgill, and Mr. Herbert Samuel.
§ Three to be the quorum.
§ To withdraw immediately.—(Mr. Secretary Gladstone.)