§ MR. PIKE PEASE (Darlington)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether representations have been made to him asking that licences should be granted to English taximeter cabs drawn by horses; and, if so, what reply has been made.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.)Representations have been received with regard to the use of taximeters by horse-drawn cabs, but they are still under consideration owing to a point of difficulty which has arisen. When the Public Carriage Order was drafted the intention was to enable every cab, whether horse-drawn or motor, to use a taximeter. I was advised that I had power to prescribe a new scale for motor cabs, to which the provisions of the earlier Acts, as pre served by the Public Carriage Act, 1869, were inapplicable, but that I had no power to prescribe a scale for horse-drawn cabs which would conflict with the scale in force before the last-mentioned Act. There is however, a provision in the Hackney Carriage Act of 1831 which enables a cab to be hired by agreement for any sum not in excess of the legal rate; and, in pursuance of this provision, I inserted in the Public Carriage Order Regulation No. 32, which runs as follows: "The proprietor of a horsed hackney carriage may, with the approval of the Commissioner, cause it to be fitted with a taximeter on undertaking that the charges made for the hire of the carriage shall be in accordance with the scale affixed in the carriage and registered by the taximeter, which scale shall not in any case exceed the scale set forth in Schedule I. to this Order." Subject to 513 the conditions of this regulation it is open to the proprietor of every horse-cab to use a taximeter. A difficulty has, how ever, arisen in connection with such taximeters as have hitherto been presented for the Commissioner's approval tinder the regulation, and this is now being submitted to the Law Officers; but I may say that the difficulty only relates to taximeters on the horo-kilo metrique system—that is, taximeters whose fares are fixed by a combination of time and distance, and would not affect other types of taximeter. Whatever be the advice given by the Law Officers, I hope to introduce legislation next week giving the Home Secretary a general power to fix scales of fares and thus to do away with the inconvenience caused by the confusion of the existing statutes.