§ (3) (c) In the event of the company objecting to the decision of the corporation on any application for a licence to run omnibuses on any tramway route the company shall have a right of appeal to the Minister of Transport within a period of fourteen days after publication as hereinafter provided and after hearing all parties interested the Minister shall have power to make such Order therein as he shall think fit and the corporation shall not grant the licence or licences until the determination of any such appeal.
§ (4) Every Order made by the Minister of Transport under this Section shall be final and binding on the parties affected thereby and shall on the application of the Minister be enforceable by writ of mandamus.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out paragraph "(c)."
In order to explain this Amendment to the House it is necessary that I should go back on the history of this Bill. The question at issue is not whether the corporation should have the powers they seek in order to protect the public, but whether the tramway companies should be allowed to interfere with the corporation when it sees fit to grant licences to 1378 omnibus companies. The history of the case is this. There are two tramway companies in North Staffordshire, the Potteries Electric Traction Company, Limited, and the North Staffordshire Tramways Company, Limited. They both own and operate tramways in the borough and they promoted a Bill this Session known as the Potteries and North Staffordshire Tramways and Light Railways Bill. It contained a Clause which stated that so long as the companies provided a reasonable and sufficient service of cars or omnibuses on any route, no one else should run a service of omnibuses along such route or any other street or road so as to compete with the tramways. The Stoke Corporation Bill as introduced in the House of Lords contained a Clause to enable the corporation to make general traffic regulations and to prescribe the routes to be followed by particular vehicles. Both these Bills met with opposition from all quarters of the House, and both these Clauses were eventually withdrawn and a new Clause was substituted in the Stoke Bill. The new Clause as it came from the Lords was the result of an agreement between the Stoke Corporation, the tramway companies, and the associations representing the omnibus proprietors. I will read to the House the Clause as it came back from the House of Lords:In the exercise of the powers conferred by this Section the corporation shall have due regard to the claims of the Potteries Electric Traction Company, Limited, and the North Staffordshire Tramways Company, Limited, to run omnibuses to supplement their tramway and light railway services, and if any dispute shall arise as to the necessity of such omnibuses the same shall he referred to the Minister of Transport, whose decision shall be final.The new Clause gave the corporation all the powers they required, and Subsection (4), which I have just read, gave the tramway companies the protection they required. The two words on which I lay stress are the words "supplement" and "necessity." This Clause was accepted by the motor omnibus people, by the corporation, and by the tramway companies. The Clause went before the Local Legislation Committee, and there the Ministry of Transport representative appeared and recommended that the Clause should be disallowed, and that, if it should be accepted by the Committee, further consideration should be given to Sub-section (4), which I have quoted.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)
May I point out to the hon. and gallant Member that the Ministry did not suggest that the Clause should be disallowed, but what we did suggest was that the Clause should be made perfectly clear.
§ Viscount CURZON
I was just going to explain that the Ministry of Transport representative stated before the Local Legislation Committee that the reason they objected to the Clause was because, they did not understand the meaning of the words "supplement" and "necessity" as used there, and wanted a clearer definition. The promoters of the Bill called evidence in support of the agreed Clause, especially as to the necessity for powers to limit the number of omnibuses on these routes, and to show that the agreement come to between the corporation and the promoting companies had given the companies a special right to be considered. Such right was given by Sub-section (4), which required the corporation to have regard to the claim of the companies to run omnibuses. Not a word appears in the report of the proceedings as to any intention to enable the tramway companies to object to licences being granted to other parties, or to companies other than the tramway companies, and no such provision was in the agreed Clause. That is an important fact which I should like the House to bear in mind. The discussion went on for a long time before the Local Legislation Committee; I expect it was a rather hot day and it was getting near lunch time, but, in any case, the evidence extends to over 17 pages of the report, and, finally, the Chairman wound up the proceedings by saying, "We suggest that you should get together and come to some arrangement, and I think, as business men, you should be able to do so." They were further told that the Committee would adjourn for lunch and expected some agreement to be arrived at after lunch. It was a perfectly reasonable suggestion and one which I should have heartily endorsed had I been a member of the Committee. Then the promoters of the Bill, the representatives of the tramway company and the representatives of the Ministry of Transport conferred during the luncheon interval and agreed upon an Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel NALL
The parties were asked to withdraw and confer at least an hour before the luncheon interval, and the Committee went on with other business.
§ Viscount CURZON
I will not stress the point about the luncheon interval too much. What I said about that was in a somewhat humorous vein, but my point was, that when the Committee adjourned this particular discussion, they told the promoters of the Bill, the Ministry of Transport, and the representatives of the tramway companies to go away and agree upon a Clause. Previously, I would remind the Committee, the Clause as it stood in the Bill was agreed to by the motor omnibus companies, as well as by the other interests to which I have just referred. When they went away, and this discussion was adjourned, the motor omnibus interests were not represented, in view of the fact that the Clause was an agreed Clause and gave everybody the safeguards which they required. The promoters thereupon went away, and agreed upon a Clause, and when the Committee re-assembled the Chairman said:Delete the old Clause 107 and put the new one in, and then we shall see the sequence of everything.It was not explained that the following five points, which I will mention in a moment, were not put before the Local Legislation Committee at all when they re-assembled to consider the new Clause, and I would like to stress the words in this new Clause "on any application," because that is the whole point of my objection to it as it now stands. It was not explained to the Committee, first of all, that they were creating a precedent. I am informed, on the very best possible authority—and I have taken a good deal of trouble to obtain it—that there is no precedent whatever for granting such authority, and I would say that when the same powers have been sought in other Bills, in some cases the powers have been withdrawn by arrangement with the promoters, and in other cases they have been definitely refused to the corporations which have sought such powers. If these powers are granted in this Bill, I do not know what the views of these other corporations which have sought similar powers will be. Secondly, the new Clause was substantially different from the old 1381 Clause. The first Clause dealt only with applications by the tramway companies, but the present Clause deals with "any application." The third point is: Was there any occasion for giving tramway companies power of appeal from the decisions of the corporation granting licences to omnibus proprietors? The fourth point is that the effect of the Clause was to give such right of appeal; and the fifth point is that the old Clause had been agreed to by parties who were not before the Committee when the new Clause was put before it.
There are members of the Local Legislation Committee in the House now, and I am sure they could not really have been aware of the fact that the old Clause was agreed to by everybody, whereas the new Clause was agreed to by everybody with the exception of the motor omnibus interests. It is assumed that when the Chairman inquired whether all the parties were satisfied with the new Clause, the promoters of the Bill inadvertently overlooked the fact that the associations prejudicially affected by it, who had been agreed with in the House of Lords, had not been consulted as to the new Clause. It may be asked why they were not there.
§ Viscount CURZON
The motor omnibus interests affected by this Bill—the Commercial Motor Users' Association and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. They were affected by this Clause, and they should have been consulted when the parties were sent away to agree on a new Clause.
§ Lieut.-Colonel NALL
Does the Noble Lord say that the Commercial Motor Users' Association agreed to the Clause which went to the Committee from the other House?
§ Viscount CURZON
Yes. I say they agreed to the Clause as it came to the Committee from the other House, that the new Clause was never before them, and that they never had a chance either to agree or disagree with it. As a matter of fact, they disagree with it, as it goes far outside the scope of the original Clause. The effect of the new Clause is to give the tramway companies a power of appeal against decisions of the cor- 1382 poration to grant licences to omnibus proprietors, which the tramway companies did not have under the agreed Clause. Under Sub-section (4) of the agreed Clause the matter to be referred was the necessity for such omnibuses, meaning omnibuses to supplement tramways, but under paragraph (c) as now in the Bill, the power of appeal given to the tramway companies is on any application for a licence to run omnibuses on any tramway route, whether the application is made by the tramway companies or the omnibus proprietors. I want to know what is the necessity for such a power to interfere with the decisions of the corporation.
I have received, in common with most hon. Members, a statement on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation in support of the Bill and against the deletion of the paragraph which I seek to wash out, and in regard to that statement I would like to say, first, that the sole point of principle at issue is the proposal to give the tramway companies a right of appeal to the Ministry against decisions of the corporation to grant licences to run omnibuses to companies or persons other than the tramway companies. Secondly, there is no precedent in local government law for such a right of appeal. It associates the tramway companies with the corporation in the decision to license or not to license the tramway companies' competitors. Thirdly, the fact that the companies will be in a position to appeal against the corporation's decisions, if licences are granted, must always influence these decisions. I submit that these are real points which the House should bear well in mind before agreeing to any such provision in this Bill. Fourthly, it must influence independent applicants for licences, who will be deterred from seeking authority the granting of which by the corporation will be challenged at once by the tramway companies. By consistently using this right of appeal the companies will influence the corporation against the granting of licences, intimidate those who desire to apply for licences, and bring pressure to bear upon the Ministry of Transport to revoke licences that are granted to competitors.
In other words, there is a real danger that you are going to set up a monopoly, and it is not at all clear whether this 1383 monopoly is in the real interests of the inhabitants of North Staffordshire. I gather that there are the gravest possible complaints against the tramway system of interminable delays, of an inefficient service generally. It was said by those who want to get this Clause in the Bill that great danger is caused to the inhabitants of Stoke-on-Trent by the existence of omnibuses and motor chars-à-bancs. I have the proceedings before the Committee here. The Chief Constable in giving evidence said that the danger is not really very great, and that there have been a few accidents where the streets of Stoke-on-Trent are undoubtedly very narrow. But the complaint was certainly not borne out in evidence before the local legislation committee that grave danger is caused by the existence oil motor omnibuses. I submit that paragraph (c) would be prejudicial to the public interest, and should not therefore be sanctioned by the House, and that the powers objected to would make it almost impossible for smaller omnibus proprietors to obtain a licence. The small man would be up against the large powerful private company, able to take care of itself and fight a case through to the last Court of Appeal. Imagine the small man who, very often, has invested all his savings, and may even have raised a mortgage on his property, to put money into motor omnibuses. Very likely his whole savings and mortgage would be jeopardised by the powers in this Bill. The small man cannot possibly afford the expense of continually fighting the large tramway companies before the Minister of Transport. I would like to read to the House a question and an answer on the subject of the possible danger arising from motor traffic in the streets of a narrow town. Question 274 was put by an hon. Member, whom I see opposite, to the chief constable of Stoke-on-Trent. The question was:Have you had any accidents due to this congestion of improper sorts of traffic, as you regard them?The answer of the chief constable was:No, not many. We have had the awnings pulled down from the front of shops. It is owing to the good regulation by the police on point duty that we do not have more accidents.Everybody who uses the streets of our great cities must know that wherever you 1384 have tramways you have congestion of traffic. If anyone wants an example, he has only to go as far as Brentford on the Western Highway leading out of London to see how dangerous trams can be. In fact, it has been necessary to construct a new road for several miles. I, therefore, submit that the paragraph to which I object should be deleted. The Clause we agreed upon as it came down from the House of Lords could very well be reinserted in the Bill. The Minister of Transport merely requires a definition of the words "supplement" and "necessity." A minor alteration made here as to what is intended by those two words would not be objected to, I am sure, by the motor omnibus interests. But do not let us necessarily go further, and do a thing for which there is no precedent in local legislation, namely, grant to a private company a right to appeal over the head of a corporation, which must be the best judges of their own locality as to what is most suitable for them.
Do not let us go further than has been allowed in every similar case in local legislation in this country, and grant to a private company this right to go direct to the Minister of Transport in respect of any application. The corporation might say, "Very well, we will grant you a licence to run your omnibuses," but the tramway companies might object, simply because they do not want competition, which is a very good thing for an inefficient service, and much more likely to buck them up than anything else. Otherwise the inhabitants of North Staffordshire will have to depend upon a thoroughly inefficient service to get to and from their business. Therefore, I say, let us have this healthy competition, and do not let us grant that which has been refused, or withdrawn by agreement, in similar cases. I hope we shall be able, even at this eleventh hour, to arrive at some agreement with the promoters of the Bill, and also with the Minister of Transport, on the lines of the original Clause as it came from the House of Lords.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I believe that any hon. Member who has ever been in North Staffordshire will sympathise with us in attempting to get this paragraph deleted from the Bill. We certainly have, in North Staffordshire, the worst system of tramway service in Great Britain. It is not only extraordinarily 1385 slow and noisy, but so rarely can you find a tram, that people walk instead. When I go down to my constituency I go to the nearest station and then walk a mile and a half sooner than wait for a tram. Other towns, blessed with a municipal service, may imagine, perhaps, that in objecting to a monopoly being given to tramway companies in Stoke-on-Trent, we are asking for some competition with an admirable and perfect system such as they own. That is not the case. We are objecting to giving a monopoly to a system which, in North Staffordshire, is a by-word for badness. That is not our only reason for objecting. This paragraph affects people outside the area of Stoke-on-Trent. It affects people in the urban districts surrounding it, and in my borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and the districts to a certain extent are far more dependent now upon the motor omnibus services. Therefore we in the surrounding districts, in the interest of our constituents, have to look carefully even at a Bill promoted by Stoke-on-Trent.
Let me illustrate what I mean. In many cases the urban districts surrounding Stoke-on-Trent have at present a tramway system which may go part of the way, but for the last three or four years they have had a motor omnibus service which goes the whole way, the journey being partly with the tramway service and the other half untapped country. As I understand it, under this Bill it is not at all impossible that the independent omnibus services may be prevented from paralleling the tram line, and one may find that the middle service or the half service which they render at the present time from the tram terminus onwards might as well be knocked off altogether, because the change from an uncertain tramway service to an uncertain omnibus service will make travelling in that district and in that manner extremely hazardous.
I do not propose to go back into the history of this Clause, but what I want to do is to explain to the House why we object to this particular paragraph, and not to the whole of the proposals. Clause 107 proposes in the first Subsection to give the corporation power to license the omnibuses for certain routes, that is to say, to issue licences to the omnibus company, and, in doing so, tell them where they are allowed to ply and 1386 where not. That seems to me to be a power to which some objection may be taken by the omnibus owners themselves, but from the point of view of the public, the corporation, in deciding where these omnibuses are to run, are the servants of the public, and they have to consider the safety of the passengers in the streets, as well as the convenience of the travelling public. They come to their decision on these questions, and I suppose they are obviously the right people to decide. Anyhow, they have to decide, and they will subsequently have to answer to their constituents for it. We do not object to Sub-section (1). We do not object to Subjection (3, b), by which it appearsthe corporation shall have due regard, to the claims of the company to run omnibuses on any tramway route.I have no objection to the corporation, if they think fit, allowing the Electric Traction Company running omnibuses; in fact, the more omnibuses and the fewer trams the better it will be for the population of that district; but I should say that it is perhaps an unnecessary paragraph to put in. The corporation will still keep the power to decide whether the omnibuses are to run and where in their own area and their constituents can deal with them, if they do not serve the public in the best possible way. Paragraph (c) to which we object is not only new in local legislation, but it deliberately takes the power out of the hands of the corporation. Why the corporation assented to it I cannot understand, except as a sort of bargain to buy off opposition. Under paragraph (c) what they do is to say that after the corporation have decided where the licensed omnibuses are to run, that having decided whether such may or may not pass along the tramway route, after having decided that such and such routes shall be served that the company may appeal to the Ministry of Transport against some particular private omnibus running alongside the tram lines. That seems to me to be fatal. There is no possible means of serving towns like Fenton, Tunstall, etc.—these suburban towns—by omnibuses from Hanley or Longton except that for part of their journey these omnibuses travel along the existing tramway routes. If it is against the decision to allow such omnibuses to run, the Potteries Electric Traction Company can appeal to the Ministry of Transport. I 1387 say it will be fatal to the real interests of the corporation itself, and I cannot think how they allowed this paragraph to get in. What it means is that the corporation will be put to endless expense over appeals from outside on matters which may be in the interests of the community as a whole, but which may infringe, in the opinion of the Traction Company, their rights under Clause 107 of preventing competition along their own routes. This is the question which will be brought up by the Potteries Electric Traction Company, and the more trouble they give in appealing the better will be their terms in dealing with the corporation in future. What we ask is that this particular paragraph (c), which gives the right of appeal against the decision of the corporation, obviously and presumably given in the interests of the public of the borough, to give an appeal against that on the suggestion that the service of omnibuses along the tramways route will not be encouraged unless it is in the hands of the Potteries Electric Traction Company. My additional reason for begging the House to cancel this part of the Clause is that really people outside the borough are concerned. If I could get from the Minister of Transport a definite indication in his speech that this paragraph will not be used to prevent private omnibus services continuing to serve these outlying towns, I should be satisfied. I should still think that this is a Clause which will cost Stoke-on-Trent unnecessary expense, but I should have nothing more to say. In the interests of the outlying districts, however, which perhaps cannot take part and put their case before the Local Legislation Committee, I claim that we should have some safeguard for them, that their omnibus services should not be cut off simply because a part of their omnibus service moves along existing tram lines.
Let me come to a more general point. I think it is really deplorable that a very important question such as this is should come up simply on a private Bill. This is a matter which the Minister of Transport ought to have taken up generally. It is a question which affects every town in the kingdom. I have no doubt it affects towns such as we had in North Staffordshire which are unfortunately 1388 dependent upon private companies more than it affects a town, say, like Ipswich, which has the benefit of a public tramway service. But other towns are served by private companies, and every such town is now to be met with a new problem which it never had to consider before. Every one of them is to be faced with a new problem in view of the enormous, increase in the motor omnibus services and the enormously increased danger to life owing to that competition, with not only the tramway services, but with the railway services, I am glad to say, which is causing needless complaint from the people who have hitherto carried the people of these towns. This, surely, is a problem which ought to be considered by a Select Committee of the House; even by a Royal Commission. A Departmental Committee will really not meet the case. There is the whole question of the different vested interests, the question of private omnibus owners, the interests of the existing tramway companies and of the railway companies, and. I may say, the interests of the towns and villages which are now being served by these services, and even the ratepayers who have to pay for the roads. All these interests ought to be considered. We want to have a rule of general application which could either be embodied in every omnibus Bill such as this which is brought forward, or it should be an Act of Parliament giving definite powers to corporations on certain definite lines. I myself should prefer to have an Act of Parliament which should set forth in detail and in the case of municipalities their powers as to regulating the omnibus traffic. Something of that sort has to be done, otherwise we shall be putting every local authority that introduces a Bill to unnecessary expense in opposition to their Bills, and I suggest that, whatever is done with this Bill, the Government should take a definite step to settle on a satisfactory basis the whole of this question.
§ Sir THOMAS ROBINSON
The Committee which considered this Measure approved it as it left the Committee, and I am requested by that Committee to ask the House to pass this Measure as it is presented. We believe that, as far as greater safety to the inhabitants of Stoke are concerned, these provisions are necessary. With regard to Clause 107 1389 dealing with the power to regulate omnibus routes, I will say at once that this was an agreed Clause. It was agreed to by the Corporation of Stoke and the tramway companies.
§ Sir T. ROBINSON
If those interests were not represented that is no fault of the Committee, and it was their business to be present and give the Committee the benefit of their advice.
§ Viscount CURZON
This Clause as it originally came from the House of Lords was an agreed Clause, and if it had not been altered there would have been no objection to it at all.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Sir T. ROBINSON
We only followed the usual Parliamentary practice, and it is our duty to consider whatever opposition is offered. After having done that, it is our business to proceed with the Bill on the evidence placed before us. The urban district council and the omnibus interests were not represented. This is an agreed Clause between the corporation and the companies, and it is really a Parliamentary bargain. We accepted it because we thought it would secure equity between the various interests in Stoke-on-Trent. Within the Borough of Stoke-on-Trent there is a main arterial road, and there are some places where the distance is only 24 feet between the curb, and in other places only 27 feet. Having constructed therein a tramway, in some places a double line and in other places a single line, and having the heavy motor traffic and the omnibus traffic and charabanc traffic passing through this main road, they submitted evidence that there was congestion in this this particular road. I would remind the House that local authorities are responsible for the public convenience, and, as far as practical, for securing the public safety. I respectfully submit that when a local authority satisfies a Committee of this House that dangerous conditions obtain within its area, and such authority asks for reasonable powers to remove such danger, such a request should not be lightly set aside.
1390 What are the powers asked for by the Stoke Corporation in order to remove this congestion and this public danger in the Borough of Stoke? The Stoke Corporation is the licensing authority within the borough, and they submitted that by an improved system of licensing they would be able to amply provide for the public convenience, and at the same time remove this dangerous congestion in the streets of Stoke. May I very briefly refer to the system of licensing which, I take it, would be the practice of the corporation under the general law and under this Bill? In the first place, I think my Noble Friend will agree that if an application for a licence is refused by the corporation, the applicant has a right of appeal, under the Roads Act, to the Minister of Transport. Therefore, if a person in Stoke has a small omnibus, and he applies to the corporation for a licence and they refuse his application, and he believes that he has suffered detriment, he has an appeal against the decision of the corporation to the Minister of Transport under the Roads Act.
§ Sir T. ROBINSON
I want to deal with the principle of the Bill, and I want to establish the fact that the Corporation of Stoke has willingly assented to submit all their decisions to an appeal to the Minister of Transport. As they willingly assented to take this course, we felt we could trust the corporation to deal with the interests concerned with great competence and satisfaction. Take the case of the omnibuses. There is an appeal given to a single person who may have a grievance against the corporation because his licence has been refused. This Bill provides that the corporation may attach conditions to the licence. I am surprised my Noble Friend did not call the attention of the House to the licensing law, and the difference between the Common Law and this particular Clause of the Bill. Under the ordinary law the local authority may grant licences to any person, and the moment the licence is granted the man who receives it can ply for hire in any street or town in the borough. There is no power to restrict him doing so. But the Corporation of Stoke said: "We must have larger 1391 licensing powers than obtain to-day, and we ask to be allowed to attach conditions to the licences we grant, so that we may consider public convenience and public necessity on every road." The Committee felt that if the Stoke Corporation were held responsible for public convenience and safety, they were the best people to know what services were required on any road, and I do not know whether this House could do any better than trust the local authority which is responsible to the inhabitants whom they represent. I would far sooner trust the corporation and the inhabitants than I would trust any interest, even that represented by the Noble Lord opposite. But they gave the appeal all the same. The person who takes out a licence, if he has a grievance, can appeal to the Ministry of Transport.
Now we come to another Clause which was referred to by my Noble Friend. If an application is made to the corporation, and they attach a condition that the person may run or may not run his omnibus on the tramway route there is an appeal. Take the position which is raised by this Amendment. I differ entirely with my Noble Friend when he says that we are creating a permanent monopoly. There is not one atom of monopoly created under this Bill; not one further monopoly than existed before. The only thing that this Clause does is to give the right of appeal to the company and no more. Why did we assent to this? The tramway company have constructed in this district 42 miles of single tram and approximately 32 miles are within the Borough of Stoke. They have expended £827,000 on the undertaking. They have relieved the ratepayers of a very large annual charge on account of road construction. They are responsible for the maintenance of 42 miles of tram, and maintenance to-day is not what it was 10 years ago. They carry that burden. If these tram lines are not maintained to the satisfaction of the local authority the authority has its remedy. If they allow the tramway company to neglect their tramways it is their own fault.
The company are under a further obligation to maintain a reasonable service of cars. If the service is not satisfactory to the Borough of Stoke and surrounding districts, the local authorities have it in 1392 their power at any time to bring the matter before the Minister of Transport. By using that instrument they can put the whole thing straight, and make the company satisfy the necessities of the borough. The tramway lines are rated; the company pays £12,000 per year in rates to the municipal authorities. In addition to that, the trams may be purchased at specific periods on specific terms by the local authorities if they so desire. There is something more than that. Maximum fares are fixed for the trams. This does not obtain in the case of omnibuses. They must provide workmen's fares morning and evening at halfpenny per mile, with a minimum of 1d. The omnibuses do not run in the early morning, and are not used in the evening for workmen's fares. These are left entirely for the tramway to provide. They are provided because the company are under a statutory obligation to do it. They are subject at any time to interference at the hands of the Ministry of Transport, and may be called upon to reduce the maximum fares on appeals made by the ratepayers within the area of the local authority. There is no statutory limitation of omnibus fares within that area.
Bearing in mind all these obligations—the construction of roads, the maintenance of roads, the relief of the local authority of enormous costs equivalent to a considerable contribution of rates, £12,000 a year actually paid in rates, statutory maximum fares, the obligation to provide workmen's fares, the obligation to provide satisfactory services—bearing in mind all these things, I ask the house to agree that the company are entitled at least to an appeal under this Bill. Something has been said about the corporation losing this, that or the other. The corporation have willingly assented to these Clauses. They believe that by the administration of the Clauses they will be able to remove a danger already cited, and that they will be able to act equitably as between the interests involved. I will take an extreme case, and will suppose that the day of possible purchase of this undertaking by the corporation is approaching. Is it reasonable that, without appeal, the companies should be under these obligations, and have inflicted upon them by the corporation, not 1393 to-day or to-morrow, but three or four years hence, 150 omnibuses on this street, without an appeal, without a chance to raise even a single voice? Indeed, I understand that they have already 100 omnibuses on this route. Is it reasonable bearing in mind the capital outlay and the obligations which rest upon them, that they should have to run the risk of a corporation acting unwisely and placing, perhaps, 200 omnibuses on this route, which would mean the ruin of the companies. All that they ask is the protection of an appeal. The monopoly cannot be theirs, because they have no power to become a larger monopoly than they are at present. It rests entirely with the Ministry of Transport to protect the public of Stoke and see that justice is done between the omnibus proprietors, the tramway companies, and the general public. As far as the Committee are concerned, they have complete confidence in the Borough of Stoke, and ask the House to pass the Bill as it stands.
§ Colonel WOODCOCK
The last speaker has told us that the Committee were unanimous in their decision when they sent this Clause down to the House, but that really should not, in a case of this sort, stifle discussion on what, perhaps, may happen in many other cities throughout the country. The Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) has told us that this is the first case of the kind that has occurred, and if this House cannot discuss it fully and go into the matter, whether the Committee were unanimous or not, we shall have many other towns and cities coming with the same plea that they want a Clause to give them the same authority. The motorbus traffic has developed very largely since the War. In many towns it has been of the greatest convenience to the workers, and has done a great deal of good. It has been provided, in many cases, by individual men, not by companies, and these men are, many of them, ex-service men, who have formed small syndicates to purchase these omnibuses and so get a living. Notwithstanding what has been said to-night by the hon. Member for Stretford (Sir T. Robinson), I still think that the companies being able to appeal, over the heads of the corporation, to the Ministry of Transport, against any omnibus proprietor who may get a licence, is creating 1394 a very dangerous precedent and stifling competition, which is certainly very useful, as the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) has pointed out, in speeding up the traffic in these districts.
We know very well that the trams pay rates and have made concessions, but the whole of that is part of the bargain which they made with the corporation when they went for their Bill. They did not anticipate the motor traffic. We quite understand that they pay rates, but that should not stop them from giving the best service possible. We know that they had to give certain services on those routes that they were made to give up, but we do not want just the minimum service, stifled down to the very lowest ebb. We want them to give a good and efficient service for the workers from morning till night, as has been done in other towns. The city from which I come has had this very same experience. The motor omnibuses have done a vast amount of good in speeding up the tramways to give more efficient services for the workers. If these motor omnibuses are not allowed to compete in the way that we want, all parallel routes to the tramway will be cut off. If they want to run part of the way along the tramway, and then cut off at right angles to the tramway, it will be found that the tramway company will certainly appeal to the Ministry of Transport against the motor omnibus service, and it is that sort of traffic that is going to be so helpful to the people who live in outlying suburbs. They can come right into the centre of the town from their districts, which are not served by a tramway, and they can come over part of the tramway that runs to the centre of the town. Certainly it will be found that the tramway companies will object to that sort of thing, and we do not want such a monopoly created. We do not want these routes laid down so as to assist the tramway companies in every possible way.
This motor omnibus traffic has very many favourable features. In the first place, a motor omnibus does not have to keep to the centre of the road, but can come in beside the footpath, and that is certainly an advantage in many cases. Again, the motor omnibus is not confined to the tramway route, but can vary its route, and can sometimes be of greater 1395 service to the district than the tramway. Furthermore, the motor omnibus can pick up and set down people at their own convenience without having to wait for stages as on the tramway. Often it is a great convenience to people to be picked up or set down between the tramway stages. I think it was the hon. Member for Stretford who referred to the narrow streets in the town of Stoke, but that is the case in very many other towns and cities. Take the City of Bristol, in which, I believe, the streets were made, in the first place, really for dog carts. They had to make, or endeavour to make, the streets such as to allow of the passage of motor omnibuses, and motor omnibuses are the probable traffic of the future. The Corporation of Stoke must endeavour to provide facilities as other towns have.
A great point has been made of the question of safety with these 100 omnibuses running along the road. I can assure the House that in the City of Bristol we have hundreds of omnibuses running along our roads, but the Watch Committee of the corporation have always the necessary powers, and they are there to see that the safety, both of the travelling public and of the people on foot, is properly guarded. If there is any trouble or any danger of omnibuses running too closely to each other, it is always in the hands of the watch committee to check it. They license the omnibuses and provide for the public safety. They can suggest the routes or change the routes, but when a man gets a licence and knows his route, he knows he has to conform to the conditions the watch committee impose on him. They do that in the public safety, or if they do not they are not performing their proper duties. I do hope that now that this Clause has been discussed by the House it will not be made so that any monopoly can be created. If this private enterprise, which is put up in many cases by small ex-service men, is going to be of service to the public and the workers, do not let us have a rich company, although they pay rates for which they bargained when they got the concession, overriding the licence granted by the corporation and going straight to the Ministry of Transport to have it put away. I support the Noble Lord in his Motion.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
I have listened to the speeches that have been delivered on this subject with the idea of getting at the real kernel of the contention of those who wish that this paragraph (c) should be struck out. I would remind the last speaker that we are debating the deletion of paragraph (c) from Clause 107 of this Bill. I understand the suggestion is that if this paragraph (c) remains we are creating some huge monopoly which will prevent the ordinary private omnibus owner having any chance of putting on the streets a supply of the omnibus accommodation necessary for the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent. I understand that is the contention.
You may do. There is no doubt you can do anything, but I understand that is the contention.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The contention is that if you give the tramway companies an appeal they will be able to prevent the corporation at its own option giving a licence to private companies to run along the tramway lines.
Quite so. If we have a madman in charge of the Transport Ministry. I have listened attentively to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), because if there is a weak point hi a Clause he is generally able to fasten upon it, but he has not pointed to a single word in this Clause which justifies him in suggesting that, unless it is that you will get the Stoke Corporation, on which there are some 30 odd Labour members, members of his own party, the tramway companies, and the Ministry of Transport all combining together to prevent any kind of competition. There is not the slightest doubt that that is the only way in which a monopoly can be obtained under this Clause. It is only on that supposition. I do not say for one moment that the deletion of this Clause will make any difference one way or the other, because for it to fail in its object—namely, to regulate the introduction, which has already occurred and gone to some ridiculous extent in some cases, and to give the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation power to make regulations with reference to the running of omnibuses in the future—you have to assume there are some very foolish 1397 administrators. As the Chairman of Committees stated, the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation desire me to read a statement to the House to justify them in maintaining this Clause exactly as it stands. It is in the nature of a Parliamentary bargain between the different parties concerned in the promotion of or opposition to this Bill.
I think the Noble Lord will find who they are by reading the statement. This is a statement on the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation Bill in support of Clause 107 and it says:The circumstances under which this Clause is included in the Bill are shortly as follows: The conditions in Stoke-on-Trent are peculiar to itself. The borough consists principally of one main thoroughfare running from one end to the other, a distance of about 10 miles, and round this thoroughfare the former six towns which now comprise the borough are built, there are practically no byepass roads, and substantially the whole of the traffic from any one of the towns to another has to use the main thoroughfare along which tramlines run the whole length. For some time past the corporation has been receiving large numbers of applications for omnibus licences and they have been placed in a position of great difficulty as guardians of the public safety. It has been found that applications have been made for licences to run omnibuses on certain routes, but that after the applications have been granted the omnibuses do not confine themselves to the routes suggested, but move about from route to route where the owner thinks he can pick up most fares. The result has been that in many cases it has been found that on certain routes many more omnibuses than are necessary for the convenience of the travelling public are plying for hire. In fact, so bad has the position become that even the number of omnibuses is a great public danger. The corporation have felt for some time that their powers of regulation were not large enough—the power they have of limiting the total number of omnibuses does meet their difficulty at all, as it may be quite safe to issue, say, 150 licences over the whole borough while it would be absolutely unsafe to have more than, say, 10 on a certain route. To meet this difficulty a Clause was drafted and in the Bill as originally deposited a Clause was inserted in very wide terms. This Clause was petitioned against by the local tramway companies, the Automobile Association"—This is where the parties the Noble Lord (Viscount Curzon) asked me for come in—and the London and Provincial Omnibus Owners' Association, but an amended Clause 1398 was agreed with all the petitioners, and the Clause came before the Lords Committee as an agreed one.So far as the tramway companies are concerned the agreement between the corporation and them was arrived at under the following circumstances. The tramway companies this Session promoted a Bill which contained several Clauses to which the corporation took very great exception, and they accordingly petitioned against the Bill, and several meetings took place between representatives of the corporation and the tramway companies as a result of which an arrangement was come to by which both parties were satisfied. The tramway companies withdrawing from their Bill one very objectionable Clause to the corporation and amending others, and the corporation agreeing to amend their Bill by the insertion of Clause 107 as it was in the First House, and both petitions were withdrawn. Before the Bill came to be considered by the Local Legislation Committee, the Minister of Transport by his Report notified his objection to Clause 107, and especially to the proviso contained in Sub-clause 4, and this objection, and this objection was or should have been known to everybody who was interested in the Bill. It was thought by the corporation that the Clause having been agreed they were honourably bound to proceed with it in its entirety, and the tramway companies petitioned against alterations. When the Clause came to be considered by the local legislation committee, they heard very full evidence as to the necessity for it from the town clerk and the chief constable of the county borough, and after considerable discussion with the representative of the Minister of Transport on his objection to the form of the Clause, the chairman intimated that the committee considered that the Clause was one which ought to be agreed between the Minister of Transport, the corporation and the tramway companies in the interest of public safety, and the consideration of the Clause was adjourned for a short period to enable this to be done. The parties who were represented before the committee accordingly got together and the new Clause 107, as it appears in the Bill to-day, was drawn and submitted to and passed by the committee. The opposition to the Clause is largely misconceived and certainly does not represent the views of the two largest omnibus owners in the county borough, who have withdrawn from the Omnibus Association. There has been some feeling locally that the corporation may use the provisions of the Clause harshly against the small omnibus owner, but I can definitely say on behalf of the corporation that this will not be done, and undertake on their behalf that no omnibus which is at present licensed and which is in a safe condition to be used will be required to be taken off the road for a period of at least twelve months after this Bill or its Regulations come into force. It is most sincerely desired by the corporation to retain the Clause as it must very materially help them in their efforts to adequately provide for the public convenience and safety.1399 That is the statement of the corporation. I am speaking for them to-night, and I do not see anything in the discussion which has taken place so far to justify me in hesitating to support their claims. This Bill, after all, is put forward by a public authority elected by the electors of Stoke-on-Trent, upon which there are some 30 odd members of the party immediately above the Gangway, and I dare say we can assume, if there is any accuracy in the prophecy of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that Stoke-on-Trent very soon will nave a majority of Labour members on the corporation. Then why any difficulty about giving them all these rights over administration, of which you complain at the moment? There is one other observation I cannot help making. When it is a question of discussing Regulations and the power to enforce them, with reference to motor traffic in our public streets, for the provision of public safety, I do not think the evidence of the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea is just the sort of evidence I should require.
§ Viscount CURZON
I can appreciate the hon. and gallant Gentleman's inuendo, but I do not think it is quite worthy of him.
If the Noble Lord feels the slightest resentment at anything I have said I at once apologise and withdraw it.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
May I, in the first place, reply to a question which was put by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) dealing with the policy of the Ministry with regard to motor omnibuses which are running from the centre of a town to outlying districts, and he was anxious to know what the policy of the Ministry was when these motor omnibuses sought to run alongside an existing tramway route, because he was afraid this Bill might contain some germ of opposition to his friends getting a proper omnibus service to outlying districts. Our policy is to allow these omnibuses which run to outlying districts to run alongside the tramways, though occasionally we put in a proviso that they shall not take up passengers after they have started, until the end of the tram route.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Does that mean, for instance, in the case of omnibuses from Hanley, that they will run straight through Burslem market place without being allowed to take up passengers?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Unfortunately I am not acquainted with the topography of the place, but that is the policy, in order to try to secure that people in the outlying districts shall be able to get into the centre of the town, and at the same time to safeguard the legitimate interests of tramway companies, which have expended large sums of money. May I say how the Ministry of Transport comes into the picture? An agreed Clause was brought up in the House of Lords, I understand, between the Stoke Corporation and the Tramway Company. When it came down and was considered by the local Legislation Committee we discovered that certain powers were sought to be vested in the Ministry, and naturally before we accepted them we wished to be quite clear what they were. We said we could not agree to the Clause till it was made clear what obligations were sought to be imposed upon us. Then the representatives of the Stoke Corporation and the tramway companies and an officer of the Ministry of Transport went away for a consultation and brought back an agreed Clause, which in our opinion stated exactly what the powers were which were sought to be imposed upon us, and in answer to criticisms which have been raised by the Noble Lord and others that representatives of other interests were not present, those interests could have been present if they had wished. If they did not appear before the local Legislation Committee that was their fault and not the fault of the local Legislation Committee. What the local Legislation Committee is called upon to do is to consider the people who come before them and put their views before them. The local Legislation Committee cannot run up and down the town seeking people for information. They judge upon the evidence that is produced before them. I cannot see that there is any grievance if these other people were not there This duty was put upon us. We accepted it with the very greatest reluctance. It is no precedent at all, but we accepted it. The Bill is put forward by an important corporation, and we 1401 have done all we can to get it through, and we have taken on this duty simply in order to try to get it through as an agreed measure, and we understood it was an agreed measure. If that is so, and in view of the speeches which have beer, made by the Chairman of the Local Legislation Committee, and by the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke-on-Trent, who represents the corporation, I think this House ought most certainly to support the Local Legislation Committee and the views of the Stoke Corporation. If we do not do that, and if we are going to throw over the Local Legislation Committee, who have heard all the evidence, and were unanimous in supporting this Clause; and if we do not give the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation what they want, and what the tramways want, we shall be doing a grave injustice. I hope, therefore, the House will refuse to delete this Clause.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I ask my hon. and gallant Friend if he will say something about the general question which I raised?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
We have a Departmental Committee sitting at the present time dealing with the powers of local authorities and the licensing of hackney vehicles. I admit that it does not cover all the points which were raised by my hon. and gallant Friend, and very important points they were. I can assure him, although I cannot make a promise, that I will go into the whole matter which he has raised, and consider it most carefully, with a view to seeing whether anything can be done.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward) is wrong in one point which he put. The Stoke Corporation authorised certain omnibuses to run, and the tramway company objected. They went to my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, and he upholds the tramway company.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am well aware of that, but you might not, or your successor might not. I only instance that, to show that the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke was mistaken. The Chairman of the Committee said that the tramway com- 1402 pany have spent £800,000 on the tramways, and that, therefore, they ought to have a right to go to the Ministry of Transport and to say that they object to omnibuses competing with them. May I ask what happened to stage coaches? Did the proprietors of stage coaches go to the Ministry of Transport, or whatever Ministry was in existence at that time, and say, "We are on the road; we have spent large sums of money, and we object to any other form of transport competing with us"?
§ Sir T. ROBINSON
I should be very glad if the right hon. Baronet would tell me under what Act of Parliament stage coaches were licensed.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I did not hear what the hon. Member said. Did the owners of hansom cabs when the taxicabs came to London demand that they should be protected against the competition of the taxicabs? Of course not. The modes of transport alter, and if certain people invest their money in a certain mode of transport and modern methods supersede that mode of transport, I am very sorry for them, but they have to lose their money as other people have done before them. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the railways?"] The railway companies do not say, "You must not send anything by an aeroplane, in which you run the risk of being burned or drowned." The railway companies have never said that they must have the right to go to the Ministry of Transport and to ask my hon. and gallant Friend to prevent aeroplanes running from this country to Paris and elsewhere. New methods of transport are discovered, and you have to make the best of the situation. I am very sorry that motor cars were ever invented, but that does not alter the fact that you have to take the new methods, whatever they are.
My hon. and gallant Friend says that the Ministry of Transport have accepted this duty, which was thrust upon them, with much reluctance. I would point out that the result of this will be that every tramway company in the country will come forward and say, "We desire to have the same privilege that has been given to the tramway company at Stoke-on-Trent. We desire that, if any new method of locomotion is discovered, that we shall be able to go before the Ministry of Transport, and ask that they should 1403 prevent this new and better method from competing with us." It seems to me to be a very dangerous thing for this House to do—whatever the Committee did—to create a new precedent of this sort. I have had the privilege of the acquaintance and the friendship of my hon. and gallant Friend for many years, and I am going to say something which perhaps he will not like. I do not want to see the powers of the Ministry of Transport extended. I thought that we had got rid of it, or that we were going to get rid of it. It seems to me an extraordinary position that at this time of day we are going to say that whether or not locomotion is to be allowed in our cities is to depend upon the will of the Ministry of Transport. It is a new proposition. In the interests of my hon. and gallant Friend I do not want to see him put in such an invidious position, and I hope the House will accept the Amendment.
§ Sir CHARLES WILSON
I desire to support the case of the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation. This Clause is very mild and moderate, but behind it there is a very great principle involved, and that is the question, who shall control traffic in the narrow streets. In my opinion, no one can control that traffic except the municipality. I know that this House in times gone by has been very chary of granting to any municipality outside London any powers of traffic control, but the time has arrived when such powers must be given, or we shall kill the people. The transport machinery has grown so immensely that it is absolutely necessary for corporations to take powers to order heavy and slow traffic along a different route from that run by trams and motor cars. This Clause ought to stand. It is a sufficient safeguard for the moment, but it is as nothing compared to the demands that will be made by the great corporations for further powers. They cannot carry on as they are at the present time. I do not care what the constitution of the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation may be. That has nothing to do with the question. This House, acting through its machinery, has practically directed two opposing parties to agree. They have agreed, and it would not be well for this House to throw down that agreement. I have seen too many cases where Bills or Clauses have been 1404 destroyed by those who have not heard the evidence as has the Committee dealing with the matter. I suggest that as only a municipality can deal with this question of control of traffic we ought to allow this exceedingly mild and moderate Clause to go through. I have had experience for 30 years of this matter, and I know that the corporations of the present time are practically powerless, because they are not armed with any powers for control of traffic. Only London has power to control its great traffic. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] London has those powers, and the municipalities outside London have scarcely any. Just as it is necessary in the case of London to have these powers, so it is necessary in the case of other municipalities. In the case of the Corporation of Stoke-on-Trent it is very reasonable, and I support it.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Though the previous speaker is older than myself, I trust that he will not take it amiss if I congratulate him on his first effort in this House. I do sincerely hope, despite the speech made by the Minister of Transport, that it is not too late to make an appeal to him to change his mind. Perhaps most of the contention centres round that part of the Potteries which I represent in this House. If any hon. Member of this House came to the Potteries, the first thing that would impress him would be the antiquated system of tramways which meander up in a single line, and when he comes to the various loops on the single line he will notice that the train driver sits down passively and reads his paper and waits until another tram appears on the horizon half a mile away. It is the most inefficient and antiquated tram system in Europe, and I say this as coming from Glasgow, where they have the best tramway system in the world.
This tramway system, which is antiquated and out-of-date in every respect, was suddenly faced a few months ago by the competition of chars-a-banc and motor omnibuses run by private individuals. The immediate effect—though it may seem strange to hon. Members opposite that anyone on these benches should seem to champion private enterprise in this way—of this competition was that the tramways were forced to reduce their fares. The second effect was that the tramway company, whose service had been 1405 extremely slow, and run in disregard of the mind of the public, began to speed up their service, and try to correlate the passing of one tram with another, and in every way possible to secure the patronage of the public, who, by that time were passing over to the motor omnibuses and chars-a-banc. And so incensed were the public of Stoke-on-Trent, Burslem, and other parts of the Potteries by the treatment which they had received from this tramway company that when the chars-a-banc and omnibuses began to compete the public gathered in the streets and practically prohibited anyone from boarding a tramcar for weeks after the competition began.
The argument has been advanced that we ought to accept this Clause because of the great amount of capital which this antiquated company has laid down in the five towns. I agree with the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) that it is no argument at all to say that you must have regard to the expenditure of any company in a district, simply because it happens to have spent a large amount of capital. With regard to the contention of this Bill, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent says that he has been asked by the corporation to ask that this particular paragraph should remain in the Bill. With all deference I say that while he may say that, I know distinguished members of the same corporation who are only too anxious to preserve the Bill as a whole and to delete this particular paragraph.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
The statement which I read on behalf of the Stoke Corporation described the method by which this Clause was agreed to, and it says that they therefore do not feel at liberty to do other than support the Clause as it stands. They are also agreed that if Sub-section 3, paragraph (c) went out it would make very little real difference in the Clause.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I thank my hon. Friend for his statement, but that does not counterbalance what I have stated that many distinguished members of the corporation are extremely anxious that that this paragraph should be deleted, and, furthermore, if the absence of this Clause will make no difference in the power of the Bill, then why all this con- 1406 tention to retain all the Clause? This same tramway company, which has been in open conflict with the public, and was so inefficient that it brought about the competition of the chars-à-banc and the omnibuses, came to this House a few months ago with a Bill in which they had a Clause asking for complete monopoly rights of running in the Stoke area. With the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) I blocked that Bill, and I maintained the block on that Bill, and did not remove it on the understanding that if I did so there would be some allowance made in the Corporation Bill for the tramway company. There is no argument in that so far as I am concerned.
This Clause as it stands is setting up a new precedent—to allow a private company, having running powers under a distinguished corporation, to have powers to appeal over the head of the decision of the corporation to the Ministry of Transport. "But," said the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke, "there is no good anticipating trouble, unless you postulate that at the head of the Ministry of Transport there happens to be a madman." I think it better to be on the safe side, and not be put into the Bill language which would give to a madman a free hand if he happened to land in that particular place. Therefore, to be quite safe, I appeal to the House in all seriousness—because I know the feeling of the people in the district—to have this particular paragraph deleted. It has not been agreed to in the sense that some hon. Members have tried to make out, and it is setting up this iniquitous precedent of giving a private company power to appeal against the decision of a corporation. The hon. Member for Leeds truly said that the corporation ought to be the supreme power in their own streets, but by this Clause you are giving power to a private company to appeal against them. I want to impress on the minds of hon. Members that this paragraph seems rather like enabling the company to get some of their own back, because they had to drop the Clause to obtain a monopoly which was in the Bill promoted a few months ago. I hope that what has been said will in some way command the attention of the Minister of Transport, because I can assure him that, in dropping this paragraph, he will 1407 be doing a distinctly popular thing in the district.
It is no good saying it was an agreed Clause, because, even on the confession of the Chairman of the Local Legislation Committee, whose speech none of us heard without feeling that he was absolutely sincere, the agreement on this Clause was a rushed agreement, come to without due consideration and without full representation of all the parties concerned. Therefore, I hold it is not true to say that it was a fully agreed Clause, in which all the parties concerned freely acquiesced. I appeal to the Minister to come to the Potteries some time, and to see for himself the great service which a speedy transport system is to the community over and against the tramway system which is now receiving this great consideration. The Chairman of the Local Legislation Committee has said that we ought to have due regard to the amount of rates which the tramway company pay for the road over which they run, and indeed that this tramway company is really a benefactor to the local area. I can assure the Minister of Transport that the people of the Potteries would willingly allow the tramway company to take away all the tramway road and give them a new system altogether.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I am glad the hon. Member has made that interjection, because the tramway company know that if there is free competition by chars-à-banc and motor omnibuses their capitalised value will come down,, and that they will not be able to unload on the
§ corporation at an enhanced value later on. They want, if possible, to block any competition, because they have now agreed with the corporation which has given them 20 years' running powers in the area. They are already a nuisance in the area, and they can tantalise the corporation into buying them out. I have many friends opposite, and many hon. Gentlemen on that side believe in free competition and private enterprise. Now is their chance to vote against monopoly. Here we have an outstanding example of how open competition broke a notorious monopoly, such as the tramway system was. The Bill now seeks to give them statutory powers to appeal over the head of the corporation to the Ministry of Transport. If the Minister of Transport were an angel, that would be no reason why, under a Bill of this kind, we should set up a precedent allowing a private company to over-rule the decision of a local corporation under whom they are acting. I am speaking on behalf of the people I represent, and I sincerely hope that the House will delete this particular paragraph. If it be true, as the champion of the paragraph says, that it matters not one way or the other whether the paragraph remains or not, I hope it will be deleted.
The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 120; Noes, 113.1409
|Division No.345.]||AYES.||[10.11 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Furness, G. J.|
|Ashley, Lieut.-Colonel Wilfrid W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Clayton, G. C.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Gould, James C.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Edge, Captain Sir William||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Edmonds, G.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Halstead, Major D.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. M.||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Fairbairn, R. R.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Falconer, J.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Fildes, Henry||Hinds, John|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||O'Grady, Captain James||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pattinson, R. (Grantham)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Pease William Edwin||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Raine, W.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Russell, William (Bolton)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Sandon, Lord||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Mercer, Colonel H.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—Lieut.-Colonel Nall and Sir Kingsley Wood.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Colonel J. C. T.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Harrison, F. C.||Potts, John S.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harvey, Major S. E.||Price, E. G.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Attlee, C. R.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Barnes, A.||Herriotts, J.||Remer, J. R.|
|Becker, Harry||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hill, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hillary, A. E.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Berry, Sir George||Hudson, Capt. A.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Bonwick, A.||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Briggs, Harold||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelley, Major Sir Frederick A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bruford, R.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sexton, James|
|Buckle, J.||Lansbury, George||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Burgess, S.||Lawson, John James||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Leach, W.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Linfield, F. C.||Snell, Harry|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Lorden, John William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Lowth, T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lunn, William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Warne, G. H.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Collison, Levi||M'Entee, V. L.||Weir, L. M.|
|Cope, Major William||McLaren, Andrew||Whiteley, W.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||March, S.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Duncan, C.||Middleton, G.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Dunnico, H.||Morel, E. D.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wise, Frederick|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Newbold, J. T. W.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Garland, C. S.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wright, W.|
|Gosling, Harry||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Paling, W.|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Penny, Frederick George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Viscount Curzon and Mr Morgan Jones.|
|Greenall, T.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Phillipps, Vivian|
Bill read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.