HC Deb 14 July 1926 vol 198 cc513-60

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £71,724, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Transport under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, Expenses of the Railway Rates Tribunal under the Railways Act, 1921, Expenses under the London Traffic Act, 1924, Expenses in respect of Advances under the Light Railways Act, 1896, Expenses of maintaining Holyhead Harbour, Advances to meet Deficit in Rams-gate Harbour Fund, Advances to Caledonian and Crinan Canals, and for Expenditure in connection with the Technical Survey for a general scheme of Generation and Transmission of Electricity in Great Britain, and with the Severn Barrage Investigation."—[NOTE: £70,000 has been voted on account.]

The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)

It is usual for a Minister when he introduces his Estimates to make a speech of inordinate length relating the activities of his Department during the past year and pointing out how they are going to do better in the next. But the exigencies of Parlia- mentary time have only left us about 24 hours, in which to discuss this, the most important Vote of all, and I propose to occupy the time of the House for only about 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour. Then, after hon. Members have voiced their complaints, absolutely groundless complaints, I shall proceed to demolish their contentions to my own satisfaction if not to theirs. Any uninstructed Member of Parliament glancing at the Estimates would say " Here is a spendthrift department. In the clays when economy is so necessary their Estimates have risen from £134,000 to £141,000, showing an apparent increase of £7,000." In reality the Estimates of the Ministry of Transport have been reduced by £13,000 in the present financial year, because £20,000 has been placed upon the Estimates since last year in order to defray the cost of the investigations, and very proper investigations, which are taking place to ascertain whether the Severn Barrage scheme is possible.

If it is practicable by utilising the tides in the Severn Channel, without hurting any of the great ports which work in that channel, to release an immense volume of energy for the creation of electricity in this country, to cheapen the cost and help our manufactures, I am sure no one in this House would grudge a petty sum of £20,000 to continue these experiments. These experiments have been going on for some years, under the Government before the. last and under the last Government, and it will undoubtedly be three or four years before any decision can be arrived at whether this great project is practicable and desirable. The real decrease, therefore, is £13,000. No member of this Committee is so ignorant as to suppose that the total activities of the Ministry of Transport amount to a miserable sum of £141,000. They know that the administration of the Road Fund which is one of the chief functions of the Ministry of Transport, is outside this £141,000, that the money in the Road Fund is used to defray the cost incurred by that administration and that the £141,000 is voted by Parliament for other matters apart from the Road Fund. May I say one word about the Road Fund, because it is a question that has been debated at some considerable length in the discussions on the Budget. It has been decided by Parliament on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill that, though the Road Fund shall remain as a Road Fund, though the structure of the Road Fund shall remain as it is, yet owing to the exigencies of the public services and possibly to the abnormal growth of the Road Fund, it has, I say, been decided that the proposals of the Government are right and that certain moneys shall be diverted to national purposes which would otherwise have been devoted solely to road purposes.

The Fund is larger than it has ever been, and £17,500,000 is to be available for road purposes during the current financial year. All the proceeds of the taxation on heavy motor vehicles remains in the Road Fund because the wear and tear is far greater on the heavy side than on the light side, and on the personal side, not the luxury side—I object to that term, because motoring has ceased to be a luxury and is now a necessity—one-third is to go to the national Exchequer and two-thirds to remain in the Road Fund. The Committee will understand that the Minister of Transport, in the year 1926–27, has more money in the Road Fund than any previous Minister had, £17,500,000, to dispose of in the appropriate manner, in more or less the usual channels, with one notable exception to which I will refer in a moment. In the first place, to my mind the first charge on the Road Fund should be, and I hope will always be, the classification grants to first-class and second-class roads, which are administered so well by our great local authorities. After all, the Road Fund money is paid by the motorist in order that he may have good roads, and the upkeep of the main arteries of traffic should be the first charge on the Fund. In the current year that will dispose of from £9,500,000 to £9,750,000 out of the £17,500,000. But since I first introduced these Estimates, a notable departure has been made in the administration of the Fund.

Hon. Members will recollect that in 1923, when I had the honour to be Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, I initiated the principle of giving something out of the Road Fund to unclassified roads in rural areas, on the ground that as the volume of traffic was increasing, and was likely to increase, even unclassified roads, roads that were little used 10 years ago, could legitimately claim some of the money of the motorist to help the poor local authorities in maintaining the roads. That principle went only as far as improvement, and though it did not quite satisfy everyone, yet it did something to meet the case. I have been a member of a county council a good many years, and I appreciate the point of view of the rural authorities and the rural district councils. This year, for the first time, the Government, in their Budget and in their proposals with regard to the Road Fund, are definitely allocating to highway authorities, in areas distinctly rural in character, a certain amount of money which will go to the maintenance of these unclassified roads pure and simple, and not to improvements. The sum is not large if you consider the national needs, but is no less than £1,400,000, which will roughly work out at nearly 20 per cent. of the expenditure on these unclassified roads in rural areas; and, in addition, there is a sum of £1,250,000 for these unclassified roads for improvements, mainly, I hope, that they may be improved and handed over to the county councils and thereby possibly be got into a better state than at present.

Then we have allocated a sum of £2,500,000 for improvement works on the more important roads, quite apart from the unemployment programmes. £2,500,000 sounds a large sum of money, but when you spread it over the whole of Great Britain the butter is rather thin on the bread and there are many localities which want more money. The Committee must not forget, however, that the unemployment programmes of successive Governments — I am not apportioning praise — which are still unexecuted, are large, and they relate to work on these roads. In this present financial year, if all the projects materialised—there has always been a lag in the programmes owing to various causes which I will not mention—there will be advanced from the Road Fund no less than £7,000,000 towards unemployment works carried out on the big roads, and the local authorities will find £3,750,000. Therefore, in the present financial year on roads alone, for unemployment, money is allocated and ready, if it can be spent, to the extent of £10,750,000. Therefore when hon. Members say, as they do sometimes, that nothing is being done for the unemployed, I submit that that sum represents a very substantial help to the unemployed.

That is all that I propose to say with regard to the ordinary programme. I wish to say a few words on a subject which, I understand, is specially interesting to two hon. Members now sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, namely, the question of London traffic. Of all the problems which a Minister of Transport has to face, I say frankly that the most difficult to solve and the most troublesome to handle is that of London traffic, because there is no royal road to success; whether there is any road to success at all, I sometimes doubt. You can look forward and prevent, congestion occurring on the outskirts of the Metropolis, but unless you have the purse of Fortunatus or the genius of a Baron Hausismann, it is difficult to see how you can solve the problem in inner London. May I say publicly that in the mitigation of this difficult problem and in helping to solve it, no Minister could have had better help than I have received from the London Traffic Advisory Committee, set up under the Act of 1924. The Members of that Committee have not spared themselves. They have even criticised the Minister. What more could they do than that? But, whether they have criticised the Minister or not, they have certainly helped him, and I am deeply grateful for the personal trouble they have taken, as representing the great local authorities and other interests, in trying to solve this difficult question. The activities of that Committee and of the Minister may be divided under four headings. There is, first of all, the actual control of moving traffic; there is the encouragement of further facilities; there are the Regulations by which streets may be cleared from obstructions; and the improvement and alteration if streets so as to allow greater freedom of movement. Let me take them in order. First, there is the control of moving traffic. Here, I think, the Advisory Committee and myself can really claim that we have made an advance. I think it will be agreed that the " roundabout " system—I hate the word " gyratory "—instituted in Par- liament Square, in the Mall at Buckingham Palace, at Hyde Park Corner, and especially in Trafalgar Square, has made a very substantial improvement, and although, I say frankly, it may make it rather more difficult for pedestrians to cross unless they do so at the proper crossing places, yet the benefit to the traffic, as traffic, is so marked that undoubtedly the innovation has come to stay.


Who invented it?

Colonel ASHLEY

As in the case of all great ideas, there are so many claims to the honour that I would hesitate to give the list, as its recital would exceed the length I have allotted to my speech. We hope to start a modified roundabout system in Piccadilly Circus on the 19th, to have a more complete system when the improvements there are finished in a few months, and also by the institution of signal lamps in Piccadilly—they are now being erected—and by the use of one-way traffic streets both North and South of Piccadilly, to do something to mitigate the troubles which are now so prominent in that main artery of London traffic. The next point is the encouragement of further facilities, and here we find great difficulty. They are difficulties which must be overcome, but, frankly, up to now various causes have prevented me from carrying out all that I should have liked to carry out. The Traffic Advisory Committee was established at the end of 1924. and the first thing I did, on their unanimous advice, was to stabilise the position in London as far as omnibuses were concerned. They were coming on then at the rate of 20 per week. The congestion in London would have become impossible. and in order to check that congestion, and also in order that we should have time to look round and consider the problem, we took that action. The Advisory Committee by the spring of this year had fully explored the situation, and, by a unanimous vote, they gave me advice, in which I fully concurred—I had arrived at the same conclusion from independent inquiries—that it would be absolutely necessary to diminish to some extent the number of omnibuses on the streets.

The Committee will remember that, by the Traffic Act, 1924, I have power, on the ground either of traffic congestion or in order to protect other means of locomotion, to diminish by order the number of omnibuses on the streets. I want the Committee to, approach this question free from prejudice and to put aside altogether the questions which are so often raised—should a traffic combine control London, whether it is better that a man should own two omnibuses or one omnibus, or whether 100 omnibuses should be owned by one company. I want the Committee to approach the question as the Minister and the Advisory Committee had to approach it, and to ask themselves: What is the best thing to do to minimise the congestion in our streets and enable the general public to travel to and from their work in ease and comfort and with cheapness. If you removed all the trains from the streets of London to-day and did away with all the tubes, and relied entirely on the omnibuses, apart from the fact that you would scrap property worth scores of millions, you would not be able to carry the people backwards and forwards, because the number of omnibuses on the streets would be so enormous, that the streets could not carry them. We have to visualise other things. We have to visualise the conditions which now prevail in the North-east and the South-east and the East of London. I have held inquiries, at considerable expense at which many local authorities have been good enough to give evidence, and the conclusion arrived at is that the only way of giving facilities to these teeming millions—not hundreds of thousands, but millions—who have to come in to London to their work every day, is by means of tubes. Surface traction cannot deal with them. There is no room.

If you must have tubes, who is going to build them? People will not build tubes unless they are going to get a certain return for their money. At the present moment, unless you protect tubes you will find nobody to build tubes. Is the London County Council to do so? If the London County Council were to do so, apart altogether from the question of municipal versus private enterprise, the rates of London would have to find any loss which those tubes would involve. Therefore, while endeavouring to do all I can to see that no injustice is done to any person, it is quite clear I must follow the unanimous advice of the Traffic Advisory Committee to give some protection not to all trams but to some trams, and not to all tubes but to some tubes, in order that they may be able to pay their way and help to carry the millions of London to and from their work. When the general strike broke out all prosecutions for breaches of the Regulation were naturally held over. I have been endeavouring, by private negotiation, to come to some understanding with the various interests concerned. The majority of the people interested would, I think, have entered into what I considered to be a fair arrangement, but there is a minority, which stands out and will not come in. Therefore, I am reluctantly compelled to continue those prosecutions which I have instituted in order to carry out the Regulations, and I am convinced, unless I go on with the work which I have started, and which, the Advisory Committee has advised me to do, I shall make no step towards the solution of the great traffic problem of London.

Lieut. - Colonel WATTS - MORGAN

Before the right hon. and gallant Gentleman concludes, may I ask if he is aware of the pernicious practice which is now being adopted by the Ministry of Health of withholding sanction to loans for county councils, although those loans are within the councils' borrowing powers. In several instances, county councils have been unable to get their share of the Road Fund grant to carry on unemployment work. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is not aware of this practice I ask him to make inquiries.


I also wish to interpose a question with reference to the coloured light signals, which I understand it is proposed to instal at Piccadilly. Has the Minister made any provision for a test of motor drivers in the matter of colour blindness? This is a most important matter in connection with the railways where coloured light signals are employed, and if you are to have people driving cars who cannot understand the signals because of this physical defect, you may have confusion worse confounded.

Colonel ASHLEY

With the permission of the Committee I will answer these two points. As regards the first, I am not aware of the cases referred to by the hon. and gallant Member, but if the circum- stances are communicated to me I will certainly communicate with the Ministry of Health.

Lieut. - Colonel WATTS - MORGAN

May I give the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the facts now? The Glamorgan County Council has a grant due to them of £134,000, and they have been held up for the last six months, because the Ministry of Health, though it is well within the council's borrowing powers, refused to sanction a loan.

Colonel ASHLEY

As regards the other point which has been raised, these coloured lamps are not for the use of drivers. They are only for the use of the police.


I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, as all good Ministers apparently do, has told us of the things that have been done by his Department. I wish to call attention to some things which have not been done by the Department. The Minister told us of the abnormal growth of the Road Fund, and one would imagine from his statement that this increase was not capable of being spent by the Department. He goes on further to say that he has more money in that Fund to-day than any predecessor of his, and I hope to call attention to some very useful channels in which this money might be expended, and to suggest that there might even be a reconsideration of the question of the rooking of the Fund for £7,000,000 for other purposes. Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman has the purse of Fortunatus; on his own admission, he has a purse that is gradually developing as traffic is developing and the income is increasing, and yet, on the face of it, there are anomalies that exist in London. I propose to deal, first of all, with the question of the London traffic area., and I hope that anything I shall say will not be construed, either by the Minister or by my colleagues, as any disloyalty to the Traffic Committee, of which I happen to be a member. It is not in the light of that position that I propose to speak, but as a public representative in this House. We had first the question known as the Victoria Dock Road scheme, a, scheme that has been on the tapis, I think, for well over 100 years. I quote from the " Journal of the Royal Society of Arts," and Sir Lyndon Macassey, in discussing this very project, said: Over 100 years ago the principle which Sir Henry Maybury had argued had been laid down by four Royal Commissions. But to bring it a little nearer modernity, at least 21 years ago this scheme of the Victoria Dock Road was adumbrated. Successive authorities have dealt with it, and many public and well minded people have waxed eloquent about it. We have got as far as a model of the scheme, after 21 years, and one of the first duties of the Committee was to consider the scheme. After an exhaustive examination of it, the whole Committee visiting it on the spot, they decided to recommend it unanimously to the Minister—and I think I am correct in saying that he joined with them in approval of the scheme—yet at this time we are still without any approach to the problem of the Victoria Dock Road. There is a place there called White Gates, a level crossing. It has been estimated, by various people who have been there, that for fully 40 per cent. of the time the road is closed against traffic, that there are queues there of 300 and 400 yards long, with vehicles standing, to a total period of nine out of every 24 hours in the day, and that during the business hours of the day for 47 minutes of every hour the gates are closed against traffic. Not only so, but they are closed against the workpeople who have to use that route, the result being, not only a good deal of lost time to many thousands of workpeople in the course of a year, but naturally an increased cost to the business associations represented in that area. I would mention that the release of traffic from the White Gates can be traced right through the centre of London and can undoubtedly be brought to account for a good deal of the congestion, by blocks of traffic being released approximately every half an hour, in the junctions in the inner circle of London. The scheme has the approval of the Minister, and my hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling), speaking at the Royal Society of Arts, said: He had been driven to the conclusion —and he asked his hearers not to think it was Socialism—that our great main roads would have to be regarded from a national standpoint, more particularly when it was remembered how many of the local authorities in whose districts better transit facili- ties were needed could not find the necessary money to do the work. Further on he said, in dock road: It was not only the district in question, but the whole of London would benefit if the improvements such as Sir Henry Maybury was going to elaborate might be brought about. Then Sir Henry Maybury, waxing eloquent on a subject with which he is thoroughly au fait, commenced by saying in regard to West Ham, a county borough that has been in the eye of the House of Commons pretty considerably of late in regard to the guardians: It was no use expecting West Ham to pay. They had never possessed the resources or influence effectively to control the development of Silvertown, much less the amazing contortions of the River Lea, which imposed such difficulties upon bridge builders. Sir Henry Maybury unconsciously joined with this side, and I hope to show to-night the utter impossibility of expecting West Ham, which gets no advantage itself from the traffic as such, to contribute to this scheme. It is London, or, rather, the country, because traffic radiates a good deal through the Midlands and the East and West of England, which would get the advantage if this £3,000,000 was spent on the dock road. What is against it? The Minister will say, no doubt, that he is handicapped, and that it is not permissible for him to spend the money, although he has this purse of Fortunus, although his income is abnormal, although it is an increasing rather than a diminishing factor. The Minister, if, in fact, he has an abnormal income, neither considers making a reduction of the amount of taxation per individual, nor does he spend the money on works that are absolutely essential to London. He may say, and perhaps rightly, that it is not his fault, that he does not control the purse strings, that he is really only the rent collector, and that, having collected it, another very astute right hon. Gentleman, a member of the Government, controls the purse strings, but I imagine that if the Minister were to reflect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the will and request of the Committee as a whole, backed by hid own opinion that this thing is essential, that money would be forthcoming from this apparently illimitable purse.

The scheme is held up because, in the first place, there are no contributions to it. West Ham obviously cannot contribute to it, the Port of London Authority refuse to contribute to it, the London County Council have offered no contribution to it, and the Minister, seeing a negative staring him in the face, after himself having approved the scheme, accepts that negative. But what is the position at the docks? In the year 1886 the net tonnage entering those docks was a mere figure of 327,643 tons, whereas in 1923—and it has increased since—the net tonnage was 4,148,443 tons.

Surely a developing port of that character, a port which now can handle the largest ships, ought to be served properly with roads, and it is for those reasons I again ask the Minister to give consideration and financial support to the scheme, and to expedite that scheme in the interest not only of West Ham, not only of the Victoria Docks area as such, but because of its undoubted advantage to the traffic facilities of the whole of London and Greater London. Then there was the question of a Lower Thames Tunnel. We spent many hours visiting the spot where the tunnel was to be. Whether it is to be is, of course, a matter for the Minister. Again, after most exhaustive inquiries, after getting the most expert advice we could get on the matter, and again, I believe with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman that the scheme should proceed, that scheme is exactly where the Dock Road scheme is. We do not want forty years to pass before this scheme is brought about.


Has the site for the tunnel been decided?


Yes; it has been decided and recommended, but, perhaps, the Minister will answer that question. Then with regard to Aldgate haymarket, again the Committee spent many houre visiting that place. There is a very old established market there. For two days in the week congestion is almost at the point of complete blockage. It was recommended that this should be done away with. Two schemes were submitted, one to cost £200,000, and the other, which demanded some demolition of property, £1,500,000. The Committee, knowing that the Ministry could not throw this fabulous sum of money about, decided to recommend the minor scheme, and I ask the Minister to tell us exactly where that scheme is at the present moment. Then there is the question, within the terms of the Traffic Act, of alternative routes. What has happened to the Bayswater and Eastern Avenue; the cost of which, approximately, was put at £162,000? Then, what has happened to the Tottenham and the docks scheme I Both of these have been referred to the Ministry, and, I believe, approved. Then, with regard to a spot in London which, I believe, is almost as bad, from a traffic point of view, as the Dock Road. I refer to the Elephant and Castle. Anyone looking at a map of London will see that there are nine bridges, and possibly two more to be built, converging directly at the Elephant and Castle headway. Recommendations have been made, and I believe approved by the Ministry, for two schemes. One scheme was to cost, I believe, £5,000 and the other £340,000.

9.0 P.M.

I think the Minister will agree that this improvement on the traffic facilities, especially No. 2 scheme, which deals with traffic at the inlets from New Cross, Camberwell Green, etc., by directional signs over the bridges, which the Minister has already approved, is essential. These schemes are only a few which one could cite and develop, but I feel it is better to raise specific issues, instead of making a general survey of the Department's work, and to endeavour to focus the attention of the Committee upon them. Then there are three Committees set up by the Minister about which I should like some information. 'What has happened to the Committee on the Taxation and Regulation of Road Vehicles? That Committee was appointed in October, 1919. Three Interim Reports have since been issued, but no Final Report. What has happened to the Committee on the Licensing and Regulation of Public Service Vehicles, which was appointed in May, 1922, and as to which one Interim Report only has been issued, and nothing further has been beard of it? Then what has happened to the Committee on Lights on Vehicles? The first and second Interim Reports were issued up to March, 1920. The third Interim Report was issued on the 30th September, 1921, but no Final Report has yet been issued. Can it be denied that any one of those Reports, or them, should be carried out, with the utmost expedition? The position in London and the country at the moment is a positive scandal. Motorists are daily in trouble, and pedestrians are also in trouble, simply for the want of some coordinating policy that would allow us to get a uniform system, giving direction and guidance not only to pedestrians, but to road users as well. Will the Minister tell us what exactly has happened to these Reports?

The Minister has stated how much has been estimated and how much granted for various projects for unemployment on Class I and Class II roads. Last year the estimated expenditure for roads and bridges in Metropolitan Boroughs and under the London County Council was £739,188, and the grants made were £369,587. On Class II roads and bridges account, the estimated expenditure was £267,200, and the grants made were £66,794. The total estimated expenditure was £1,006,388, and the grants made £436,381. What is the use of asking this House for estimates and getting those estimates, when, in fact, the money is not spent? Not only is unemployment continued, but the physical conditions of London remain as they are, with an ever-growing volume of traffic. Therefore, want to ask the Minister why there is this disproportion between the grants made. Here is a traffic area of 25 miles circle, with a population of, approximately, 11,000,000, and although the estimate was £1,000,000 for that area, the grant made was 2436,381; while for the roads in England and Wales the amount was £9,527,890? I am using these figures for the purpose of comparison. London cannot be treated as London from a traffic paint of view to-day, It is very obvious that it is a place to which people come and leave. There is an ever-growing road traffic in and out, and, therefore, it seems to me, although the Minister may say he cannot consider London as London, he does consider Ireland as Ireland. The North of Ireland gets its money back, and, I believe, also the South of Ireland. Why should not London, the largest and most congested city in the world, have at least a right to claim that the money it raises should he spent to give facilities for the traffic of London? Surely that is not an unfair thing?

The Minister may say, he probably will say—this is a point I want to lay stress upon—that despite the fact of this abnormal growth of his Fund, despite of having this purse of Fortunatus, with this £17,500,000 last year as an income practically from the roads, yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer has allocated to the whole of London and the home counties area the miserable sum of £400,000 per annum. The Minister may say: " That is all right, I cannot even spend £400,000 because of the handicap which is upon me." He may say: " Unless I can get the London County Council," for instance—who I understand have allocated £100,000 for this purpose during the present financial year—" unless I can get the London County Council to increase that amount, and unless the Middlesex County Council and the Essex County Council can make similar advances towards getting this development carried out, I shall be in a miserable position of being unable to spend the £400,000 that has been granted to me." On that point, if the Minister came to this House and asked, in the interests of traffic, in the interests of mobility and better service to the people, not having enough powers already: " I want more powers, I want to get on with this big dock scheme which is absolutely essential, and I want to get on with the other schemes before the Committee," I believe that the House would grant what powers he asked for, and would give facilities in the matter of period and money. It is because be has not come to this House that I am raising the issue here to-night. Finally, I sincerely hope that the statements that I have made here to-night will not be deemed by the Minister to be baseless. They are founded on fact. I hope he will give an effective reply to the demands made.


The speech that has just been made by the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith) suggests the importance of this question and also suggests the non-political character of the work in which the Committee has been engaged. I can speak with a certain amount of authority. I admit it is extremely nice to hear speeches from the Opposition side because it is always possible to show how much more could be done. I have heard a great deal of talk of that sort in another place. I happen, however, to know some of the difficulties which people have to face who are responsible for getting schemes launched and have to get the money in order to back up those schemes. There is nobody more anxious than hon. Members on this side of the House to see something really effective done in these matters in London, but the more we look into the problem the more we have to recognise that it bristles with difficulties on every hand. The hon. Member has, I think, very wisely, and very practically, instead of inveighing at large, has dealt with particular schemes on which he has set his heart, and on which the Advisory Committee have reported favourably, and I believe unanimously, and I have reason to believe the Minister is anxious to see something done.

The London County Council on the other side of the road might well say: " Well, you are in a pretty large mess because you refuse to adopt the suggestions made by us to set up such an authority as would deal with this problem effectively and find the money." We are extremely anxious that the difficult problem of London should not become a political question. It is too grave a matter for that. We must all co-operate to see what can be done. Take the Victoria Dock scheme. That is only one small item, big enough in itself, but one small question in the whole of the traffic problem of London. We all realise the need for that to be dealt with. The matter has been mentioned at the London County Council, I will not say officially —we have never had it officially before us—and many other points have been mentioned at the London County Council, whose duty it is to look after the County of London and to provide those things which are needful for London. They have already been drawn outside the bounds of their area into helping arterial roads on a pretty large scale, but they have found it possible to do that on the ground of giving assistance to the unemployed of the County of London. The same argument does not apply to this particular Victoria Road scheme. Yet I believe that if a scheme were really promulgated—I do not mean the practical part of the scheme, because I believe everything is ready to go ahead—it is the money that is to be found—for the whole of London area, involving not only the London County Council but the authorities outside, all those who benefited by this combine, I have not the slightest doubt but the London County Council would do its part. We shall be very glad to see a scheme carried through which would in the long. run, I believe, be of benefit to London. My hon. Friend said that the London County Council had made no offer. The London County Council are not yet in a position to make an offer. I am quite hopeful that it will co-operate with the other authorities if they will play their part—


We in West Ham have offered £300,000!


West Ham may have done its duty and played its part. I am not blaming West Ham. But there are many other authorities that ought to come in who are interested in seeing the road carried through. The London County Council are willing to co-operate, with the assistance of the Government, to see that the necessary Bills get through the House. But in dealing with this great traffic problem of London wide issues have to be considered. There is not only the county problem. One or two bridges have fixed the public gaze. The thing is far wider than that. The whole question has to be considered, and I believe that no one authority is in a position to consider it from the broadest point of view. We have heard something about a Royal Commission being set up. I am told that this Royal Commission will be so constituted, and will have such a reference as to enable it, not merely to consider the question of the bridges, but the more important question of the southern approach to the bridges. The question will also involve that of finance, which will not have to be left out. If the London authority is to be interfered with, if its responsibility is to be clipped, if some outside national body is going to say what is to be done, then those who want the tune must be prepared to pay the piper. Above all, speed is of the essence. There is not the slightest doubt that in setting up that Royal Commission the hope is that Waterloo Bridge may be saved and St. Paul's Bridge may be stopped. Waterloo Bridge will not wait for the Royal Commission. Waterloo Bridge is gently sitting down, and the London County Council naturally cannot stand aside and see the upper districts of London, Putney or any others, submerged by reason of the fact of the river being blocked. There is tremendous need to proceed rapidly in this matter.

On the question of moving traffic, while I do not wish to raise the old question of the trams and the omnibuses, I would like to say that the London County Council have not got any of the relief that was promised by a reduction of competition along tramway routes. To-day everybody grumbles and wants the first place, but I am not claiming the first place for the London County Council, because they need help less than any other body. I believe there are certain undertakings which are in a very parlous condition, and need speedy relief if they are to continue to carry on their work. But, politics apart, the chief concern is that the public of London should get to and from their work. We have no time to discuss ethical questions when we have such a, really serious and sobering question to deal with, and one which will not wait. Trams may have to be scrapped, services may have to he shut down, bridges may crumble. I am quite confident that the Ministry of Transport realise all the difficulties. The Ministry have difficulties of their own. They have good advisers, and they are willing to accept other advice. There are financial difficulties I know, but there are other enormous difficulties arising out of the effort to try to get a large number of authorities into line: that is one of the main difficulties to be faced. I would join with other hon. Members in encouraging the Ministry to do all they can in the circumstances. I do not think the Ministry can be blamed up to the moment, because they have been taking important steps forward and preparing the ground, and I hope that in the near future we shall begin to see the end of the difficulty.


It may be news to the Minister that there are a few traffic problems to be solved in the provinces. It may be very desirable that the London traffic problem should be solved, but I trust the provinces may receive some attention. I do not want to say that all these problems are directly attributable to the present Ministry, because they existed before the Ministry was established, but unfortunately for the Ministry and for us, the Ministry was not organised on a proper basis to deal with them. In my judgment the Ministry was never properly staffed to deal with the problem confronting it. The Roads Department has a head and a staff eminently fitted, from the technical and from every other point a view, to deal with the question, and we are grateful for the work it has done; but, apart from London, where a Traffic Advisory Committee has been set up, and has done excellent work, the position in the provinces has been made more acute by every decision given by the Ministry.

We hear a good deal about economy, but in the Ministry of Transport there is need for some wise spending. It would be a wise thing to set up a Traffic Department, with a man at its head who has some knowledge of the control of traffic, and in which the services of the inspecting department, which was transferred to the Ministry from the Board of Trade, should be utilised to the fullest extent. The inspecting department appear to be lost lambs; nobody seems to own them. They inspect tramways and lay down most excellent rules for safety; they investigate accidents and give excellent advice on how to avoid them in the future; but so far as the question of traffic organisation is concerned the inspecting staff have no power and exercise no control whatever. At one time local authorities were masters in their own house and could make regulations for their roads. To-day, under the powers conferred upon him by the Roads Act, the Minister has practically deposed the local authorities from control in their own areas. No matter what a local authority may say as to the congestion of traffic, he decrees that there shall be more omnibuses. Though saying, in so far as London is concerned, that the trams are an important factor in carrying people to 'and from their work, he appears to ignore the fact, when dealing with the rest of the country, that £71,000,000 of public money is invested in tramways and that from 50,000 to 60,000 adult workers are engaged on tramways. While he has interfered with the discretion of a public authority in the control of their own streets, he has not even taken trouble to lay down any rules for the guidance of traffic in the provinces, as has been done in London.

Most contradictory decisions have been given so that local authorities do not know where they stand. In one case, with which I am well acquainted, he decided, despite representations by the local authority, who said that the streets were steep and narrow and already congested, that through omnibus traffic must be allowed. He ignored the fact that the middle of the district in which the omnibuses proposed to run was already served by three lines of railway, in which private capital had been invested, and that there were excellent services of tramways run by local authorities. We have motor omnibuses imposed upon us in every direction. Very shortly it will be most unsafe for any pedestrian to cross the streets.

In another part of the country the people in a certain district complained that the transport facilities provided by the railway ought to be supplemented. They invited the nearest large town to provide them with a system of omnibuses. They got Parliamentary powers for the running of these omnibuses, but despite the decision he had previously given that a through system of omnibuses was necessary for linking up to traffic points, in this case, although the municipality had got powers to run the omnibuses, the Minister said he had no power to intervene when a railway company objected, and he left the local authority absolutely in the air, giving a very contrary decision to those he had previously given. All that the municipalities in the provinces are asking is that if the Minister desires to cultivate competition, it should be fair competition. At the present time the competition is so unfair that it is causing, not only the waste of the ratepayers' money but a great waste of private capital. It would appear that the only fair way out of the difficulty is to set up a traffic authority from whom municipalities or private companies should secure permission before any routes are entered upon. Possibly the Minister may require some powers in order to bring about such a desirable state of things. The House would grant him all the powers necessary in the interests of public safety.

At the present time, before passengers can be conveyed upon a railway, very stringent Regulations have been laid down by this House with regard to the physical condition of those operating that service, and safeguards are laid down, which must be adopted at railway stations, level crossings and other places, for the protection of the public. So far as the roads are concerned, absolute chaos obtains. A practical problem which the Minister might tackle immediately is that of making our roads and streets safer. For instance, the Minister ought to have the power to grant driving licences for a specified period to applicants with satisfactory physical references, and to grant a full licence to those who have received a provisional licence only after some tests as to their ability and fitness to drive have been passed by them. Again, it seems very desirable that some age limit should be laid down before a person can drive a light vehicle. I would suggest that 18 is quite early enough to entrust ,a light vehicle to someone who may have the opportunity of taking life or of causing a serious accident, while, having regard to the physique necessary to drive a heavy vehicle, 21 might be the age limit in that case. There is also the question of the limitation of the period of duty during which a driver should be allowed to drive. Upon a railway or a tramway certain limits are laid down, and a private company or a municipality which transgressed those Regulations with regard to hours of duty] would be very severely censured if they were exceeded. So far as road vehicles are concerned, we have cases of men, driving vehicles on regular good services between places like Newcastle and York, or York and Liverpool, who have no limit to the time they should be on the road and who, in their fatigued state, especially when they have met with unforeseen circumstances like breakdowns, constitute a public danger. There is nothing laid down with regard to the hours of rest in connection with road traffic, although a driver of a railway locomotive must by law have a certain amount of rest before he can be called upon to take up duty again. The case of the driver of a road vehicle who has quite as great a responsibility—for although he may not carry so many passengers the number of people whom he may injure is quite as great—seems to make out an irrefutable case for action.

Again, there is the instance of passenger-carrying vehicles whose schedules are such that it is impossible for a driver to obey them and to carry out the law with regard to speed. I believe the Minister has already power where it is proved that journeys have to be completed within a specified time which does not enable the driver to carry out the-law. It is time that the Minister intervened in the interest of public safety. There is also the question of compulsory insurance. Except in those cases where local authorities have exceptional powers through the Local Legislation Committee anyone can take out a licence and run a passenger-carrying vehicle. In the event of a serious accident no one can get compensation for any default on the part of such people because they are not insured. Having regard to the congested state of our roads, that old, out-of-date and cruel practice of allowing one man to be in charge of two horses and two carts with one poor animal having his neck pulled out by the chain, should be abolished.

These are practical questions on which the Minister might take action. He has an opportunity, during the next few years, of making a name for himself as the Minister of Transport, that has not been the lot of any of his predecessors and it may be some years before his successor has the same opportunity as he has to-day. Our roads, due to causes which we cannot control, are to-day in a state of chaos and are dangerous. The Minister of Transport has the opportunity of reducing chaos to order and making our roads similar to what they were before the world unheaval caused the conditions now prevailing.

Colonel ASHLEY

It may be convenient that I should intervene now for five minutes to answer the various points raised since I spoke. After that, I will ask my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to reply to the Debate. The hon. Member who has just spoken said the Minister of Transport has a great opportunity of doing something in his term of office. I agree, although these opportunities are not so easy as he seems to think, because, as he knows, every Government Department thinks that their particular Bill, which is to be put through the House of Commons in any particular year, is the only Bill worth considering. Last year the Ministry did put through a very useful Act called the Roads Improvement Act. This year I hope I am right in assuming that quite a big Measure called the Electricity Bill will be passed. I hope that if that safely reaches port, we shall be able next year to deal with the Road Vehicles Bill, which various speakers have mentioned and which, I admit, is long overdue. In that direction naturally I shall consider the points which have been put forward by the hon. Gentleman opposite and other hon. Members.


As the Road Improvement Acts give the right hon. Gentleman very important powers, can he say what powers he gave them?

Colonel ASHLEY

Tree planting programmes are being carried out during the winter of 1926 and 1927 in the counties of Essex, Surrey, Middlesex and Hertford-shire. Eventually we shall have some scores of miles of arterial roads planted with trees by those counties. I know that the road from Bristol to Avonmouth is planted most gracefully and successfully with trees along the whole of it. We are making experiments under the Act of last year, and have allocated about £35,000 for experiments; nearly all those authorities are making schemes for building lines, which is an important thing, and the question of blind corners is being considered.

I was rather amused with the speech of the hon. Member for West Newcastle (Mr. Palin), because he and I had a serious controversy when he occupied the responsible position of Lord Mayor of Bradford. So acute became the controversy between the hon. Gentleman and myself that I was in process of mandamusing him when, fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, he left office, and I had to mandamus his successor in office. "The hon. Gentleman opposite always said that he would not agree to the mandamus or carry it out, but happily that contingency did not arise, and his successor has shown that discretion is the better part of valour and accepted the mandamus. I was acting in what I con- sidered to be the best interests of the public, but I agree that it is not pleasant, and not generally right, to override the decision of a great local authority in these matters. I had, however, to carry out what I conceived to be a right decision, to the effect that it was right that while a municipality ought to have every safeguard for the protection of its tramways, it should at the same time allow private omnibuses to come in from outside, bringing their passengers to the centre of the city, and then take them out again. In this matter the convenience of the travelling public must come first. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith) is not present. He alleged that there had been a neglect of the Minister of Transport to carry out great improvement schemes in London. I know many of these improvements are desirable and most of them are necessary. The hon. Member mentioned three, one at Whitechapel, another in the Haymarket area, and another at Victoria Docks Road. The hon. Member forgot to mention Kensington High Street. I think the hon. Member for Rotherhithe was skating over very thin ice with regard to the Lower Thames tunnel, because his Committee put this scheme at the bottom. The position is this. As the Committee knows, the Minister of Transport is not the improvement authority for the Metropolis. The authority for that purpose is the London County Council, and by the London Traffic Act, 1924, Section 11, I am confined as to my action by that Section which lays down that Nothing in this Act shall be construed as giving power to the Minister to impose any obligation on the local authorities to incur any expenditure on or in connection with the improvement of any road or the construction of a new road without the consent of such local authority. The position is clear. The authority for this purpose is the London County Council, and they are the people to carry out improvements in the Metropolitan area, and it is for them to promote any Bills which may be necessary to carry out those schemes. It would be proper, if I had the money, for me to contribute towards these great improvements, and I am always willing to use such good offices as I possess to promote such a policy, but it must be quite clearly understood that the improvement authority for the Metro- politan area is the London County Council, and until they promote legislation dealing with these improvements it is not proper for the Minister of Transport to act. There is the Kensington High Street scheme.


That is in hand.

Colonel ASHLEY

Yes, just in hand. With regard to the Whitechapel scheme legislation is to be initiated in the autumn, and there are also the Elephant and Castle and the Docks schemes still in abeyance. I can only reply to this friendly indictment that it is not for me to initiate those things, but for the London County Council.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Charles Edwards)

Mr. Gosling.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

May I again put the question that I addressed to the Minister when he was completing his first statement—



Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

On a point of Order. When the Minister intervened the second time, he did not reply to my question, and I want to repeat it. I want to ask what use is all this money if a new practice is going to be established by the Ministry of Health after we have satisfied—


May I ask whether this is a point of Order?


It is not a point of Order. The hon. and gallant Member rose to put a question, but I had already called upon Mr. Gosling.


I want, first of all, to congratulate the Minister, so far as one possibly can, on the things that he has told us he has done, but I must say that he seemed to me to ride away on a promise that presently he would speak again and would then tell us all that there was to he known. He has now spoken twice, and has not told us very much yet. He has not told us, during all the time he has been speaking, what he has done with the money, which is what everyone here, so far as I can see, wishes to know. We know all about the schemes; we know all about the work that there is to do, and everyone is agreed upon it. There is no difference of opinion about the roads of which the right hon. Gentleman has been speaking, because no one can speak upon this subject without speaking from the same book, telling the same story, and quoting the same facts—how there is congestion here, how there are level crossings there, where trains have to stop while carts go across, and carts have to stop while a train comes along, all in places where the same kind of goods are being carried to the same place. There is all that, and then you have to come back to the question, who is going to pay for it? Unless the Minister of. Transport finds the money, it will not be done for another 40 or 50 years, because there cannot be the money in that locality to enable it to be done in any other way.

There is some more money that we are searching for. When I occupied the office which the right hon. Gentleman so well fills now, I remember going with my colleague, the right hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. William Adamson), into the Highlands of Scotland. There were road schemes there that ought to be carried out, and at once, and it was agreed that they would be of lasting use and would give work to a great number of unemployed, and nearly all the material that was wanted for the job was on the spot and could be had without much cost. I cannot be sure of the figures, but I think that at least 80 per cent. of the money that would have been used for the purpose would go in. the employment of labour, because the material was so cheap and so near at hand. Then we came back, and in our case we had the great good fortune to be associated with a sympathetic Chancellor of the Exchequer. We went to him as men who were really anxious about the improvement of transport, and, although we did not threaten any violence to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we had a promise from him, before we left him, that £2,000,000 was to be devoted to that work. Where is it? What has been clone with it? We did not bring it away with us.

Colonel ASHLEY

It is easy to make promises.


I think I could go blindfold to the place where the papers are in the Minister's office. Where is the money? What has been done with it! I thought that, while the Minister was -saying to us that it was his duty to tell us of all the good things he has done, and of all the other good things that he was going to do, he was going to tell us about the £2,000,000, but that has gone west. The fact of the matter is that the Minister of Transport has got into bad company. A Department like his, and I am speaking with some experience of it, is one of those Departments where there is very little politics unless you take them in with you. It is nearly all business. You are surrounded by experts, and there are schemes there for improvements one on the top of the other, till -they hardly know where to put them. But all the while the Minister was talking to us to-night, it seemed to me as though -he had the cash bag behind him, and another right hon. Gentleman had got his hand in it while he was taking our attention off and, talking to us in order to get this Vote. He told us that, after all that had been said about economy, he did not take any notice of that little £7,000,000. He said that it was quite right that it should be taken away from him. It was true that he did not want it to go, but he had got such a lot more —he had got more money this year than ever before; and yet there are two or three schemes of which, although it may be thought extravagant of me to say it, I think it is good enough to say they will never be carried out unless the Minister of Transport finds the money out of the Road Fund with which to carry them out.

I do, not want to talk only as a Londoner, but I am talking as a Londoner about a matter that is of national importance when I say that, all the time that that dock road is allowed to remain as it is, you are wasting no end of money belonging to the whole nation. The want of that dock road is impeding the progress of the whole of the dock undertakings of London, and they cannot be called merely the dock undertakings of London—they are the dock undertakings of the whole country, and they have an international value too. At the risk of repeating something that I said to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the other day, I want -to point out that there is a speeding up in every section of trade and commerce connected with shipping and transport. From the other side of the ocean, from other countries across the seas, the finest vessels that the world has ever seen are coming, from the most modern and up-to-date docks that have ever been built, and, after all that high tension, after all that extreme improvement, directly you land your goods here there is this tremendous wastage, which is such a large percentage of the whole of our trade.

How business men can sit still and allow that to go on is beyond me. I am enough of a business man, and know the trade of this great country and of its great ports sufficiently well, to know that it is an absolute waste of money. The expense of carrying goods from the port to their destination here in any part of London, or of carrying goods through London into the country is an enormous expense, with much waste. Therefore, it is the duty, above all people, of the Minister of Transport to take the matter in hand. It is an absolute necessity and it has got to be done. The Chairman of the Port of London Authority and I were talking only a few days ago. We were going through the improvements that have been made and those that are in contemplation. £14,000,000 have been spent. That means very progressive action on the part of the Port Authority since they came into existence. There are another £6,000,000 or £8,000,000 to be spent in improvements, and yet all the time you are making those improvements you feel that there has got to be a tremendous discount of them because of this bottleneck and other impediments that you have to meet in getting your goods away from the docks. Is it not absurd to stop short there? You might say the Port of London Authority are the proper people to do it, but their job finishes at the end of their boundary, and then come all the local authorities. What. we are suffering from in London is that there are so many authorities and there is so little authority, and there is no money now because of the calls made on them through unemployment and want of trade. It is hound to come back to the Minister of Transport. When I was at the Ministry I was convinced that there are some departments of transport, road making and that kind of thing, which are bound to be nationalised if you are going to get any efficiency, and therefore I press the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary to deal with the matter.

10.0 P.M.

There was one other matter that was raised with which I have a great deal of sympathy. The Minister of Transport is not only responsible for traffic on land, he is responsible for the waterways of the country, and here is' this great water-way of ours being again impeded by what is now an obstruction—Waterloo Bridge. While I give way to no one in my love r f Waterloo Bridge—I consider it was a very beautiful structure—still it has now become an impediment, and even if it were perfectly sound it has reached the stage when it is an impediment to the waterway traffic. All the bridges on the river have been rebuilt, right up to Brentiord. You have made all those improvements, yet Waterloo Bridge is standing in the way and discounting the value of those improvements because we do not 'finish off the job. You can deal with the London traffic in the ordinary sense in which traffic is dealt with everywhere else. You must have a central body to deal with the river, and it must regard it, not only from the point of view of the traffic that goes over, but from the point of view of the traffic that goes under. There is another thing. You can have some variety in roads, but you have no choice as far as the river is concerned. It is the only one we have. Improvements are going On very rapidly. Wharves and every kind of machinery are being brought up to the highest standard all along the riverside, and the waterways have been made more navigable. You have to make these improvements and clear away obstructions, and they are all cleared away so far as the bridges are concerned except this one, and there is absolutely a controversy going on as to whether we shall put it in such a state that it will continue to be an obstruction for the next 70, 80 or 100 years. It wants a central authority there. I hope the Commission will deal with it in a reasonable time, but I would press upon the Minister that he must get out of the company he has got into. He must stop that other fellow from dipping into his purse, and see that those to whom the money belongs have the use of it, and no better use can be made than by the suggestions I have made to him in a friendly way.


I am sure the Advisory Committee will be very grateful to the Minister for the very kind remarks he has made about us. I should like to say in return that no Advisory Committee during the last 18 months could have had a Minister who has treated them with greater courtesy, or with greater willingness to accept our recommendations and crystallise them into regulations. In regard to the remarks of the last speaker, who, with his usual pathos and eloquence, alluded to this great problem of the East End of London, I have been very closely associated with that scheme since the Traffic Advisory Committee came into existence and everything he has said I can emphasise to the fullest extent. This is really a great Imperial question, and as the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) described it to me in an. excellent epigram, it is not a road for West Ham, it is not even a road for London, it is a road to the Empire. I hope something may be done to bring this great road into existence, but I think we must frankly recognise that, in dealing with it, not only the Ministry but the Treasury are faced with quite a new proposition. As the Minister has said, he has no power under the London Traffic Act to impose expenditure on any local authority, and as far as I understand it, it has been the policy of the Ministry and the Treasury, when great new schemes of this kind have been carried out, there have had to be very considerable and substantial sums from the local authorities.

I frankly admit that we arc faced on this occasion with quite a new proposition. Everything said on the other side of the House as to the inability of West Ham to contribute shall we say a third—I presume that would be normally its share—may be accepted. I appeal to the Minister, and through him to the Treasury, whether they cannot look upon this great dock road in a different light from that in which they have looked upon propositions of this kind before. From my personal knowledge, the Minister and his officials have been most assiduous during the last 18 months in trying to get all the people concerned to come forward and make a proposition which he could put before the Treasury; but all these efforts have failed. The greatness of the scheme is such that it should not be allowed to remain in abeyance much longer. When distinguished visitors come to London, we always take them a trip to the docks. We take them to Westminster Bridge, along the wonderful panorama of the river, and to the magnificent docks. I sometimes wonder what they would think if we brought them back to London by the old dock road. They would be staggered. Therefore, I hope, after all we are doing on the Advisory Committee to get the road constructed, that in regard to the financial difficulties, which are really the serious obstacles with which we are confronted, the Treasury will relax to a certain extent the conditions which they have regarded as a sine qua non up to the present time.

The Advisory Committee have done, during the last year, some valuable work. Their Report will soon be in the hands of the Minister and I hope it will soon be in the hands of Parliament. When the full story is told, it will be found that we have made a very considerable start in trying to do something with regard to the great problem of improving London traffic. Much of what we may call pioneer work has had to be done. There has been nothing spectacular to show yet, but we are beginning the foundations of what will ultimately prove to be a valuable work. I would like to mention one or two, impressions which I have formed from my association with the traffic problem of London during the last 18 months. The first is, that the intensive road competition in London to-day of omnibuses and tramways is very seriously affecting the tubes, the electric railways and the suburban traffic of the main lines. I have had the privilege, thanks to the courtesy of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, to serve on two public inquiries into the traffic of London. The first inquiry was in connection with North London, and more recently an inquiry has been held with respect. to East London. In the autumn we shall begin an inquiry into the traffic of South-East London. The Reports will be in the hands of the Minister very soon. Therefore, it will be improper for me to state at this stage what considerations we have taken; but I do say that from the evidence which has been given to us and which is printed, and which is therefore common property, certain conclusions may be drawn.


Can the hon. Member say when the Report in regard to East London traffic will be issued or in the hands of the Minister?


I do not know whether the Minister will like me to say this, but I think it will be in his hands within the next fortnight. It will then be in his discretion as to when it is to be published.


It will be Churchill's discretion.


When the whole story is told, it will be found that we are dealing with a problem which is common to London, not a problem merely of North London or of East London or of South-East London. That is my first generalisation, and the result of the intensive road competition will be emphasised in each ease. In the case of North London, for instance, we have been told that the problem could be settled by the electrification of the London and North Eastern Railway, or the construction of a new tube from Finsbury Park. Frankly, I must say that the management of both these great railway undertakings have made it clear to us that the present intensive road competition makes it more and more difficult for them to contemplate the expenditure of fresh capital, whether in tubes or electrification. tube to-day costs £1,000,000 a mile to. build, and electrification probably £100,000 a mile. The Committee will, therefore, have some conception of the reality of this problem.

The second thing that has been brought to our notice, and by now may be taken as an axiom, is that all the existing forma of traffic in London to-day have their proper place. The day has passed when we can talk about scrapping the trams. The tram has its definite place in London traffic. Nothing else can take its place in the early morning and in the late evening for moving masses of men and women to and from their work, and doing it at remarkably reduced fares. Equally, the tube has its place in London traffic. We are constantly asking men and women to go to live out in the country and to get away from the slums. The tubes can take men and women quickly from their work in the centre to their homes on the outer fringe. The tube is an additional road underground to relieve surface congestion. It is equally true that the omnibus has its place in London traffic, and equally obviously the electric train has its place. The problem before those of us who have to advise the Minister to-day, is how these various traffic facilities can be allocated to their proper place in London traffic. It is the present competition—the cut-throat competition—which has given us an excess of one form in one place, and which makes it impossible to protect another in another place.

My third generalisation is, that we are confident that there is in London traffic to-day a sufficient amount of money to give every type of transport that is necessary, a place. One of the most amazing things has been the growth of London traffic. In 1923 the people moved by local passenger traffic totalled 3,190,000,000. In 1924 that figure increased by another 126,000,000, and last year the stupendous figure of 3,420,000,000 of people were being moved about in the year. I think I am voicing the opinion of many men who are considering this problem to-day in declaring that it is only by a pooling and co-ordination of transport facilities and management that it is possible to find whatever facilities are required for the travelling public of London, without requiring subsidies either from the rates or from the Exchequer, and at the same time giving a reasonable return on the capital invested in these great undertakings. Until that is done, I feel sure there can be very little hope of either fresh tube development or facilities of another kind. I have put before the Committee in a rather crude form the generalisations at which we have arrived. The problem of London traffic is one of absorbing interest and of great fascination. Transport in London to-day is as vital to the 11,000,000 of people to whom the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith) referred, as food or clothing or housing. I say, therefore, that in trying to make this problem easier, in trying to make transport easier, we are doing a work which is worthy of the best of us, and I am confident that everything that the Minister has told us and everything that he advises will if carried into effect give us a solution of this great problem.


Whenever the Committee discusses the question of transport it always seems to labour under a great disadvantage. Years ago a volume of reminiscences was published by one who had been an inspector of schools, in the course of which he described how, in the old days, the inspectors themselves gave certificates of merit to candidates who wanted to enter the teaching profession. He and some of his colleagues listened to a number of young ladies in North Wales who were anxious to become teachers. One of them showed no merit as a teacher, but she was such a pretty girl, with auburn hair, she was really so delightful, that they could not find it in their hearts to reject her. On their report they said nothing about her except that she was " a pretty fair teacher." The right hon. Gentleman on these occasions speaks for about 10 minutes, says what he has to say very prettily and attractively, but says very little, indeed, arid it is only in answer to an interpolation that he gives us any details about the work of his Department. I have been rather mystified in following the two speeches which the right hon. Gentleman has made on these Estimates. There seems to have been a conspiracy, shall I say of hack scratching, on the part of hon. and right hon. Members on both sides, who have vied with each other in showering compliments front the Committee to the Minister, from the Minister to the Committee, from ex-Ministers to ex-Ministers, and I feel that if T introduce anything like criticism into this Debate I shall be, introducing something which, if not indecent, is improper.

At the risk of doing that, I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to three things. The first is that the right hon. Gentleman's description of the activities of his Department, and the criticisms and suggestions which have come from hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, are the strongest possible criticism of the action of the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member, with regard to the Road Fund. The right hon. Gentleman said that there were two qualifications for a Minister who wanted to do something, one was to have the purse of a Fortunatus and, the second, to possess the genius of a Baron Haussmann. But he said it in such a tone that it led one to suppose that he had neither. I do not know whether he agrees with that interpretation. But supposing he had the purse of a Fortunatus, and the genius of a Baron Haussmann, then, as an hon. Member on this side said, he must change the company he is keeping, or if he does not change the company he is keeping, he must take those precautions which are usually taken when you frequent that kind of company. I do not know whether there is any warning notice of this kind in the Cabinet room. I am not in the secret, but I know that in public places where people carry purses there is a notice to beware of pickpockets; and in that part of his duty the right hon. Gentleman has lamentably failed.

The Road Fund has not only suffered from the depredations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It has suffered from something else. The Finance Bill of 1914, which, of course, was not carried into effect because of the War, provided that road maintenance should be paid for out of the general fund and not out of the Road Fund. The Finance Act, 1920, put that charge back on to the Road Fund, but if it had not been for the intervention of the War, maintenance would have to be paid for out of the general fund. Therefore, the Road Fund, long before the present occupant of the office became Chancellor of the Exchequer, had already suffered to a large extent, and the depredation of the right hon. Gentleman's colleague is a further inroad into this Fund. The right hon. Gentleman said with some pride to-night that he was spending £1,400,000 on the unclassified roads in rural areas, and he said that that might seem a large sum. A large sum It is a contemptible and miserably small! sum. There are few things which are more obvious than that all the work which should be done in the Department must have its effect and reaction upon a great deal of our industrial and agricultural and commercial life. The Dock Road, or the absence of a Dock Road, has been discussed at great length to-night. It has its maleficent effect on hundreds and thousands of industrial concerns around this great city of London. In the same way, unless the rural roads, classi- fled or unclassified, are kept in a state of efficiency, you are going to retard the development of agriculture, and you are going to affect the whole of the rural population.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about protecting other means of locomotion. I want to say that it is not the business of any Government to protect any form of locomotion which is becoming inefficient and less economic. In the United States you find that branch railway after branch railway has been shut up because the work is now being done by road transport and cannot be economically done by rail. It is true, too, in this country, especially in the southern counties. There are branch lines and odd lines here and there, with two or three trains a clay, which will never again run economically. They ought to be given up altogether. If the Minister is going to leave any fairly important rural road in a state of inefficiency, unable to bear fairly heavy traffic, he is retarding the development of that area. Let me leave London and speak of the great cities of this country. The Minister may not have the genius of a Baron Haussmann. It is not his business; it is his business to employ someone who has. What the right hon. Gentleman ought to have is a little imagination. He tells us that he is looking forward, not to two years, but to five years as the minimum period to carry out his work. If he had any imagination at all he ought to realise that, so far from being content with stepping a few omnibuses because they are competing with trams, or arranging that certain trams or omnibuses shall not run, he ought to take a longer and wider view.

It is true that we cannot effect, in our day, all the improvements that ought to be made, but it is not less true that the miserable sums which the right hon. Gentleman has referred to for his various purposes would not even supply the needs that have been cited this evening, and the cases quoted by the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith) are only the fringe of the problem for which money is needed in the reconstruction of roads. I hold here a document which I have referred to before. I was asked by Press representatives, not whether I was in my right mind, but whether I had given the right figures. It is a Schedule, which is by no means an exaggeration, of £300,000,000 of capital expenditure which is badly wanted for the roads and bridges of this country. That is the problem which the right hon. Gentleman ought to be facing. That is the problem with which he is confronted, and under the shadow of which he has allowed himself to be overborne by his more imperious colleague at the Treasury. That is the first of his great offences. The second is, that he does not seem to have the faintest idea of the fact that the real business of the Ministry of Transport to-day is to envisage the needs of the future. It is true that we cannot, in our time, get all these improvements that we ought to have but let the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in the forthcoming Recess make a short tour and visit Paris, Vienna, Budapest—let him even go to Petrograd —and he will find that in all these cities, with infinitely less traffic than London, they have far finer road accommodation. Let the Minister begin now to provide for the needs of future generations.


This has been, unfortunately, a very short Debate, and so many Members have taken an interest in it—

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

Six London Members out of seven.


—I feel that in future years we should endeavour to get a whole day for the Ministry of Transport tote. I do not think that London Members take up time unnecessarily, and those of us who have raised London questions to-day, have laboured under a difficulty to which I would direct attention. Although the Advisory Committee on London Traffic has been in existence since last December 12 months, and completed its first year's work last December, the first Annual Report has not yet appeared. I would point out to the representatives of the Advisory Committee who are here, what this delay means. We are now seven months after the end of the first year's work, unable to discuss the Annual Report, and before we are able to do so, it will be next summer. Next summer, at this time, we shall be discussing the Annual Report of 1925. It is almost impossible to keep up to date on these questions in such circumstances, and many of the matters dealt with in that Report will be hopelessly out of date when it comes up for discussion. It has been said to-night, particularly by the Minister himself, that the Committee has done well and has helped the Minister. The point which I would put is How far has the Minister helped the Committee? After a great deal of agitation in the House of Commons the Minister decided to hold a series of inquiries into travelling facilities in London. An inquiry took place in regard to North London. There has been one since in regard to North-East London and, we are informed, another is going to take place in regard to South-East London.

In connection with the North London inquiry, the local authority went to great expense and trouble and the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) and several other members of the advisory committee spent an enormous amount of time over it. I think the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth will admit that the case was proved up to the hilt in regard to North London and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary the old ex-service man's question. " What about it "? If local authorities are going to be put to the expense of briefing counsel, gather nag witnesses, and sending their repro sentatives to these inquiries, and if members of the Advisory Committee are to give their times voluntarily delving into this problem; if voluminous reports of evidence arc to be published and sold to the public at 10s. 6d. each, is the only result to be that the Minister is simply going " ea' canny " on the question and doing nothing. The population of North London want an answer to that question, in regard to the inquiry which took place into traffic facilities north of Finsbury Park. When is action to be taken? Is all this money, time and trouble to be wasted? I feel inclined to use strong language on this question. To-night tint Minister has come along here and held up his hands and said, " The trouble is that we have held an inquiry, and tubes are wanted, but who is going to build them?" Is that the end of it all? I beg leave to repeat what I said in my evidence at the public inquiry, that if private enterprise is not prepared to construct tubes where they are needed so urgently, some form of public ownership ought to be considered.

Ever since I have been in this House I have protested that the travelling conditions in North London to-day are a dis- grace. Apparently the only London scheme of any extent that has been started up to now is the widening of Kensington High Street. If the conditions which obtain in North London had been suffered in Kensington High Street, an improvement would have been brought about there a considerable time ago. I have had the temerity to hold up in this House almost every Bill brought in by the London and North Eastern Railway Company, and I have got myself into considerable ha' water for doing so. I have done so because I have alleged, and have continued to allege, in this House that that company was doing its best to prevent the tube being extended north of Finsbury Park. The Minister and the representatives of the London and North Eastern Railway Company have always got up and said that I had simply discovered a mare's nest, and that there was nothing at all in my contention; but I would point out that the representative of the London tube railways, giving evidence at the public inquiry, said that the London traffic combine would have constructed a tube north of Finsbury Park in 1920 if it had not been that the London and North Eastern Railway Company had prevented them.

The position now is that evidence has been given at that public inquiry by a representative of the underground railways of London, known as the Ashfield Combine, that a tube could be constructed immediately from Finsbury Park to the Manor House, which would prevent the present bottle-neck at Finsbury Park, three-quarters of a mile long, at a cost of from £800,000 to £1,000,000, which would include an elaborate station, and the further important point has also been made by that witness, Mr. Pick, representing the underground railways, that, as far as he knew, there would be no opposition by the London and North Eastern Railway Company or anybody else to such an extension. I hope we may get a definite answer to this simple question of mine—thousands of people are anxiously waiting to know it—as to what is going to be done now that the inquiry has been held. I do not like to cast aspersions, but there is a feeling, I am sorry to say, that the Minister of Transport has been playing what has been called " ea' canny " over this business. The Parliamentary Secretary knows very well the tremendous amount of interest that has been evinced in this matter in the whole of North London, covering nearly a million people, and I put it to him that he should tell the Committee, on behalf of the Minister, what is going to be done about it.


The hon. and gallant Member for West Walthamstow (Major Crawfurd) complained just now that during the discussion to-night there had been more bouquets handed to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport than brickbats thrown. At the risk of incurring the hon. and gallant Member's displeasure, I am going to add yet another scratch to the well-marked back of the Minister of Transport. I want to congratulate him for the efforts that he and the Traffic Advisory Committee have made and are making to deal with this enormously difficult problem of congestion in the London streets. I think they have shown signs of a definite intention to tackle it, and to look to the enormous future increase of traffic which is inevitable. T think there is in one quarter of the Committee some slight disposition to be dissatisfied that so much of the Debate to-night has turned on London, but, after all, the hon. Gentleman must remember that the subject for discussion to-night was led into these channels by those who sit on his own Front Bench. It seems to me that in dealing with this enormous problem of the congestion of London traffic, two distinct problems have to be faced. First, there is the question of bottle-neck and cross roads, and, secondly, where traffic, through physical conditions, has been held up. That has been adequately dealt with during the course of the Debate, and, therefore, I need not emphasise what has already been put clearly before the Committee.

I would like to deal with a few other aspects of the matter. such as keeping on the move, the speeding up of traffic actually in motion. For the suggestions 1 am going to make. I do riot claim any originality, as they have been brought before the Traffic Advisory Committee, but I would like to emphasise them again, because on previous occasions, when I have asked questions in the House, I have almost invariably received a reply that these are matters which will be dealt with in the Motor Vehicles (Regulation) Bill, when introduced. There is the question of one-way streets. That, I think, is one partial solution of the problem, which might be considered on a larger scale. It has been very successful in New York and Paris, and from my own personal observation, it does largely help to deal with congestion. Then there is the question of slow-moving traffic. I do not know if the Minister has power, but if he has not, he ought to have, for confining slow-moving traffic altogether, or at certain times of the day, to certain streets and roads, and he should also, I think, endeavour to press upon his colleague the Home Secretary, to urge the police to be more strict in enforcing what is the law at the present time, that slow-moving traffic must keep in to its near side of the road. Every member of the Committee, I think, will agree that this is a Regulation which is more honoured in the breach than any other. One constantly comes across slow-moving traffic in the middle of the road, holding up a whole line of traffic which, otherwise, might get on more quickly.

There are two more suggestions I would like to make. One is that in certain streets traffic should not be allowed to turn round. It, is the turning round of taxis and private cars in these streets which very frequently holds up traffic for a considerable time, and I think it quite justifiable that, if they want to turn round, they should do so by turning up side streets. Again, I would urge that traffic should not be allowed to draw across streets on the wrong side of the road, facing the wrong way. If it is desired to draw up on the opposite side, the vehicle should have to go up another road, or set down passengers on the near side of the road. These are small points, but I think in the aggregate such matters as crawling taxis, two stationary vehicles standing opposite one another, as frequently they do in a narrow street, thereby reducing it to one line of street —if they were more actively dealt with by the police, I believe we should get considerable speeding-up of traffic. Then, trams and omnibuses should never be allowed to stop side by side. The Minister assures me he knows of no authorised stopping places for omnibuses and trams, but in fact, they do stop side by side at stopping places. It should be made an offence, a thing they ought not to be allowed to do.

Leaving—for I have only a few moments left—the question of London traffic, I want to ask the Minister one or two questions. Has he considered doing anything with regard to the danger of accidents at cross-roads? I do not mean merely those places he was empowered to deal with by the Act of last year, but the question of some kind of sign indicating that traffic proceeding in certain directions should go slower over the main roads. I know there are great difficulties in the way of the general adoption of such a scheme, but I believe if the roads were marked and one definitely known as a major and the other as a. minor road, the person going on the major road should slow down at least two miles an hour before entering the road, and the responsibility would be on him if he did not do so. I believe this would solve a great many difficulties and dangers, and prevent accidents at cross-roads.

Again, I should like to ask the Minister whether he has made any advance at all in his search for a solution of the problem of dazzling headlights. Everybody will agree that there is no greater nuisance than these dazzling headlights. On a Sunday or a Saturday night it is almost impossible to proceed against the traffic whether you are driving a motorcar yourself, or otherwise. Any invention which rests entirely with the motorists to adopt, such as dipping or dimming the headlights, will not have the desired effect, and I believe the Minister will agree with me. You will really have to impose upon motorists anything you desire in this respect, or you cannot be certain that anything you do is going to be effective. If anyone found some anti-dazzling device which in the end every driver would be compelled to adopt, it might be well. It would be worth the expenditure of time and sonic money on the part of the Ministry to encourage those who are striving after this—and there are many I know. When I asked a question in the House the other day, I was inundated with letters from gentlemen professing to have solved the question. If the Ministry would do something to encourage this matter I am sure it would be helpful; to perfect an anti-dazzling lamp if such a lamp were in- vented. Is the right hon. Gentleman in favour of making the adoption of such a device eventually compulsorily on all motorists? At present many say, " What is the good of our making experiments in providing these lamps if they are not made compulsorily on people to adopt them. We are not going to spend time or money unless we get some encouragement from the Minister?

I would like to ask the Minister a question as to the size of chars-a-bane. Has the right hon. Gentleman got this matter constantly before him. There is the danger of these chars-a-bane increasing in size year by year until they reach a proportion which makes them, not only a nuisance, but a possible danger to the country. During the last day or two I have seen in my wanderings about London some gargantuan monsters, green and caterpillar, with six wheels, and they appear to me to constitute a danger, I do not say in the London streets, but certainly in any narrow road that they go into. I do think that we ought to keep this problem constantly before us, so that we may keep watch over any vested interest growing up. I am one of the last persons to interfere with the increase of motoring for the people. The chars-a-bane are bound to increase. It is a most excellent thing that they do, but surely they can be maintained at a reasonable size? No one wants to interfere with what is a most important and democratic form of travelling.

The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)

My hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) was perfectly correct in saying that in discussions on the Ministry of Transport very little high politics come in, consequently, I am not going to be drawn into a discussion of the major question of the Road Fund by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Walthamstow (Major Crawfurd). I want to keep strictly to the doings of the Department. I recognise that a Minister of Transport can be chased up and down the country more easily, perhaps, than any other Minister —by rail, by road and by canal; he can be short-circuited at any moment by electricity; and we know from the past that he can be bombarded the whole evening on the one question of rural roads. In the very short time I have this evening, I hope to impart as much information as I can about the Department, even, perhaps, if it has not been asked for by questions during the Debate. Before I do that, I would like to answer one or two remarks made by the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) with regard to the inquiries on the question of traffic which have been going on in London. There has been one in regard to North London, which has reported, there is one going on in regard to the North-east, which will report in about a fortnight, and there is another with reference to the South-east, which will report later. I do not think it would be correct for the Minister to adumbrate the course he may decide to take after those inquiries until he has had their Reports.


What about publication?

Lieut.-Colonel MOORE - BRABAZON

They will be published.


The Minister promised the House that the second Report, when published, would be submitted to the House. Now the request is that we should wait for the three.

Lieut.-Colonel MOORE - BRABAZON

I was not talking about the publication of the Report but about the policy to be followed after the Minister has considered the Reports. When he has got the third, the questioning of him as to what he is going to do might become a little more pertinent. But there is this sticking out, so to speak, from these Reports: that unrestricted competition in London is thoroughly bad for the general good of the community, and until a certain amount of co-ordination of traffic is indulged in and made compulsory, there is little possibility and less probability of those tubes and new facilities which we all desire ever becoming physical entities.

There is one question of great importance to the country which has not been raised to-night, that is the question of the railways and the appointed day on which the new scale of rates will become operative under the 1921 Act. The Rates Tribunal has been a very long time over its work, nearly five years. A lot of the trouble has been due to the Act, which said the Tribunal was compelled to hear all parties interested and desirous of being heard. That imposed upon it a duty which was almost intolerable. Although it is the Tribunal that must decide as to the appointed day, we believe and we hope that it will be early next year.

There is another point with regard to the Ministry's activities, which has not been raised to-night arid on which I would like to give some explanation. We spend annually £40,000,000 on the roads of this country yet it was not until this House last year passed the Roads Improvement Act that we were able to spend any money at all upon research and experiment. Under that Act we were e allowed to earmark a certain amount of money from the Road Fund for experiments. I am happy to say that we have started already a certain amount of experimenting in road construction. We have a small amount of money earmarked for it—some £35,000—and we are constructing in the neighbourhood of Barnet and in Essex various lengths of roads on the by-passes in that quarter. There has been so much said in America about the merits of the hard road, the concrete road without any top covering, that is is really necessary to say that, in our opinion, it is not the ideal form of road construction. When you consider roads, you have to consider the three interests which are wrapped up in roads. There is the tar interest, the gas company; the bitumen interest or the oil interest; and the concrete interest or the cement interest. It is of vital importance to this country, which has spent so much on roads, and which has already the best roads in the world, to proceed along the right lines in order to see that we are really getting our money's worth. There is one other point, the design of vehicles that run upon our roads. An engine running upon a railway would be taken off in three days if it damaged the track, because the railway company has to pay for its own track, but that is not so in the running of commercial vehicles. You often get a design of vehicle upon our roads which is doing damage. We are going to institute experiments upon the sections of roads to see what kind of vehicle does the most damage and to take powers, possibly, to exclude undue damage being done to our roads.

One word with regard to our docks. I was some few weeks ago sent down to the docks on work which I never expected at any time of my life I should have to do, and although I do not expect anybody in the Last End regarded me with affection, 1 must say that I regard the docks with enormous affection. We who live in the West End of London fail entirely to appreciate the fact that London is by far the biggest port in the world. So many people imagine that Hamburg and Liverpool are the biggest ports, but London is, after all, the biggest port in the world. The Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) was quite right when he so happily described the road to the docks as " the road to the Empire." There could be no better description of the proposed road than that. We are, on the question of the Victoria Dock Road, on very difficult ground in getting anything done be-cause there are so many interests that really should contribute towards it. There is the Port of London Authority, which would benefit and which should contribute. There is not only the East End locally, but the whole of London which should contribute. The London County Council should contribute. There are important districts outside London that would benefit and should contribute.

It is not, of course, really right, that the motorist should pay entirely out of his taxation for a big capital improvement to London as a whole. I can assure the Committee that the Minister of Transport fully appreciates the responsibility which the Opposition put upon his shoulders as being the person to secure co-ordination in order to get this done, because it is a national work. There is, however, this difficulty. It is a big problem, and it will cost between £2.000,000 and £3,000,000. It involves in regard to the housing question alone the building of 700 to 1,000 houses to accommodate the people who will be displaced. Therefore it means the co- ordination of a lot of interests affecting the whole of London, and it is one of the most urgent works that can be undertaken. Nobody is keener and more anxious to get this road done than the Ministry of Transport, but, as the Committee knows, we are short of money, but this is one of the first improvements that will be done. I regret the time is too short for me to deal with the many subjects which have been raised, but before I sit down I should like to answer the point raised by the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer).

Lieut. - Colonel WATTS - MORGAN

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman answer the point raised in my question before he closes?


The point is with regard to a contribution towards the general scheme.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

I said it was applicable to all local authorities in the country, and I want to know what action the Ministry of Health are going to take?


When my right hon. Friend has communicated with the Ministry of Health, he will be able to answer that point. With regard to dazzling headlights they are not really so dangerous as the hon. Member who raised this question believes I have had many conversations with cycling organisations who do not complain at all of dazzling headlights, and the person who suffers most from them is the driver of a lorry who has insufficient lighting himself, and if he could increase his lights a good deal of the present trouble would he eliminated. I do not think it would be right to put it in the power of a country policeman to haul up a motorist and argue with him as to candle power and rays of light, and 'we do not want to plunge into a matter of that kind without careful consideration. As a matter of fact this trouble is becoming less every day. With regard to the question of heavy vehicles, there is a limit of size already, but my right hon. Friend is going to introduce a Vehicles Bill which will lay down standards throughout the whole country for various types of vehicles of this kind. This is the second time we have had this Vote discussed and my right hon. Friend has given the facts which have been asked for.


When is the Minister of Transport going to muster courage enough to make the Treasury carry out their promises to the people?

It being Eleven of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

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