HC Deb 30 March 1926 vol 193 cc1829-32
35. Captain FRASER

asked the Minister of Transport when the total number of omnibuses in use in London was stabilised in May, 1925, what percentage of the whole were operated by the combine and what percentage of them by the independent proprietors; since that time how many omnibuses have been ordered to cease running on their accustomed routes, and of these latter, what percentage are controlled by the combine and what percentage by the independent proprietors; and how many omnibuses are likely to be affected by orders which it is contemplated issuing almost immediately, and of these, how many are controlled by the combine and how many by the independent proprietors?

Colonel ASHLEY

The figures for May, 1925, are not available, but on the 1st July, 1925, approximately 89 per cent. of the total number of omnibuses licensed to ply for hire in the Metropolitan Police District were operated by the London General Omnibus Company, Limited, and associated companies, the remaining 11 per cent. being operated by independent proprietors. As regards the remaining part of the question, the number of omnibuses which will be affected by the restrictions which it is proposed to enforce will not be known until the various proprietors have deposited fresh schedules with the Commissioner of Police showing how they pro pose to operate the journeys permitted under the restrictions.

Captain FRASER

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that., apart from the independent proprietors and their employés, a very large number of the travelling public are dissatisfied with the curtailment of overground facilities, and with the method by which such curtailment has been made, and will he, in view of these circumstances, give further consideration to these Orders before he puts them into effect?

Colonel ASHLEY

No, Sir, I cannot do that. This matter has been most fully considered. I have acted on the unanimous advice of a most representative Committee, namely, the London Traffic Advisory Committee, and I could not depart from that.

Captain FRASER

In view of the answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House at the earliest possible moment.


asked the Minister of Transport whether, following the restrictions of independent omnibuses announced by his Department to take place at the end of the month, he can say what efforts, if any, are being made to see that any cases of hardship are being adequately dealt with, and that every possible step is being taken so as to prevent unemployment?

Colonel ASHLEY

In order to avoid hardship, I asked the independent proprietors to allocate among themselves the number of journeys allotted to them, but this they did not do. I also suggested that they should join with the other omnibus proprietors in London in forming a voluntary compensation fund to deal with any cases of hardship that might arise. I am, further, willing favourably to consider any concrete proposals for the operation of any vehicles that may be displaced by these restrictions upon new routes for summer services or otherwise. The question of unemployment has always been present in my mind, and it was in order to ensure continued employment for the large number of men engaged in the tramway industry that the restrictions became, in my opinion, absolutely essential. The date on which the first restrictions became effective was advisedly fixed, when summer services were about to commence, as these services always have the effect of absorbing additional vehicles.


Is it not impossible for the independent omnibuses to make these restricted services pay?

Colonel ASHLEY

That is not quite as I see it, though I agree it is a matter of opinion.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that it is the business of the Government to abate monopolies not to encourage them?


Has anything transpired with regard to the proposal for a compensation fund to which the London General Omnibus Company might contribute?

Colonel ASHLEY

I could not say officially what is the answer, but I apprehend that proprietors, representing about 90 per cent of the omnibuses operating in the London streets are prepared to come into a fund.

Captain FRASER

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that such compensation as has been offered, or could reasonably be offered, would be of no use to these men, whose living has been taken away from them; and, in view of the fact that the loss to the Combine on a few omnibuses would be a gain to the trams and the Underground, will be he consider going further into the matter to see if he cannot meet the public views?


That seems to be an argument on the question previously asked.

57. Colonel APPLIN

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that independent omnibus companies outside the traffic combine have carried 500,000 persons to Enfield in the last 12 months; that in the same period local tradesmen have increased their takings by 14 per cent. as the result of these improvements in local transport: and whether, before finally assenting to the curtailment of these services, he will take into account the adverse effect that is likely to be produced on the local trade of Enfield and the convenience of the inhabitants of Enfield and the surrounding districts?

Colonel ASHLEY

No proposals for the curtailment of the omnibus services to Enfield have so far been made to me by the London Traffic Advisory Committee. My hon. and gallant Friend may be assured that all relevant facts will receive full and careful consideration before any decision is taken in the matter.