HC Deb 02 December 1931 vol 260 cc1063-8

asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been called to the number of ex-service men who had invested their money in small motor-coach undertakings who are being deprived of a livelihood by the refusal of Traffic Com- missioners to grant them licences; and whether he proposes to issue any instructions to the Commissioners with regard to this matter?


I have received a certain number of representations of this nature, but while it would not be proper for me to direct the Commissioners to discriminate between different types of operators, I have every reason to believe that the claims of the small operator are sympathetically considered by the Traffic Commissioners, and I can assure the hon. Member that they receive the most careful and anxious consideration in every case that comes before me on appeal.


asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the hardship inflicted upon a Newcastle firm of omnibus proprietors whose operations have been restricted by the area traffic commissioner, regarding the firm's operations between Newcastle, York and Hull; and if he can state the reason for these restrictions of service in these areas?


I presume that this question refers to the case of Mr. George Galley on which I have already been in communication with my hon. Friend. As I have informed him it is open to Mr. Galley to appeal to me in accordance with the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, if he is aggrieved by the decision of the Traffic Commissioners on his application for a road service licence in respect of this route.


Is the Minister aware of the growing dissatisfaction regarding the decisions of the Traffic Commissioners and will he in this and other cases undertake to receive a deputation?

Lieut.-Colonel MOORE

May I ask whose interests are considered by the commissioners in coming to their decisions?


I am quite prepared to consider carefully any questions that are raised by hon. Members.


Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to receive a deputation?


I shall of course be always glad to receive a deputation of hen. Members of this House.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND - TROYTE

Would it not be more satisfactory if this matter were dealt with by an independent body?


That is surely another matter. If the hon. and gallant Member will put a question down, I shall be pleased to answer it.


Is it not the case that under the pretence of safeguarding the interests of the small operators the policy pursued by the commissioners is driving the small operators off the road?


I can only say that the facts do not bear this out, for out of 24,000 applications for licences disposed of only 500 cases have come up on appeal.

25 and 26. Mr. MACQUISTEN

asked the Minister of Transport (1) if he is aware of the irregularities in connection with the consideration by the traffic commissioners of the application for a renewal of the omnibus service licence of Messrs. McConnachie, of Campbeltown, in respect that the note of objections to the application was not communicated to the applicants within the time prescribed by the Ministry of Transport regulations and that no evidence was laid either by the applicants or objectors before the commissioners; and whether, in these circumstances, he will direct that Messrs. McConnachie's application be reconsidered;

(2) if he is aware that the decision of the Ministry to discontinue the omnibus service licence of Messrs. McConnachie, of Campbeltown, on the Machrihanish route has resulted in inconvenience to all the inhabitants in the area; and whether, in view of the desire of the inhabitants for the former service, he will restore Messrs. McConnachie's licence?


Messrs. McConnachie appealed against the decision of the Traffic Commissioners and I caused an inquiry to be held at which all the objections lodged by the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway Company were fully argued. My decision to uphold the findings of the Commissioners, which was communicated to the parties on 19th November, was only reached after most careful consideration of the report of my representative upon the proceedings at the inquiry, and of all the relevant facts and circumstances of the case, including the adequacy of the facilities on the route.


Is the Minister aware that all the statements in his answer are contrary to the facts. Is he aware that no evidence was given when the case was first heard and that evidence was refused when it was remitted; consequently, that there were no facts on which to decide? Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that the railway company service has broken down and that in addition, no omnibuses are running?

Mr. PYBUS indicated dissent.


Owing to the unsatisfactory answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

30. Brigadier - General CLIFTON BROWN

asked the Minister of Transport how many cases of appeals against decisions of the Southern Traffic Commissioners have there been which he has had to decide; and in how many of those cases has he decided in favour of the appellant?


Leaving out of account those which have been withdrawn, appeals have been lodged with me in 106 cases against the decisions of the Traffic Commissioners for the Southern Area. Decisions have so far been announced in 44 cases in nine of which orders have been made on the commissioners either reversing or modifying their decisions. Of the remaining cases I may point out that 34 are appeals against the grant, not the refusal, of licences by the commissioners.

Brigadier-General BROWN

Is the hon. Member aware of the great dissatisfaction which exists in the southern area of England as well as in the northern area with regard to the methods of the commissioners, and will he look into this matter more closely than he has done?

Vice - Admiral TAYLOR

Will the Minister consider the advisability of setting up a special court of appeal to hear these cases?


My duty is to appoint the commissioners. After they are appointed, I have no control whatever over their decisions unless the matter is brought before me on appeal.

Vice-Admiral TAYLOR

Is it not the fact that any appeal comes before the Minister and that therefore they are adjudicating on their own case? In the interests of fairness, will not the hon. Member consider the advisability of setting up a special court?


The hon. and gallant Member does not appreciate the difference between the position of the Minister and that of the commissioners. They are separate and independent tribunals. The permanent commissioner is appointed by the Minister of Transport and two others from panels appointed by the local authorities. I cannot hear these cases until they come up on appeal and then I decide in the light of the evidence before me.


Owing to trouble that, has arisen as a result of this Act, will the Minister consider the advisability of repealing it?


And abolish the Ministry.


asked the Minister of Transport why the application of Mr. S. C. Shergold to run his omnibus on a certain route at Tidworth was refused on appeal; what were the grounds for allowing an omnibus belonging to a company to run on the same route; and how many companies in the last six months have received permission to run their omnibuses on routes which have been hitherto used by omnibuses belonging to individual owners?


My hon. and gallant Friend is under a misapprehension. I understand that the decision of the Traffic Commissioners in this case was given on the 20th November. Mr. Shergold has a right of appeal to me from that decision within a period of one month from the date when it was given, but no appeal has in fact been lodged. I have no information on the point raised in the last part of the question as I am only made acquainted with the details of the cases which come before me on appeal.


Can the hon. Gentleman say in how many cases that have come under his personal notice the individual owners have won their cases?


I must ask for notice of that question.


Does the Minister himself hear personally all these cases, and, if so, does it not take up a great deal of his time?


The Minister does not personally hear any case. He deals with the reports put before him.