§ 31. Mr. LAWSON
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that fares have been raised on some of the routes in the Chester-le-Street, Birtley, Pelton and Washington areas of county Durham; whether such increases brave been sanctioned by the commissioner; and whether, as these increases are a hardship upon those living in an area so long afflicted with unemployment, be will have inquiry made with a view to restoring the fares previously paid?
Traffic Commissioners have power to attach conditions to road service licences for securing that fares shall not be unreasonable and that, where desirable in the public interest, fares shall be so fixed as to prevent wasteful competition with alternative forms of transport. I have no power to intervene except in the event of an appeal being made to me by a person entitled to do so.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that increases of fares have occurred in these groups and that large numbers of surplus omnibuses have been 1167 taken off the routes, with obvious advantage to the companies? Have the public any representative present to speak on their behalf?
The hon. Gentleman must be so well aware of the effect of wasteful competition that he realises why these increases are permitted.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I ask whether these fares have been increased on these routes where the population has been very hardly hit. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that they have been increased?
I am not aware officially, because, until representations in proper form are made to me, I have no authority in the matter, but I understand that in certain cases the Traffic Commissioner has permitted increases to prevent wasteful competition.