HC Deb 01 August 1935 vol 304 cc2828-30
56. Mr. LOGAN

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that if his policy of discouraging and eliminating horse traction is carried out 4,000 to 5,000 carters in Liverpool will lose their employment; and whether, in view of the apprehension, aroused, he is prepared to make a fuller statement of his intentions?

The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

The presence of slow-moving horse traffic on the more important streets slows down other and faster moving traffic and adds to congestion. The regulations which have been in force for some time restricting the use of Oxford Street by horse-drawn and other slow-moving vehicles during the day time have facilitated the movement of motor vehicles in that street without imposing any undue hardship on the interests concerned. I am putting myself in communication with the largest users of horse transport in London, and shall take into consideration their views as to the possibility of restricting other streets at an early date, and their intention to accelerate voluntarily the substitution of motor for horse-drawn vehicles. I am further inquiring from them whether they may find it practicable to effect the necessary change over in the course of the next three years. With regard to other large cities, I am prepared to consider any proposals which may be put before me.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Liverpool differs very much from the West End of London so far as horse-drawn traffic on the line of docks is concerned? The definite statement made by the Minister may cause great perturbation if he does not give some assurance that the traffic necessary on the dockside will not be interfered with. It differs entirely from traffic in London.


If any particular conditions apply to Liverpool, they will be taken into account. I shall only act on the representations of the local corporations. Generally, may I say that if the public demands greater freedom for the passage of traffic it is not reasonable to resist measures which may be put forward to assist their desires.


Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the observations of the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Liverpool this week and to the comments of the Chief Constable of Liverpool on the report, which has perturbed them very much? What the right hon. Gentleman has said to-day is reassuring to some extent.


I am glad to hear that. Of course, their representations will be taken into full account.


While I recognise the strength of his case, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are a very large number of unemployed among the horse drivers already, and will he have some consideration for these men in making the change-over and try to persuade the employers that if they do substitute motors for horse-drawn vehicles, they should endeavour to retain the horse drivers, who have a strong road sense, in this new form of conveyance?


Certainly, I shall do what I can to avoid hardship.


Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to an admiral careering about the streets lately, in London, holding up the traffic?


Will the right hon. Gentleman not forget the interest of the costers, not only the larger interests involved, but particularly the smaller interests?