HC Deb 24 July 1935 vol 304 cc1826-8

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has considered the desirability of the elimination of horse transport from the streets of large towns at as early a date as practicable?

The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

My hon. Friend will be interested to note the rapid pace at which horse-drawn vehicles are being withdrawn from the streets. The last census showed that at selected points in London the decline in the number of horse-drawn vehicles between 1924 and 1933 was from 210,276 to 81,075, a reduction of 61.4 per cent. Another census will shortly be taken. In the meanwhile it is desirable, consistent with the avoidance of undue hardship, to accelerate the freeing of streets from horse-drawn vehicles, and to this end I am prepared to consider any proposals which may be put forward by the responsible authorities for their own areas. Further, my Department approaches on all suitable opportunities the principal users of horse-drawn vehicles with the object of achieving the more rapid substitution of motor for horse-drawn vehicles in the Metropolis.


In view of the delay caused by horse-drawn traffic and the cruelty involved to the horses, would the right hon. Gentleman consider giving notice that after a period of, say three years or five years, no horse-drawn traffic would be allowed?


I am considering, with modifications, something on the lines of my hon. Friend's suggestion.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that horse-drawn traffic is the safest method of transport in our great cities and that there were no deaths attributed to it in Liverpool during the past year?


My hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Rutherford) has referred to cruelty, but, in addition to that, there is the obstruction of the streets, sometimes for a considerable distance behind one horse-drawn vehicle. That, of course, has a considerable effect upon the business and convenience of the rest of the community.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take a vote of the horses as the Minister of Agriculture has taken a vote of the cows?


asked the Minister of Transport whether with a view to encouraging the use of pneumatic tyres on horse-drawn vehicles, he will consider a reduction in the cost of the local taxation licences for such vehicles using such tyres?


The only horse-drawn vehicles chargeable with licence duty are private carriages and hackneys, and horse-drawn commercial vehicles, which my hon. Friend presumably has in mind, are not subject to tax.