HC Deb 08 March 1937 vol 321 cc800-3
67. Mr. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is now in a position to make a statement regarding the parking of vehicles?

66. Brigadier-General Spears

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has yet come to a decision on the question of prohibiting the parking of private motor-cars in all streets in the Metropolitan area and in other parts of the country, and reducing the number of existing parking places?

69. Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

asked the Minister of Transport how soon he hopes to be able to announce the date when inhabitants of houses in the London traffic area will be relieved of the nuisance of cars parked by day and of their engines being raced prior to their departure late at night and in the early hours of the morning?

70. Mr. W. Roberts

asked the Minister of Transport whether he can make a statement to the House regarding the regulations about parking cars in streets?

72 and 73. Captain Strickland

asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether he can give the House any assurance that, before proceeding with the abolition of existing parking places in suitable streets or refusing to grant additional parking places where the necessity is proved, he will take steps to prove that suitable alternative accommodation is available;

(2) whether, in pursuance of his plan for keeping all streets clear of stationary motor vehicles, he proposes to prohibit taximeter-cab stands which occupy road space in these streets?

74 and 75. Captain Sir William Brass

asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether any survey has been made of any particular streets or any particular forms of transport by his Department, including a census of crawling taximeter-cabs and partially empty motor omnibuses in certain streets, to ascertain the underlying causes of traffic congestion before he made his recent statement about the total prohibition of all parking in any streets in the Metropolitan area;

(2) whether he will consider an experiment on a large scale of alternate day unilateral parking in certain streets in the Metropolitan area, as is the practice in Paris and in many provincial towns in England, before bringing in regulations for the total abolition of parking in any streets in the Metropolitan area?

The Minister of Transport (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

As these questions are at the end of the Order Paper, I trust that the House will forgive the length of the answer.

Parking, as the House will appreciate, constitutes leaving a car for a defined time, generally of two hours maximum, in a selected space—within the London Traffic Area to be appointed by me under the London Traffic Act, 1924, and outside this area by the local authority concerned under the Public Health Act, 1925. Apart from such waiting as is necessary for the immediate purposes of taking up and setting down at houses or shops, the question of whether and for how long leaving a car on a public highway not appointed as a parking place constitutes an obstruction is, under long-established law, to be determined with reference to the particular circumstances of each individual case, and there is no proposal to amend the general law in this matter.

In regard to the provision of additional garage and parking space, Parliament in the Ribbon Development Act of 1935 gave to local authorities power to provide two additional facilities, the development of which it becomes a ministerial duty to encourage. The first facility is that in considering building plans the authority now has power to require that accommodation shall be provided for the traffic which the building is likely to attract. The second facility is that local authorities now have power to provide permanent parking places above or below the ground which can replace the present use of the streets for a purpose for which they are not adequate and for which they were not intended. I am sure the House will concur with me in the desire that these powers, deliberately given to meet a situation of increasing difficulty, under which between 400 and 500 cars net continue to be added to the roads every day, should be used to the full and at the earliest possible moment. Until they are so used it will not be possible to give any relief to those residential ratepayers whose petitions continually reach me against the conversion of their frontages and approaches into what they describe as public garages. Nor will it be possible to facilitate the flow of traffic in the manner legitimately desired by all users of the road.

Accordingly, I trust that this means of giving effect to the powers conferred by Parliament may be taken by a reasonable date, and measurably as action is so taken will it be possible to substitute permanent accommodation for the present temporary arrangements. The power of appointing stands for taxi-cabs in London is exercised by the Commissioners of Police. Regulations of the Ministry of Transport already prohibit crawling cabs in a number of streets in the central area. The question of reducing the number of partially empty motor buses in certain streets is bound up with the difficulties of finding suitable turning points for buses and time schedules for drivers. But there has been a material reduction in the number of partially empty motor buses in the Central London area since the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board. Unilateral parking has been tried experimentally, and although it has not proved entirely satisfactory, I propose to give the matter further examination.

Mr. Anstruther-Gray

May we take it that the purpose of the right hon. Gentleman is not to drive the owner-driven cars off the street, but rather to stimulate the provision of suitable parking places?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Most certainly. The existing law in that matter will not be interfered with in any way.

Sir W. Brass

May I have an answer to question No. 74? I asked my right hon. Friend whether a survey had been made of any particular streets in connection with crawling taximeter cabs, and I did not receive any answer at all?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I answered that question by saying that not only had a survey been made, but crawling taximeter cabs had been prohibited in a number of streets in the Central London area.

Captain Arthur Evans

Having regard to the statement of the Minister, and having read the report of his speech in the Press, may I ask him what possible justification there is for the statement which has been made that he intends to ban parking immediately?

Viscountess Astor

The yellow Press.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir, it is a question that I have frequently asked myself in the last three or four days, and I do not mind defending my own policy, but I do object to defending a policy which is fathered upon me, and to which I have never given expression.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

In considering any applications for the erection of municipal garages, will a grant be made from the Road Fund to those municipalities that are prepared to build these garages?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

No, Sir. Certain municipal garages have already been provided without such assistance.

Sir W. Brass

Is my right hon. Friend aware that practically every small street in the whole of Paris has unilateral parking?