HC Deb 08 May 1939 vol 347 cc32-4
67. Sir Smedley Crooke

asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the resolution passed at the recent meeting of the Birmingham City Council objecting to his decision to change the maximum age for travelling for children; whether he is aware of the hardship caused to parents in Birmingham who hitherto have had free travel on the omnibuses for their children up to the age of five years and who now are to be charged fares for the children over three years of age; and whether he will give further consideration to the matter?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Captain Austin Hudson)

I have seen a Press report of the proceedings of the Birmingham City Council on 2nd May, 1939. My right hon. Friend's predecessor had before him certain appeals made under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, from decisions of Area Traffic Commissioners on the question of the maximum age for free travel in public service vehicles. Having regard to the varying practice which was prevailing in different parts of the country, he decided in the first instance to arrange for a full independent public inquiry into the general question of this age limit. The advice tendered to him as a result of that inquiry was that the age limit for the free carriage of children under the road service licences forming the subject of the appeals should be three years. After subsequent careful consideration, he accepted this advice and gave his decision accordingly. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the letter conveying the decision. The appeals having thus been determined in accordance with the provisions of the statute, my right hon. Friend has no power to re-open the matter.

Sir S. Crooke

Will my hon. and gallant Friend have a copy of that report placed in the Library?

Captain Hudson

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Cartland

Would it be possible for my hon. and gallant Friend to make special arrangements for corporations which have the maximum age limit to apply it?

Captain Hudson

My right hon. Friend has to deal with this matter under the Act in a quasi-judicial position. After having the Inquiry, the matter came for his decision, and he cannot now alter it.