HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 cc1861-2
1. Mr. John Wilmot

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware of the acute distress among taximeter-cab drivers occasioned by their petrol ration; whether he will consider increasing this ration; and, if necessary, take steps to tighten the regulations in other quarters?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

Apart from representations of a general character which I have received from the hon. Member, I have no information in regard to any such distress. As he will appreciate, the governing considerations in fixing the petrol allowances for taxi-cabs must be the requirements of the public and the need for economising the use of motor spirit. I have no reason to think that, judged by these standards, the present ration is inade- quate. Every effort is being made to enforce the strict application of the petrol rationing scheme.

Mr. Wilmot

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask whether he is aware that a large number of taximeter-cab drivers are on public relief, as they are unable to make a living on the present ration; that the demand for cabs at the London railway termini is unsatisfied; and that if the shortage of cabs leads to an increase in the number of private cars on the road, the amount of petrol used will be increased?

Mr. Lloyd

At the beginning of the war, about 3,500 taxi-cabs were requisitioned for the London Auxiliary Fire Service and there was in consequence a shortage of cabs for ordinary purposes, but I understand that hundreds of these cabs have already been released and that a great many more will be released in the near future.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

In view of the representations made by many cab-owning firms in the provinces, does the Minister consider that the small ration which they are getting to-day is justified, as compared with the ration which is given to other users of petrol?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a different Question.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Would it meet the case to increase the fares?