HC Deb 16 February 1944 vol 397 cc167-8
31. Mr. Quintin Hoģģ

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the terms of the resolution of the Oxford City Council condemning the Oxford Laundry Zoning Scheme; and whether he will now yield to the unanimous opinion in Oxford that the scheme should be withdrawn in view of the decision of the Government not to extend it to the rest of the country.

Mr. Noel-Baker

No, Sir, I had not heard of the resolution adopted by the Oxford City Council until my hon. Friend put down his Question. As I explained in a written answer to my hon. Friend on 1st February, the principles of the Oxford Laundry Zoning Scheme have been applied to various other parts of the country, but, since there are some thousands of schemes for the rationalisation of retail deliveries, it is neither possible nor desirable to make them uniform. They vary from commodity to commodity and from place to place, according to the local conditions. I regret, therefore, that I cannot do as my hon. Friend desires.

Mr. Hoģģ

Is the Minister aware that the laundry zoning scheme, in the form in which it has been introduced in Oxford, is not applied to any other city in the country? Is it not a fact that it was originally justified only as an experiment, which had, admittedly, not proved capable of extension, and will he consider the very serious constitutional implications of depriving citizens of one city, of rights enjoyed by others?

Mr. Noel-Baker

In fact, the principles of this scheme have been applied in various parts of South and West Scotland and in various counties of England. The hon. Member's contention really is that, because a scheme is not uniform all over the country, it should be withdrawn. If I did that, I should undermine many schemes which cause, perhaps, greater inconvenience than the Oxford Laundry Zoning Scheme, but through which great economies have been made in the national interest.

Mr. Bowles

I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.

Mr. Hoģģ

In view of the fact that the Minister's reply has made my constituency into a British protectorate, is the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) entitled to take the bread out of my mouth?

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps that is the result of a very lengthy question and its equally lengthy reply.