HC Deb 23 August 1945 vol 413 cc790-1
59. Mr. Thorneycroft

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of complaints of excessive fares charged to the public for the hire of private-hire vehicles; that the conditions have been aggravated by the war and that there is much evidence of the exploitation of Servicemen proceeding to or returning from leave; and if he will introduce legislation to enable such vehicles to be subjected to proper control by local authorities including the regulation of fares so as to ensure that the public are not liable to pay excessive charges for the hiring of such vehicles.

Mr. Ede

No recent complaints have been made to my Department but I understand that some local authorities have received complaints about excessive fares charged for the hiring of private hire vehicles. As the law stands, the fare of such vehicles is a matter of business to be arranged between the hirer and the owner, and a person who hires a vehicle without enquiring the cost does so at his own risk. The position with regard to taxicabs licensed to ply for hire in the streets is different because the power to regulate the fare is linked with a statutory obligation to accept a hiring and the act of plying for hire indicates that the driver is able and willing to accept a hiring. There would be formidable difficulties in the way of imposing a like obligation on owners of private hire vehicles which differ widely in type, and without such an obligation regulation of fares would be likely to be ineffective. On present information I do not consider that there is sufficient ground for legislation.

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