HC Deb 07 March 1946 vol 420 cc483-5
20. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will obviate the difficulty of enabling taxicab men to charge increased fares at night by directing that a notice be placed in each taxicab permitting this; and if he will take such other steps as may be necessary to enable and encourage taxi-cab men to compete with uncontrolled private hire motorcars, in giving much needed service to the public.

Mr. Ede

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) on 7th February.

21. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that excessive fares are charged to the public for the hire of private hire motorcars; and if he will take' steps to control such charges.

Mr. Ede

I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the reply which I gave to a similar question by the hon. Member for Clayton (Mr. H. Thorneycroft) on 23rd August.

Mr. Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a racket which is penalising the public who wish to use cars?

Mr. Ede

I very much doubt if it would be possible to frame legislation that would be effective in these cases.

Mr. John Lewis

In view of the fact that people who very often want to hire a car in an emergency only get faced with an exorbitant bill after they have already used the service, cannot the right hon. Gentleman arrange some way so that they should know the cost of the hire before they take the service?

Mr. Ede

They should take the same precaution as I do and ask what the charge is.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Members of Parliament and others who have to catch an early morning train have to pay a sum of 7s. 6d. for car fare from the West End of London to Euston because there are no taxis?

Mr. Ede

That is a matter for bargain between the hon. Member concerned and the proprietor of the car.

22. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Departmente if he will take such steps as may be necessary to increase the number of taxicabs plying for hire at night, especially at Westminster after late sittings of this House.

Mr. Ede

I have no power to direct drivers of cabs to ply for hire at any particular place or time and in view of the varying times at which the House rises, it is unlikely that drivers will wait for uncertain periods for a single hiring in view of the continuous demand in other parts of the West End. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has however drawn the attention of the cab trade to the matter.

Mr. McGovern

Whilst I do not know the Home Secretary's previous answer, I would like to ask if it would not be to the advantage of the general public if the taxidriver were permitted to charge a reasonable and special fare during certain hours of the night. Would not that act as a deterrent to the practice that is going on at present?

Mr. Ede

The difficulty is that it would lead to very serious disputes between the owner of the car and the man who drives it, because it is not possible to show on the meter the time at which the journey was undertaken I am advised that it would lead to very considerable friction inside the trade. However, I shall be happy to consider any practical suggestions that can be made.