HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1882-4
11. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if a decision has yet been reached as to whether hire cars are to be restricted to any particular radius; and what radius has been decided upon for urban and rural areas, respectively

Mr. Gaitskell

Yes, Sir. I have come to the conclusion that such a restriction must now be imposed. Accordingly I propose to make an order limiting the radius of operation of hire cars and taxis to 20 miles from the place in which they are normally kept, except when required for urgent and necessary domestic purposes or in connection with the hirer's profession or business.

Mr. Digby

Are we to understand that this is to be an even more stringent restriction than that in force during the war? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the special hardship it will impose on people who live in the countryside and are already suffering greatly from the abolition of basic petrol?

Mr. Gaitskell

No, Sir, this is not such a serious restriction as that imposed during the war. The radius is wider. I must point out that many citizens feel very strongly that long-distance hired car trips are intolerable in the present circumstances

Mr. Grimston

Will this Order apply also to motor coaches for hire?

Mr. Gaitskell

I must refer the hon. Gentleman to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport on that question.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will the Minister reconsider this matter, particularly in the case of East Anglia, where the train services are extremely irregular, and where many people, especially soldiers on leave, have to travel enormous distances from the only stations to which they can catch the last train?

Mr. Gaitskell

I should have thought that a radius of 20 miles was quite sufficient to take care of all normal purposes.

Mr. Granville Sharp

Can my right hon. Friend say what action he proposes taking to see that the regulation is observed?

Mr. Gaitskell

It will be an offence to use a car beyond a radius of 20 miles, unless the conditions I have mentioned are observed.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

What arrangements will the right hon. Gentleman make in the case of an elderly person who wishes to visit an equally elderly relation who is seriously ill 30 or 40 miles away?

Mr. Gaitskell

It depends on the circumstances. I cannot answer a hypothetical question.

Mr. Nicholson

What are the arrangements? Where can they make application?

Mr. Gaitskell

There is no need for any application as long as it is within the limit.