HC Deb 21 April 1952 vol 499 cc1-4
2. Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

asked the Minister of Transport how many appeals have been made to him in connection with public service or road service licences under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, since he assumed office; how many of such appeals were from the refusal or failure of the licensing authority to grant such licences; how many were appeals from the grant of such licences by the licensing authority; and how many orders, respectively, confirming or revoking the decision of the licensing authority, be has made.

The Minister of Transport (Mr. John Maclay)

As the answer is rather long and contains a number of figures I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Wilson

Can my hon. Friend say whether the number of appeals indicate whether the parties concerned are on the whole dissatisfied with the decisions of the licensing authority, or whether some variation of the system set up in 1930 by right hon. Gentlemen opposite might be considered?

Mr. Maclay

It is rather difficult to generalise about the results of these appeals. Appeals come in from various interested parties—from the railways, from nationalised bus companies and from a large number of privately-owned bus companies—and to generalise about whether or not they are satisfied with the results would clearly be very difficult. I would emphasise that this appeal is there for the protection of all these interests and not for any one of them.

Following is the answer:

There have been no appeals in connection with public service vehicle licences since I assumed office.

I have dealt with 56 cases affecting road service licences. Of these, 22 were against the refusal of licences and in each of them I upheld the licensing authority's decision. Eighteen cases were against the grant of a licence or against conditions attached to licences, and in 10 of them I have made Orders on the licensing authorities reversing their decisions in whole or in part. Six cases related to the variation of conditions attached to licences on which I made one Order amending the variation. The remaining 10 cases covered more than one category and I made Orders in three of these cases revoking the licences granted.

In addition, 31 cases have been lodged but are not yet decided; 14 of these are against refusal of licences, 10 against licences as granted, six relate to variation of conditions and one relates partly to the refusal of a licence to one applicant and partly to the grant of a licence to another applicant.

Some of the cases on which these figures are based embrace several appeals relating to the same subject matter.

5. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport in how many cases of appeal from the grant of licences by the licensing authority in connection with public service or road service licences under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, Orders were made revoking the decision of the licensing authority; and what was the average interval between the making of the Order and the revocation of the licences for each of the years 1938, 1949 and 1950.

Mr. Maclay

I regret that the information desired could not be made available without an excessive amount of research.

Mr. Davies

I appreciate that the Minister of Transport has answered this Question. May I ask him whether it is not a fact that the average time between the issue of an Order in these cases and the revocation of the licence is generally a matter of a month or less, and in the case of Northern Roadways it has been extended over the summer period; and what explanation can he give for that?

Mr. Maclay

The latter part of the supplementary question was not on the Order Paper. I have not got the average time, but, unfortunately, some of the average times are rather long. In the case of Northern Roadways there was certainly a very long delay in getting a decision.

Mr. Davies

Would the Minister not agree that he is frustrating the purpose of the 1930 Act in allowing Northern Roadways to continue to operate over the summer simply because they had taken a number of bookings while the appeal was pending?

Mr. Maclay

It has always been left to the licensing authority to determine what was a reasonable time in which to suspend operations after a decision had been made. On this occasion, as I stated in my statement to the House, the time allowed was abnormally long, and that was done solely to avoid enormous inconvenience to a very large number of people.

Mr. Davies

Is it not a fact that the decision to extend the time was not taken by the licensing authority but by the Minister of Transport himself?

Mr. Maclay

No, certainly not.

Mr. Douglas Jay

Is this not a case where the hon. Gentleman's decision was overriden by the Prime Minister?

Mr. Maclay

Most certainly not. There was no decision of mine nor of the Prime Minister involved in the Northern Roadways case.

Mr. Speaker

We seem to be making very slow progress today.