HC Deb 01 July 1952 vol 503 cc215-7
9. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Works the estimated number of photographers and corn sellers trading in Trafalgar Square before the present licensing system; and what is the latest revised number of licensed traders.

Mr. Eccles

There were more than 40 photographers and about 20 corn sellers before the Regulations came into force. Licences have been issued for three photographers and two corn sellers. I doubt if additional licences for corn sellers are necessary, but I am prepared to grant a very few more licences to photographers if experience shows that three are insufficient to meet reasonable public demand. I should like to correct an answer which I gave to a supplementary a fortnight ago. Many applicants who were refused licences were quite suitable, and not all who applied were interviewed.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Did not the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance a fortnight ago that he would reconsider suitable applicants, and does not his answer reveal that he has not yet reconsidered sympathetically any of the further cases that have been submitted to him, including two or three of my constituents? Will he also bear in mind that as a result of his refusal to grant more licences there are five jobs on Trafalgar Square which are worth £40 or £50 a week? It is a very undesirable state of affairs, which indicates that far more photographers and corn sellers could be accommodated to the advantage of the public?

Mr. Eccles

Some 300 applicants have come along, and since I last answered a Question on this subject we have interviewed a good many more of them. I am going to issue a fourth licence for a photographer, and if it is shown that that is not enough I am prepared to go further, but I want first to be satisfied that the public are not bullied in Trafalgar Square.

Mr. M. Stewart

Will the Minister confirm that the refusal of a licence does not imply any reflection on a man's character? Otherwise some of the men to whom he has refused licences may find it additionally difficult to get other employment?

Mr. Eccles

I am glad to be able to put that right and confirm what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Mellish

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how this attitude ties up with the policy of the Tory Party about setting the people free?

Mr. Eccles

We consider that keeping people free means fair trading conditions.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Were the pigeons consulted?

Mr. Crouch

Will the Minister make sure that under these new arrangements the public will not be overcharged?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, I will undertake to see that that is so.