HC Deb 17 June 1952 vol 502 cc987-9
51. Mr. H. Brooke

asked the Minister of Works by what principles he is guided in deciding which of the photographers who have been operating in Trafalgar Square shall receive licences from him to continue to earn their living there.

Mr. Eccles

I have tried to select men of good character who would serve the public well and be a credit to the Square.

Mr. Brooke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the licences he is issuing have a very large monopoly value for their lucky recipients, and that justice would not only be done but be seen to be done if he would arrange for those who have built up this trade in the Square to have the opportunity of being interviewed in his Department, before he refuses licences to them and issues licences to people who have never traded there before?

Mr. Eccles

The men to whom I have refused licences have been interviewed. Every one admitted that the Square must be cleaned up. Every one put the blame on somebody else. [HON. MEMBERS: "The pigeons."] Those to whom licences have been refused have unsatisfactory records.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that by reducing the number of persons trading in Trafalgar Square from about 50 to about six he has been a little too harsh in the cuts he has imposed, and that he has inflicted considerable hardship upon a small number of deserving applicants, as well as having deprived the public of the facilities to which they have become accustomed?

Mr. Eccles

My object is to give the public better service and to prevent them from being gulled. I think the monopoly value existed before, when traders ganged up and kept off anyone who attempted to trade independently.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

Was their photographic ability taken into account in deciding who should remain?

Mr. Eccles

Yes, Sir.

Mr. M. Stewart

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one result of his action in this matter has been to deprive of his livelihood a young man who has been earning his living respectably in this way for four years, whose choice of employment is seriously restricted by ill-health, and who has to maintain an invalid father and an aged grandmother; and will he look at this policy again?

Mr. Eccles

If the hon. Gentleman will give me the particulars I will certainly look at them. It may be that six is not enough, but I want to see how we get on.

Mr. Shinwell

Is not this contrary to the Conservative Party's policy of unlimited competition, private enterprise and setting the people free?

Mr. Eccles

What was contrary to the policy of decent trading was the way in which it was carried on before. This place has to be cleaned up.