HC Deb 14 July 1954 vol 530 cc609-26
Mr. Molson

I beg to move, in page 16, line 17, after "that," to insert: (i) without prejudice to the provisions of section eight of this Act, in this subsection the expression ' statutory provision' does not include an order such as is referred to in the said section eight; and (ii). This is a drafting Amendment, designed to preserve any Order made under Defence Regulation 56 and kept alive under Clause 8. The general effect of this Clause is to carry out wholesale repeals, and to avoid any uncertainty on the subject we desire to make it quite plain that the wholesale repeals of Clause 14 should not affect those provisions kept alive under Clause 8.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Molson

I beg to move, in page 17, line 12, at the end, to insert: (7) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this section, nothing in this Act shall affect the operation of section forty-four of the Post Office Act, 1953 (which relates to the conveyance of mails), or of that section as applied by any other statutory provision. This Amendment preserves the right of the Postmaster-General to have the payment which he makes in respect of mails, etc., fixed either by agreement or by the Transport Tribunal, and excludes the jurisdiction of the licensing authority in these cases.

Amendment agreed to.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Molson

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

I should like to express my thanks and the thanks of my right hon. Friend to the Standing Committee who gave this Bill so careful a scrutiny, and I should also like to express my appreciation to the House this evening for the scrutiny which it has made of the Bill this evening on Report. I must say that the scrutiny has been a little more searching than I thought it might have been since the Bill was so fully discussed upstairs. But it has not been fundamentally altered, although a number of Amendments have been made which have improved the Measure as a whole.

In Clause 2 and in the First Schedule, dealing with trams and trolley buses, the Government have made a substantial concession in view of the strong plea put forward by the Scottish Counties of Cities Association, on behalf of Glasgow Corporation. Glasgow, I should remind the House, is in a unique position because, under its Act of 1930, it was given by Parliament a monopoly of transport within the city. The substantial changes were made with the friendly assistance in this matter of the Town Clerk Depute of Glasgow.

It was strongly urged upon my right hon. Friend by the associations representing local authorities operating trams and trolley buses that the powers of the licensing authorities should be limited to the fixing of a maximum charge per mile. To do so, the Government were strongly pressed during the Committee stage by the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) and my right hon. Friend promised carefully to consider the arguments put forward. He has done so, but after a very full examination, he has come to the conclusion that it is necessary for him to maintain the general principle of the Bill in that the fares should be fixed by the licensing authorities.

We recognise that for many years the local authorities did enjoy the right to fix fares for trams and trolley buses which they ran, subject to maxima fixed by Parliament, but those powers had their origin at a time when passenger transport was much less in quantity than at present, and when a great many of the services did not go outside the boundaries of the local authorities concerned; and, furthermore, when there were no licensing authorities.

The latter were set up under the Act of 1930, and given power to fix fares charged by buses, and it appeared only right and reasonable, therefore, that that jurisdiction should be extended to trams and trolley buses. In many cases, the trams, trolley buses and the motor buses are running in competition with each other, and the only way for there to be that integration of the services, which hon. Members opposite advocate, is for control to be exercised by the same authority. The Government are also anxious to ensure that where private enterprise is in competition with trams and trolley buses there is no unfair undercutting of the fares. For that reason we feel that the Bill is not unreasonable in applying the same principles in the case of trolley buses and trams as already apply in the case of buses.

In the case of Clause 6 we have made a number of Amendments all designed to meet the views of those particularly affected by the operation of the Clause. In its amended form I think it is acceptable both to the Dock and Harbour Authorities Association as representing the providers of the facilities and also to the Traders Dock and Harbour Coordinating Committee as representing those who use them.

We had a full debate in Committee on Clause 9, in which powers are sought to enable my right hon. Friend to make regulations for controlling the numbers of seated and standing passengers who may be carried on buses, trams and trolley buses. The clause has emerged unaltered from that debate in the course of which my right hon. Friend gave—and I am authorised to repeat—a categorical assurance that we will continue for the future our established practice of consulting the trade unions in the exercise of these powers.

I am sure the House will agree that it is necessary that there should be these comprehensive powers to deal with standing passengers, but that it is right the Clause itself should not contain detailed provisions but should give my right hon. Friend and his successors power to fix the number of standing passengers according to the circumstances existing at the time. Regulations will then come before the House for approval so that they may be prayed against by hon. Members if they are dissatisfied.

There is one point on the First Schedule to which I ought to refer. We were pressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) to accept certain changes there, the effect of which would have been that where an application was made by an undertaker for an alteration in the charge upon a certain route that should not involve a reconsideration by the licensing authority of the whole of the charges for that service. I gave a promise that we would look at the matter carefully before the Report stage, but, on consideration, we came to the conclusion that, although this would result in an increased burden of work in the initial stages, in the long run it would make for simplicity.

This Bill is not a large one, but it is extremely complicated, covering, as it does, every form of public inland transport, docks and harbours, ferries, and so on, as well as dealing with such diverse matters as standing passengers, railway freight rebates and accounts and returns of the minor and independent railway companies. I believe that it is a useful Measure because it is replacing wartime emergency legislation. Although there have been—and still remain—differences of opinion between hon. Members opposite and ourselves, especially on the matter of standing passengers in buses, it is none the less in general a Measure which does a great deal of tidying up and commends itself to hon. Members in all parts of the House.

10.54 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Davies

As the Parliamentary Secretary has stated, this Bill received quite a considerable amount of attention on Second Reading and in Committee upstairs. There we had some useful debates on two subjects—the transfer of the power to fix fares for the municipalities in the case of trolleybuses and trams to the licensing authorities and the question of standing passengers in buses. Those two matters were thoroughly thrashed out in Committee and we regret that in the latter case the Minister was unable to give us satisfaction.

On the question of municipalities fixing fares we thought the case was well made in Committee for consideration to be given to the municipalities who had that power given them in very different circumstances and which they held over a considerable period. One has to appreciate that municipalities are sensitive on this matter, that they do not like having any powers taken away from them which they have enjoyed, and that they very much regretted the necessity for this Bill.

But my hon. Friends came to the conclusion that the balance of advantage was probably on the side of the Bill as regards the transfer from the municipalities to the licensing authorities, because the number of municipalities which are now operating tramway systems or trolley buses is running down rapidly. There are not a large number which remain and those are gradually being transferred from trams or trolley buses to buses, so that over the next decade no doubt there will be a continuing substitution of trolley buses in some instances and, in the majority of cases probably, of buses for these present systems.

When buses take the place of trams and trolley buses because of their greater flexibility, because of the possibility of their routes being extended outwith the cities in which they operate, it is necessary that the licensing authorities should come into the picture so that they can ensure a measure of co-ordination between the fares which are charged by the municipalities and the fares which are charged by the private operators who may be running into the urban areas. Often the municipalities' undertakings will run side by side with private enterprise, both within and outside the cities, and it is only an overriding authority such as the licensing authority which can effect that co-ordination where it is necessary.

So, while we sympathise fully with the muncipalities and regret that here is another power which it has been found necessary to take from them, we think that in the long run the closer co-opera- tion between the different transport systems, and, consequently, their more orderly operation, will be for the advantage of the communities served. After all, the principle of the 1930 Act, which was introduced by the minority Labour Government of the day, was one of integration and co-ordination, and it is only logical and reasonable that, in the present circumstances, that principle should be more widely applied and made general.

At the same time, we fully share the view that the exemption of Glasgow was a correct step taken by the Minister. During the Second Reading debate we on this side of the House, and especially my hon. Friend the Member for Mary-hill (Mr. Hannan) pressed strongly for certain exemptions being made in the case of Scotland. The arguments of my hon. Friends were listened to by the Minister, as were the representations made by the Scottish Counties of Cities Association. We are grateful, therefore, that those representations did not go unheard, and that the arguments of my hon. Friends were accepted.

In the case of Glasgow, because it is the only city operating its own transport undertaking and has a statutory monopoly within the city boundaries, it seems only right that it should have the right to fix its own fares. There can be no question of co-ordination because there is no competition and no overlapping within the city boundaries. Therefore, we are glad that it is possible for the wishes of Glasgow to be fulfilled.

The only other Clause on which I wish to comment, and on which I cannot express appreciation of the action of the Minister, is Clause 9. This Clause gives the Minister power to make regulations regarding the number of standing passengers in trolley buses and trams. He already has that power in the case of buses. As I stated on Second Reading, we cannot see the reason why this Clause should be inserted in a Bill which deals mainly with the fixing of transport charges and other matters. We consider that this is something which might well have been left until we get the comprehensive Bill which we are still awaiting.

We have been told by the Minister that it is necessary in order to tidy up the Defence Regulations, but I find that argument quite unconvincing. Under this Clause, wide powers are given to the Minister with regard to the number of standing passengers. The number was originally five and if this Defence Regulation falls the number would automatically revert to five. During the war the number was increased to eight for obvious reasons, though there was a special agreement in London between the unions and the London Transport Executive that the number should be five.

The increase to eight took place during an exceptional situation in war-time, when it was necessary to allow a larger number of passengers to stand for obvious reasons. But now that the emergency has passed and more equipment is available, there is no reason why provincial undertakings should consider it necessary to allow an exceptional number of standing passengers. We cannot see why the number should not revert to five. We consider that this Clause is too flexible and gives too much power to the Minister.

Regard should be had to a number of factors which make things difficult for the conductors and uncomfortable for the passengers. The conductors find great difficulty in collecting fares. We know that various bus undertakings claim that if all the fares were collected they would be in a far better financial position. The amount of money lost through failure to collect all the fares is substantial. In London, it is estimated at £1½ million, or some such figure.

The more standing passengers there are, the more difficult it is for the conductors to collect all the fares. What is worse from the conductor's point of view is that he is handicapped in carrying out his duties on the rear platform of the vehicle, to ensure the safety of passengers who are boarding or alighting from the bus. I need not go into the question of the discomfort caused to passengers who are crowded together, nor the experience of many conductors who lose money from their collecting bags through theft. It is quite easy for thefts to occur in a crowded bus. It is frequent for their collecting bags to be rifled.

The wide powers which are given to the Minister in this Clause mean that he could introduce what are called standing buses. The Bill does not prevent his making a regulation which would authorise the introduction of standing buses. Such vehicles are an unpleasant type of bus which has not sufficient accommodation for the number of passengers which the bus is authorised to carry. Up to now, such buses have carried up to 50 per cent. standing and 50 per cent. seated. Seats are provided for only half the number of passengers for which the bus caters.

Hon. Members on this side of the House, and the trade unions, share our view and consider that it is a retrograde step to introduce such buses. We have advanced considerably in the modernisation of our transport, in the improvement of the vehicles, and in the provision of comfort for the passengers. In view of the long distances which passengers in urban areas have to travel to and from their work, and the high fares, we think that passengers are entitled to the greatest comfort which the undertaking can furnish. It is not right or fair that only standing room should be provided for them when it is possible to provide seats. There are many other ways in which congestion in the vehicles and in the streets can be overcome. Before the Minister makes any regulation regarding standing buses he ought to have more consultations with the local authorities and municipal associations, and with the trade unions.

After the passengers, the unions are the most concerned in this matter. I welcome the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary that he will continue to consult the unions regarding these matters, though I regret that he has not found it possible to insert in the Bill provision that the trade unions would be among the organisations or bodies entitled to consultation. We would have preferred them to be named in the Clause rather than merely be embraced in the overall phrase concerning consultation.

We do not propose to divide against the Bill, which has been treated throughout as a non-controversial Measure. It has been improved in minor particulars, and in one major particular through the giving of freedom to Glasgow in the matter of fixing fares; but we feel that there is danger in Clause 9 regarding standing passengers. We shall watch carefully any regulations made, and give them serious consideration.

11.9 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)

I only wish to make a brief observation on the remarks of the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies). I feel that the attitude taken by hon. Members opposite regarding Clause 9 has been based upon a misunderstanding. The error seems to persist that the Clause in some way limits the powers of the Minister; but it is discretionary. There is nothing in this Clause which would prevent the Minister from making a regulation that the number of standing passengers should be three, two, one or even none. Surely it is better not to fix a figure as has been suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite several times.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Might I point out that the Minister has himself stated in reply to questions that he proposed to fix the number at eight? What I was suggesting was not that there should be a minimum figure but a maximum figure of five, for instance, but not to say that there had to be five but that would be the maximum figure.

Mr. Wilson

Surely, putting in a maximum figure would be a retrograde step under the present arrangements. We hope that the Minister will not have to come back for further powers of this kind within a reasonable time. It would be a pity to put in a particular figure, even a maximum figure. It would be better to have negotiations about it.

Mr. Hale

If the hon. Gentleman reads Clause 9 he will find what it says is that the Minister can do what he likes about standing passengers and make regulations which could be prayed against. It is true that the Parliamentary Secretary has given an undertaking that he will have consultations, but there is nothing to say he must consult. He could consult whatever organisation he thinks fit, do what he likes, say what he likes, make what regulations he likes and all that the House of Commons can do is reject any order he makes.

Mr. Wilson

When we were debating this Clause in Standing Committee, it became clear that the Minister was intending to carry on consultations with the trade unions.

Mr. Hale

The Bill does not say so.

Mr. Wilson

That may be, but the Minister of Transport would not carry on consultations with any but the appropriate authority. I believe that it would be retrogressive to put in a particular figure. I do not know why this figure of five has been mentioned. That was the figure before the war. We hope that from time to time some other figure might be considered more appropriate than this figure which was appropriate so long ago. I believe that the Minister is quite right in resisting any particular figure.

11.14 p.m.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I want to make a brief acknowledgement to the Minister and his officials in the Ministry for the consideration which they have given to the point made by the Scottish Counties of Cities Association. He himself referred to it, as did my hon. Friend (Mr. Ernest Davies) and indicated that this was a major alteration to the Bill.

Without traversing too much of the ground that was covered on Second Reading, it should be noted that the representations were made by the Scottish Counties of Cities Association and not by Glasgow alone. They sought the concession that within the ceiling fixed for buses, trolleybuses and tramways the fixing of the fares should be left to the local authorities.

The very able officials of the Scottish Counties of Cities Association, including the representative from Edinburgh Corporation and Mr. Falconer, were able by persuasion, and, the Minister will admit, a very efficient manner of exposition, to convince the Minister that this concession was worth while. Briefly, the main contention was that whereas, in 1937, there were 9,600 in operation, today there are only 3,000 throughout the whole of the country, half of them in Scotland and one-third of those operating in Glasgow, it was on those grounds, plus the important fact that Glasgow had a virtual monopoly of its own, that convinced the Ministry that this concession should be made. I again express the thanks of the Association for the consideration shown, and wish the Bill well on its way to another place.

Mr. Wigg

My presence here is not because of an interest in this Bill but because of my interest in the Army. However, I have been looking at the Order Paper and the Bill, and I am a little surprised, having heard the Parliamentary Secretary say that he was detained because of the diligence with which he had been reading his Order Paper and preparing his brief, to find that the Bill has two commas too many. There is a missprint on the Order Paper relating to Clause 8, page 11, line 32. This starts with two commas, ends with two commas, and has two in the middle.

If the Parliamentary Secretary had been as diligent as he suggested he was he would have discovered that. One hesitates about the rest of the Bill, although I know that the embarrassment of the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department will be overcome by the Public Bill Office and the Parliamentary draftsmen. It is a fact that Officers of the House have to act as watchdogs for Ministers, and perhaps it would be as well to provide them alarm clocks so that Ministers could reach the Chamber in time, and even provide them with additional secretaries to make sure that the punctuation of Bills is correct.

11.16 p.m.

Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)

I want to reinforce the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) about the powers given to the Minister under Clause 9. Unlike the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) I do not like giving any Minister the power given under subsection (1, a) which provides for: The determination by or under the regulations of the number of the seated passengers and standing passengers respectively whom any vehicle is constructed or adapted and fit to carry. The House may be interested to recall the experiments undertaken during the war when all the cross seats were taken out and seats put around the buses which were piled with as many standing passengers as there were seated. That is the sort of thing we should not agree to under any circumstances. I was glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary give an assurance that the trade unions are to be consulted, but how far is that consultation going because the Parliamentary Secretary will know, as his right hon. Friend knows, there is still complete misunderstanding about something the Minister is alleged to have been in favour when meeting the trade union about standing passengers? If there is to be consultation arising from this Bill I hope that both sides will see that when any agreements are arrived at they will be put in writing, so that there shall not be any misunderstandings.

While the Parliamentary Secretary, earlier tonight, was altering certain provisions of the Bill, he might have brought it up to date by altering the title to "Transport Charges (Omnibus Provisions) Bill," for the Bill before us does not go far enough. All that the Minister does is to give Glasgow the power to fix its fares, but to deprive the municipalities of a right which they have enjoyed for a very long time.

The Minister explained that the power to fix charges for trams and trolley-buses was given in circumstances substantially different from what they are today. What he did not tell the House was that when the licensing authorities were established under the 1930 Act—only 24 years ago—they could then have taken away this power from the municipalities which he now proposes to do. I should have thought that a Government of this kind, who talk about the power they are giving to local authorities, ought at least to have had sufficient confidence in them on this occasion to allow them to retain that power.

11.21 p.m.

Mr. Hale

My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) called this a virtually non-controversial matter, but I want to put a slightly independent point of view. In regard to Clause 9, I wish to say that we in Westminster are sometimes in danger of judging these things from the point of view of Tottenham Court Road and of forgetting Nether Wallop. I remember when my right hon. Friend the then Minister of Transport introduced the original regulation limiting standing in buses. I was one of those who raised their voices in opposition to it.

Everyone knows that the driver and the conductor of a London bus have perhaps the most difficult jobs in the world. I can never understand why they are so badly paid. Their wages are about £8 10s. a week, and from the big posters which one sees about London advertising the jobs, one would think that this was a very remunerative proposition. I am certainly not going to take on the job of conductor so long as I can get my lodging turn money in this House.

This regulation helps the conductor in one way and hinders him in another. Most disputes in which a conductor is involved arise from the fact that he has pushed somebody off, saying that the bus is full, and then there is found to be a vacant seat. It is difficult for the conductor to know when he is collecting fares below that there are two vacant seats on top of the bus, or vice versa.

It is, I agree, a most annoying experience for a man and wife to attempt to board a bus only to find that the wife is allowed on while the husband is pushed off because the bus is full, and to see his wife sailing away into the distance with only a slight idea of the point at which she is likely to alight. I have had that distressing experience, and I am sure that it is equally distressing to the conductor.

The reason why a conductor has to do that is because wandering about there may be an over-zealous policeman who may "pinch" him if he does not. I remember the days when prosecutions for overcrowding in buses were a routine feature of our experience. I remember when solicitors would threaten to call each passenger, one by one, to give evidence of the overcrowding.

It has always seemed to me that it would help the conductor and would help to deal with the problem of the last bus on a rainy night. It is all right talking about a return fare, but no one knows that there will be a storm and, therefore, more people on the bus. It is a most distressing experience to be pushed off the last bus on a wet night and told to walk several miles to the next village. It is a very difficult problem.

I suggest quite seriously that the Minister might discuss with the unions—who might very well disagree with what I say—that that might well be a discretionary variation. One might well leave it to the conductor and say that he is not bound to have more than five; by saying not fewer than five and not more than eight leaving it to the conductor's discretion. He would be protected from prosecution if he took one extra. Conductors might say that they do not want it and that it puts too much responsibility on them, but I still think it preferable to leaving the conductor in the position that to comply with the law he has to split family parties and sometimes to refuse perhaps elderly people, on a wet night, the chance to travel home by bus.

I want to pass to Clauses 1 and 2. The Parliamentary Secretary, in his recent observations, said that this was a coordinating Measure and should, therefore, be welcome on this side of the House. He did not say that if that argument applies it should not be welcome on that side. We will forgive him that, however, because the Parliamentary Secretary is the most courteously helpful of junior Ministers, and I hope that he will forgive the little, perhaps frivolous, chat earlier in the evening. He is always careful. There was a time when he was suspected of having more or less progressive views, and can therefore talk of co-ordination more freely than could some of his colleagues.

We have to consider Clauses 1 and 2 as they are in the Bill, and have to consider them in the ambit of the transport system as it is administered today. And what a system it is, and what a mess it is. This means more applications to the licensing authorities, more contested arguments, more lawyers briefed to argue on matters about which they do not know much, and more of those miserable contests in which I took part in the days when I earned an honest livelihood. The system always struck me as an unhappy one.

I always found the traffic commissioners very able men, giving a fair hearing to the parties and trying to do justice. I am not criticising them because they are lay tribunals. I do not take the view that there is any virtue in either the law or the lay tribunal as such; I consider them on their merits. But this is adding more complexity to the system. It is exposing the whole hollowness of the Tory transport policy to come here and talk of a little initiative when they have split all transport into sections—and we are today told that they are to split it still more. It is really a mockery of the House.

In these days, when I should have thought the genuine co-ordination of transport, the national ownership of the bus industry and of road and rail traffic was essential—but I cannot pursue that, Mr. Speaker, otherwise I am sure you will rule me out of order. At the same time, it is rather a tragedy that in times like these, when only a day or two ago we were told in this House that the dropping of a single bomb on London would destroy and lay flat every main line station in this city and leave the whole system in chaos, we should be introducing and passing a Bill which provides for competitive trolley buses to have their fares adjusted outside the boundaries of cities and so on.

It sometimes seems that we are spending a good deal of time in talking about minor matters, patching up an old and outworn system, introducing little remedies here, little amendments there, touching up this, and touching up that and leaving the whole vast complexity and chaos of a vital industry completely untouched and unamended. I have tried to put this quite modestly, speaking purely as an individual expressing an opinion. Having expressed that opinion I shall not attempt to pursue it further, because I have no wish to delay the House at this time of night.

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Bing

I thought I would add just a few words to what has already been said on both sides of the House on the Bill, and a word about some of the Clauses which have not, as yet, got the support to which perhaps they are entitled. I would, in particular, congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary and his right hon. Friend on Clause 15 (2). Hon. Members will see that that does not extend this Bill to Northern Ireland.

Before I come to a particular constituency point, I should like to say why I, as one who has come from that part of the country, appreciate that point. If I may call the attention of the House to Clause 2 (6), hon. Members will see that this, unfortunately, converts into tramways what would be otherwise some of the most historic railways in Northern Ireland. I mention the Clogher Valley Railway, with a road crossing it every quarter of a mile, thus preventing along those roads excessive speeds for vehicles. There is the tramway which exists at Portrush—the famous electric tramway, and, I believe, the first of its kind in the world.

Having just made these nostalgic reminiscences, I wish to say a word from a constituency point of view on Clause 9, a matter which, quite rightly, has interested many hon. Members on this side of the House. Under subsection (3), the Minister shall consult with such representative organizations as he sees fit. I think we ought perhaps to have from the Minister, before we finally leave the Bill, a further indication of what sort of organisations he thinks it would be desirable to consult.

There is no particular virtue in it, but ever since I have been a Member of Parliament for Hornchurch I happen to have been one of the vice-presidents of the South-East Essex Traffic Advisory Committee, a body which has to deal with the complicated problems of transport in South-East Essex. It is a question not only of vehicles, but of areas, and there may be a question of allowing more people to stand on one particular section of a route.

One of the problems we are faced with in Hornchurch and areas of this sort is that of the last bus, and London Transport do not, to our minds, very often seem to fit in their schedule with the various events, the very episodic contingencies, which affect the people of the area. There may be a sale, an opportunity to go and shop in the neighbouring Romford, there may be a football match, or something of that sort, in which there is a rush on the buses. These are problems which we are all the time discussing in the South-East Essex Transport Advisory Committee.

If I may digress for a moment, I regret, and I am sure the House regrets, that the reference to Northern Ireland took place before the entry of the two hon. Gentlemen who represent that part of the world. But I hope they will contribute, and say a word or two as to why they feel that this Measure is particularly applicable in not being applied to Northern Ireland.

In areas such as Hornchurch this is a great problem, of what is the appropriate number of people who should stand or who should be accommodated in a bus. It would be quite wrong if we on this side of the House were to approach the matter on behalf of the passenger, because, after all, he is travelling in the bus for only one journey. The person really affected is the conductor, who travels throughout the day, who has duties to perform, and therefore, in order to accommodate someone travelling once it is wrong to impose obligations and difficulties on the conductor, who is working very long hours. He works for long hours for, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) has pointed out, inadequate remuneration. Therefore, his case should be a paramount consideration.

When one is considering what organisations to consult, it seems to me that one should not only consult on the passenger side such organisations as are dealing with the matter nationally; for, this is not merely a problem of the London Transport area as that is generally understood. It is also a problem for those areas on the periphery, and it is a problem affecting the Green Line services.

When the Minister is dealing with this whole subject, I hope that he will give some consideration to the representations of such organisations as the South East Essex Traffic Advisory Committee to which six, or, I think, seven, local authorities send representatives, and whose meetings hon. Members of this House, so far as their other duties permit, attend. Such bodies as old-age pensioners' associations and the manager of the Ford works are represented, and a whole series of problems arise. It is a highly efficient method of dealing with transport questions.

Between 1940 and 1945, when I occupied a very junior position on the Treasury Bench—unpaid, unfortunately—I had discussions with the members of the group for which I was responsible on this very problem. We had a meeting at which representatives of London Transport attended, and we went into the matter of how far traffic advisory committees existed. In certain areas these local committees exist, and in others they do not, but they are highly desirable bodies, and if the Minister would say that, among many other organisations whose representations he will consider there will be the local traffic advisory committee, that would be an additional stimulus for the promotion of such bodies.

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will say that, among the bodies which will be consulted are these local organisations; although the South East Essex Traffic Advisory Committee is not purely a local body. It deals with about a quarter of a million people, and I hope that the Minister will at any rate consult organisations such as this.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.