HC Deb 28 March 1956 vol 550 cc2129-30
18. Major Anstruther-Gray

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give a general direction to the traffic commissioners to relax their restrictions in granting permits for buses to operate without conductors in remote areas where traffic is light and eicpenses are heavy.

Mr. Watkinson

I am confident that licensing authorities are fully aware of the difficulties of bus operators in remote areas, and that within the needs of public safety they already use their powers of dispensation whenever there is good reason for doing so. No general direction from me is therefore required.

Major Anstruther-Gray

Arising out of that reply, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is aware that there are still many remote areas which have not a bus service, the reason being that it is too expensive to run one, but that if buses could be run with one man acting as driver and conductor, a great deal of the expense problem could be overcome?

Mr. Watkinson

I should be glad to hear from my hon. and gallant Friend of any cases where he thinks that we could make adjustments to help rural transport, but I am advised that on the whole licensing authorities go a very long way to meat these cases.

Mr. Smithers

Is the Minister aware that in Hampshire, despite attempts by the local operators to run bus services to country villages, it is proving extremely difficult, on grounds of expense, and considerable damage is being done in country communities as a result?

Mr. Watkinson

As I have said, if any hon. Member will bring suggestions to me on this point, I shall be only too pleased to consider them.

Mr. Callaghan

Is not the short and simple answer to repeal the 1953 Act?