HC Deb 30 January 1957 vol 563 cc994-5
43. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what action has been taken in regard to the staggering of hours of work to relieve traffic congestion since the introduction of petrol rationing.

Mr. Watkinson

The Committee for the Staggering of Working Hours in Central London has written to 2,000 larger employers asking for information about starting and finishing times of work and numbers of staff involved, and is now working out detailed plans based on the replies. I should like to thank some 30 firms, employing 6,000 staff, which have answered the appeal I made last November by adopting staggered hours in advance of action by the Committee.

Outside Central London the London Transport Executive and the South Eastern Regional Board for Industry have approached industrial employers to seek further support for staggered hours and have received a satisfactory response.

As a result of the discussion forecast by my right hon. Friend the then Minister of Education in his reply of 13th December, the London Transport Executive is considering further with individual education authorities possible adjustments in school hours and transport services.

Mr. Davies

While I appreciate that some action is now being taken in this regard, does the Minister not consider that what has taken place so far, in the light of the present emergency, is quite inadequate? Can he not bring greater pressure to bear upon the firms and undertakings concerned to act more speedily in this matter? Does he not regret that he did not take any action earlier, in view of the fact that last July he stated that he had the intention of appointing the committee but did not appoint it until November, and only now some action is being taken?

Mr. Watkinson

I would not regard the results as inadequate, because, as I know the hon. Gentleman knows, London Transport, for example, has been under much heavier pressure and, on the whole, it has carried its passengers extremely well and without great dislocation. I am, however, grateful to anybody who reminds me that we ought to do more about staggering hours.

Mrs. Jeger

Can the Minister suggest to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government that this task would be helped if he would stop sanctioning the building of any more offices in Central London, where already far larger numbers of people are employed than before the war?

Mr. Watkinson

I am sure my right hon. Friend will take account of what the hon. Lady says.