§ 10.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield, East)
I beg to move,That an bumble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Parking Places (St. Marylebone) (No. 1) Order, 1959 (S.I., 1959, No. 429), dated 10th March, 1959, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th March, be annulled.The reason why we are moving this Motion is not that we are opposed to these parking schemes or to the experiment which is being carried on with parking meters but that we feel that a scheme such as this, which has aroused a certain amount of opposition in some quarters and questioning in others as to detail, should not be put into operation without the House being given the opportunity to discuss it, albeit briefly.
This scheme for Marylebone is the second parking scheme to be instituted involving charging for parking on the highway by the use of parking meters. The first was the Westminster scheme, which has been in operation for about nine months and which provides for over 600 parking places with parking meters. This second scheme provides for 470 parking places with meters and comes into operation on 24th June.
The purpose of the second scheme is similar to that of the Westminster scheme and is to provide that the short-term parker shall have a reasonable expectation of finding parking space, provided that he requires it only for a reasonably short time, and that he shall pay for it. In other words, it is to control kerbside parking by charging by the length of time for which parking takes place. The limit is two hours, plus a considerable excess charge of ten shillings if the parking is over the two hours.
These parking schemes were made possible by the Road Traffic Act, 1956, following the report of a Working Party on Parking in London, which published the London Parking Survey. When we had lengthy debates in Committee and in the House about the new schemes, the Minister arid the Joint Parliamentary Secretary made it clear that charging for 162 short-time parking was linked with the provision of long-term parking off the highway.
As far as I can see, the Westminster scheme has been a success from the point of view of short-term parking. There is no question whatsoever that it is much easier today to find parking space in that part of Central London and the West End which is covered by the parking meter scheme than it was previously. If one compares the position in, say, Grosvenor Square with that in Soho Square or Hanover Square, one finds that the position is much better in the area covered by the parking meter scheme. One can drive round Grosvenor Square without being impeded by the double or even triple parking, which we still get in Soho Square, Hanover Square and other similar areas. From the point of view of short-term parking, unquestionably it is a success, and I do not think that hon. Members will have received any complaints or any representations regarding its operation.
Regarding long-term parking, it seems to me that the scheme has not as yet worked out as it was intended to do. The success of these schemes depends upon there being provided off-street parking facilities for those who find it necessary or desirable to bring their cars into the centre of London and park them for considerable periods. It was provided by the Road Traffic Act, 1956, that all monies which were raised from the parking meters should be devoted to the provision of off-street parking.
So far as I am aware, not a single additional off-street parking space has so far been provided as a result of the Westminster parking scheme. Although it has been in operation for nine months, and there may have been some additional facilities provided, none of them, so far as I am aware, have flowed from the fact that there is a parking meter scheme in the West End area. It seems to me regrettable that, although the Westminster City Council is receiving the revenue which it is collecting from the parking meters, it has not, so far as I know, planned sufficiently ahead to ensure that there are additional parking facilities in the West End of London.
Not only does the success of a parking scheme of this sort depend upon the provision of long-term parking off the high- 163 way, but it also depends upon the enforcement of the other parking regulations, such as the "no waiting" restrictions, not only in the area concerned but in the neighbouring areas. The natural result of the institution of a parking scheme where there are charges for parking in the highway and a strict limitation on the time permitted is that cars tend to be parked in the neighbouring streets on the borders just outside the parking scheme area, and that has happened in the case of the Westminster scheme. There is no doubt that the success of these schemes does depend upon their being consistently expanded to a greater and greater radius until the whole of the congested area, that is, the whole of the Central London area, is covered by similar schemes.
Pending these schemes coming into force, outside Westminster and now this one at Marylebone and other neighbouring areas in the centre of London, it is essential that there should be full enforcement of the parking restrictions in the adjoining areas.
One of the conclusions of the Parking Survey of Inner London reads:We consider that unless enforcement can be kept at a consistently effective level by the police in streets…where there are no meters, the system of controlled parking will break down. Effective enforcement at the meters by itself is not enough.I therefore put those two general points to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. First, what provision has been made or is contemplated by the Westminster City Council for off-street parking—and what proposals has the Marylebone Borough Council for similar parking—as a corollary of this meter scheme? On the provision of long-term parking facilities depends the success of the scheme.
Secondly, following the institution of the scheme, why has the enforcement of the regulations in the district that borders the Westminster parking area not been improved, and more effectively carried out? All of us know, as motorists, or as representing others, that the enforcement of the parking restrictions is very in lax London at present. That is partly because the police are not sufficient in numbers and have many other and more important duties to perform and are, therefore, unable fully to enforce the law.
164 Nevertheless, the provisions of the Magistrates' Courts Act make it far easier for the police to enforce these regulations by enabling a notice to be left on the car informing the owner that he has infringed them and that action may follow. That Act does not seem to be employed to the fullest possible extent. Under it, the police do not have to hang about, waiting for the driver to appear so that he may be approached.
Unfortunately, one still sees, spasmodically, in certain streets, police waiting for car drivers instead of employing the machinery of the Magistrates' Courts Act. There is no more wasteful use of manpower and of the qualifications and abilities of the police than to employ them in such a way. As I say, enforcement is completely spasmodic. We all know that one day one street may be given attention and that subsequently it may be safe for one to park there for a very considerable time.
I have one or two points to put to the hon. Gentleman, about one of which hon. Members may have received representations, and which the Parliamentary Secretary should clarify. I refer to the difference between the Westminster and the Marylebone schemes. Under the Westminster scheme, any vehicle, provided it is not of excessive length or width to do so, can park in the bays, irrespective of whether it is a passenger vehicle, goods vehicle, or any other kind of vehicle. Under the Marylebone scheme there is to be only a very limited number of bays where the parking of goods vehicles will be allowed. In fact, of the 476 spaces to be metered, only six are to be available for all vehicles, and goods vehicles are to be excluded from the remaining 470. Why is this? I suppose that the answer which might be given is that this is a residential area. But that is not entirely so. Though many of the streets where the parking meters are to be installed are residential streets they are adjacent to the very extensive shopping area of Oxford Street and neighbouring streets.
It is, for instance, going to be very difficult for commercial travellers to find parking space in this area once the meters are installed. As the Parliamentary Secretary knows, they use what are called broughams, which are really mobile showrooms. They are tall vehicles in 165 which they carry their goods, and these will be prohibited from parking where meters are installed, except, of course, in the very few places which are provided for their use.
Why is it that in the scheme for this area the goods vehicles are being discriminated against in a different way from which they were treated in the Westminster parking area? That, I think, is something which the Parliamentary Secretary should explain to us tonight. As I have said, representations have been made on the subject, and a number of people who have business interests in the area are concerned about the matter.
When one speaks about the parking of goods vehicles it does not mean that one wants streets cluttered up with such vehicles in transit or which are carrying heavy goods, but for the purpose of doing business with the large stores in the area it is necessary that facilities for such vehicles should be provided. I fully appreciate, of course, that ample loading and unloading bays are provided where the parking meters are installed, but they are not adequate for the purpose which I have in mind.
One other small point I wish to raise is the fact that the parking meter scheme does not apply on Saturdays. I would have thought that in view of the fact that a very large number of people do not work on Saturdays and do their shopping then—anyone driving in the Oxford Street area on a Saturday morning will find that it is very congested with private cars—it is just as necessary to have the scheme operating on Saturday mornings at least as it is to have it operating from Mondays to Fridays. I should like an explanation of why the scheme does not operate on Saturday mornings.
When we debated the Westminster scheme we raised the question of whether the parking meters were the best system for London, or even for this country for that matter. The question of the blue disc system in Paris was raised. I do not want to go into that matter—indeed, it would be out or order to enter into a wide discussion on it—but I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary the following question. After nine months of experience of the Westminster scheme in London is he fully convinced that it is the best form of parking control in the Metropolitan area? I am not suggesting 166 at the moment that it is not, but the House is entitled to know what the Government's views are after nine months of experience and whether they have changed their minds at all about experimenting with the Paris scheme in a provincial city.
I was interested to note that the Government have recently sent a small delegation to Paris to have another look at the blue zone scheme there. It is possible that the Parliamentary Secretary may be able to tell us something about that.
Finally, it would be interesting to know to what extent the parking meter scheme has been adhered to by those using it. That is to say, to what extent have cars been left there longer than the one or two hours for which their owners have paid? Have a large number of motorists been called upon to pay the excess charge, and, if so, has that excess charge been paid speedily and in the manner provided by sending it to the local council concerned? Has there been much abuse, and has it been necessary for many cars to be towed away for having been left longer than the time permitted under the excess charge—that is, for longer than the four hours which is the maximum?
The parking problem is, I suppose, a major traffic worry of any large city today. To the extent that kerbside parking is permitted, it must add to congestion and slow down the flow of traffic, but it is essential to provide for parking. Sometimes the attitude is taken that it is better to prohibit cars coming into the city centre and parking. But vehicular traffic is the life-blood of the city and must be provided for. All of it has an origin and a destination. It has a purpose. But having fulfilled its function, having disposed of its passengers and unloaded its goods, the vehicle should not then be permitted to impede other vehicles for longer than is reasonable.
It seems to me that the rapid expansion of these schemes to the whole of London is inevitable if traffic is to be kept moving at more than a snail's pace, which is the pace to which it is being gradually reduced owing to the continued increase in the number of vehicles on the streets. But these schemes are no substitute for other measures. They control and restrict the amount of parking but they do no more.
167 The increase in vehicles, unfortunately, in some ways grows faster than provision can be made to meet the needs both when traffic is moving and when it is stationary. On the one hand, the provision of off-street parking is essential as a corollary to the control of parking on the highway, and, of course, the long-term answer is continual improvement in the road system in London.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)
The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) drew attention to certain differences between the parking meter scheme for Westminster and that proposed for St. Marylebone in this Order. He drew attention particularly to the fact that out of 476 parking places there are six available for goods vehicles.
I do not understand why this Order should have been made in this form, when, in January, the St. Marylebone Council approved in principle a scheme for the inclusion of goods vehicles in all parking places. Surely, even though the St. Marylebone Council made a mistake in excluding goods vehicles in the first instance, this House should know why it is not possible for the Order to have been made in such a form as to include provision for the parking of goods vehicles, as is now required by the St. Marylebone Council.
I very much welcome the extension of the parking meter scheme. I have had personal first-hand experience of it in Westminster, because I live in one of the streets where it was first introduced. It was quite impossible before the introduction of parking meters to put one's car anywhere near one's house in order to get in or out of it conveniently, and there was continual traffic congestion in the street. Now, traffic flows freely and one is able quite easily to take one's car into and out of these parking meter spaces for short periods. There is a continuous exchange of short-term coming and going, which is exactly what the parking meter scheme was intended to provide for.
I stress what the hon. Member for Enfield, East said in linking the parking meter system with long-term parking needs. I am sure that the House will be interested to know that in the very area 168 of St. Marylebone to which the Order is to apply very large extra off-street parking facilities have just been provided at Selfridges. That company has provided a very big new building for the purpose which will be very valuable in this particular place. Far more ought to have been done elsewhere. For example, there is a big new building now going up opposite St. Marylebone Town Hall. I raised the matter and found that no provision for off-street parking was made in that building. Substantial facilities could have been provided, but the opportunity was lost—lost, perhaps, for a hundred years or more. It was a great mistake.
There is great congestion in the medical area of Harley Street, Wimpole Street and Wigmore Street. It is essential that as the parking meter systems are extended extra off-street parking facilities are made available, for example, under Cavendish Square. I should like to know what progress has been made between the Ministry and the St. Marylebone Borough Council and others in plans which were prepared some time ago for providing off-street parking for several hundred cars in that badly congested area.
What progress is being made with plans for parking under Hyde Park? With the proposed plans for the dual carriageway boulevard, very extensive car parking arrangements under Hyde Park could be made without in any way disturbing the amenities at all. Is any progress being made with that? Quite clearly, it would be a great advantage both to the West End and Westminster generally, and, in particular, to this new area in St. Marylebone which is very close to it. As has been said, it is tied up with this particular parking meter scheme. I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to give us some information on those matters.
Has my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary any records about the accuracy or otherwise of the parking meters? Shortly after they were installed I put two sixpences into a meter and it did not function at all. I came out and found a notice pinned on the meter fining me 10s. However, with witnesses, I was able to write to the Town Clerk. The meters were tested and put right. Only a few days ago I put 6d. in and nothing happened. Fortunately, an attendant was there at the time and I reported the defect to him. How often does this happen? Is there 169 any means of making the meters more accurate than they are in order to avoid difficulties, which can be somewhat embarrassing to a person parking his car in those places.
I very much welcome this extension of the parking meter system, which has been so successful, to my constituency. I hope that before long there will be further extensions of it in Central London.
§ 10.50 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
I have been interested to hear around the House that so many people have now come round in favour of the parking meter. I confess to feeling that parking meters are fully justified. They are a protection against the all-day parker, and if one goes into the area of Grosvenor Square one can find space to park. I understand that in Grosvenor Square the parking meter places are only about 80 per cent. full at any one time and, therefore, about 20 per cent. of the meters are available. My wife, who goes up to that area sometimes to do shopping, tells me that it is a great comfort to be able to get in.
I would make only two criticisms of the scheme as at present working. One is that Zone A, the area around Grosvenor Square, might be extended somewhat, because there is double and triple banking just outside the zone where the parking meters are. The second criticism is a matter to which, perhaps, my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will give attention if he has not already done so. When the Road Traffic Bill was under discussion, I always understood that the surplus money to be derived from parking meters would go to the local authority and that the whole of it would be available for the building of off-street parking spaces.
I now understand, however, that Westminster City Council is finding that the surplus will be taxable and that, therefore, only about half the surplus will be available for the building of off-street parking spaces. As the profit from the meters for a year is not too large—perhaps a maximum of £10,000—it will be extremely disappointing if in each year Westminster City Council finds that only about £5,000 is available. I hope that my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will clear up this point with his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 170 because if the position is as I have stated it an amending Bill would be desirable.
The position is far from clear concerning the discrimination proposed in the Order against commercial vehicles. In Westminster there is no discrimination, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) has said, there is severe discrimination against commercial vehicles in the Marylebone area. Surely, service vans, people repairing refrigerators and so on, need more than 20 minutes to go into the area. Drivers want their lunch hour and there are many other reasons why a commercial vehicle might need to stay in Marylebone a little longer. George Street, for example, is a commercial area with far more shops, I would say, than residences, yet all but two of the 43 parking spaces there are for private passenger vehicles only. Surely, commercial vehicles should be encouraged to park in George Street.
Unfortunately, the parking meter schemes brought forward by Westminster and St. Marylebone will cover only a small part of London and it would take a long time to cover the whole of London. I believe that we shall have to come to the blue disc scheme for London, as has been done in Paris. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation was good enough to say the other day, in reply to a Question of mine, that if any local authority wanted to bring forward a blue disc scheme he would help it to bring in a Bill for the purpose. I hope that some local authority will come forward—
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I bow to your judgment.
While the Government have tackled the roads scheme with commendable ability and speed in the last year or two, it is quite obvious that the provision of parking places is the next big scheme that must be tackled. It will not be undertaken without help from the central Government.
In conclusion, I would say simply that I have no objection in principle to this Order except on the point of what some of us consider to be completely unfair discrimination against commercial vans and lorries.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Hirst
I have the privilege of living in this area of St. Marylebone when I am in London, which seems to be most of my time. Therefore, I have a special interest in the matter to that particular degree. I do not say that I know the whole of the area well, but I am very glad that the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) has brought up the matter since it gives me the opportunity to say that, in common with other hon. Members, I am not against the meter principle. That is evidently sound, but I do agree with the hon. Member for Enfield, East when he says that this scheme is no substitute at all for other schemes.
I am sure that my hon. Friend who represents the area is aware of the special difficulties in St. Marylebone which arose, curiously enough, because of the Coronation celebrations five years ago. People were then encouraged to leave their cars at the beginning of the area, for example, in the Marylebone Road instead of taking them into the West End. Since then, this solution, as it was thought to be, has become a habit and the institution of this scheme, good though it may be basically, will tend to increase even more the traffic difficulties of this area and make it even more of a problem for those who happen to live in it to get near their own houses.
This certainly underlines the need for further facilities for relief of some of the congestion. It is not sufficient that we should wait until money has accumulated from the parking meters in order to have proper off-street parking facilities, because that would take a very long time. Assistance must be given to local authorities to provide some facilities pari passu with this scheme for this area, because if the scheme grows we are going to create other difficulties.
I have seen the other system which has been referred to tonight working on the Continent, but I agree that there would have to be careful consideration of that. I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) when he refers to the enormous building which has gone up; it should have been a condition of its erection that nothing of that character should have been allowed unless an equivalent of its site floor area, either above or below, had been given over to off-street parking.
172 Something has to be done, but it is not enough to assume that a few shillings in the meter will help really to alleviate the problem caused by the short-term parker. That point should have more consideration, and I hope that this matter will not be approved merely on the basis of it being an end in itself but as one more step towards proper off-street parking. I hope that it will not go through as just one more step to solving a problem while, at the same time, creating others.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)
We must thank right hon. and hon. Members opposite for having put down this Motion and giving us an opportunity to debate the question of parking meter installations in Marylebone. Although it is a relatively small scheme it is a very important introduction in London, which I think will be of great benefit to us all. I am grateful to have the chance to discuss the subject, especially in such a harmonious atmosphere.
Some time ago we had a report from the inspector who conducted a public inquiry into the scheme—Sir Reginald Sharpe. It was a lengthy and detailed report, about which I want to say a few words. We have also been assisted by the report of the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee. Both reports have been of great help to us. But what has helped us most in the Ministry has been to see what has happened in Westminster. The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) asked me about that, and I should like to give a brief account of the main points which we have learned as a result of it.
First, the number of standing vehicles in that area has been reduced from 1,520 to 750, and we may say that the long-term parker has been effectively removed. Double-banking has been virtually eliminated in the area. The average speed of traffic has increased by 9 per cent.—from 9.2 to 10 m.p.h. This sounds very little, but the average speed is lower in the rest of London, and it has been steadily decreasing. This is, therefore, a welcome trend. The Road Research Laboratory is in process of making a study of road accidents in the area. I 173 understand that the initial impression is that there has been a substantial reduction in the number whereas in the rest of London they have been rising. I am sure that that fact will also please us all.
Something which is perhaps very important for us, and certainly for our wives when they go into the area, is that the time taken to make a visit in the parking meter area has decreased by 10 per cent., whereas in the surrounding areas of Mayfair it has increased by 29 per cent. That, again, we will all very much welcome. Meter revenues were expected to work out at about 15s. a meter a week each, but, in fact, have worked out at 18s., although I think it will be found that costs are a little more than was originally estimated.
My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) asked about the taxability of the revenue. That is not for me to answer, but I share his anxiety about its being taxable, because the profits from the meters are to go towards the building of off-street garages which are so badly needed. So far as I know, the revenue coming in from this source will do no more than make a marginal contribution to the very heavy capital cost of building off-street garages in London.
As for the question of the utilisation of parking meters between 11.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m., between 80 and 90 per cent. are in use, which indicates that they are well used, but that it is still nearly always possible to find a place to park somewhere. There is not much off-street garage space in the area anyway, but the small amount of spare capacity seems to have remained about the same.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East asked what the Westminster City Council was doing about providing more off-street parking. In fact, it has a scheme for building an off-street garage in Waver-ton Street, which is to the south-west of Grosvenor Square, in a very good central position. But it has had difficulties in acquiring the site, as often happens in the acquisition of London property. I have no doubt this scheme will go ahead, but the Council has not been able to agree a price, and this has held up building. My recollection is that there will be accommodation for between 250 and 300 174 cars and the council will get on with the building as quickly as possible.
I was asked about one or two other schemes, including that for Cavendish Square. I believe that that scheme has just faded out. We looked into the possibility of one or two schemes in London squares, but found that there were very great amenity objections. It is almost impossible to build an underground car park in a square without disturbing the trees, and much as we want off-street car parks I believe that most Londoners would say they wanted their trees even more. So we have to turn to other expedients, like the Hyde Park scheme.
§ Mr. D. Jones
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Finsbury Council architects have indicated that they have devised a scheme for saving the trees in Finsbury Square and, at the same time, putting a car park under the garden?
§ Mr. Nugent
Yes, I shall be delighted when that is built. I have taken a great deal of trouble to expedite that scheme, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, it has run into certain legal difficulties. There is not the same amenity to preserve in that area as in some squares in the West End.
Regarding the Hyde Park scheme, to build an underground garage under the parade ground part of Hyde Park, near Marble Arch.
§ Mr. Nugent
I must apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if I was out of order, but I was only answering questions which you had allowed to be put during the debate. May I add that that scheme is under consideration and is complementary to the general development of parking meters. It is not possible to consider one without the other.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Regarding the Westminster scheme, will the Minister answer my question about the extent to which cars are left for longer than the maximum of two hours and the owners have to pay extra? It would be interesting to know to what extent people are willing to pay the penalty in order to be able to park for a longer period.
§ Mr. Nugent
I was coming to that point, but I wished to deal with the questions of off-street parking all together.
175 In relation to the scheme now before the House the provision of off-street garage facilities is ample. The Selfridges scheme referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir. W. Wakefield) is an admirable one and will provide accommodation for 850 to 1,000 cars.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East referred to offences. The number of excess charge tickets has been running, more or less constantly, at about 50 to 60 a day. Over 70 per cent. of them result in payment to the City Treasurer within the specified seven days, and in most other cases payment has been made after correspondence. During the initial nine months proceedings have been instituted in 100 cases for failing to pay the initial charge; failing to pay the excess charge, 54; leaving a vehicle in a parking place for more than two hours after incurring an excess charge, 40; meter feeding, 26; failing to give information of the identity of the driver, 138, making, with one or two other matters, a total of 360 in the nine months. The number of vehicles towed away so far is 22.
I was sorry to hear about the sixpences which were put in the meter without result by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone. I inquired into the reliability of the mechanism and was told that it had been found entirely reliable. But occasionally people put in things like paper clips; perhaps a paper clip had been put in the meter before my hon. Friend put in his money so that the mechanism was not working properly. In any event, I apologise to my hon. Friend for the deficiency.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Enfield, East about the alternative scheme of discs used in Paris. It is true that a further investigation has been made by Mr. Alex Samuels. He has returned opportunely today in time to give me his preliminary impressions of what he saw. I can assure the House that his second visit confirmed the view he took on his first visit, that, although this scheme has certain virtues it still has the defect which he originally observed, that the cost of supervision is a great deal heavier than that of the parking meter. It requires at least three times as many officials. In addition, the number of offences seems to be extremely heavy, running at about 176 80,000 a month for a scheme which has about ten times as many vehicles as the Westminster scheme. Hon. Members will see that despite the very heavy supervision costs there is still a high record of offences.
Although it serves Paris reasonably well, with its wide streets, avenues and boulevards, it could not serve us, with our very narrow streets, where parking must be restricted to selected places if we are to avoid impediment to the traffic flow. Furthermore, if any scheme in an area in Central London allowed universal parking in the streets without restriction to a number of spots, there would be the continual problem of the stopping of trade vans. Inevitably, unless special bays are reserved for them, as there are in the parking meter schemes, those vans are obliged to double bank and block the traffic flow. We suffer from that every day in streets where we see the traffic held up. For that reason, too, the disc scheme would not be suitable for us. I must not go into further details of it and further arouse your rebuke, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I can assure the House that Mr. Samuels will be making a report on it which will give more interesting detail.
§ Mr. Nugent
Yes, in due course.
My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham asked for my views and those of my right hon. Friend on the disc scheme in this country. It would require fresh legislation, but if and when a town comes forward which is suitably laid out for the purpose we shall be very ready to look at it and, if we are satisfied that it could work there, to consider the necessary legislation. But that has not yet happened. The fact is that the scheme in Westminster has answered most of the doubts which many people felt, perhaps more outside the House then inside it, about the prospects for parking meter schemes.
Before I leave the inspector's report I want to say a word of thanks to Sir Reginald Sharpe. I expect that hon. Members have read his report and know what an immense amount of work he put into it. It goes into every aspect of parking meters in great detail. Although we were not able to agree with every view which 177 he expressed, I should like to express my gratitude to him for the thoroughness with which he examined all the objections, the assistance which he gave us in so doing and the many interesting arguments which he used. I should also like to thank the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee for the immense amount of work which it did in studying Sir Reginald's report and in due course giving us its own report.
Coming to the point about commercial vehicles made by Sir Reginald and the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, we were advised that this scheme was deficient in respect of commercial vehicles, just as tonight my hon. Friends the Members for St. Marylebone, and Twickenham and the hon. Member for Enfield, East also pointed out that it virtually excludes commercial vehicles. I accept the need for better provision—let me make that plain—but my right hon. Friend was advised that he had not power to amend the scheme himself and that it would be ultra vires for him to attempt to do so. The limit of his amendment was to allow for dual-purpose vehicles, but he was unable to amend the scheme as far as to make adequate provision for commercial vehicles. We therefore suggested to the St. Marylebone Borough Council that it might itself propose an amending order. That it is about to do. I understand that the Council will be considering such an order this month—
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
But can the hon. Gentleman explain exactly what he means when he says that it is not within the power of the Minister to amend the scheme? At what stage does his power to do so cease? Surely, when the scheme is put to him by the St. Marylebone Borough Council the Minister is in a position to amend it. At what stage can he not amend it—after it has been laid, or when?
§ Mr. Nugent
The Minister cannot amend a scheme in a feature which amounts to something as substantial as that. If there is a substantial change in the nature of the scheme it must go through the whole statutory process again to give an opportunity for objections and so on to those interested.
Therefore, the only way in which the Minster could deal with it would be 178 either to reject the whole of the scheme and oblige the St. Marylebone Borough Council to start again; or to amend the scheme as far as he could—to the limited extent of the dual-purpose vehicle—and allow the scheme to go forward, having requested the Borough Council itself to promote an amending order. The St. Marylebone Borough Council could not propose an amending order until this Order was made, and there was thus an Order which could be amended. In fact, I think that the amending order will probably pretty well catch up this substantive Order, so that by the time the meters come into operation on 24th June the scheme will be amended in the way; we would wish—
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Does that mean that goods vehicles will be able to park in any of the parking bays? As far as the hon. Gentleman is aware, is that the Borough Council's proposal?
§ Mr. Nugent
I am not responsible for it, of course, and, once again, it has to go through the hoops—to the London and Home Counties Advisory Committee, and so on—but we rather expect that that is the form in which it will come.
I have not been asked about the position of doctors, which is a very important question in this area, but I think that I could go so far as to say that my right hon. Friend and I have had representations from the B.M.A. and I am confident that we shall be able to reach agreement on a scheme that will provide for the doctors in a way that they think will be fair. I do not think that I need go further into the other points that Sir Reginald put up, because it is quite evident that the House is satisfied with the general form of the scheme.
I need only refer, then, to the last point mentioned—the extension to Saturday morning. Once again, there was the same difficulty. It is quite clear from the experience in Westminster that the parking meters should operate on Saturday mornings. There have been many serious cases of traffic congestion there, and, indeed, the London and Home Counties Advisory Committee has advised us that we should make such an amendment. I understand that St. Marylebone Borough Council will be making an amending order for that as well, so that, in due course, that will be tacked on. As a 179 matter of interest I think that Westminster is doing the same.
Perhaps I may conclude by saying that I believe the scheme to be soundly conceived and that, with the amendments I have mentioned, it will serve as a valuable scheme in itself to control parking in that area, and facilitate the movement of traffic, and will also serve to show us something more of what will happen, and what will be the implications, as these schemes spread.
§ Mr. D. Jones
The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) mentioned something in which I am interested—the fear that this parking scheme on the Oxford Street side of Marylebone Road will drive a large number of the all-day parkers into the streets on the other side of Marylebone Road and make it extremely difficult for the people living in the houses and flats there to get their cars in. Are the police in this area to take particular care that the long-term parkers now being driven out of the streets on the Oxford Street side will not park their cars on the other side? As I came to the House early this morning there were 29 cars parked along Prince Albert Road. It seems to me that something will have to be done to stop the long-term parker from going a little farther afield to avoid the effect of the parking meter.
§ Mr. Nugent
I am bound to agree that there is a tendency for these parking meter schemes to squeeze out the long-term parker into adjoining areas. I have some figures, with which I will not trouble the House, which show that the effect did not seem to be considerable around the Westminster area. However, there is no doubt that in the Marylebone scheme there is ample off-street garage space, particularly with the Selfridge scheme, to accommodate all those long-term parkers who wish to continue to bring in their cars.
I will certainly pass on to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary the comment made about the necessity for stricter enforcement in the adjoining areas. Of course, it is not my personal 180 responsibility, although naturally it is my anxiety, to see that this does not happen, but to some extent there is a tendency that it should. I know that the general intention of the police is to welcome these parking meter schemes and to make them work. I will certainly see that the Commissioner knows of the comment made tonight by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst). But the question of providing off-street parking and the responsibility for so doing rests, of course, on the shoulders of the local authorities. It is not a matter that the Government can undertake though it is, on the other hand, a matter with which they are very concerned.
§ Mr. Hirst
I appreciate, of course, that it is the responsibility of the local authority, but there has to be a tie-up because if we in the House propose certain things to be brought out in these schemes—excellent as they are—which, in effect, make it all the more difficult, then there has to be a partnership. As my hon. Friend says, these schemes are no substitute for other schemes. That is the point. Perhaps it is impossible for my hon. Friend to answer the question tonight, but that is the point about which we want an assurance.
§ Mr. Nugent
I think it is quite clear from the direction which I have had from the Chair that if I went far into the matter I should be called to order again. I cannot say more than that I personally accept the link between the two and am anxious to do what I can to find a solution to the matter. I hope that what I have said is not unhelpful, and that the House will be ready to reject this Motion and so put into action this valuable scheme.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
The debate having served the purpose for which we initiated it and having elicited some information from the Parliamentary Secretary and the fact that there are to be proposed amendments which will remove the fears which we had on certain grounds, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.