HC Deb 14 July 1960 vol 626 cc1741-58

9.58 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Hay)

I beg to move, That the Parking Places (Extension outside London No. 2) Order. 1960, dated 1st July, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 6th July. be approved. The purposes of this Order can be shortly stated. It extends to some 15 county boroughs, boroughs and urban districts the power to apply to the Minister of Transport for an order designating parking places on the highway for which charges may be made by the local authority for vehicles left there. To put it shortly, it will entitle those local authorities to apply for designation orders in respect of streets in their areas where they can install parking meters.

The local authorities concerned are listed in the Order. They consist of eight county boroughs, Cardiff, Gloucester, Leicester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Norwich, Walsall Worcester and York, and four boroughs, Boston, Chelmsford, Cleethorpes and Mansfield, and three urban districts, Herne Bay, Hinckley and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

This is the second such Order to come before the House. The first was made on 6th May, 1959, extending this power to ten county boroughs and that Order subsequently received the approval of Parliament. The House may like to know that two of those ten county boroughs covered by the first Order, namely, Bristol and Manchester, have since applied for designation orders and that the Minister is now considering whether those orders should be made. Bristol's proposals have been the subject of a public inquiry and the inspector's report is now being studied. Manchester's scheme, however, is at a rather earlier stage.

If Parliament approves the present Order, the local authorities concerned will have the right to apply to the Minister for designation orders. The Order does not in itself authorise the councils to appoint such parking places. They must first comply with the procedure laid down in the Third Schedule of the Road Traffic Act, 1956. Under Section 24 (5) of that Act, any individual designation order appointing a parking place on the streets is made by the Minister and is subject to annulment by Resolution of either House of Parliament. That is the position at present, but the House will be aware that by a Clause in the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Bill the procedure for designation orders is being modified.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

Under the provisions of the new Bill, will the House lose its power of annulment over individual parking meter orders?

Mr. Hay

Yes, Sir. That is the position. I must not go into detail about the provisions of that Bill at this moment, but the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) and I were very much involved in the proceedings on that Bill, both in Committee and on Report.

I was about to say that, if the House approves the Order, power to apply for designation orders will then have been extended to some 25 local authorities outside the Metropolitan Police District and the City of London, and that will complete the list of local authorities who have made application to us so far. But since an increasing interest has been shown by local authorities in parking meters in the light of the significant improvements which have come about in traffic conditions, as a result of the setting up of the first zones in London, it is very likely that this Order will by no means be the last which the House will be asked to approve. When the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Bill becomes law, we expect to have more interest by local authorities in this form of control of parking and the likelihood is that we shall receive a number of applications for an Order of this type in the next Session.

That briefly explains the Order. I will endeavour to answer any questions which hon. Members may have, but I hope that the House will approve the Order so that we can go forward with the next stage of this important work.

10.4 p.m.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

In the last year since the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport took over his office, we have had a number of debates on transport, roads and urban congestion, but we have not had a debate on parking itself until tonight. It is the problem of parking which confronts the motorist as he goes about this daily business, and I very much hope, that you, Mr. Speaker, will interpret this short debate as being what Parliament intended it to be, an opportunity to review the way in which the scheme has worked out.

Mr. Speaker

It is not in my power to do so. The issue which arises on this Order is whether these provisions should be extended to those places, that and nothing else.

Mr. Benn

Indeed, that is exactly what I proposed to do, in the light of our experience where parking meters already exist. I propose to invite the House to consider whether it should extend them in the form in which they now appear to the boroughs mentioned in the Order. Certainly, it would not be my intention to go beyond the operation of the parking scheme, and I shall be very strict about this.

This is only a permissive Order. It is permissive with this difference. Whereas up to now we have had an opportunity to review the introduction of each particular scheme, as with the Holborn scheme, which is now before the House, when the existing legislation comes into full operation, we shall not have this power of individual supervision. I am very much in favour of parking meters, and I want to say at the outset that I think they have played a very useful part. Since Sir John Wolfenden and the Minister have been at work in Mayfair, it has become a clearer place. They are the twin heroes of Mayfair. and in both cases the problem has been transferred to what one might generally call off-street accommodation. It is quite true to say that clearing the pavements and the streets has been the function of the Home Secretary and the Minister of Transport.

At the same time, having said that, I must recognise that Britain is very far behind other countries in the administration of the law in so far as parking is concerned, and I welcome this order to the extent that it will make possible the extension of parking meters. Parking meters have been in use in the United States since before the war, when the first ones were introduced, and in many other countries in Europe there have been experiments ahead of our own experiments. Naturally, I welcome the extension of parking meters in this country. Indeed, one might truthfully say that this country has trailed very much behind other countries in the wider aspects of traffic control.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Other aspects of traffic control clearly cannot be in order, as I am at present advised.

Mr. Benn

I was only going to welcome this extension as a way in which the Ministry may catch up with events.

Mr. Speaker

In that case, no aspects of traffic control arise on this Order and simply cannot be raised.

Mr. Benn

I am sorry if my compliments cause trouble, and I will try to confine my flattery more strictly within the rules of order. I want to say quite plainly that, even so, having studied the operation of parking meters as far as I can, I must confess that they do not seem to represent the real answer to the problem of parking in our cities. I therefore want to criticise the scheme for its inadequacy, and to say that in transferring the power to other authorities to introduce schemes, as we shall by this Order, they must not expect in this way to solve the problem, because the more one looks into the problem of parking, the more one sees that it is not a problem that can be tackled in isolation.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am very sorry, and I do not want to trouble the hon. Gentleman unnecessarily, but I do not think it is right to suppose that the debate on this Order can range over the problem of parking in general or of parking meters in general. Clearly, it can apply only to the advisability of introducing the provisions of the relevant Section of the Road Traffic Act to the specific places mentioned in the Order. That is a different point.

Mr. Benn

I am very sorry to be transgressing. I thought that Parliament, by introducing the law under which we have the opportunity to discuss the extension of the scheme, intended us to review the scheme at the moment when we extended it. If that is not so, it is very difficult to know exactly how the Order can be tackled. It would not be right to attempt to deal with the problems of Cardiff, Gloucester and Leicester without relating them to the experience of parking in London, because that is the only place where the meter scheme already works. I find myself in very great difficulty as a result of the Ruling which you have given. The parking meter scheme which we are now being invited to extend to these other cities will not greatly help them. I want to give the reasons why I think that that is so.

We cannot solve the problem by parking meter schemes alone. I should like to know whether the experience with parking meter schemes in London has led to developments in associated plans —for example, off-street car garages—which they were intended to do. Listening to the radio the other day, I heard a statement by a reporter to the effect that the one-day suspension of parking meter schemes to deal with the problem due to the strike had cost the City of Westminster £360. This was the first indication I had had of the benefit to the City of Westminster of parking meters. If the City of Westminster is accumulating money at this rate, one would want to be quite certain that an equivalent amount was being put into the provision of off-street car parks.

Similarly, the question arises of the provision of parking facilities for commercial vehicles. When this question was debated last year, questions were asked about this in relation to London, and this applies to Bristol—a big transport area—and many of the other areas mentioned in the Order. We want to be satisfied that provision is being made for commercial vehicles. I suspect that the attitude involved in the adoption of the parking meter scheme is still a little too restrictive and negative.

I would make another plea to the Minister in connection with the Order. There should be greater flexibility of approach in extending the parking meter schemes to areas in the Order than there has been in the past. I am grateful to the Minister for introducing Amendments, in another circumstance, which will permit the disc system to be tried out. I do not know whether this Order, as laid before us, will permit the areas mentioned in it to benefit from the disc system. I shall be grateful to know whether that is so. What alarms me about the way in which our traffic law is now organised is that it is so rigid that experimentation is often delayed pending the introduction of new legislation.

We all realise that we are experimenting in this field; there is no certainty. I hesitate when I see such an Order as this, in case it is so restrictively worded that it prevents other types of experimentation being introduced in the areas concerned. I should like to give an example. Recently, together with other hon. Members, no doubt, I received a circular about a different type of system for parking, in which the motorist put money into a machine and drew out a ticket, which he stuck on his windscreen. A much lower capital cost was involved than with parking meters. I wrote to the Minister about it and had a courteous reply from him, in which he said that the present law did not admit of this system. Therefore, there is a danger that this Order, too, will prevent experimentation in the areas covered by it, and we want that experimentation at this time.

Finally, I would make a plea for a much more active attitude on the part of the Ministry to the problem of parking. It is no good the Minister saying that he is satisfied with the existing law; it is purely permissive, as this Order is. If any of the boroughs referred to do not want to introduce parking meters the Minister can do nothing to compel them. That is no longer good enough. What local authorities need—and I have no doubt that the local authorities covered by the Order need it as much as any others—is much more active help from the Ministry towards a solution of these problems.

Together with other hon. Members, I have recently returned from a visit to Europe to study the problem of road traffic control there. We went to Sweden and Germany, and I was impressed to find that the City of Mannheim employed twelve traffic engineers. It is much smaller than the City of Bristol, and much smaller than many of the cities mentioned in the Order.

What is required from the Government is not just to hold out these powers permissively, but, in my view, to associate an Order of this kind with some active help for local authorities which are struggling with this problem for the first time. The Treasury has its Organisation and Methods Department which it puts at the disposal of local authorities that wish to have their administration reviewed. I should like——

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is putting his case very well, but how can I get the Organisation and Methods Department of the Treasury into this Order which extends a known scheme permissively to various named places?

Mr. Benn

I am afraid that I am getting into trouble with my compliments because I was comparing one Government Department rather favourably with another. It is obvious that only opposition is permissible from the Opposition, and I shall have to do as you say, Mr. Speaker. lf, as a result of re-reading what I said, which was out of order, a glint of light appears on the other side of the House, I am sure that retrospectively you will not rebuke me Mr. Speaker.

I should like to say in conclusion—and it is an earlier conclusion than I had hoped—that I doubt whether the Order will lead to much cheering in Cardiff, Gloucester, Leicester, Walsall, Worcester and York. I do not think that the bonfires will be lit tonight. I do not think that tomorrow the people will be marching in the streets saying that they have a parking meter scheme. People want more help from the Ministry of Transport to deal with the problem of parking.

Though I welcome the Order as far as it goes, I confess that as a solution to the problem I think that it is too limiting and that the people will be looking to the Minister for a much more active lead in this problem than they have had in the past.

10.17 p.m.

Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

If I am in order in doing so. I want to ask my hon. Friend the. Parliamentary Secretary whether, when he makes these designation orders for the schemes to be applied to these provincial cities, they will be on all-fours with the London scheme, and whether they must be on all-fours with the London scheme under the Act.

If I may give an example, I was in Sweden the other day. In the centre of the towns there were parking meters where people were allowed to stop for one hour only. In the outer ring they were allowed to stop for two hours. In the suburbs they were allowed to stop for twelve hours. There was flexibility in the setting up and timing of the parking meters.

As is known, in London one pays 6d. for an hour and Is. for two hours, but one is not allowed to stop at a parking meter for more than two hours. The scheme seems to be not sufficiently flexible.

I also wonder whether the conditions that apply to a town like Norwich, where there is a very small congested area in the centre with a rather loose area outside, are the same as the conditions in London. I doubt whether they are.

I should like my hon. Friend to clear up the question whether, under the Act, we are committing ourselves here to a uniform London scheme, because I am convinced that what is right for London is not necessarily right for the rest of the country.

10.18 p.m.

Mr. G. W. Reynolds (Islington, North)

I regard the Order as another attack by the Minister on the poor long-suffering motorist. The motorist suffers today from the 50 m.p.h. speed limit, from parking meters, from legislation for the inspection of vehicles—when the Minister already has sufficient power to ensure that safe vehicles only are allowed on the road—from pink zones, from having his car towed away, and similar measures. Tonight, we are extending to some of our provincial towns the attack already made on the London area.

I want more positive action to assist motorists rather than this policy of hounding them away from certain areas because some reactionary local authority still living in the Victorian era thinks that cars are bad and wants to drive them off the streets and prevent poorer people from using them.

I am worried that we will find ourselves in the position where it will be possible only for those living on expense accounts to go to work in a car, because everyone else will find it impossible to meet the high charges which will have to be paid before he can leave his car somewhere else during the day.

Having heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) that the Westminster City Council is apparently making £350 a day collecting money in the rather limited area in which at present it has parking meters, I should like to know whether the Minister can tell us what proposals he has had from the local authorities to which we are referring about the way they propose to use the money which they will collect for the provision of good off-street parking facilities. We may find that a considerable amount of money may be collected which should be used for the provision of off-street parking facilities, and I shall not be particularly happy about allowing local authorities to designate areas for parking meters unless we have some idea of the proposals which they have for providing such parking facilities.

There may be a tendency, once the meters are in use, for the local authorities concerned not to proceed too quickly to use the income they are getting for the provision of off-street parking facilities. It is very useful for a local authority to have money in hand and, although it cannot be lent out, at a time when a local authority must pay interest amounting to 6 per cent. on money borrowed from the market, it is a temptation to make use of such money as this, upon which no interest need be paid, for purposes other than those for which it is intended.

If we are to allow local authorities in various parts of the country to install parking meters, we ought to have some indication of how they intend to spend the income on the provision of decent off-street parking facilities. I hold the view that it would be possible for local authorities to provide good off-street parking facilities if the Government had the sense to allow them to provide other services for the motorists using those parking facilities. At present, the Government, or certain hon. Members opposite, oppose legislation for the provision of garage services as well as parking facilities by local authorities. We expect the local authorities to hold the dirty end of the stick while the private garages cream off the remunerative parts of the service.

I understand that in all probability we shall see in such places as Gloucester, Worcester and York—if I do not mention the other places, it does not mean that I do not think the same thing will apply there—the kerbside cluttered up with such monstrosities as are to be seen in London and which are there for people to trip over. They are provided so that motorists can put in money to have the privilege of parking their cars on the public highway for which they have already paid through the nose in the form of taxation on vehicles, petrol and in other ways. I hope that we can improve the look of these monstrosities which, if they are provided in certain areas of York and Worcester and other places, will go against the work of civic trusts and organisations of that kind trying to beautify the streets of our towns. I do not think that anyone can claim that the presence of these machines on the kerbside in parts of London presents an edifying spectacle or that it improves the appearance of those areas.

It horrifies me to think that we are to get a rash of these things spreading into provincial towns. We are placing too much reliance on penalising the motorist and making him pay for the privilege of leaving his car somewhere for a few moments, and the sooner the Minister gets on with the job of enabling local authorities to provide decent off-street parking facilities, and the provision of decent roads, and stops the general persecution of motorists, the happier I shall be.

10.25 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

As one who lives in an area where a parking meter system applies, I should like to make one or two brief comments on this matter. I personally welcome the parking meter system and its extension to other parts of the country. I hope that my right hon. Friend will use this opportunity to circularise local authorities with information about his experience of the system to date in Central London.

The object of the system of parking meters is to allow the maximum number of cars to park, as Section 19 of the Act says, with due regard to traffic circulation and to reasonable access to buildings. I maintain that we could get many more cars parked in the areas designated without jeopardising either traffic circulation or access to buildings. In the back street where I live there are two meters for a space which would adequately hold six cars and in another place there are nine meters in a place which would adequately hold twenty-two cars.

Not only is more than adequate ground for parking allowed in each space, but many of the designated areas are too small, as I have tried to show. When this Order is approved, as I am sure it will be—and it will be of benefit to the cities mentioned—I hope that my right hon. Friend will make sure that local authorities do use to maximum advantage the space they have available for the parking of cars. That in itself would increase their revenue while at the same time achieving what parking meters are meant to achieve.

10.27 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

I propose to keep in order and also to make a short speech. The Parliamentary Secretary is a good performer and did his best to explain the Order and keep within the terms of order.

I wish to ask a question apropos of what the hon. Gentleman said. As I understand, this is a permissive Order to help the places named to apply to the Minister for power to designate areas and then, when they have decided on those areas for parking, they have to come back to the Minister for approval of those areas. When he replies to this debate, I want the hon. Gentleman to tell us what is to be the procedure by the Ministry. Is there very much conflict, and what is the attitude of the Ministry in the approach to the question of areas in a place like Cardiff which the city may decide it wants to use as parking meter areas? Why should the Minister have an overall power which could cause a great deal of friction when in a county borough such as Cardiff a scheme of this kind is proposed?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I hold a view, which I have tried to stress on another occasion, that his Ministry—with all respect to the officials—is too busy and the Department is not big enough to have the job of looking at every one of these orders, going to places like Cardiff and saying what is right and so on. It would have been better if the Ministry had laid down certain principles and said that within the context of parking place procedure certain things should be done. Here I am supported by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke). For example, is the Ministry saying that there shall be uniformity? If it lays down certain principles, what are they? We are entitled to know that. It is right that the House should be told, although it seems that we must eventually reach the stage when experiments in this matter might well be worth while.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) said that he had corresponded with the Minister and was told that the legislation did not allow for experiment. That is a great pity. I wish to put this on record and then to shut up because I should no speak for too long. I think that in these matters local authorities know better. It would be a great pity if the Minister used an overall authority to destroy what is most important of all, good will between local people and the Ministry.

10.29 p.m.

Mr. Hay

I wish briefly to reply to some of the points raised in the debate. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) did extremely well to get as much as he did out of the speech he prepared on this undoubtedly difficult subject. He said that he had to come to an earlier conclusion in his remarks than he had hoped, but he came to a later conclusion than I had expected. The hon. Member was a little off beam when he said that we had had little opportunity in the House for some time to debate parking. I remember several debates on traffic conditions in which the subject of parking and the action to be taken, in particular, about the long-term parker, has taken a prominent place.

The first question which he asked was about the situation in London. I think that he is entitled to ask how the schemes are progressing in London as a pointer to how we can expect the schemes to operate which may be brought forward by those local authorities which are applying for these powers to be extended to them. I cannot give a great deal of detail tonight, because I am more prepared to deal with the situation in these other towns than to answer a general debate on how the parking meter system is working in London. I can say that all the information and evidence which is reaching us so far from our own officials and from the Metropolitan Police and Westminster and St. Marylebone Councils, the two Metropolitan Borough Councils which operate parking meter schemes, shows that where parking meters are installed traffic is moving rather more quickly than it used to move. Moreover, the driver who wishes to find short-term parking space alongside the kerb is now able to do so much more easily than before.

I was asked about the provision of off-street parking. Local authorities are accumulating funds—I do not know whether the figures mentioned in the newspaper report are accurate—and they are pressing on quickly with the preparations for providing off-street parking. At the same time we know of various private enterprise organisations which are doing the same thing. I have no doubt that in the central area of London there will be a good deal of off-street parking accommodation being provided in the next year or two.

The hon. Member asked whether this Order would enable these local authorities in the various towns to introduce an experiment with discs. The answer rests in what happens to the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Bill. He will remember that that Bill contains provisions whereby my right hon. Friend can authorise disc experiments to be carried out, but it does not necessarily follow that the Bill will be enacted in the form in which it left the House. I do not know. We must wait and see. The statutory provisions which the Order extends do not cover disc experiments.

The hon. Member asked whether any other type of experimental work with traffic was precluded by the Order. The answer is, "No". The Order is concerned simply and solely with extending the umbrella, if I may put it that way, of parking meters to certain local authorities. They have asked us to give them the power to apply to us for a designation order. By this Order that power is being extended to them, subject to the approval of the House. That is its simple purpose.

None of the other traffic regulatory powers which local highway authorities have are in any way affected by the Order, and it is open to them to adopt any other experimental or imaginative methods they like, in addition to parking meters. If I may express a view from the Box, I wish that some of the highway authorities outside London would be a little more imaginative in some of the control schemes which they can properly and easily bring into force to assist in solving their local traffic problems.

My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) asked whether the provincial schemes which may be submitted by the local authorities subject to the Order will necessarily be on all fours with the various parking meter schemes in operation in London. By no means need they be on all fours. No doubt the local authorities outside London, such as the fifteen with which we are concerned tonight, will make use of the experience and knowledge which has been accumulated by the local authorities in London. We shall do all we can to give them all the assistance and information which lies within our power, but it will be entirely open to them to decide, for example, the number of meters they put up, the area of their towns to be covered by meters, the period of time for which parking shall be allowed, the charges to be made, the amount of space which shall be allocated for loading and unloading bays and so on. All these things are contained in the designation order itself, and the designation order is then referred to my right hon. Friend, under the present procedure at this moment, and it is for him to confirm it as it stands or to confirm it with modifications, or even—I believe it is within his power—to disallow it altogether, though that is unlikely to happen.

Mr. Mellish

He has power to veto?

Mr. Hay

He has the power of veto. I will come now to the point raised by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) because I may be able to dispose of it straightaway. He will remember that by Clause 5 (7) of the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Bill, the Minister is taking power to delegate this power to make designation orders to local authorities themselves without the necessary reference to him. In other words, what we seek to do by that subsection of the Bill is the very thing that the hon. Member has in mind. It will give us power, at some future time, to delegate this general opportunity to make designation orders to any local authorities desiring to have it. So there will be, in future, the flexibility which is very much in the hon. Member's mind and in all our minds at the Ministry.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my hon. Friend go so far as to say that a local authority would have power to use a different type of machine from the one in use in London, or would it be bound to use the present machine?

Mr. Hay

If I remember correctly. there is a provision in the Third Schedule to the Road Traffic Act, 1956, which is and will remain the existing law until September, when the new consolidation Act comes into force, which requires the local authority to use only a parking meter of a type approved by the Minister. It is the fact that in both the West- minster scheme and the St. Marylebone scheme at present in operation in London, the same type of meter has been used. That is a type which has been approved by the Minister of Transport. As I understand it—I am speaking without advice on it, but I think I am right—it would be perfectly open to my right hon. Friend to authorise the use of some other type of meter, provided it fulfilled the requirements of the Act. It would, I believe, be open to any of these local authorities, in putting forward their designation orders, to say that they would like to use the "XYZ" meter instead of the one now in use in London. Provided that that type was approved by my right hon. Friend, it could properly be put into use.

Mr. Bean

I know that this is a difficult question to answer without notice, but is it the intention of the Minister to accede to or, at any rate, to consider sympathetically requests for different types of meter, different grades of charge, and so on? This is something which I know causes a great deal of interest in certain areas, particularly my own, where people have ideas about zonal. charges, different gradings, and so forth. It would go a long way to meet our desire, which is for flexibility in these arrangements, if the hon. Gentleman would say that this is a matter in which the Minister is prepared to look at every case on its merits.

Mr. Hay

The difficulty is that that question as put in that form is very much wider than I can possibly answer, for this reason. One does not know exactly what proposition will he put forward, I would remind the hon. Gentleman that, assuming that subsection (7) of Clause 5, to which I referred, goes through, it will be for the local authorities themselves to decide how they wish to play their parking game, if I may use that expression, what types of equipment they will use, and so on. That is the position, as I understand it. At the moment, until the Bill is enacted, it is for the Minister to decide whether or not what they propose is right and proper. Beyond that, I cannot go.

I turn now to the trenchant and pungent remarks of the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds). He came here in great vigour at this time of night, delivering a violent attack upon my right hon. Friend and on our whole policy for bitterness and persecution towards the motorist. He called for positive action from the Ministry of Transport to assist the motorist. With respect to the hon. Gentleman—and I must confess that I can understand his feelings—I can think of few better things which will assist the motorist more than to ensure that the streets are not cluttered up unnecessarily with parked cars and that they are free for their proper job, which is to enable traffic to move up and down.

The hon. Gentleman must know that our problem in all the big cities, and, indeed, in some of the smaller towns like those which are the subject of this Order, is to ensure that enough space is left for moving traffic. As long as we have this problem of the long-term parker, the all-day commuter, our streets will continue to be cluttered up, and this is a job which any Minister of Transport must tackle.

There is no intention whatever of persecuting the motorist left and right. Indeed, if I may go back to what has been happening in London, it is an indisputable fact that the great majority of motorists who have had experience of the parking meter zones in London are now some of their strongest advocates, because it means that they can now find somewhere to park whereas before they could not.

Mr. Reynolds

What the Minister is saying, in effect, is that when the parking meter scheme is extended to this part of the City of Westminster, Members of Parliament who have facilities for parking their cars outside the House and a few fortunate people who work in modern office buildings which have car parks underneath them will still be able to come to work by car, but that other persons who have not such facilities will not be allowed to bring their cars to London and will, instead, be forced on to an overcrowded tube system.

Mr. Hay

This goes very wide. There is no Order before the House extending the parking meters to this area of Westminster All I can say is that the hon. Gentleman's belief that we are trying to persecute the motorist is completely wrong, and I am sure that time will prove to him that he is wrong.

I was also asked what are the proposals for off-street car parks by local authorities to which these powers will be extended by the Order. I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman that, because they have not put any proposals to us for designation orders. All they have said is, "Will you give us the power to make the designation orders and we will submit them to you for approval." Until they submit them to us for approval, I cannot tell what the proposals will be for off-street parking.

The other question asked was about the design of parking meters. I think that I have dealt with that in the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke). My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) asked us to give more publicity to the results obtained from parking meters in London today. That is not necessarily the job of the Ministry of Transport, although I can tell my hon. Friend that we receive a great many inquiries from local authorities asking what our experience is of this system of parking. We give them whatever information we can. I certainly think that the point which he raised is one which we should do well to bear in mind for the future.

My hon. Friend also asked if something could be done to make better use of what space there is on the streets for parking. This, again, is a matter of local opinion. It is a matter for the designation areas. Our whole object is to ensure some local option. It is for the local authorities themselves when they draw up their plans for parking meter zones to allocate what they consider to be a fair proportion for parked cars, for loading and unloading, and so on. Further than that I cannot go.

We have had an interesting and lively debate on this Order, and one which I certainly did not anticipate but which I have done my best to answer. I hope, therefore, that having had the opportunity of putting to me these points and having received the answers that I can give to them, the House will now let us have this Order.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Parking Places (Extension outside London No. 21 Order, 1960, dated 1st July, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 6th July, be approved.