HC Deb 14 July 1960 vol 626 cc1572-3
8. Mr. Gough

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what authority police in the Metropolitan area have refused permission for motor vehicles to be cleaned whilst they are parked against parking meters.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)

It is an offence under the Metropolitan Police Act, 1839, for a person to clean, make or repair any part of a cart or carriage in any thoroughfare or public place to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers, except in cases of accident where repair on the spot is necessary. The police neither grant nor withhold permission.

Mr. Gough

Will not my hon. and learned Friend agree that that Act of Parliament is somewhat archaic in this day of parking meters? Will he not further agree that in many cases the only opportunity that car owners have of cleaning their cars is whilst they are at parking meters? Provided that it does not create a nuisance to neighbours and others, does he not think that the time has come to look at this matter again, because it concerns many people?

Mr. Renton

I should want to think about all the implications of my hon. Friend's question, but I certainly do not think that the habit of washing cars in the street should be encouraged.

Mr. Paget

It is an essential element of this offence that somebody should be annoyed. Who is annoyed? What sort of evidence is necessary? How does one decide who is annoyed? It seems an odd thing to be annoyed about.

Mr. Renton

Naturally, that must always depend upon the circumstances of the case and the evidence which is available to the police before they decide upon a prosecution?

Mr. Gough

Does my hon. and learned Friend really believe that only a very few people clean their cars in the street? A large number of people have nowhere else to clean their cars. This happens not only in London, but in every busy city in this country. A large number of people will be astounded by my hon. and learned Friend's reply.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman look at this again? The Act of 1839 can hardly have foreseen parking meters, or, indeed, motor cars. It is extraordinary that he rests upon this old Act in answering this Question. There seems to be a great deal to be said for looking at this again and making the law rather more sensible.