HC Deb 01 February 1961 vol 633 cc976-7
19. Mr. Holland

asked the Minister of Transport if he will amplify the statement regarding the main difficulties facing the London Transport Executive in respect of omnibus services, contained in the reply sent by his Department on 9th December, 1960, to a request by Acton Borough Council for a public inquiry into the operation of the London Transport omnibus services generally.

Mr. Marples

My Department's letter of 9th December referred specifically to one major difficulty, the shortage of bus crews. Others exist, such as rush hour peaks and traffic congestion and I am considering the general position in connection with the proposal, made in various quarters, for an inquiry into the operation of London Transport services.

Mr. Holland

While thanking the Minister for that helpful reply, which I know will be welcomed by the Acton Borough Council, may I ask him to expedite his consideration of the possibility of an inquiry and to give us an answer fairly soon?

Mr. Marples

The position has changed in recent months rather to the advantage of the travelling public. For example. the crew position is becoming very much better. There has been a net gain of 800 drivers and conductors since the wage rise in October, and the men have agreed to do more overtime. As a result, lost mileage has been halved and the outlook is much better than it was at the end of last year.

Mr. Mellish

This initiative for a public inquiry was taken by the bus drivers themselves. They were anxious to convey to the British public, and the London public in particular, that, at any rate in the main, bus drivers and conductors were not responsible for the chaos which we have in London. Will the Minister concede that the time has come for a public inquiry?

Mr. Marples

I am considering not only representations from hon. Members but also representations from various local authorities, as well as those which the busmen made and which were presented to me by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish).