HC Deb 08 April 1964 vol 692 cc993-4
22. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the number of motor vehicles which have been abandoned on open land and public parking places; and if he is satisfied that the powers contained in Section 43 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, are adequate to provide for the removal of vehicles and for the recovery of the costs incurred by the police or any other authority when vehicles are removed from any place other than a road.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

We are very conscious of the problem of abandoned vehicles, which is being examined jointly by the Department with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Section 43 of the 1960 Act does not concern the removal of vehicles from land other than roads. Section 16 of the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act, 1960, empowers local authorities to arrange for the removal and disposal of vehicles abandoned in public parking places and to recoup their costs.

Mr. Awbery

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that a large number of car owners are at a loss to know how to dispose of their cars when they have finished with them? Will he make it an obligation on local authorities to provide a depot for such cars and also make it an obligation on the owners to take their cars to the depots when they are disposing of them?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Both measures would require legislation. Under existing legislation, local authorities have power, after making due efforts to trace the owner, to remove a vehicle and recover costs. The matter is being jointly borne in mind by my right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to sec how the procedure for disposing of surplus cars can be speeded up.

Mr. Lipton

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that much time and money is wasted by the instructions given to the police to trace the owners of abandoned vehicles, as a result of which the vehicles stay on the streets for months? Will he amend the Regulations so that the local authority can, without lengthy inquiries on the part of the police, take this rubbish off the roads?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

We have to bear in mind the law as well as the regulations. The present practice is to leave to the discretion of local authorities and the police how long they take to trace the owners of vehicles. However, I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government intends to issue a circular on the subject.