35. Mr. Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, after a five-week campaign, the police in West Ham ascertained that in the Forest Gate area alone there were 430 vehicles without licences or insurance or both; and whether, as the practice of using unlicensed vehicles and leaving them on the roads is growing, he will advise the Commissioner of Police in the Metropolitan area to initiate a London campaign similar to that just carried out in West Ham.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)
The cases which the hon. Member refers to came to light as a result of a review of standing vehicles which was considered necessary in the Forest Gate area. The Commissioner does not consider that a general review of this kind is necessary for the Metropolitan Police District as a whole, but special action is taken in particular areas when local circumstances make it necessary.
The Commissioner has suggested to local taxation authorities changes in the procedure for reporting unlicensed vehicles which he hopes will enable the police to increase the help they afford them.
I congratulate the Forest Gate Police on the excellence of their activities, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are literally thousands of these derelict cars, vans and other vehicles, which have not only become eyesores but which are uninsured and untaxed? Is he further aware that children play about in them, and that there was recently a case of a child being killed in this way? Does not he think that if the law provides that these vehicles should be taxed and insured if they are on the road, the police ought to enforce the law? Will not he ask the police to consider this matter again in other areas, so that they can be as progressive as the police of West Ham?
§ Mr. Brooke
The police review in the Forest Gate area arose because of the large and recently much-increased num- 648 ber of vehicles left parked and unused. It was not primarily concerned with taxation and insurance matters I think that this is best left to the police. The Commissioner can, if he thinks fit, issue general directions to the forces, or he can leave it to local officers to take special action locally. I am grateful to the hon. Member for the congratulations that he has expressed to the police in the Forest Gate area.
§ Mr. Lipton
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the police have to waste many hundreds, if not thousands, of valuable man-hours trying to trace the owners of these vehicles before they will authorise local authorities to take them away? In those circumstances, will he alter the present arrangements so that the necessary steps can be taken within a much shorter time to tow these vehicles off the streets?
§ Mr. Brooke
This is a large question As I said in my original Answer, the Commissioner has suggested to local taxation authorities certain changes in procedure for reporting unlicensed vehicles which will enable the police to give greater assistance to local authorities.