HC Deb 04 July 1968 vol 767 cc1672-4
16 and 17. Mr. Worsley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he will make a decision on the application of the London Cab Trade for an increase in fares;

(2) when he plans to make regulations to fix fares from London Airport.

29. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now take action to check the abuse by taxi drivers of charging excessive fares from London Airport.

Mr. Ennals

I would refer the hon. Members to my right hon. Friend's reply on 27th June to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt).—[Vol. 767, c. 115.]

Mr. Worsley

As that Answer said that the matter will be referred to the Prices and Incomes Board, is it not another example of the Government shuffling off responsibility on to the Board? Ought they not to take a decision themselves, since the application is long overdue in view of Government rising costs?

Mr. Ennals

Not at all. The application would have been for an increase of about 11½ per cent. and it was proper that my right hon. Friend should refer it to the Prices and Incomes Board for its adjudication. Because my right hon. Friend has done that, it would certainly not have been appropriate to have raised fares for the longer distances.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

With regard to fares from London Airport, is there not a case for the Government taking immediate action to protect the good name of Britain and also the reputation of the cab industry, the majority of whose members condemn the activities and unscrupulous racketeering of an unrepresentative minority?

Mr. Ennals

It is because the Government take this view that they introduced the Measure that passed through the House a short time ago. I recognise that there is some evidence of excessive charging from London Airport, which is to be deeply regretted. I believe that it affects only a small minority of the taxi drivers concerned. To introduce new fares now would mean changes in meters, which would affect the amount coming into the pockets of the taximen at this moment when awaiting the report from the Prices and Incomes Board, which would be inappropriate.

Mr. Shinwell

Apart from the alleged abuses that operate at London Airport, how long is it since there has been a rise in taxi fares? Is it not a long time since there was an increase, and would not an increase do away with the obnoxious habit of tipping?

Mr. Ennals

The last increase was in 1964, but we must await the outcome of the report of the Prices and Incomes Board as to what will now arise.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

As this application was put in over a year ago, will the Minister say what his Department was doing during the period before it referred this application to the Prices and Incomes Board?

Mr. Ennals

I think that the hon. Gentleman is incorrect in the period of time that he gave.