HC Deb 20 November 1969 vol 791 cc1491-3
11. Mr. Worsley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he expects that the Maxwell Stamp Committee on the London cab trade will include in its report a consideration of all the problems which affect the trade at London Airport, Heathrow.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Worsley

While thanking the hon. Lady for that reply, may I ask her to go a little further? Will she agree that a disproportionate number of difficulties which seem to affect the London taxis originate at Heathrow? If she does agree, will she put that point to the committee?

Mrs. Williams

The committee is aware, as indeed is the Home Office, that while the majority of London cab drivers endeavour to maintain the by-laws at Heathrow, there is a minority which is prepared both to break the rules about moving from the feeding car park to the taxi ranks and also occasionally to exploit the ignorance of foreigners trying to get to London. We take the most serious view of this, and the committee will look into it very closely.

Mr. Snow

Is my hon. Friend aware that this irritation is not confined to foreigners, but extends to English people as well, including provincial people travelling through London Heathrow? What is so different about the conditions at Heathrow compared with Orly and Le Bourget, where the schedule for, the run-in to Paris is shown and any variations in the schedule are clearly marked and notified to the public?

Mrs. Williams

I think that the answer to the next Question on the Order Paper will go some way to calming my hon. Friend's fears.

12. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the excessive fares still being charged by London taxis to and from London Airport; whether he will consult the British Airports Authority on this matter; and what other steps he proposes to take.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Fares between London Airport and destinations in Greater London are now controlled by the London Cab Order, 1968. My right hon. Friend has received only three complaints of overcharging since that order was made.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Will the hon. Lady take steps to inquire what overchargings are made, because charges of £3 to £3 10s. are being asked for cabs for which 36s. to 38s. is the correct fare? The Minister has a real responsibility—it is not just for the British Airports Authority, which admittedly has done virtually nothing—because a large part of the journey is in the Metropolitan area.

Mrs. Williams

As the hon. Gentleman rightly implies, the proper fare from Heathrow to London is about 33s. to 36s., plus tip. In any case where there is overcharging the person concerned should report this within seven days.

Recently an allegation of overcharging was made on a widely seen television programme. But I must emphasise that where such allegations are made and not followed up with evidence being supplied to the Metropolitan police or to the British Airports Authority, it is hardly surprising that the Home Office is unable to take action.

Mr. Oakes

Will my hon. Friend tell the House whether she has received any complaints about the operation at London Heathrow airport of so-called mini-cabs in flagrant breach of the London Cabs Act, 1968, with apparent impunity?

Mrs. Williams

Yes, indeed. Some cheap rate mini-cab drivers and hire car drivers who should not be there do appear at London Airport. The British Airports Authority has power to say who may or may not be there. I fully understand the feeling of cab drivers, that if they are asked to keep to the rules everybody else should do so.

Forward to