HL Deb 30 July 1924 vol 59 cc92-117

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read


My Lords, there are certain Amendments down to this Bill which should technically be moved after the Third Reading, but I think it would be for the convenience of the House if I stated now what the attitude of the Government is as regards the suggested Amendments'. The first of them stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Askwith Your Lordships may recollect that during the course of the discussion we eliminated the Minister and left Clause 1 in the form that, first of all, the members of the Advisory Committee should be nominated and then appointed by the local authorities. Lord Askwith pointed out that that was an unnecessarily complicated method of procedure, and I said, from the point of view of the Government, that we certainly agreed with him. The Amendment which he has put down will not only be accepted by the Government but is really an improvement in the fabric of the Bill. The Government draftsman has been very carefully through it and he says it will work properly. We gratefully assent to it. Then, if I may leave for a moment out of consideration what I have to say on the Amendments of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, there is an Amendment in the name of Earl Buxton as regards the Second Schedule. It is quite a proper Amendment, and it improves the drafting.


It is consequential.


It is really consequential, and the Government accept it. With regard to Lord Montagu's Amendments, I am afraid I cannot make the same statement. He proposes to introduce an additional member, and I think your Lordships have determined more than once that the constitution or balance of the Advisory Committee was not to be altered.


No doubt, as regards the Amendments to which he agrees, the noble and learned Lord's statement will have the effect of saving time, but when he comes to the controversial Amendments I think that your Lordships will be put rather in a difficulty if he makes his statement now.


I really think the course which I had proposed to follow would be the better one, but I will not go into the controversial points now. So far as Lord Montagu's Amendments are concerned, I will say that we cannot accept them, and when we come to close quarters with them I will state the reasons for our objection. I thought it might have been convenient to him to know at this stage what attitude the Government take. I understand that he desires not to move the Amendment after " One shall be appointed by the Minister," but at the end of the additional member subsection. Of course, I have no objection to that, and I was going to point out that if he moves it at that place it raises an entirely different question from what it would if it were raised at the point at which it is put down. I had promised to consider carefully at a later stage whether we could accept the suggestion which he made, and I promised to give it sympathetic consideration, or something of that sort. We have considered it, and I am sorry to say we cannot accept it.

The second matter arises on Clause 7, at the end of subsection (2) (b). I know that the noble Lord has been constantly anxious about this question of monopoly and he is going to move an addition to the existing words, which I think adequately protect the monopoly point. They were very carefully considered in the other House, and they were adopted in their present form after a good deal of discussion. There again, however, I will leave it open to the noble Lord to bring his Amendment forward. I thought it right to indicate at this stage what our attitude will be. As regards the only two other Amendments standing in my name, they are merely matters of drafting. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.— (Lord Parmoor.)


My Lords, I do not feel that this Bill is going to work a miracle, but at the same time I am not one of those- who take a very pessimistic view as to what it will achieve. In any case, the operation of the Bill cannot be immediately effective. Some time must elapse before the reforms which it projects can mature. I want to refer to the interim period—the period between the passing of the Bill and the effective progress of the scheme which it outlines. What is going to happen meanwhile? I submit that a great deal may be done to improve London traffic at once, if only there is good will and a strenuous attitude on the part of the authorities.

One of the striking facts about London traffic to-day is the extraordinary waste of road space—the extraordinarily uneconomic manner in which the roadway between kerbs is employed. This Bill in Clause 10, and likewise in Clause 9, lays down penalties for disobedience to orders given by the police, and gives powers to make Regulations. Ample powers, both to make Regulations and to impose penalties, are already in the hands of the police to ensure that traffic shall keep to its right side of the road. It constantly happens that in a narrow street you see a motor-car drawn up, with its wheels twelve or fifteen inches away from the kerb. You cannot go down the Embankment, or, indeed, any great thoroughfare in London, in an ordinary taxicab without being blocked by some slow and heavy machine in front of you, which is eight or ten feet away from the kerb, and at a time when there is no vehicle standing by the kerb which would justify that machine in drawing to the centre of the road. Red omnibuses are great offenders, and a still greater offender is the red mail cart of His Majesty's Government.

I will give another case in point. There are lots of places in London where cars are parked. St. James's Square is a very good example. A day or two ago I walked round St. James's Square, and I measured the distance from the kerb, especially on the north side, of the cars which were parked there. In some instances the back of the back tyre was about seven or eight feet away from the kerb. That restricts the thoroughfare available for traffic passing through that square. Of course, the traffic there is not very heavy, but still the case is symptomatic of the fact that, either from oversight or from other causes which I do not try to dissect, it has ceased to be the duty of the police to reprimand a man who puts his car in an awkward position. In fact, attention to that respect for the kerb has ceased to be one of the functions of the Metropolitan Police. When I go about London I see these mounted police. They are really magnificent, statuesque creatures, but they are always standing still. If only they could be moved up and down the great thoroughfares, and, by one gesture of their hand, drive traffic to its correct position on the road, the economy would be enormous. Not hundreds, but thousands of hours are wasted in London every day because the police do not put into operation the powers they already possess.

One other point. A palpable and gross breach of Regulations which is happening all over London, and all over the country too, is the smoke nuisance. I see cars going along which are pouring out streams of poisonous smoke, which really would not be tolerated if they came out of a domestic chimney, because the borough authority would prosecute. But what are the police doing? How is it that this nuisance is growing day by day and week by week? I do wish that the police could be instructed by the Home Office to take up a subject which is really a growing scandal. The laxity of the police —and I use the word advisedly—is really very regrettable. I wish that the Home Secretary would make inquiries of the Office of Works, which takes a very much more severe attitude towards the breach of Regulations than the police do outside the Royal parks. I should imagine that in percentage the number of convictions which take place for this offence in the public parks is six or eight times as great as in the public streets.

If my remarks make any impression on the mind of the Lord President, I wish he would also suggest to the Commissioner of Police what is not a very serious revolution—namely, that the figures on the meters of taxicabs should be made legible. Is it not singular that these figures, which we have had for ten or fifteen years, are still only about one-fifth of an inch long in the great bulk of taximeters, and that they should be so arranged that, whether in daylight or by the exiguous light which they give us at night, a shadow falls across the middle of the figure, while in other cases the figure on the dial is thrown so far back as to be practically illegible, whether by day or night, and always when it is dusk or the window is shut I It would be a great convenience to elderly people, like the Lord President and myself, who have to use spectacles, if that little item of reform could be brought into effect.

There is really in my opinion—pace Lord Montagu of Beaulieu—no reason to despair about London traffic. I hear people talk about blocks in the streets as if blocks had never existed before. Twenty-five years ago, in the days of hansom cabs, a block of twenty minutes opposite what is now the Ritz Hotel was perfectly common. In spite of the blocks that take place now, progress through London is quicker than it has ever been in the last hundred years. And in spite of the difficulty in crossing these huge blocks of congestion, where you are often held up for ten or twelve minutes, you can fulfil more engagements to-day than you could ten years ago. So that really there is no need to despair. The speed with which we get about London, with one form of locomotion or another, is still greater than it ever was before. And when people talk in terms of despera- tion about London blocks of traffic, it may be pointed out that they are nothing compared with what they are elsewhere. The block of motor traffic caused by motor cars in the city of New York extends thirty miles from the centre of the City. There are difficulties here at two or three places, like Brentford, which are being rapidly overcome, but five miles from Charing Cross it is quite exceptional to meet anything that delays one's movements more than three or four, or, at the most, five minutes. We shall get over those difficulties.

Not many years ago there were many people resident in the country who thought that it would be necessary to prohibit certain roads to the use of motorcars owing to the dust nuisance. Dust made cottages on the high roads uninhabitable. We have completely got rid of that difficulty now. The dust nuisance no longer prevails where there is a live local authority.


We cannot ride on a horse along the road in consequence.


The noble Lord has not ridden for forty years. I think there are other agencies which will greatly tend to help traffic congestion. I am sure that before many years are passed it will be generally recognised that locomotion by tramway is the most extravagant and the most obsolete method of movement. It is impossible to get a great public authority to accept that point of view and to scrap their obsolescent machinery; but the time will come when they will have to do it. Gas has had to go as an illuminant. Tramways will have to go away because they are a great nuisance and a danger. That in itself, no doubt, will help to relieve congestion, tramways being one of the principal parents of congestion.

Again, I am rather inclined to think that perhaps our expectations that the roads were going to be almost exclusively used for the purpose of goods traffic are likely to be falsified. I rather suspect that before very long the railways are going to come back to their own. Only recently I have had some experience in that matter where the railways for a particular traffic service have shown me that competition by heavy motor cars is quite negligible. There, again, I see some potential relief.

Clause 7 and Clause 8 of this Bill deal with power to limit the number of omnibuses plying for hire, with reports to Parliament as to the result of operating certain services in London and as to controlling omnibuses in a much wider way than has ever been done before. I am very much afraid that the new authority may be obsessed with the omnibus topic, and that the omnibus problem and the tram problem may carry with them certain wage and economic considerations which are really alien to this Bill but are none the less brought into it, although they are not directly related to the pure traffic problems. The more the attention of the authorities is drawn to wages or to economic questions the less valuable will be their contribution on pure traffic questions. They will find the former very much more absorbing and very much more exciting. If only they will allow the operation of the laws of demand and supply to have, not, indeed, full play, but at any rate a measure of fair play in traffic, I am confident that there are existing agencies which can solve many of these difficulties, if only they are supplemented in the manner I indicated in the earlier part of my remarks—namely, by the vigorous and rigorous enforcement of the existing law.


My Lords, I find myself very largely in agreement with most of what has fallen from my noble friend, with the exception of one thing which he mentioned—that the blocks in the traffic have been reduced of late in London. I am afraid I cannot agree with 'him on that. If he will go down to the City, to the Mansion House, or anywhere east of Oxford Circus, on most days of the week and for several weeks of the year, I think he will find that the blocks become worse day by day. But that is a detail. With most of the rest of what he said I agree. I certainly agree that once this Bill is placed or the Statute Book, if the Advisory Committee and the Minister know their business, they will be able, by issuing Orders and Regulations, the very next day to make an immediate difference in the traffic of London. There are other things I can think of which would make an immediate difference to the convenience of the public and prevent many of these blocks in the traffic. I refer to small and simple things with which, possibly, the police already have power to deal but do not. If those things were enforced by the authority of the Advisory Committee it would make an immediate difference in the control of the traffic and would prevent many of these blocks.

I will not go into all these questions, but there is one thing which has always struck me. We have discussed in this House the question of the security of St. Paul's Cathedral. If this Bill was placed on the Statute Book to-morrow morning, it would be possible by a stroke of the pen to make St. Paul's Cathedral reasonably secure. Your Lordships know that one complaint of the Cathedral authorities is that the building shakes owing to the weight of the traffic which passes it. If your Lordships looked at the streets there you would see that it was possible to divert every motor omnibus which passed on tne south side of the Cathedral to a street beyond, which would have the effect of adding many years to the life of the Cathedral. I have said that one of the troubles is that the Cathedral shakes owing to the amount of heavy traffic which passes it. That could be prevented under this Bill in the way I have suggested, and many other things could be done, and when the authorities are possessed of the powers which the Bill confers I am convinced it will make a tremendous difference.

There are two things which I very much regret find no place in the Bill. There is no reference as to how the traffic of the future is to be carried and there is no reference in the Bill which would draw the attention of the Advisory Committee to the question of taxicabs. This Is a live question which ought to be considered to-day and not ten years hence, as I think your Lordships will agree if you consider the traffic as it was ten years ago in the streets of London, as it is to-day, and as it may be ten years hence.

My noble friend did not think there were any serious traffic blocks in London, or that there was very much to complain about. I have seen most appalling blocks. If a man who is on business bent loses ten minutes or a quarter of an hour in getting to a board meeting or some particularly urgent business, he may lose thousands of pounds in consequence. I have attended many a board meeting at which, as often as not, a director has arrived and said: "I could not get here in time; I was held up in the traffic for ten minutes." Business men do not like losing time. These blocks occur and grow worse every year, and the question is: How is the traffic to be carried? You can only carry it in two ways—either above ground or below ground. I put aside the question of whether it should go by air. If that is put on one side you have to deal with the traffic on the ground or underground.

Which are you going to do? That is a matter which ought to be considered to-day, and the people who ought to consider it are the Advisory Committee and the Minister whose business it will be to deal with the matter. They will have to decide whether the traffic is going to be carried on the top of the road or underneath the road. In my humble opinion— and I have considered it for a long time —I believe the only practical method of carrying it is to carry it underground. To do that you will have to double the underground railways, but to double those railways will cost an enormous sum of money. Who will find the money? No private or public company can do so, and I suppose the Government will have to do it for the convenience of the nation. But that matter is a subject for the most thorough consideration, and I contend that it ought to be considered to-day and not ten years hence when the traffic has got beyond managing.

There is only one other question upon which I desire to touch, but to my mind it is most important. There is no reference in the Bill to the. establishment of a school to teach men how to control traffic. Controlling traffic is a scientific business. It takes a long time to learn how to do it. You cannot take a policeman and put him in the road and say: " Now, you look after the traffic." That cannot be done. To control traffic requires a certain temperament. There is nothing that I know of that tries the temper more than controlling traffic. If you lose your temper with traffic you might as well give up the job. I do not wish to criticise the police in London. I would be the last person in the world to do so, because I know the difficulties of controlling the traffic, and how very trying it is, but I must confess that at times I have looked aghast at the things that are done by the men placed in control. They sometimes do a thing which no man in the world ought to dream of doing. They make blocks instead of preventing blocks. These men ought to be taught when to hold up their hands.

I was not much struck by what the noble Earl, Lord Buxton, told us in regard to the American gentleman who was so delighted when he came to London to see a policeman hold up his hand and stop the traffic. I wondered whether that policeman held up his hand at the right moment or the wrong one. I have seen men hold up their hands, and create appalling blocks. The only way to teach these men to control traffic is to put them in a school for that purpose, and I regret there is no provision in this Bill for such a school. It is a matter which can be easily provided by the Advisory Committee. They could send the men into the school, and see whether they were temperamentally fitted for controlling the traffic. There are many men who would never control traffic if they lived to be a hundred. If there was provision for teaching men to control traffic I think it would pay everybody.


My Lords, we shall know in a few months whether or not this Bill is going to be a success. Personally, I hope it will be. I agree with my noble friend who sits below me that it is not likely to be a success, for the reasons which he gave. I have driven about London—or I did up to the war— for a great number of years, and I can bear out everything that my noble friend said when he stated that blocks existed in the old days. They did exist, but perhaps not to quite the same extent as at present. The old habit of driving some feet from the kerb existed with the old horse wagons in the same way as it now exists with the trolleys driven by motor power. The police in those days had power, as the police now have power, to compel a slow-moving vehicle to keep close to the kerb.

On more than one occasion I have seen a policeman close to a slow-moving vehicle a long way from the kerb, and I have pointed out to him that I could not pass because this vehicle was a long way from the kerb, and the policeman invariably told the driver of that vehicle to keep to the kerb. That is all that happened. It must be remembered that if the policeman had stopped the man and taken him to the police court it would have been diffi- cult to prove any serious offence, and probably the magistrate would have dismissed the man with a caution. Undoubtedly this practice of keeping away from the kerb does, to a very great extent, interfere with the speed of traffic. The reason why people do not like to go near the kerb is that in many places there is a big crown in the roads. Where the roads are more or less flat they not only last longer, but there is no necessity for drivers to keep in the centre of the road. Where there is a crown in the road you naturally try to drive in the middle so as to keep on level ground as much as possible.

I believe there is only one way in which you can reduce the blocks, and that is by reducing the number of omnibuses, but if you reduce the number of omnibuses you will have the public at once com plaining that they have not sufficient means of locomotion, and that they have to " straphang " either in the under ground or in the motor omnibuses. This is a subject in which I have taken a great deal of interest, and so far as I can see the result of the Bill will be nil. I agree with the noble Lord opposite that during the last two or three years the police have held up the traffic too long—


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I never suggested that. I said that I thought sometimes they stopped the traffic at wrong times; I did not say that they held it up too long.


I beg the noble Earl's pardon. I had hoped that there was something with which I was in agreement with the noble Earl, but apparently there is not. In my opinion the police hold up the traffic too long, with the consequence that a long queue collects, and then you have to have two long queues on each side, whereas if they let it through a little more quickly we should not have these long queues. My noble friend seems to think that slippery roads do not matter. I think he said that I had not driven for forty years. As a matter fact I ride every day when out in the country, and I still hunt, but, as I am getting old, I feel a predilection for the road instead of for the field. Now, however, that the roads are so slippery I am perforce, against my will, obliged to remain in the field, which I do not so very much like. But, with that exception, I venture to agree with the sentiments expressed by my noble friend below me.


My Lords, it is not very often that I am in agreement with the noble Lord who has just sat down, but when he said that the effect of this Bill will be nil I am rather inclined to agree with him, though he has put it with rather more emphasis than I think most people would do. Many people object to this Bill on general principles. One objection, it appears to me, is that, this Bill being a London Traffic Bill, people will imagine that it is going to solve the difficulty of London traffic, and that things are going to be put right in a very short space of time. That, of course, is perfectly ridiculous. You are not going to get that result out of this Bill. But the Bill has been greatly improved both by Amendments in this House and in the other House. To think, however, that it is going to solve the question of London traffic is ridiculous. To improve the traffic in London means an enormous expenditure in widening streets, in building bridges, in making by-passes, and dealing with points where the traffic crosses. That all means a huge expenditure of money. The question is, where is the money going to be found?

The Advisory Committee is, to my mind, a body which, while affording a convenient shelter for the Minister when he wishes to avoid responsibility, will not be used by him if he disagrees with it. This Committee will not be a very strong or influential body. It certainly does not represent the local authorities. Where you have several authorities joined together with one representative on the Advisory Committee, that representative is only known to his own particular local authority. If you want the support of local authorities on a matter like this it is desirable to have at least one representative from each local authority who would then be able to indicate to his own council the view of the Minister and the Advisory Committee on a particular matter. The Advisory Committee, in my opinion, is not a very useful body. Its powers have been much clipped, and it is entirely wrong to have representation of interests on a statutory Committee. It is opposed to all ideas of local government.

It has been said that there are too many omnibuses and too many trams. Omnibuses, of course, do not run for amusement, but because they are able to carry passengers and earn money. The trams are there for the same purpose, and if trams are empty it is simply because they are going to fetch passengers. If the omnibuses are empty it is because they are going to fetch passengers. The traffic of London is like the traffic of all great cities. At certain hours of the day there is a great influx from the outer districts to the centre, and at certain other hours there is a great flow from the centre to the suburbs. They are the "rush" hours; and you must have sufficient accommodation to carry people during these hours. A man must not be prevented from getting to his work because there is no accommodation; and a man must not be prevented from getting home when he has finished his day's work. Therefore, I think, it is impossible to reduce to any great extent the number of omnibuses or trams. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford, says that trams are obsolescent. An Amendment introduced late in the evening in this House included tramways in the Bill. The House did not realise, and does not realise now, that in the large area which will be under the control of the Minister with the Advisory Committee there are many tramway systems, some of them owned by companies and others by the municipalities. The largest, of course, is the London County Council tramway system.

When noble Lords talk about tramways being obsolescent they have neither studied the facts nor the figures. The tramways, in fact, carry at a less cost and more rapidly than any other means of conveyance. It has been said that there is nothing whatever in the fact that they have statutory rights. As a matter of fact they have paid very heavily in order to obtain those rights. They have had to pass the very severe tests of the Committees of both Houses of Parliament; they have been opposed by all sorts of people; and it is only when a very strong case is put forward that any tramway system is authorised by Parliament. In addition to that they have to incur an enormous capital expenditure. They are heavily rated and pay large sums in rates to local authorities. The capital outlay in the case of municipalities has been very large. It has also been large in the case of companies.

Omnibuses, on. the other hand, have simply the capital expenditure of each omnibus, and are not compelled to run on a particular route like the tramways. If you reduce the number of tramways so that you are not able to carry a sufficient number of passengers to make a paying service you destroy the system altogether. I do not wish to detain your Lordships, but I suggest that it is essential that the number of omnibuses and tramways should not be restricted to any extent which will interfere with the convenience of passengers. The interests of the people who have to travel on tramways appear to be the least thought of in this Bill, although the mass of the population of London who have to use the omnibuses and tramways should be, in the opinion of many of us, the first consideration.


My Lords, so many speakers have addressed your Lordships on this Bill expressing an adverse opinion that I should like once more to emphasise what was said by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Birkenhead, when this Bill was introduced, and thank the Government for having brought it in. The public of London will be most grateful to the Government for the introduction of this measure. For over twenty years Commissions and Committees have considered the problem of London traffic, but no satisfactory solution of the regulation of this traffic was attempted until this Bill was brought in. I am perfectly sure that my noble friend who has just spoken, from his long acquaintance with the London County Council, would have blessed this Bill if that body had been made the authority. That was, as we all know, impossible.

With regard to the tramways I would remind Lord Hemphill that one of his leaders, Earl Buxton, voted in favour of the Amendment to include them within the scope of the measure. I am not at all sure that it was the right thing to do, in view of their statutory rights, but at the same time the blame must not be placed on one Party or one section but on the House as a whole, if there is any blame at all. It is idle to prophesy what is going to be the future of traffic in London, but I think there will be an earnest attempt to get over many of the difficulties. At the present moment there are hardly any Regulations that can be put in force, but now, for the first time in the history of London, there is going to be some attempt at regulating the traffic, which I hope will be for the benefit of the public and the easement of the present difficulties.


My Lords, I desire to say, on behalf of the Government, that a careful note will be made of the many valuable suggestions put forward in the debate this evening. With regard to the suggestion made by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, I think he is a little optimistic with regard to the powers of the police in connection with kerbs and smoke, though possibly not with regard to motors. As regards the future of the Bill and what it will do, no one can say. The whole idea of the Government is that it is a stop-gap measure designed to introduce, as soon as possible, some form of control of London traffic and provide a breathing space during which more comprehensive plans can be worked out to deal with this immense problem. It is not only a London problem but, as has been justly observed in this House, it is a national problem. This Bill as it stands now does give that breathing space, though your Lordships, perhaps unfortunately, have extended it for a longer period. The problem is much too big to be dealt with without prolonged study and mastery of detail, and the original intention of the Bill was to provide time in which to give it that study. In conclusion, let me say that wherever Regulations can be introduced to meet the observations and suggestions made to-day, this will certainly be done.

On Question, Bill read 3a.


Constitution of Advisory Committee.

(2) Of the ordinary members:

One shall be appointed by a Secretary of State:

Two shall be appointed by the London County Council:

One shall be appointed by the Corporation of the City of London:

Two shall be appointed by the councils of the metropolitan boroughs from amongst nominees selected by the councils of the several metropolitan boroughs:

One shall be appointed from among nominees selected by the councils of the administrative counties mentioned in the First Schedule hereto, other than the administrative county of London lying north of the Thames, by those councils:

One shall be appointed from amongst nominees selected by the councils of the administrative counties mentioned in the First Schedule hereto, other than the administrative county of London lying south of the Thames, by those councils:

One shall be appointed from amongst nominees selected by the councils of the several county boroughs within the London Traffic Area by those councils:

One shall be a representative of the metropolitan police appointed by a Secretary of State:

One shall be a representative of the City police appointed by the Corporation of the City of London:

One shall be appointed by the Minister:

Every ordinary member appointed by a local authority other than the representative of the City police and every person selected by a group of authorities shall be a member of the local authority or of one of the grouped authorities, as the case may be, and if he cease to hold such qualification shall cease to be a member of the Committee.

(3) Of the additional members: —

Three shall be representatives of the interests of labour engaged in the transport industry within the London Traffic Area appointed by the Minister of Labour after consultation with such bodies representative of those interests as he may think fit.

Four shall be representatives of the interests of persons providing means of transport and users of mechanically propelled and horse-drawn road vehicles within the London Traffic Area appointed by the Minister after consultation with such bodies representative of those interests as he may think desirable.


moved, in subsection (2), in the paragraph beginning " Two shall be appointed by the councils of the metropolitan boroughs," to leave out all words after " boroughs." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, the Lord President, for having accepted this Amendment and the remaining Amendments standing in my name which are consequential upon it, and also for stating that they are an improvement of the Bill. They can consequently go through very quickly indeed. They are designed, as he has shown, to take away one step which might have caused loss of time, and to allow the councils themselves to nominate their representatives, instead of their being picked out by the Minister. That would have been an invidious act for the Minister to perform. A large number of us were of the opinion that the councils should have their own representatives without those representatives being selected for them. The Bill, as the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, has remarked, is perhaps only a beginning, but at any rate we wish it God speed. This House has paid extraordinary attention to it, and some of us, notably my noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, have done our very best to improve it.

I think that the Minister of Transport has succeeded in doing two things. First of all, he has "dug in " the Ministry of Transport, which it was suggested a short time ago should be abolished, and, in the second place, he has shown considerable courage in taking up a Bill which must have been prepared long before his time and bringing it forward in a form adapted to the present period. I trust that these Amendments will go down to- another place and be considered favourably, and that they will not come back to be reconsidered here after all the trouble that the House has taken. I also hope that one who himself has preferred, as also have many of his ancestors, the smell of the lower reaches of the Thames to that of any other part of the world, may have his name connected with a London Bill which will be the beginning of the development of control over London traffic. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 4, leave out from (" boroughs ") to end of line 6.—(Lord Askwith.)


We accept all these Amendments of the noble Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to

Amendments moved—

Page 2, line 7, leave out from (" appointed ") to (" by ") in line 8.

Page 2, line 11, leave out (" by those councils ")

Page 2, line 12, leave out from (" appointed ") to (" by ") in line 13.

Page 2, line 16, leave out (" by those councils ")

Page 2, line 17, leave out from (" appointed ") to (" by ") in line 18.

Page 2, lines 19 and 20, leave out (" by those councils ")

Page 2, line 26. at end insert:

(" Where one or more members are to be appointed by a group of local authorities the appointment shall be made by a joint committee consisting of one representative chosen by each of the local authorities in accordance with rules of procedure made by the Minister.")

Page 2, line 28, after (" authority ") insert (" or group of local authorities ")

Page 2, line 29, leave out from ("police") to (" shall") in line 30.— (Lord Askwith.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


moved, at the end of subsection (3), to insert— One shall he a representative of the users of privately-owned and non-commercial mechanically-propelled vehicles and shall be appointed by the Minister after consultation with such bodies as are representative of such traffic. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to thank the Lord President, the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, and the members of the House for giving me leave to move this Amendment in the place originally intended. I take this opportunity of saying that I, amongst others representing various interests which are going to be affected by this Bill, wish, it well and hope that it will work to the advantage of the people of London. Many of the points in the Bill are good points, and there is no reason why it should not work well.

I should like, if I may, to offer one word of advice to the Government. If you wish a Bill of this kind to work well, it is important that you should have the cordial co-operation and sympathy of all those who are affected by it, and if the noble Lord thinks that I have been somewhat persistent in moving this Amendment, it is because I know from the people whom I represent that they all feel very sore on the point that their representation is uncertain, and I feel certain that the Bill will work better if it has the cooperation of those whom I represent, rather than their hostility, either active or passive. I am sure that the noble Lord will give that point consideration when he comes to answer my Amendment in detail.

I put down this Amendment as an addition to subsection (3) in order to get over the difficulty, which I realise was a serious one, of adding to the numbers of the Advisory Committee. It does not now interfere with their numbers, and I understand from a source in the other place that there has been an intention of selecting one of the four representatives here mentioned to be a representative of non-commercial traffic—that is, of traffic which is not making money out of the roads and is not concerned financially with the Bill in any sense. I think that this is a fair claim to make. I will make one remark in support of this view. Those whom I represent are something like 70 per cent, of the total traffic in the streets of the greater London area, they pay 65 per cent, of the taxes, and they include a great many people who are not able to protect themselves in the ordinary way, not having the same facilities of representing their case as have my noble friend Lord Ashfield or the trade unions, who are constantly in touch with these matters. They have, if I may be allowed to use a slang phrase, "got the wind up," fearing that they are not going to be represented amongst these four.

If the Lord President could tell me that they are going to have such representation, I would at once withdraw my Amendment and be perfectly satisfied. I am told that a representative of noncommercial traffic is going to be one of the four who are selected under the second paragraph of subsection (3), but, of course, I have not that information officially. If the noble Lord will assure me of that I will drop the matter at once, but if not, I am bound, in the interests of those whom I represent, to move the Amendment on the Paper. Out of the four additional members, one, I believe, is going to represent, and quite rightly, my noble friend Lord Ashfield and his very imposing fleet of omnibuses; one, I believe, is going to represent—quite rightly again—those who own what are called the " pirate " omnibuses; that is, the independent proprietors of public service vehicles; and I am told that one is to represent the heavy hauliers, those concerned in commercial traffic. It is on behalf of the fourth representative that I make this appeal to the House to-day. There is nobody in the Bill to represent the private owners, and yet these private owners are in their various capacities, from owners of Ford cars to owners of Rolls-Royce cars, going to be quite rightly restricted in their use of the streets and are going to be interfered with in various ways—I admit in the public interest. For instance, the ques- tion of parking cars in the central areas is going to be more acute. As the Bill stands they have no representation whatever on this Committee of nineteen.

I have abated my demands, as the Lord President will realise, from a very ambitious programme. I have now come down to the irreducible minimum, so far as those whom I represent are concerned, and that is that out of these four additional members the private owners, who pay 65 per cent, of the taxes and own 75 per cent, of the traffic, should have one representative. I think that is a fair demand to make, and if the noble Lord cannot give way it will make us all the more suspicious, because we shall infer that we are going to get no representation at all. I am not going to say a word about the commercial interest, but there are at the present time about 4,000 omnibuses, 8,000 taxicabs and 150,000 privately-owned ears. Surely, it is only just that they should be represented. I will not say any more, but in moving the Amendment on the Paper I would suggest to the noble Lord that for his own sake, and for the sake of the Bill, he should accept this Amendment.

Amendment moved—

Page 3, line 7, at end insert (" One shall be a representative of the users of privately - owned and non - commercial mechanically-propelled vehicles and shall be appointed by the Minister after consultation with such bodies as are representative of such traffic ") —(Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.)


Ought not the Amendment to commence with the words " of whom"?


I would like to point out that it is not sufficient to have an undertaking from the Government that these people will be represented. If it is a serious thing it should be put in the Bill.


My Lords, this matter has had the careful attention of the Minister and of the draftsman since we had discussions on it both in Committee and on the Report Stage, and I think the difference between us is this. If your Lordships will look at the Bill as it stands you will see that the representatives are to be representative of the users of mechanically propelled and horse-drawn road vehicles. The noble Lord is quite aware that the persons whom he represents are included in those words. His suggestion is that, although they are included in those words, yet they have a practical difficulty. Now I quite agree with what Lord Lamington said—namely, that it would be no good my giving an undertaking in one sense, because what will happen will be determined upon the words of the Bill itself— but I see myself specifically enabled to say this if ram the Minister of Transport, that the interest which the noble Lord represents will be fully considered when these representatives are chosen. It is intended that they should be included, and they are in fact included, in the words of the Bill as they stand, and I think there is objection to taking out a particular class from general words in order to give that class special representation.

Some people may ask why horse-drawn road vehicles or trolley vehicles are not given special representation? They are included. Full weight will be given to the arguments that have been used and I only hope—I cannot say more—that if when the representatives are chosen, the people whom the noble Lord represents make a good case, theirs will be one of the four representatives. I am, however, unwilling for these special words to go in, taking out of the general words one class only. I dare say it is an important class, but it is one class out of a general description, and I think that would be a mistake. That is the view I have to express. Of course if your Lordships generally take the other view it is no use my resisting it. I think the Bill has been changed for the better in many directions in its passage through this House, and I rather hope that this Amendment will not be pressed.


My Lords, I quite agree that my noble friend has been put in considerable difficulty by the usual precipitation with which our legislation has to be carried at this time of the year, but I ought to warn him that Amendments on the Third Reading of a Bill are full of pitfalls. He has already experienced that fact, because he put down his Amendment on the Paper in the wrong place. That is a misfortune which happens to many of us, and it is a mishap that you meet with on the Third Reading. Moreover, it is always rather difficult in moving Amendments on the Third Reading to put in words which are entirely apt. I am not clear in the present case whether my noble friend intends the new representative to be one of the four.


Yes, one of the four.


The Amendment does not say so, and its words do not carry that meaning. When we begin to make these changes upon Third Reading we have to remember that we have no opportunity of putting things right afterwards, and your Lordships have been very rigid up to now in seeing that Amendments put in on Third Reading should be given due notice of and not be put in in the elastic manner which is rather characteristic of proceedings in this House. Not only in the present case are the words " of whom " required, bur there are difficulties in the clause as it stands. It says that four shall be representatives of " … mechanically propelled …vehicles." The noble Lord says in his Amendment that one is to be a representative of the users of privately owned and non-commercial mechanically propelled vehicles. The two evidently overlap one another.


No, they do not.


I suggest that they do, and that it is possible, on the words of the Bill as it stands, that the very interest may be covered which my noble friend seeks to provide, for in his Amendment, because the words in the Bill as it stands—" users of mechanically propelled … vehicles "—might indicate the very persons for whom he himself seeks to provide. He thinks not, but I suggest that it is so, because privately owned and non-commercial mechanically propelled vehicles are mechanically propelled vehicles, and therefore come within the words of the clause, too.


They might overlap.


That is what I suggested just now and my noble friend would not accept the idea. If they did overlap, we should have to re-draft the Bill a little in order to prevent that over-lapping. In other words, my noble friend, owing to the unfortunate hurry in which matters have had to be concluded, has not been able to draft his Amendment as well as otherwise, with his Parliamentary experience, he would have done. It is not good drafting, but bad drafting, and would lead to confusion afterwards. I would suggest to my noble friend—no one can say he has not been a very useful member of this House in respect to this Bill; he has succeeded in persuading your Lordships, and I think very properly, to put in a good many Amendments, and has very much improved it—that, at the last moment, to try to put in an Amendment which does not really read and will require to be amended in the House of Commons, would tend to diminish the lustre of my noble friend's achievements.


Personally, I am against all these representatives. Of course, it is a bit late to say that, but I am averse in principle from having representation of all these various sorts of transport, because after all the transport authority has to deal with traffic as a whole, and there is no reason that I can see why the owners of privately-owned motor cars should not expect to receive the same attention and satisfaction as the rest of the traffic on the road. This Amendment of my noble friend would lead one to suppose that they were not going to receive the same attention. I can see no reason why you should suppose that, and, in my humble opinion, it is only going to make the difficulties of the authorities who have charge of the traffic all the greater, if you put in these extra representatives. I am therefore very much against doing so.


My Lords, when I came down to-night I fully intended to support, by voice and vote, my noble friend's Amendment, but I am bound to say that there is a great deal of force in what has fallen from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and that it is perhaps rather late, at this stage, to move these words. I think my noble friend, on the other hand, may be satisfied with the case which he has made, not for the first time, and we have from the Lord President at most serious undertaking, on behalf of the Minister of Transport, which practically amounts to this, that one of these representatives will repre- sent the non-commercial element. Indeed, I cannot understand how the Minister of Transport could possibly refuse to consent to that, on the very grounds given by my noble friend Lord Montagu. That non-commercial element, as he pointed out, represents 70 per cent, of those who use the roads, and more than half who pay for them. My advice to him, therefore, would be, in the circumstances, at this late stage, to be content with that undertaking, though personally I should have much preferred to have these words in the Bill itself as an absolute guarantee. But I am afraid that that is all we can expect at the present moment.


Relying to a large extent on the friendly attitude of the Lord President, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment. I feel sure that he will represent in the proper quarter the views which I have expressed. In reference to what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Buxton, I was aware that it was rather late to move this, but, unfortunately, the Bill being put down in a hurry to-day, I had no chance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 (Closing of streets for works):


The Amendment on Clause 4 is a formal drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved—

Page 7, line 33, leave out (" streets ") and insert (" street or part thereof ").— (Lord Parmoor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7:

Power to limit the number of omnibuses plying on certain streets within the city of London and the metropolitan police district.

(2) Where the Minister has so declared any street or part of a street to be a restricted street, the Minister may make regulations—

(b) determining the omnibus proprietors whose omnibuses alone may ply for hire on the street and apportioning amongst those proprietors such aggregate number of journeys as aforesaid; but so, nevertheless, that the right so to ply shall not be limited to the omnibuses of one proprietor in any case where it appears to the Minister to be reasonable and practicable that the right should be exercised by other omnibuses also; and


moved to add to paragraph (b) of subsection (2): " and shall prevent any proprietor or proprietors from obtaining a monopoly of omnibus services on any approved route." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have put this Amendment down to a great extent at the suggestion of the Lord President. I understand it is considered that it only repeats what is in the Bill, but it does place beyond all doubt that a proprietor shall not obtain a monopoly of omnibus services on any approved route. There is a very strong feeling outside the House that something of this sort should be added to the Bill. I think the words would do no harm, and they would give the Minister power to resist a growing monopoly.

Amendment moved—

Page 14, line 26, after ("also") insert the said words.—(Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.)


My Lords, I have always felt considerable doubt as to whether it is advisable to move any Amendment at all on the Third Heading, and I feel still stronger doubt after hearing what my noble friend has said. I am not speaking disrespectfully to him when I say that this Amendment is nonsense. There is no sense in it at all. What the noble Lord is proposing to do is to enforce competition. What will happen? Supposing that there is a company which offers to provide a service on a certain route, and suppose that nobody else offers to do so, what will be the result? The result will be that there will be no service at all, because there will not be any competition. I hope that the Amendment will not be considered for a single instant.


My Lords, I am afraid that this Amendment cannot be accepted, partly for the reasons which have been put forward, and partly for others. The whole object of this clause is to restrict the traffic in certain streets. It is an absolute necessity, in certain short lengths of streets, such as parts of the Strand, Fleet-street, and the Bays-water-road, to have the very strictest Regulations, and it is very difficult to see how you can have strict Regulations, limiting the number of people who can ply on those particular stretches of road, without giving in some sense a monopoly to those whose names are on the lists. In the case of Bond-street, which was the case of which Lord Newton was probably thinking, there is only one proprietor who plies there at all, and this Amendment would prevent him plying. In some other streets there are two, three, and even four, but even if this Amendment were inserted, there is nothing in the world to prevent a dozen proprietors combining together and thus creating a monopoly.

The matter was fully thrashed out in another place, and various Amendments were suggested, notably one by Mr. Percy Harris, which finds expression in Clause 13. Clause 7 also says— … the right so to ply shall not be limited to the omnibuses of one proprietor … Again, in Clause 13, which was specially inserted after debate in another place to meet this particular point, there is a provision which certainly will go so far as it is possible to go to prevent a monopoly without entirely making the Bill unworkable. The Bill must confer a monopoly on some people in these restricted streets, and it is difficult to see how the noble Lord's Amendment would prevent it without making a situation which was completely ridiculous in certain cases.


Apart from the particular difficulties created by the Amendment on the Paper, I think any dangers that the noble Lord may apprehend are already provided against in other parts of the Bill, by Regulations, and so on. As my noble friend has already carried off one victory, I would urge him to be content with that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Second Schedule: