§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU rose to call attention to the recent restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Transport on public travelling facilities in the London area; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in raising this Question to-day I do so for several reasons. One is that in the congested state of the Order Paper in another place it is very difficult for the House of Commons to discuss a Question of this 957 kind, especially when the Budget is under discussion. Secondly, as possibly some of your Lordships may realise, this Order, restricting a certain class of vehicle in favour of another class of vehicle, is the first to be made under the London Traffic Act, 1924, and it opens up a vista of restrictions in other directions which, I think, ought to be very carefully considered and come before this and the other House of Parliament before it is made a final policy.
§ In regard to the particular point that I have put down on the Order Paper, I would first of all touch on the question of the legal procedure adopted by the Ministry of Transport. I have had this point looked into carefully by very competent lawyers, and I find that the Order was made on March 25, but was not on the Paper of this House till April 19. It might be said that that period included the Easter Recess. So it did, but, as a matter of fact, there were at least three days on which this House sat between the time of the making of the Regulation and putting it on the Order Paper of the House. I do not think, therefore, that the excuse of the Easter Recess can be held to be a valid excuse. According to the Act all these Orders, or Regulations as I should call them, are to be put down "forthwith." Originally the words were "as soon as may be," but in July, 1924, after a long discussion in Committee in which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House and other noble members of your Lordships' House took part, it was decided that the section as it stands to-day with the word "forthwith" was the best form in which it could be put on the Statute Book. I do not think the Minister of Transport has obeyed the spirit, though he may have obeyed the letter of that particular section.
§ In order that these Regulations may become operative the Minister of Transport has also invoked an Act called the Rules Publication Act, 1893, which enables Government Departments to make and carry into operation any Orders made on the ground of urgency. That is quite right and proper in the case, we will say, of a sudden emergency arising. It is right and proper that the Home Office should have that power in the case of civil disturbance and so on, but there is no urgency in this matter. This subject has been 958 talked about for a long time and the Ministry, in my opinion, ought to have followed the ordinary procedure of putting it on the Paper and allowing it to remain on the Paper of the House and be subject to criticism instead of putting it into operation at once. In this case the Ministry of Transport has shown a Departmental ingenuity worthy of a Department with a longer history.
§ As regards the question of urgency these particular Regulations are made, not on the ground of sudden congestion of the streets, but on the ground of competition and in regard to competition there is no question of urgency Com petition on these roads where restrictions are proposed has existed for many years. I can recollect very well, and perhaps your Lordships can recollect, that these tramway routes fell out of favour a long time ago and this is not a question of a sudden emergency arising. In the case of the particular tramway affected, the London United Tramways, it has not paid any ordinary dividend since 1907, and no full preference dividend since 1908, so that it is a moribund concern and no particular emergency has arisen to which, in my opinion, the Ministry of Transport could have declared this Regulation to be directed. Indeed, it is contrary to the fact to declare this Regulation to be urgent, because the state of this company has been known every successive half year through the publication of the balance sheet, and everybody who knows the condition of London traffic is aware that, in common with many other tramway systems around London, it has not had a prosperous career for a long time past.
§ I have looked up the debate in July, 1922, and I find that my noble friend the Leader of the House supported me and made some most excellent observations on the necessity of these Orders being laid upon the Table of the House. I was also supported by various noble Lords who were present on that occasion, some of whom I see around me to-day.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU
This is an Order restricting traffic; it is a Provisional Regulation made by the 959 Ministry of Transport under the London Traffic Act, restricting the use of motor omnibuses on the main Oxford Road between Shepherd's Bush and Uxbridge.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU
And many other places. The Order to which I am referring is one which has come under the notice of the public just lately. This provision in the Act of 1924 was specially inserted after debate in Committee and on Report in order that both Houses of Parliament might have some voice in the making of these Orders. The noble Marquess the present Leader of the House said on that occasion:I do, however, think I should be wanting in my duty if I did not warn your Lordships that this is an important matter, and that if you allow Clause 7 to go through without any Parliamentary check you may live to regret it.Those words prove to be absolutely true to-day. In regard to this question of competition, it may be urged that unless these omnibuses are taken off the tramways cannot live. Surely the best answer to that is that as the tramways are a losing form of traction almost all over the world the true policy will be for the Ministry of Transport gradually to reduce the number of tramcars, to substitute omnibuses for them and in that way to give the public what it really wants. I should mention in passing, on the question of congestion, that the Home Secretary is about to put on the streets of London new cabs, which I believe are called "Jixis," and these two-seater taxi-cabs will further congest the traffic of London, while his colleague, the Minister of Transport, is trying to remove congestion. I leave them to settle that question between them.
I may be told by the noble Viscount who, I believe, is going to answer this Question on behalf of the Ministry of Transport, that all this has been before the London Advisory Committee and that the Minister is only following their views. But what has happened on that London Advisory Committee is quite clear. It consists of representatives of various authorities, the police, municipal councils, one or two counties and the group of companies known as "The Combine." The municipal authorities are naturally in favour of keeping their tramways alive. 960 They have invested their ratepayers' money, unfortunately for them, in an industry which has been superseded by something else, and no doubt these municipal gentlemen combined with the representative of Lord Ashfield's group in deciding to begin this experiment by trying to bolster up the tramway system on the Oxford Road. We all know how these advisory committees are worked. I believe I have the honour to belong to one of them at the Ministry of Transport and in five years we have not been called together once. I consulted my friend Sir Arthur Stanley, who was Chairman of a most important Committee, and he told me that they met as a rule about once a year. These advisory committees are really smoke screens or camouflage under which the Ministry, or rather the permanent officials of the Ministry, make these Orders and cover themselves by saying that the advisory committee recommended this or that.
We all know that these advisory committees consist very often of capable and able gentlemen who have much to do in the world besides attending to these things. They rush in and are told by the Chairman certain facts which, of course, ought to be considered in relation to other facts, and they say: "Go ahead and do what you want," and the advisory committee become responsible. We must all have had experience of that sort of thing in various Departments. In this ease the Advisory Committee have, no doubt, as has been said, advised the Minister to take this action, but I would remind your Lordships that within the last few months the only representative on the Committee of the independent owners, the people not in "The Combine," has resigned on account of what he thought was bad treatment of the people whom he represents. I think that he probably made a mistake in resigning, but at any rate he did so, and accordingly at the time when this Order was made there was no representative of the independent owners on the Committee.
I want to pass from questions of procedure and legality to the real heart of the question. Out of London there lead in every direction these great new main roads. Some have been reconstructed and some are entirely new. They lead away into the country, and your Lord ships must have noticed how on the side 961 of these roads and of inter-communicating roads leading into main roads, there have grown up a large number of new houses. In fact, you cannot go along these roads without noticing how London is spreading in every direction. These great arteries of traffic are absolutely necessary to the increased population of the Metropolis. It is much better that we should decentralise our population, that those who live and work in London should go out further, should have better air and more facilities for playgrounds for their children and should not live so much in places where, as we know, the sunlight is not so good, the air is not so pure and the rents are probably higher. The trend of our housing is to decentralise our population. I ask your Lordships, on the merits of the question, whether this is a time when we should restrict any facilities along these roads leading out of London. I will put it this way. If we are to tackle the housing question properly we cannot do so unless it is linked up with the transport question, and to cut off any traffic facilities on the main roads leading out of London is, I think, contrary to public policy.
There is another point. In the case of the Oxford Road the tramway, as many of your Lordships probably know, begins at Shepherd's Bush near the railway station and goes along to Uxbridge through Southall and other places. Nobody can contemplate the tramway at Shepherd's Bush being taken further into London. It is there faced with the Bayswater Road, which as it stands is not wide enough for its traffic, and it is impossible to contemplate an extension of the tramway towards London. Again, at the other end it would be a financial folly to extend the tramway from its present terminus further into the country, because nobody knows how far out these houses are going to be built and as you go further out the traffic becomes thinner and it does not pay to lay down tramways at the cost of many thousands of pounds per mile.
If the restrictions are carried out a person is forced to get into a tramway in the neighbourhood of Southall and has to get out again at Shepherd's Bush and wait about until he can get accommodation in omnibuses which arrive already crowded. At the present moment with 962 motor omnibuses you can get in at any point and go anywhere practically all over London. Those who know Shepherd's Bush know that it is not only a bad place to stop tramways, but also that the number of omnibuses there to-day are only just sufficient for the number of people travelling. I would like the noble Viscount to tell us later on what is the declared policy of the Ministry of Transport on this matter. Are they going to treat other highways out of London in the same way? Are they going to say that tramways must be made to pay at all costs, and that therefore only a reduced number of omnibuses can be allowed to run? If they are committed to that policy they are going to raise a storm in London the force of which they cannot realise. It is obvious that in the course of time you must provide for the increase of traffic by means of motor omnibuses.
I will now deal with another point which I think your Lordships should consider. All over the world you see a tendency on the part of existing tramway companies to scrap their tramways and substitute in some cases trolley-omnibuses and in others motor omnibuses. That has been going on since 1921, and there are many corporations who are also desirous of scrapping their tramways, or who have scrapped their tramways, on the ground that they cumber the streets and that the public prefer omnibuses. Those corporation and companies include Maidstone, Grimsby, Ashton-under-Lyne, Worcester, West Hartlepool, Kilmarnock, Croydon, Colne, Chesterfield, Stoke-on-Trent, Rotherham, Barrow-in-Furness, Darlington, Ipswich, Walsall, Wolverhampton, East Ham, Doncaster, the Colwyn Bay and Colwyn Urban District Council, and the Potteries and North Staffordshire, the Kidderminster and Stourport and the Mexborough and Swindon tramway companies. There can be no doubt of the general tendency, and I cannot imagine on what grounds the Ministry of Transport can justify the bolstering up of the tramway system in the Metropolis. I admit at once there is something to be said in the case of the London County Council. Their trams are being run at a loss of, roughly speaking, £1,000 a day, and that is coming out of the pockets of the ratepayers of London. I am told that they must go on because there is a sinking 963 fund. Whether it would be cheaper to shut them down is a question of finance which this is not the time to go into.
I want to tell your Lordships something about the scientific outlook on this matter. At the moment I think tram-cars have achieved everything that is possible in the way of economy. They have been running for a great many years—for fifty years—and everything that could cheapen their operation has practically been carried out. Perhaps some of your Lordships do not know that tramways were named after Sir James Outram, and for that reason are called "trams." Ever since his time everything possible has been done to make them cheaper, and to try to increase their revenue. On the other hand the motor omnibus is, comparatively speaking, in its infancy. Every country is trying to make the operation of the motor omnibus cheaper, and there are scientific possibilities which will cheapen their operation. There is pulverised coal, for instance. There is the use of gas suction plant, equal to petrol at about 2d. per gallon. There is the use of heavy oil on the Diesel principle. Then there is the possibility of much greater use of pneumatic tyres, lengthening the life of the engine, etc. Then again, much larger vehicles are coining into operation, and I have seen motor omnibuses carrying more than sixty persons. In fact, you may say that scientifically, looking into the future, the triumph of the motor omnibus over the tram is certain.
Now it is a very curious thing that the London United Tramways, the company concerned in this case between Shepherd's Bush, Southall and Uxbridge, have already gone into the policy of scrapping and have already realised that the outlying portions of these tramways cannot pay. In these circumstances it seems very illogical for the Ministry of Transport to try to induce them to keep this particular section open. On the other side, you have the case of the Bradford Corporation refusing to allow motor omnibuses to run on their streets, and the Ministry of Transport going to law with the Bradford Corporation to compel them to do so. In that case you have the Ministry supporting the omnibuses against the trams, and therefore there appears to be one law for London and "The Combine" 964 and another for Bradford and its corporation. It is a most illogical proceeding.
Another point is the need for competition. We all know that "The Combine," as it is called, has in many ways served London well, and I am the last person to deny, and in our debates have admitted, that Lord Ashfield and his group have improved London transport very much. But is it wise to give any one an absolute monopoly of London transport? I think it is very unwise to do so. Once "The Combine" has got a monopoly there is nothing to prevent it from doing all kinds of things which are undesirable in the public interest. Already the effect of the independent motor omnibuses has been to keep fares down and encourage the running of services where there were none before. The independent omnibuses at the present moment charge fares one-third less than "The Combine" fares, and are paying their staff more highly, and yet are making money. That looks as if concerns which run omnibuses, and are not hampered by tramways, and railways, are better able to serve London.
Then as to local feeling, I believe there has been a petition presented containing nearly a million signatures and I believe that all those signatures are voluntary: that is what I am informed. As regards the other symptoms of local feeling, every single urban district council in that neighbourhood has unanimously petitioned against this alteration. That is a very strong point, and ought to be considered, because these are popularly elected bodies who have the interests of their districts at heart.
I bring this question forward to-day not with any mistaken idea that it will in any way deter the Ministry of Transport from carrying out its determination to restrict the omnibuses, and I do not for a moment doubt that they intend to go on with it. And at the moment there is a lawsuit which is not yet decided and to which it would be improper for me to refer in detail. I am told that to-day the case has been again before the magistrates at Ealing and that the police have asked for an adjournment for a fortnight in order to prepare their case—which is rather a weak admission, it seems to me, after the proceedings have already been going on for three 965 weeks. We do not know how that case will result, but it will turn, I think, more on the legality of the notice than on the merits of the question. But I do think it is necessary for this House and the other House to take cognisance of policy. The general policy in London should be to give the people of London the most convenient, the cheapest, and the quickest form of transport we can give them at the moment. The policy of the Ministry of Transport, as far as I can judge, is to try to bolster up the older forms of transport at the expense of the new. It is all-important that this policy should be questioned and criticised, because, if it is to persist, we may be in the same position that many towns were in when the gas companies originally fought the electric light companies and for a long time prevented electric light being provided in certain towns.
There are all kinds of instances on our Statute Book where corporations and Governments have retarded the advance of a new form of development for the benefit of humanity, and it has always ended—as this will end—in the eventual triumph, after some time, of the new form of development, whatever it is. My noble friend Lord Russell is sitting opposite, and he and I can remember when we had to fight our way step by step in the early days of the motor car. That was just such another fight as this, and that has been won. It is hardly necessary for me to say to-day what an enormous influence that has had on the trade and commerce of the country, on the development of the countryside, and on the general comfort of the people. I am quite sure I am not wrong in saying that if the Ministry pursue this course of trying to support the trams at the expense of the new forms of transport the result will be that the people of London, as well as of other places that are affected, but especially London, will rise up in their wrath and say, through their elected representatives, that they insist on having the most up-to-date and the most convenient form of transport. I thank your Lordships for listening to what I have said, and later on I shall ask the noble Viscount if he can let mo have some Papers.
My Lords, I think it may be convenient that I should say 966 a few words before the noble Viscount replies, in order that he may put me right, if and when I go wrong in these matters, as I have very little doubt I shall do. But before I enter on the main question I should like to say a word— and I wish that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House were here, for I am sure he would agree with me in this— about a point which was mentioned early in the speech of my noble friend opposite as to the method by which these Regulations were brought into force. Is it a fact that they were brought into force on the ground that they were a matter of urgency under some Act dealing with Orders and Regulations? If so, I must say that that seems to me to have been a most unjustifiable straining of authority. I hope the noble Viscount, when he replies, will be able to deal with that point. We do not wish the Department to use powers which were given them in the public interest simply to make up for some slackness of their own, or to enable them to carry out some project of their own before Parliament has had time to pronounce on it.
When we come to the facts of this matter I think that I diverge a little from my noble friend opposite, because he belongs, I think, rather to a group with which I have never had entire sympathy, whose cry for some years has been, "Scrap the trams."
Yes, I gather that they were to suffer a process of painful suffocation by gradual diminution of their receipts. But, at any rate, that has been a cry that I have heard and that I have never entirely sympathised with, and I will tell your Lordships why. The first and most obvious reason is that there is a very large sum of money invested in these concerns, and of that large sum of money a very considerable proportion is public money; that is to say, it has come out of the pockets of the ratepayers. It would seem a pity, and, indeed, an uneconomic thing, to scrap a large and expensive plant if you can still turn it to good use. That is one thing.
Then there is another thing which I think is sometimes lost sight of. I saw an argument, I think it was in the columns of a newspaper, the other day 967 about the omnibus proprietors, and how wrongfully they have been treated by this Order, and how they have contributed to the taxes by their motor licences, while these wretched trams did nothing of the sort. It is often forgotten that there is an obligation on every tramway company to maintain a very large portion of every street through which they run. If these trams were scrapped there would be an immediate and direct monetary loss to the ratepayers, which would have to be made good out of the rates. According to their view that contribution which they have to make in some cases leads to trams being run at a loss.
On this question of the fight between the two I heard a few weeks ago a very interesting address by Sir Henry Maybury at the Royal Institution, in which he was most enthusiastic on the policy of preserving the trams—they must be saved, they must be protected from this competition of the omnibuses, which were deliberately stealing their passengers on the best parts of their routes, and thereby bringing them to bankruptcy. If the noble Lord's figures are right, that for something like eighteen years the London United Company has been in a bad way, certainly it is not a recent attack, but those figures are not true, as far as I know, of the London County Council's trams, for it is only of comparatively recent years that their returns have become so bad.
As a general policy I think I was a little inclined to sympathise with what Sir Henry Maybury said, that if you have got this plant you may as well make use of it, and keep your omnibuses for somewhere else where they are wanted. You do not want cut-throat and useless competition. A desirable thing in my view, and possibly in the view of some of those on this side of the House, would be that the whole of this matter should be in one hand, and that hand preferably the hand of a public authority. The only way in which you can really run these services well is by co-ordinating them, and by co-ordinating them solely in the public interest. You at once get—and you always will get—into terrible difficulties of administration when you first try to leave private enterprise to do the best it can and indulge, perfectly legitimately, in cut-throat competition with 968 other private enterprise, and then try to interfere with it by Order.
The question that Sir Henry Maybury raised in this lecture so lightly seems to me one which really, if I may respectfully say so, and if the noble Viscount opposite will forgive me, is almost beyond the competence of the Ministry of Transport or of any single Department. It is a very considerable thing to say that you are deliberately going to use these traffic powers in order to bolster up one form of transport rather than another. It may be perfectly right—I am not saying that it is not—but it does seem to me a thing rather beyond the judgment of any single Minister to decide. It seems to me rather a policy that, if it is decided upon, should be decided upon by somebody like a Joint Committee of both House, who have the facts before them, and who represent the public interest, and the public interest only. It is a large measure to take. Whether this particular Order is based upon that or not I do not know I think it was definitely understood that that was the chief reason for making this Order—to protect these tramways. I hardly object to it on that ground, but it does seem to have been made rather suddenly, and it is said, I do not know with what truth, that it has hit the private owner very unfairly as compared with "The Combine." I hope that may not be so.
My noble friends below me are responsible for passing this Act, assisted by noble Lords opposite from whom they inherited it. I always ventured to say when it was in your Lordships' House that I thought it involved very considerable dangers, and if you are going to carry on this great interference with private property and this great interference with such an important thing as London traffic, you want an Advisory Committee which commands the complete confidence of everybody in the Metropolis. I have no hesitation in saying that the Advisory Committee as now constituted does not command that confidence and never will while it is constituted on its present basis. My noble friend opposite said that I said that, and other representatives of public interests in another place said that very strongly when the Bill was passing through Parliament. You have an Advisory Committee which is a sort 969 of hotch-potch compromise, which was the result of some sort of threatened strike or something of the kind, and it does not command general confidence as being an impartial and independent body. Until you get that you can hardly undertake these great operations without expecting criticism, and you will not get that general measure of public support which you would get if everyone was satisfied with them.
Whether this particular Order is right or wrong I am not, nor do I expect any member of your Lordships' House is, competent to say, because one requires to know all sorts of details that one does not know; but we should accept it much more readily if there were an Advisory Committee which was really an impartial and independent body and which we could feel was giving advice to the Minister which was not given in the interests of one group or another, or in the light of some particular policy or another, and was solely and simply considering the transport of London. It is a large order to say that you are going deliberately to save these trams—it will be rather a difficult thing to say in some cases—by curtailing omnibus facilities. That, I think, is almost too much for the Minister to take upon himself. I hope that when the noble Viscount opposite replies he will tell us—I know he is very frank with the House and the Minister is fortunate in having so powerful a representative—what is really in the mind of the Minister and what are the guiding principles upon which he is proceeding. I ask these questions in order that when the noble Viscount replies he may deal with an aspect of the case which is really a very important one and will be a continually growing one, because this is only the beginning of a great deal that has to be done.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, I should not have intervened in this debate had it not been for the words which have fallen from the noble Earl, Lord Russell, in regard to the composition of the Advisory Committee. It will be in the recollection of your Lordships that the London Traffic Act was brought into being by the Government which preceded the Labour Government and passed by the Labour Government. I do not remember that my noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu was particularly 970 friendly to that measure during its passage. He objected a great deal to its provisions and continually attacked them; so I have not much sympathy with him in the matter. It was absolutely necessary to have an Act of some kind for London. The congestion of the traffic was tremendous, and it was impossible to go on as we were going and to allow everybody to run just as he pleased. I would remind your Lordships that in no other city in the country is traffic allowed to be uncontrolled, and I venture to think since the passing of that Act the traffic of facilities of London have been greatly improved.
As I said, I should not have spoken had not the noble Earl attacked the London Traffic Advisory Committee. I cannot see why he should have done so. That Committee was deliberately set up by both Houses of Parliament. It consists for the most part of representatives of public bodies interested in the traffic of London and the adjacent counties, and I should like to tell your Lordships who those representatives are. There is one representative of the Ministry of Transport. There is one representative of the Commissioner of Police. Your Lordships are well aware that the police in London have more or less controlled the traffic for generations. The other members are two representatives from the City of London, one representing the Corporation and the other the police; two representatives from the London County Council, who are naturally extremely interested in traffic as the owners of tramways in which no less than £17,000,000 of public money is sunk; two representatives from the borough councils, two representatives from the three counties to the north of London and two from the counties adjacent to London.
The composition of that Committee was carefully considered and I think it is a very representative Committee of public men and public interests. It has worked extremely well. It has been engaged for months and months upon these most difficult problems and I think it is a pity that the noble Earl should come down to your Lordships' House and abuse not only the composition of the Committee, in which your Lordships had a hand, but the work that is being done. I maintain that since the Act was 971 passed there has been a great improvement in the traffic of London.
In regard to the question of the omnibuses and the trams, I have no brief for either. As the noble Earl opposite knows, I have always been an anti-tramway man. But I well recognise that the financial obligations of public authorities in regard to the tramways must be considered. The Traffic Committee and their experts—they have technical advisers as well—are of opinion that the population living adjacent to London could not be brought into or taken out of London without the help of the tramways, and that it was senseless competition to have a number of omnibuses running over exactly the same routes. Those were the questions which actuated the decision of the Committee. Whether there is any reason to suppose that there has been unfair treatment as between "The Combine" and the private omnibuses I am not aware, and I think that is to be fought out. But I am certain that we are very much indebted to the last Government for having passed the Act, which has worked well. There is no doubt that the improvement in London traffic recently has been of great value to the public.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
My Lords, I think we are indebted to my noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu for having brought this Motion forward, and we are indebted to him for another reason. As I understand it, the reason for this Order is that the tramways do not pay, and it is thought that by stopping the motor omnibuses the tramways may be made to pay. If that is the fact, I would ask your Lordships to consider what it might entail. It might entail corruption of the grossest kind, if a certain number of people interested in the tramways could go to an advisory body and say: "If you will help us we will help you." I do not for a moment say that such a thing is in existence at the present moment, but I say that if power is given to an advisory body or a Minister to say: "We are going to stop a certain enterprise because we think that by so doing another enterprise may pay better," it is opening the door to very grave danger of corruption.
I would ask my noble friend Lord Peel this question. The railways are very 972 much interfered with by the heavy motor traffic. He and I had the honour of being railway directors at one time. Is any Government Department coming forward to say: "We are going to stop the heavy motor traffic because it interferes with the profits of the railways?" If they can do it for the tramways why should they not do it for the railways? The noble Earl opposite said, as I understood him, that it was necessary to protect the tramways because a good deal of public money was invested in them. I think I am not misrepresenting him.
I do not know that I actually said that, but I said that I could appreciate that that was a reason for protecting them.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
No greater argument against the nationalisation of anything was ever brought forward. What it means is that if a certain enterprise is nationalised and belongs to the public you must not do anything to improve it, or rather, you must not allow a rival firm to be brought in which will improve it, because the public will lose money. The tramways are an inconvenient form of traction, blocking up the streets, causing more congestion than any other form of traffic at the present moment, and they are to be preserved because, forsooth, the London County Council have invested a great deal of money very badly in them.
§ LORD JESSEL
May I point out that these particular tramways do not belong to the London County Council?
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
But if this particular precedent is allowed there is nothing to prevent similar precedents being followed where the London County Council tramways are concerned. My noble friend Lord Jessel told us that there were two representatives of the London County Council on this Advisory Committee. His words were "who are naturally extremely interested in traffic as the owners of tramways." They ought not to be there at all. The members of the Advisory Committee ought to be independent people and not in any way connected with any form of traffic. My noble friend said that all these alterations had been greatly to the advantage of the traffic in London. They are greatly to 973 the disadvantage of the pedestrians. I walk, and I live in fear of my life. If it was not for a friendly policeman I should never get across this circular traffic when I leave the Houses of Parliament, but when I get to Hyde Park Corner there is no friendly policeman and I stand on the kerb for many minutes contemplating whether or not I have the courage to walk across. When I get to the refuge I look to the right-hand side to see if anything is coming. I forget that under the new Regulations everything goes on the other side of the refuge. I see something coming which I think will pass on the ordinary side, but directly it gets to the refuge it goes past on the other side and very nearly knocks me over. It is possible that people in luxurious motor-cars may save two or three seconds on a journey through London, but the pedestrian runs a very much greater risk of losing his life. I hope my noble friend Viscount Peel will kindly remember what I have said and do something to adopt the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I should like to say a few words before the noble Viscount (Viscount Peel) replies. I wish to refer particularly to what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Banbury of Southam. He will recollect that there was considerable discussion when the London Traffic Bill was before this House. We then had ample criticism from the noble Lord who raised this Question to-day. As a matter of fact—I do not find any fault about this—I am reminded by my noble friend Lord Thomson, who assisted me in the passage of the Bill, that the noble Lord put down no fewer than eighty-nine Amendments. Therefore it was not his fault if in any way the Bill was not fully discussed when it was before your Lordships' House. I think the noble Lord, Lord Banbury of Southam, forgets that there was a considerable question as to whether the tramways should or should not be included in the Traffic Regulations. The noble Lord himself is a strong advocate against that, although other members are not. The reason that the tramways were included is not that they were owned by local authorities, whether in London or outside, but that they run under statutory powers. I have always understood Lord 974 Banbury of Southam's view as a railway director and in other directions was that if you interfered with the tramways working under statutory powers that would raise a question of compensation. I am strongly in favour of compensation when statutory rights are interfered with. That was the attitude the noble Lord took up, and if the tramway companies have any preferential position under the Traffic Act it is not because they are owned or worked by a public authority but because they are owned and worked under statutory powers.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
I did not understand that the statutory powers said that any other form of vehicle was not to run on the road.
§ LORD PARMOOR
That was not the question I was dealing with. I will say a word about that in a moment. I was dealing with the position of the tramways themselves and the reason why in this Bill they were dealt with on a different basis from the other modes of traffic, such as motor-omnibus traffic. When the noble Lord relies so much on the word "nationalisation"—a word of very indefinite purport, according to the way in which it is used by a particular person—he really mistakes the whole position. The difficulty here is really not the nationalisation of the tramways. They are run by the local authorities in nearly all towns. There may be some that are privately owned, but they must be very few now. The difficulty did not arise from that point at all. It arose, if at all, from the competition between companies having statutory powers and those which had not statutory powers. I did not think that the noble Lord would have raised this point upon this debate, because it really has nothing to do with the matter that we are at the present moment discussing.
I want to come to two matters which have been mentioned and which have application to the present discussion. No one knows better than the noble Lord, or the noble Viscount who is going to reply, that the constitution of the Advisory Committee was discussed over and over again both on Committee and on Report, and it was only after that very full discussion that the constitution of the Advisory Committee was ultimately adopted. It really rests on two footings.
975 It stands first of all on this footing, that the public authorities, who are interested in the traffic question, should be adequately represented upon it. Take, for instance, the London County Council and the City Corporation and bodies that kind. They are representative bodies. In addition it was thought fair, and I think quite rightly, that other interests which might come into competition with the tramway interest should also be adequately represented. The foundation of the whole appeal so far as traffic regulation is concerned was that we should have a greater power of dealing with the traffic created by the motor omnibuses than we had over the tramways by virtue of the statutory powers under which they are worked. I think that is essential when one really understands what we mean by proprietary rights in matters of this sort. That view was assented to by everyone in the House.
The other subject I want to say a word about is that which is called interference with the motor omnibuses. I am not going into the question of whether particular Orders are right or not. I know nothing about them and do not want to embark upon a technical discussion of that kind. The Act itself is quite clear. It was intended to give a power of regulating motor-omnibus traffic in all parts of the Metropolitan area, not merely the London area in the ordinary sense of that word but a larger area outside London, which is defined in the Bill itself. I recollect there being some question, for instance, in my own County as to how far parts of Buckinghamshire should be included or not. I am not for a moment going into the question as to whether the Advisory Committee have acted wisely or not. I know nothing of that and I do not propose to go into it; but I protest against the opinion that the Advisory Committee is a prejudiced body or a body with undue bias. It was intended in the truest sense of the term to be representative both of the local authorities and of private interests. They were both put in purposely, and I think properly, to deal with a question in which both these sides of opinion are undoubtedly interested. If that is so it is very difficult to say that the Advisory Committee, or the Ministry acting through the Advisory Committee, has not a very wide control over this 976 traffic. I use that expression so as not to introduce prejudice as to what was actually done. It was the object of the Act, or one of the main objects of the Act, that that control should be exercised in that way.
I think so far as I understand what the noble Lord himself has said—he has spoken many times on the subject—that he agreed that it was necessary that power of regulation should be given to some public body. That being so, what is the immediate form of complaint so far as the Traffic Act is concerned? I can find none whatever. Of course when you come to the administration of an Act of this kind, which deals with matters of great importance in our everyday life, there are bound to be certain differences of opinion as regards methods of administration or the actual line of policy adopted, but I think that the noble Lord, if I may say so, went much too far in his criticism. I think he put down eighty-nine Amendments to the Bill and I rejoiced that he took so much interest in it and trouble about it. I think that by his Amendments and assistance we have an excellent Act and I do not see that any grounds of complaint, so far as the Act itself is concerned, have been brought forward.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I remember being very much criticised three or four years ago for expressing an opinion that the tramway system of traffic was obsolescent. The very impressive list of towns which has been read to us by Lord Montagu shows that in all parts of the country strong and progressive municipalities have realised that the tramways system is not only obsolescent but obsolete. They are taking steps to scrap their municipal tramway systems and there are many other towns, the names of which Lord Montagu did not read, which are following the same course. After all, that is not unnatural, The tram-car is the only vehicle that has to stop in the middle of the road, it is the only vehicle that must block anything coming behind it, it is certainly the noisiest form of traffic and, in a hundred and one ways, experience drives one to the inevitable conclusion that the tramway has got to go. It has been useful in its time, but it has outlived its service. Like other forms of traction it has been replaced by more convenient, more 977 business-like and more modern methods, and if the Ministry of Transport is going seriously to try to bolster up the tramway system—whether it is case of municipal or private enterprise has nothing to do with the point—at the expense of a more scientific agency, then the Ministry is setting its face in the teeth of science and in the long run must incur defeat.
I am not very much concerned in following Lord Parmoor in his discourse about statutory rights. It does not matter whether a tramway system is based on statutory rights or not. It has become a nuisance and it will have to go. But it is quite clear from what has been said rather than from what has been done in this particular case—it was reflected in the speech of Lord Jessel to some extent and almost openly stated by Lord Russell—that the argument is that if an enterprise is paid for out of public funds that enterprise is entitled to preference and precedence in competition with other forms of enterprise. So much money has been sunk, said Lord Russell, in municipal tramways that it is quite a legitimate thing to argue that a certain amount of protection against omnibus and motor traffic is justified. I wonder if that is so? The London County Council, for instance, is trying to extend its trams and is not content with attempting to pull down Waterloo Bridge, but means to build a new bridge with trains over it into the bargain. Why should that form of traffic be given preference over a more modern and more scientific system because municipal money has been spent on it? It is not as if municipal money had been well spent. From a commercial point of view municipal money has been badly spent. I forget whether it is £5,000 or £6,000 a week that is lost, but perhaps Lord Jessel will tell us.
§ LORD JESSEL
I do not think you can argue that point because there are sinking funds and other matters to be considered. Certainly there is a loss of about £200,000 a year.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
That is a very flattering figure, £200,000 a year, because that is not the only loss by any means. You have not merely to consider the ratepayers' loss through that particular form of traffic, but you must measure it also by the daily confusion 978 and annoyance in every street which comes within the influence of the trams. It is not as if they were a very brilliant investment. I should contemplate with equanimity the scrapping of the trams.
I do not want to delay your Lordships, but there is a further point I should like to mention. The Government, perhaps rightly, is making a great point that it means to scrap old coalpits and concentrate available labour and capital in new and more profitable coalfields. It may be an excellent thing to do, but the old coalpit at least has this advantage, that in time of great demand it re-opens and tends to prevent prices rising to excessive figures. It is very inconsistent to say that you have got to scrap uneconomic coalpits and at the same time give preference to uneconomic systems of traction. If that sort of thing results from the intervention of the new Traffic Advisory Committee I hope that Parliament will take steps to bring that body to a conclusion. It is a very fair body. It is set up with a scrupulous balance of interest; this authority and that authority, this interest and that interest, are all represented without a single independent or unbiased person on the whole Board, judging from what we have been told to-day. These things have always ended in compromise, and where you have to deal with a really serious economic problem it is much better to let the Minister take responsibility and be responsible to Parliament rather than throw upon an advisory body, which meets, I presume, only when it is invited to do so, a responsibility which really ought to rest with the Government itself.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (VISCOUNT PEEL)
My Lords, I was, when we were in Opposition, a supporter of the London Traffic Bill. I was, as a matter of fact, a supporter of it because as long ago as 1909, I think, I took a deputation to the London County Council asking for some such measure. It took my advice about fifteen years before it was put into operation. I congratulate the Party opposite on having brought in and passed that Bill. I am afraid I shall have to add that I think it was the one good thing they did, and when they look back upon their past career with regret and remorse they will have this consolation (and it will bring balm to their soul), that they passed into 979 law the London Traffic Act. They will also remember that we gave them a good deal of support when that Act was before Parliament. In one respect my recollection differs, I think, to some extent from that of the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Parmoor, because he told us that the reason why tramways were excluded from the Bill was that they were statutory undertakings. It is perfectly true that that argument was used and was forcibly put before your Lordships, but I do not think that it convinced this House; in fact, I believe that the point was carried against the noble Lord—I cannot remember now which way I voted—and it was only because another place insisted upon that exclusion that it was carried out.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
Lord Banbury's view is also very important, but for the moment I was alluding to the history given by the noble Lord. I do not say that it is intensely relevant to the subject, but still it is a matter of historical accuracy, and I know how accurate the noble Lord's mind is and should be sorry for him to remain in error for any length of time. It is really one of the difficulties of the problem that you have these statutory undertakings and that you have them outside the Act. It has for some time been the policy of this country to have municipal trading. I am not a great supporter of municipal trading, but I think it is only fair to point out that you do get into some of these difficulties because you have municipal trading and, whatever views you may take about supporting tramways, whether they are statutory undertakings or businesses conducted by private individuals, somebody is bound to suggest that the State is apt to lean towards enterprises in which its own money or the money of ratepayers and municipalities is invested.
I want to say at the outset—and I do not desire to detain your Lordships more than a few minutes—that think that some of your Lordships who have spoken have been rather misled and that the course of the debate has rather wandered from what I think is the true issue following upon some observations of the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, 980 in opening this discussion. The noble Lord spoke as if the object and the purpose of this Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Transport was to bolster up tramways and assist the dividends for private tramways. Of course it is nothing of the kind, though so much of the debate has gone upon this false issue, for, of course, the object, and the sole object, of the Ministry of Transport and of any Government Department must be, not the interests of tramways as tramways or of shareholders as shareholders, but the whole interest of the travelling public in London—a far wider question than any that has been dealt with by any of your Lordships to-night, except the noble Earl, Lord Russell, who did suggest, that extreme competition might be a bad thing for the general public and in the general interest. In the very few words that I am going to say to your Lordships I shall deal with the subject wholly from that point of view. The question of scrapping tramways or carrying on tramways will not be considered by me in the interests of either municipalities or of private persons, but in relation to the very large question of what is the best way in the interests of the travelling public of providing for their journeyings throughout London, either by day or by night.
It is very relevant in that connection to consider the effect of any such action upon the tramways, because the Government have to consider the effect both upon the tramways and upon other forms of traffic before they sum up the whole position in the interests of the travelling public. Many of your Lordships, including my noble friend Lord Jessel, who is very competent to speak upon the point, told us what might be the effect upon the tramways, in which £27,000,000 are invested, of an unlimited competition by omnibuses, and I am going to touch upon that point in a minute because I want to put before your Lordships some relevant considerations which you must take into account before you come to a decision on this subject. First of all, some £27,000,000 or £28,000,000 are invested, including £17,000,000 with the London County Council, £5,000,000 with municipalities and £5,000,000 with companies.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
One of the results of the London County Council tramways (which I deal with because it is far the largest) being a statutory undertaking is that it contributes about £300,000 a year towards the roadways in London, so much on each side of the rails and so much between the rails. If you scrap the tramways you have to consider first of all that the whole of that falls upon the ratepayers, and the charges on the rates fall upon business. This is a very relevant consideration. If you scrap the tramways, who is going to pay these charges? In addition, very large sums will have to be paid for interest and sinking fund, for I do not suppose that anybody behind me is going to suggest that this is going to be repudiated and that, having borrowed money, a municipality is not going to repay it. In summing up for and against., therefore, you have to consider the very heavy change which will fall upon the ratepayers. Further, the tramways not only pay for a portion of the roadway, but they do no damage to the roadway that they do not pay for, whereas the unlimited number of omnibuses which these noble Lords want to run upon the roads—and I will deal with that point in a moment—contribute nothing to the roads except in so far as they may contribute to the Road Fund, and of course very little of that has been spent on these roads in London. In any case their contribution through the Road Fund is nothing compared with the contribution of the tramways.
One further point may be mentioned on this subject. There are at present on the tramway rails in the Metropolitan area no fewer than 2,814 trams—2,240 in London and 574 outside. It is calculated that each of these trams represents seven and a half workmen; that is to say, that for every tram which you put out of action you put out of employment seven and a half men, and so if you multiply seven and a half by 2,814 you get a figure of about 20,000. It is obvious that if you scrap the tramways to-morrow you throw out of employment 20,000 men, which is a very large number indeed, and you have gravely to consider whether this is good for the State or for the travelling public.
I should like to put another point. The noble Lord behind me said that if you 982 are not going to have this unlimited number of omnibuses running through the streets you will have fierce public indignation coming upon you. I can tell him that he will have far more fierce indignation coming upon him, and that he will not be able to stay in London another minute, if he is going to scrap the tramways, because under their statutory obligations they have to run cheap workmen's fares between 5.30 and 8 o'clock in the morning. Hundreds of thousands of working men travel with those workmen's cars, and no such corresponding duty to issue workmen's fares is put upon the omnibuses. Nothing at all has been done by the omnibuses in that respect. Indeed, the omnibuses do not run at these early hours, so that the working man, if the trams are scrapped, will have no opportunity of getting to his work at all between 5.30 and 7.30, much less at a cheap rate. That is a very serious consideration which ought to be borne in mind when considering whether the tramways shall be scrapped or not.
I want to challenge Lord Crawford as to his point that tramways are obsolete. Are they obsolete? By what test are you going to decide whether a thing is obsolete? Are you going to apply the test of whether a thing is used or is not used? When dealing with particular objects which can be bought and sold you know that they are obsolete because people will not buy them. If you apply the same test to the tramways you find that in the course of the year they run a thousand million journeys. Just consider what that means. Yet the noble Earl tells us that they are obsolete. I do not know what his test of obsolescence is.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My test of obsolesence is that thoroughly progressive, well-informed and rich public authorities are substituting for tramways a much cheaper and more convenient form of traction.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I thought the noble Earl would answer in that way, and that was why I challenged him, because it is obvious that he cannot have studied traffic in London as compared with traffic in those provincial towns.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
There is a line of trams, except for about two gaps, 983 from Liverpool to Hull. We know all about tramways in the North of England.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
You may know ail about tramways in the North of England, but you do not know all about trams in London, because I can show that the enormous inflow and outflow of people into and out of London is beyond all comparison with what is done in these provincial towns. Let me give one or two figures. You have got, to meet tremendous pressure during what are known as the peak hours—two and a-half hours in the morning and evening. From the Embankment alone 35,000 people are taken every hour in the morning and evening, and are distributed to the places where they live. I want to point out clearly what would happen if you scrapped the tramways and substituted omnibuses. The omnibus—the large omnibus—I am not talking of the little omnibus or the two-seater—takes 48 people, whereas the tram takes 120. It is very obvious, from a simple calculation, that if you are going to carry the same number of people by omnibus that is now carried by tram and omnibus together, you will have to treble or quadruple the number of omnibuses on the streets. Lord Banbury told us he was in great distress of mind when trying to cross some of our thoroughfares at the present time, when omnibuses are limited. If they were not limited, and he had to deal with three or four times the number of omnibuses, my noble friend's distinguished career in this House would, I very much regret to say, be rapidly cut short.
Unless you are going to have continuous great blocks of omnibuses, running after one another, it is not possible to carry the traffic in London by means of omnibuses alone. You must have the assistance of the tramways as well. Lord Crawford said, quite rightly, that it is not a question of omnibuses or how many you carry, but of the pace at which you carry. It is also a question of loss of time. It is already calculated that as a result of some of these restrictions the pace of traffic in parts of London is beginning to increase at the rate of a mile an hour. But I have only touched upon the question in making a comparison between trams and omnibuses, although I think I have shown that it would be impossible to carry the same 984 number of people in omnibuses if you had no tramways.
Then there is the great question touched upon by Lord Montagu as to the need of getting people out into the country. That is a most important question, upon which I should like to cite the evidence of the local authorities who have gone into the matter carefully and advised the Ministry of Transport. With one exception they say: "We do not want more omnibuses or more tramways, but what we do want is more electric railways, more 'tubes,' and more surface railways, and in that way only can you get these large numbers of people out into the country. "What is the present position with this unrestricted omnibus competition? All these railway undertakings are urged to extend themselves into the country, and they all say that it is impossible to do that at the present moment because, with this omnibus competition, it would be perfectly useless, for they could not go to the public for, and could not get, the money.
Therefore, although it may be that from some points of view it is very wrong to restrict any form of competition—although I am not an admirer of unlimited competition—from the practical point of view you have to consider that by unlimited competition you run the risk of drying up sources of competition for carrying people into the country, and that you may be left with an enormous block of omnibuses filling up all the streets and not being able to carry any one anywhere. At the same time people will have a great deal for their money, for they will have an opportunity of sitting for several hours on the top of an omnibus. I suggest that the policy of the Ministry of Transport is governed by far wider considerations than the question of whether you are going to make the tramways pay or not pay. Their view is that the best thing for the travelling public is that you should have all these forms of locomotion—obsolete or obsolescent call them if you like, or progressive if you like, but still that you should have them all—and every one should be given the choice of travelling by omnibus, by tram, or by "tube."
It is by regulating this too acute competition between different forms of locomotion that the Ministry of Transport 985 think they will attain their ideal and end, which is the provision of tine utmost amount of cheap transport for the needs and requirements of the people of London. It is for that that they think the restriction of competition is necessary. And I should like to add that where these restrictions take place in no case are the omnibuses put off the roads, but there is always left a certain amount of competition between the tramways, where they run, and the omnibuses. In fact, it is a cardinal point of their policy, when put into practice, to admit this limited competition on the tramway routes between the omnibuses and the tramways. I have tried to discourage any idea that in controlling the number of omnibuses on the streets the Ministry of Transport are acting in the interests either of a municipality or a private company. They are doing it really because they think that in that way they can secure for the enormous travelling public of Landon the best facilities for going to and from their daily work, for getting into the country, and for such entertainment as may be obtained by travelling through London on the top of an omnibus or in a tram.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
My Lords, I confess I have heard the speech of the noble Viscount with grave dissatisfaction. It now appears that the object of these Regulations—or the primary object—is to bolster up the interests of the tramway companies. I cannot understand why there should not be a free fight and no favour as between the omnibuses and the tramways. If the tramways are useful—and certainly I can say for myself that at present in London they are useful—then they will last, and they will remain on the road. If they are not useful, why should the Minister support them? And if they are useful why do they need his support? That leads me to ask the noble Viscount this: Why did he make no response to the case made by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu about the Rules Publication Act? I confess as a lawyer that it seems to me grievous that in this case urgency should have been pleaded with regard to the Rules Publication Act. It seems obvious that there was no urgency, but it was simply a deliberate policy adopted, which might have been adopted this week or next, and it is not treating the Houses of Parliament fairly to plead urgency and issue these Rules 986 before they have been laid before Parliament in the ordinary way.
§ THE EARL OF CLANWILLIAM
My Lords, I do not think your Lordships have received very much satisfaction in this debate. It seems to me not quite fair to blame the Act which has been passed, because the Act was the first attempt that has been made in this country to deal with the traffic, and very few people in this country know anything about the control of traffic. The debate has revolved to a considerable extent upon the question of the merits or demerits of trams and omnibuses. Personally I think both the tram and the omnibus are very great obstacles to the efficient control of traffic, and of the two the trams are the worse. But, of course, arrangements must be made to carry the population who travel in and out of London every day, and it is quite impossible therefore to scrap the trams or the omnibuses. But those who have the control of the traffic to-day in London would like, I am quite sure, to scrap the tramways if they could, because they must know what an obstacle they are to the control of traffic.
As I have said before, I think that the Government should now, before waiting till the traffic problem becomes much worse than it is to-day, set up an Inquiry—whether by a Royal Commission or a Committee of both Houses is a detail—which should investigate the question of how the traffic is going to be controlled in the next decade. It is increasing at an enormous rate, and here we are to-day discussing whether the trams or the omnibuses should be given precedence. In a few years that will be a detail, and you will not be able to carry the traffic in London by omnibuses and trams. The roads are not big enough. That is a question which can only be decided after the whole matter of the vested interests and statutory rights of the tramways and the rights of the people who overt omnibuses have been considered by an impartial body which has nothing to do with any of these combines or private concerns. The recommendations of such a body might involve doubling the "tubes," and would certainly mean a vast expenditure, and no private company would be able to face such a venture. They would probably have to go to the Government for assistance.
987 The point I wish to make is that the matter should be considered now before it is too late. It is no use waiting five or six years to decide it. The traffic will be so frightful then that it will be impossible to carry on at all. Look at what it is to-day. It is almost impossible at times to move in the streets of London, and the reason is the congestion caused by the number of omnibuses—enormous things, which are becoming bigger every day as well as more numerous. There ought not to be any omnibuses in certain parts of London. But at any rate you must provide omnibuses to carry people, for if you do not give them some method of getting in and out of London they would have good reason to protest. I urge that the Committee of which I have spoken should be set up. You cannot work out this problem in a day. It would probably take a year or so, and the Committee would then produce a Report which the Government of the country could consider.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU
My Lords, I have to thank the noble Viscount for his answer, though I am bound to tell him quite frankly that I1 thought it was very unsatisfactory with regard to certain points. The noble and learned Lord opposite did not refer to any single sentence I used or point I made as to what seemed to be a breach of the law, or at any rate of the spirit of the law, in not treating the House fairly about putting the notice on the Table. But I will not elaborate the point.
The statement has been made that the omnibuses pay nothing, or very little compared with the trams. At the present moment every omnibus in London pays £84 a year and under Mr. Churchill's new proposals will pay £108 a year, which will produce something like £500,000 a year. So that it will be seen that they pay a good deal. The noble Viscount, Lord Peel, does not appear to agree, but there are roughly 5,000 omnibuses on the streets to-day and as each of them will have to pay over £100 each, the yield will be roughly about £500,000 a year towards the streets of London. The tramways only pay 15s. a year on each tramcar, so that they cannot complain that they are unfairly treated. It is rather late to argue details with the noble Viscount, but I know that 15s.
988 a year is for the licence. Then the noble Viscount used a most extraordinary argument. He said that one of the reasons against scrapping the tramways was that seven and a half men were employed in connection with a tramcar as against five and a half men employed in connection with a motor omnibus. On that principle the spinning jenny would never have been introduced into Lancashire and we should still be without the tractor and other machinery on our farms. May I point out also that if one form of transport employs more hands than another form of transport it must necessarily be more expensive? There is confusion of thought there, and the possibility of economic disaster. I need not point out that it is not an argument which I regard as tenable.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU
I thought the noble Viscount said that the scrapping of the tramways would put out of employment some 20,000 men because the tramways employed seven and a-half men per tramcar as against five and a-half men employed on each omnibus.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I cannot have made my argument clear upon this point, or else the noble Lord would not have mistaken me. I never said that was a reason for stopping some new form of industry. I merely said that I wished to lay the relevant facts before your Lordships and that before coming to a decision every one of them had to be put before you. I never said what the noble Lord has credited me with saying.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU
I am quite willing to agree that the noble Viscount did not say that the argument was his argument, and may I put it that whoever uses that argument must be ignorant of the economic facts of the case? I move for Papers and I should like to know whether the statistics of traffic which were taken before the Order was drafted and the Regulation was made can be laid on the table of your Lordships' House. I am told they contain very interesting details as to traffic and transport on this road, showing how many omnibuses and tramcars run empty, how many run full, and so on. We never see those statistics, and it would add greatly to our knowledge and might possibly convert some of us if the 989 statistics and papers on which the Regulation was made could be placed before your Lordships' House.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
My Lords, I feel sure that the noble Lord will agree that I cannot give him an absolutely certain answer until I know what those figures are. But I have no doubt my right hon, friend the Minister of Transport will see what can be done in the matter.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.