§ 2.39 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether favourable consideration could be given to amending the Tramways Act, 1870, in so far that certain provisions adversely affect local authorities or undertakings who desire to use trolley vehicles upon any road so as to bring the relevant provisions in line with those concerning road service licences in the Road Traffic Act, 1930.]
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, trolley bus services were deliberately excluded from the licensing provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, which empowers Traffic Commissioners to license other bus services and to control the routes on which they are used. Trolley bus routes, on the other hand, must be approved by Parliament by means of Bill or Order. The 5 equipment and operation of trolley bus routes require the installation of apparatus in the streets and generally affect the ordinary citizen and public bodies to a much greater extent than other bus services affect them. Her Majesty's Government therefore think it fitting that the approval of Parliament should continue to be required for new trolley bus routes. This view accords with the conclusion of the Thesiger Committee which in 1952 examined the licensing of public road passenger services.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, arising out of the noble Lord's reply, may I quote just a few words from paragraph 270 of the Thesiger Committee's Report. The Report said:It is worth considering, however, whether in certain specific matters trams and trolley buses should be treated in the same way as public service vehicles.I would also ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that in this country there are at present only thirty undertakings operating trolley vehicles; and of these nine have notified their intention either to reduce their services or to withdraw trolley buses? Does the noble Lord think this is in keeping with the national interest with regard, for instance, to the load factor, which is a very desirable feature for the atomic power stations, and also from the point of view that trolley vehicles use home-produced fuel?
§ LORD MANCROFT
Yes, my Lords, I am aware of all these facts. But the fact of the matter is that trolley buses are being reduced substantially in figures over a long period for a variety of other reasons. Generally it is considered by operators that the advantages of trolley buses are outweighed by the disadvantages, but for quite different reasons from those mentioned by the noble Lord.