§ 3.9 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYErose to call attention to the working of the traffic warden system; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the Motion that stands in my name on the Order Paper I should like to make clear that I speak as a supporter of the scheme in general, and I only wish that this traffic warden scheme should succeed. There may be questions in the minds of some of your Lordships as to whether we are wise and justified in having a debate so soon, but two months after the scheme has started. I would submit to your Lordships that there are two points of view as regards that question. The first is the point of view that says there should be no debate until a scheme has been going some long time and can be looked at objectively and, as it were, in full. The other point of view is that there should be a debate fairly early in any new scheme such as this in order that any particular weaknesses which have been shown up at the outset should not become built into the scheme and that the faults of the scheme should not become a vested interest. So that is my justification for asking your Lordships to devote a short time to this subject this afternoon.
§ Before I entered the Chamber I obtained a list of speakers and I am privileged to feel that there are no fewer than nine speakers on this Motion. But I 663 noticed that there was no single speaker from the Opposition on the list. I can only conclude that this is for one of two reasons.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me to intervene? I regret that I did not hand in my name in sufficient time for it to be printed, but I intend to speak.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I am delighted to hear it, because I thought either that noble Lords opposite were so innocent in their conduct with motor cars that none had ever come across traffic wardens, or, alternatively. that in the affluent society of to-day we poor drivers on this side of the House have to drive our own cars but noble Lords opposite have not only cars but chauffeurs also.
For the successful execution of this scheme, good will and public support are essential. My main criticism—let me repeat, I make these criticisms in my role of a supporter of the scheme—is the Government failure in the public relations aspect in the introduction of this traffic warden scheme. This may be due, in part, to the curious dichotomy that exists between the Ministry of Transport and the Home Office. The Ministry of Transport state how they think the traffic should be regulated, and the responsibility is then handed over to the Commissioner of Police, under the Home Office, for the fulfilment of the Minister of Transport's ideas and schemes.
The first failure in public relations was in introducing the traffic wardens' operations at the same time as there was introduced the four-month experimental period for loading and unloading. The legislation regarding traffic wardens took effect last April; the traffic wardens' operations started on September 19. It was on that day also. September 19, that the Commissioner of Police, under Section 35 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, under which the Commissioner of Police is empowered to introduce experimental schemes, issued new regulations, with the consent of the Minister of Transport. Inevitably, the traffic wardens have been connected with the faulty workings, or doubtful workings of that experimental period of "No waiting" (about which I will speak in a moment) for private or 664 dual-purpose cars. I think that, to a large extent it started the traffic warden scheme off on the wrong leg, because the traffic wardens had not only to enforce the ordinary parking regulations, which was their main purpose, but also to enforce the experiment, with all the criticisms that that experiment may carry with it.
I think the second failure in public relations was the lack of consultation with authoritative bodies before the new loading and unloading regulations were introduced. Neither the London Traffic Advisory Committee, nor the two motorists' organisations, the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club, were consulted by the Commissioner of Police before these new regulations for loading and unloading were introduced. I admit straight away that there is no obligation upon the Commissioner of Police to conduct such consultations. Nevertheless, as regards such schemes as the Pink Zone in which these organisations had to take an active part, the Commissioner of Police did conduct such consultations, and I believe that it would have been better, in introducing such a far-reaching experiment as was introduced, if the Commissioner of Police had felt himself able to have consultations with these authoritative bodies before the event. I venture to think that these authoritative bodies would have been able to make a useful contribution in the way of advice and publicity. I think their help would have been purely constructive, and I regret that the Commissioner of Police did not feel able to take this step before introducing those regulations
The third public relations failure (as I would call it) was the inadequate public education in these new regulations, which are going to affect the private motorist in particular parts of the London area. There was, it is true, one Press notice and one B.B.C. broadcast on September 9; and there was another short Press notice on September 16. I have them here: but I do not think that that notice was adequate. Any organisation of a commercial character, versed in the technique of modern public relations, would have taken steps to disseminate the information more widely and so gradually educate people as to what they could expect on what I call "S" day—which means summons day.
665 The fourth public relations failure was, I think, contained in the Minister of Transport's reply Ito Mr. Cadbury, who felt it necessary to resign from the consultative body of which he was a member owing to what he called the working of the traffic warden scheme. The Minister of Transport published inThe Timeson October 19 his reply to Mr. Cadbury, in which he regretted, for three reasons, Mr. Cadbury's resignation. If your Lordships read that letter inThe Times,I think you will find that it was rather petulant in tone. The first reason the Minister gave for his regret was that it was wrong to draw a conclusive judgment on the scheme. But my Lords, nobody is drawing a conclusive judgment: otherwise, we should have no debate to-day. What one wants to draw, I think, is an interim view rather than a conclusive judgment.
The second reason the Minister of Transport gave was that the starting of the traffic warden scheme had coincided with these new regulations which the Commissioner of Police had introduced for unloading and loading. That gives me, I think, my point that it was not very good public relations that the two should be coincident. The third point that the Minister made was a fallacious one: that it is for the counts to interpret whether or not the regulations are just. My Lords, it is for the courts to interpret the law; and my criticism would be that it is the law as defined under delegated legislation which is questionable; that the courts are being asked to judge upon delegated legislation of a rather doubtful character.
The Minister of Transport is not backward in his publicity. I think that, of the Ministers in Her Majesty's Government, one would not call the Minister of Transport a man who feels it necessary to stay very much in the background. I think he ought to do better than in his letter to Mr. Cadbury. It would be impertinent for me to say that any Minister was too big for his boots; but in this instance he is certainly too quick on his gears, and perhaps in the future we shall not get: public declarations in that tone, which I do not think are constructive or helpful.
I should like now for a moment to make some criticisms of the regulations 666 these traffic wardens have to enforce, because it is through the introduction of those regulations that the traffic wardens are being exposed to criticisms to which they would not be exposed if there had not been this coincident introduction. The regulations, as your Lordships probably know, state, broadly, that no private car or dual-purpose car may load or unload in any restricted street without previous permission from a police officer, whereas a commercial lorry is allowed to load or unload in a restricted street provided that the time taken is not over 20 minutes. A private car or a dual-purpose car is, however, allowed to load or unload without charge in either a parking meter bay or an unloading bay. I think the Minister will agree that I have defined that aright. That situation gives a great advantage to commercial vehicles because, in practice, to obtain the consent of a police officer to unload is quite impracticable. We all know that the police force is hardworked and under strength, and to require someone to stop his car and go off on a ten4ninutte searching expedition to find a police officer is really tantamount to telling him: "You may not do it."
I think these regulations put an illogical and onerous burden on many motorists to-day. Let us take, for example, a dual-purpose vehicle. There are many what I might call retailers, of the type of houses dealing with dresses and costumes, who follow the practice of using these dual-purpose vehicles; that is to say, a station wagon or a private car which is licensed for private use or goods. To-day they are unable to conduct their normal commercial business. Take the case of a lady who goes to buy a hat. If that hat is delivered to her house in a 3-ton lorry, that lorry is perfectly entitled to draw up in a restricted street arid take twenty minutes in unloading that one hat. Your Lordships may well say "Some hat!" But, at any rate, that is possible. On the other hand, if someone with a station wagon full of his mother-in-law's luggage pulls up in that same street, and the son-in-law dutifully wishes to unload the luggage, he is unable to do so because, if a traffic warden comes along, he will be subject immediately to a ticket. This position of dual-purpose 667 cars is one of those illogicalities in the present experimental scheme which I hope the Minister will tell us will be reviewed at the end of the period.
Now I want to say a word about the enforcement of these present illogical, and I believe in some directions onerous, regulations. And here I find some ambiguity between what was said in another place to Parliament and what are the orders of the Commissioner of Police. During the debates in another place, the Minister of Transport, Mr. Marples, and also the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Renton, both gave clear indications that the use of the ticket system would be discretionary. Under the Rules of Order I must not quote exactly what was said in those debates, but I may paraphrase it for your Lordships. The Minister said, in effect, that a warden is not bound to serve a ticket on a driver with a car that is parked in the wrong place, but only where an offence is clearly seen.
My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon, but I think he is in order in quoting a Minister in the other place.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
Then I stand corrected, and I am delighted, because the words are very nearly the same as I spoke just now. The Minister said on June 1 last [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 624, cols. 1586 and 1587]:We must, however, remember that the use of the ticket system is also discretionary. A warden is not bound to serve a ticket on the driver of a car which is parked in the wrong place, but only in cases where the offence is clearly seen … I hope that in the early stages—I shall pass the views of the House to my right honourable Friend the Home Secretary when next I see him—the Police will treat it cautiously. It is an experiment. We do not want it to fail. It is important that it should get off on the right foot.Then on May 1 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, speaking in Committee, said that a warden:may give an informal warning; there is nothing to stop him from doing that. He has all the rights of a citizen to warn another citizen. He can give his informal warning by telling a motorist where he may park his car if he sees that the motorist has just parked it in a place where parking is not allowed.668 I submit that, in effect, that means that the scheme will be treated reasonably and with a certain amount of discretion in its administration.
Then, inThe Timesof October 3 last, there appeared a paragraph headed, "Wardens defended by Scotland Yard". This article was repeated in many other papers; it was an inspired output from Scotland Yard. In the course of a statement the police spokesman is reported to have said:They have no power under the Act to give permission to park, even for limited periods …I think the House is entitled to ask: Where do we stand as regards the pledge of discretion in the execution of this scheme given by Mr. Marples and Mr. Renton, and the statement by Scotland Yard which I have just quoted to your Lordships that there is to be no discretion at all? Of course, I know that discretion is a difficult thing to define— I admit that straight away. But I submit to your Lordships that in civil law—and I speak in front of those who are far more knowledgeable than I on matters of law—the enforcement of law must depend upon common sense, reasonableness, and acceptance by the public of what is fair and just. For instance, if any of your Lordships throws away a bus ticket, under the Litter Act he is liable to a fine of £5 to £10. But it would be absurd to think that the law should be enforced to that degree. It is a matter of reasonable consent and common sense which governs these matters. But where do we stand on this question? Do we stand with Mr. Marples and Mr. Renton on a reasonable interpretation of discretion, or do we stand with Scotland Yard, that there shall be nothing except rigid application?
There have been many cases brought up in the Press about the result of wardens having no discretion, and I have been at some pains to be quite sure that any case I quote to your Lordships is fully supported by the information that have, which I will give to the Minister if he so wishes. I can furnish the name and address of the person making the complaint, the time and place of the complaint, and I will cite now a few instances to your Lordships. First, a driver urgently needed to use a public 669 lavatory. He stopped at a public convenience and he was ticketed for one minute's stop. The next complaint is as follows. Part of Farm Street is outside the Mayfair parking zone, but a lady who parked her car under the notice which says so was given a ticket. The next case concerns a resident in Grosvenor Square. He garages his car at the Grosvenor House garage, drives to his own premises and stops outside for ten minutes while he goes to his flat. He collects luggage, locks up the premises and returns to the car—to find it ticketed. All parking meter spaces were taken, largely by cars from a neighbouring Embassy.
Then another case: while a driver was explaining to a police constable the reason for leaving his car for a few minutes, a warden proceeded to make out a ticket and even interrupted the conversation to say, "If you don't get it moved quickly, I'll have it towed away". Yet another case: an elderly solicitor living at Upper Brook Street who drives to his own flat to pick up luggage before going on holiday—all the parking meter spaces are filled—gets a ticket for the five-minute period for which his car stood outside his own premises. Then there is this final one. A firm in Princes Street, Hanover Square, has its own loading bay outside premises. A van was being loaded with parcels on a Saturday morning in an empty street. A warden is seen to be watching the loading and he then issues a ticket for five minutes excess over the permitted twenty minutes.
I think it is difficult for the Government to defend a position which allows such examples as I have cited to your Lordships to occur. I have made some criticisms of the public relations; I have made some criticisms of the "No waiting" regulations. I make no attack upon the traffic wardens as a whole, because I believe that most of them are doing their job as well as they can. There are always exceptions in every body of men, but, broadly speaking, as I say, I think they are doing their job. But I do criticise the fact that no discretion is given to them in the interpretation of the regulations and, therefore, such examples as I have given to your Lordships are allowed to occur. However, I believe in the scheme. When 670 the Government come to reply, I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, will feel able, as he always does, to give answers to the points I have made. I am sure we are not going to be treated to one of those "Mrs. Caudle's curtain lectures" which all your Lordships know so well on all traffic debates, as to the gravity of the traffic problem; the almost insoluble difficulties the Minister of Transport is up against; his constant endeavours to overcome them, and his determination to succeed in the end. I hope that we shall not be given that sort of reply, but that we may receive some real answers to the questions I have raised.
But it is no good being critical unless one is also constructive, and I would make the following suggestions to your Lordships, hoping that you will agree that they are reasonable requests to the Government. I suggest the repeal of the discriminatory- loading and unloading regulations made for the experimental period by the Commissioner of Police in the Metropolis and their replacement by regulations which are more, reasonable in their interpretation and which will not allow such occurrences as I have deployed to your Lordships this afternoon. And I suggest that in the introduction of any further experimental regulations there should be consultations with the authoritative bodies before, and not after, such regulations are introduced. Secondly, I suggest that we should require the wardens to exercise a reasonable discretion, as I think was promised to your Lordships in Parliament, but has never been attempted in practice. Thirdly, I feel that increased publicity should be given to the effect of parking meter zones, particularly when the next scheme is introduced in the Westminster, St. James's, area in a few days' time, on November 28. Finally, I suggest that steps should be taken to ameliorate the hardships caused to residents in parking zones by the provision of more temporary parking accommodation on all available sites—and I do not exclude the Horse Guards Parade or the Royal Parks for that purpose.
We do not want to see a new persecuted race growing up in our midst. Motorists are law-abiding people. Motorists are really you and I in our cars. If the Commissioner of Police and 671 the Minister of Transport will accept that they are doing something on the right lines but it is not perfect, and will accept such criticisms as I have been bold enough to make this afternoon and those that no doubt will be made by other noble Lords in the course of the debate, I think we shall have gone some way towards solving what I do not think is an insoluble problem but one which, if tackled with goodwill and co-operation between the Government and the public, is well capable of solution. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.35 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure the House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, for raising this question to-day and giving us an opportunity of debating it. I should like to emphasise that the restrictions in waiting in a parking meter area other than at a parking meter bay are already producing most extraordinary results. In addition to the trouble with the wardens, when the parking, meter system comes into force in the St. James's area on November 28, I presume it will mean that the Prime Minister's car will be unable to set him down at his club for an occasional lunch or a glass of port; and an old lady who arrives in London with a heavy bandbox will be deposited far away from her destination, with no moans of transport for her luggage. In the Mayfair area that position already exists. The fact is that the whole system has not really been properly thought out, and the public are becoming more confused about it every day. We see parking meters being put up on both sides of narrow streets and in many places where a one-way system should be started before the meter system comes into operation. I give to your Lordships, as an example, the position in King Street, where parking meters have been set up on both sides but up to the present time you can park only on one side.
It is true that the regulations governing these meters are experimental, but surely it is time to take a look at them again. I would emphasise that the initial mistake was to introduce simultaneously with the warden system a new ban on loading and unloading private cars except in parking meter bays. That, I 672 think, has been the real trouble. I have no doubt that your Lordships never envisaged such a regulation to harass motorists when Parliament authorised the parking meter system. I think it is true to say that the combination of the Ministry of Transport and the Home Office in these matters has not, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, been a happy one. Together they have ensured a hostile reception for the unfortunate traffic wardens. The traffic wardens' instructions were undoubtedly to allow motorists no latitude at all in the application of the strict letter of the law, with the results which we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye.
The whole question of parking, of course, raises much larger questions. A great deal of nonsense is talked about "keeping traffic moving". In the first place, through traffic through London should not be going through London at all and clogging up the streets, but should be entirely by-passing London. Secondly, a large proportion of London traffic, both private and public, is seeking somewhere to stop—and I would repeat the word "stop"—either to set down or pick up passengers, and provision must be made for it by limited parking other than by parking meter bays; and this might perhaps be by a special bay provided for them. Something must be done in that direction. The all-day parker, of course, does not come into the matter, because he should not be there.
I am sure it is true to say that any city which neglects the interests of the motorists will suffer not only in prestige but also in finance. We are not far short of the day when almost every adult earning a decent wage will own a car. The motorist will be a power in the land, and woe betide any Government or Party that neglects his interests! As a past Chairman of the Automobile Association, the largest organisation for motoring in the world, I am not without some knowledge of these matters. I beg Her Majesty's Government to give heed to the matters that have been raised to-day, and to consult fully with all the traffic authorities concerned before issuing any further regulations and revoking the ones at present in force.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, as they stand, the parking regulations appear to be deliberately aimed at the residents in Mayfair. I am sure that that cannot have been intended by the Government, but that is how it has worked out. The fact is that if you are a resident in Mayfair you cannot stop your car in the street. You arrive at your house with a lot of luggage in the car, and if you stop with the idea of taking it out you are given a ticket. You are not given any advice by the wardens. The other day I found myself in Davies Street, which is no doubt well known to most of your Lordships. I had to go to a shop in Oxford Street, where I expected to be for about ten minutes. I found a traffic warden at the corner of Davies Street and Oxford Street, so I went to him and said, "I have a car here. I have to go to a shop in Oxford Street. Can you advise me where I can put the car so that it will not be in the way or break the law?" "Oh, you cannot put it here", said the warden. I said, "No, I realise that, but I have come to you to find out if you can tell me where I can leave it." He simply said, "I am not allowed to tell you that." That is contrary to what the Minister has already said. I said, "But surely it was stated in Parliament that you were." "Well", he said, "there is a street up there", and he pointed to a street which had a number of private cars, vans and lorries in it. I said, "But that is hopeless. There is no room there. I shall be in the way, and I shall be obstructing the traffic." He said, "I'm sorry, but I cannot tell you where you can go."
That is the way the scheme has worked out. Surely, that is not the way it was intended to work. I have said that the scheme seems to aim at residents in that area. They are the people who are coming off worst under the scheme. I happen to have a mews at the back of my house, and I have a parking bay outside my front door with a parking meter. If I go to the mews I am chased round the mews by a traffic warden or a policeman. What am I to do? I have my own door to the mews but I cannot stop there, not even to get anything out of the car to take inside the house. There are all sorts of anomalies about the scheme. I cannot help thinking that: the whole parking meter scheme was started up by 674 the Minister without due regard to what had been said by Government Committees before the scheme was initiated. It was always stated that parking meters should come in and that there should be some regulation of parking, but not before there was garage accommodation available for the cars which would be displaced from the street. The Minister disregarded that and went ahead with the scheme for the meters. It was suggested to the Minister that it might be much better if he tried out a scheme with parking discs, the advantage of the disc over the meter being that it is much more elastic and can be used to regulate parking just like a parking meter. Practically every city in Europe has gone in for a scheme of parking discs. They operate in Paris and most of the towns in France.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, if the noble Earl will forgive my saying so, he will not forget: that in Paris it involves 36,000 prosecutions a month.
My Lords, may I say, with great respect to the noble Earl, that that is not true. He will hear later about the number of tickets, all of which do not necessarily end with prosecutions. I will give the figures.
§ EARL HOWE
I shave the figures here. However, we can discuss that afterwards. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has given a few instances of the cases which have been brought against the motorist. I should like to give one or two as well. Would the noble Earl who is to reply address himself to this particular case? A motorist parked near a bank at 11.55 on a Saturday morning in order to get to the bank before it closed at twelve noon. He returned in a very short time and found that a warden was writing out a ticket. Is that the sort of procedure the noble Earl supports? A motorist wanted to stop outside an office in Brook Street in order to unload a large parcel weighing nearly a hundredweight. He asked a police sergeant if it was all right to do so, but the sergeant replied that in view of the new regulations as to loading and unloading from private cars he would have to summons him if he did.
675 Again, there is the case of a car in Bond Street with a very heavy parcel inside. The driver and his wife carried the parcel to the shop and returned in six minutes, when they found a parking warden filling in a ticket and putting it on the windscreen. There are many more of these cases; I am quoting only two or three. There is one more I should like to mention. A Mayfair resident garaged his car at a public garage. The vehicle got a ticket while it was standing in the road while the garage, which had several hundred cars to deal with, arranged for parking. It took them thirteen minutes to do that, and the driver was given a ticket and summoned before the magistrate.
Those are cases of the sort which I am sure were never intended by the Ministry or by Scotland Yard. I do not know whether they would wish these cases to be brought, but they have been brought. At present, the position is intolerable from the point of view of the residents in Mayfair, and it is pretty poor for everybody else. The scheme is to be extended on the 28th of this month, and one does not know where the displaced vehicles can go, because the scheme has been started up too soon and there is no garage accommodation available.
I hope that the noble Earl who is to reply for the Government will not take up the attitude that the scheme is absolutely perfect and must stand as it is. I hope he can give us some assurance that it will be treated reasonably. Let our complaints be investigated, and if they are perfectly good complaints let them be considered and let us see whether we cannot make out of this scheme something which will work to the satisfaction of everybody.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, I wonder whether he could fill in some more detail of the cases he has given us, and tell us how much dislocation of traffic was involved by the parking of these cars?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I think that is perfectly satisfactory, but if the noble Earl is going to quote to the House cases of people being hard done by through being ticketed for parking, I think he ought to give both sides and tell us exactly how much dislocation of the traffic in the streets was caused by their parking, even if for only a short time.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, may I remind the Minister that one case I quoted, of which I have full details, was in an empty street?
§ 3.50 p.m.
My Lords, many of the points I wished to make this afternoon have already been put, and with some vigour, in this debate, so I will not reiterate them. I shall only agree that in presenting this scheme and trying to win public co-operation, at least at the outset, the Government have shown a certain ineptness. It was also an obvious mistake, and I think it is very fully admitted by the authorities concerned now, to introduce the new and rather radical loading and unloading regulations just at the same moment as the warden and ticket scheme. Again I should like to say how fully I endorse the view that this system, good or bad, does not really touch the fundamentals of the London traffic problem. The contribution which it can make in any case can only be marginal.
While on this rather general ground may I ask a couple of questions? First of all, I believe that, so far as off-street parking is concerned, the real need is for more and larger garages on the periphery of the central London area. But there is also a need for more smaller garages well distributed within the central area. I should like to ask what is being done to encourage their provision. The St. James's area, for example, is about to be metered and wardened; and there, I understand garage space has actually been lost in the past years. Are the Government encouraging the Westminster City Council to do something effective to help the position there? Apart from the Horse Guards Parade, what about the bombed sites in the area? Cannot some of those sites, even at this late date, be pre-empted for providing multi-storey garages before they are 677 "Clored and Cottoned" into office buildings?
My second question relates more directly to the traffic warden system. We have heard much of late, and rightly so, about plans to increase the number of through-routes through London on which no parking and no waiting will be permitted. But why is the follow-up to this taking so long? Take the Cromwell Road, an obvious and suitable example. Should not this now be a "clearway". at least from Exhibition Road westwards; and would not wardens be just the right sort of people to see to the enforcement of some such scheme?
Having said that, I should like to enter three reservations to what I think most of the speakers before me in this debate have said. I am not at all convinced that the new regulations for loading and unloading in the metered zones are fundamentally wrong and that they should be withdrawn after an experimental period. They undoubtedly cause hardship to some individuals and perhaps they can be improved. But I wonder if they do not pass the Berthamite test of contributing to the greatest convenience of the greatest number. Again, it is clear I think, that initially the wardens—or should I say some wardens in some cases?—acted with undue rigidity and not with the discretion which we had every reason to believe, to judge by ministerial statements in both Houses, would be vested in them But that was the early days. It is certainly my impression, and it has been confirmed by talking both to the authorities and, I must admit, to several wardens, that they are now interpreting their instructions with a very fair measure of courtesy, flexibility and common sense. And I say that despite what I must admit are very telling instances produced by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye.
Above all it seems to me we must remember the point of the scheme. It was to help to get traffic flowing. Judged by this yardstick has it succeeded? I believe that there has been a very distinct improvement in the flow of traffic in the metered and wardened zones where this scheme is in force. I have no statistical evidence to prove this; I have only the evidence of my own eyes. But one has only to look at the traffic in Mayfair, where this scheme is working, 678 and then in Soho, where it is not, arid see the difference. And those taxi drivers to whom I have spoken—and they, above all, should be in a good position to judge—have, by and large, confirmed the observation of my own eyes; and I ask your Lordships to bear in mind that nothing is more difficult than to get any London taxi driver to admit to any improvement in London traffic at any time. I myself, therefore, whatever the motorists' organisations may say, do not think that this improvement should be lightly sacrificed. In short, I should like to make it quite clear that I think the wardens are a good thing, and I hope they will be with us for a long time over increasing areas of London and other cities.
Since I believe that in the long run the traffic warden will be just as much part of the scene as the "bobby," perhaps just as esteemed, I should like briefly to turn your Lordships' attention to certain aspects of their organisation. First a word with regard to numbers. Of the original brave but unsung, unhonoured, band of some 49, there are now 46 left with us, and I understand that another 18 or so are in—please forgive the ex-pression—the training pipeline. These numbers seem to me to be quite inadequate. The wardens are already hard pressed, both outside and inside this House. They will have the St. James's area to cope with on November 28; then the Christmas rush will be upon us. Also I should have thought that, in order to secure uniformity, this scheme should be extended to the Marylebone and Holborn areas where it is not at present working—or wardens are not. Sooner or later, metered parking is bound to spread outwards through London; it will have to if we wish matters improved. All this will mean many more wardens. Could the noble Earl who is to reply let us know what the Government's recruiting policy is. I do not ask him to be as precise as Mr. Watkinson at Devizes. Nevertheless, some indication of what the Government have in mind would be helpful.
That brings me to the question of pay. One reason, I think the main reason, why recruitment to this new force is rather "sticky", as I believe it is at present, is pay. The fully-fledged traffic warden receives, I think, £565 a year 679 flat—about £11 a week. But this compares with a minimum rate of £595—and I stress that it is a minimum rate—for a parking meter attendant in Holborn or Marylebone. The disparity, in my view, is unjust and must discourage recruitment. After all, the traffic warden's lot is not a very happy one. As the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, said in this House in July—and I quote his words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 224, col. 1069]:I ask your Lordships to remember that this job of traffic warden will be a fairly arduous job, with long hours on one's feet in various sorts of weather and possibly not too pleasant conditions.In the circumstances, I should like to ask whether there is not a strong, case for raising their pay to at least £595 a year, and is there not also a strong case, in order to give incentive to good performance and experience, for providing some increment?
Thirdly, status. The wardens have taken a lot of hard knocks from members of the public and the Peers, and much of the criticism, I believe, has been rather rough and perhaps a bit unfair. What has struck me is how good-naturedly, on the whole, those wardens to whom I have spoken have taken this criticism; and now that things are shaking down, as I believe they are, I believe that we should do what we can to encourage this new force and give it someesprit de corps.In this respect may I put a couple of suggestions very tentatively, to the noble Earl who is replying? The first concerns promotion. This is an army, as I understand it composed entirely of privates. That may be understandable at present, but as the force develops, as develop it will, should not some provision be made for supervisory ranks within it for the incentive of possible promotion? We cannot, I suppose, make it possible for each warden to carry an inspector's baton in his knapsack, but perhaps we should provide for an N.C.O.'s stripe. My second suggestion concerns decor. The present uniform of the warden is a rather triste affair. Could not Scotland Yard and Savile Row put their heads together and devise something better?
My Lords, I have spoken quite long enough. I should like to end on another note of decor. True, the traffic warden is no Beau Brummel; but nor is the 680 machine he so dutifully tends—that beastly traffic meter. If we are not to have neat little discs, I suppose we are bound to have more clumsy parking meters, so that, square by square, London will increasingly assume the appearance of Sioux City or some other mid-West town. May I illustrate this aversion—I confess that it is a personal aversion—to the parking meter on a personal note? One of my closest friends is a young gentleman called Bertie. Bertie is a most fastidious pug dog who I feel confident would insinuate himself into the good graces of the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn. Like most dogs he has a predilection for the lamp post. Being discriminating, he has a marked preference for the elegant Victorian variety; but he always turns up his nose at a parking meter. Seriously, could not the Government do the same and try their best to introduce a more elegant variety of parking meter?
§ 4.2 p.m.
My Lords, when I came out of my office in Mayfair this morning I saw outside a traffic warden. Fortunately, he was not after me because I have been lucky enough to find a parking place for my car on private ground, the whereabouts of which I shall certainly not disclose to your Lordships. But I thought it was rather a coincidence; I passed the time of day with this warden, and told him that we were going to have this debate this afternoon. His reply was, "Thank God you are going to talk about something sensible at last!"
It seems to me that there are two important points which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has raised. The first is this question of unloading private and dual-purpose vehicles. My office is in the centre of the dress trade, and there are many small vehicles in use. In the particular case that I have in mind a car was conveying nurses' uniforms which had to be unloaded. It seems to me quite illogical that a heavy vehicle should be allowed to stand for twenty minutes, but that a car or a dual-purpose vehicle should not be able to wait at all. Can we not have a compromise about this? Probably most light vehicles could unload their cargo in five to ten minutes. Would it not be better to give them that amount of time instead of no time at all? I think it would be unreasonable to give them twenty minutes. Would not 681 the noble Earl consider whether such a compromise might not be effected?
The other point I should like to take up is about discretion. When bringing in the scheme of wardens the Minister said that they would have certain discretion. I gather that the orders which they have been given by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police allow them no discretion. I think there is a reason for that—namely, that the police authorities are afraid that if discretion is allowed to them it might create an opening for corruption. A number of instances have been given in regard to which, to my mind, no ticket should have been given. But if it is absolutely obligatory on the traffic warden to give a ticket on every occasion, irrespective of the circumstances, could he not put in a report to the police when he returns from duty, giving the circumstances? He would he able to tell the person involved, "I am bound to give you a ticket, but I will report the special circumstances when I return to the police station "or to wherever he returns—" and you may receive a letter asking you to return the ticket." That seems to me to be a way of getting over the possible difficulty in regard to giving discretion.
I should like to say to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that. I do not think we have been criticising the wardens to-day. I do not think there has been a single speech criticising them, either for their manners or for anything else. We are criticising the orders which they are given. I believe that those orders can be modified, thus greatly improving public relations. As the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has said, this is not a big subject, and I do not propose to detain your Lordships any longer. I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to my noble friend for raising this matter to-day.
§ 4.6 p.m.
§ LORD WOLVERTON
My Lords, I should like to say at the outset that I support the scheme. I wish to raise only one point—namely, that I think the areas comprising these parking meter zones should be better marked out in regard to where one cannot park. When one comes into the parking meter zone, on leaving Oxford Street one sees a big notice saying that you are now entering a parking meter zone. Thus one knows 682 that one must park at a meter. But the law has been somewhat altered by parking meters because, in a ruling that the Lord Chief Justice gave a few years ago in a test case concerning parking on the Embankment, I think I am right in saying that he said that you were obstructing the highway if you were parking anywhere, even if there was a free flow of traffic such as there is along the Embankment, with two cars going either side and a row of parked cars. But the law has been altered, and Parliament has thought flit to let off parking space on Her Majesty's highways for sixpence an hour. I feel that in the areas where one is allowed only to set down and pick up there should be not only a yellow line, but such round notices as are often put up in provincial towns, saying "No parking", or, if the law is going to be altered, "Twenty minutes' parking".
Being a member of a county council and on the roads and bridges committee and the inspection sub-committee, I have had some experience of these matters. I have spent some time going round with other members and meeting the local authorities who are asking the county council to put up these "No waiting" or "Twenty minutes parking" notices, and so on. One of the difficulties we come across is that if absolutely no parking at all is allowed one cannot legally go into a shop to pick up groceries, because one may be two or three minutes in the shop. One is allowed only to set down and to pick up. The only reasonable regulation is one allowing twenty minutes' parking, which of course we have heard quite a lot about this afternoon in connection with trade vans, which have that discretion although the dual-purpose cars have not. I feel that the marking of these parking areas should be better achieved. I may be told that if notices are going to be put up all over London it does not make for good planning. But people come into London who do not know about these regulations in regard to parking areas and areas where they cannot park except at meters, and I think these areas should be better marked out. That is the only point I wish to make this afternoon.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, may I, too, add my word of praise to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye for 683 initiating this debate this afternoon, despite the fact that only 60 days have passed since the first traffic wardens started their duties in the West End of London. There are only two aspects of the working of the traffic warden system upon which I wish to touch this afternoon, although I propose to say a few words on the experimental scheme of traffic control which has already been mentioned by noble Lords, and also on the question of the duration of the prescribed standard parking period, which at the moment in most areas seems to be two hours.
I would say at the outset that I feel that the traffic wardens have been operating at a disadvantage in so far as so little publicity has been given to the various regulations in force; where they are in force, to whom they apply, and why, and so forth. That point has been touched on extremely ably by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, so I will say no more on that. I feel, however, that the lack of publicity and public relations is a serious matter. How many drivers are aware of the details of the Statutory Instruments which affect London's traffic? I should imagine that very few drivers in London are aware of the complicated details of these regulations
To take one example, I should like to mention Statutory Instrument No. 514 of 1960, which deals with the regulation of London traffic. Section 3 (a) states that no vehicle may wait more than 20 minutes in any restricted street between 11 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. for 'the collection or delivery of goods or merchandise. Paragraph (c) of the same section goes on to say:No vehicle shall wait in any part of a restricted street specified in the Second Schedule to these Regulations".Then, further on, under Section 4 (c) and (d) it is stated that, provided that notice is given to the police 24 hours beforehand, and consent obtained, certain loading or unloading may take place. Finally, under Section 4 (k) it is said that none of these restrictions shall apply to anyone acting with the permission of a police constable in uniform, who may be on the spot, but, as noble Lords have said, may not. It seems to me that all this is a very entangled question. I believe 684 that, in general, an insufficient amount of information has been made available to drivers through the medium of the Press. That point was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, who said that there were just two Press releases before the scheme came into operation. New regulations are constantly coming into force, especially at the moment, with a view to solving London's traffic problem. It is right that these regulations should come into force, but the public should know of them. There is no doubt that at the moment the average motorist does not know the why or wherefore of these regulations.
With regards to signs, there are old signposts in the streets which are still conflicting with new ones. It would appear that residents in the West End are still allowed to place their own signs on the pavement, although parking in that area is controlled by meters. Sometimes the combination of the old and the new signs is confusing. At other times it may just be untidy. I feel, too, that it should not be necessary for traffic wardens to have to advise motorists on parking. The main information should be clearly signposted, although some noble Lords may feel that that might add to the number of posts on the pavement. I believe, too, that the number of parking meters could be cut down by having dual meters—that is, one pillar to serve two meters.
Also, with a view to simplification and the avoidance of unfair discrimination—and I gather some noble Lords have felt that there was discrimination in this matter—could serious consideration be given to withdrawal of this completely illogical scheme which also came into force on September 19 affecting waiting by private cars and dual-purpose vehicles? I would ask my noble friend Lord Bathurst what logic there is in allowing delivery by, or unloading of, a commercial vehicle in a parking meter zone and not allowing a private car or dual-purpose vehicle to do the same. In other words, greater facilities are available to deliver heavy machinery in the heart of London than to deliver a small carton of urgently needed pharmaceutical products. Why discriminate against two types of vehicle which, by their width and length, take up less road space? If this recent police regulation cannot be 685 withdrawn now, it would seem reasonable to request Her Majesty's Government to reduce the prescribed parking period.
It may be that the correct number of meters have been placed in the parking meter area. Like other noble Lords (and I believe this was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe) I feel that since parking meters have been installed there has been an improvement in the flow of traffic. But, like him, I can judge only by my eyes. I have no statistical information to bear this out. What is certain I think, is that the two-hour period is too long. I am sure my noble friend Lord Bathurst will agree with me when I say that it is extremely difficult to find a metered bay available in the West End of London in the middle of the day; and two hours is certainly too long for a normal business appointment, for visiting someone or for calling at a shop. These meters should be for the short-term parker, not the medium-tern' parker, as instanced by an article which appeared in theEvening Newson November 3, written by a Mr. W. R. Paulson. The article was headed: "Police Step in to Stop Parking Racket—Meter-Feeding Dodge". During observations in the Berkeley Square area by this gentleman he saw five cars parked for over three hours, without the penalty notice appearing on the meter. According to the author of this article this practice is due to a shortage of traffic wardens; and no doubt that is the case.
I would, therefore, again urge Her Majesty's Government to take concrete action for the recruitment and training of women traffic wardens. I have raised this matter before but I feel that it might assist in improving the relationship which appears to exist at present between traffic wardens and the motoring public. The increased number of traffic wardens would also considerably alleviate this problem of "meter-feeding" in the West End, and would also assist in enforcing a non-discriminatory 20 minutes' loading period. I believe, too, that it is important that persons of the right calibre should be recruited.
It is also important that traffic wardens should be instructed to use more freely any discretionary powers which they may have. That point has been mentioned by a number of noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, 686 referred to a statement made by Mr. Renton, the Government spokesman in another place, for the Home Office, on May 5 last. There seem to me to be four ways in which traffic wardens can take action again motorists: they can give an informal warning; they can summon a police constable; report an incident or serve a ticket notice. Judging by complaints received by the motoring organisations, and those which have been mentioned during to-day's debate, it would seem that far too few informal warnings have been given and far too many incompletely justifiable tickets served. I know that a certain number of traffic wardens, possibly the majority, are extremely courteous. But I feel there are still one or two cases where they could be more courteous, more reasonable and more helpful, like the average police constable.
While on this question of attracting the right type of person I feel that the question of adequate pay (here I agree with everything my noble friend Lord Jellicoe said) and satisfactory conditions of employment is highly important. It seems to me that in the past this matter has not been seriously gone into or, at least, it would not appear to have been gone into, if one can judge by this article to which I referred earlier and from which I should like to quote to your Lordships again. The writer says:Of the original force of 38 meter attendants only 7 volunteered to join the traffic wardens and 4 of those left for other jobs. Of the 50 traffic wardens' force formed five weeks ago 34 remain. The second intake of 20 fell to 11 when they began duty this week and to-day"—that was November 3—only 48 traffic wardens were on duty to patrol 2,000 meters in the area. One of the men told me ' we were getting £12 12s. 0d. a week plus overtime as meter atendants. As traffic wardens watching the meters as well as the cars at the kerbside the pay is only £10 16s. 0d. a week though they have agreed to make our pay up to keep us.'This certainly stresses, I think, that the question of pay and so forth should have been gone into to a greater extent than it would appear to have been gone into at the early stages when the scheme came into force. With more attractive pay it may be that a more suitable type of person would be attracted. With those final words I heartily support the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye.
§ 4.24 p.m.
My Lords, I have always been all in favour of traffic wardens and, with the long experience I have of the efficiency, the common sense and the courtesy of the A.A. scouts, I always hoped that the motoring organisations themselves would be asked to produce traffic wardens. The Government did not see eye to eye with me in that matter and they have adopted another scheme. I think there is no reason why that should not be successful. After all, the wardens who look after the zebra crossings for school children and do their work very efficiently are popular, and I do not see why these new traffic wardens should not become popular, too. But at the moment it seems that they are rather the victims of the system that they are asked to enforce.
I should like to tackle this matter more at the root. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, has just left, because he intervened in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Howe, and asked him what the traffic conditions were in the streets from which he brought instances of failure on the part of traffic wardens. His observation was very pertinent and I should like to go into it a little more deeply. The fact is that the Tory Party, who from time immemorial have been supposed to have as one of their principles the defence of private property, have singularly changed, as have the Government in that respect, because the real root of the matter is that, either by regulation or by law, parking is being permitted along most streets. That is deliberately taking away the property of the house owner. The house owner has paved the street, made it and kept it in repair, and he has a right to go in his own front door and to come out of it in to the street and into his own vehicle. And that is precisely what has been taken away from him by law and by regulation. That is the reason why the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, was pertinent—because of the condition in the streets.
No compensation at all has been given, so far as I know, to the house owner. A man may not get out of his car at his own front door. If I find a man collapsed in the street and take him into my car, and if he says, "For heaven's sake! drive me to my house 688 in a certain area", and I drive him there to get a restorative, and I stop to let him out, I am breaking the law. That was brought very much to my attention not long ago when, having carefully taken a driver with me, I stopped for half a minute at the Carlton Club to put out a man, intending to go straight on. I was tackled by a traffic constable who told me I had absolutely no right to do that. I told him what I was doing and he said, "Yes, but you have no right to do that." The matter ended in the most friendly way; it was all settled perfectly well. I took it, naturally, to headquarters and it was agreed that the law, strictly speaking, was that you might not stop at the Carlton Club; it was quite wrong; but that common sense was to be used in such a case.
My Lords, we make the law. The police have to enforce it; and the only common-sense, sensible way in which the law we make can be enforced is by its being uplifted at the will of the policeman. That is utterly wrong and it is a fault of ours—the fault of the Government—and some remedy should be applied to it. I think the position probably is that if I took my friend who has collapsed in my private car and stopped at his house I might get a ticket, but if he was taken in a taxi that would probably not be so. I do not think that there are any different regulations for taxis, but one has the feeling, though I may be wrong, on the principle that "Corbies dinna pike oot ither corbies' een". However, I know that if I want to go to the Carlton Club I always go in a taxi and leave my car here. It seems to me, therefore, that the Statute that governs this matter should be reconsidered by the Government to remedy defects of that kind, and that the regulations should also be carefully scrutinised so that they may be exactly carried out and so that one is not told, "This is the law, but common sense indicates that the law should not be observed".
§ 4.29 p.m.
My Lords, I want to intervene for only a few minutes. I am concerned mainly with the views taken in this country, as compared with countries abroad, connected with traffic problems. A little earlier this year I came back to this country having driven my car to Paris. I do not know how 689 many of your Lordships have been over in France and have experienced its troubles. A certain number of Continental cities, including Paris, are suffering with traffic problems at the present time in a chronic way. Having arrived back in this country, one at once started to realise how, in a very short while, the situation has improved enormously in the centre of London, at any rate, since the traffic warden system came into being.
This afternoon this House has gone into a considerable amount of detail about the workings of the traffic warden system, and I would ask your Lordships to cast your minds a little forward and to think of the overflow of traffic that is taking place now from the area which is already being worked under the wardens' control down towards the Knightsbridge and Chelsea areas of London. In those areas, you have started to get parking, their cars people who previously parked in great numbers in the centre of London and the West End. They are now all parking down in those non-restricted streets; they are cluttering the streets up in great numbers; and one sees this flow going on in all directions. I am certain that the Government have in mind that these areas will in time all come within the area of the traffic warden system. It is something that one is always trying to catch up on.
Within a few days, certainly, of the regulations for traffic wardens coming into force, one started to see an improvement in the West End area of Landon; but I think that, if any of your Lordships drive or walk round the areas of Knightsbridge, where the big stores are, and in Chelsea, where there are now a great many stores and offices, you will find that the traffic there is reduced at times to one-lane traffic. Whole blocks of cars are being held up, quite unable to pass in the normal flow of traffic because both sides of the street are packed solid with parked cars. This is something which Her Majesty's Government must keep in mind in the very near future, because this flow will go on, and as the traffic warden area is extended, these people will park further out and we shall get congestion going on further afield.
There is one other thing which I should like to say, although it does not really come deeply within the scope of 690 this Motion. I think that the question I of the Harley Street area must be reconsidered. This is an area as to which, I believe, the doctors were asked to cooperate, and, so far, they have sat silent and done nothing more about it; but I think that some scheme, possibly in the realms of what has already been provided, must come into force in that area, because at the present time, very often, neither doctors nor patients can get anywhere near the various consulting rooms that they are trying to reach. This is becoming an appalling problem. Doctors find themselves hours late, very often, in getting back from hospitals to their consulting rooms; and,vice versa,patients who have possibly made the fatal mistake of trying to bring their car into the area find themselves circulating in an ever-increasing circle, trying to find somewhere to park, and then probably having to tear back half an hour or three quarters of an hour late for an appointment with a doctor, From all angles, this does not improve relationships between doctors and patients.
I will end by saying that I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said about the question of the dress of the wardens. Now that we all know what they look like, and also know the good work they are doing, I think that possibly some form of imaginative dress might be produced for these men which is slightly more in keeping with the responsible task that they have to perform.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I had not intended to take part in this debate on coming down to your Lordships' House, for the rather quaint reason that I have nothing new to say; but two points have been made during the course of this debate on which I should like to comment. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, had no reason to apologise for bringing forward this Motion merely because this scheme is an experiment. It is a controversial matter; but nothing which the Minister could have done to try to solve this problem would have been anything but controversial. Nothing he does will please everybody. The only way he can possibly get unanimity is to do nothing, and then he will be heartily criticised—and rightly so.
691 My right honourable friend has attempted to put forward one solution of this problem by the introduction of traffic wardens, and that scheme we are now examining. I hope that the noble Earl will pass to my right honourable friend the suggestions which have been made for improvements, and I am certain that he will accept them in the spirit in which they have been made. But, by and large, I think that this experiment has been a brave success, although there is room for improvement. One point which we must bear in mind is that this scheme cannot be taken in isolation: as one of the solutions to this appallingly difficult problem, it must be considered in conjunction with four or five other schemes. One of the schemes with which it must not be considered is the disc scheme that exists in Paris. Now I do not wish to get into an argument with my noble friend Lord Howe, because I know from long experience that getting into an argument with my noble friend Lord Howe is like getting into a bell tent and having it collapse on you. Nobody actually gets hurt, and you wonder why you were fool enough to get into it in the first place.
My noble friend Lord Tenby, who was Secretary of State for the Home Department when I had the honour to be his Under-Secretary of State, will bear me out when I say that the Paris police are convinced that that scheme would not work in London. First, it would mean far too many prosecutions for the English conscience, as I have already explained; secondly, it requires far too many men to administer it; and, thirdly, it is based upon streets which are nearly twice as wide as our own London streets. The scheme will not work in London: but the things we must bear in mind as those which should be taken in conjunction with this scheme are, first of all, more garages—and here I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Jellicoe in his desire for the subject to be taken up before they are, as he said, "Clored and Cottoned" out of existence.
I would beg my noble friend to be more insistent that new buildings which are going up should contain garages to consume their own traffic. A new block of flats has just been put up at the corner of Bryanston Square and Montagu Square, where I live—Wyndham Court 692 by name. It consists of fifteen luxury fiats which will have fifteen luxury cars—probably Rolls-Royces bought out of the money made by people who held Ford shares—and those fifteen cars will clutter up the whole of that street, which is already cluttered; but the Government did not insist upon garage accommodation being built into those blocks. Would 'the noble Earl be kind enough to ask the Minister of Housing and Local Government to strengthen and tighten the rules about new blocks of flats containing garages to consume their own traffic?
As an experiment, two or three nights ago I made eight telephone calls—and I should be very much obliged if the noble Earl will let me have back the price of those calls—round the garages in our area; and, on a wet, rainy night in the rush hour, there was accommodation within 300 yards of me for over 500 cars—that is, accommodation available on payment, not free. But why was it not taken up my Lords? Because you can still park in the streets "for free", because there are still not enough parking meters. This marches straight in with the traffic wardens' problem. Their problem will be eased when there are more meters, and the garages will then be able to come into their own.
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, warmed our hearts with his own tragedy in Curzon Street, and I sympathise with him, because I suffer from exactly the same thing. As I have frequently told your Lordships. I have been told by the police that I cannot, without committing an offence, park outside a house in which I have lived for 46½ years; but here I have been luckier than the noble Earl. Lord Howe, because the last time I was told this by the police—a young policeman of seventeen, who was extremely polite—I said to "Can you tell me, therefore, where I can park?" He thought for a bit, and then he said, "Yes—Croydon Airport".
My Lords, there is one last feature which must be taken into consideration. Down the Cromwell Road they are busy knocking down houses at the corners of awkward intersections, and widening the road at notorious bottlenecks. That, of course, is absolutely right. I would ask the noble Lord to press on with that work. It is the bottleneck intersections which are causing the traffic jams to pile 693 up, left, right and centre; and more ruthless use of the right to open up awkward corners will be of great advantage. These are not isolated points; they all add up to a composite solution. The traffic wardens cannot be considered as a problem isolated from awkward corners and garage accommodation, both public and in private flats, and from an extension of the meter system. All the noble Lord can possibly do which will be wrong is to do nothing. I beg him hot to be discouraged by the slight criticism which has been levelled against his right honourable friend the Minister of Transport, who occasionally asks for it but does not seem to mind it very much, and I again ask him to bear in mind that the only thing he can do which will be universally condemned is nothing.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ LORD CITRINE
My Lords, although my name is not down on the list of speakers, as I believe that no one has spoken from this side of the House I should like to make some observations on the subject before us. I was one of those who supported the appointment of traffic wardens, and even to-day I can see no answer to the necessity for their appointment. I do not know whether there would be any noble Lords who would challenge the necessity for some such system. As I remember the debate when the matter was first considered in this House, I think the main concern of noble Lords was whether this was a duty which ought to be performed by the overloaded police force or whether there should be some supplementation in the form of a traffic warden system.
While it is perfectly true that there have been a series of complaints about the exercise of discretion, or the absence of discretion, on the part of traffic wardens, I think it has not disturbed at all the basic need for a system of traffic wardens. I think complaints are to be expected where a new system is being introduced, particularly when in the operation of that system there is already a certain body of public irritation and ill-will, because of the necessary restrictions entailed in traffic regulation. I think it is to be expected that there will be mistakes made and that there will be all kinds of excesses of authority on occasion; but I believe that that kind 694 of thing passes in course of time and experience, and with the kind of influence which can be brought to bear by the support of this House of the Motion which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye.
But to me—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, followed this same point—the traffic warden system and the complaints which arise from it are simply a symptom of a much deeper problem, a problem which up to date, so far as I know, has not been tackled. I cannot, for the life of me, see how we can go on turning out from the motor-car factories of this country a growing volume of cars every year without some kind of collision between that output and the inadequacy of our road facilities to meet that increased output. It seems to me that although valiant efforts are being made, particularly by the building of trunk roads, there are serious limits to those efforts, and traffic congestion in the cities themselves will remain with us for a very long time, even if the most careful attention is afforded to this problem.
Conscious as we all must be of the limitations which are imposed upon the Government and upon local authorities in dealing with this problem in already congested cities, I should like to pay tribute to whoever is responsible, whether the London County Council or some other body, for that imaginative scheme in Hyde Park which, to my mind, already shows that congestion can be relieved during peak hours. I have only one regret about it, and that is that there has not been a sufficiency of imagination on the part of those associated with the scheme in giving the necessary publicity to what they are trying to do. Instead of a bewildered populace day by day seeing mounds of earth being moved and materials piled up in all directions without any knowledge what it is all about, I think they could have taken a leaf out of the book of the people building the new hotel in Park Lane and given some diagrammatic or pictorial explanation of what the scheme really involves.
My own view is that the provision of adequate garage space in London to alleviate this problem is only a partial solution and one which cannot proceed very quickly. I cannot think that the various 695 bombed sites, for example, can all be taken up with providing garage accommodation. I should have thought that the value of those building sites was such as to make it quite improbable that any more than a very limited number could be used in that way. It seems Ito me that we are trying to approach this problem in our cities on the principle of restrictions, and restrictions, necessary though they are, must always be extremely irritating, particularly to those who suffer from them. It is quite patent, despite the existence of the regulations with regard to unloading and delivery and the vigilance of the police, that those restrictions are being violated every day. Anyone who drives around London can see that there is always a certain number of people who are chancing their arm, as it were, in the belief that with the present insufficiency of police, on the law of averages, they will not be caught in the act of parking illegally.
My own view, such as it is worth, as an ordinary pedestrian and also as a motorist, is that there will have to be more adequate restrictions with regard to loading and unloading than there are at the present time. I am now referring almost exclusively to commercial vehicles loading and unloading in busy thoroughfares. I think we shall have to follow the example of certain cities in the United States and prohibit that kind of thing at an even earlier hour than at present.
This sort of thing has really become a farce. Anyone who is engaged in business activities in the centre of London must find it most difficult to regulate those activities owing to the kind of restrictions now imposed. Time and time again I—and I am sure I am one of thousands—have been embarrassed when I have asked for a car provided by my organisation for a certain time, and have then found the driver has turned up on time, but because I was a minute or two late he has added to the existing traffic congestion by having to drive round the block. I am sure that that is taking place hundreds of limes; and with all those cars moving round in that way, can it be argued that they are really relieving congestion, apart altogether from the upsetting of people's business 696 arrangements? I try to discipline my life in as reasonable a way as I can, but I find I cannot always be outside my office door at the precise moment I have asked a car to be there. There is a certain system of intimidation going on. Chauffeurs and others are always in mortal fear of being handed a ticket or being summoned. I am talking about men of unblemished record in that respect who are most sensitive to that sort of thing.
I feel that the kind of restrictions we have are really missing the boat. I am now referring to a certain type of restriction which I doubt can really be effective. With regard to parking meters, how can they contribute to the relief of congestion? I do not know, but I expect that there are members of the business community who can quite easily shoulder the financial responsibilities attached to putting a coin periodically in a parking meter. I do not know whether it could be held that such payments were a legitimate charge on one's business. It might be found to be so. I doubt whether the parking meters themselves will contribute materially to the relief of congestion. We have to face the fact—and in this respect the Minister of Transport in another place some time ago put his hand on the problem—that the main congestion in London is caused by a comparatively small number of people. If you lock around at night, in particular, when the congestion is very bad on Constitution Hill, and around that desperate roundabout that now exists opposite St. George's Hospital, where it is almost as much as one's life is worth to go in a car into the mlêlée, you realise that in almost every car there is only one person.
It is a difficult thing to make concrete suggestions which would be acceptable in removing that. I personally am hopeful that the Government will consider—if they have not already considered it—some system of licensing and some schedule of priorities. I think that some such system will have to come, whereby people who, in the view of the competent authorities, are engaged on essential work in the centre of London, and possibly other cities, too, will be permitted to use their vehicles for that purpose, 697 and others whose business cannot be considered in the same light will be required to keep their vehicles out of London and these other cities.
I know that that at once awakens all the objections to the hateful restriction that this kind of thing means, but I should like to hear someone—not, perhaps, in this debate but at some time—who has any kind of fundamental solution to this problem. The traffic will grow and grow and grow, and I do not believe it will be possible, with the best will in the world, to provide the accommodation for these cars, either by widening streets (and widening streets is an expensive and very slow business, involving compensation to owners of property and that kind of thing) or by The provision of garages. My personal opinion is—and I feel sure that I am saying something which will be unpopular—that this problem of priorities will have to be faced, sooner or later.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE
My Lords, I apologise for intruding on your Lordships' time after a somewhat lengthy debate, but I do so as that very rare bird, or a comparatively rare bird—namely, a householder in the heart of Mayfair. I should like to refer to a point already made by the noble Lords, Lord Teynham, Lord Howe, Lord Gifford and Lord Saltoun, about the discrimination that is exercised at the moment between private and dual-purpose cars, on the one hand, and commercial vehicles, on the other. I should also like to appeal for a wider measure of discretion to be given to these traffic wardens. I live in a comparatively narrow street, called Gilbert Street, running between Oxford Street and Brook Street. There are only about six or eight houses in the whole street, and I am, I think, the only remaining entirely private householder there. If I do not bore your Lordships, I should like to quote to you a personal example which happened a week ago
I left my car overnight in a parking meter space on the opposite side of the road to my house and at 8.30 a.m. someone from my house went out and put sixpence in the meter. I was due to leave my house at 9.30, or soon after, for a business appointment. I took my car out of the parking meter space at the 698 appointed time, and backed it across the road to the door of my house to go in to collect my papers. As I came out there was a traffic warden by the car, fingering it and studying everything very carefully. I said: "What are you doing here?" He said: "You have left your car in an unauthorised area; you are not allowed to park here at all, even for two minutes." I said: "I am sorry. I have lived in this house for something like 40 years, and I fail to see why I should not leave my car here while I go into the house to collect my papers and hat and coat, and come back and then go off." He said "That may be so, but those are my strict orders." I said: "How long can I leave the car here?" He said: "Another two minutes and I'll slap a ticket on you." I do not think that was a courteous or a proper way for that traffic warden to behave in the circumstances. What I did was to put the car back—and carefully I say this—in another parking meter space, and put in another sixpence—so robbing somebody else of the use of that space—and after ten minutes or a quarter of an hour I drove it away.
These things lead me to this suggestion—and it is not one that has been put before your Lordships to-day. Is there really any justification for superimposing the traffic wardens system on that of the parking meter attendants? It seems to me that they are fulfilling, near enough, the same tasks. Perhaps I may quote a ridiculous example of what I saw only ten days ago. I saw outside the corner of our street, Gilbert Street, which halfway down turns into St. Anselm's Place (many years ago it was known as Cock Yard, but for some reason 'the name was changed) three traffic wardens and no fewer than six parking meter attendants indulging in what is known in American football as a "huddle". They had all got down and had a tremendous whispered conversation together, and then they all sparked off and went to various places to do their jobs. It seemed to me to be a great waste of effort.
While I am still on the subject of these attendants, I should like to support the noble Lords, Lord Jellicoe and Lord St. Just on the question of the uniform these people wear. I am all in favour of the system; it. seems to be 699 working reasonably well, if only we can get this little added measure of discretion and the removal of discrimination as between private and dual-purpose cars and the commercial vehicles. But I feel that it is bad luck on these gentlemen who are trying hard to help us to be made to wear this unfortunate uniform. The parking meter attendants are dressed in the kind of clothes that one is apt to associate with a "chuckerout" in a third-class night club; and the uniform the traffic wardens wear is, with the unfortunate colour they have been given, somewhat reminiscent of that of a sanitary orderly in the Army. I think it is a most unfortunate choice of uniform in both cases. Surely something a little more dignified might have been devised.
I will not delay your Lordships for more than a minute further. The noble Lord, Lord St. Just, made mention of Harley Street and the difficulties there. I sometimes have to go up in that direction, to see people at the London Clinic and to see doctors myself, and I have taken a little trouble to inquire into the question of traffic congestion in Harley Street and Wimpole Street. I am given to understand—I make your Lordships a present of the fact that I cannot sub-stantiate it chapter and verse—that most of the cars there do not belong to doctors at all, but to high executives of the big Oxford Street stores, who arrive there early—C. & A. Modes, Bourne & Hollingsworth's, Debenham and Free-body, Marshall & Snelgrove and so on— and leave their cars there for the day without let or hindrance.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, before the noble Earl replies, I should like to emphasise one or two points which have been made by noble Lords already, and to which I hope he will reply. One is this unfair discrimination between goods vehicles and the private or dual-purpose car. Very often when one has a street with parking meters, one has a gap between two meters where one could draw in perfectly well without obstructing the traffic in the very least. Under the law as it stands at the moment, one is not allowed to do that. On the other hand, in a street where the meters are completely continuous on both sides, 700 perhaps in a narrow road at that, a large goods vehicle can pull up for not more than twenty minutes and can obstruct entirely the flow of traffic in either direction. I have seen that done in Soho.
My Lords, there are no parking meters in Soho. We are talking about traffic wardens and parking meters, and this is something quite different.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I quite understand that, but if it can happen in Soho, it can happen where there are parking meters.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords. I do not deny that traffic wardens are a good thing. I think they are suffering a little at the moment from an excess of zeal because of their new-found authority, but in time that will probably wear off. They relieve the police of a great deal of unnecessary work so that the police can be better employed in other ways. Therefore I heartily approve of the system in theory, and I hope that it will improve in practice.
The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, suggested that with a view to improving relationships between the public and the wardens, women might be employed as wardens. Of course, if they were nice-looking women, I think the relationship might be improved even more, so I hope that that may come about. One point made by one noble Lord was very true; that when the meters first came into being Mr. Watkinson, who was then Minister of Transport, in his excess of zeal tended to put them up in such numbers without providing anywhere else for motorists to go, with the result that the problem has become practically insoluble. I have driven round Grosvenor Square about four times hoping for some car to move from its meter, but without success. I think that kind of thing is not making for the lessening of congestion, and off-street parking must be provided. I hope that the Minister will see to it.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TENBY
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for long, but as I was concerned to some extent in the early days of this proposal I should like to say a word. First of all, I am sure that your Lordships will be grateful to my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye for giving us the opportunity to discuss this very important matter this afternoon. We have heard, and rightly heard, to-day about the difficulties that have been encountered since this scheme was put into operation, and particularly we have heard of the need for more discretion on the part of those who, if I may so put it, police the scheme. I do not think anybody would disagree with that.
I should like to remind your Lordships that this was an experiment, and I have no doubt that it will be improved vastly, not only as a result of this discussion to-day, but also because of the experience that motorists and others have had since the experiment started. I do not think there is a shadow of doubt—and I have made many inquiries on this—that where the scheme has been in operation it has been most beneficial to the movement of traffic. I have asked countless people who use these areas, and they have all said the same—that they get through much more quickly.
I should like to remind your Lordships why this experiment was introduced. I think I may quote the words of a man closely concerned with traffic. He said that "if something is not done, the traffic of London will come to a standstill in three or four years". If your Lordships will forgive me for striking a personal note, just over fifty years ago my father was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he introduced a tax for motorists for the purpose of improving the roads. I will not go into any details about that at the moment, but it is rather interesting. In the course of his Budget Speech my father said that the reason for the introduction of this tax was that the roads of this country were inadequate for the traffic of the day. My Lords, that was in 1909. I believe that at that time the number of motor vehicles on the roads of Britain was 140,000: and now, 50 years later, there are over 8 million. If the roads were inadequate in 1909, I 702 do not know what word one would use to describe the conditions to-day.
Another reason why this experiment is so important is this. The roads which were inadequate in 1909, were in many parts of London three times as wide as they are to-day. You get parking on both sides of a street, and if a lorry has to discharge—and. after all, business life must go on—for perhaps only five minutes, there is complete chaos for yards behind, and the driver cannot do anything about it. The noble Lord, Lord Citrine, said that this problem is created by a very small number of people. May I give a figure, to give your Lordships an idea what it is? It is not the whole problem, but it is a big contributory factor. Into London from outside come 50,000 motorcars per day. Those are the vehicles that are parked from half-past nine until half-past five. These are the cause of the trouble. I had observations made when I was at the Home Office. Of those motor cars 80 per cent. have one occupant, the driver. So there are 40,000 people who dump their cars all day. Assuming the other 20 per cent. average two per car, there are 60,000 people in this city creating chaos among a population of over 8 million.
Drastic things will have to be done. After all, we have one of the finest systems of railway and bus transport in the world. Anybody who goes round London after the rush hour realises that what I am saying is correct—people can move. I am glad to hear that this system is being extended to Westminster and St. James's, where at the moment conditions are absolutely chaotic because of these people who are parked from half-past nine until half-past five. I would repeat, to use a phrase used time and time again, that the Queen's highway is not a garage. The Queen's highway was created to enable people to go from A to B, which you certainly will not be able to do if something is not done. I apologise for keeping your Lordships. I agree with my noble friend Lord Mancroft, who said that this scheme is not a solution. It is part of many other plans. But I think that up to date it has been beneficial. Undoubtedly it can be improved as a result of experience and as part and parcel of what I hope will be a much bigger attack. I am sure that we all wish it well.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, I think that my own experience of the last few months should be brought before the House and the Minister. I gave up living in the country a few months ago and came to live permanently in London. The first thing I did was to sell my car and I have never regretted it. I find I can get about reasonably well by taxi. I come to your Lordships' House in a taxi and I go home in a taxi. Sometimes I am held up for a few moments, but it is nothing to scream about. I think some of this talk about the delays is very much exaggerated.
Then I want to deal with the question of when I want to go and buy myself a new hat or something of that sort. I go in a taxi. Unfortunately, I cannot walk more than a very short distance. I go in a taxi and I say to the driver, "I suppose you could not wait for me; I will be a few minutes". He says "No". I pay him off and go in and choose the garment I want and come out, and I soon get another taxi. With that sort of thing going on, I have nothing very much to grumble about. I admit that I am pulled up every now and again, but it is nothing to complain about. My noble friend Lord Mancroft said something about doing nothing. As far as I am concerned, I should not mind if the present system goes on. I am not bothered about it at all.
The noble Lord, Lord Citrine, spoke about going into the City. I have board meetings to attend. I go from my flat in North Audley Street straight to the City, to St. Mary Axe. I do not have all this delay; I am not so troubled that I cannot attend the board. Sometimes one goes right through without any interference at all; at other times one is held up. Last night, for instance, I do not know what happened opposite this building but there was congestion, and I was held up in my taxi from here for five or ten minutes. The night before I got into the taxi and went straight to North Audley Street without being held up at all. Having regard to the enormous increase in the number of cars, I have nothing to grumble about at the moment, in present circumstances, and I hope the Minister will be cheered up a little to know that we are not all against him because we have to wait sometimes.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, two weeks ago the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I think quite legitimately, complained about the length of the debate before he, as the first Back Bencher, rose to speak. The time is now a quarter past five and I see that we have had fifteen speakers, and I should venture to hope that the example of this debate will be copied in subsequent debates. It is also interesting to note that in this debate the Minister who was responsible in this House for traffic wardens no longer has the task of defending them here. This, in some ways, is a matter of regret, because really we are not considering, or should not consider, the administrative side of traffic wardens but the reasons why traffic wardens are necessary. I hope that some noble Lord in the near future will raise a debate on transport as a whole in the London area, so that we can have the benefit of the views of the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, and know in a little detail what the Minister of Transport, having held that office for twelve months, is now prepared to do.
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, thought that the Minister had slipped into gear rather quickly. I could not have agreed with him. When we heard that Mr. Marples was becoming Minister of Transport we hoped that we should see a lot of energy, but apart from one or two schemes which were largely palliative we have had nothing from the Ministry of Transport to deal with this increasing problem. As the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, has said, and these is no doubt about it, the congestion and inconvenience that is being caused in London to-day is being created by a relatively few people. I saw a figure in the Press the other day, that out of five oars that were entering London during various hours of the day only one car carried a passenger; four cars out of five were coming into the centre of London, a relatively small area, with one person, the driver. This state of affairs just cannot continue, because these people are causing not only congestion to the other motorists, but—sand this is something about which nothing has been mentioned at all in this debate—inconvenience and hardship to millions of people daily who use public transport.
705 We have not heard a word about those people to-day, and yet there are millions who do not live in London but who have to come to London and to move from a. terminus to their office. The London Passenger Transport Board repeatedly tell us that one of the reasons why they cannot have an efficient bus service is because of congestion, and one of the reasons why fares have to continue to rise is again congestion. Therefore, these few persons who cause congestion in London are causing inconvenience and high costs to a large number of people, and I think it is time that the Government started taking some action in this matter.
I do not believe that the provision of off-street car parking will make a great deal of difference. It will make some difference but it will not make a great deal of difference, because the whole trend in London to-day is to get into a closer area. We are putting up higher buildings with more people in them, using less space. This is true; we see these buildings everywhere. And this means that more and more people are coming into a smaller area, and it is the area where there is congestion to-day. We know that if people have a motor car they will use it if they can. We cannot, as I see it, provide sufficient accommodation for those cars to be parked off the streets. Certainly the streets are not the place to park cars. Therefore, I think the Government sooner or later will have to come to a decision about what cars are allowed into London to be parked, and that that will bring the great responsibility, which they do not shoulder. to-day, of providing an efficient public service by way of buses and tube trains which can move a large number of people quickly.
I think we must remember all the time, in this matter, not the few people in London who use cars, but the masses of people who have to come to London for work. This is something that only the Government can tackle. I do not believe that the use of traffic wardens, the use of parking meters or the provision of off-street parking, are going to solve this problem. You have ruthlessly to clear the streets of parked cars, and you must then provide a public transport service capable of moving people in comfort and in safety.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord for a moment, but a have no doubt that he realises that at the moment during the rush hour public transport is crowded to its utmost capacity. Is he envisaging building more underground railways? Certainly one cannot put more buses on to the roads.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I quite agree with the noble Lord that our public transport service at peak hours is a disgrace. The only time that I was ever concerned yin that rather notable part of one of the Sunday newspapers called "Sayings of the Week" was when I described the conditions in public transport, particularly trains, and said that if a farmer conveyed his cattle in them he would be prosecuted. That is true, and it is getting worse. But more buses could be put on to the roads if the roads were free to take them.
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord with one fact?—namely, that people living in Brixton who go to other suburbs on a bus and do not go to the centre of London sometimes have to wait an hour to an hour and a half for a bus to convey them. That is not because of the traffic congestion; it is because there are not sufficient buses, and when they do come they are absolutely crammed.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords. I quite agree that there is a difficulty in providing a comprehensive service in the suburbs of London; but to-day we are not really considering the suburbs, we are considering the centre, the West End and the City, where the bulk of the congestion is to-day and Where the bulk of the people come to work. I believe that more buses could be put on the roads if the roads were free. I believe that more railway lines would have to be provided into London, because, apart from coming in closer for business, London as a residential area is moving outwards. Therefore, people have to be moved in by train. I believe that the existing train services are quite inadequate, and will be inadequate unless the Government can persuade industry and commerce to stagger their hours. This is something about which we have talked many times, but little has been done about it.
707 I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft: I think we have to consider the subject in relation to all our transport problems. As I see this matter, traffic wardens are rather like a dose of medicine: they are a palliative to the problem. Undoubtedly, they were given orders to be tough—I think it was right to give them orders to be tough—and therefore the medicine was strong and as a remedy it hurt. But undoubtedly it has helped to move the traffic in the West End of London. I hope that the Minister will not listen to those who have, I think by implication, criticised the wardens to-day. The wardens have done a good job of work. If we are to clear the streets sufficiently, if necessary by Act of Parliament, I think we shall need to have more wardens, and I hope that the Government will make sure that they receive full Government support in this matter.
§ 5.26 p.m.
My Lords, it seems to be some quirk of departmental justice, shall I say, that I should be replying to this debate instead of my noble friend Lord Chesham. But I am most grateful to him, not only for his moral support, but, I assure your Lordships, for a great deal of practical support with regard to this debate this evening. First of all, I want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and all noble Lords who have partaken in this debate for the most reasonable and helpful comments they have made from all quarters of the House. I am not qualified to answer all the points this evening, and I know that your Lordships will not expect me to commit my right honourable friend. But I assure your Lordships that I will bring them to his notice, and, in due time, when these experimental schemes and other regulations are being reviewed, they will be considered by him and by the Departments concerned.
In the last Session we had most useful and helpful debates with regard to the problems of traffic wardens and their duties. A number of measures were passed to untie the knots of London traffic. Whatever else we agreed during those debates, the fact is that London 708 traffic is in a knot. During the course of this debate I have felt that your Lordships realise that London traffic is still in a knot. But we decided on various measures with which to start untying that knot. First of all, there were the parking meters, referred to by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe. Then came the ticket system, the fixed penalty, with which we have been dealing much of this evening. Then came the enforcement of more stringent parking regulations, which again have given rise to so much comment to-day. Finally, there came the traffic wardens who were to work all these aids in order to help untie the knot.
My noble friend Lord Mancroft, in his most helpful intervention, mentioned that we must have a composite solution. The four items that I have mentioned are part of the composite solution. No doubt in the future there will have to be still further measures which, in their turn, will become part of this composite solution to this problem. The wardens have been working only partially for two months. They have been fully working—having taken over the duties of parking meter attendants as well—for only some fifteen days. I am glad that your Lordships have not mentioned the question of obstruction and that I should be the first to mention that matter. Your Lordships will remember that that caused a great deal of trouble in the course of the debates in both Houses. I am glad to observe that there is now no longer any question in any case of a traffic warden dealing with an obstruction by means of a ticket. He must find a uniformed constable, which is exactly the power that any one of your Lordships, or anybody else who is a citizen in the country, has. I am most glad that that point has been cleared up. Further, the powers of a traffic warden in this respect may not be varied or extended without an Affirmative Resolution of your Lordships' House and the other place. That is another point I should like to emphasise
I was most pleased that my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, and many others of your Lordships, mentioned the men, a disciplined, uniformed body, a new institution, who have been brought into being by an Act which has passed through both Houses of Parliament to regulate the traffic of London for the 709 general good. I believe that it is our duty to uphold and support this body of men in every way that we can, and I am most grateful to those noble Lords, and particularly to my noble friends Lord Jellicoe and Lord Willoughby de Broke, who have brought that out in the course of their speeches. I take notice of what they said with regard to uniforms. I must admit that I have only seen traffic wardens in a policeman's type of overcoat or raincoat; but I will certainly draw that point to the attention of my right honourable friend.
I think I should say something about recruiting and training. Traffic wardens are appointed, trained and directed solely by the Commissioner of Police, and I want to make quite clear to my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke that both my right honourable friends believe there can be only one traffic enforcement authority in the country, and that that authority should be the police. We discussed that matter at great length during the course of the debates in your Lordships' House. If the scheme were extended to the provinces that would be done at the request of the local police authority, and wardens there would still be under the chief of police of any particular area.
We had 50 men accepted for training when this scheme was first started. With great respect to my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, my figures show that 39 men completed their training. There is a training course of fourteen days, and all aspects of the motorist's point of view are put before the traffic wardens by experienced motor policemen with almost a lifetime's experience. So I assure noble Lords that the point of view of the motorist is brought before the wardens. On November 1 seven wardens began operating in the Westminster City Council area, and I would assure noble Lords that all parking meters in the area of the Westminster City Council are, in fact, the responsibility of the traffic wardens. They are one and the same official—traffic warden and meter attendant. Of course, traffic wardens do not collect cash from the parking meters; nor do they collect cash for the excess charge of 10s. for which they give the yellow ticket.
My figures, up to a few days ago, are that there are now 54 traffic wardens in 710 service, though there may be a few more or a few less. I was asked by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe to say how many my right honourable friend envisages employing. The figure is about 70, when the St. James's area is brought into the parking meter scheme, on November 28. I do not say that that is a hard-and-fast figure, but that is the total the Commissioner of Police hopes to have under his employment at that time.
I should like now to answer some of the questions which have been put to me and which I have not already covered in my speech. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye brought up the question of Mr. Cadbury's resignation. My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport was most sorry, as he said in the letter mentioned by the noble Lord, that Mr. Cadbury had resigned. But, as my right honourable friend pointed out, Mr. Cadbury resigned after these traffic wardens had been in operation only one month. My right honourable friend felt that was much too short a time in which to see how the system would work, and it was for that reason that he very much regretted that Mr. Cadbury should have seen fit to resign. I think there is no more I can say about that matter except that Mr. Cadbury felt most strongly that traffic wardens were being high-handed and not using discretion. I think I shall be able to show later that the position is very much the reverse—indeed, several noble Lords who spoke this evening said discretion was being used.
My noble friend, and also the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, regretted what they felt were our poor public relations. It is a most tricky problem, but I hope that in a few moments I shall make the position quite clear. It is true that this experimental scheme and the traffic wardens came in together at the same time. There are arguments on both sides, but I assure the noble Lord that I take careful note of what he and other noble Lords have said with regard to publicity; and when regulations and rules must again come in I am quite certain that we must take every care to see that the best possible publicity is used in putting over the new regulations. But it is not true to say that no publicity was put out. There was broadcast publicity, as the noble Lord has mentioned, and a 711 considerable number of hand-outs were issued to the Press as early as nine or ten days before the scheme came into operation, the details being printed in full. It is a question of knowing just how much public relations and publicity one is able to put over in a given time. But I certainly take note of the noble Lord's point.
On the tricky point of the cases mentioned by many noble Lords, including my noble friend and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, some of those are recognised by the police, and measures have been taken to see that such cases do not happen again in reasonable circumstances. I cannot tell your Lordships how many of these cases will be coming up in the magistrates' court on November 25, when the first of such cases following refusal to pay the fixed penalty will be heard, and I feel that it would be most improper for me to comment upon them. The best advice I can give to those who are aggrieved is that they should go to court, as in the old days, and put their case before the magistrates. If something is done by a traffic warden which is thought to be unreasonable then, as when one feels one has had ill-treatment from a uniformed constable, the redress is to take the number on his shoulder and take or send the full details, and suitable evidence, to the police station.
I should not like to cross swords with the noble Earl, Lord Howe, or to enter into an argument with him, but I do beg him and his noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke, who also lives in the Mayfair area, to accept my assurance that neither the traffic wardens scheme nor the parking meter scheme is meant to hit at Mayfair residents. It surely must tend to help them. At least they can get a car somewhere near their front door whereas, certainly in the time of petrol rationing, when I used to live in Mayfair, one could never get to the door of one's flat. I think that situation has eased to a certain extent. I remember that before this Bill came up my noble friend's complaint used to be that somebody was always parking a motor car in front of his garage door in a mews so that he could not get in or out. At least that cannot happen now.
My Lords, I am sorry. I thought that the noble Earl said it was a parking bay for loading or unloading. At least he is able to put sixpence in and have an hour's worth, or a shilling and have two hours, and have his meter at his door.
My Lords, the noble Earl must get there first or use a meter somewhere near. Before this scheme came in I am sure that the noble Earl had no chance at all, because there was always somebody there. At least the person in front of the noble Earl's house can stay there for only two hours. Nobody can go to the back of the noble Earl's house; not even the noble Earl himself. But I do assure the noble Earl that since some of these cases arose which he mentioned, and which my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye mentioned, instructions have been given to parking attendants to see who are residents and who are not, and I think I shall be able to show that the situation should have improved somewhat.
The noble Lord also mentioned lavatories. It is a very old story and it comes up about six or seven times a day per traffic warden. There are some 54 traffic wardens, and so the stories go on, always from different people.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I do not know whether those words are casting any doubts upon the case I quoted, but I did say in my speech that for any case I quoted such as that I would gladly give him the name, the address, the time and place. I hope he is not saying that I am not right in my facts on that case.
My Lords, I do not cast any doubt upon what my noble friend said; but I understand that another of my noble friends here did, and he has had correspondence and notes with the noble Lord. What I did say is that these lavatory cases (shall we say), or lavatory excuses, are coming up before the parking meter attendant time after time and every day. I would cast no aspersions on the particular case referred to, and I would only say that if it is a right and proper case it is best to put it before the magistrate.
My noble friend Lord Howe referred to the special problem of public garages, with cars driving in and out. That is one matter which is under special consideration by my right honourable friend, and he has given certain instructions to traffic wardens. My noble friend Lord Teynham mentioned that my other right honourable friend the Prime Minister would be inconvenienced in coming from a club. I can only say that I think if my right. honourable friend should find such inconvenience, perhaps he will move to another club of which he is a member; and we should be most grateful to see him there as often as he is able to come.
I want to make quite clear, however, the law with regard to picking up and setting down. This is a point of my noble friend, Lord Saltoun, and I think I shall read from the instruction manual:All vehicles, including private cars, may wait free of charge anywhere in a parking zone, even at a parking meter, to enable a person to hoard or alight.The only exception to this rule is at the approaches to pedestrian crossings. There is also another exception: where there is a yellow marking on the pavement. But even in that case it allows for picking up, boarding and alighting. That does not mean waiting for 20 minutes; it means merely for boarding and alighting, for taxi cabs, private cars and otherwise. I do not think that even when this scheme comes down to the St. James's area there should be great difficulty for people to get into or out of cars.
My Lords, the particular case in which I was arrested occurred between the studs and a zebra crossing. I was very lame at the time. It would have been quite impossible for 714 me to go up the street and back again with a suitcase. I was there for only two minutes, but the time was prolonged by the fact that the constable approached me.
My Lords, I have much sympathy for the noble Lord in his disability, but I think I have made the regulation quite clear with regard to what traffic wardens would do, and what they may or may not do, with regard to cars picking up and setting down passengers.
My noble friend Lord Teynham went on to say that he thought it was not necessary to look after the interests of the through-traffic so much. But I think that traffic is bound to be going somewhere for a given purpose and it is bound to have to go through a particular area. It may be that there are better routes; it may be that traffic could be re-routed in some manner. But I think one would be extremely annoyed if it were not uppermost—which it is—in my right honourable friend's mind to enable traffic to be able to get properly from one place to another where ultimately the person who is in the car will be doing business.
I agree that there is the question of car parking places and the provision of garages. That question was brought up by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, and mentioned by my noble friend Lord Teynham. At present there are 250 car spaces under Route 11. They are very seldom used. But a new garage is being erected in Audley Square by the Westminster City Council, I believe mainly with the proceeds from parking meters, and there are other garages in the planning stage. As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, knows only too well, it is not easy to find a suitable place where a garage could be put and then to pay for it.
My noble friends Lord Merrivale and Lord Wolverton both mentioned the lack of notices. I agree that that is one point in the scheme that is noticeable if one goes round. It does strike one, or it could strike one, that there are not many notices showing exactly what can be done or what cannot be done. I have asked for particular advice on this point, and I am told that the experts' view is that we already have far too many notices of 715 different sorts and types and that to add more would only make for confusion. But, then, we have two noble Lords who think otherwise.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend? I also said that some of the obsolete ones were not being removed and so were adding to the confusion.
My Lords, I take note of what my noble friend says. But I think that in a parking zone he will find all the relevant signs and notices are up to date.
§ LORD WOLVERTON
My Lords, I think this point is very important. Provincial cities do mark up "No parking" signs and the blue and yellow notices. London does not have them, but many provincial cities and towns do. They are authorised by the Minister and can be put up by local authorities.
My Lords, this view is partly an idea to help clear away something of the clutter of notices. If you are driving into a parking-meter zone and you see a "No parking" sign you should take it that your motor car cannot be parked there. However, there is something in what the noble Lord says, especially in regard to repeater signs (which I believe he mentioned): small signs to show whether or not a parking zone is in existence. He also mentioned the loading bays and unloading bays. Possibly there is something in his point, and I will certainly draw the attention of my right honourable friend to what both he and my noble friend Lord Wolverton said about that.
My noble friend Lord Saltoun suggested that the rights of the house owner had been done away with In that he could not get to his front door. I believe that this question has been argued legally at great length and many times throughout history. I understand that, at Common Law, what one has as a householder is reasonable access Ito one's property or premises. My Lords, that is one thing, but the other thing, as my noble friend Lord Tenby brought out, is: can one have a garage in the street at one's front door? There are the two extremes of the problem between which we are trying to drive a fair and middle way. I understand that there is, in fact, 716 no right to park one's car on a designated highway.
My noble friend Lord Jellicoe drew attention to the design of the traffic meters. I understand that these meters were passed and approved by the Royal Fine Art Commission, and I suppose it depends on what one may call "fine". However, when he went on to recount the story of his little friend Bertie, I thought the authorities that be, and I myself, too, would be pleased that the Royal Fine Art Commission passed this particular design so that these meters do not have the attentions of my noble friend's little friend or, I hope, of any of his small friends.
When the traffic wardens started, as we have beard from the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, they came under the spotlight of publicity straight away, and there were initial difficulties and teething troubles. I am going to be straight with the noble Lord and agree that there were. I make no pretence about that. But I think that many of them are well on the way to being solved. Nevertheless, these very difficulties welded the traffic wardens into a loyal and confident band, and an efficient body of men with a high morale and a goodesprit de corps.
My noble friend Lord Jellicoe mentioned the matter of pay and conditions, and I assure the noble Earl that the very facts and figures which he gave are being considered the whole time. I know he will not expect me to say any more than that, except that every point that he put forward is known and is appreciated. These traffic wardens are experienced, mature and broadminded men, and they have to be. They have been cursed, they have been abused, and they have even been driven at by motorists. They have been swindled, and they are swindled. I think it could be said that it is becoming a sport to try to swindle the traffic warden. But I assure your Lordships that these men are learning a thing or two, and they are learning some most surprising things about human nature; about most surprising people in the most surprising places.
My noble friend Lord Merrivale and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, both asked the question: why should not women be employed as traffic wardens? I am certain, and my right honourable friend is 717 certain, that this cannot be a suitable type of job for women. Traffic wardens work in two shifts through the day, as obviously they must. From 8.30 to 4.00 is one shift, and 11 a.m. to 6.30 is the second shift. There is a break: an hour off for a mid-day meal and a half-hour, approximately, at the end of each tour for sorting out the various tickets and making up records.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Earl for a second time, 'but could his right honourable friend bear in mind how this scheme is working in New York, with what are known as meter maids? I presume they have the name problems with regard to times of work, and so forth, and possibly, if they are proving satisfactory over there, they may prove satisfactory over here.
I will try to make some research into the subject of meter maids in New York, but, from the little that I saw of New York traffic, I should not have thought that meter maids, or anybody, would have bad any time to look after meters or the wrongdoing of motorists—one blast on a policeman's whistle and a ticket for your money: and you were bulky to get away with that, if my experience in New York is correct. However, I will find out about that.
I think your Lordships will agree that it is a pretty long stint of duty. It is bound, to be: you cannot have three or four men or three or four women covering the same beat so that they can come backwards and forwards. It is a duty which has to be done in all weathers and on the hard pavement, and I cannot believe that one would find many women of a suitable physique, character and type who would be able and willing to carry on such a job. If such a good relationship matured between them and an offending motorist, as my noble friend Lord Somers suggested, then possibly the meter maid (if that is the correct term) would go and get married, and the Commissioner of Police would be faced with having to recruit even more highly experienced and trained traffic wardens. I therefore think, my Lords, that we must leave this to the judgment and wisdom of the Commissioner of Police.
718 Now in the tour of duty which I have just mentioned, a warden, on an average, serves between five and seven tickets. For every ticket he serves, he gives advice some 20 to 30 times. It might be advice as to where to park; it might be a discretionary type of caution, which I shall describe in a moment. If my figures are correct, that there are 54 traffic wardens in service at present, serving an average of six tickets—that is, between five and seven—I make it that, in a 30-day month (you must remember that there are Sundays, which I have not included), there will be 9,700 tickets issued by traffic wardens. My noble friend Lord Howe has different figures, but perhaps we can talk about those later. Out of this theoretical 9,700 tickets, not every single one of them, by any means, will in fact be an offence.
I come now to the point of giving a discretion to wardens which several noble Lords made, especially my noble friend Lord Balfour of 1nchrye, Lord Merrivale, Lord Gifford and Lord Citrine. In fact, there is no authority at all for a warden to give permission to park a car in a restricted place. That is as it is laid down in the regulations: but, in fact, the way that it happens is that the warden is able to exercise his discretion by allowing a few minutes to load or unload, to get into or out of a car. He is able to exercise that discretion. But where does a discretion begin and end? What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. If one person is given a discretion, everybody else piles in. That is why it is not possible to write it into the regulations that a warden shall have a discretion. But I understand, from speaking to two wardens, that they find that they have little trouble withbona fidepeople—bona fideloaders or unloaders, bona fide people who are waiting to get into or out of a car. The trouble arises with those who wish to take advantage of any discretion which a traffic warden may be able to exercise from the kindness of his heart.
I will say one more thing to my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye: that all the cases which he brought out illustrate only the one side. No doubt there is something in that one side, but there are also the notebooks of the traffic wardens, 719 and there are the facts which they will bring before the magistrates when the cases which they have brought before the courts are heard. So I do ask him to wait until after November 25.
My Lords, may I go back to the situation before September 19? Your Lordships have disapproved of that situation in all ways. The parking regulations were flaunted; meter rules could not be enforced, and the loading privileges were taken advantage of in almost every case. This was caused by the lack of policemen and the inadequacy of the regulations, and, above all, the inability to enforce those regulations; consequently, traffic was tied up. Then a change took place on September 19. My noble friend believes the change was too quick. Perhaps the experiment took place too soon on top of the appointment of wardens, but that is a debatable point. Nevertheless, regulations were brought about by Parliament and with your Lordships' help, in order to assist in getting the traffic knot untied. I think I should pay tribute to the foresight and the drive of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport, and all those in the local authority areas where this scheme has come into force.
The first thing which happened was the establishment of a new body of traffic wardens. Then the fixed penalty scheme was operated for the first time. Finally, the experimental loading regulations, which so many of your Lordships have mentioned, were introduced. I want to make it clear that it is for a four months' trial period only. It is true that the motoring organisations were not consulted, but under the regulations my right honourable friend does not have to consult outside bodies in this regard. If you consult one body, there are hundreds of others which must be consulted, too. This scheme was needed to get under way, and get under way quickly, ready for Christmas; but I can assure the noble Lord that when it is at its end all bodies who are interested will be asked for their opinions, especially with regard to the point my noble friend Lord Gifford brought up about dual-purpose vehicles.
It seems at first that there is an imbalance and discrimination against these 720 private and goods vehicles, but there has been a tremendous increase, as noble Lords have said, in this type of car. Most of them are of the shooting-brake type. If every single shooting brake was to park in the restricted area of the meter zones, we should have the effect that the whole point of the loading bays and the whole point of the privilege to commercial vehicles to unload in restricted areas would be lost. We should be back again to the position which my noble friend Lord Somers deprecated so much, whereby when unloading a commercial vehicle you would have to use the system of double banking which causes so much chaos. It seems at first sight that there is some discrimination; nevertheless, the dual-purpose vehicle can use the parking meter bay and can also use the loading bay for loading or unloading for twenty minutes. Again, this matter will be brought up and will be considered, no doubt in the light of what many of your Lordships have said, when the experimental regulation has come to an end.
My Lords, would the noble Earl mention the point I have made, about giving the dual-purpose or private vehicle not twenty minutes but ten minutes or five minutes? It should not need as long as twenty minutes, but it does need, I should think, ten or five minutes.
I was coming to what my noble friend Lord Gifford said with regard to discretion. If such a vehicle, obviously loaded with many gowns and so forth, is genuinely loading or unloading, I doubt whether that vehicle would get a ticket provided the driver moved his goods as quickly as he possibly could. But if that vehicle is going to be there for half an hour, or for two 'hours or more, and then the driver claimed he was loading or unloading, that would completely defeat the purpose of the scheme. So I cannot give the noble Lord my assurance on that. But I do say that discretion can be used.
I cannot give the noble Lord that assurance, but I can say that what he has said will be considered.
721 Then my noble friend Lord Somers went on to mention Soho and the problems there, which of course lie completely outside the meter area at present. But one of the results of the introduction of traffic wardens is that the Commissioner of Police is able to provide 25 extra policemen on beats in or around Soho or elsewhere, and they are there to help with the traffic problem and the task of guarding private property. That is just one 'example of how the traffic warden system is working out already.
My Lords, there must be complaints; we realise that. There are grouses, and the interesting thing is that many of the grousers and the complainants are just those people who groused and complained before. The reason they grouse and complain is because they cannot leave their motor cars where they would like to, and I am afraid that we are coming to the stage where doing that is rapidly becoming impossible.
There is one complaint to which the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in a rather different manner, drew your Lordsihips' attention and that was with regard to private car drivers and chauffeurs. At a place where such cars are bound to congregate, for instance, at a big office block, at a big hotel, or at some other place where chauffeur-driven ears are bound to go, there must be some inconvenience. The trouble is that the streets are not big enough to hold the number of cars which are using such places. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, that it is a very real problem. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has solved the problem by going by taxi; but that is only if it is not a wet day. I agree with the noble Lord: try to find a taxi on a welt day at ten minutes Ito one or at half past two. It is not easy.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, might I intervene for one moment? I forgot to say that during the time I have been using nothing but taxis I have not had one instance where a traffic warden has interfered with us.
I was complimenting the noble Lord, in case he missed 722 my point, on using a taxi in order to solve the problem that the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, drew to our attention, and that is the problem of chauffeur-driven motor cars. I just put out this thought, my Lords. If your Lordships can help in any way, and if the motoring associations can help in any way, to persuade such owners to use a little more forethought, possibly in ordering the car up, say, ten minutes beforehand, or by being at the door, things would be much easier. I agree with the noble Lord that it is not easy, but possibly it is a problem which we can help to solve in that way.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, could not the Government give an example by staggering the hours of our own offices?
Your Lordships are staggering the hours by very nearly one hour, when speakers come on to the list who are not already on it.
I can assure your Lordships that the people from Whitehall may have to go back at any hour, and I am quite certain it is in one's own interests to go back a little later or a little earlier if one can do so. But I think that is hardly the point the noble Lord mentioned: that of transport. It hardly comes under a traffic warden debate; nor would it be in my place to recommend to my noble friend what he must do about it when there is a debate coming up in the very near future in your Lordships' House.
My noble friend Lord St. Just mentioned the difficulty of the doctors. The British Medical Association have issued doctors with a badge bearing 'the doctor's name and a space for putting on the address at which he may be visiting. I must make if clear that there are no exceptions to the Parking Regulations, but the attention of traffic wardens has been drawn to the fact and they have been told to give all possible latitude to doctors. But even a doctor, except in circumstances of great emergency, should not cause obstruction in the street.
I come now to the credits, of which many noble Lords, my noble friend Lord St. Just included, gave their opinions. There is no doubt that the flow of traffic 723 has increased. I think that is agreed by all, and it is particularly agreed, as we have 'heard, by taxi drivers, by van drivers and truck drivers, and by owners of business premises, who now have their loading bays and loading and unloading streets completely free of the all-day parker. That was not the case before this system came into operation. I understand that shopping people also, are pleased. We had the view of my noble friend Lord Merrivale on what the length of time of the parking allowed should be; he said that two hours was too long for 1s. I can assure my noble friend that my wife does not think so, and I suspect that the wives of many noble Lords and the general public in London do not.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
I did not say it was too much for 1s. I said it was too long for the purpose of calling at a shop or for a business appointment. I did not say the cost was too high or too low, but that the duration was too long.
It is sixpence for one hour and sixpence for file next hour and, therefore, for two hours it is one shilling. That has been thought to be a reasonable time.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, was questioning the cost per hour. His point was that, in his judgment, two hours is too long for cars to be parked for shopping and business appointments.
I was trying to prove that two hours was about right for the amount of time that the average person wants to stay. If the noble Lord wishes to stay twenty minutes, I do not think he will miss sixpence for the privilege of being at a parking place. I do not think it is too onerous. Many people must have calls to make and shopping to do and are grateful for the possibility of cheap parking for two hours. The time has been carefully considered. However, my noble friend's point will be borne in mind.
The scheme has been in operation for only eight weeks, and the parking meters themselves have been looked after for barely fifteen days by the traffic 724 wardens. I would agree with my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye that there have been teething troubles and that there have been grievances. But I think that some of the grievances have been much exaggerated. I assure your Lordships that if there is a grievance, in just the same way as a grievance can be taken up against a uniformed constable, the public have the same redress by taking the number on the shoulder of the traffic warden. But traffic wardens are not in existence to bludgeon motorists; they are there to enforce the law for the good of the majority of London's traffic. Many of your Lordships have agreed that time and expense are being saved and frustration is being prevented by the enforcement of these Regulations. I hope that the motoring organisation and the motoring Press generally will help to show how these Regulations and the enforcement of them by traffic wardens is helping the public.
A new meter area comes into operation on November 28 at St. James's. There is no doubt that more people will persistently try to block the streets by parking cars where they cannot go, or will try to take more of the parking time that is allowed. Well, they will find that the law and the regulations will be rigorously enforced. We believe that the traffic will flow in the St. James's area, where I think all your Lordships agree it does not flow at present. It will be possible to park a car for shopping—with due respect to my noble friend Lord Merrivale—and it may even be possible to park a car for two hours in order to have lunch. And if it is the bigger lunch to which the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, would go, or a more important appointment, there is the privilege of paying another 10s. for the excess of parking time.
When the motorists realise that the wardens are really their allies, I think they will agree, as indeed have taxicab drivers and all those who earn their living driving vehicles in the West End of London, that the warden is there to help all those in London who have to depend upon a motor car either for their personal transport or for getting their goods from one place to another. I wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, for the courteous manner in which he introduced the debate, and all noble 725 Lords who have spoken. I assure your Lordships that the ideas that have been put forward will be carefully considered ready for a time—the noble Lord never can tell—when they may even have to be put into practice.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, in rising to ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw the Motion, I am sure I echo the views of noble Lords on all sides of the House in expressing our thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, for his comprehensive, capable and sympathetic reply. Particularly do we thank him for the undertaking that the debate will be analysed by himself and other Ministers in order to try to draw what is good out of it for the future. I am sure that it is only our wish to support the scheme and to strengthen and improve it.
Many different suggestions have been made, ranging from that of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, to prevent buildings from what he called being "Cored and Cottoned" before buildings could be developed with garages, down to the proposal of my noble friend Lord Merrivale, supported by my noble friend Lord Somers, for lady traffic wardens—"meter maids", I think he called them. It was Lord Merrivale who said that we should attract the right type of person. I must say that it is an attractive idea. And perhaps if there were "meter maids" our literary experts might devote their time to writing some important literary novel on 726 the problems of London traffic. We might even have my noble friend Lord Teviot coming to your Lordships' House in a few years' time to move a Motion as to the propriety or otherwise of a novel on London traffic, for which I can think of no better title than Lady Chatterley's Meter".
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I thank noble Lords on all sides of the House who have taken part in this debate, which I hope has served its purpose. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.