HL Deb 19 June 1961 vol 232 cc387-9

2.39 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what concession in respect of the payment of parking meter fees has been made or authorised for disabled drivers of motor vehicles and, in particular, whether the concession applies to those who are so disabled that they cannot drive a vehicle themselves but have to have a driver.]


My Lords, all the parking meter schemes submitted to my right honourable friend by local authorities and approved by him include provisions enabling the local authority concerned to exempt disabled drivers from the payment of parking meter fees. The responsibility for administering such provisions, and indeed the scheme as a whole, rests with the local authority concerned. Practice in dealing with individual applicants varies as between local authorities. In general, where traffic conditions are especially difficult an applicant must at least satisfy the local authority that he is severely disabled, and that he lives or works in the area concerned. In areas where traffic conditions are easier it has not been found necessary to impose this latter condition. These concessions apply to disabled persons who drive themselves. There does not seem to be the same justification to extend them to those who are driven by someone else.


My Lords, can my noble friend consider the case of a blind person whose wife drives him? When they get to the shop, or the doctor, or wherever it may be, they go in together and have to leave their car. May I ask whether these concessions are made on some means test basis, or whether they are made as a small contribution towards helping the disabled driver, in which case surely the more severe the disability, reaching the point where the person cannot drive at all, the more reason for allowing the concession?


My Lords, I hope that nothing I say can be interpreted in any way as being unsympathetic to the situation my noble friend describes. But as I understood the position, this concession is not intended so much as a financial benefit as a benefit of convenience, because since the driver is excused paying the charge, he is also exempted from the time limit involved in parking at the meter. That is the method whereby that comes about. It is intended more as a convenience than as a direct financial benefit.


My Lords, while fully realising that, and thanking my noble friend for his courtesy and his generous impulse, will he have another look at this matter? Because it seems to make a discrepancy which, in the judgment of some of my friends who have written to me, is unjustifiable.


My Lords, while there are certain considerations, I think it would be right for me to convey what my noble friend has said on this point to my right honourable friends concerned for their consideration.


My Lords, would the noble Lord say whether the concession can be claimed as of right, or is it in the discretion of wardens and other people working under the authority?


No, my Lords; the concession is granted by the local authority who administer the scheme on individual applications, each one of which they consider themselves. The normal practice, I understand, is that they then issue a badge or ticket of some kind which is stuck on the car, to indicate that it is the subject of the concession, and which the police and wardens can see.