asked, what were the intentions of Government as to a Bill, which had been prepared two years ago, on the subject of a new regulation for Hackney-Coach and Cabriolet Licenses. A Committee had at that time inquired into the subject, and, on the Report then made, a Bill had been prepared by the late Ministers, which, if they had continued in office, would have been brought forward before now, and he did not see why the public should be deprived of the advantage which they had a right to expect from such a measure. He was the more anxious for some explanation on this subject, as complaints were every day made by the public of the manner in which Hackney-Coach and Cabriolet plates were distributed. Hackney-Coach plates were taken up, and 977 Cabriolet plates given in exchange, but these were given only in tens or twelves to persons in affluent circumstances, so that a poor man found it a matter of extreme difficulty or even impossibility, to obtain one. If he did, it was only by giving to the rich man more than he had given to the Government. This was a sort of monopoly unjust to many poor persons, and in its results extremely injurious to the public. He thought that the trade should be thrown open, and that the public should have the advantage of the measure which the late Government had prepared concerning it.
§ Lord Althorp
agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, that it was extremely desirable that this trade should be thrown open. In fact, a measure had been prepared upon the subject, which would be ready in a few days.
also called the attention of the House to the great partiality which was shown in the giving away the plates for Cabriolets and Coaches, particularly the latter, which had now for the greater part got into the hands of a set of monopolists, by which the public were deprived of the advantages they had a right to expect from an open trade. It was a piece of gross partiality somewhere, that these plates should be given by twenty or thirty at a time, to persons who had no connexion whatever with the trade. He could assert from his own experience, that the public suffered by the sort of monopoly to which he had adverted. If any preference were given, surely it ought to be to those who were labouring night and day in the public service. He did hope that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would not tolerate such a monopoly.
§ Lord Althorp
admitted, that the plates of Cabriolets and Coaches had been most improperly disposed of, but a new regulation, at the recommendation of the Commissioners, had been adopted.
wished to know why the Bill recommended by the Committee had been delayed? The late Government left it ready to be introduced to the House.
§ Lord Althorp
replied, the cause of the delay was, that it was intended the Bill should be accompanied with some regulations for consolidating the Stamp Duties, which required time for consideration. He fully agreed with the suggestions that had been made, for the public were entitled to have the trade. thrown open.
§ Mr. Alderman Venables
could state from his own knowledge, that nothing could be worse than the present system of licensing Hackney-Coaches and Cabriolets. The vehicles themselves were generally in a most disgraceful state, while the public were subject to most exorbitant charges. He was, therefore, glad to hear that the trade was to be thrown open.