§ 77. Sir F. NELSON
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is considering any action in regard to the present high level of taximeter cab fares, with especial reference to the recent reduction of 2d. per gallon in the cost of petrol?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
Yes, Sir; and quite apart from reductions in the price of petrol, I think there is a strong case for cheaper facilities for the public. I have no desire to resort to drastic measures, but the trade have now had an opportunity for many months of putting a less expensive vehicle on the streets, and I have given clear intimation that unless advantage is taken of that opportunity in the near future, the whole question of taxicab fares will have to be re-opened.
Sir F. HALL
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the fact that the increase was made by his predecessor in consequence of petrol then being 3s. 4d. or 3s. 6d. per gallon, and tyres were much heavier, and seeing that they are now down to pre-war prices and in some cases less, does the right hon. Gentleman not think the public have a right to demand much cheaper fares?
§ Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Paris to-day the price of petrol is 2s. per gallon as compared with 1s. 3d. per gallon in this country, and yet the fares of taxi-cabs in Paris are only one-third of the prices charged in this country?
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Is it not the case that the main difficulty is not so much the price of the petrol as the heavy initial outlay on the cab itself?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I should say the near future is one that is not very remote. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich (Sir F. Hall), I have already said that there is a strong case for cheaper facilities for the public. The House will remember that just before 39 the General Strike I authorised two-seater taxicabs at lower fares, and I am told they were being delayed in consequence of the difficulty of getting the necessary steel and so forth owing to the strike, but if they are not forthcoming in the very near future, I have announced that I shall take steps to re-open the whole question of fares.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Could the right hon. Gentleman not abolish some of the extras right away because they are not charged in other countries?
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
If the right hon. Gentleman proposes almost immediately to alter the fares of taxi-cabs, will that not be a handicap upon the people who have applied to put two-seater cabs on the street under the impression that they are going to put them on cheaper?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Quite honestly I am getting a little tired of waiting for these two-seater cabs, and unless I am satisfied that they will very-soon be forthcoming I shall assume that they are not coming at all.