asked the Home Secretary whether he will cancel the licences of a great number of taximeter-cabs in the London area, which primarily cater for the well-to-do classes, and divert the large amount of petrol so saved for the improvement of the motor-omnibus and transport services, thus providing better facilities for tired war workers to be carried to and from their work and employ the taximeter-cab drivers so displaced in more essential war service?
The number of taxi-cabs operating in the Metropolitan area has already been reduced by over 27 per cent. as compared with the pre-war figure. A considerable number of drivers have been called up for military service, and the continuance of this process will further reduce the number of cabs on the streets. The desirability of checking any unnecessary use of taxis is fully recognised, but I do not think the method proposed by my hon. Friend would be the right way of effecting such object, and it ought not, I think, to be assumed that taxi-cabs are a social and economic superfluity.
Is the Home Secretary really satisfied that the presence of so many petrol-consuming vehicles is a necessary part of the war effort; is he aware that the 27 per cent. reduction does no more than reflect the reduction of population; and would it not be better if a still greater reduction was effected as soon as possible so as to relieve petrol for more essential and vital purposes, especially war work?
The petrol consumption is a matter for the Ministry of Fuel and Power and possibly the Ministry of War Transport also, but I doubt whether there is any serious superfluity of taxicabs in London. As a matter of fact, at night the atmosphere of the streets of London is made pathetic by most plaintive calls for "Taxi! Taxi!"