Oral Answers to Questions — Taxi-Cabs, London (Illegal Charges)

– in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife Eastern

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the exorbitant charges still frequently demanded by taxicab drivers after blackout time; that last week two junior officers and two war workers were charged 30s. for a taxicab run which normally costs 3s. 6d.; that the driver refused to make the journey until this sum had been paid; that this case is not exceptional; and what further action he proposes to take in order to prevent exploitation of the public in this way?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

As I stated in my reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for South Salford (Major Stourton) on 6th August, active steps are being taken by the police to deal with abuses of this kind in the Metropolitan area. I understand the particular case to which my hon. Friend refers was not brought to the notice of the police, and it would materially help them to take effective action if members of the public would report full particulars, including the driver's number, in every case where a sum in excess of the legal fare is demanded.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

In order to put a stop to this objectionable practice, would my right hon. Friend consider consulting with the trade union concerned to see whether they cannot use their influence in the matter?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Certainly, I will consider that. I imagine that not all of the men are members of trade unions. I will certainly explore that possibility.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Is the Home Secretary aware that this practice is exceptional and that most taxi-drivers are exceedingly honest and courteous?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

It is only fair and proper that I should say that these cases are rare and exceptional and involve no reflection on the general body of London taxi-drivers, who will, I am sure, support us in energetic action against this practice.

Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife Eastern

In order to prevent these exceptional cases, would it be possible for some notice from the police to be issued at once to taxi-drivers and taxi companies; so that this kind of thing will not happen?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

The reports of my answers will appear in the Press, and from my knowledge of London taxi-drivers, I know that they are very astute observers of Parliamentary proceedings as far as they affect taxi-drivers. I will do all that I can, but the public must help us, and if people do not give us the men's numbers and particulars, the position is very difficult.