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Orders of the Day — Hire Cars (Radius Restriction)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1948.

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Photo of Mr Luke Teeling Mr Luke Teeling , Brighton 12:00 am, 16th March 1948

I hope that I may come back for a minute to the more serious side after the last quite interesting but facetious speech. In my constituency, and I am sure in most other constituencies, we have a large number of ex-Service people—[Interruption]—yes, ex-Service people who have come to us and pointed out that they want to start a hire car system. They have been told by the Ministry of Fuel and Power that this can only be done if they were so badly injured during the war that they could not take on any other form of work. I do not know about other constituencies, but I do know that in mine there are a very large number of these people who are taking up that particular work. It is not unnatural, after all, that they should do so.

When people come down to the seaside resorts, about which the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) has spoken so well, they very often come down there in the hope of being able to travel about a bit, and that is why before the present fuel crisis, these men were given the opportunity of starting this business. Now that they have been started, very often with their gratuities which they received after the war, I do think that this House should take much more serious note of what we are talking about. These fellows are now in a very difficult position. The 20 miles limit is going to affect them very considerably.

I am quite certain that there is no one in my constituency who does not want to earn an honest living and who is not as much upset about the present position of this country as everyone else ought to be; but it is felt that in many ways this is a ridiculous order and that it is doing no particular good. In my area one of them has worked it out in the last few days. He cannot go beyond the 20 miles limit, but he can go round and round in that 20 miles up to 200 or 300 miles, travelling without anyone stopping him. It is not that he wants to do that sort of thing; he wants to do a straight forward, honest business. I am not talking about one particular person—there are many. They would want to go beyond that 20 mile limit for healthy business purposes.

But the position is—and it was clearly pointed out by the hon. Member for Kingston - on - Thames (Mr. BoydCarpenter)—that these men are being left in a very difficult position as to who is to judge and who is to decide whether they are doing the legal thing or not. just what no one knows at the present time is quite where the 20-mile limit ends. At Hove and Brighton no one has yet decided on the point where they are to start. If they start at one point they can get to one or two towns where they can do considerable business. If not, they are completely cut out. I do not want to stress this point too much, but I do beg the House to take more seriously the position of the ex-Service man who has put all his money into private hire cars and who is now finding himself quite incapable of doing regular jobs which were given him by people who were going on worth-while business and who are not now seeking permission to do so because of the red tape involved in getting permission.