Orders of the Day — Traffic Congestion (Large Cities)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1959.

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Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth Vauxhall 12:00 am, 7th May 1959

I have admitted that the problem is not easy to solve. I am not at the moment prepared to say where the final responsibility should lie. Probably it should lie with the Minister. His capacity to combine the other interests concerned is greater than that of any of the other bodies involved.

In a debate such as this one can only comment on the various proposals to remedy this serious social evil which have been advanced from time to time. One remedy which has been suggested in some quarters—I do not think that it commands much approval—is that private cars should be banned altogether from the central areas. That solution is not acceptable to me, it is far too simple, and as a large section of the public are now motorists I believe that it would cause as much inconvenience as it would bring benefit. I do not think that it is a solution which we should contemplate at the moment or even, it may be, at all.

That does not mean that it is not desirable to do everything possible to discourage private motorists from coming into the centre of London if they can avoid doing so, by using alternative methods of public transport. The unnecessary journey should be discouraged; and many of the journeys made by private motorists into the city centres are unnecessary. I would not object to a proposal to have certain small sections of the city centre completely free of vehicles, and formed into shopping zones, as has been done in other cities such as Birmingham. But that is a different matter from imposing a complete ban on motorists entering the central zone of a city.