Local authorities have long-standing powers to ensure that street names and numbers are clearly marked. These powers might be improved when opportunity allows but my right hon. Friend thinks that they are adequate meanwhile. The importance of using them to the full was emphasised in a circular from the Ministry of Transport early last year.
Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that, whatever the powers, the performance is wholly inadequate? Could not this very simple reform have a little precedence over some of the less desirable things which the Government are proposing, like steel nationalisation?
The hon. Gentleman has answered his own supplementary question, because the gap is not mainly in the powers; it is mainly in the execution. My right hon. Friend is very anxious to see an improvement in that respect and hopes very much that local authorities will use their powers more effectively than they are doing.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is the second time this afternoon that we have been told that local authorities have the powers but that they do not appear to be using them? Will he get all local authorities, where necessary, to exercise their powers?
It may be that the enthusiasm of local authorities has been somewhat dissipated during the past 13 years. My right hon. Friend is very anxious that local authorities should be aware that he will encourage them in showing initiative in using their powers.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, despite the desirability of this, sudden changes cause considerable inconvenience to householders? Will he ask local authorities to give reasonable warning and not demand these changes to be made with the absolute minimum of delay, which can cause a great deal of inconvenience?
As I think the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) suggested, a great deal of inconvenience is caused by bad marking of streets and some risk by people stopping in cars to look to see where they are. It is important that this matter should be brought up to date.