HC Deb 11 May 1897 vol 49 cc256-63

Order for Second Reading read.


moved, "That the Bill be now read a Second time." He explained that the Bill referred to vehicles used on country roads, and required them to carry lights during certain hours. In England bicycles were required to show lights at night, but in Ireland it was not so. Many accidents had happened and continued to occur owing to the present bye-laws being of a different character. A person might start in a county where lights were enjoined upon all carriages, and yet find that the day's journey concluded where no such rule was in existence. The agricultural interest objected to having to provide these necessary lamps, and urged that they would involve a tax upon an already overburdened industry.

An HON. MEMBER called attention to the fact that there were not 40 Members present.


There are 10 Members present.


, resuming, urged that the purchase and the carrying of a lamp were not very expensive matters. The promoters of the Measure were prepared to meet any objection in a fair and comprehensive spirit. They did not propose to stand by every word, but were willing that the Bill should be sent to a Select Committee so that its provisions might be carefully scrutinised.

MR. ARTHER JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)

pointed out that a county council had power to make bye-laws requiring vehicles passing along roads at night to carry lights, and that many councils had already made such bye-laws, and very oppressive to agriculturists they had proved to be. It was absurd to suppose that carts or waggons going at a walking pace promoted collisions, and if his hon. Friend intended to persevere with the Measure he trusted that the hon. Gentleman would consent to the introduction of an Amendment exempting such vehicles from the necessity to carry lights. In Hampshire the County Council had passed a bye-law requiring all vehicles except those used for agricultural purposes and those going at a walking pace to carry lights. If the hon. Member for Clapham would agree to such an Amendment no harm could be done. The Bill as it stood had been considered by the Central Chamber of Agriculture, and the resolution was unanimously arrived at that the Measure would be very oppressive to agriculturists unless some Amendment of the kind he had described were inserted.

MR. GRANT LAWSON (York, N. R. Thirsk)

said that the Yorkshire Union of Agricultural Clubs had unanimously condemned the Bill if it was intended to apply to agricultural carts going at a walking pace. It was alleged that agriculturists thought expense would be caused to farmers if they were required to light their vehicles. There was more in the Bill than that, because it must provide for the imposition of fines if it was to have any effect at all. He thought it was a pity, in the present state of agricultural depression, that this Bill, which was in the interests of those who lived in towns, should be introduced. He thought it was a perfectly unnecessary bit of legislation as regarded these particular carts and waggons, and he hoped the House would reject it.

MR. FREDERICK CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)

was of opinion that the carrying of lights could only impose a small cost on anyone connected with agriculture, and he could assure hon. Members representing southern constituencies that people living near large towns, and especially those living near agricultural towns, had a great grievance in this matter. He thought all vehicles should carry lights. This would, he thought, simplify the case. A great source of danger was to be found in the milk carts which were left standing outside of a house while the milkman went to the house door. These did not carry lights, and he could assure hon. Members that if they were driving along the road when such a vehicle was left in the way, it was very difficult to prevent running into it. He thought this Bill would be of very great benefit to all members of the community.


thought this wax one of House matters in which the House should be cautious how it took out of the hands of local authorities powers which were already vested in them. There was a great difference of opinion as to the wisdom of a rule like this. It was a subject constantly under the attention of different County Councils. It was quite true that some of them had recently made a bye-law in this direction, and it was equally true that others had qualified that bye-law by some such exception as had been proposed by the hon. Member for Basing-stoke. He thought, therefore, they might say that the time was not yet quite ripe for any general rule of this kind. At the present moment he thought the agricultural districts would rather be left to the tender mercies of their own County Councils, who knew the local needs and could make bye-laws when they were required, than have a rigid and unbending rule like this imposed on the country as a whole.


said that Section 7 of the Bill applied to Ireland, and under the third Section an ordinary Irish tenant farmer's cart, no matter how small, in which he conveyed his produce to market, would have to provide a light when he was returning from market. This would be a great grievance to impose on the small tenant farmers in Ireland, many of whom were so poor that they could not afford to buy cart grease for their carts, let alone oil for lamps. Legislation like this affecting Ireland was absolutely unnecessary and tyrannical. It was quite proper that bicycles should be dealt with in large cities like London, where "scorchers" rushed along the streets at the rate of 20 to 30 miles an hour, but to apply a Bill like this in the country was to carry legislation to the verge of the farcical. He, therefore, strongly opposed the Bill.


spoke in the interests of young people who were cooped up in large towns, and who had few opportunities to escape from the smoke and the turmoil to enjoy the fresh air of the country. This Bill was not brought forward in the interests of those who could drive or ride, but in the interests of hundreds of thousands of young folks who were entitled after a hard day's work to get out of the smoke and inhale a little fresh air in the country. The opposition to this Bill came with a very bad grace from the agricultural party—[cheers]—after the way they had been treated in the Agricultural Rating Act. As to the interference of the Bill in Ireland, he would advise hon. Members from that country to do everything they could to encourage everybody to go there with a bicycle, because for every 6d. spent in oil and lamp thousands of pounds would be spent in the country.

*MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)

thought the Bill was entirely unnecessary. Its provisions would be most dangerous at harvest time, when carts were loaded with highly-combustible material. It would, besides, be very inconvenient to compel farmers to have their carts lighted up with a petroleum lamp, when they had, perhaps, only 100 yards to go along a high road (after traversing half-a-mile of private road or field) to get to the farmyard. He could not see the slightest necessity for the House troubling itself with such a mischievous Bill.

MR. F. G. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

said his experience in driving was that heavy carts going at a walking pace along the road were the worst offenders, because they drove on the wrong side of the road, and nearly always the drivers were asleep. The annals of coaching days wore full of anecdotes illustrating this. He agreed that there would be a certain amount of hardship at harvest time, but this might be met by regulations extending the time during harvest operations. The cost of a lamp must be small, and oil was very cheap. It was not often that farmers sent carts along the road. The great offenders were the heavy vans of the brewers. The Bill could do no harm to agriculture, and might prevent many accidents.

MR. W. O. CLOUGH (Portsmouth)

supported the Bill on behalf of a large number of cyclists. On the Middlesex roads, the market gardeners' carts fining to Covent Garden were a constant danger, and an accident had occurred to a member of his own family on account of them.

*MR. A. K. LOYD (Berkshire, Abingdon)

regretted that the hon. Member for Oldham had introduced into the Debate an antagonism between town and country in this question. The agricultural Members had as much sympathy with the cyclists as anyone else. He thought cyclists would agree that, considering the rough journeys farm carts had to undertake, and the inflammatory nature of many kinds of farm produce and of farm premises, often in isolated regions, the fewer un-necessary lamps and lucifer matches were called for, in connection with that industry, the better. These heavy carts went too slowly to be a danger to the traffic, and they made noise enough to be heard a mile off. It was not merely the desire to save the cost of the lamp-oil, but the desire to avoid any unnecessary duties and burdens, and to obviate the danger of fire, that led agricultural Members to ask for exemption from what might, in other respects, be a useful Bill.

MR. JAMES DALY (Monaghan, S.)

opposed the Second Reading of the Bill, as it tended to curtail the liberties and privileges of the Irish people. It might be necessary to have lights on carts and carriages in the crowded thoroughfares of London, but in Ireland one might travel miles upon miles without meeting a single vehicle on the roads; and when one was met with it was almost certain to be a donkey's cart. Again, in England policemen were so few that if an English farmer were to neglect to light up he would escape detection; but in Ireland policemen were as thick as blackberries—they were to be met at every corner; and there was, therefore, no chance for an Irish farmer to escape if he neglected to show a light on a donkey's cart. He was sure that the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill meant no evil to Ireland. But then the hon. Gentleman knew nothing about Ireland, and he would advise him in future to leave legislation to the Irish officials, who were paid for that sort of thing, or to the Irish Members, who knew something about the country.


claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.—Debate resumed.

MR. JOHN BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)

objected to the Bill principally because it proposed to override all the local regulations of the County Councils in regard to the carrying of lights by vehicles at night. In his own district the rule was that vehicles travelling faster than a walking pace should have lights. Again, in his district the roads were well lighted. There were 25 or 30 miles of roads lighted all the way with lamps, and there was no necessity that vehicles travelling on those roads should carry lights. The local authorities would consider it a great reflection on their action if any Act passed by that House overruled them, and he objected to the Bill, therefore, on their behalf.

Question put, "That the Bill be now Read a Second time." The House divided, and Mr. Percy Thornton, one of the tellers for the Ayes, announced the result as follows:—

Ayes 40
Noes 40

The announcement of the figures was received with laughter.


thereupon said: The numbers being equal, it is my duty to vote, and in accordance with the usual practice of the Chair in such circumstances, I shall give it in such a way as will afford the House another opportunity of taking a decision on this matter. I therefore give my vote with the Ayes, and declare that the Ayes have it.

The Division List—No. 205—as appended, shows—Ayes, 44; Noes, 40.

Anstruther, H. T. Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Stewart, Sir Mark J. Mc Taggart
Arnold, Alfred Hedderwick, Thomas Charles H. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Ascroft, Robert Kearley, Hudson E. Talbot, John G. (Oxford Univ.)
Baker, Sir John Kenyon, James Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Banbury, Frederick George Leuty, Thomas Richmond Ure, Alexander
Cawley, Frederick Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Channing, Francis Allston Massey-Mainwaring, Hon. W. F. Wanklyn, James Leslie
Charrington, Spencer Morton, Edward John Chalmers Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Clough, Walter Owen Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.) Wills, Sir William Henry
Davies, Horatio D. (Chatham) Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.)
Doughty, George Pierpoint, Robert Wortley Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Fisher, William Hayes Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Mr. Thornton and Mr. Graham.
Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John Simeon, Sir Barrington
Goldsworthy, Major General Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Arrol, Sir William Griffith, Ellis J. Pryce-Jones, Edward
Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Halsey, Thomas Frederick Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Billson, Alfred Healy, Maurice (Cork) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Brigg, John Helder, Augustus Rentoul, James Alexander
Caldwell, James Hobhouse, Henry Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Tanner, Charles Kearns
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Walrond, Sir William Hood
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Loyd, Archie Kirkman Warr, Augustus Frederick
Crilly, Daniel Macaleese, Daniel Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Dalrymple, Sir Charles M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Dane, Richard M. McKillop, James
Davies, W. Rees- (Pembrokesh.) Milward, Colonel Victor TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Mr. Jeffreys and Mr. Daly.
Farrell, James P. (Cavan, W.) Nicol, Donald Ninian
Flavin, Michael Joseph Pollock, Harry Frederick
Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Provand, Andrew Dryburgh

Bill read a Second time, and committed for to-morrow.