§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
called attention to the fact that forty Members were not present.
House counted and forty Members being present.
§ *MR. BIGWOOD (Middlesex, Brentford)
said that in asking the House of Commons to give a Second Reading to this Bill he was asking hon. Members to assent to a principle which had already been carried out throughout the length and breadth of the land. Therefore, he did not think that he needed to take up a large amount of the time of the House because he thought there were very few hon. Members who would dispute the advisability of passing this 182 very simple Bill. He did not remember a more simple Bill being brought before the attention of the House of Commons. So far as he could sec it did not alter in one iota what already existed in the well-administered counties of England. Clause 3 of the Bill did not provide that additional lights should be carried, but it simply insisted that one light should be carried to show either before or behind the vehicle. No doubt it would be said that the farmers could not afford this extra cost, but he wished to point out that by an Act recently passed they had given to the farmers 50 per cent. of their rates, and they were now being told that they were really so poor that they could not afford the additional cost of a penny rushlight at the back of their vehicles. He did not think this needed much talking about. All he was asking for in this Bill was to establish uniformity of a practice which was now carried out in the majority of the best-regulated counties in England. He was not championing or voicing the objects of any of the associations which had made themselves so prominent—he alluded to motor-car, cycling, and road associations. They could very well take care of themselves. He was speaking entirely from practical experience gained in connection with bylaws with which he had been associated in passing for the county of Middlesex.
Those who knew Middlesex were aware that it was a county adjoining London through which there was a large amount of slow and sleepy traffic from the agricultural districts, and the drivers in charge of such traffic were not always found proceeding on the right side of the road, and the result was not everything that could be desired. He could assure hon. Members opposite that it was not so easy to pass by-laws as they appeared to think. No doubt he would be told that all they needed to do was to pass a by-law and get the Government Department to confirm it, and then they would have all they wanted. But they would not then have all they required because what he wanted was uniformity, and that was all he asked for in this Bill. It was much more simple to accept a Bill of this sort in order to secure uniformity, for it would 183 make the general practice the law. At the present time the Government Department was bothered enough by various by-laws. Some people expected the Government Department actually to approach the county councils and place before them model by-laws, but besides the county councils they had also to deal with the boroughs. This Bill would consolidate the whole of the regulations upon this question, and he would leave motor - car owners and cyclists to look after themselves. A similar Bill to this was discussed in the year 1897, but since that time there had been an enormous increase in the usage of public roads by motors and other vehicles. The motor was now being used for commercial purposes, and of course they must improve their regulations in this improving age. He remembered the time when lights were few and far between on the country roads. As a young man he always found his eyes on a dark night were good enough for anything, but they had got beyond that now. Motor-cars and motor-bicyles—fast running vehicles—were obliged to carry lights, but the slow-going vehicles and the cart left on the side of the road were not required to carry a light and so they were liable to be run into. Was that reasonable? In his opinion it was a perfect anomaly. This Bill sought to do what was being done in every well-regulated administrative county in this country.
On what ground was the hon. Member opposite going to move the rejection of this Bill? Surely if there were any benefits to be derived from it Scotland ought not to be excluded. He was aware that Scotland was a favourite touring place, but that was all the more reason why Scotland should have the benefit of the Bill as well as England. He would like to give to the House a few reasons in favour of the passing of this measure. In the county of Middlesex they had been establishing a very large system of light railways running into the suburbs and through into the country. He had received a copy of a letter from the general manager of the Wakefield and District Light Railways Company which had been written to the general managers of other companies, 184 in which it was pointed out that as tramways were now being carried further into the suburbs, the need for an enactment by which the men in charge of vehicles should be forced to safeguard themselves and others using the roads against accidents was becoming more seriously felt. The letter further pointed out that it seemed absurd that tram cars and motor-cars should be compelled to carry lights behind whilst a crawling waggon with the driver often asleep should be exempt from carrying any lights. Tramcars were as a rule so brilliantly lighted that it would indeed be a blind man who ran into a tramcar from behind, whilst motor-cars travelled so fast that it was almost impossible for ordinary vehicles to run into them from behind, and yet both tramcars and motor-cars had to carry lights behind. If hon. Members would only do him the honour of reading this Bill, they would see that it did not add any fresh powers in any shape or form to what already existed in this country. His only desire in pressing forward this Bill was to pass a measure which would benefit all those who used public roads. He begged to move the Second Reading of this Bill.
LIEUT-COLONEL TUFNSELL (Essex, S.E.)
said that as an agricultural Member he hoped he should be allowed to say a few words upon this most admirable Bill which had been so ably introduced by the hon. Member for Middlesex. It was quite true that along country lanes motorcars and vehicles were running very often at great rates, and as they were all aware country roads and lanes were not lighted at all, so that the risk was all the greater to ordinary people who had to drive or walk along those roads at night. It was all very well in towns where there were lots of lights, but this Bill would not apply so much to the towns as to the country districts. One objection, however, he should like to point out, and his objection applied to the vast number of country carts which passed from the county of Essex to the London market. Very often it happened that in the early morning the drivers of these carts fell asleep and therefore they became a source of danger to the ordinary travelling public. The objection he wished to put 185 forward was that in the case of a sudden puff of wind or a severe jolt, this was often sufficient to put out the light attached to a vehicle. It had been frequently found that cyclists had been brought up before the magistrates and fined, not because they had no lights on their bicycles, but because the light had happened for the moment to go out in consequence of a puff of wind or a jolt. Admirable as this Bill was, he thought there should be something put in the measure to provide that if the lights accidentally went out in this way the drivers should not be fined. The fourth clause proposed that, "any person who shall cause or permit any vehicle to be drawn or driven" without being provided with the lamp or lamps required should be liable to a penalty. He suggested that if the word "wilfully" were inserted before the word "cause" the case would be met. If a lamp had gone out accidentally it would be rather hard that a man should be fined. Subject to that exception, he cordially supported the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ *MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said he absolutely dissociated himself from any reflection on the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Second Reading, both of whom had spoken in a plain, practical, businesslike manner. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading had stated that there might be discussion on this measure for the purpose of preventing discussion on the Women's Enfranchisement Bill, which was the second order on the Paper that day. He could assure the promoters of the Bill now before the House that nothing was further from his thought than that. He would be able to prove to the satisfaction of the House that there was a strong and deep-rooted feeling against the Bill among his constituents. It was on that ground, and that ground only, he had given notice that he would move the rejection of the Bill. If he might say so without offence, the speeches of the mover and seconder suggested that the Bill was prompted partly by reactionary Toryism, and 186 partly by a desire to meet the demands of a very small, but very selfish class of men, namely, the motorists, who were making increasing encroachments on the rights of the general public. What he had described as the reactionary Toryism of the measure was to be found in the fact that it would strike at the principle of local government in the country. That was one of his main objections to the Bill.
It had been urged in support of the Bill that it would establish uniformity in the law. He and his friends who opposed the Bill did not want uniformity; they desired to leave to local authorities a fairly free hand in those matters affecting their own people. When the hon. Member said that the measure was introduced to do away with the feeling which existed in county councils in favour of their agricultural friends, he gave the keynote of the whole Bill. There was not a county council where the members would take the responsibility of putting an impost of this kind on the people. That was because it was felt that intense inconvenience would be caused. In Scotland the condition of affairs had been this. In every county in Scotland farms were divided by the public roads, and farmers had always been in the habit of using these roads for bringing cattle backwards and forwards, and for carrying on general farming operations. That being the state of affairs, the House could understand why it was that a feeling of intense irritation had been caused in Scotland over this measure.
He wished to state shortly some of the reasons which had influenced the Scotch Members, who were practically unanimous against the Bill. In December last this question was discussed at a local election in which he took part, and so strong was the feeling which was manifested on the part of farmers and agriculturists, that, before the end of the election both candidates declared that they would not support any measure of this sort. On January 14th a meeting was held in the Agricultural Hall, Edinburgh, at which a resolution was passed condemning the proposals in the Bill on the ground that they would seriously hamper 187 agriculturists in their work, and provide facilities for driving motor-cars at a speed inconsistent with the rights and the safety of the public. There was an absolutely unanimous feeling against these proposals on the part of the farmers who attended the meeting. This Bill did not propose to enact that when sheep or cattle were being taken along the public roads after dark there should be a boy in front and another behind, each carrying a light, but he would remind the House that that was the original proposal. In February, after the House met, the heather was on fire, so to speak, in Scotland, and he received a telegraphic communication from his constituents in Orkney stating that they were deeply alarmed by the report of the proceedings of the meeting in the Scotch papers, and at the effect which this measure would have on them. He replied that he did not believe there was the least possibility of the Bill being brought forward, or of the Government giving any countenance or support to it. The Employers' Parliamentary Council had passed a resolution expressing their strong objection to this Bill, and stating that if any further legislation dealing with lights on vehicles was required it should be limited to vehicles going faster than walking pace. The view expressed in that resolution seemed to him to be a very reasonable one.
The Scotch Members strongly objected to the measure on two grounds. In the first place it would destroy the power which could at present be exercised by the local authority in this matter. There was a constant effort being made to centralise all authority in this House, and to do away with the control and jurisdiction of the local authorities. He thought, it was of the utmost importance that the power and control of the local authorities should be protected and supported, in every possible way, and that people living in the country should not be able to come to this House, so to speak, to shuffle out of their responsibilities. The county councils dare not propose a reactionary measure of this sort, and, if that was so, why should Parliament enable them to get out of their responsibility where they had very properly refused to exercise their powers. This 188 question, at any rate in Scotland, had been brought forward by the Motor Union, and they had proposed even more drastic measures than were embodied in this Bill. The other reason why the House should reject the Bill was that it had not been in print for more than forty-eight hours. He had asked Mr. Deputy-Speaker whether it was in order to move the Second Reading of a Bill which had not been printed, and it was no breach of confidence to-say that the reply he received was that it was an excellent reason for moving its rejection. There were many hon. Members who had had no opportunity of studying its provisions. The whole of his constituents were bitterly opposed to the Bill, believing that rights and privileges which had been enjoyed from time immemorial would be seriously infringed. They felt that the Bill had been brought forward by a small class of selfish and greedy persons who desired to use the public roads for their own benefit. He begged to move.
§ *SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (Wigtonshire),
in seconding the Amendment, said he desired to dissociate himself from the imputation of any motive in connection with the discussion of this measure. He was told that the desire to protract the discussion had reference to a much more attractive subject than the one on which they were now engaged. He did not suppose it was possible to afford a better illustration of the paradoxical nature of this measure than was presented by the fact that it was moved by the hon. Member for the Brentford Division of Middlesex and opposed by the hon. Member for Orkney. The contrast between the character of the constituencies of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of the Bill and the hon. Member who moved its rejection was a sufficient argument against the Bill. He did not dispute the competence of his hon. friend to speak of the necessities of the traffic in Middlesex, but would he not allow the Scotch Members some discretion in managing their own affairs? Parliament had committed that duty to the county councils. Was Parliament prepared to withdraw that responsibility? If that were so, he was afraid that all 189 their talk about devolution and encouragement of local responsibility must have been exceedingly hollow, because as soon as the local discretion was exercised they were to be told that it was inconvenient to the public. He had listened in vain to the speech of his hon. friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill for any valid reason for what he called uniformity. The hon. Gentleman most faithfully described the condition of the traffic in Middlesex highways; but he observed that the hon. Gentleman made a curious exemption. He drew an alarming picture of the risks incurred by travellers if a cart were left unlighted by the side of a road, but he also observed, with some surprise, that the hon. Member allowed the wheelbarrow so to remain without a light. Now, an accident from an unlighted wheelbarrow might be quite as serious as from an unlighted cart. The danger of unlighted carts was, he could not help thinking, in a great degree imaginary, because motor - cars, in their own interest, carried a strong head-light. During last winter he had travelled as many hundred miles by night in a motorcar as most men. He had to do so in order to catch the main line train twenty miles off his place; and he said, without hesitation, that he had never had the slightest inconvenience from unlighted carts; but he had had some difficulty with unlighted flocks of sheep. If the hon. Member did not extend the Bill to other obstacles than vehicles he would not do much to increase the safety of travelling by night on country roads.
He thought the most serious objection to this Bill was the time at which it had been brought forward. Owing to the in-experience, unskilfulness, and in some cases the criminal carelessness of some people who used motors, there was no doubt that public opinion in the country was very profoundly agitated; and the question with reasonable people was how that traffic was to be properly controlled. Well, in the interest of the measure itself, and of those who supported it, it was unfortunate that it should have been brought forward at this time; because, let his hon. friend's motives in bringing this measure on now be what they might, he and his associates would be credited with acting in the interest of the motor 190 traffic. He did not think that this was a time when Parliament would willingly place any class or some industry at an inconvenience by laying restrictions on it in the interest of those who had rather high views of their privileges in the use of the roads.
The hon. Member for Orkney had rightly described the view taken of this Bill by agriculturists and by public bodies in Scotland. He had gone down to Scotland last week to attend a meeting of his own county council. He could not say that he had read the Bill. He did not know its provisions when he was asked what he intended to do about it when it came before the House. Its provisions were roughly explained to him. He did not know that the Bill was in charge of his hon. friend; and he trusted his reply would not be regarded as very disrespectful to him or his constituents. But he answered that from the description given of it, it was a Cockney measure, and that he could not imagine that this Parliament, or any future Parliament, would lay such a burden on agriculturists as would be imposed by this Bill. Now, he might be right or he might be wrong; but he asked the House to consider whether the conditions of traffic in Middlesex were a sufficient reason for imposing what must be irksome restrictions on traffic in thinly-populated rural districts?
Had a case been made out for the Bill? What was the object of having uniformity in regulations applying to two different sets of circumstances? He hoped that his hon. friend would be so convinced of the undesirableness of the proposals in the Bill that he would withdraw it; at all events, that he would confine its provisions to those parts of the country where they were better appreciated than in Scotland. Why, in this Bill, the hon. Gentleman proposed to repeal a clause in the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act of 1903, over which Parliament spent a great deal of time, and which it was certainly a strange thing to interfere with in a private Members Bill. He could see no advantage to be expected from this measure, and no reason why it should be pursued any further. He would ask hon. Members 191 for Ireland what they thought of extending this measure to the country districts of Ireland. [Cries of "It does not extend to Ireland."] Well, if it did extend to Ireland how would hon. Members from that country look upon it? He was very much mistaken indeed if they would not strongly object to it. He had great pleasure in seconding the Motion for its rejection.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words, 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Cathcart Wason.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
said that this small Bill was of considerable importance to all classes of the community, because there was hardly any one who had not, in one shape or another, the necessity of using the public roads. He thought there was considerable danger to all kinds of traffic from slow-moving vehicles without lights. The first matter which the House had to consider was whether it was necessary that vehicles should have lights when upon the roads. It was supposed, very often, that the object of a light on a travelling vehicle was to give the person who drove it an opportunity of seeing the road in front of him and the ditches on either side. Now, as a matter of fact, that was not the real object of the light. He did not know about motor-cars, because he never owned one and hoped he never would. The lights of motor-cars were so strong that it was possible for the driver to see the ditches and the various obstructions on the road; but he had been in the habit of using horse-driven vehicles for many years, and he could say that, as a rule, unless you were passing a coach where there were five or six lights, these were no guide. In an ordinary vehicle the light was very often a drawback rather than an assistance in showing obstacles on the road because of the shadows which it cast. The object of a light on a vehicle was to let people see that somebody else was coming along the road. There was a case in which he himself was driving 192 along a narrow road in the dark with a light and he suddenly came upon a vehicle without a light and a collision took place. Fortunately not much damage was done, but it might have eventuated in serious consequences. He thought it was proved, beyond doubt, that it was necessary that all vehicles should carry lights.
Then the question came in, were lights compulsory at the present moment? So far as he knew, in the majority of counties in England the county councils had passed by laws making lights compulsory; and, so far as he knew, these by-laws had been sufficient to meet the public requirements of safety, and had been satisfactory to the great majority of the people concerned in making use of the roads. No doubt there had been cases where brewers, millers, bakers, and butchers who used the country roads might perhaps have objected to being compelled to carry a light; but it must be remembered that those who used the roads paid very little towards their upkeep, and that they should be obliged to carry a light. Perhaps, in regard to farmers, it was a different thing. It must be remembered that they did not use the roads very much except in a dairy-farming country, where the milk carts went to the railway stations, in the early morning or late in a winter's evening. In the two counties with which he was connected he knew that lights were carried. The question arose whether, in view of these facts, the House of Commons should pass a Bill making the carrying of lights compulsory? The argument had been used in favour of this measure that it established uniformity. He agreed very much with what the hon. Gentleman opposite had said. He believed that uniformity could hardly be established all over the country because the conditions were different. It was self-evident that the conditions varied in Middlesex and Orkney.
There was an argument against the Bill which seemed to him to be very strong. What was the use of establishing county councils and district councils if they did not leave questions of this sort—the lighting of vehicles 193 —in their own districts to their own control. He was not sure whether it would not have been advisable to pass a simple and reasonable Bill, but he did not think this Bill was either reasonable or simple. He believed the Bill had only been printed a few days ago, and hon. Members could hardly have had time to study it. However, he had looked at it, and confessed that some of its provisions were perfectly ludicrous. Subsection 2 provided that—Where any portion of the load which is being carried in or upon, a vehicle projects more than six feet to the rear beyond the back of the vehicle, such vehicle … shall be provided with two lamps, one of which shall be constructed and placed at the front of the vehicle upon the extreme off-side of such vehicle.What was the extreme off-side? That light was to be a white light, but who was to decide what a white light was? In addition to that there was to be a red tail-light. He thought it was perfectly absurd. What on earth was the advantage of a tail-light? One could always see the light on the off side, which cast a shadow. If the driver was asleep it did not matter much whether there was a tail-light or not. A tail-light was not only useless, but would cause a large expense to farmers and small carriers which was altogether unnecessary. It was provided that if the off-side lights had a little red disc at the back that would be sufficient. Now, a dairy farmer who-sent his milk in a low cart to the railway station very often had a small lamp which was fixed on the splashboard; but the little red disc would be of no use because one could not see the splashboard from behind, and the farmer would have to put an iron rod on the off-side so that he could fix the lamp with the red light disc on it. He maintained that that would be quite impossible, and therefore a farmer with a big slow-moving wagon would have to have two lights, one in front and one behind.
There were other proposals in the Bill to which he would draw the attention of the House. Section 2 said that the term "vehicle" included every carriage or conveyance, whether with or without wheels, wherein any person or commodity was or could be carried or conveyed. Now a horse was a vehicle 194 without a wheel; a horse was something on which any person or commodity could be carried or conveyed. Therefore a horse came under this category. Just consider what might happen! Ladies who went to a hunt meet frequently returned to their homes twelve or thirteen miles off in their carriage, leaving their servants to take their horses home. In the case of his daughter and himself, for instance, he left his servant to bring the horses back, one horse being led. Apparently he would, under this Bill, require four lights—one on the servant's arm, one on his back, another somewhere on the side-saddle of the led horse, and a red lamp at his tail. To him that seemed to show the absurdity of the provisions of this Bill. Again, an old woman in the village who had been doing a washing of clothes for a neighbour and was taking it home would be a conveyance wherein any commodity was or could be carried or conveyed. Would that old woman have to carry a light also? He had endeavoured shortly to put before the House the very many objections to this Bill. He did not think they could be remedied in Committee. He understood that it was suggested that Scotland should be exempted from the Bill, but if the Bill were bad for Scotland it would be bad for England. He should vote against the Second Reading of this measure.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)
said that like all those who had hitherto spoken, except the hon. Member who had introduced the Bill, he was wholly opposed to it. It was most unfair that a Bill of this character should only have been put into the hands of hon. Members on the previous morning, and that they should be asked to take the Second Reading with such speed. The hon. Member who proposed the Bill must be well aware that the general, opinion in Scotland, and in England as well, was opposed to it. It had not the remotest chance of passing through the House, and even if passed it would not be the best means of settling the motor question. In the interest of public business he appealed to the hon. Gentleman to recognise the condition of opinion in the House, that it was hopeless for him to proceed with the Bill, and that 195 he should therefore withdraw it. It had been suggested that Scotland should be exempted from the Bill. He should certainly accept the exemption of Scotland; but he should oppose the Bill even if applied to England. He held that it was preposterous to take away the duty of regulating road traffic from the local authorities. What were these local authorities there for except to discharge such duties? He thought this was a most retrograde measure.
§ MR. MOON (St. Pancras, N.)
said that the Cyclists' Tourist Union had supported this Bill for many years, and on their behalf he should like to recommend it as worthy of the serious consideration and support of the House. Those who, on business or pleasure, used bicycles after dark were exposed to great danger and risk owing to the negligence of sleepy or tipsy carters who kept neither to the proper side of the road nor carried lights. The hon. Member for Orkney had given a very good account of the wide Scotch roads, but things were different in England; and whatever might be the case in regard to Scotland, he urged that the Bill should be adopted for England and Wales.
§ MR. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
said it was hardly fair for hon. Members to speak at such length on this measure, not in the interest of the Bill itself, but to prevent the Bill on the second order coming on. This Bill was produced, it was alleged, in the interest of the blessed word "uniformity," which he thought was as good a word for the purpose as "Mesopotamia." In his opinion there had been far more people killed on account of that word "uniformity" than in all the ages by carts driven without lights. This Bill struck at the root of all local government. It was stated by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Bill that the condition of the roads in the districts round the Metropolis was absurd, and that the local authorities desired this Bill because they were afraid to put their own by-laws in regard to traffic into force. He denied that. He thought the local enactments worked very well. He thought that the motor-cars scorching along the roads with great flaring lights, were far more dangerous to the ordinary 196 travelling public than even wagons without lights. Motor-car drivers had no consideration for anybody. They went ahead regardless of consequences, and they had had several instances of late in which the drivers had displayed utter callousness. He was told that in Denmark the speed in the day time of these cars was limited to eight miles an hour, and that they were prohibited from travelling at night. He did not suggest that such stringent regulations could be enforced in this country, but certainly something should be done to produce a better state of affairs. To return to the Bill. In his opinion it would inflict great hardship on the ordinary farmer. The cost might not be very great, but the inconvenience would be considerable, because if the Bill became law a farmer who moved a cart from a field on one side of the road to one on the other side would have to have a light. He had ridden a great many miles at night and had not met with danger from vehicles without lights. He would ask the House, in the interests of the ordinary travelling public, not to make the use of the roads more easy for high-speed travelling motor-cars.
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness)
objected to the inclusion of Scotland in the Bill. However important it might be in counties like Middlesex or Lancashire to apply such regulations it certainly was not necessary for Scotland. It seemed to him the present arrangement which left the regulations for lighting vehicles in the hands of the county councils was much better and more suited to the localities. This Bill applied not only to the ordinary highways of the country, but also to the most remote and secluded Highland roads, and he ventured to suggest it was most absurd to insist on the same regulations for roads in the neighbourhood of London and other large cities and towns and for those in distant parts of Scotland. One result of passing this Bill would be to tempt the farmer in Scotland to disregard the law, and that was always a misfortune. Then why was Ireland excluded from the Bill. It was not because the regulations were unsuited to the country, but because it was known that the Irish Members were opposed to the measure, and would 197 constitute a solid compact body which would prevent the Bill getting through. The representatives of Scotland were equally opposed to the Bill, and he therefore recommended the promoters to agree to the exclusion of that country from it.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)
said he had listened with great interest to the debate, and did not believe the hon. Member for Middlesex would find many supporters for his Bill in the House. He thought it would be most objectionable to impose a hard-and-fast rule with regard to the carrying of lights over the country at large. Local authorities should be left the discretion, which they now possessed, of regulating the lights according to different classes of traffic and local needs. He knew that in Scotland and in some counties in England it was the custom to exempt from these regulations vehicles not built upon springs and which usually proceeded at a slow walking pace. But now it was proposed to sweep all vehicles of whatever kind into one net. He ventured to say, in the interest of both Scottish and English agriculturists, that such a proposal was impossible and that the House would never consent to it. Early that year he was present at a very large and representative meeting of Scottish agriculturists in Edinburgh. There were in attendance 400 or 500 delegates representing sixty associations, and they unanimously passed a resolution condemning in the strongest terms the measure now before the House. He was very much struck by a statement made by one of the farmers—a very distinguished Scottish agriculturist, whose brother held a high and responsible position on the Underground Railway system in London. The speaker said he had on the average two or three carts going daily to Glasgow, and it would cost him £50 a year to provide the lamps. He would require at least thirty, and in addition a man to look after them. The Bill would inflict a grave hardship on agriculturists. The high roads were being constantly used by the carts of farmers in the ordinary course of their avocation, and if this Bill were passed they would be obliged, if they only crossed a road from one field to another, to provide lights in the morning and evening. He did not think the 198 House was prepared to impose that obligation on them.
The Bill was for the benefit of motorists. The proper course was for motorists to use the roads at a moderate speed. He believed that the great body of owners of motor-cars would not tolerate the excesses committed by some of the men in charge of them, and he for one regretted that such misuse was made of the roads. After all, the roads were constructed long before motor-cars came into existence, and he did think it strange they should be asked to pass into law a Bill containing such extremely severe provisions simply in order to give certain people—who only, after all, used a fraction of the roads—opportunities for more speedy travel. Motor-cars, in fact, did not penetrate into many parts of the country, and, as the roads were made and kept up at the public expense the ratepayers ought to have more consideration shown them. The hon. Member for the Brentford Division of Middlesex referred to the use of the roads for light railways—well, he for one thought light railways were out of place on high roads. He hoped the House would, by an overwhelming majority, reject this measure.
§ MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)
said he was neither a cyclist nor the owner of a motor-car, but circumstances compelled him to ride upon the roads a great deal, and he had consequently a very fair knowledge of what was going on. He had no desire to interfere with the consideration of any other Bill, and would consequently make his observations as brief as possible. But he wished to point out that in one district, where provisions of this nature had been in operation for some time, no complaint whatever had been made, and in view of the opposition shown to this Bill he thought it desirable to make it known that there were a large number of people satisfied with provisions of this kind. Had he anticipated that so much opposition would have been shown to this measure he would have ascertained from a number of county councils, which had framed by-laws of their own, what had been their experience, and that experience might well have been placed against the complaints made by those who lived in the northern 199 part of the Empire. Apart altogether from motors and cycles, he believed there was a necessity for a Bill of this nature, and he thought it important that there should be a tail-light on wagons, and that that light should be so affixed on timber trollies and other vehicles as to show to those coming up from behind the exact extent of the load being carried. Special lights were provided for this purpose which could be used with great efficiency. As to the exact position in which the lights should be placed, he had seen lights abroad underneath the conveyance in such a way that it was very difficult to see them at all, and yet they fulfilled the letter of the law. He cordially supported the Bill, and was surprised to find that so many Members took a different view of it.
§ *MR. SEYMOUR ORMSBY-GORE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)
said that, although representing a Lincolnshire constituency, he had not received a single communication from any agricultural association against this Bill, but he had on the other hand received many communications from cycling associations and others in favour of it. If there had been any great opposition against the Bill on the part of the farming community the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford would certainly have been in his place to speak for the farmers. He was not at all certain that in the end the Bill would not prove to be rather beneficial than prejudicial to the agricultural community. The cost imposed by the Bill would be infinitesimal—probably not more than £2 a year—and in addition it would give the farmer a considerable amount of protection, not in the tariff sense, but against accidents. In fact, it would be a form of insurance. He had the greatest sympathy for the farming class, but he thought it futile to suggest that they should be exempted on the ground of cost. All vessels at sea had to be lighted whether they were Cunard liners owned by wealthy corporations or fishing smacks belonging to comparatively poor people, and a heavy penalty would be incurred in addition to the risk of being run down if a fishing smack was not lighted. That farmers might be exempted during the hay harvest, the lights 200 could be so placed as to obviate all danger of fire. Nor could he agree that summer nights were lighter than winter nights, because the foliage of the trees in the wooded parts of the country threw so much shadow over the roads that it was more difficult to see in summer than in winter.
He was constrained to vote for this Bill from personal experience. Last summer when cycling at night in the neighbourhood of Slough he came across a man lying on the ground bleeding profusely from the head. After being taken to the infirmary the man died, and at the coroner's inquest it was discovered that he had been scorching on a bicycle, and, riding with his head down, had run into a waggon, which he failed to see, and sustained the injuries from which he succumbed. Considerations of humanity alone ought to be sufficient to induce Members to support the Bill. He could not see that the measure embodied reactionary Toryism as had been suggested. It applied to bicyclists rather than to any other class of the community, and the bicycle was the poor man's horse. It was not at all a motorists Bill; in fact, motors would benefit from it far less than any other description, of vehicle, because having such powerful lights they were well able to see far ahead. As to sheep on the road they always raised considerable dust and gave plenty of warning, so that no traps were likely to run into them. With regard to wheelbarrows and perambulators there might be some slight danger, but as a mar had neither an on-side nor an off-side it would be difficult to determine on what part of his person a light should be placed.
He did not see why Ireland should be included in the Bill, inasmuch as there was practically no traffic on the roads at night except possibly in the North, and what traffic there was generally consisted of donkeys carrying turf or carts of so light a character that they would not cause any serious damage in case of collison. As to the argument that no county council would dare to impose such a burden, he had already shown that the impost was not a large one. The necessity for uniformity was very important, as it would be extremely confusing to pass 201 from one county where they were many lights into a county where there were none, and the line of demarcation was seldom clearly defined. In nearly every foreign country the different provinces had regulations requiring lights to be placed at the tail of vehicles, and he believed that if the Bill were passed into law it would be most beneficial in preventing accidents throughout the country. For these reasons and for others which had already been urged he supported the Bill.
§ *SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)
said he had risen simply for the purpose of stating the reasons for the vote which he was about to give in regard to this measure. The Bill made provision against accidents which arose through vehicles not being properly lighted. Upon the Second Reading they had only to deal with principles, and as the main principle of this Bill was to prevent accidents he should give his hearty support to the measure. It had been said that county councils and other public bodies already possessed the necessary powers for dealing with this danger by making by-laws, but he saw no reason why in such a matter as the protection of life and limb Parliament should not step in. He understood that there was an obligation placed upon motor-cars and cyclists to carry lights, and surely as regarded the question of cost the saving of the life and limb of a human being was worth a good many lamps. He appealed to the House to go to a division as soon as possible in view of the important questions which stood next on the Paper.
§ *SIR HUGH SHAW-STEWART (Renfrew, E.)
supported the Bill. He had often been asked to support such a measure by a great body of his constitutents, and it was chiefly from the cyclists' point of view rather than from the motorists' point of view that he now spoke in favour of the Bill. He knew that the agricultural interest were opposed to the measure, but he thought farmers would not find the necessity of hanging one lamp on the off-side of their carts such a burden as they expected when they once got into the habit of doing so. He believed if this 202 Bill were passed a cheap lamp would be put on the market which would be available for farmers, and therefore he did not attach much importance to the objection which had been stated to the measure on that score. But if the Bill were passed into law there would be no longer any excuse for motors to carry exaggerated lamps, and he thought if hon. Members who, like himself, were connected with the agricultural interest, supported the Bill it ought to be on the understanding that consideration would be given in Committee to the question whether there should not be some standard strength of lamp for motors beyond which it should be illegal to light them, because there was a great deal of danger in agricultural districts on account of motors going at a high speed at night with excessively glaring lights. Horses and the men driving them were for the moment dazzled, and he knew for a fact that accidents had happened from that cause. He hoped his hon. friend in charge of the Bill would think that suggestion worth considering.
There was another aspect of this matter from the agricultural point of view, namely, that districts such as Orkney and others represented by hon. Members who opposed the Bill, which were of an excessively rural character, might very reasonably be scheduled by county councils as districts containing roads on which there was no traffic but farm traffic. In Wigtonshire, Kircudbrightshire, and various rural parts of Scotland whole districts might be safely scheduled as districts where it would not be necessary that lights should be carried. [An HON. MEMBER: What about uniformity?] He did not care about the question of uniformity. He was thinking of the safety of life and limb for those who used the roads. He was not speaking from the point of view of the motorists. If these suggestions were taken up and considered carefully in Committee he for one should be happy to support the Bill.
§ *SIR WALTER THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
said he was very loth to place any impediment in the way of the legislative efforts of his hon. friend who had moved the Second Reading of the Bill, but when he 203 proposed legislation which many of his constituents looked upon with something like horror then friendship must be put aside and public duty must take its place. His duty under the circumstances would be to oppose the Bill unless he had some assurance that it would not apply to Scotland. He had no doubt this would be a very useful Bill in connection with the suburbs of London, and also in the home counties adjoining the Metropolis, where perhaps 100 cars were passing every day for every one running on Scotch roads. The Bill if applied to Scotland would become an intolerable nuisance to farmers. For instance, if a farmer wished after sunset to take a cart of roots to his sheep he would require to carry lights, although only performing a necessary part of his business, for the public roads usually intersected, farms. Then in the autumn when the harvest was going on it was frequently necessary late in the season for farmers to avail themselves of the opportunity to cart their grain in the moonlight. In that case they would require to have lights in front of and behind the cart. These, he thought, were perfectly unnecessary things. As had been pointed out by a previous speaker, if sheep were being taken along the public roads it would be necessary to have a man in front and another behind, each carrying a light, for if they were to have the Bill they must have regard to the danger caused by animals as well as vehicles. In Scotland they had the Burgh Police Act which regulated all questions about lighting within the boundaries of cities or burghs. Besides this the county councils had power to formulate regulations for the lighting of vehicles in the counties. The object of his hon. friend who moved the Second Reading was to make the law uniform all over the country. He believed the Bill would, if it created uniformity of the law, at any rate create a state of matters which, however desirable in one part of the country, was absolutely unnecessary in others. He thought the local people were the best judges of what should be done in the matter. If his hon. friend would give him an assurance that the Bill would not apply to Scotland he certainly should not oppose it any further, but if it was to apply to that country he should feel 204 bound in the interest of his constituents to give it the strongest opposition he possibly could.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
said he rose to echo what had already been advanced by his compatriots in opposition to this Bill. It was a measure which would never go down with the people of Scotland. It no doubt had elements of good in it. He supposed everybody desired that lights should be carried by vehicles on the public highways. In the southern counties of Scotland, with which he was most familiar, they had very good by-laws which answered the purpose exceedingly well. They had not had those by-laws for a very long time, but if the House passed a drastic measure of this kind for the purpose of bringing about what was termed uniformity and punishing everybody alike, there would be a revulsion of feeling against the regulations and against the Bill. Therefore, if his hon. friend the Member for the Brentford Division really wanted to make progress with this measure he had better bring it forward in a few years time after the public had had a more ample opportunity of ascertaining what was really wanted, and especially in the counties of Scotland. If this Bill were passed it would involve an outlay which would be very hard on farmers who occupied land on both sides of the public roads. It would be necessary to have lights on carts after sunset; and in time of harvest it often happened that they returned to the farm houses many hours after sunset. They would be put to considerable inconvenience if they were obliged to carry lights in the way proposed. It was all very well for the hon. Member to say that it would only cost £2 a year. He had to drive many hundreds of miles every year through wild country, and he liked to have plenty of light on the vehicle, and also to see lights on approaching vehicles. As a rule that was attended to, and if it occasionally happened that there was a sleepy-headed fellow on a cart, he did not think that was a really good reason for proposing legislation of this kind. The hon. Member for Gainsborough had stated that he had not heard a single word said against the Bill. He himself knew perfectly well 205 the feeling against the Bill on the part of his constituents. If the promoters of the Bill proceeded with it they would take the most unfair advantage of their constituents and of the country. If it were applied to counties with large areas, where motors were perhaps never seen, it would be most unjust. Very few of what were called "machines" were kept there at all—he meant vehicles on two wheels with springs. It was chiefly farm carts which would have to undergo the conditions imposed by this measure. To say that all these carts should carry lights was absurd. He was confident that the by-laws which had been enacted and which would continue to be enacted in the different counties were Sufficient for the purpose, and, if they were not, they could be made to meet the requirements of the case. The motive of his hon. friend was a good one, but he had mistaken the feelings of the Scottish people.
§ *MR. BROOKE ROBINSON (Dudley)
said there were others who were entitled to consideration as well as the agricultural interest—these were the owners of carriages, and certainly 70 per cent. of those used in London and 90 per cent. of those used in the country had not lamps of the peculiar character required in this Bill. There were probably 500,000 carriages in England, and as the cost of new lamps averaged £3 per lamp, he ventured to think that before the House imposed on the owners a charge which would amount to £750,000 in getting new lamps, they should have stronger reasons than had yet been advanced in favour of this Bill. He ventured also to strongly object to the view that a burden in respect to lights should be imposed on the farmers of England from which it was proposed to now exempt the farmers of Scotland.
§ MR. CHARLES MCARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
said hon. Gentlemen who had spoken on this Bill were, almost without exception, representatives of agricultural constituencies, and he desired to say a word from the point of view of those connected with large cities and industrial populations. From their point of view, so far as he 206 had been able to obtain the opinion of the commercial community of Liverpool, they had no objection to the principle of the Bill. Every vehicle ought to be lighted in such a way as not to be a serious danger to other vehicles on the road, and if the Bill had been drafted in such a manner that it could have been adapted to every locality the objections stated that day would have been very largely minimised. It appeared to him that if the Bill was likely to gain success it should have been drawn in such a manner that it would have been left to localities to apply, or not apply, its provisions as they thought necessary. What was wanted was elasticity rather than uniformity in the law. A law might be simple, while at the same time extremely drastic. As to Liverpool, he might say that the cart-owners, who were a very large body, were strongly against the Bill because they thought it unnecessary, and because the city of Liverpool, like other large cities, was very well lighted by electricity and gas. There was no danger from vehicles being driven in well-lighted streets as compared with rural districts; secondly, they held that in a city like Liverpool there was no necessity for such regulations, at all events as regarded carts and lorries which proceeded at a walking pace.
The Corporation of Liverpool were entirely of the same view. A few years ago that corporation passed a by-law in which it was laid down that every vehicle passing along the streets during the night should have a light, except vehicles passing at a walking pace. But they exempted the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Estate. Here they had a large area set aside for working the loading and unloading of ships. They had docks, quays, and sheds, and there were roads communicating with these sheds to which the public had access. These sheds were filled with goods, many of them of a highly inflammable nature, such as cotton, oil, and hay. Now, if vehicles proceeding to these sheds carried lights there was the great danger of fire. A careless carter might, in lighting his lamp, throw a burning match somewhere among the goods. It was absurd 207 to pass such a regulation as that lorries and carts going along these crowded thoroughfares should have to carry lights. Therefore, the Corporation of Liverpool, in the by-law to which he had referred, excepted entirely the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Estate.
He thought the promoters of this Bill were a little to blame for the manner in which they had received suggestions. They all knew the Bill was promoted by the Cyclists' Union, which was entitled to protection as much as anybody else. Though he had great sympathy with the Bill, and though he would be sorry to oppose it on principle, yet he thought the promoters should give the assurance that they would freely accept Amendments in Committee intended to preserve the rights of local authorities to adapt particular localities in the way they thought best; or, perhaps, better still, having regard to the numerous objections which had been stated, they should withdraw it on this occasion, in order that they might carefully consider the question of bringing it forward in an amended form in another year.
§ MR. LEVESON-GOWER (Sutherland)
said he represented perhaps one of the most scattered constituencies in Scotland. Although he held that vehicles should be properly lighted, he thought that in the case of counties where only one cart might be found in forty miles of road it was not necessary to put in force the provisions of this Bill. He suggested that such counties should be exempted in the schedule. The real dangers which they had to guard against were those which were to be met with round towns. He believed that if local by-laws were properly carried out this Bill would be absolutely unnecessary. If the Bill were passed great injustice would be suffered in the rural districts where there was very little traffic on the roads.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE,
who was received with cries of "Cochrane," said it was all very well to say "Cochrane," but this was a most important Bill.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said he had not the slightest notion whether the Government were in favour of the Bill or against it. He thanked God that the hon. Member was not the Speaker or the Dictator of the House. He would pursue his course whether it pleased the hon. Member or not. He should take the liberty to speak on any Bill when he thought it desirable to lay his opinions before the House. He had observed that hon. Members who had spoken had commenced by dissociating themselves from any desire to prevent the discussion of the Bill that was to follow. He, therefore, desired also to dissociate himself from any such desire. The fact was that he held strong views both in regard to ladies and lights. He had given notice that he would move that the Women's Enfranchisement Bill be read that day six months, and in that way he had shown that he was desirous to lay his views before the House. At the same time the Bill now before the House was an important one, and they had duties to perform to their constituencies in fairly discussing it. Most of the debate had been carried on by Scotch Members, and he wished to congratulate Scotland. He had often wondered why Scotland was so much better governed than England. He believed it was because it had better representatives than England. Some of the Scotch Members had said that if Scotland were excluded from the Bill they would not take much interest in it. Other Scotchmen said that they did not take this local view of the matter, and that they would consider it their duty to oppose the Bill in the interest of England as well. A great many valuable grounds had been urged against the Bill by the Scotch Members. It seemed to him that their arguments were equally applicable to England, and he was really surprised that so few English Members had got up to oppose the Bill.
He had no doubt that the hon. Member for the Brentford Division was a most valuable member of the county council of Middlesex. It appeared that that county had already the rules which he wished to impose on other counties. The hon. Gentleman did not seem to perceive that what might be good for Middlesex was not 209 necessarily good for the entire country. In Middlesex there was a vast amount of traffic, and, as there were carts coming at night to London with vegetables and other supplies, he could conceive that it was desirable to take special care to avoid collisions by having lights which would not be necessary in other parts of the country. The hon. Gentleman said he was in favour of uniformity. In the matter of regulations as to lights why was each county not to be able to judge for itself? The hon. Gentleman said there were some retrograde counties which would not follow the example of Middlesex. Let the hon. Gentleman rejoice that he was connected with Middlesex, which was not a retrograde county. There was too great a tendency on the part of Metropolitan Members to think that what was good for them was good for everyone else. He had not the slightest idea, because he was an inhabitant of London, of sacrificing the rights of his constituents who did not happen to be inhabitants of London. There were a great many counties where there was exceedingly little traffic, where motor-cars were very rare, and where there was no practical danger of an accident taking place. The Bill proposed that there should be lights on everything except a perambulator or a wheelbarrow. Why was a perambulator or a wheelbarrow to be run over? He wished it to be optional to the county council of each county to decide whether there should be lights on vehicles or not.
The real fact was that this Bill was brought in in the motor interest. All the leading men of the motor interest were in favour of it. It had been said that men who were driving carts went to sleep in the carts, but supposing a lamp went out the danger would be even greater. They were told that in voting for the Second Reading they were only voting for the principle of the Bill; but he contended that the principle on which the Bill was based was thoroughly unsound. The principle was—never mind local rights; think Imperially, centralise everything. He was opposed to that. The Bill attacked the very first principles of local government, and therefore he felt it his duty to vote against it. He had not had an opportunity of studying it greatly, 210 but that was not his fault, because it had only been issued the day before. He had comforted himself, however, with the thought that the Bill was of such great importance that many Members would have discussed it at length and thrown greater light upon it than he could, on the theory that this was a question on which England expected every man to do his duty. Those who were supporting the Bill, he held, were overstepping their boundaries when they insisted on imposing their will on the whole of England.
§ *THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. COCHRANE, Ayrshire, N.)
said that a great deal of the discussion had not been directed to the measure the Second Reading of which had been moved. He was afraid that the hon. Member who had last addressed the House, who professed to have a single eye to the present Bill, protested a little too much; and he had some slight suspicion of the same motive on the part of the hon. Baronet the Member for Peckham.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
said that the hon. Member for Peckham had drawn a picture as to what would happen to him, if the Bill were passed into law, when returning from hunting—that it would be necessary to light up his horses, both before and behind. Such an exaggerated picture hardly commended itself to serious consideration. Then the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland burst into metaphors as to petticoats, cloven hoofs, and curly tails, which he mixed in the most extraordinary manner in one sentence. This was not a new question. It had often been before the Houe. As far back as the year 1897 a Bill was read a second time and it had been brought forward several times since. It was a question which affected all users of the roads and not merely motorists and cyclists. It had been recognised by the Legislature that that was the case, and various powers had been given in different parts of the country to make by-laws. No doubt if they could have reasonable uniformity it would be most desirable. But on this occasion he feared the 211 question had not been considered quite on its merits. It had been overshadowed by the great motor question, which they all felt. No doubt motor-cars gave rise to a great deal of dissatisfaction. The unreasonable manner in which they were driven, the abominable dust which they raised, the ruin caused to suburban gardens, the alarm to people whose children were playing on the road owing to the way the motor chauffeur bustled past, all tended to affect the unprejudiced consideration of the present question. He desired to approach it from the point of view of public safety on the roads.
What most of them desired was that the roads should be made as secure as possible to all users, due regard being had to all reasonable interests on the roads. Now, a great number of accidents had occured on the roads long before motorcars were ever heard of by reason of the absence of lights on vehicles or of their improper lighting. He had had sent to him a long list of accidents, but he could not vouch for its accuracy. In one case a mail-cart driver going into a dark avenue ran into a brewer's van and the drivers of both vehicles—neither of which was lighted—were seriously injured. And lest the temperance party should be induced to make too much of that case he would cite another in which three Wesleyan ministers driving in a cart ran into the horse attached to an approaching vehicle, the shaft of their cart piercing its breast and killing it. One hon. Member had declared that the roads were so dangerous now-a-days that he preferred to fake his exercise along the railway lines for it was possible to tell when a train was approaching. But that was exaggeration to say the least of it.
Turning to the actual proposals of the Bill, he found that the drafting left considerable room for improvement. The proposal roughly was that all vehicles except wheelbarrows and perambulators should carry a white light in front and a red light in the rear. The requirement that there should be a red light in the rear of every vehicle was an entirely new one, and would require most careful consideration before any responsible Department would suggest that it should be universally adopted. The responsibility which was thrown on the driver not only 212 to keep the lights burning, but to provide lamps, was also one that should not be placed upon him. In the definition clause the words "a vehicle with or without wheels" went somewhat far, and the requirement that the lights should be seen at a certain distance "if the weather be clear" would give rise to considerable difficulty. In these and other particulars the Bill fell short of what could be recommended to the House. The model by-laws issued from the Home Office to county councils which desired to put them in force, he thought, really provided the safeguards which were required. He would like to read them to the House. They were as follows—Every person who shall cause or permit any vehicle to be in any street or highway during the period between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise, shall provide the same with a lamp or lamps so constructed and capable of being so attached as when lighted to show to the front a white light visible within a reasonable distance to persons meeting or approaching the vehicle. If only one lamp is so provided, it shall be attached to the off or right side of the vehicle, and if the lamp or lamps are so constructed as to permit a light to be seen from the rear, that light shall be red.He shall also, if the vehicle is used for the purpose of carrying timber or any load projecting more than six feet to the rear, provide the same with a lamp or lamps so constructed and capable of being so attached as when lighted to show to the rear a red light visible within a reasonable distance to persons overtaking the vehicle.Every person driving or being in charge of such vehicle as aforesaid in any street or highway during such period as aforesaid shall keep such lamp or lamps properly trimmed, lighted, and attached.Any person offending against any of the foregoing bye-laws shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5. There is no power to impose any higher penalty than this for a second offence, nor any daily penalty for a continuing offence.As he had said, these model by-laws provided all the safeguards which were required. They had been largely adopted by county councils. They were not hard-and-fast regulations. They had been altered in different directions, but the variations, he acknowledged, sometimes led to difficulty and trouble. He repeated that he did think greater uniformity than they had at present was desirable.
His hon. friend the Member for West Renfrew had referred to a speech 213 made at a meeting at Edinburgh by one of his own constituents. But there was another speech made by a farmer for an adjoining constituency (Ayrshire) in which attention was drawn to the inconvenience caused by the fact that in one county two lamps were required to each vehicle and in the other only one. Again, in one district a cart had to be lighted up an hour after sunset and in another two hours. He thought that if some uniformity could be arrived at on moderate lines it would be a great advantage. The County Councils Association had petitioned the Local Government Board to the effect that the time had come when legislation should be passed making it compulsory to carry lights on all vehicles. The need of uniformity was felt, and in sixty out of sixty-two counties in England the model by-laws had been adopted with some modifications, and in 223 out of 324 boroughs.
Objection had been taken to this Bill on the ground of inconvenience, expense, and risk of fire, especially in the case of carts carrying hay and similar loads. No doubt it was more or less inconvenient to carry out by-laws, but with regard to the risk of fire it had not been very marked in the cases where the by-laws were already in force. But there were one or two points which needed careful consideration. It would be admitted to be intolerable to compel a farmer, having fields on both sides of the road, to light a vehicle when merely moving it from one field to another. Scotland had been very fully represented in the discussion that day, and it would appear as if that country were backward in this matter. That, however, was far from being the case. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1903, contained provisions similar to the model by-laws issued by the Home Office, and they had practically in all the burghs by-laws, restrictions, and regulations regarding the carrying of lights at least equal to, if not in advance of, those which obtained in this country. These had been compulsorily adopted in all but five burghs, two of which—Edinburgh and Dundee—had by-laws of their own far more stringent than any laid down in this Bill. His own county (Ayrshire) had indeed gone beyond what it seemed to some they were legally 214 entitled to do, for they had placed an interpretation on Section 104 of the Roads and Bridges Act, 1878, which seemed almost like straining the law. In something like twenty-seven counties in Scotland there were by-laws in force; in only six there were none. In Ayrshire they had very good by-laws indeed, and he hoped that in time other counties would come up to their standard. He trusted his hon. friend would induce the Renfrew County Council to follow their lead.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW
We have precisely similar by-laws, except so far as there is a difference in the treatment of vehicles not on springs.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
could not admit that Renfrewshire quite came up to the standard of Ayrshire in this matter. Still they need not indulge in any further internecine warfare. But he was prepared to admit that it might be extremely inconvenient to treat some parts of Scotland in the same way as Middlesex, and, therefore, if the hon. Member succeeded in getting the Second Reading of his Bill, he hoped he would make it clear that Scotland would not be included in the measure. He suggested further that if the hon. Member succeeded in getting the Second Reading, he should ask the House to send the Bill to a Select Committee, where evidence might be taken and the subject thoroughly threshed out. If he took that course, and was prepared to adopt Amendments as he had suggested, he might say the Government would take no hostile view of the measure, but as the Bill was at present drafted there were so many objections to it that he could not for the moment give it any more cordial support.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said it was eminently desirable that some uniformity should be introduced into our by-laws regarding the lighting of vehicles; he could conceive nothing more inconvenient than the existence of so many different systems. Local government was all very well and they all desired to encourage it; but there were things in which uniformity was a great deal better than variety. This was a difficulty which increased 215 every year with the growth of population. Fifty years ago, when our roads were much less used than now, and when new villages and new towns did not spring up in every direction, this was not such a pressing question as at the present time, when our population was very rapidly increasing and our roads were being used more than ever, people even going back to them and not confining themselves to the railways. The question had become more urgent and the need for uniformity was greater than ever. He did not speak for the motorist, but on behalf of the humble cyclist. His experience was that the cyclist ran great danger not only from the rapid but also from the slow-moving vehicle; indeed, it was the slow-moving vehicle which was the greatest danger to him. He did not, therefore, think any Bill would be satisfactory which exempted the slow-going vehicle, though he thought they might, and he hoped the promoter of the Bill would, endeavour to meet the
§ case of the farmer who used the road for say 100 yards—from one farm to another. He thought a real, substantial case had been made out for passing some such Bill; and he considered uniformity was needed in Scotland as well as in England, though it might be that the Scotch law ought to be considered by itself. He hoped the House would accept the Bill, and that, after every opportunity for amending it had been given, the Government would make every effort to pass it into law.
§ *MR. BIGWOOD
said he was disposed to accept the offer of the Government, on condition that special facilities were given for the future progress of the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 109; Noes, 108. (Division List No. 157.)217
|Allen, Charles P.||Gilhooly, James||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Austin, Sir John||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby||Myers, William Henry|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Graham, Henry Robert||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Grant, Corrie||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Harrington, Timothy||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Bill, Charles||Helder, Augustus||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Brigg, John||Higham, John Sharp||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Plummer, Sir Walter R.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Priestley, Arthur|
|Burns, John||Johnson, John||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||Ridley, S. Forde|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cameron, Robert||Jordan, Jeremiah||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W||Shackleton, David James|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H. (Renfrew)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Chapman, Edward||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Smith, Rt Hn J Parker (Lanarks|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lyell, Charles Henry||Tennant, Harold John|
|Crooks, William||Macdona, John Gumming||Thompson, Dr. E C (Monagh'n, N|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Toulmin, George|
|Davenport, William Bromley||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh, W.||Tully, Jasper|
|Delany, William||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Turnour, Viscount|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)||Ure, Alexander|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Emmott, Alfred||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Fenwick, Charles||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Field, William||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Morrell, George Herbert||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Forster, Henry William||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Moss, Samuel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Garfit, William||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Bigwood and Colonel Denny.|
|Abraham, William (Cork. N. E.)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Hayden, John Patrick||Parrott, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Heaton, John Henniker||Perks, Robert William|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rankin, Sir James|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Reddy, M.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Joyee, Michael||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Labouchere, Henry||Robinson, Brooke|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allan Benjamin||Lambert, George||Roche, John|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Lamont, Norman||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Boland, John||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Bright, Allen Heywood||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks. NR||Rose, Charles Day|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Leveson-Gowor, Frederick N. S.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lewis, John Herbert||Slack, John Bamford|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Grombie, John William||Lough, Thomas||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lundon, W.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Cullinan, J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sullivan, Donal|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Devlin, Chas Ramsay (Galway)||M'Fadden, Edward||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriesshire||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Walrond, Rt Hn. Sir William H.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Milvain, Thomas||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Mooney, John J.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Murnaghan, George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Fergusson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Murphy, John||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson-Todd, Sir W H. (Yorks.)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Young, Samuel|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Findlay, Alexander (Lanark, NE||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Doherty, William||Cathcart Wason and Sir|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||O'Dowd, John||Herbert Maxwell.|
|Hammond, John||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.