HC Deb 02 March 1926 vol 192 cc1249-55
Captain BRASS

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the carrying of rear reflectors on cycles. I do this in no party spirit at all. I do it with one object, and one object alone, and that is to try to make the roads of this country a little safer than they are at present for the great mass of the people who use them. It is for this reason that I appeal to all Members of the House, entirely regardless of party, to support this Bill and give me an opportunity of bringing it in. During the War it was compulsory for all cyclists to carry a red light at the back. That was considered necessary because they were almost invisible in the restricted light, owing to the fact that headlights were not allowed during the War. Since the War the number of bicyclists in the country has enormously increased, and to-day it is estimated that we have something between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 bicyclists in the country. There are, perhaps, 1,250,000 motor vehicles in the country, and these motor vehicles are increasing at the rate of about 3,000 a week. The result is that you get complaints from bicyclists because the head lights of the motor cars are too strong. I have great sympathy with the bicyclists on that point, and I think they will realise, if they will only carry some sort of reflector behind, that it will not be so necessary to' have such strong head lights. At the moment, it is very difficult to see a bicyclist with an ordinary head light unless he has some form of reflector behind, and I feel quite certain that the real reason bicyclists will not agree, if they do not agree, to this suggestion is simply because they do not understand the danger. I myself have taken a bicyclist who had never been out at night in my car, and have shown him the danger. He realised that bicyclists were not visible, or not easily visible, at night, and the effect was that he immediately bought a reflector, and placed it on the back of his bicycle.

I am not asking the House to sanction a Bill to force bicyclists to put oil lamps at the back. The reason I do not do that is because it is a very difficult thing to keep one of these lamps alight. I know it, being an old motorist and having, perhaps, driven some 300,000 miles. In the early days of motoring we had not electric lights, and we had to have oil lamps. There was great difficulty in keeping the lamps alight, and there were a lot of petty prosecutions by the police for infringements of the Regulations. I do not want bicyclists to be prosecuted in that way, and it is for that reason I do not wish to call upon them to carry rear lamps. I remember in the early days of motoring that a friend of mine was always being prosecuted for not having a red lamp alight at the back. He said he could not keep it alight. As the result of many prosecutions; he decided that he would always keep it out. He placed it in such a position that the exhaust of the motor car always played upon it, and, when the police asked him why the lamp was not alight, he said, "It is strange it is not alight, but, if you feel it, you will find it warm." They did, and finding it warm thought that it had only just gone out. I am afraid that bicyclists are not able to do that, because they have not got the necessary exhaust.

It has been suggested that discs or possibly armlets or anklets made of white stuff to put on the arm or ankle might be used, but I am told that the real reflector is a pair of pink silk stockings. I remember hon. Members opposite during the Debate on the Silk Duties telling us that it was necessary for the health of the proletariat that they should all wear silk stockings. I do not think we should ask every lady who rides a bicycle to promise to wear silk stockings—[HON. MEMBERS: "Red stockings!"]—or red stockings. I do not think that red would show up quite so well.

It really is a very important matter, and we should ask the bicyclists of this country to carry a red disc at the back. There is no doubt that a red disc, if it is properly made and placed in the right position, will reflect back the lights from vehicles following, and in that way a great number of lives and accidents will be saved. As a matter of fact, this is actually the law in France to-day. I was reading the Code de la Rue the other day, and I found that the explanation for reflectors being placed on bicycles under the law in France was because it was the common practice in this country. I think we should come up to France, and pass a law in this country to make bicyclists and tricyclists, if there are any left, carry some form of red reflector at the back. I consider that this is a very urgent matter indeed. It is a matter that is really of vital importance to the people of this country. I feel that motorists and bicyclists, if they realised the danger, would only be too pleased and anxious to put these red reflectors at the back of their bicycles, and it is for that reason I ask the House to give me the opportunity of bringing in the Bill.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am sorry that the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe (Captain Brass) has not converted me to sympathise with road scorchers, because that is what this Bill really means. We know that he is a most careful driver. He once drove me in his car, so I know what I am talking about. But if it gets about that all cyclists are to carry these red discs, then these gentlemen who do not know the courtesies of the road and who drive too fast at night will think they have licence to drive even faster. The hon. and gallant Member says that his only object is to make the roads safer for the great mass of the people who use them. He seems to think that the only users of the roads are motorists and bicyclists. They are the only people he mentioned, except tricyclists, and he made a rather jeering remark as to whether there might be any tricyclists left, though I imagine there are many aged men who still ride tricycles. There are, however, many other users of the roads. There are horsemen, there are men who drive cattle and sheep, and there are pedestrians, and, if motorists think that they would 'be able to distinguish the cyclists better and therefore drive as fast as they like, the roads would not be made safer for the great mass of the people who use them, but more dangerous.

That is the first ground of my objection and the second is this: This is only one step towards making it compulsory for cyclists to carry rear lights. This is the first step forward, and the only thing that surprises me is that the hon. and gallant Member should pick out the colour red for the rear discs. If cyclists are to carry these discs it would be just as logical to say that horsemen should carry discs hung round their necks or on their backs, that every sheep should have a red disc on its tail, that every animal on the road should have a red reflector, that every policeman patrolling the country roads at night should have a red reflector on his back, and that every pedestrian and every pair of lovers going along the road should have red reflectors on their backs or be liable to prosecution. That is just as sensible as in the case of cyclists. The fact of the matter is that motorists ought to drive more carefully. No one should proceed at night at a greater speed than he can pull up within the range of his head light. That is the real answer to this menace of the roads.

What right has the hon. and gallant Member to bring in a Bill of this sort to make it compulsory for red reflectors to be carried by over 5,000,000 of the lieges who happen to be cyclists. The proper place to introduce such a proposal is in the long overdue Bill—I think it is to be called the Road Vehicles Bill—in which many of these questions are going to be dealt with. That is the

proper place for proposing these compulsory red reflectors. Then we can deal with some of the other questions, including the question of the speed of these gentlemen at night. It is unfair to pick out the cyclists for this special treatment and this special tax. This Bill is uncalled for, it is unnecessary, and it will only encourage dangerous motorists, who I am glad to say are the minority, and whom all good motorists and respectable citizens ought to wish to discourage in every possible way. For these reasons, I hope that the House will reject this Bill.

Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the carrying of rear reflectors on cycles.

The House divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 71.

Division No. 57.] AYES. [4.12 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Couper, J. B. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Cove, W. G. Greenall, T.
Ainsworth, Major Charles Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim) Greene, W. P. Crawford
Albery, Irving James Craik, Rt. Hen. Sir Henry Gretton, Colonel John
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Crookshank, Col. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Dalton, Hugh Hanbury, C.
Apsley, Lord Dalziel, Sir Davison Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent. Dover) Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Hartington, Marquess of
Astor, Viscountess Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)
Attlee, Clement Richard Davies. Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Dawson, Sir Philip Haslam, Henry C.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Day, Colonel Harry Hawke, John Anthony
Barr, J. Dean, Arthur Wellesley Hayday, Arthur
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Dennison, R. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Duncan, C. Henderson, T. (Glasgow)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Dunnico, H. Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)
Blades, Sir George Rowland Eden, Captain Anthony Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Edmondson, Major A. J. Hennessy, Major J. R. G.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Edwards, John H. (Accrington) Hills, Major John Waller
Briggs, J. Harold Elliot, Captain Walter E. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Briscoe, Richard George England, Colonel A. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Brittain, Sir Harry Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Hopkins, J. W. W.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Everard, W. Lindsay Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Fairfax, Captain J. G. Howard, Captain Hon. Donald
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Falle, Sir Bertram G. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Fenby, T. D. Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whlteh'n)
Burman, J. B. Fermoy, Lord Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis
Burton, Colonel H. W. Fielden, E. B. Huntingfield, Lord
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Finburgh, S. Hurd, Percy A.
Campbell, E. T. Forrest, W. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Foster, Sir Harry S. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony Jacob. A. E.
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Ganzonl. Sir John Jephcott, A. R.
Charleton, H. C. Gates, Percy Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Gee, Captain R. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Christie, J. A. Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
Cobb, Sir Cyril Glyn, Major R. G. C. Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Got), Sir Park Kenyon, Barnet
Cohen, Major J. Brunei Gosling, Harry Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Compton, Joseph Gower, Sir Robert Knox, Sir Alfred
Connolly, M. Grace, John Lamb, J. Q.
Cooper, A. Dull Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lansbury, George
Cope, Major William Grant, J. A. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)
Looker, Herbert William Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Lougher, L. Rees, Sir Beddoe Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Lowth, T. Reid, Captain A. S. C. (Warrington) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Tinker, John Joseph
Lumley, L. R. Ropner, Major L. Tinne, J. A.
MacAndrew, Charles Glen Rose, Frank H. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Mackinder, W. Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
McLean, Major A. Saklatvala, Shapurji Varley, Frank B.
Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Salmon, Major I. Waddington, R.
Macmillan, Captain H. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wallace, Captain D. E.
MacNeill-Weir, L. Sandeman, A. Stewart Ward. Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
March, S. Sanders, Sir Robert A. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Margesson, Captain D. Sanderson, Sir Frank Warrender, Sir Victor
Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Sandon, Lord Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Savery, S. S. Watts, Dr. T.
Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange) Wells, S. R.
Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Scrymgeour, E. Welsh, J. C.
Mitchell. Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Scurr, John Westwood, J.
Montague, Frederick Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mel. (Renfrew, W.) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Moore, Sir Newton J. Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y) White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Shepperson, E. W. Whiteley, W.
Murchison, C. K. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.) Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne,, C.) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Smith-Carington, Neville W. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Nuttall, Ellis Smithers, Waldron Wilson. M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Snell, Harry Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Owen, Major G. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Palin, John Henry Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Paling, W. Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Wise, Sir Fredric
Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan) Sprot, Sir Alexander Womersley, W. J.
Penny, Frederick George Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F.(Will'sden, E.) Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Perkins, Colonel E. K. Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland) Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Philipson, Mabel Steel, Major Samuel Strang Wright, W.
Pitcher, G. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Power, Sir John Cecil Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Preston, William Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Price, Major C. W. M. Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Brass and Sir F. Meyer.
Ramsden, E. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Grundy, T. W. Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)
Amman, Charles George Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Baker, Walter Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Barnes, A. Hayes, John Henry Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Batey, Joseph Hirst, G. H. Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Stamford, T. W.
Briant, Frank Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Stephen, Campbell
Broad, F. A. Kelly, W. T. Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)
Bromfield, William Kennedy, T. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Kirkwood, D. Thurtle, E.
Buchanan, G. Lawson, John Jamie Townend, A. E.
Cape, Thomas Lunn, William Turton, Edmund Russborough
Cluse, W. S. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon) Viant, S. P.
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Macquisten, F. A. Wallhead, Richard C.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Malone, Major P. B. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Curzon, Captain Viscount Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Morris, R. H. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Morrison. R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Gibbins, Joseph Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Gillett, George M. Naylor, T. E. Windsor, Walter
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Ponsonby, Arthur TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy and Sir Wilfrid Sugden.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Potts, John S.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool Pureed, A. A.
Groves, T. Remnant, Sir James

Bill ordered to be brought in by Captain Brass, Sir Frank Meyer, Sir Edward Iliffe, Miss Wilkinson, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Charleton, Mr. John Hugh Edwards, and Captain Arthur Hope.