§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
A brief outline of the Bill is attached to the print of the Bill, but by way of further explanation I might add that the question of the lighting of vehicles has occupied the attention of successive Governments for the last half century, and very properly so. With the development of road transport it became increasingly necessary to make regulations for the users of public highways during the hours of darkness. In the old days the means of transport was almost entirely confined to horse-drawn vehicles, but with the development of the steam engine locomotives appeared on the road. There followed the evolution of the bicycle and the introduction of the motor car and motor cycle. Later came the development of the heavier type of commercial road transport. Covering this period Acts were passed to meet the requirements of the changing conditions. Those Acts fulfilled their purpose at the time, but under modern conditions they are entirely obsolete and fail to meet the conditions of to-day. Local authorities throughout the country have made by-laws and regulations under the old statutes, but they are now most confusing and irritating and a source of worry and expense to the users of the roads.
I will give an experience of the conditions in my own city. The regulations in the city of Cardiff prescribe for one side light to be attached to a vehicle during the hours of darkness, but in the adjoining counties of Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, which form the boundary of the city, the regulations prescribe that two side lights shall be carried, with the result that the innocent driver coming-out of the city and not knowing exactly where the boundary line is, finds himself in either of those counties breaking the by-law of the county, and usually is held up by a policeman and has to appear in the county police court and pay a nominal fine for the offence of breaking the bylaw. I speak with personal knowledge, 1578 because I happen to sit as a Magistrate in one of those county police courts, and frequently we have irritating cases before us.
In 1919 a Committee was set up by the then Minister of Transport, the right hon. Sir Eric Geddes, and this Departmental Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Maybury, considered the question of the lighting of vehicles. The terms of reference are rather interesting, because they show the confusion caused by the Acts dealing with the question of lighting. The terms of reference were:To inquire and report as to:The whole of those Acts deal with the question of lighting, and as a result the law is in a state of absolute confusion. The Bill now before the House has adopted many of the suitable Clauses which appear in the old Acts, and also particularly the recommendations of Sir Henry Maybury 's Committee. Clause 1 is the dominating Clause. It provides that every vehicle on any road shall carry during the hours of darkness two white lights showing to the front and a red lamp showing to the rear. That is a very drastic Clause, and without some modification or some exemption it would work very harshly and unreasonably in many cases. Therefore the Minister of Transport is required, under Order or under Regulation, to make certain modifications and exemptions, and it is to those exemptions and modifications that I would like particularly to draw the attention of the House.
- 1. Light required on heavy locomotives under provisions of Locomotives Act, 1865, and Locomotives Act, 1898.
- 2. Lights required on bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes, and other similar machines under provisions of Local Government Act, 1888.
- 3. Lights required light locomotives under provisions of Locomotives on Highways Act, 1896.
- 4. Lights required on vehicles under provisions of Lights on Vehicles Act, 1907.
- 5. Lights required on vehicles as imposed by local by-laws made with approval of Secretary of State under the Municipal Corporation Act, 1882, and the Local Government Act, 1888.
- 6. The working of the Lights (Vehicles) Order of 1918 and the Lights (Driving of Animals) Order of 1916.
§ Notice taken at Ten Minutes after Eleven of the Clock that 40 Members were not present; House counted by MR. SPEAKER, and, 38 Members only being present—
§ At half past Eleven of the Clock, MR. SPEAKER again counted the House, and, 40 Members being present, resumed the Chair.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
Before we had this compulsory relief, I was dealing with Clause 1 of the Bill which, as I said,, was a very drastic one providing that it should be necessary for all vehicles of all kinds on any road to carry two lamps during the hours of darkness, each lamp showing to the front a white light and one lamp showing to the rear a red light. I also pointed out that without having certain exemptions and modifications this Clause would act very harshly in many-cases. Accordingly the Minister of Transport is to be empowered to make certain exemptions and modifications to which I would specially direct the attention of the House. It is provided that, in the case of vehicles carrying agricultural produce, the Minister may have power to modify the lighting regulations. The same provision applies to inflammable or explosive material. Then there is a very important exemption which provides that where cars are parked in public places provided by local authorities, the regulations can be modified. At present every car so parked has to retain its front light and rear light, but the Minister is here empowered, subject to proper provision being made for the illumination of the parking station, to exempt motor cars parked at the station. Then there is the case of pony chaises, horse-drawn vans and vehicles of that kind. We do not wish to inflict any further obligations in regard to those vehicles, and the fact that they have to show a white light to the front with a little red light at the rear, as at present, is regarded as sufficient. It would be unreasonable to ask them to carry an additional red light as well. Many exemptions of that character are provided for in Clause 1 and the Minister has the power to add to these regulations or vary them in special cases. In the case, for instance, of vehicles carrying 1580 over-hanging loads—timber carts which may be carrying poles projecting ten or fifteen feet beyond the vehicle in the rear —it is obviously necessary that special provision should be made for the proper lighting of the vehicle. Then there are military and naval vehicles, ambulances and other vehicles of a special kind which require special treatment and with these also the Minister is empowered to deal. In this Clause the hours of darkness are taken to mean the time between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise in the summer, and,, in the winter, the time between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.
Clause 2 deals with the number and nature of lamps to be carried and other details in connection both with head lights and with internal illumination. There is a restriction on the number of lamps to be carried, but there is an exemption in regard to omnibuses and taxi-cabs and other vehicles which have special lights for special purposes, such as illuminating destination boards and so forth. These are all specially provided for. Clause 3 has been put in to deal with the problem of what are called dazzle lights. At the present moment there is no satisfactory device suitable for general adoption which the Minister could make the subject of a general order, but it is possible this problem will be solved in the future; and when a satisfactory device for dealing with dazzle lights is found the Minister will be empowered to make such regulations as may be found to be necessary. Clause 4 gives permission to carry an additional lamp in the case of fog or breakdowns; that is perfectly necessary and reasonable. Clause 5 is an essential Clause for the protection of bicycles and tricycles. Bicycles with side-cars have to carry two front white lamps, and one rear red lamp; tricycles propelled by mechanical power would carry the same lights—two white in the front and one rear red lamp; motor cycles, one white front light and one rear red light; pedal bicycles, one front light together with one rear red light or a reflector, and pedal tricycles come under this same provision.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
Do I understand the hon. Member to ask why we have a reflector instead of a lamp? If that be so, I think it is clear that cyclists resent, and I think very properly resent—
§ Mr. LOUGHER
—any obligation to carry a rear lamp. A cyclist may voluntarily carry a lamp showing a red light at the rear, but he is not bound to carry a lamp; but under this Bill he is bound to carry either a reflector or a lamp. I am aware that certain cyclists take exception to the carrying of a red reflector. For the life of me I cannot understand that attitude. I am sure that if cyclists, both from the point of view of their own safety and the safety of other users of the roads, realised the danger they run by cycling without any mark at the rear, they would voluntarily carry a reflector. They cannot complain on the score of expense, because reflectors can be obtained for a very nominal price, anything from about 4½d. up to 1s. You can get a red reflector with a white disc for the sum of 1s. If this Bill passes, and I have every hope that it will pass, I feel euro that every manufacturer of cycles will fit a red reflector to any cycle he turns out, in precisely the same way as brakes are fitted to cycles at present.
Clause 7 applies the Act to Scotland; and Clause 8 cancels the powers of local authorities to make by-laws, and also cancels the existing by-laws made by the authorities, under the Lights on Vehicles Act, 1907. Clause 9 is the usual clause providing that regulations are to lie on the table for 28 days and can be challenged either by this House or the House of Lords. Clause 10 deals with the application of fines, which go to the Road Board. Clause 11 excludes tram-cars, but includes machines and implements drawn or propelled along the roads. Clause 12 is simply an interpretation clause.
I must give the House a word of explanation on Clause 13. It provides that this Act shall come into operation on such day or daysnot being later than the first day of January nineteen hundred and twenty-seven.That is obviously a mistake. The year in the Bill should be 1928. Further, the Minister may appoint different days for 1582 different purposes and different provisions of this Act. The reason for that is that there are in existence at present hundreds of Orders made by local authorities which cannot be cancelled at once. These will be cancelled in due course, and replaced by new Orders under this Bill. That will naturally take some time, and that is the object of giving the Minister power to put the Act into force in different sections. Then comes the Schedule of the Acts that are to be repealed. It has been compiled with reference to the recommendations of the Departmental Committee over which Sir Henry Maybury presided. This will clear away part of this old legislation and bring the lighting of vehicles under one simple Bill, which will be clearly understood by everybody.
This Bill was introduced on the 11th February, long before the Minister of Transport—whom I am pleased to see in his place, to help me I hope with this Bill—published his Road Transport Bill.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
The curious fact is that the proposals of the draft Bill are almost identical with those of my Bill. I am not going to say whether the Minister took my Bill, or whether it is to be said that mine is taken from the Minister's draft. Hon. Members have the facts before them. In conclusion may I say this is a Measure that is long overdue, which, if passed into law, will be welcomed not only by the users of the public highway, but by every citizen who desires to give effect to that very excellent motto "Safety first."
§ Sir PARK GOFF
I beg to second the Motion.
I do so in no party spirit, as, in my humble judgment, this is essentially a non-party question. I support the Bill from profound conviction, based on some experience of what we see on every 'bus —"safety first. "I support the Bill in the interests of the travelling public, and the best interests of those who use motor vehicles, in order to make our roads safer for those who use them. Motor vehicles may be divided into four classes: motorcars, motor bicycles, motor bicycles with sidecars, and motor bicycles with pillion seats; and then there are what are com- 1583 monly called "push bikes." The sidecar and pillion bicycles, in my judgment, are the most dangerous, and are accountable for more fatal accidents. Those who use them are often boys and girls—the girl or. the pillion—who are quite ignorant and unconscious of the danger they run. The Departmental Committee presided over by Sir Henry Maybury advised all cyclists to carry oil lamps, and manufacturers are making tested and suitable lamps for this purpose, but this Bill deals only with reflectors. Under the Defence of the Realm Act during the War, every cycle was bound to carry a reflector. There was no objection at that time, and why should there be now? A fortiori the necessity for safety is greater to-day, owing to the greater congestion of traffic in our towns and on our main roads, and owing to the bad conditions on some of our country roads, and the enormous increase in traffic.
Reference has been made to the Lights on Vehicles Act, 1907. Under that Act counties and boroughs had three alternatives as to the by-laws they could pass. First, they could pass a by-law requiring a lamp or lamps showing a red light to the rear, or a reflector. This was adopted by 41 counties and 71 boroughs. The second alternative was a by-law requiring a lamp—not a reflector. This was adopted by four counties and 17 boroughs. The third alternative was a by-law requiring a lamp showing a white light in front. This was adopted by two counties and 10 boroughs. The confusion and the inconvenience of these arrangements is obvious to all. We want some uniform system throughout counties and boroughs, so that people will know where they are. I venture to speak with some little experience, because I ride a push-bike, I ride a motor cycle and I drive a motor car. You often hear it said, "He knows what he is talking about," but some Members get on extremely well in spite of that handicap. I have been touring all over England and Wales, and I have been an eyewitness of many accidents, most of them, I am sorry to say, to side-cars and to pillion riders. On one day on the Brighton road I witnessed 13 accidents. On another day, on the Newhaven road, I saw an accident between a side-car and a pillie[...] bicycle, which resulted in three 1584 deaths. On the Folkestone road, at night, I saw a van run into a flock of touring cyclists.
So much for the country. As regards the Metropolitan Police area, a return of accidents there in the years 1920 and 1926 has just been published. For greater accuracy I have procured a copy. These are the figures for power-driven vehicles. In 1920 there were 550 fatal accidents; in 1926, 925 fatal accidents. In 1920 there were 20,263 accidents which were not fatal; in 1926, 46,030. Nearly 80 per cent. of the injuries were caused by private motor cars, trade and commercial vehicles, motor cycles and pedal cycles. It may interest the House to hear exactly how the accidents were divided up among these classes: Private motor cars, 13,303.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Is that the number of accidents caused by these vehicles, or the number in which they suffered injury?
§ Sir P. GOFF
That I cannot tell. I am giving the facts, which I have taken from this official return. Pedal cycles, 8,695; motor cycles, 8,526; trade and commercial vehicles, 6,107. Out of a total of 46,030 non-fatal accidents, 36,631 were caused by motor vehicles. I always hate boring the House with figures, but I think these are very important; and I would like further to compare the figures showing the numbers killed and injured by day and by night. In 1920 the number killed by day was 495; in 1926 the number was 687; that is, 77 per cent. of those killed in 1920, and 68 per cent. of those killed in 1926. By night in 1920 the number killed was 143; in 1926, 316; that is, 25; per cent. of those killed in 1920, and 31 per cent. of those killed in 1926. Here are the figures of those injured. Those injured during the day in 1.920 numbered 16,225; in 1926 they numbered 35,130. Those injured by night numbered, in 1920, 3,338, and in 1926 10,906.
I can anticipate some objections to this Bill. Some hon. Members may suggest that horses, cattle and sheep should have red lights on their tails, but they do not, travel by night—generally, at least, they do not.
§ Sir P. GOFF
Not on the main roads. They generally lie down at night with the gate shut. Another point on which I can anticipate objection is that too much power is vested in the Minister of Transport. The answer to that is very plain. If anyone studies the Acts dealing with the lighting of vehicles, it will be found that there are so many circumstances to be taken into account that it is impossible to deal with them comprehensively in one single Act of Parliament. It is not desirable to have too much detail in an Act of Parliament, and to avoid that it ought to be made sufficiently elastic so that the Minister can vary it to meet any changes or changed conditions. I entirely agree with what has been said about cyclists having an aversion to the rear red lamp, but the price of a reflector is a very small premium to pay for life. These lights and reflectors are absolutely essential, from a life insurance point of view, for all those who use them, and for all those who see them. I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill, which I think is long overdue. I hope it will be the means of decreasing fatal and non-fatal accidents, and prove to be of general utility to the public.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
When I first read through this Bill I said to myself, "What an admirable example of a Friday afternoon Bill this is." This is the first Friday afternoon Bill I have read which is really well drafted. I said to myself "How useful it is to have a ship-owning Member from Central Cardiff with money, who can employ a skilled draughtsman to draft his Bill for him." I felt there was a great deal to be said for Central Cardiff having returned that Member to Parliament. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the Government Bill dealing with the same subject and found—perfect marvel of inspiration—an actual identity of words between the Government Bill and the Bill of the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Lougher). I no longer feel that Cardiff was inspired—at least not verbally inspired, but perhaps inspired by the Whips of the Conservative party. We are now having placed 1586 before the House on a Friday afternoon a section of a Government Bill which we are told is going to be introduced some time this Session. That is not exactly the kind of legislation with which we are accustomed to deal on a Friday afternoon. If this is going to be a Government Bill, I would much prefer it to be presented by the Government—
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I think the right hon. and gallant Member is under a misapprehension. He says that this is a section of a Bill which is going to be introduced later on as a Government Bill. The draft Bill to which he refers was put forward on my own responsibility in order that it might be fully considered and the subject investigated to obtain some measure of agreement on this question before the Government Bill was brought in.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
At any rate this is a section of the Government Bill and the hon. Member for Central Cardiff is providing the House with an opportunity of obtaining the views of hon. Members on a section of the Government Bill. I think that discussion should have taken place on the Government Bill instead of upon a Bill introduced by a Private Member on a Friday afternoon. Friday after Friday we have had a succession of Bills this Session which have not done much credit to Private Members. I would like to point out that it is not necessary if you have not a particular Bill to introduce to pick up anybody's Bill and introduce it on a Friday afternoon, and there is no need to do that simply because you have got a place in the Ballot. I know it is a legitimate practice, but it would be far more satisfactory if Private Members who were successful in the Ballot and had not any particular Bill to introduce would table a Motion for Friday afternoon, instead of introducing a Bill so that a discussion could take place like that which takes place on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
I have in my hand the draft of a similar Bill which was introduced on 11th February, and which is on all fours with the Measure which is now before the House. This Bill is not an inspiration of the Minister of Transport, and it is quite consistent with my original draft.
§ 12 n
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Then that means that the hon. Member for Central Cardiff has inspired the Government instead of the Government having inspired the hon. Member. That being so, I think the hon. Member for Central Cardiff ought to be sitting on the Front Bench in charge of this Bill, and the Minister of Transport ought to be sitting behind him on the back benches. It is not at all necessary on a Friday afternoon to introduce immature or inspired Bills, and we could have a much more useful discussion on a Resolution dealing with this subject than upon a Bill of this sort. Let us look at this inspired Bill on its merits. One does not gather from reading the Bill precisely what it does, but on careful study I have concluded that it does two things. In the first place, it hands over the entire question of the lighting of vehicles to the Ministry of Transport. Clause after Clause in this Measure gives the Minister of Transport power to draw up rules and regulations, in fact, everything is left to him so far as the lighting of vehicles is concerned. That may be necessary but the important thing is that this Bill gives to the Minister of Transport absolute powers in connection with everything affecting the lighting of vehicles. In the second place, the only definite point is that every vehicle on the road must have two lights on the front and a red light at the rear. That is the only thing upon which the Minister of Transport is not given an absolutely free hand. This seems to me to be going back to D.O.R.A. conditions and restoring to the Minister complete control. So far as the public is concerned the effect of this Bill 12 n. will be immediately noticed by bicyclists. I am a bicyclist myself and there are more bicyclists than motorists. I should think there are some 5,000,000 who ride bicycles, and they are directly affected by this Bill. I propose to show that the people affected by this Measure are not only the bicyclists hut people on foot who use the roads. I will take the bicyclist first. He has to have a white light in front when pedalling on the roads when the hour is more than one hour after sunset. Under this Bill the cyclist meets with three new conditions. In the first place, he must have a red light showing in the rear. Secondly, when pushing his bicycle his 1588 lights must be all alight just as if he were pedalling. Thirdly, he has to have a light on his bicycle within half-an-hour of sunset instead of an hour during the winter months. Each of these three changes to my mind ought to be opposed rigorously by every bicyclist. The original suggestion tinder D.O.R.A. was that the red light in the rear should be a lamp and every bicyclist knows the haunting fear when riding of his rear light going out. I have pedalled for miles continually turning round to see if my red light is still on. Over and over again cyclists are stopped by policemen for not observing these regulations, and the policeman is tempted to put his hand on the top of the lamp to see if it is still warm. In this respect had it not been for the generosity of the police in the old days many of us would have suffered fines or imprisonment. It is considerations of that kind which have gradually weaned motorists from the idea of compelling 5,000,000 bicyclists to have rear lights.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Clause 5 has this proviso:The Minister may, if he thinks fit, by Regulations prescribe the conditions with which the reflector must comply and the manner in which it is to be attached.Elsewhere we learn that the reflector must be in an efficient working order. I would far sooner see the stipulation definitely in the Bill that a reflector is good enough than that the reflector must satisfy the Minister of Transport. At the present time, you can get for 2d. something that you put on your back mudguard. I am afraid, when the Ministry of Transport, inspired by the Automobile Club, gets to work, we shall have a 5s. reflector on the mudguard, and that that will be the only sort of reflector which will satisfy him. We may, however, as this Bill passes through, come to some clearer definition of what is required in the way of a reflector, and my attitude towards it will depend very largely whether that reflector is a simple ordinary thing or whether it is some complicated proposition not yet devised or invented which will meet the views of 1589 the Ministry of Transport. We all remember that, in the days when we were bicycling and darkness approached, very often a good hour when we should have had our lamps lit we were forced to get off and push our bicycle whenever we passed a policeman. In those days, many expeditions ended in that manner. Never more, if this Bill goes through, any gentleman seen pushing a bicycle without a light will get run in.
§ Mr. LOUGHER
The right hon. and gallant Member has not read the Bill. Sub-section (2) of Clause I provides for a bicycle being propelled by hand.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am afraid that it is the hon. Member who has not read the Bill. I hope that interruption means that he would like to see that provision in the Bill. If so, I shall be delighted to amend the Bill in Committee upstairs.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Clause says:The Minister shall have power, by Order"—if he choose—to exempt …vehicles drawn or propelled by hand, including bicycles and tricycles (other than motor cycles) when being pushed.Instead of that being left to the good will of the Minister, of Transport, why should it not be embodied in the Bill as the right of the bicyclist?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If he does grant the exemption, he will be abolished by the Automobile Association; and, if he does not grant the exemption, he will be abolished by the electorate. If we can be assured that the reflector will be the reflector used to-day and that bicycles when being pushed will be excluded from the Bill, I think the interests of the bicyclist will largely be met. There is, however, the further point about the half-hour after sunset. Under the Bill, we are to light our lamps within half-ah-hour, instead of an hour, of sunset. That is 1590 generally the hour when workmen are returning to their homes from their work. All over the country the bicycle is used, not so much for pleasure, as by the working classes for getting out of the towns to the new bungalows along the countryside.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Not necessarily, but it is just that hour from five to six when people are riding their bicycles back from work to their homes, and, if you are going to cut off half of that hour and insist on these lamps being lit, you are going to injure the bicyclists throughout the country. I do ask the hon. Member for Central Cardiff, who is the inspiration of this Bill, and whose Bill when it gets upstairs in Committee will be law, to meet the bicyclists on these three points. Let us have the ordinary reflector and let it be laid down in the Statute that a man shall be able to push his bicycle without a light, and let us have the same hour after sunset in order that people may be able to ride home from work without having to get oil for their lamps. Those are the principal changes made by this Bill to the existing law, and, if you can get those three put right, I feel that the Bill some day will appear on the Statute Book, and that the name of the hon. Member will be immortal as having effected an important piece of legislation. This Bill is brought forward, in speech after speech, particularly the speech of the hon. Member for Cleveland (Sir P. Goff), as though it were going to make for the safety of our highways. I am not going to deal with pillion-riding. The Bill, unfortunately, does not interfere with pillion-riding. I am glad to see that even the grandmothers who want to look after everybody have not gone quite so far as to say we are not going to allow pillion-riding. Yet it must be within the knowledge of everybody that even if this Bill does something to increase the safety of the bicyclists it will certainly not increase the safety of other people who use the roads at night. Anybody who has been to America recently must realise what presumably will happen here. I have travelled hundreds of miles over the American roads after dark—
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
No, there is not a bicycle on the road in America; they have been absolutely swept off the roads. In America, there is not a foot passenger on the roads after dark. They dare not walk on the roads. Let me tell hon. Members who sit for agricultural constituencies that there are neither flocks of sheep nor herds of cattle moving on the roads at night. Even the motor bicycle has been driven off by the fast-moving motor traffic. The roads there are consecrated to one form of traffic— the motor. Do we want that here? Is that what hon. Members who represent the motor industry wish to see in this country? Are you going to drive off, first the foot passengers, then all the animals, then the bicyclists, and, finally, the motor cyclists, in your desire to develop the motor traffic?
You, have now, by this Bill, the capacity to drive quicker at night than you can by day. Anyone driving a car at night, particularly during the hour after sunset, drives cautiously. You cannot at night exceed 25 miles an hour with any degree of safety as long as there are bicycles or foot passengers about. You get dazzle headlights in order to enable you to go quicker, but they do not really enable you to go much quicker with safety, because they make crossing other cars so impossible. It is believed that when bicycles have these tail-lights it will be possible to go quicker, because these people can be seen more easily. I do not think, however, that you can go quicker than you do to-day with safety to foot passengers, although it may now be more safe for the bicyclist. After all, the enormous majority of our country roads have no footpaths at the side of the road, so that anyone walking along them is in danger at every corner from these cars coming along at 30 miles an hour in the dark. The very fact that the bicyclist will show up on the roads will enable drivers to go quicker than they do at present, and will increase materially the danger, not only to foot passengers, but to any stray animals that there may be on the roads.
I do not think that increased safety can be brought about by measures such as this. I think you might register certain roads as main traffic roads, along which traffic can pass at greater speeds at night, but along our country roads 1592 we must have safety for people walking on those roads which are not lit up. Every argument in favour of the reflector or rear light for bicyclists at the present time applies with even stronger emphasis to the foot passenger on the roads. Many hon. Members must have ridden bicycles along the roads at night, and must know perfectly well that you keep close to the edge of the road the whole way. No one but a fool wanders over the road at night. But how does a bicyclist keeping close to the edge of the road differ from a foot passenger who also keeps close to the edge of the road when he walks along it? I say that, in professing care and interest for the safety of the bicyclist, you are disregarding the safety of the foot passenger, and, by the very fact that you are enabling motors to drive at a higher speed at night, you are increasing the dangers on the public highways at dark. The figures read out by the hon. Member for Cleveland have no relation to the Bill. What we want to know is, how many accidents are caused by bicyclists not having a light at night, and how many would have been avoided had the bicyclist had a light. Anyone driving at night knows that, when passing cars in the other direction with blazing headlights, you cannot see a bicyclist ahead of you, even if he has a red reflector or his tail-light is going. You are dazzled completely, and you get the danger there; and that danger remains in spite of this Bill.
There are no provisions in this Bill for preventing these dazzling headlights. I know there are provisions for experiment, but it would be infinitely more valuable for the safety of the public—the motoring public as well as others who use our highways—if before this Bill goes through we could have something more definite from the Minister of Transport as to what he really proposes to do to stop people from being blinded by these powerfully lighted cars. This Bill, while professing to benefit the bicyclists of this country, injures the bicyclists of this country. It deprives them, nominally for their own protection, of certain rights which they have at present. It undoubtedly increases the risks to the safety of other people who use the roads. It does enable motorists to drive more quickly along the roads at night. Increased safety for 1593 road transport at night does not depend upon quick driving, but rather depends upon motorists increasingly realising that they are responsible, not merely for the safety of themselves and their own cars, but for the safety of every other person using the roads, whether on a bicycle, on foot, or on horseback. I hope that hon. Members, before they vote for this Bill, will realise that in doing so they are risking the safety of the public, and not securing the safety of the public. I hope, further, that they will shortly realise from their constituencies what those people who ride on bicycles, as well as the ordinary foot passengers on the roads, think about a Bill which is obviously devised to enable motorists to drive more quickly than they can at the present time. I beg to move.
§ Captain BRASS
I welcome this Bill, particularly, because it has a Clause which is similar to a Bill which I had the honour of introducing into this House some little time ago under the Ten Minutes Rule. I think, myself, that one of the greatest dangers in this country on the roads at night is undoubtedly the bicyclist who has not any reflector or any lamp. I cannot quite understand the mentality of people like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), when they say that a Bill of this kind would injure the cyclists themselves. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that, because a person has a light on his bicycle, which makes it more easily visible, it would be more dangerous for the bicyclist himself; and the reason for that, he suggests, is that the motorist will go faster than he did before, because he can see something which he could not see before. The logical conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman's argument would be that, if these things are invisible on the road, they are safer. In that case, why does he not bring in a Bill suggesting that no vehicles should be allowed to have any lights at all?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot allow the hon. and gallant Member to misstate my case. I admitted that it would be safer for the bicyclist if he carried a rear light.
§ Captain BRASS
I took down the right hon. Gentleman's words, and he said, "This will injure the bicyclists themselves."
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Not their safety, but would injure them because it would be forcing them to take precautions which they ought not to be forced to take.
§ Captain BRASS
The right hon. Gentleman would rather see them not forced to do that than the safety of the cyclists themselves, presumably. Another thing that I think would be a logical sequence of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman would be that we ought to make motorists go a little more slowly than they do at the present time. I suggest to him that he might bring in a Bill to say that vehicles on roads might go on either side of the road, that they need not necessarily keep to the left. Then there would be complete chaos in the country. It would then be possible for motorists and cyclists and everyone else to go about on different sides of the road, with no lights, and then I am certain the right hon. Gentleman would have his own way, and motorists would go considerably more slowly than they do at the present time. But I think that another thing would happen, and that would be that there would be considerably more accidents than there are at the present time.
The real objection to this Bill and to the carrying of lights was suggested by the cyclists, and the right hon. Gentleman admitted it when he said he was in constant fear that his lamp might go out, because he had not taken the trouble to put enough oil in it. That was the real objection to the carrying of red lights on the back of bicycles. The second objection that the right hon. Gentleman raised, as to the speed of motor cars, was not the real objection at all. I have considerable sympathy with his objection to the carrying of red lamps, because I have been caught on one or two occasions on a motor car in the old days, when we had to have oil lamps, with my lamp out; and I did exactly as the right 1595 hon. Gentleman suggested—told the policeman he might feel the top of my lamp, and no doubt he would find that it was warm. As a matter of fact, it was always warm, because I allowed the exhaust to play upon it. Unfortunately, a cyclist is not able to do the same thing.
I should like now to make a few remarks about the Bill itself. There is one objection to it which I have, and that is that I think there is too much Minister about it. If you look at Clause 1, Sub-sections (1), (2) and (3), Clause 2, Sub-section (2), Clauses 3 and 4, and Clause 5, Sub-section (2), you will see that the Minister has a discretion under all those Clauses. However much one admires my right hon. Friend, he may not always be at the Ministry of Transport; indeed, possibly, one of these days, we may even abolish the Ministry of Transport. I do think that this discretion is rather overdone in this Bill. If one looks at Sub-section (2, h) of Clause 1, one sees that all vehicles constructed before the passing of the Bill can be exempted. That means that every single vehicle that is extant to-day can be exempted from the Bill altogether. In the same Clause one sees also that all horse-drawn vehicles can also be exempted. I do not think that that ought to be in the Bill.
§ Captain BRASS
Yes; I am not saying he is going to do it, but he might if he were so inclined. There is one part of the Bill which I do not think is right, and that is Clause 5, where it is provided that the Minister of Transport can make an Order if he thinks fit. I do not think he should make an Order about the red reflectors that are to be carried; hut it should be in the discretion of the Minister to do that or not as he thinks fit. It is most important—
§ Captain BRASS
It deals with the sort of reflector that can be carried, and that is a very important thing. It is not a question of thinking fit or not, because 1596 the reflector that is to be carried by a bicyclist must certainly be an efficient reflector. There are many small reflectors carried by bicycles to-day which are of no use at all, and it is most necessary that the Minister, when he is making this Order, should see that the reflector is a proper and efficient one. There are proper and efficient reflectors made. The right hon. Gentleman did not want that. He said he thought those reflectors might be too expensive. Nothing is too expensive if it is going to save life in this country. If the question of expense is to be considered, it is not going to help very much. There are one or two Committee points in the Bill which I should like to criticise but this is not the time to do "that. I would only like to say, in conclusion, that I hope every facility will be given to this Bill and that it will soon be passed into law, because I feel quite sure that if it is a large number of lives will be saved.
§ Mr. B. SMITH
My objection to this Bill as a Bill is not very great, but I take very great exception to what I would call piecemeal legislation. Ever since 1920, or 1922, Departmental Committees have been considering the question of lights on vehicles, types of motor cars, methods of construction and so on, and the Minister, at least during the three and a half years that I have been here, has been continually promising us a Bill from the Government which will embody those recommendations; and during the last two months I and many of my friends on these benches have asked if and when this legislation was coming. It has been continually promised as. The hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Lougher) claims not to have been inspired by the Minister in bringing in this Bill, but it happens to be really Part II of the Roads Bill that was issued for public discussion. Whether it was inspired or not, this Bill must anticipate public discussion as to whether that is a right thing or a wrong thing, and, if the Bill gets to Committee before the public have given their considered opinion upon it, we say it is unwise legislation as well as piecemeal legislation. Various Committees have sat, but of course the hon. Member for Central Cardiff was undoubtedly inspired by the Departmental Committees to which I have referred. We feel, therefore, that this Bill ought not to have been brought 1597 in by a private Member, but should have been left as Part II for public discussion by all interested parties, and then a comprehensive Bill affecting all the five parts of the suggested Bill brought before this House at a proper time, so that we could have had effective and comprehensive legislation on the question of motor traffic.
The discussion to-day has turned a good deal on reflectors, I want to go a step further, and I am sure my right hon. Friend the Member for Neweastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) will condemn me at the outset. What I suggest is that not only should one have an efficient reflector on a pedal bicycle, but that the bicycle should carry a white splash of paint on the mudguard. That is a factor of safety. One can talk just as long as one likes about whether cyclists have rights or anything else, but everyone has a right to preserve life, whether of cyclists or motorists, and anything that is brought in by regulation with that object ought to be met with good will, and not with some abstract philosophy about rights. My right hon. Friend says that he is not concerned with accidents, but is concerned with rights. I am concerned with both. My right hon. Friend is fearful lest, if a reflector is fixed to a bicycle, and if it also carries, as I hope, a white square on the rear mudguard, the pedestrian will be subjected to more dangers than in the past. I should like to tell my right hon. Friend that really the object of headlights on a country road is to discover pedestrians far enough ahead and to ensure their safety even when they themselves have not taken too much care about it.
There is another Clause in the Bill which, personally, I am glad to see, and that is Clause 6, which deals with penalties. In the past, the employé of a firm driving a car, or the chauffeur of a gentleman, has had to suffer the rigors of the law and meet the penalty, coupled sometimes with an endorsement on his licence, without his employer being brought within the purview of being assessed to part of the penalty. Clause 6, for the first time, holds responsible the man who should be primarily responsible, and that is the owner of the vehicle. That will ensure to the driver who gets his living by driving these vehicles that he will not 1598 lose his livelihood by having his licence taken away owing to the fact that some employer has forced him to travel on the streets without effective lights. I welcome that Clause. In regard to night driving, no one can get away from the fact that from 1920 to 1926 the number of fatal accidents at night rose from 143 to 316 and the number of injuries at night rose from 3,338 in 1920 to 10,906 in 1926. That is a living claim for more efficient lighting at night time. These figures alone demand that some effort should be made to get proper lighting. I object to the Minister having so many powers. Unlike my hon. Friend opposite I am not afraid that when a Socialist Minister gets into office he will do anything more injurious to the public than the present Minister can do, or has. done. It is not that change that I am worrying about What I am concerned about is that our legislation should be of such a character that it should be known to everyone, instead of some regulation being suddenly decided upon, and not properly advertised, and placing the public in jeopardy. I object to the Minister having these powers and being able, willy-nilly, at the request of some members of the public doing something the effect of which will be to put people into the police court. I notice that the fines are to go into the Road Fund. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes any more raids on the Road Fund, I can see here a means of the Minister augmenting the Fund by passing the word along and asking for higher penalties.
Looking at the Bill as a whole, I am not prepared to vote against it, but I think it is a Bill that ought to have been a Ministerial Measure. It anticipates public discussion which the Minister has sought for in the Road Bill, and by anticipating that, it may run against the many requests he may have made. That Bill should not have been left where it was. The public should have been afforded opportunities for discussion of the Bill. By a sort of progressive inspiration we have other Bills, which claim not to have been inspired, although undoubtedly they have been inspired. By this policy of progressive inspiration we have, at last, this Bill before us. I think it would be unwise for Members on this side of the House to oppose the Bill for 1599 that reason, although certainly it ought to have been left for the Government.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HORLICK
I want to put in a plea for the Second Reading of the Bill. There are many points which can be amended in Committee. Everyone who has spoken has agreed on that. I do not wish to deal with the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith), in which he referred to the advisability of this Bill being brought in at the present time. I understand that the Minister will say something on that matter. Any Bill which simplifies legislation in the way that this Bill does and brings a large body of legislation up-to-date must necessarily be acceptable to the House. The ordinary layman has difficulty in understanding legislation, and anything that can be simplified is all to the good, in that it becomes easier to keep within the law. There have been a certain number of criticisms regarding the powers of the Minister in this Bill, His hand does appear very often, but it must be remembered that in these days of invention it would make the Bill very complicated if everything, such as dazzle headlights and other things, had to be dealt with inside the Bill. It might be laid down by law that a certain method should be adopted, such as dipping or dimming, but some new invention might come along shortly afterwards which would make that thoroughly ineffective.
In addition to the question of red reflectors on bicycles, I agree with the hon. Member for Rotherhithe that the addition which he has suggested would be most valuable. As one who drives four or five thousand miles a year by night, some form of reflector on the rear mudguard of a bicycle is, in my opinion, essential not only for the safety of the cyclists but for the safety of every user of the road. There can be no doubt that it would lead to increased safety all round. It might lead in some cases to increased speed, but it is not so much on the country roads that the danger of no reflector comes in, it is in the badly lighted outskirts of cities and towns, where you get a combination of poor lights and red lamps. The pedestrian in that case is on the side 1600 path. The pedestrian on the road has the first right to be looked after, but if he is walking on the road he should walk towards the approaching vehicles, and keep on that side. Cyclists have to keep to the left of the road, and it is amazingly difficult to see them at certain times. I think that people owe a great debt to the ladies and gentlemen who are the arbiters of ladies' fashions in regard to short skirts and the flesh-tinted stocking. You can always see a girl with flesh-tinted stockings, cycling on the high road. It is the man with the black coat and black trousers you cannot see.
When one is driving a car or any other vehicle there is the sub-conscious mind at work in which you take in impressions, and the impression when you see a red light on the road is that there is something there, either an obstruction in the road or something proceeding in the same direction as yourself. We always have the pedestrian and we always have to keep on the lookout for him, and then we have to watch out for the cyclist, who may be on the road without a light. This means that you are looking out for two separate types of danger the whole time, and it is a sub-conscious strain, more particularly so with all the numerous new drivers who are coming on the road. It is hard enough for the experienced driver of long standing, who is up to every move in the game, but it must be amazingly difficult to start driving for the first time on the existing roads. I believe that the origin of the front light for cycles did not come from the cyclists but from an organisation which the cyclists fought at the time, called the Society for the Protection of the Pedestrian. That is absolutely true. It was fought tooth and nail by the cyclists but the pedestrians insisted on it. At that time the cyclist was the fastest form of locomotion on the road, but he is now down to about the third lowest, and I think it is only common sense that we should have some form of rear light for every form of vehicle on which it is possible to place it. It is not possible in the case of the pedestrian, but it is possible and most sensible for every other form of locomotion. I hope the House will give a Second Reading to the Bill.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
According to the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken, while women are to be commended for wearing light flesh-coloured stockings, men have no business to go about riding bicycles in dark trousers. It would be just as sensible as most Bills which are introduced on a Friday after-neon to bring in a Bill making it compulsory for all cyclists to wear light or flesh-coloured trousers; it would get rid of the need for any reflector at all. There is a slight disagreement between the Front Opposition Bench and the Middle Opposition Bench—not the back bench this time— but on this occasion I shall support my right hon. and gallant Friend. The Bill, in the first place, is taken, holus bolus, from the draft Bill of the Minister of Transport, and I do not think cyclists have been treated fairly in this matter. After a great deal of controversy and discussion the Minister of Transport met there to a great extent and an agreement was practically come to between the Cyclists Touring Club and the Minister of Transport, and they were prepared to accept a compulsory red reflector in connection with the complete Bill of the Minister of Transport. I do not want to misrepresent the position. I believe they came to that agreement, but they have not come to an agreement with the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Lougher) and the backers of this Bill, who I understand are all knights of the road. They have not come to an agreement with them, but are prepared to come to an agreement with the Minister of Transport on condition that the whole motor legislation of this country is brought up to date.
There has been no road legislation since 1903 when the motor car was in its infancy, and cyclists object strongly to this piecemeal legislation. It is not fair to the interests affected that, after they have accepted an agreed Measure, they should be invited to consider this Bill. This is not a party question; any legislation dealing with road transport should be agreed to by all users of the roads. I agree with the hon. Member for Rother-hithe (Mr. B. Smith), who I am sorry is going to vote for the Bill, that the Government should introduce a comprehensive Bill. The hon. Member who has introduced the Bill will no doubt go 1602 down to posterity, and the standard red reflector will probably be known in the future as "red loughers," that is, if there are any cyclists left on the roads after the avalanche of motor cars, which I believe are now being increased by about 2,000 each week. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Sir F. Meyer) seems to be amused at that. I welcome it, and I look forward to the day when every working man will have his own car. I look forward to the day when motor cars will be very cheap, if the party opposite will allow them to be cheap. But that is another matter. This Bill does not in any way relieve the danger. It can only be relieved by the provision of suitable roads for all classes of vehicles which use the roads.
In the first Clause there is a provision which makes it compulsory for a bicycle standing outside an inn, while the rider is refreshing himself inside, perhaps with cocoa, to show a red light in the rear. That is, of course, a Committee point, but surely that is not the intention of the Bill or of the Minister of Transport. We object to the powers which are given to the Minister of Transport to exempt certain classes of vehicles. He may change his mind and insist on the rear light, but the fact is that no rear light has yet been invented which will keep in on a bumpy road or a high wind. The danger of increased recklessness on the roads has been referred to by the hon. Member for Cleveland (Sir P. Goff). I notice the hon. Member has left the House, and it now appears to be a habit for hon. Members to make their speeches and then not wait for the reply. It applies probably to all parties in the House, but in this case it is an hon. Member of the Conservative party. The hon. Member for Cleveland did not deal with the real cause of most of the accidents; and the real cause is when you have two cars passing each other and a third party gets involved. This is where the Bill is incomplete. While any man can put a miniature searchlight on his car and has not the decency or good manners to lower it when approaching another car, you can put all the lights you like on whatever you like, you will still have accidents.
You can light the third party as much as you like, but if you have two high-powered motor cars of high speed, both dazzled by the worst form of road-hogging 1603 possible—the man who will not dim his lights—you will have accidents. The hon. Member should have brought in words to deal with the question of dazzling headlights. I think it should be made compulsory for a man who has a high-powered motor-car to dim his huge headlights when approaching another vehicle, because they not only dazzle the approaching car, the unfortunate pedestrian and the cyclist are dazzled also. On the comparatively narrow roads, which were created for horse-drawn traffic and for pedestrians, there is an obvious danger when two motor cars of high speed are passing each other both using dazzle headlights. That is how accidents happen. The hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe (Captain Brass) will no doubt agree with me. He is a careful driver. He has driven me, and I have no doubt he will agree with me that it is the inconsiderate person who drives at night with his dazzling headlights on who is the real danger. This Bill does not meet this point at all. As a matter of fact, it will only encourage this person to drive faster, for he will say that these confounded bicyclists cannot now go about in their gangs all across the road, and I can go as fast as I like.
The real trouble, of course, will not be met by this Bill. We have not realised that the motor car has created as great a revolution in transport as the invention of the wheel itself. Before we had the wheel invented, ordinary tracks and paths were sufficient. Then, thousands of years ago, the wheel came in and modern roads were introduced. For instance, the English-built roads in the Highlands of Scotland in order to put down the Scottish Kuomintang, the Scottish Nationalists. Our great roads in the North are all Roman or military or commercial roads, which were introduced to deal with the wheeled traffic of the day. When the stage coaches were trying to compete with the railways, the grading was improved and cuttings were made, but beyond that we have made no progress at all. When my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Transport, has money to spend, he makes roads, but they are not suitable to the vast 'volume of motor traffic, which we will see on the roads in the future and of which we have no conception at all. That will come 1604 when prosperity returns to this country and the day comes when, as in America, four out of every six motor cars are owned by weekly wage earners. The people who are bicyclists to-day will be the motor-car owners and the motor-bicycle owners of the future. Further, the carriage of goods by road is becoming increasingly important. At present, we are suffering from stagnation and this pettifogging Bill by itself does not realise the real trouble which we are going to be up against when trade revives in this country, when more goods have to be carried by road because the railways cannot accommodate them, and when we have got a great number of motor cars on the quite unsuitable roads that exist at present.
The remedy is that there should be certain roads or tracks for motor cars only, on which there should be no speed limit whatever. Then we would get the full benefit of this great invention. The petrol engine is the greatest invention since the wheel. The history of civilisation is the history of transport; and the more you improve transport the better for civilisation. Special motor roads are wanted, with a special track for bicyclists at the side, and outside that a special path for pedestrians. That is your future road, a road without any speed limit, and what is more it will be lighted at night. The great trunk roads adjoining Manchester and Liverpool, Bristol and London the great arteries of the future—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about Hull?"]. It is not necessary to mention Hull: everyone's mind at once turns to it. These great motor roads, on which only motor ears will be allowed, carrying goods in enormous volume, will be lighted at night like the main streets of a town. It is not very expensive, and then this kind of legislation will not be required. Already you have in America to-day these special roads, which are carried over railways and over by-paths, and which have no cross-roads at all, thus removing another of the great motor dangers. That is the way we have got to tackle this question in the future. The country that realises this will make a great leap forward in prosperity. Our great advance last century was because we were pioneers in railway construction. The country that is a pioneer in motor road construction will make a 1605 similar advance now. That is the way we should tackle motor legislation in this country, and it is long overdue. We will then reap the benefit of this great invention and of the great commercial triumph of the cheap motor car, which is producing these problems. I wish Members of the Conservative party would really tackle these matters instead of bringing in this piecemeal, pettifogging legislation, which does not do any good at all. Their Bills are Bills to make the people think that the Government, with their great majority, are doing something when they are really doing nothing at all. It is because of those reasons that we are going to vote against the Bill.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Sir FRANK MEYER
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down showed great vision for the future possibilities of motor transport. Let me say at once that I am in entire agreement with him as to the necessity of looking ahead on this important matter. If, however, he believes that motor cars are going to be more plentiful and1 cheaper and that two out of every three will be owned by workmen—though perhaps some hon. Members opposite will not accept that definition, which means those who have to work daily for their living, whether with their hands or with their heads—I cannot see the necessity for another suggestion in his speech, that a large amount of public money should be spent in laying down tracks for cyclists besides these roads. In my view, cyclists must diminish as motor cars increase. At the same time, we have got to look most carefully at the point of view of cyclists at the present time. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who so vehemently opposed this Bill, professed to speak on behalf of the cyclists and pedestrians. As far as the cyclist is concerned, I would like to put this point. He says cyclists may suffer as the result of having a red reflector. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down says that, if two motors meet which are going fast, a third person in between is likely to be in greater danger. I suggest that, by adding rear reflectors or something that makes cyclists more visible, motorists will be encouraged to adopt the courtesy of dip- 1606 ping or dimming. I myself have had a dipping device fitted to my car for some years, and the only reason which prevents me making a continuous use of that device when meeting a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian is the fear that I may, without warning, suddenly run on top of two or three cyclists, with nothing to distinguish them when my lights are dipped to the ground.
It is for that reason that I press strongly on the House and the public generally the very reasonable compromise that cyclists should have a reflector on the back of their cycles. I think it is an important provision that the form of the reflector should be approved by the Minister of Transport. In common with most Members of this House, perhaps more than most Members, I dislike the system of legislation by reference or at the discretion of the Minister, but I think that, in a case like this, we cannot embody in the Bill the exact size, shape, and form of any rear reflector. That is essentially a thing for experts at the Ministry of Transport. I think we can trust those experts, in consultation with the cycling and motoring associations, to evolve something which will be a real reflector. There is no doubt that at the present time some of the reflectors that you see on a cycle, both from their size and more particularly from the angle at which they are set, are perfectly useless for the purpose for which they are intended.
The history of motor legislation in this country is, I think, typical of the way in which in this country we are prone to deal with important problems. For 20 years the motor industry has been growing and growing. In spite of that fact we still deal with it by laws which were passed 20 years ago when the motorist was considered a nuisance and a danger, and motoring was the hobby of a few rich men. I join issue with the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme when he says that cyclists are far more numerous than motorists. It may be correct to say that those who ride cycles are more numerous than those who have a licence to drive a motor vehicle, but, after all, those who drive motor vehicles are not the only motorists. What about the passengers? There are the hundreds of thousands and the millions 1607 who go in motor omnibuses and chars-a-banc, and they are all motorists. It is for their safety as well. If there is an accident it is not only the driver but the passengers who are imperilled. It is true to say that motorists at present largely exceed in number those who ride bicycles. It is therefore an increasing majority for which we have to legislate. It is because I believe that this Bill will have the effect of improving the amenities of the road and will consolidate previous legislation and do away with the discrepancies in different counties and boroughs, and that it must be for the benefit of the motoring community, passengers as well as drivers, that I give it my cordial support.
We have to make up our minds on a question of broad principle. Are we to try to be the only slow moving country in the world? Every other civilised country allows motor cars, with suitable restrictions, to proceed at rapid rates. Are we to say that because there are accidents and must be accidents when you go fast, we are to deal with the question not by common-sense legislation but by such legislation as will discourage the increase and building up of the motor industry? Do we want to keep the general level of speed on roads down to 15 or 20 miles on an average, while America, France and Germany and other countries allow the general speed of motor cars to rise to 30 or 40 miles an hour, according to the circumstances? If we are to legislate to keep all motor vehicles down to such a speed that whatever the light and circumstances may be, they must be absolutely safe, with no chance of accidents, if we take no risks, we are severely handicapping ourselves as against our trade rivals in other countries, which allow traffic to proceed at reasonable speed, taking into consideration all the surrounding circumstances. In order to get reasonable speed at night you must have the best lighting and some uniform and sensible code. That is what this Bill proposes to do.
I do not want to deal now with minor points. There are many which can be dealt with in Committee. The Minister must have very considerable discretion under the Bill, and when dealing with questions relating to reflectors and dazzle you cannot lay down what is required 1608 word by word in the Bill. I regret, however, that the Minister will have power under the Bill to exempt so many types of vehicles from the ordinary provision of carrying lights in front and rear. He has power to exempt any horse-drawn vehicle, any cart that is being pushed along the read by hand, and there are automatically exempted, I gather, tramcars and tram-trolleys. I do not understand why, apart from vehicles carrying dangerous explosives, the Minister should have power to exempt horse-drawn vehicles. Every horse-drawn vehicle should have the same regulations applied to it as every mechanically propelled vehicle. Everybody who uses the roads has not only rights but duties to other users. I do not see why anyone pushing a hand-cart should be exempted. The hand-cart takes up as much space on the road as the cyclist and should not be exempted from the provision as to the carrying of a light in front and behind. Most strongly I object to tramcars and trolley-cars being exempted.
§ Sir F. MEYER
On reading through the Bill for the first time it occurred to me that they were being specially exempted. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to explain the matter to us. In general I regret that there should be so many exemptions from what seems to me an ordinary, necessary and common-sense rule, that every person who uses the highway, as distinct from the paths at the side, with any form of wheeled traffic, should be compelled to have lights in front and a red rear light.
§ Sir F. MEYER
Yes, to anyone who takes up space with any form of vehicle, walking, riding or driving.
§ Sir F. MEYER
It is compulsory by law that anyone proceeding by wheeled traffic should use the left side of the road, and anyone overtaking must be on the same side. The pedestrian who is 1609 facing traffic can see the traffic, and he can more readily see how far it is necessary to take a step to one side or the other. The pedestrian is in a far easier position than the cyclist, even in the crisis of two ears passing, to take a quick step into a hedge or to one side. Of course, it does not often occur. If hon. Gentlemen opposite pursue their argument logically it would mean that always the overtaking vehicle would have to take all the precautions, and that those who were overtaken need not take any at all; they have merely to exist on the road, and as long as they keep to their own side, all the responsibility is on the overtaking vehicle. If you take that point of view, motor traffic will soon either cease or we should find ourselves a long way behind our trade rivals. I do not want to deal with Committee points, but I support the Bill most cordially. I regret very much that I cannot find myself in agreement with the right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, who is so often a. colleague of mine. I agree with him when he acts as an individualist, but not when he acts as a Tory of 100 years ago or an anarchist.
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken is always well informed and interesting in his addresses to the House, and I am sure that those who are interested in this Bill are thankful to him for his candour this afternoon. He says perfectly plainly that the object of the Bill is that more speed is wanted, particularly at nights. I would like to ask the Mover of the Second Reading whether that is really the object of the Bill. The last speaker mentioned that as motor vehicles do not attain a higher speed at night, there is interference with the trade and prosperity of the country. He went on to say that, in his opinion, cyclists must diminish as motor cars increase. My fear is that pedestrians may diminish as motor cars increase their speed, particularly their speed at night. I gather that the hon. Baronet believes that there is a great deal of responsibility attaching to pedestrians, and that they ought to be ready to dive into the hedge when called upon to do so. I am glad we are getting these candid statements from the hon. Baronet and other hon. Gentlemen 1610 opposite, as to their ideas on this subject. I have never ridden a bicycle, but I am particularly concerned about the pedestrian. He may be an old-fashioned person because in these modern times he persists in walking about, but, at the same time, he has certain rights. A large number of people in this country are still unable to afford to own motor cars, and if the pedestrians of the country find that hon. Gentlemen opposite hold the view that they ought to he like rabbits, ready to dive into the ditch or into a hole any time a motorist comes along, then public opinion in this country will have something to say on the matter.
My principal reason for intervening is to express the view that the great danger of the Bill is that the public will not give so much attention to it as they would to a Government Bill. The reply of the Minister and his comments on this Measure will be very interesting. Ever since the right hon. and gallant Gentleman took office in 1924, we have been promised regularly, something like once a week, a Government Bill dealing with road transport generally. I should think that in reply to about 200 or 300 questions, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has repeated the assurance that the Government were preparing to introduce a Bill and in the meantime he asked the hon. Members who were questioning him to await its introduction. Is the present Bill to be used as a further excuse for delaying comprehensive Government legislation on a question? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman ought to state the position of his Department clearly. Does he approve of the introduction of a Bill of this character in face of the draft Bill of 92 Clauses which he himself is circulating? If I were to asked the light hon. and gallant Gentleman whether, as a result of the circulation of that Bill the Government intended to introduce a road traffic Measure during the present Session, I have no doubt he would give a non-committal reply and would say that the matter was not yet decided. fie certainly would not say definitely either that they were going to do so, or that they had decided to postpone the subject to another Session. The matter was not mentioned in the King's Speech, 'much to the amazement of people who were 1611 interested and who were expecting a Bill.
Is it the case that the Government have decided to postpone their Road Traffic Bill and are fastening on to a small piece of that Measure which the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Lougher) has extracted from the proposals of the Departmental Committee? Are we to have only this one section of the proposal? If so, there are strong objections to legislation of that character. In the first place, I do not think it fair that a private Member should take upon himself the function of a Government Department. Secondly, if this Bill becomes law, it may make any Government legislation dealing with the whole question more difficult and complicated. I am sorry that the hon. Baronet the Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) has gone from his place, because I had intended to suggest to him that he should introduce a further Measure following on this one. Apparently this Bill will not achieve all that the motorists desire, and what some hon. Gentlemen opposite want is a Clause compelling pedestrians to be illuminated at night and compelling them to carry large dinner bells, so that when crossing the road they might warn motorists that there were pedestrians about. That seems to be what we are coming to.
We are told that the passage of this Bill will enable the motor to go faster at night, and we are also told that it may add to the safety of cyclists, but I am afraid that, while that may be so, it will certainly increase the danger to pedestrians. If the cyclist is going to be illuminated at the rear, either by a lamp or by a reflector, it will certainly enable the motorist to achieve greater speed, and then it will be more dangerous for the pedestrian. That is logical. At present we have tremendous dangers in the outer ring of London on the new arterial roads, because of the fact, as I have pointed out before in this House, that these roads have been constructed for motorists only. They have no proper pavements, and the result is that the pedestrians using them have to walk on the road, and the passage of this Bill will, therefore, seriously add to the dangers of pedestrians on the arterial roads in particular.
1612 Finally, I will again ask the Minister of Transport to put all his cards on the table and to say where he stands in regard to this Road Traffic Bill which he has caused to be circulated. Is the purpose of giving this Bill a Second Reading to-day merely that we shall have had a discussion in this House, that it will go to a Committee, and, if a quorum can be obtained and it survives all the perils that there are in this House for private Members' legislation, it will then become law, and that it is not proposed to go on with any other part of the larger Measure of the Minister, but that the right hon. Gentleman hopes that other private Members will introduce other parts of his Bill, so that ultimately the whole of his Measure may thus become law, in a piecemeal way? There are large numbers of people who have been looking forward for years to some comprehensive legislation dealing with the whole problem of road traffic, and we ought to know whether the Government have once again decided that that is to be held over for this Session and in place of it this little Bill only is going to be passed. My particular objection is not to the Bill, but to the fact that this Measure ought to have been brought forward by the Minister.
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
So far, every speaker has approached this Bill from the point of view either of the motorist, the cyclist, or the pedestrian, and not a soul has considered it from the point of view of the rural occupier and dweller and farmer. I view with considerable apprehension the framework of the Bill, in that it hands over the lighting of all vehicles on the road to the care of the Minister of Transport. I object to that principle in general, and if I happen to be on the Committee, I shall take such steps as I can to limit the powers of the Minister, even in the case of motor vehicles and bicycles. I admit that at first sight I find it very difficult to see how any Bill could have been designed or drafted without giving considerable powers to the Minister as the ultimate arbiter of the kind and method of lighting to be adopted, but when you come to look at the Bill as far as horse-drawn traffic is concerned, you see that the whole of the lighting of our horse-drawn vehicles is handed over to the Minister too, and that means that we are putting into 1613 the hands of whatever gentleman occupies the position of Minister of Transport for the time being a very serious controlling influence over the conduct of agriculture in this country. Having listened to the speech made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer), hon. Members will see the temper in which the right of the individual to use the roads, the oldest right that the individual has, is regarded by the new generation of motorists, or what some of us call the "motor hogs," and I, therefore, view with considerable apprehension the powers proposed to be given in this Bill.
I know my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Transport has a tender heart for rural interests, but if we had a gentleman like the hon. Member for Yarmouth in the position of Minister of Transport, we do not know how seriously and how much prejudice this hard-pressed industry of agriculture might suffer. Let me give one or two illustrations. This Bill applies not only to every highway, but also to every road to which the public have access, to every country lane, except private roads. The main industry in agriculture, as far as corn growing is concerned, is sending out the horses and carts in the morning with the farm implements, ploughs, harrows, drills, and whatever they may be. They come back either at dinner-time or in the evening, and in the autumn evenings they come back just after dusk. I ask anybody, having regard to the number of farms in this country, is it reasonable that farm carts carting manure should have to carry two lights in front and one behind? It is impracticable. It cannot be done. These lamps would get broken in the course of the rough usage of these vehicles and implements, yet they are to be used just for the sake of five or 10 minutes on the road when they are coming home from work. Take the small man who has one light cart and sends his milk to the station and is 10 minutes on the road. At present he has one light on the right-hand side of his cart, white in front and red behind, and that is quite sufficient. These are not the carts that are causing the injury, and yet, if we got an unsympathetic Minister of Transport, if we got a gentleman like the hon. Baronet the Member for Yarmouth, who actually wants a man with a hand- 1614 cart to have two lights in front and one at the rear and, I suppose, a man wheeling a wheelbarrow the same, this is the sort of treatment we should have to expect.
This is the sort of fear that prompted me to get up now, so that I might beg for time for this matter to be discussed and realised in the country. Farmers, smallholders, market gardeners, everybody engaged in this hard industry of gaining a living out of the land may then know that there is another weight going to be put upon them in carrying on their industry. If the Bill is to go through in this form, I shall do what I can to get the powers of the Ministry of Transport limited, so far as horse-drawn vehicles are concerned, though I should like to see them withdrawn or some definite rules laid down about the particular industry with which I am concerned. In any event, I think at least some provision ought to be made by which the responsibility that is to be given to a Ministerial Department, for dealing with the lighting of farm vehicles and rural vehicles generally, should be shared by the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Agriculture. Having called the attention of the House to what is in store for those who live by and on the land, I cannot bring myself to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill, but I beg the Minister to urge the promoters to let there be a considerable period before the Bill goes into Committee, so that the provisions of it are realised by the public at large, and so that we may really know what the general feeling is and may be able in Committee to come to some practical solution of difficulties that are apparent to me, and probably to the House, to attain an object for which I have considerable sympathy.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I really think the fears of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) are unfounded.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Whether I am in office or not, we must assume a modicum of common sense and wise discretion to a Minister of the Crown and his advisers, and I take it that my hon. Friend the Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Lougher) put in this provision in regard 1615 to possible exemptions with a view to the exemption of vehicles engaged in agriculture, so that these vehicles, which are now exempt to a large extent, should continue to be exempted and should receive the proper consideration which any responsible man obviously would give to them.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I think the hon. Gentleman must realise that in all this sort of legislation it must be a compromise between the competing interests, and we must assume that the person who makes the Regulations will approach the subject in a reasonable and moderate spirit. It is true that all Regulations have to lie on the Table of both Houses for 28 days, but, speaking frankly, unless there is something exceptional done, all hon. Members know that, though that in theory is a complete safeguard, in practice it is not so big a safeguard as it would seem on the face of it to be, and I am the last person who wants to have all these duties of making these Regulations put upon me. They will entail very considerable labour and investigation, and they are sure to bring on to the Minister for the time being great criticism, whatever he does. Therefore, I wish to put this to the House, that a Minister does not really desire these Regulations because he wants power to be able to do things, but very often they are put upon him because there is no other way of arriving at the desired object.
Personally, I think that in this Bill, if it goes to a Committee upstairs, there may be certain matters now left to Regulations which could possibly be put in black and white in the Bill, but, on the other hand, there are certain Regulations, such as those to which my hon. and learned Friend behind me has alluded, in regard to the exemption of agricultural and horse drawn vehicles, which could not possibly be stated definitely in the Bill, because you could not know what they were until the measures came up for consideration. Then again, take Clause 3, dealing with Regulations in regard to the prevention of dazzle. I understand that that has 1616 been put in by the hon. Member because the Departmental Committee which has been investigating this very difficult and very important subject has come to the conclusion that so far it has not got a satisfactory anti-dazzle device, and the power to make Regulations by the Minister is put in by him so that, if a satisfactory device is evolved, the Minister would be able to make Regulations. In dealing with a matter like this, arising out of vehicles on roads, we are not dealing only with this year, but probably with matters which may last for the next 10 or 15 years. Hon. Members know as well as I do how difficult it is to get legislation through this House, there are so many matters which crowd it out, and, therefore, in legislation of this sort one must look ahead, and not stereotype powers which are given to the Minister, so that he may not be too fettered in the future in matters with which he has to deal. There has not been, as far as I can see, any real criticism of the main provisions of the Bill. There has been almost universal criticism of the powers being given to the Minister carte blanche, and, and a Member of the House of Commons, I rather agree. Therefore, if this Bill goes to a Committee upstairs—
§ Colonel ASHLEY
That is in the Bill. There has been no general criticism of the idea of the Bill or its main provisions. The criticisms have been on Committee points, the chief of which seems to be in regard to the provision relating to a red lamp or efficient red reflector at the back of the cycle. Surely that is not an unreasonable prosion. It does not impose the carrying of a lamp. All it says is that the cyclist shall carry an efficient red reflector at the back of the cycle. What does that entail? As far as I know, it cannot possibly entail an expense of more than 2s. at the most. That reflector will be efficient, probably, for 10 years or so. Can anybody suggest that that is an undue burden to put upon anybody? It will undoubtedly help him from the point of view of safety, and also help the drivers of all mechanically-propelled vehicles on the road. Only this morning my right 1617 hon. Friend the Postmaster-General told me he had issued orders that all push-bicycles used by the Post Office are to have red reflectors. There are 20,000 of them.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Much less than that; therefore, the argument of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, that this Bill seeks to put an undue burden on the cyclist, is surely unwarranted. I do not think I need say any more, because, as I say, the criticism has been almost entirely on Committee points. Therefore, I would suggest to the House that it should give the Bill a Second Reading, and send it upstairs to Committee, where it can receive that detailed consideration which, I am sure, will be given to it by several hon. Members who have taken part in this Debate, so that, if it be found necessary, any undue power which is sought to be given to the Minister of Transport may be taken away, and put definitely in the Bill.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the views of the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer)?
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the question I put to him as to what effect the Bill, if passed, will have upon any Government legislation?
§ Mr. SNELL
I desire less to enter into a criticism of the Bill as a whole than to emphasise one point that has not, I think, been properly urged in the Debate, and certainly not properly answered. The position of the motorist and also that of the cyclist have been put forward, but I cannot help feeling that the position of the pedestrian as affected by this Bill has been altogether under-estimated. I am now far too old to ride a bicycle, and, I am afraid, too poor to own a motor car. Therefore, I want to speak for that larger number of people who are in my position. I cannot help feeling that the desire of this 1618 Bill to make it easier for the owners of motor cars is really not very well based. Motor owners are sufficiently well organised to take care of themselves, without having much protection from an Act of Parliament. I do not want to enter into the technical question as to whether a reflector is better than a red light, or whether one or the other is necessary, but I do want to ask, supposing this device either of the red light or the reflector is put upon the back of the cycle, how is that going to react upon the safety of the pedestrian in the country lanes? If the claim of the motorist is that he cannot go at the speed he would like, for fear of running down the cyclist, and that that fear would be removed if a red light or a reflector were displayed, then the position of the pedestrian in the country lanes has to be taken into account. Would it not mean that if cyclists carried reflectors or red lights, the motorists would feel that he could speed up, and that, therefore, there would be an increase in recklessness rather than a decrease? I am asking for the point to he met. It might happen that the motorist, believing he could see all the danger there was in the road because of this provision, might take chances with pedestrians. I am thinking of the person in the country road, the person whom I know, after all, best. It has been said that the workman uses the cycle to go to and from work, and so on, but a vast proportion of those walking in country lanes are aged workers, women and children and young people, and we who belong to the country know something of the danger which does attend walking in country lanes at night. I am always expecting the day will come when some motorist will run me down, and when that sacrifice has to be paid, I fear it will have to be paid to some luxurious Rolls-Royce rather than a democratic machine of humbler status.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
On that point about the danger to pedestrians on the road, I may tell the hon. Gentleman that in all reconstruction of roads on any large scale, I virtually always insist that there shall be foot-paths.
§ Mr. SNELL
If some special assurance could be given on that point, it would be helpful. Then there is the point about cattle. Droves of cattle and sheep are to be seen on country roads, and there is really no sort of protection for them. With regard to the point about cyclists getting fewer, it is assumed, and I hope it may be true, that some day every working man will be able to own a small car, but if that should come true, it will not of necessity mean that cyclists will grow fewer in number, because cycling, after all, in a young people's pleasure, and that should be borne in mind. I only rose to put the point that I think the position of the pedestrian has not been properly attended to to-day, and to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether something could not be done in the matter of the provision of foot-paths.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
If I thought there was going to be any great danger to pedestrians, I would not support the Bill, but I do not think there is. It seems to me that this Bill will add to the safety of the roads. I do not want to help the motorist to go at the top of his speed along the roads. I have been a cyclist, a motor cyclist, and a motorist, and I have always driven all three machines with care. The mistake this Bill makes is that it does not provide for red lights back and front. If you had reflectors both back and front, the motorist would see the cyclist. It is said that the pedestrian is not protected as the result of the cyclist having to carry a red light or reflector, but a cyclist may wobble and the pedestrian should not, and the real danger lies in the wobbling. Yon can go along in a motor car and not see the cyclist, and the cyclist cannot see you, but the pedestrian can. In the country roads of Scotland you may suddenly come across a flock of sheep and see scores of shining eyes suddenly gazing at you. Their eyes are natural reflectors.
What you have to do is to make the road as safe as possible for all purposes. It is almost an outrage that motor cars were ever allowed on the roads. Go back to the history of the roads and remember the opposition to steam traction on roads, which were meant for foot passengers and horses, and nothing else. Speed limits should never have been 1620 introduced at all. What ought to have been the law was that if anyone was injured, unless it was a deliberate attempt to commit suicide, the motorist should be liable. In that case there would have been no need for speed limits. As a matter of fact, a jury always casts the motorist in damages, as if he insured the pedestrian, and quite properly so, because the motor is such a dangerous vehicle—much more dangerous than a railway locomotive which runs on rails. Of course the motorist is insured, and I often wish he had to meet some of the liability himself, because, owing to the insurance, some motorists think that they have a right to drive recklessly.
There is one point that I wanted to put to the Minister of Transport. He said he was putting as many foot-paths on the new roads as possible. A lot of these new transport roads are a great source of danger. I wish the Minister would spend the money on existing roads, because the new roads simply lead to motoring at 70 to 80 miles an hour. I have seen seven or eight motorists piled in a heap through an accident. A road with a reasonable amount of turnings and windings would keep the motorist to a reasonable speed. Foot-paths, to some extent, are a danger to pedestrians. If they were put over the hedge some distance, they might not be. If you analyse the accidents that take place on roads, you will find that a very large percentage is due to foot passengers stepping off the pavement on to the road, when the paths are at all crowded. Before there were path-ways, the rule was for foot passengers to keep to the right of the road and transport to the left. The result was that foot passengers always met the oncoming traffic and could get out of its way. When you started making pavements, the foot passengers began to walk on the right of the pavement, and when stepping off the road ran a danger from the vehicular traffic coming behind. Therefore, a pavement, to a certain extent, is a danger, and the true remedy is to teach the rising generation to walk on the side which enables them to meet the oncoming traffic. I suggest to the Minister of Transport that he should get into communication with the President of the Board of Education in order that the rising generation may be instructed in the rule of the road, "Keep to the 1621 right." The real trouble is that those responsible for the construction of our roads in the past were not prepared for this rapid development of motor traffic, and it came all too soon. It would have be a good thing at the conclusion of the War if a larger number of unemployed had been put upon making new roads in order to meet the needs of this rapid development in motor traffic.
I agree that it is a most vital thing for this country to have motor transport properly developed because this, in my view, is one of the principal things which will solve many of our rural and industrial problems. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) spoke about the pleasures of motoring, but there is no pleasure in motoring now. In London it is simply a nerve-racking hting and is only used as a means of getting from one spot to another more quickly. The right hon. Gentleman said that cycling is a young man's sport, but my view is that it is an old man's recreation and a very beneficial form of exercise. With regard to the cost of red reflectors at the rear of bicycles, I do not think they would cost as much as 2s. As a matter of fact many bicycles are now being ridden in the country which did not cost more than 20s., in fact, I have sold one myself at that price. In future, of course, the manufacturers would fit bicycles with the necessary lamps and reflectors and that should not make much difference in the price.
With regard to what the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut. -Commander Kenworthy) has said about motoring in country lanes, my experience is that motorists do not go very much into country lanes at all but keep on the main roads. In these matters our ancestors had greater wisdom, for at the conclusion of the Continental wars they realised that they would have a great number of unemployed and they set them to work improving the roads of the Highlands—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
The argument now being used by the hon. and learned Member seems to me to be a little remote from this Bill.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I was simply replying to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull, but those remarks made by him may have been irrelevant. This is a Bill which I think will serve some useful purpose. At any rate it will be a new experiment. In a matter of this kind it is better to take up the problem stage by stage, so as to give the country a reasonable time to try these changes, and then the Minister of Transport will be able to see how these proposals are going to affect agriculture.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Clause 7 of the Bill is the one which applies this Measure to Scotland and it reads as follows:This Act shall apply to Scotland subject to the following modification:The expression county borough shall mean a burgh, containing within its boundaries as ascertained, fixed or determined for police purposes, a population, according to the census for the time being last taken, of or exceeding fifty thousand, and all other burghs shall for the purposes of any powers and duties under this Act be deemed to be within the county.2.0 p.m.
The Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland greatly object to this Clause because it will take from the Royal and Ancient Burghs of Scotland the control of the road traffic within their own ambit. I understand that a draft of Part II of the Road Traffic Bill has been prepared so that the views of statutory authorities may be obtained. I think it is highly expedient that this Bill should not have a Second Reading before those views have been ascertained by the promoters of the Bill and the Government. I understand that these authorities in Scotland have had complete control of the roads since 1878, and for many centuries the Scottish Burghs have had absolute control of the traffic. I hope the Minister of Transport will be able to say something to lessen the fears of these Royal Burghs in Scotland on this point, and that the House will take the views of the Convention into consideration before voting for this Bill. If this Bill does go through, I hope Clause 7 will be struck out in Committee.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
I think it would be a very good thing if the old rule of the road "Keep to the right" were more observed on our public roads, because then the light of the motor car would be 1623 reflected on the pedestrians and the motorist could see the faces of people who were walking on the road. If people would only observe the rule of keeping to the right it would be much less dangerous. The hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) has told us how safe it is to travel on the railways. I welcome that tribute which he has paid to our engine drivers. He said that it is a great strain to drive a motor car. I do not believe that is so; it rather indicates that the driver has not been properly trained. One thing that is lacking in this Bill is that it does not deal with the question of the training of motorists. We have a good many people on the road who are not temperamentally fit to drive, and who have not been trained to drive a motor car. I hope that in Committee something more will be done with regard to glaring lights than is indicated in the Bill. In the suburbs of our great cities, where the roads are lighted by street lamps, you meet motorists who have six lamps alight. There is unnecessary glare caused by a certain type of motorist who, if he meets another motorist on the road with a set of lamps giving more glare, immediately gives something stronger. This ought to be remedied. With that exception, I heartily support the Bill.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.