Amendment made: In page 14, line 8, leave out the words "conviction for a first or second," and insert instead thereof the words:
first or second conviction for an."—[Mr. Herbert Morrison.]
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I beg to move, in page 14, line 21, to leave out from the word "Act," to the end of the Subsection, and to insert instead thereof the words:provided that—This is in some respects the most important Amendment of the day. In Committee upstairs when we had decided that there should be no speed limit and we came to discuss in the said Schedule what should be the speed limits of the heavy commercial vehicles and chars-a-bancs, in fact everything except the light vehicles, there was considerable difference of opinion, not necessarily on the different sides of the Committee, but between different members of the Committee, as to what was an appropriate speed limit for these heavy vehicles. It was agreed that there should be some speed limit for them, but there was a difference of opinion, widely held, as to what the appropriate speed limit should be. After a considerable amount of discussion, a suggestion was made by, I think, the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine) which, happily, met with the approval of the whole Committee, namely, that we should allow the Minister to put into his Bill Schedule 1, and that the needs of the 664 future might be met by allowing him by regulation to vary the speed if he thought that it was necessary.
- (a) no speed limit shall be imposed on any vehicle in the case of which no speed limit is provided by the said Schedule; and
- (b) a regulation under this sub-section shall be of no effect unless and until it has been approved by a resolution passed by each House of Parliament."
That ought, I think, to commend itself to the House, because in a new and progressive industry it is obviously impossible now to say what should be the proper speed limit 10 or 15 years hence, and unless something is put in the Bill to allow the Minister to vary it, you may have, as happened in the Act of 1903, which this Measure supersedes, ridiculous limits which ought to have been done away with 10 or 15 years before, but could not be done away with because the Government of the day could not find time to pass the necessary legislation. Therefore, with the approval, I think, of the Minister, I am moving this Amendment, which gives complete Parliamentary control—not a mere lying of a regulation on the Table, but each House of Parliament having to approve of the change by a definite vote giving power to the Minister to vary these speeds. I am told that there is some apprehension on the part of those representing municipalities owing to the fact that this Amendment leaves out the words:in relation to any motor vehicles used for fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes.Obviously, these special vehicles are included in the general powers given to the Minister, and he will, in the exercise of his discretion, give such speeds as he likes to these various vehicles now, and when it is necessary to vary them, he will do so.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
This Amendment, as was indicated by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, arises out of the agreement to which we came in Committee, and is a sensible and rational proposal in itself, in view of the possibility of changing conditions, and I propose to accept it. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) has, on behalf of the London County Council, drawn my attention to a doubt in their mind as to whether, in the new circumstances, we should be able to make a variation of the speed limits in the interest of the fire brigade and ambulance service. I am, advised that that power would remain, notwithstanding the change 665 in the form of the Clause, and I think that is so. If, however, the London County Council would like to make any representations if they are still in doubt, I should be willing to consider them, and I have no doubt in that case, in co-operation with their Lordships' House, we should be able to put the matter right.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's assurance. To the fire brigade and ambulance service speed is essential, because they have to work against time in order to save life, and their services, therefore, should be protected against undue interference.
§ Amendment agreed to.