HC Deb 26 July 1934 vol 292 cc2093-114

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 11, leave out from "hour" to the end of line 12.

11.47 p.m.


I beg to move, "That this House sloth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

When the Bill was first presented to the House the speed limit was in force throughout the whole 24 hours, but in the course of the Committee stage my predecessor accepted an Amendment to leave out the restriction between the hours of midnight and five a.m., and he did so because the figures of accidents disclosed that the casualties are fewer between those particular hours. When the Bill reached another place both those in favour of a speed limit and those who are opposed to it felt that no logical distinction could be made as to the hours during which a speed limit was to be in force.

I can understand a difference on principle as to whether there should be a speed limit, but such a difference does not seem to be involved here. I am anxious to get the Bill through before the Recess, particularly in view of one of the Clauses in it. It seems to me so desirable to do what can be done by way of pedestrian crossings to reduce the number of accidents that I feel it would be a grave risk at this stage to differ with the Lords, not on the principle of a speed limit, but on the hours during which it shall be in force. I hope the House will accept my view. I sympathise with the House in that they have a Minister in charge of the Bill who has not conducted it through its previous stages, and I trust that the House will sympathise with me. There are provisions in the Bill, particularly one which will save many lives during the Recess, and I do not think it worth while quarrelling in another place upon what I do not conceive to be a major point of principle.

11.50 p.m.


I must say that the remarks which have fallen from the Minister of Transport seem very singular to me and I hope the House will not be impressed by his plea that he should get the Bill in order to carry out the policy of pedestrian crossings or the introduction of the speed limit. Again and again, we have pointed out to him that he has the power now to establish crossings, and he is already doing it. One can see them growing up all over the place in London. As regards the speed limit, he has the power under the old Act to introduce that when he likes. Therefore, his present appeal should not deceive the House. I cannot help reminding the House that the most contentious Clause in Committee was Clause 1, which introduces the speed limit in the lit-up areas, sometimes called the built-up areas. Controversy raged about that Clause and I think always will rage on that question, some taking one view in a strong way and others another. But there was one principle underlying the whole discussion, which was that the introduction of the speed limit was necessary because of the accidents which were taking place. When the proposal to suspend the speed limit between these hours at night was introduced the late Minister accepted it because, as he said, at that time there were no accidents, and from the point of view of ordinary common sense he could not refuse it. That may have been a big concession or a small one, but it had a very big psychological effect on the Committee. We got that concession and our whole attitude was affected by getting that small concession.

Other points were brought up about the difficulty of a speed limit at these hours such as that many local authorities put their lights out at a particular time, that there is nobody about at these hours, that it is impossible for the motorist to see lights which are not lit and to know whether or not he is in an area where he can go over 30 miles an hour. Added to these there being no people on the road, it seemed a satisfactory change to accept. The Minister accepted it with goodwill, though in other respects we never had a more adamant Minister to deal with. He was an anti-motorist if ever there was one. The Committee was anti-motorist, and those of us who took the part of the motorist had an arduous but wasted time because we were beaten on every point which favoured the motorist. Do not let us delude ourselves into the idea that the late Minister was pro-motorist, because this point was the only point we got. Now we are out of the frying pan into the fire, because when the new Minister arrived he said: "This mass murder must stop."


Quite right. The modern blood sport of England.


I think it was very indelicate for a Minister whose work affects the great motoring industry to come down on one side with such enthusiasm as that. I maintain that had there not been a change of Minister, the attitude of the Government on this point would have been very different from what it is now. The Minister in charge at that particular time gave way on this point, and we expect a line from the Government which gave way on it previously, but we get no help from the Front Bench in this case. This Bill, which was discussed almost with acrimony upstairs, is sent to be dealt with in another place by a bigoted body as far As motorists are concerned.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)

I must remind the hon. and gallant Member that we are strictly limited to the Amendment under discussion.


The deliberations of another place are very extraordinary in relation to this most important matter.


We must not discuss the deliberations of another place.


That is what we are discussing as a matter of fact. It was a very important Amendment and a very important concession was made by the Minister then in charge of the Bill. The present Minister should back him up rather than let him down.


I must say that I was surprised to hear the Minister say that it was necessary to give way on this particular Lords Amendment in order to get the Bill. It is quite unnecessary, I can assure him, that we should agree with all the Lords Amendments in order to get the Bill through before the House adjourns for the holidays. It is easy for us to disagree with another place and to send back the Amendments that we disagree with, and then to get the Bill back again and finish it before the House rises next week. I hope that the Minister is not going to take up the attitude that he is to accept all the Amendments sent down from another place—Amendments that were resisted by his predecessor in Committee and in this House. I hope that all Amendments are to be considered on their merits, and not on the question whether or not we can get the Bill through as quickly as possible. On this particular Lords Amendment I do not agree with my hon. and gallant Friend. During the Committee stage I thought that it was illogical, if a speed limit were accepted, that it should be taken off London between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., which is just the time very often when a speed limit does count. I am not suggesting that I agree with a speed limit. I think a speed limit is a perfectly useless thing, that it is quite unenforceable, that it is irritating and annoying, and that it will increase accidents in non-built-up areas. But, apart from that, it is only logical that if there is a speed limit it should not be taken off in London from midnight to 5 a.m.


This Amendment does not deal with London only.


I was referring London because it is an illustration of the point I wanted to make. Later on in Committee, as a matter of fact, I voted against an Amendment, and voted in the same way as another place because the late Minister of Transport would not accept the suggestion that London should be exempted from a speed limit during those hours. The Minister will have to face one great difficulty if this Amendment be accepted. In a large number of places in the country the lamps are not alight during the night; consequently, it will be difficult for a driver to know if he is in a built-up area. I would remind my hon. Friend that built-up areas are not necessarily places where there are buildings. A built-up area is a place where there is a system of street lighting. We can imagine the difficulty of a driver going along an open straight road with a few telegraph poles on one side and small lamps sticking out from them, not alight and almost invisible; and we ought to get some assurance from the Minister that these lamps are to be kept alight all night so that drivers will know they are in a built-up area, or that he will mark these so-called built-up areas in such a way that drivers will know they may be prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit in them. That point was raised in another place. I am not allowed to quote the Government's reply, but I think I can paraphrase the answer of the Minister in charge of the Bill.

The answer in general words was that the Minister was going to approach the local authorities on this point, and that a direction under Clause 4 would be made to relate to a special time. The Minister might give an explanation how that is possible. My own view is that a direction can only be given that a certain section of road is either permanently to be regarded as in a built-up area or permanently not to be regarded as such. I cannot think that local authorities will give directions that during certain hours of the day a particular portion of road is to be considered not to be in a built-up area. I ask the Minister to give a definite undertaking that the speed limit will not be brought into operation during any hours, especially during the early morning hours, until he is satisfied that drivers will know whether they are in a speed limit area or not.

12.4 a.m.

Sir G. FOX

The question of the turn-of ing out of street lights at 11 o'clock at night, as is done in many country districts, is very important. In the Committee stage the Minister said that if street lights were put out at 11 o'clock, and the speed limit was suspended from 12, the local authorities would be given the choice of either keeping the lights on from 11 to 12 or of putting reflectors on the lamp standards. This is going to exercise the minds of many small places and agricultural constituencies throughout the country. There is another point. What is going to be the position when the actual top of the lamp has been removed from the so-called street lamp? I would like the Minister to pay particular attention to that point.

I cannot help thinking that the acceptance of this Amendment means that the whole question of a speed limit between midnight and 5 a.m. will be in such a position that the limit will be unable to be enforced. It will be impossible to enforce the law properly at that hour of the night, and it means that the whole system will fall into contempt, like the old speed limit did. People who have to motor late at night—and there are many—will resent being chased by police cars, or perhaps being caught in police traps, because they may be travelling at 35 miles an hour. It it very difficult to know at night, when your speedometer is in darkness, whether you are travelling at 25 or at 35 miles an hour. You may be following another car and think you are going under 30 miles an hour, and then you may find the "speed cop" closing in on you and you may think he is a bandit trying to hold you up. Other people suggest that it is very dangerous to drive faster at these times of the night. My own experience is that after midnight it is probably safer. You have strong headlights, and although there may be cross-roads, if the headlights are on you are able to see the approach of another car from the rays of lights. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the pedestrian?"] The late Minister of Transport said upstairs that the only reason for introducing the speed limit was from the point of view of security, and he instanced the case of children suddenly running out into the road ahead of you, but it is obvious that from midnight till 5 a.m. you will not have many children or other pedestrians suddenly running out in front of your car across the road.

I had hoped we should have the late Minister of Transport on the Front Bench tonight, assisting the new Minister, who has been left with this wretched Bill, or rather this wretched Clause and this wretched Amendment. I am not against the Bill as a whole, but I am against this Amendment. The late Minister stated that he was anxious that no restrictions should be put upon the motorist except those that could be fully justified from the point of view of security. That is why he accepted the Amendment in the Committee upstairs exempting the hours from midnight to 5 a.m., and I would like to see the late Minister coming into the lobby with me and being consistent, because upstairs, when we were discussing the emergency treatment Clause, we had the unedifying spectacle of his voting against the Clause on one day and then on the next day voting the other way.


The hon. Member must please keep to the Amendment.

Sir G. FOX

The late Minister of Transport said that if you looked at the statistics of fatalities caused between midnight and 5 a.m., you would find that there were only 65 out of many thousands, and that whereas for the 24 hours of the day and night as a whole the majority of fatal accidents occurred in the built-up areas, from midnight to 5 a.m. there were 65 in built-up areas and 77 in non built-up areas, so that from midnight onwards the focus of the heavier number of accidents changed from the built-up to the non built-up areas. I cannot see why this Amendment should be accepted just because the Government want to get on and finish the Bill. There is plenty of time, and it seems to me to be wrong that this sop to the pedestrians by penalising the motorists should be inflicted on all of us who very strongly resent the imposition of the 30 miles speed limit.

12.10 a.m.


There is one point that I think we ought to consider before going to a division on this Amendment, and that is whether this speed limit will be enforced by the police during the hours from 12 midnight to 5 a.m. The 20 miles an hour speed limit went out of practical existence in this country long before it was actually terminated by the 1930 Motor Traffic Act, and it went out of use because it was not enforced. In exactly the same way, this 30 miles an hour speed limit will not be observed by a certain number of motorists unless they know that it is going to be enforced. Therefore, it seems to me that we should only impose it on the motorists at a time when we are definitely going to enforce it by police action. Are we going to enforce it by police action between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.? If so, it will mean a very large number of policemen staying up all night for very few cars, and the probable result will be that not only in the Metropolitan area, but also in the country districts, people will break the law with impunity between those hours, because there will be no policemen kept up in order to see that they do not break the law. It they break it in those hours, it seems to me that they will be much more likely to break it in the far more dangerous hours when there is much more pedestrian and other traffic on the roads. This is a fundamental point, which I am not sure their Lordships had in mind in passing this Amendment. I think the Government must take the responsibility, if they recommend this Amendment to this House, to see that it is enforced throughout the country at all hours when it is in fact in force, and if they are not going to take the responsibility, it seems to me that we should be quite right in rejecting the Amendment.

12.13 a.m.


When the Road Traffic Bill was introduced by the late Minister of Transport, he made the particular point that he wanted to secure safety on the roads, and I am sure that those who were Members of the Committee upstairs will agree that he based the whole of his arguments on this point on the security which would be offered, not only to pedestrians, but in regard to accidents in general. The last speaker referred to the fact that the organisation of this Measure would have to be carried out by the Department. I take it that they are doing that at the moment, and that they will, of course, be responsible for the working of their own Act. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) spoke about the non-lighting of the roads during the night. I put it to the Minister that there should be some kind of uniform sign or lighting throughout the country in order to carry out the provisions of this Clause.

I hope the Minister will not move on this point. I opposed the alteration in the Committee upstairs, and I oppose the alteration now, because I do not think it is necessary. I do, not think we ought to break the day in two at all. What is right in the day time should be right in the night time also, because there is no real difference in the circumstances between darkness and daylight. It has been said that there are no pedestrians on the roads at night, but I could find places where people come home from their work at every hour of the night, from 10 o'clock until six in the morning, and not singly, here and there, but in great communities of workpeople. If we allow motorists to carry on along the roads at 50 and 60 miles an hour, or at whatever speed they are able to go, shall we be doing the right thing in the interests of the pedestrian? No. We ought to see to it that security is the first word and that the prevention of accidents is the second word, because, after all, the slaughter on the roads that is taking place in our country is a disgrace not only to the motorists, but to the Government as well. If everybody did his part, as he should, and if every motorist would think things out in a common sense way, we should have no difficulties, and the regulations made by the Minister would be properly carried out.

There is a further point, which has not been mentioned, in regard to the time. I wonder how many watches of motorists will go wrong when the police stop the cars. I wonder how many motorists will allege that the policemen's watches are wrong. The time will be 5 to 12 by some watches and 12 o'clock by others. I hold no brief for pedestrians or anybody else, but it is clear that that little liberty will be taken which is the most dangerous. I hope that the Minister will hold tight to the Amendment that has been sent from the Lords. I objected in Committee, when I told the then Minister of Transport that he was yielding too easily to the motoring interests of the country as against the interests and welfare of the pedestrians and the prevention of accidents. I hope that the Minister will not move from the position which he has taken up. I am pleased to support the Amendment before the House.

12.17 a.m.


If the situation were not so serious it would almost be funny. The Government are asking their supporters to vote for the Lords Amendment, but in Committee those supporters were told that the Whips were put on for them to vote against that Amendment and one wonders what the purpose is. The Amendment is a good one, and. if I had been on the Committee I should have supported it. I cannot follow the reasoning of hon. Members who stop at the 30 mile per hour limit for built-up areas. Some hon. Members agreed in Committee to the limit being exceeded in places that were not built-up.


I must remind the hon. Gentleman that we are net discussing the Bill.


I know, but I am entitled, in answer, to show the inconsistency of one proposal with another. The thirty-mile limit is good, but there is a difficulty in finding out whether the time is or is not 12 o'clock. When I heard that argument from the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson), I wondered about the test of the speed limit itself. What is thirty miles an hour and what is not? There is no Greenwich time system for speedometers. The Government's approach, in this particular, is wrong. I support the Amendment, because I believe in the thirty-mile speed limit. We ought also to be considering a proposition that motors should not be made that can go faster than thirty miles an hour. That is the point. If there be danger when cars travel at a speed beyond thirty miles an hour, they should be illegal. I think the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon) has a real grievance here. The Government bought off the opposition by agreeing to his Amendment in Committee. In the Committee on the Scottish Poor Law Bill the Government bought off my opposition by offering me certain Amendments, and I should be very much annoyed if the Government, at 12 o'clock at night, proposed to reverse the position, after I had made a reasonable compromise. The Minister of Transport expressed the hope that we would give him sympathy in the position in which he finds himself. We will, though he was the last man to extend it to others when he sat over here. Not only has he a new job, but he has no Parliamentary Secretary to assist him. It would have been invaluable in this Debate to have two men representing the Ministry of Transport. From that point of view we do extend to him our sympathy.

I am in favour of having a 30-miles an hour speed limit in all places, not only built-up areas. It should be illegal to make motor cars which travel at more than 30 miles an hour, except ambulances and fire engines. In any case I take the view that it would be difficult to administer this provision. The hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey must remember that this Bill does not represent merely the wish of the Government in this matter. There is a public demand for it. People feel that it will be a means of safeguarding life. I would make this appeal to motorists, as a humble man who has nothing to do with motor cars. If motorists do not want to be punished by Bills of this character they must pay greater respect than they have done so far to the other users of the roads. The Government and the Minister are not to blame for this legislation, but, to a great extent, the motorists themselves.

But there is a ground for legitimate grievance in the action the Government are now taking after having bought off opposition in Committee. They called upon their supporters in Committee to back them in a certain course of action, and down here in the House they ask them to oppose that course. I shall vote with those who favour a speed limit in built-up areas. I hope the Government will show a little more consistency, for the sake of their supporters. It is most undignified on their part to change their attitude on this question after only a few weeks, and without any new evidence being submitted on that point. In the Committee the Minister of Transport made a speech advocating this proposal, pointing out how good it would be, and showing annoyance because the hon. Member for Wigan was going to divide against it. To-day his successor is annoyed because hon. Members are not going to vote against the hon. Member for Wigan.

I know there has been a change of office, but we are supposed to have continuity of policy. It may be that second thoughts are better than first thoughts and that the new Minister having reviewed the position, was not prepared to take the responsibility that his predecessor took. We are entitled to have from the Government a reason for their change of mind. Having forced their supporters to do one thing upstairs they ought, in common courtesy, to give us the reasons that have caused them to change their minds. A speed limit in any place is better than no speed limit. I would make it an absolute rule that no motor car should be built to exceed the thirty miles speed limit

12.22 a.m.


I oppose the Amendment proposed in another place not from any desire to hold up the proceedings but because of a very genuine belief 1 hat the proposal now before the House cannot be properly carried into effect. Any law which cannot be properly carried into effect is bound to produce a greater disregard of the law than would otherwise be the case. I would ask the House to consider what the Minister of Transport has suggested to us. He has said, in effect, "I know the Committee upstairs were right, I know what difficulties there will be in enforcing this law; T believe in what my predecessor said in the Committee and I support him in it, but we have had sent to us a proposal passed by the other House and it is far better to accept it, unjust as it may be, incapable as it may be of being carried into effect, than to have a long discussion here in regard to putting it into effect." It reminds me of a certain domestic lady who got into trouble and excused herself on the ground that it was a very small one.

The Committee duly considered this point. It is not something fresh that has been suggested by the other Chamber, not some new view point, but exactly the same suggestion that was fully discussed in Committee supported by the Minister, supported by the Parliamentary Secretary, even to the extent of going to a division in favour of it, and now we are asked to say that what the Committee decided was right was not right, that their judgment was obscure and that it has been corrected by the suggestion made in another place. Very real difficulty will arise if this speed limit is imposed during these hours. It must arise in those districts where not only the light is defective but where the whole lamp is dismantled during Summer time, and where the only definition you have of the space within which this limit is to operate is that of a built-up area. There cannot possibly be any reason for imposing this speed limit during these particular hours, in view of what the Minister of Transport after consultation with those who advised him, brought before the Committee. He used these words: We are more likely to get a proper enforcement of the speed limit during the hours when it does matter if we do not try to put that obligation on the motorist during the hours when the figures themselves,cannot be held to justify it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 26th April, 1934, col. 95.] We are asked to go against that and against the judgment of the Committee. The House would be wise in rejecting the Amendment.

12.30 a.m.

Brigadier-General SPEARS

I hope the House will not accept this Amendment. Several hon. Members have drawn attention to the fact that the law would not be observed, and it seems to me that, unless the Government be prepared to make very large provision for the reinforcement of the police forces of the country, they ought not to pass a law knowing that it will not be observed. I am as anxious as anybody to prevent accidents, and I very much oppose the idea of a thirty miles an hour speed limit, because it seems to me that that in built-up areas would cause long processions of cars following each other, nose to tail and attempting to pass each other within narrow limits. Having had some experience of these immense chains of cars that you see in the neighbourhood of London, it appears to me that they are the most fruitful cause of accidents that you could possibly imagine. If you are to have processions of cars at night when people are more tired as well as by day, I think the number of accidents will increase.

The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) drew attention to a very important point indeed. He pointed out that the speed limit had been suggested in built-up areas for the reason that there were far more accidents in those areas than there were in the countryside. At night the position is reversed. At night, there are more accidents in the country than there are in the built-up areas. Logically, therefore, you ought to have a thirty miles an hour speed limit in the country between midnight and five o'clock in the morning and no speed limit in built-up areas. I do hope that the Government will take note of the fact that, for a great variety of reasons, a large number of hon. Members of this House take the strongest possible objection to this Amendment.

12.34 a.m.


I think it is very difficult for the Lords Amendment to be justified on its merits. I wish to emphasise the point referred to by one or two previous speakers. When this Amendment was accepted in the Committee upstairs, it did very profoundly influence the attitude of the Committee on Clause 1, because there were certain hon. Members of the Committee who were strongly opposed to a speed limit at all. There were members, like myself, and I understand the present Minister also, who were rather doubtful as to the special value of a speed limit as a factor in avoiding accidents, but, when the Amendment was adopted, it was obvious to the Committee that the opposition to Clause 1 was very considerably diminished, and the Amendment was a very logical one.

I agree with the previous speaker, though I would put his argument in a slightly different way. I think it is obvious that between midnight and five in the morning the conditions in the built-up areas are similar to those in the non-built-up areas throughout the day. The speed limit in Clause 1 is not a general limit but only for the built-up areas. It would be only logical to exclude the operation of the speed limit under Clause 1 between the hours of midnight and five o'clock, when there is little traffic, and—this is a very important point—when there are few elderly people and children about. We have to bear in mind that a great number of the people who are killed and injured on the roads are elderly and young people. Therefore, I think that the Amendment accepted in Committee was a logical and reasonable one, and, although I agree with what the Minister has said, that it was most important in view of Clause 15—which is the pedestrian crossings Clause—that we should get the Bill as soon as possible, it is very difficult to justify the present Amendment on its merits.

12.37 a.m.


We spent two months upstairs discussing Clause 1 of the Bill and an important Amendment made was the one which it is now proposed to strike out. The problem is widely different from what it would have been had there been available at the beginning of our discussions the report on traffic accidents which only became available to us in the last day of our examination of the Clause. It only introduces an element of prejudice for the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) to say that we want to save human lives. That is the purpose which we all of us have in view. The question for us to consider is whether this is the right method or a bad method. There is unanimity in wanting to stop mass murder on the roads, but some hon. Members are gravely concerned as to whether or not what we are doing is going to do far more harm than good in the long run. Some hon. Members hold very strong views about the Clause as a whole, but the consideration I have in mind is this. To pass a law that is going to be disobeyed is a bad thing, because it brings the law into disrepute.

I was driving through a Royal Park to-night, where there was an indication "Twenty miles an hour speed limit." The vehicle in which I was driving, and every other vehicle, was going at approximately thirty miles an hour. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] It is no good saying "shame." Unless you travel at the speed of the general run of traffic you increase rather than diminish the danger. Everybody knows perfectly well that the normal speed in London parks is fifty per cent. in excess of the legal speed. Now we are going to take a period from midnight until five o'clock in the morning. I would have preferred half-past twelve so as to miss a few of the late revellers. To take such a period is absurd, because the enforcement of it is not practical politics. I say without the slightest hesitation that, if we do this, we shall be passing a law which will be disobeyed by every hon. Member of this House. I think it is a scandal for us to pass a law that we all intend to disobey and which we know nearly every other citizen will disobey. By doing so we are not increasing the safety on the roads, but diminishing it. Why was the old twenty miles an hour limit abolished? Because it was a farce. What is the use of pretending that we are going to know in the ordinary way which is a built-up area and which is not? It will be a complete and absolute farce. My hon. Friend who has just taken over this great responsibility is asking us merely because another place has passed this Amendment late in the Session and there was a shortage of Parliamentary time to reverse the policy of the present Minister of Labour, who has very wisely gone to bed instead of being here to-night. It is not my practice to change my coat, either once a year or once a month; and I see not the slightest reason to change the vote which I gave in Committee. It was not the same vote as that given by the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass), although we were in agreement on most matters. But, after all, we have spent two solid months trying to make ourselves well-informed on these matters, and now, at this late hour of the night, we are asked to change our minds. It is a complete farce of Parliamentary proceedings, and, if there be a division, I shall go into the lobby against this Amendment from the other place.

12.41 a.m.


The hon. Member who has just spoken seemed to think that to pass a law that is not going to be obeyed is a farce. That is the only assumption I can come to.


I am always in favour of passing a law if it can be effectively enforced and administered.


We pass laws in this House with the intention that they shall be enforced. I assume that when the Minister originally put this provision in the Bill he had consulted people and had come to the conclusion that it was necessary. Everyone has come to the conclusion that thirty miles an hour is an ample speed in built-up areas. Having regard to the terrible number of accidents, it is time that something was done, and this Bill has been produced to do something. It is up to us, and it is up to all people who have to administer the law, to see that it is enforced. The simpler the conditions under which the law is put into operation, the easier will it be to enforce. It is a profound mistake to give a period during which the speed limit will not operate. There is far more dangerous driving at night than during the day. People take chances at night that they would not take during the hours of daylight. It would be a direct inducement to people, if you told them that from 12 o'clock to 5 o'clock there was no speed limit—it would be an inducement to a certain type of person to go at any speed he liked. I believe that, if we have come to the conclusion that a speed limit in built-up areas is necessary, it should be necessary for the whole twenty-four hours, with no exception at all.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 158; Noes, 24.

Division No. 359.] AYES. [12.45 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Cocks, Frederick Seymour Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.) Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Ford, Sir Patrick J.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Fraser, Captain Sir Ian
Albery, Irving James Conant, R. J. E. Fremantle, Sir Francis
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Cooper, A. Duff Fuller, Captain A. G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Craven-Ellis, William George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
Aske, Sir Robert William Cripps, Sir Stafford George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)
Balfour. Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bateman, A. L. Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Goff, Sir Park
Blindell, James Daggar, George Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Bossom, A. C. Dalkeith, Earl of Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)
Boulton, W. W. Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Grimston, R. V.
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Denman, Hon. R. D. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Dobbie, William Harbord, Arthur
Brass, Captain Sir William Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Harris, Sir Percy
Broadbent, Colonel John Duggan, Hubert John Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Heligers, Captain F. F. A.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Edge, Sir William Hepworth, Joseph
Browne, Captain A. C. Edmondson, Major Sir James Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)
Buchan-Hepburn. P. G. T. Edwards, Charles Holdsworth, Herbert
Buchanan, George Elliot, Rt, Hon. Walter Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Elmley, Viscount Horsbrugh, Florence
Carver, Major William H. Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Howard, Tom Forrest
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Fleming, Edward Lascelles Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)
James, Wing-Corn. A. W. H. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Jamieson, Douglas Milner, Major James Runge, Norah Cecil
Janner, Barnett Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Jenkins, Sir William Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Morgan, Robert H. Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Somervell, Sir Donald
Leckie, J. A. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Soper, Richard
Leech, Dr. J. W. Nation, Brigadier-General.J. J. H. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Liddell, Walter S. North, Edward T. Stones, James
Lindsay, Noel Ker Orr Ewing, I. L. Strauss, Edward A.
Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Palmer, Francis Noel Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Loder, Captain J. de Vera Parkinson, John Allen Sutcliffe, Harold
Loftus, Pierce C. Patrick, Colin M. Templeton, William P.
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Pearson, William G. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Mabane, William Penny, Sir George Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
MacAndrew. Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Petherick, M. Tinker, John Joseph
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Power, Sir John Cecil Touche, Gordon Cosmo
McConnell, Sir Joseph Procter, Major Henry Adam Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassettaw) Pybus, Sir John Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
McEntee. Valentine L. Radford, E. A. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
McGovern, John Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
McKie, John Hamilton Rathbone, Eleanor Wilmot, John
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Ray, Sir William Womersley, Sir Walter
McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Renwick, Major Gustav A. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Mainwaring, William Henry Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Ropner, Colonel L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Sir Victor Warrender and Captain Austin Hudson
Maxton, James. Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Burghley, Lord Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Cranborne, Viscount Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Weymouth, Viscount
Cross, R. H. Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald Whyte, Jardine Bell
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Perkins, Walter R. D. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Wise, Alfred R.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Greene, William P. C. Robinson, John Roland TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Sir Gifford Fox and Captain Strickland.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
McCorquodale, M. S.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment In page 1, line 13, leave out "Section" and insert "Act."

12.55 a.m.


I beg to move: " That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

It is a drafting Amendment.


There must have been some reason for putting the word "Section" in the Bill in the beginning, and there must be some reason for changing it to "Act." It may be a drafting Amendment, but why was it not right at the start. I think we are entitled to have some further information from the Minister on the point.


I think, if my hon. and gallant Friend will look at the Clause, he will see that it is more reasonable to have the word "Act" than the word "Section," because the word applies to built-up areas, and it is also used in Clause 2.

Subsequent Lords Amendment in page 2, line 1, agreed to.

Lords Amendment

In page 2, line 4, leave out from the second "Act" to the end of line 7.


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment paves the way for Amendments on page 4, line 37, and page 5, line 40. These are Government Amendments intended to implement undertakings given in this House or to meet criticisms. The object of them is to create uniformity of the law as between local and general speed limits in regard to penalties, disqualifications, corroborations and aiding and abetting. As the House is well aware from the previous discussions, on a second offence for exceeding the speed limit imprisonment can be imposed where the offence is against the general speed limit and not against the local speed limit, and the object of these Amendments is to see the same principle applies and to bring the law into uniformity.

12.57 a.m.


I do not want to be obstructive, but I think we are entitled to have some further explanation as to why we are asked to leave out these words. I see in the Bill that a person is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20 for a first offence and for a fine not exceeding £50 for a second offence. These are the words that the Minister is proposing to leave out, and he proposes to replace them with certain other words. The Minister said he was proposing to consolidate them; what is the effect of this consolidation? Will a person be liable if he breaks either the local or the national speed limit? I confess I do not understand the Amendment.

12.58 a.m.


If the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) will look at page 2 of the Amendments, he will see that the penalties there are exactly the same as the penalties that have been deleted from this Clause.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 3, line 16, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 20, after "maintain" insert "the prescribed."


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."


I do not think that this is a drafting Amendment. I think it was put in in reply to an undertaking given by the late Minister during the Report stage in the House. I want to ask the Minister that when the word "prescribed" is included, as is suggested by another place—it applies to these particular signs that are going to be put up—we in this House shall have an opportunity to discuss them before they are put up and not after, as we had in the case of the crossings. I hope we shall have an undertaking from the Minister that the design of these signs will be laid on the Table of the House.

12.59 a.m.


I am obliged to the hon. Member. As he told the House, the object of inserting the word "prescribed" is to secure that signs shall be subject to regulations to be laid before the House under the principal Act.

Lords Amendment: in page 4, line 5, leave out from "illumination" to "of" in line 6.


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is consequential upon the first Amendment.


Could the Minister explain how it is consequential. The words to be left out are on page 4 of the Bill in Sub-section 8. The words are: illumination during the hours of darkness during which a speed limit is to be observed under this section I cannot see how anything consequential comes in there.


The section will read: The power conferred on the Minister by Sub-section (2) of Section forty-eight of the principal Act to prescribe the size, colour, and type of traffic signs shall include powers to make regulations for the illumination of traffic signs to be erected under this section, or for the attachment of reflectors thereto.

Subsequent Lords Amendment to page 4, line 17, agreed to.