HC Deb 26 July 1934 vol 292 cc2145-8

Lords Amendment: In page 11, line 38, leave out "carried in the vehicle", and insert instead thereof "that the vehicle carries".


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

3.10 a.m.


This seems to me vary much more than a drafting Amendment. It certainly only makes a change in the wording, but the effect to increase the premiums to about four or five hundred thousand motor cyclists. We had a lot of discussion in Committee, and the Minister then could see quite clearly that there were some further directions in which there were loopholes and that insurance companies or individuals might have inadequate policies which did not cover them. He undertook that he would introduce words on the Report stage to fill up the gaps, The House on the Report stage put in certain words. There were some which the Committee had distinctly wished included but which were not included at that stage. The intention of the Committee at the time was to see that people could not get licences and comply with the compulsory insurance conditions in the original principal Act, and that then, if their policies failed to cover them at some time when they were on the road and a third party was knocked down and by reason of some restrictions of the policy, the dependants of the third part should not be deprived of benefit. Some of those conditions have never been incorporated in the Bill. They were the main points in Committee, but instead, compared with the original Bill, the words have been reversed. It meant that a motor-cyclist who was not covered by this particular Clause could take out his motor-cycle and get an insurance which did not cover him when carrying a pillion passenger. If he wanted to cover himself against accidents to third parties, he could do so on payment of 50 per cent. extra. That was never the intention of the Clause when it was originally discussed upstairs. It seems to me that by some misapprehension or mistake a large class of people who can ill-afford it will be penalized, and that the original people it was intended to cover have been omitted altogether from the scope of the Clause.

I do not know whether the Government realize what is actually going to happen, but it is common knowledge that insurance companies have in fact increased the rates for motor-bicycles whether carrying pillion passengers or not. I do not know whether that was the Government's intention at the time, but I presume that a Clause of this kind would not be drafted except after consultation with the Government. I do not know whether when that consultation took place it was pointed out to the Minister what the effect of the wording would be, or if the Minister made any arrangement with the insurance companies. This may go through on the plea that it is a drafting Amendment, but it is in fact of far-reaching importance, and I should be glad to know if the Government intend to take any action about it.


I should like to assure the hon. Member that this is a drafting Amendment and that there is no intention whatever of changing the Bill.


Is not there a real point in what the hon. Member has said? The original wording was that the persons must be "carried in the vehicle." The pillion rider is not in the vehicle, but is one of the party whom it carries.

3.15 a.m.


The Minister may be perfectly right that this is a drafting Amendment, but it is also, a fact that you cannot ride inside a motor-cycle, and consequently, when you say that the "vehicle carries," it obviously includes motor-cycles. All motor-cycles, in future, whether they carry pillion riders or not, will always have to be insured against third party risks. We have to recognize that in future these words will make every single person who owns a motorcycle pay a premium. If he does riot propose to take pillion riders, he will in fact have to pay a premium to take them. The result will be that premiums will go up by fifty per cent. That is not denied by the Minister. It is probably his intention. Some quite young boys, for example, may have motor-cycles which are not very strong. They will have to insure them to take pillion riders, any way, and having, done so, they will probably take them on motor-cycles which may not be strong enough to take a second rider, and so a number of accidents may occur.

3.18 a.m.


I do not know whether the Government are aware that there is some considerable feeling in the country on this particular point. Many people ride motor-bicycles because they are possibly the cheapest form of transport in which they can indulge. Any increase of expense through insurance will be a very real hardship, and in this case the increase in premiums will be £3. That is a very considerable increase. Although I have got past the age of driving a motor-cycle—a very dangerous pastime, especially when you have a pillion rider—I recognise it is a form of transport which is indulged in by the young people of this country, and very rightly. I think it would be well worth 23 to carry someone on the back. Still, everybody does riot desire to do so. Many people go to work on their motorcycles. Far from this being a drafting Amendment, I think it will be the draughtiest Amendment we have ever had from the Government. I do hope that this is changed, and that we shall not loose 200,000 votes of motor-cyclists up and down the country through the crass legislation that we are passing to-night.

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