HC Deb 28 November 1934 vol 295 cc836-9
36. Dr. SALTER

asked the Minister of Transport how many pedestrians have been killed and how many injured on uncontrolled crossings in the Metropolis since these crossings were instituted by his Department; and whether, seeing that the regulations provide that a motor driver shall not traverse any crossing unless he has a clear view, and in several recent accidents the motorist concerned has admitted at the inquest that he had no such view but none the less proceeded, with fatal results, he will say if prosecutions have been initiated in all such cases?


From 9th July, 1934, when uncontrolled pedestrian crossing places were first laid down, to the 24th November inclusive, 11 persons have been killed and 298 injured on such crossings in the Metropolitan Police district. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department that in one case, involving the death of three persons, proceedings are being taken against the driver. In the only other case in which the driver admitted at the inquest that his view of the crossing was obscured there was not, in the opinion of the responsible authority, sufficient ground on which to base a prosecution. As I informed the hon. Member on the 5th November, proceedings have also been authorised in cases which did not involve fatalities, but I am unable at present to state the number of such proceedings.


Could the hon. Gentleman state the number of accidents on uncontrolled crossings caused by pedestrians suddenly stepping off the footpath when vehicles travelling at a reasonable speed were so near that it was practically impossible to stop them in time without involving the risk of skidding, and would he consider the making of regulations to overcome that difficulty in some such manner as is adopted by the police on controlled crossings when they indicate to the more distant vehicle to stop while allowing the nearer vehicle to proceed


Has the hon. Gentleman observed the numerous cases in which the motorist refuses to pull up when the pedestrian is on the crossing, and is he satisfied that the Metropolitan Police in particular are familiar with their duties in this matter?


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Metropolitan Police are refusing to enforce the regulations and, if I give him specific instances, with names, dates and so forth, will he make immediate inquiry into the complaints?


I shall be very glad to receive any suggestion or assistance from my hon. Friends. With regard to the last question, it should be addressed to the Home Secretary. I should like the House to realise that whereas 11 people have been killed and 298 injured on the crossings since their inception, the number of pedestrians killed not on crossings during the same period was 550 and injured 23,400.


Will the hon. Gentle- man give more publicity to the rights of pedestrians on these crossings and make quite clear not only to pedestrians but to motorists what their respective rights are?


I have done my best to give the widest publicity, because I am sure everyone will realise that it is only by publicity that the problem will receive attention. The question put by the hon. Baronet is of further assistance in publicity for which I am grateful.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that great masses of pedestrians are very grateful indeed for these crossings?

51. Dr. SALTER

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that many motor drivers ignore the pedestrians' right of way on the uncontrolled crossings recently instituted; whether, seeing that such neglect or refusal to stop has resulted in the occurrence of a considerable number of accidents, fatal and otherwise, actually on the crossings themselves, he will give instructions to the Metropolitan Police energetically to enforce the regulations relating to crossing-places for foot passengers; and whether he will have plainclothes constables employed with a view to detecting offenders and instituting prosecutions?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Gilmour)

Yes, Sir. I am aware that all motor drivers do not yet conform with the requirements of the Pedestrian Crossing Places Regulations made by my hon. Friend, the Minister of Transport, and that a number of accidents have occurred at uncontrolled crossings. The Metropolitan Police have received full instructions on the subject of the enforcement of these regulations. Some thousands of cases of infringement have been dealt with by warning, and proceedings have been taken in cases where there was evidence of dangerous or careless driving. The Commissioner has been giving close attention to this question. The public have now had ample time to familiarise themselves with the requirements, and in the Commissioner's view—in which I entirely concur—the time has come when more active measures by way of prosecutions must be undertaken for securing compliance with the regulations. In the plans which have already been prepared for this purpose, plain clothes officers in addition to uniform police will be employed.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that repeated complaints have been made to the police on this matter, that the number of the offending car in individual cases has been given, and that the police have refused not only to make a note of the number of the car and to institute proceedings, but even to report these offences?


If the hon. Gentleman will give me any particulars I shall be glad to receive them.


I will supply them.


May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, before any further proceedings are instituted, he will seek to secure that some measures are taken to inform both pedestrians and motorists by means other than by free publicity? Cannot he give publicity so that we may know in an official manner?


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any proceedings have yet been taken against pedestrians who have not obeyed the regulations, and whether, in the statement he has in mind that these prosecutions will take place, where pedestrians illegitimately hold up motor traffic, he will as readily prosecute those pedestrians as well as motorists?


Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiry as to whether the police in the Strand and in the Shaftesbury Avenue areas are fully informed as to these matters?


Will the right hon. Gentleman give his attention to the lights danger, as so many motorists in the suburbs ignore them?


I do not think that I can say more than that the whole of this question is being carefully considered, and I shall make no difference between pedestrians and motorists.


Cannot this dispute be referred to the League of Nations?