§ "That a sum, not exceeding £175,660,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil and Revenue Departments (including Pensions, Education, Insurance, and other Grants, and Exchequer Contributions to Local Revenues) for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1938, namely:"
§ [For details of Vote on Account see OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1937; cols. 193–196.]
§ Resolution read a Second time.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
I beg to move, to leave out "£175,660,000," and to insert "£175,659,900."
In a Debate of this kind, there is necessarily a wide field to cover, but it is not necessarily a controversial one. I desire at the outset to make a few observations on three subjects. In the first place, I wish to refer to the subject of parking, which has been a matter of newspaper controversy in recent times. A good many hon. Members on this side of the House are somewhat strongly in agreement with the Minister on the question of parking. We are willing that such matters should be proceeded with cautiously, and without undue disturbance of settled habits, even if they be bad habits; but the general employment of the highways as a warehouse or garage is something against which we are willing to support any Minister who will set his face firmly. The highways are extremely expensive as warehouses or garages, and they are not intended for that purpose. The effect of parking for long periods is a sudden, capricious and substantial limitation of the width of the roads which are in general, of course, already too narrow; and if parking is not conducted with extreme care and consideration, as it often is not, it involves elements of considerable danger in connection with road accidents. It is the sort of bad habit that it is easy for owners and drivers of both commercial and private vehicles to 1176 slip into, and it is partly due to selfishness, partly to laziness and partly to meanness. I hope that the Minister will press on with the policy which has been indicated as rapidly as may be, without undue disturbance of settled practice. The encouragement of the provision of proper garage space, especially by municipalities, ought to be a considerable help in this respect.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is the perennial and tragic topic of road accidents. If it were practicable to prepare estimates, I think it possible that, having regard to the almost fabulous mileage which is run by motor-vehicles nowadays, it would be found that in one sense of the phrase, accidents to-day are actually less frequent than they were in the days before motor cars. But that is no comfort to anybody who takes an interest in this matter. Everybody, I think, agrees that the accident rate must be brought down at almost any cost. I think everybody also agrees that it is an extremely difficult thing to do. There is no royal or easy road to it. The solution is probably to be found in a great many different things—in improved roads, in improved and multiplied safeguards, in a better standard of driving and in many other matters as well.
I press on the Minister, however, the extreme importance of maintaining and increasing the use of the 30-miles-an-hour speed limit on roads which are at all built-up or frequented, whether they are designed as parts of big schemes of fast traffic roads or not. A great many people drive fast with perfect safety while many other people drive dangerously at 20 miles an hour, but the fact remains that added speed is an added danger factor. If one person may drive fast with safety, another person may not do so. I await with interest the results of one experiment, if I may so call it —the attachment of a 30-miles-an-hour speed limit to Westway within the borough of Hammersmith. I am anxious to see whether that will show, as I hope it will, a fall in the accident rate. If it does, I hope it will encourage the Minister—though I know he is not entirely his own master in the matter—to be more generous in the distribution of further restrictions.
It is more than usually difficult in connection with this matter of road accidents 1177 to ascertain genuine public opinion. The moment interests become involved, it is never easy to ascertain public opinion. I need not particularise, but in connection with this problem there are interested bodies on both sides, and although, to put it bluntly, there is no money in the pedestrians, still there are organisations which seek to look after the interests of the pedestrians, and they get a specialised mind in regard to their grievances—like lawyers and politicians, and lots of other people. The consequence is that the views which they express may very easily cease to be a true record of public opinion. It is sometimes said that if you want unspecialised public opinion on political matters you have to go to the bar of a country inn to get it. I do not know where one should go to get the unspecialised views of the pedestrian on this question of road accidents, but I think the pavement of a crowded traffic artery would be a very good place to gather wisdom on that subject. The trouble, of course, is that true public opinion is inarticulate on that subject, as working-class or general mass opinion is on a great many subjects, but I hope and believe that the Minister will not ignore it.
I pass to a matter of less general interest, by which I mean of more specialised interest, although it is of general importance. I refer to the question of the electricity supply. It is a question which is giving to a great many people inside and outside the House, a good deal of anxiety. It is largely felt that on the production side of the electricity industry we have arrived, not very quickly perhaps, but by degrees, at a fair measure of order. The difficulty is that we have not reached anything like the same order and efficiency in the matter of distribution. It is no use making a good article unless you distribute it, any more than there is any use in efficiently distributing an article which ought to be thrown away. On the distribution side of the electricity industry there is still a very large amount of muddle. There are too many distributors with too many sectional interests, sometimes with very small production and sometimes with very large production, with great variations of frequency of pressure and of alternating or direct current.
There are tremendous inequalities of price as between district and district, and almost as between street and street, and 1178 the general level of prices, which has hardly fallen at all over a great many years, although production has been cheapened, is a great deal too high. The public, both in town and country, are puzzled, and many people who might use electricity illuminate their houses by means of gas or oil. What we on this side demand and seek for is an industry that is fully socialised on the distribution as well as the production side. We do not pretend—indeed we assert the contrary—that a large measure of improvement cannot be obtained without a measure of that kind as a condition precedent. We believe that drastic simplification and reorganisation can easily be achieved, but, as everybody knows, that calls for legislation. I gather that the Government are not indisposed to legislate, but I would like to know more about their proposals. The proposals in the McGowan Report have a good many merits. I shall not attempt to discuss their merits or demerits, but the view is largely held that the report of itself is not nearly enough.
I am not sure whether anything effective is being done to achieve something in the nature of co-ordination between the electricity and the gas industries. I think it is broadly true that at present, where the two services are available under approximately equal conditions, the use of the one or the other is determined by the arts of the salesman and the publicity agent. That is a very expensive and inefficient method of deciding which is the better service to use. Are the electricity and gas industries to go on spending money in fighting each other, in order to persuade the public to use one or the other, irrespective of the true merits—which must sometimes favour one, and sometimes the other—or is some measure of economic peace to be arrived at between them?
One other wider matter upon which I would like enlightenment is whether the Ministry is pursuing any active policy with regard to the balance of transport, heavy and long distance transport, as between road and rail. Of course, at the present time in this completely anarchic world, the question whether you send goods by road or rail depends on which of the interests can persuade you with the greatest vigour, but I would be glad to know whether the Government have 1179 any positive policy on that matter; and particularly in relation to electrification I would like to know whether the Government have any policy with regard to the electrification of trunk lines. Of necessity we are spending enormous sums of money in building trunk roads. So long as the money is spent according to some prudent plan, few will object to that development, but some heavy traffic must continue to be carried on the railways—probably a very great deal of it. Are the Government deliberately intending to coax heavy traffic on to the railways. and if so have they a genuine justification for doing so; and in particular are the Government considering the encouragement of electrification of long-distance lines, which must make some difference to transport? I suppose that the frequency of traffic is one of the most important elements for consideration. Is there some consistent and coherent policy with regard to road construction and railway electrification; what is the relation between the two, and what proportion of traffic should go on the one and on the other? My desire is more for information than to make party points, for party comes into the matter to only a very small extent.
§ 4.3 p.m.
The Minister of Transport (Mr. HoreBelisha)
The hon. and learned Gentleman has touched on some aspects of the work of my Department, whose responsibilities, as the House well knows, are widespread and diverse. It is concerned with the provision of power, heat and light; it is concerned with every means of communication by road, rail or canal; it is concerned with harbours, docks and ports. And yet it is a Ministry with few actual executive powers. The supply of electricity, like the various forms of transport, remains in independent control. The function of my Ministry has been to create the conditions in which the various activities which it supervises and having the character of monopoly or public utility, can best flourish and be helped to form part of a coherent system. In fulfilment of this purpose it has sponsored a whole series of reconstructive legislative proposals. One hundred and twenty-one separate railway undertakings were consolidated into four main lines; 1,100 local authorities, dividing between them the power to license passenger 1180 vehicles by road, were replaced by 12 traffic commissioners. The same commissioners were subsequently vested with the duty, by means of licences for commercial vehicles, of trying to secure more orderly arrangements for the carriage of goods by road and a more equitable relationship between this service and that rendered by the railways.
A system of inspection under a staff of examiners has been instituted to ensure that no passenger or goods vehicle should be used on a public highway if it does not conform to a standard of fitness. An examination of the position over 12 months to March last disclosed that 18,000 of these classes of vehicles had such defects as to render them mechanically unsafe. Out of 560 specially observed brake tests, in 240 cases braking efficiency was under 30 per cent., in 180 cases braking efficiency was under 25 per cent., and in 130 cases braking efficiency was under 20 per cent. One is appalled if one wonders what must be the condition of the brakes of the nearly 2,000,000 private vehicles which are not subject to such test.
A Central Electricity Board unified electricity generation throughout the country, and this is now to be followed by the co-ordination of supply, so that the grievances of the consumer who complains either of his inaccessibility to the current or the basis on which he is charged for it or the variety of systems and voltages to which he is called upon to adjust his apparatus, may be reduced or eliminated. The Government has accepted with two qualifications the McGowan Committee's Report. which will deal with the internal reorganisation of the electrical industry—not the organisation of that industry in relation to gas, which comes under the Board of Trade, but the internal reorganisation of the industry in itself. The hon. and learned Gentleman will recall also that the Government guaranteed loans to facilitate electrification schemes upon certain of the railways, and we are always pleased to hear of any further proposals, some of which indeed are now before us.
The most recent legislation with which the Ministry has been associated has directed attention to the urgency of improving our communications by road, and money has been made liberally available by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a long-term programme. Schemes submitted 1181 by highway authorities to date are estimated at £140,000,000, which is, of course, exclusive of many other millions of pounds to be spent in the ordinary way. The problems of traffic cannot be regarded with complacency, nor should the means of solving them, deliberately conferred by Parliament, be allowed to remain sterile. Compared with four years previously, the last census, that of 1935, showed an increase of 35 per cent. in the number of vehicles passing 4,900 selected points on Class I roads. Although 1,700 million passenger journeys are made annually by rail, no less than 10,000 million such journeys are made in public vehicles by road. The tonnage of goods carried is increasing, not only by rail, but at a phenomenal rate by road also. For every 100 mechanically-propelled vehicles that were licensed in 1931, when the National Government took office, there are 125 to-day. The net increase since this time is 550,000 and, as I have already informed the House, for the past three years—and there is no abatement —the net increase in the number of cars on the road has been at the rate of between 400 and 500 every day.
Hon. Members who live in London will realise what this means when I tell them that censuses of traffic taken by the Metropolitan Police during a day of 12 hours in July, 1931 and again in July, 1935, showed that the number of vehicles recorded at Marble Arch had increased from 38,000 to 60,000, and at Hyde Park Corner from 59,000 to 83,000. A motorist can make the entire northern circuit of London from Chiswick to Ilford, 23 miles, by the North Circular Road, in less time than it takes him painfully to thread through the traffic of the direct route, and this, as the Commissioner of Police has frequently pointed out to me, is largely due to the presence of standing vehicles, which not only impede the flow of traffic but are a source of danger to His Majesty's subjects. It is not surprising that the London Traffic Committee have repeatedly recommended to me that:The parking of vehicles in a public street is a privileged use of the highway and not one contemplated by the law at present governing the use of the highway, and should, so far as it is permitted, be confined within the narrowest possible limits, and further that the establishment of definite parking places can only be justified in so far as they provide alternative accommodation for vehicles which drivers would otherwise have no alternative 1182 but to leave standing in busy thoroughfares, with serious inconvenience to through traffic.Under such pressure as this, insistently put upon me, I could hardly refrain from stating in a public communication which I made in October, 1936, and which I also embodied in a letter directing the attention of local authorities in London to their powers:It would be the Minister's intention in cases where appropriate accommodation for waiting vehicles is provided off the highway at reasonable rates, to review the existing public parking places which are appointed on the carriageways in the neighbourhood, and to consider whether their retention is necessary, and, if so, whether the area which they occupy, or the period during which vehicles may wait thereon, could advantageously be curtailed.While I wish to give, and wish most sincerely to give, to every motorist every facility, I think the best facility I can give him is free passage through the streets. Any statement made by me about the general use of the streets for waiting which purported to countenance more than taking up and setting down, would prejudge the law of obstruction as it might be applied in any given case. There is a further aggravation of the difficulty. It is disconcerting to see with what optimism roads serving houses previously occupied by single families are suddenly expected to provide the needs of substituted blocks of flats inhabited by many hundreds of families. If order, safety and amenity are at the same time to be secured, each section of the community must make its contribution, and the boldest and most imaginative measures must be taken by all the authorities who are responsible.
The fullest information on which to proceed is now made available. Censuses showing the volume and trend of traffic are now taken every three years. After a thorough research into all the factors and the requirements, my Department recently issued for guidance a Memorandum on the Construction and Lay-out of Roads. I have just received the results of the most elaborate analysis of road accidents hitherto compiled. It contains particulars of 100,000 accidents, not only fatal, but non-fatal as well, and it entirely confirms the principles recommended to highway authorities in the memorandum to which I have referred. For instance, this analysis reveals that over 40 out of every no accidents occur at junctions. While reflection upon this figure will doubtless 1183 inspire us all with an added care as we negotiate such places, it will serve to indicate to highway authorities how desirable it is that the proposal in the memorandum to reduce the number of such intersections on new roads to a minimum, and on main traffic routes to space them not less than a quarter of a mile apart, should be observed. The memorandum further enjoins that:Major traffic routes should, where practicable, be rendered completely independent of local roads by being carried over or under them by bridges or subways.And where this is not practicable, it prescribes staggered crossings or roundabouts. Forty out of every 100 of these 100,000 accidents to which I have referred were due to collisions between moving vehicles, whether mechanically propelled vehicles or bicycles, 4,000 of them being head-on. A further 30 out of every 100 were collisions between vehicles and pedestrians. It is clear that the safety of each separate class of road-user can best be secured by a separate track for each on the lines that the Memorandum recommends, and that there should, in particular, be physical barriers to prevent pedestrians from straying on to the carriageway at points which are not selected as crossings. I appeal to all local authorities to make progress with the institution of guard rails. It is not a matter in which we can afford to delay. 4,600 of these accidents were collisions between moving and stationary vehicles; 3,700 of the accidents occurred in circumstances in which movement was masked by a vehicle or object. Such figures reinforce the paragraph in the Memorandum, which says:The parking of cars on the highway should be discouraged and provision for the purpose made on land which does not form part of the highway.I do not intend to take the House right through this Memorandum, but a mere perusal of the Index referring to subject matter on public safety, standard widths, curves, gradients, traffic lanes, pedestrian crossings, service roads, surfaces, footpaths, drainage, amenities, alignment, superelevation, visibility, refuges, street nameplates, foundations, camber, kerbing, grass verges and tree planting will show how comprehensively we are aiming at making our roads models in every particular. By way of preparation for 1184 our new responsibilities in regard to trunk roads, which the Ministry takes over from next April, we now have a survey in progress. As 220 feet on either side of the middle of 60,000 miles of roads are now preserved from indiscriminate building or access, the highway authorities can proceed without hindrance to adapt their communications to those ideas and standards which modern enlightenment demands.
Leaving the countryside, I hope that each city will consider making a survey of its needs, such as Sir Charles Bressey, in conjunction with Sir Edwin Lutyens, is undertaking in the preparation of his highway plan for London. He was instructed by the Government to make this plan so that local authorities, each in their different spheres, would be able to relate their programme of improvements to a pattern of the whole. The plan may provide for orbital and radial roads, parkways, viaducts and tunnels, communications to aerodromes, railway stations and docks, such as can be considered adequate for the London Traffic area of, it is true, only 25 miles radius, but containing one-fifth of the population and one-quarter of the rateable value of the whole United Kingdom.
I have endeavoured to give the House a picture of what the highways of the future should be, and it is a picture which we are aiming progressively to translate into reality. In view of the steps we are taking to preserve and enhance the natural setting of roads I hope it will be realised that neither the Ministry nor the highway authorities are inspired by purely material conceptions. Nor are our long-term projects in the least inconsistent with the short-term policy of regulating traffic in the conditions which exist, and which must remain, on any view of the subject, until they can be gradually ameliorated. Nor can we conceal from ourselves the insistent fact that such streets as we have are being ever more densely used, in some cases, unfortunately, abused. We must for the common good both individually and sectionally submit to correctives, unless accidents are to increase commensurately with the growth of traffic.
We can derive some encouragement from the reflection that whereas from 1931 to 1934 there was a continuous rise in accidents in relation to the number of 1185 vehicles, that tendency we have happily reversed. Here are the figures of the total killed and injured per 1,000 vehicles licensed. In 1931, 94 per 1,000 vehicles licensed; in 1932, the figure was 95; in 1933, it was 97; in 1934, it was 99; and then we reversed the tendency. In 1935 the total killed and injured per 1000 vehicles licensed had fallen to 88, and in 1936 to 85.
I must thank all those who have contributed to this result, whether they be public authorities or private agencies, such as the National Safety First Association, or whether they are school masters or ministers of religion—[An HON. MEMBER: "Cinemas"]—cinemas, broadcasting or the newspapers—every one; for the task of diminishing the heavy incidence of injury and suffering, so often needlessly and thoughtlessly caused, is one of national concern, and whatever laws may be passed, or however the laws may be administered, this must remain the concern of each one of us.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
I would like to congratulate the Minister on his interesting speech. I have always felt that he has the most difficult job of any Minister, if I may use the phrase that is used outside. Whenever people talk on anything about transport, the name of Mr. Hore-Belisha is mentioned, and I have felt times without number that I should like to meet him in this House. I have felt that he was suffering from untoward criticism of which there is always a certain amount. The right hon. Gentleman inherited the 30-miles-an-hour speed limit, and much of the legislation of which he is called upon to carry out; and it is the duty of every Minister whether it be a popular or unpopular law to carry out that law as laid clown in this House. I want also to congratulate him upon not being a mere automaton—that he really has to fight things out in this particular job. I believe that one of the weaknesses of Ministers, of Ministers in this Government, is that they are very often tied down by their Department and officials. I think it a weakness of modern Government that we are more or less, even Members of Parliament, always being made into automata, and I want to congratulate the Minister sincerely for his courage in trying many times what are not popular things. I think he is entitled 1186 to say there are Members who do not share some of the expressions which have been made with regard to the experiments which have been carried out to bring down the rate of accidents.
He has also suffered from time to time from what we all suffer from as Members of Parliament, that is, not altogether adequate reports of one's speeches. His speech in regard to parking was completely misunderstood. I have even seen in my local paper this morning a wrong idea of it. Everybody thought that parking was to be completely stopped in all circumstances. I understood from the Minister's reply on Monday that he was making no alterations in the law; as a matter of fact, I do not think he has the power to do it even if he desires to. I understand the law in regard to parking to be that the length of time for which a car may be parked on a public highway, whether or not it constitutes an obstruction, is determined with reference to each particular case. That seems to be good in theory, but I wonder whether it is carried out in practice. It has always struck me that it must be a mutual thing between the police and the users of the roads, but in many streets where no obstruction can take place periodic visits are paid by the police, summonses are issued, and people find themselves in the position of having been summoned for doing something which they have been doing for weeks and which has never caused an obstruction. This is not the fault of the right hon. Gentleman; the Home Office is responsible for it.
On the other hand, there are streets where no parking ought to take place and where it takes place regularly and causes obstruction. I suggest that it might be well if there could be some working together of the Ministry of Transport and the Home Office with regard to the administration of the law which carries out the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman. We all ought to congratulate him on what he said about residential streets and squares. If I were a resident in one of those streets or squares, I should object very much to the front of my house being made a public parking place. There can be no complaint against the right hon. Gentleman for stopping that kind of thing. Parking is a difficult problem, and I want to make a suggestion. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman could 1187 agree to set up a Select Committee to help him find the best solution of the problem. We would all like to help him in this direction, and the public generally would like to help too. There are reasons for parking. Take the case, for instance, of the commercial traveller who wants to make 10 or 20 visits in a day. If it is to be laid down that a man must take his car into a garage where stiff charges are made, the overhead charges of his business will become prohibitive. If the municipalities are to be encouraged, as I believe the right hon. Gentleman is encouraging them, to set up garages under the powers they have in the Ribbon Development Act, I suggest that they might issue a ticket which would last a man a whole day, so that for an inclusive charge in a given area he could put his car in the various garages.
May I reiterate my suggestions for a Select Committee, for I feel that if we are ever going to settle this question of congestion and accidents we must have everybody's good will. So many accidents are caused which ought not to be caused simply because one person is determined to get to a particular place one second before another person. Some weeks ago I was travelling from Bradford to Wakefield and my driver persisted in passing another driver who, in turn, persisted in passing my driver. I gave instructions to my driver to let the other man go on. The distance between the two cars on arrival at our destination was only five yards. If we are to solve the problem of accidents we have to seek the good will of all sections of the community. I would like to congratulate the Minister on appointing Sir Charles Bressey. I wonder whether we ought to take too definite action even with regard to parking until we have received his plan. That work seems to me to be particularly constructive for he is looking into the future. The reason we find this problem almost insoluble is that we perhaps did not use enough foresight some years ago.
With regard to the question of road construction the policy of the Minister ought to be to make the roads fit the traffic rather than try to fit the traffic to the roads. Any attempt to damp down the enthusiasm of road traffic is a mistake and a retrogressive policy. The modern development of traffic is road traffic, and 1188 instead of trying to make legislation in order to knock vehicles off the roads, we ought to try and make the roads meet the needs of modern transport. The Minister was very guarded in his reference to the five-year plan. I noticed that he threw a little bouquet to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his generosity in this direction. I am not certain about my figures, but I understand that in the year just completed the Ministry of Transport spent £2,750,000 on that programme, and I understand that the estimate for the current year is £7,000,000. I would like to know how the plan is getting on. I was disturbed some weeks ago by reading a leading article on this question which suggested that there might be a balance in the fund which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take towards financing the rearmament programme. Some of us on these benches objected to the Chancellor taking the money from the Road Fund and putting it into the general fund. We believed that road construction might be hindered by that policy, and I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to assure the Committee that no such thing will take place. Every penny that we can get for the roads is essential. Even on the question of Defence one of the essential features is an adequate road system. I suggest to the Minister that he should watch this point very carefully.
On the question of lighting, I speak from experience when I say that I do not believe that half enough attention has been given to it. I have to travel from business along a road most of which is lit only on one side, with the consequence that on the other side one travels in the shadow. The driver of a motor vehicle knows that one of the most difficult things is to drive in semi-light. Could the Minister give the Committee any information whether anything is being done on this subject? I am the last person who would want to give more bureaucratic powers to anybody, but I do think sometimes that we suffer from inadequate provision of social services in many ways because of backward rural district councils. It is often argued in their favour that they have cheap rates, but they give very little service, and it is mainly in the areas of such councils that the lighting system is inadequate. The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) asked what was being done about the co-ordination of road and rail services. I 1189 understand that there is a sub-committee of the Transport Advisory Council, and I would like to know whether there is any representative of road haulage on it. Many hon. Members have received letters on this question. A passage from one that I have received states:We are amazed that insufficient representation has been given to 'A' and B 'licence holders on the Transport Advisory Council. We desire to record our complete lack of confidence in the present constitution of that body, and to request you to use your best endeavours to secure that the interests of 'A' and 'B' road operators, whose livelihood will in the near future be dependent on the decisions of that body, are properly represented on the Transport Advisory Council.Five seats are allotted to the users of mechanically propelled vehicles, but, of those five, only one is a haulage contractor. The sub-committee is studying co-ordination, and I understand that a railway general manager has been co-opted on to it. Everybody knows that if anything is to be done about co-ordination, it will mean that the interest of the haulage men will be seriously affected. There is no suggestion for a moment that the railways will be further restricted. If anything is to be done, it will be done at the expense of road haulage. Those of us who took part in the proceedings on the two road and rail Bills must have realised the tremendous penalties which have been put upon road hauliers. The voice of the railway director is heard very often in this House. The railways have a marvellous representation. I wish to say definitely that I have not the slightest interest of any description, financial or otherwise, in the road haulage industry. What I want is to see the fair thing done.
We may do what we like by legislation, but we cannot drive certain traffic back to the railways. Any man interested in industry knows that in his own business he is not going to have his own traffic driven back on to the rail. Road transport is cheaper and quicker, and from many points of view far more satisfactory. The appeal I want to make to the right hon. Gentleman is that we shall not get the same trouble arising from the report of that co-ordination committee as did arise from the Salter Report. The road hauliers have never been satisfied with that report. They were never satisfied that they had adequate representation on the committee, and I would suggest, though not in any spirit of criticism, that if the Minister wants a really agreed 1190 report the road hauliers must be satisfied that they have adequate representation on that committee. It looks rather dangerous to see a fourth representative —a fourth general manager, I believe—of the railway companies co-opted on to that committee. I believe that in the constitution of the Transport Advisory Council provision was made by law that there should be only three representatives of the railways on it. I end as I began by congratulating the Minister upon showing a bit of the old individualism in his job. It seems to me that we are getting stamped bit by bit, and I congratulate him on showing initiative. My last word is, "Give the road haulier a fair deal in the transport industry."
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General Spears
I wish to deal with only one aspect of the question which we are discussing this afternoon, and that is parking. From what I have heard it seems to me that there is a certain confusion of ideas on the subject. We are told that parking is the great cause of the slowing up of traffic in the City and elsewhere, and that for that reason drastic measures must be taken to deal with it. I belong to the large community of owner-drivers. I drive about London a great deal and I believe that I am a good driver; at any rate I have escaped the clutches of the police so far, and my observation is that in the roads where it is important that traffic should move easily very few cars belonging to owner-drivers cause any obstruction at all, for the very simple reason that the police, quite rightly, will not allow them to stand. The main cause of the slowing up of traffic in London streets, according to my personal observation, is to be found in horse-drawn vehicles, empty omnibuses, idling taxicabs and, sometimes, the unloading of vans at busy times.
We ought to deal with this problem in a sensible way. There are certain streets which are essential for traffic and should be kept clear for traffic and in which cars, whatever cars they are, should be allowed to stop only to enable people to get into or out of them. But that restriction is not necessary in many of the quiet streets through which no traffic flows at all. To wish to apply the same rule to the little side streets as to the main arteries is completely and absolutely 1191 absurd. I have sympathy with people living in streets or squares which have been turned into permanent car parks, but, again, each one of those streets or squares requires to be dealt with differently from the others. In an immense square like Belgrave Square it is obvious that nobody living in the large houses there is in the least inconvenienced by cars parking around the gardens in the centre of the square; and even though there may be some inconvenience it is a temporary measure, because the day will come, we hope, when adequate alternative accommodation will be provided for those cars.
§ Brigadier-General Spears
I should like to know whether hon. Members have considered the case of the vast number of people who have taken houses at a certain distance from London and who depend absolutely on their cars to attend to their business. I believe that about 80 per cent. of the cars driven in the City belong to owner-drivers, and anything done to injure their interests will injure the interests of the motor industry as a whole in a very serious way. It is not a matter to be treated in any way lightly. Unfortunately, I was not here on Monday, and did not have the opportunity of listening to the Minister's answers to a certain number of questions, some of which I had put down myself. What I should like is a positive assurance that no attempt will be made to prohibit the leaving of cars in the streets or to diminish the number of parking places until alternative accommodation has been provided. A great deal of alarm was created by a speech made by the Minister on this subject. I am only too glad to learn that the meaning which most people placed on his words was not the meaning which he had intended to convey. This is what he actually said:I shall consider fixing a date after which the leaving of cars in streets except for the immediate purpose of taking up and setting down at houses or shops will be prohibited.He went on to say:I shall appoint no more parking places, and progressively diminish the number of existing parking places.
§ Brigadier-General Spears
There is this sentence in the middle:In other words, after the date in question, which would be when local authorities have had time to take advantage of the Ribbon Development Act.
§ Brigadier-General Spears
Simply because it is not relevant. [H0N. MEMBERS: "It is."] The point is that it does not matter in the least what date the Minister fixes if on that date there is no accommodation.
Captain Arthur Evans
Has not my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport made it perfectly clear that he does not propose to fix that date until alternative accommodation is available?
§ Brigadier-General Spears
That is why I said that I was glad to hear what the Minister stated on Monday, but I want to be absolutely certain that that point is made perfectly clear, because to say that he will consider fixing a date without reference to whether there is accommodation or not is not what we want. There is this further point with which I should like the Minister to deal. I hope that when the garages are established he will see that they make charges which the ordinary motorist can pay. The Minister said in his speech that at the present time the public did not, perhaps, take full advantage of the garages which are available. The charges at a great many of those garages are extortionate. Perhaps they stand on very expensive sites, but their charges are very heavy indeed, and it is very necessary that garages should not make excessive charges.
I absolutely agree with the Minister when he says that one of the most frequent causes of accidents is cars halted on main roads. One cannot always tell whether a car some distance away is halted or moving, and what often ocurs is that a car coming up behind the stationary car suddenly swerves out in front of another car, and that frequently causes an accident. Not only should the halting of cars on main roads be prohibited, but I suggest that means might be devised for fixing a sign on a tripod a few yards behind a stationary car, so that oncoming traffic might have some warning that a stationary car was there. I believe that might save a great many accidents.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
I think the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears) is a little ground swell from the storm in a teacup which blew up in the House on Monday, when there was such an exhibition of brotherly love and team spirit in the questions which were addressed to the Minister of Transport. From what the hon. and gallant Member has said it is clear that he still does not appreciate either what the Minister has said in his speeches outside this House or what he said in reply to questions on Monday, because he has asked for an assurance which the Minister gave in the most definite terms on Monday. The point at issue in this question of parking is, to my mind, that if the Minister allows the existing state of affairs to continue while new cars continue to pour on to the roads at the rate of 150,000 a year, it will be only a question of time until the roads are completely silted up with cars. My impression is that motorists and house owners will welcome the Minister's proposals when they are thoroughly understood. It has been said already that the streets are not garages. It costs, I believe, somewhere in the neighbourhood of £1,000,000 per mile to widen London streets. Is that money spent in order to facilitate the parking of cars in those streets? Squares have been mentioned. People who live in them pay high rates and high rents in order to enjoy certain amenities, among which the greatest, perhaps, is quietness. Why should they have a public garage brought to their doors as at present? Shopkeepers—
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
It is the custom of Conservatives on those rare occasions when they hear anybody agreeing with them, to say immediately: "You are a Tory." Shopkeepers also complain about this kind of parking. I had an experience of it the other day. I was having my hair cut and left my car outside the hairdresser's shop. When I came out, I found there a big lorry belonging to the Office of Works, the driver of which had moved my car and put it right across the carriageway to another establishment. He had left it standing two and a-half feet wide of the kerb. I should, 1194 therefore, have been liable to prosecution and fine on two charges. When I remonstrated with him, I am sorry to say that he answered in language which would have caused great pain to an old Wykehamist though not perhaps to the Old Etonian who answers in this House for the Office of Works. The hon. and gallant Member said he hoped the day would come when all these matters would be regulated. The day will certainly not come unless pressure is brought to bear upon local authorities to construct garages; but they will not do so as long as the streets may be used as garages.
I would like to quote three Press comments made in regard to the Minister's speech on parking. I see that it is attributed to him that he wishes to extinguish the private car-owner. Further, there was the threat that, if the Minister has his way, motorists will stop motoring. The third suggestion was the best of all. It was that the Minister made his speech because he had been got at by the London Passenger Transport Board. There are two particular points I wish to mention. To facilitate traffic on our roads, horse traffic will have to be still more restricted than it is at the present time. I hope that that may be done without hardship to the small business man who employs horses. It will, at any rate, end the long agony and martyrdom which horses have been suffering upon our streets since the surfaces were adapted for motorists. Another question is whether it is possible for a certain amount of loading and unloading of delivery vehicles to take place between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and in that way to get a certain amount of heavy traffic off the roads during the daylight hours.
I would pass to that aspect of road transport which is bound up in the question of Defence. I imagine that the Trunk Roads Act is part and parcel of the Defence programme. If we are to fit the new roads into the Defence scheme, it is necessary to start absolutely de novo with a planned road system. This is probably the last opportunity that we shall have in this country to achieve a planned system of national highways, and it is a tremendous opportunity. I hope it will be taken, and that the new road construction will be looked at from a national and not from a local point of view. If we are to have a planned road system, the construction must be put 1195 through speedily and according to schedule. A system of main trunk highways will be found absolutely essential in war-time. Railways are liable to sabotage and bombardment, and large vital sections of them may be put out of action for days at a time when the only alternative will be road transport, which will be efficient only if we have a national highways system.
Are any plans in existence for distributing food by road? I notice incidentally that there is no cold storage west of Southampton. Are there any plans for feeding, by road transport, the congested populations round London? East Coast ports may be bombarded and put out of action, and we may have to organise the distribution of food from previously not used, or little used, ports or harbours, whence there is no efficient road system. I wonder whether any part of the Defence Loan is to be used for those roads which, in war-time will have to be employed by mechanised units, when rapidity of transport of searchlights and aeroplanes will be essential.
I turn to the subject of accidents. Road transport has become a very big industry, but unfortunately it bears the stigma of being more deadly than any other industry. Playing about with road signs, speed limits and police traps will never remove that stigma. The first essential, if we are to reduce accidents and promote road safety, is to improve the layout of the roads. The second essential is that users of roads should co-operate and get together. There is a great tendency for various classes of road users, pedestrians, horsemen, cyclists and motorists, to split up into different factions. The result is that we have bad roads and a lot of accidents. If they would co-operate and recognise that their interests are identical, we should get good roads and fewer accidents. The third essential is that, in all new roads and road improvements, we should separate fast traffic from slow traffic and provide dual traffic-tracks. I notice that 62 per cent. of accidents take place in built-up areas. The lay-out of the roads is wrong.
Safety will cost a lot of money. Safety on the roads will certainly be expensive to achieve. What has been mentioned to-day, the carrying of crossing roads over 1196 or under trunk roads, will, for instance, be enormously expensive to effect; but when we are thinking about the expense, let us think also of the figures of accidents for January, 1936, when there was an accident every two minutes. Those figures show that 100 children were killed every month and that 4,464 people were killed or injured weekly. If that happened in any particular week there would be such an outcry that money would be forthcoming to do all that was wanted on the roads, but because it happens every week, the country seems to be getting apathetic, or, at any rate, resigned about it. In the Boer War, which lasted two years and eight months, 5,744 were killed and 22,829 wounded. In 1936, the number of people killed on the roads was 6,489, and 225,689 were injured; far more casualties in one year on the roads than in the whole course of the Boer War. That these accidents are largely due to the lay-out of the roads is confirmed by some most interesting figures and facts given by the county surveyor of Oxfordshire. I have seen them variously quoted with a little discrepancy in the figures, but, as I understand them, they show that 60 per cent. of accidents in that county have been found to be due to the lay-out of the roads on which they occurred. By improving the layout of the roads, the county surveyor has succeeded in reducing the number of fatal accidents in a year from 52 to 29. I believe that the figures of the Ministry of Transport ascribe rather a smaller percentage than that to the lay-out of the roads, but I believe that the Ministry have not taken into account all those road defects which were taken account of by the county surveyor of Oxford. I believe that the Ministry concerns itself only with dangerous bends and slippery surfaces, but many additional factors need to be brought in, when considering a good or bad road lay-out.
The question of lighting has been touched upon. The densest traffic peak is in the evening, when drivers are feeling the strain. Statistics I have seen from America show that night accidents are increasing, and that half the daily total of accidents takes place at night. I was specially interested in what has been said about the lack of uniformity in lighting. I drive up here and go back every day along King's Road. In that part of the King's Road which is in Fulham you get 1197 one of the finest lighting systems which I have ever come across. It is most beautifully clear and well-diffused light, without any dark pools of blackness or shadows. Every vehicle and every individual on the road is clearly discernible. When you pass from King's Road, Fulham, into King's Road, Chelsea, the lighting system becomes abominable. There are dark corners, pools of darkness, shadows and every defect of a lighting system.
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
And consequently in the dark it does seem most unfortunate, when there are such good systems of lighting in existence, that the best system cannot be standardised and made compulsory throughout the country. The same is true about surfaces. I see that not many accidents are attributed to skidding, and I cannot understand that. When I drove away from here last Friday, the rain had just begun to fall. Two cars with perfectly good tyres came as nearly as anything broadside on to me. They were perfectly carefully driven; there was no careless driving or anything of that sort, but the drivers were helpless on the road surface in question. I am sure that a great deal of danger on the roads is due to these "skiddery" surfaces. As hon. Members well know, a thin skin of non-skid material is now being adopted. There is a particularly good example of one of these non-skid carpets quite near to this House. It is made up with granite chippings, which I believe to be the best material of all for this purpose. I think it is a great pity that the best non-skid surface cannot be decided upon and made compulsory throughout the country.
I should like to say a word on behalf of the driver in connection with road accidents. He is controlled by a mass of legislation, while the pedestrian is controlled by no legislation, though, as far as I can see, the pedestrian always walks on the "suicide" of the road. Certainly in many cases, if the driver showed himself to be half such a fool as the pedestrian does, he woud be very heavily fined. Every time I drive up and down to this House I believe I save somebody's life. You still meet constantly the pedestrian who steps off the kerb with his back to the traffic, endangering far more lives than his own by doing so. He is not fined for 1198 doing it. But a driver who, at this time of the year, with his thoughts very naturally turning towards the spring, is found driving with his arm round the girl's shoulders, would be immediately had up and fined.
Many compliments have been paid to the Minister this afternoon, with most of which I associate myself, but one thing at which I think we all rejoice is that the importance of transport in the modern world has been recognised by making the Minister of Transport a Member of the Cabinet. That is giving transport its proper place in the Government. After all, the internal combustion engine has affected the national life far more than the steam engine ever did, and it is time that the State abandoned the semi-hostile attitude which it has so far adopted towards the motoring community. I think the Minister has done a great deal to make the nation safety-conscious. His beacons have added very considerably to our stock of good stories, and they have also made for the more orderly use of the roads. I do not think we get full value from these beacons and crossing-places at present, because there still seems to be great uncertainty on the part of the pedestrian as to what exactly his rights are at one of these crossing-places.
I look forward to co-operation growing up between the motorist and the pedestrian in regard to the use of these crossings, and I believe that that will be a useful and valuable addition to safety. I must say that I do not think they are necessary at light-controlled crossings. The guard rails also are good, and I would like to see their use greatly extended. I can tell the Minister of a place where they might usefully be put, namely, between St. James's Park Station and Queen Anne's Mansions. That is a most dangerous corner. During holiday time a great many school children come to St. James's Park Station in order to go into the park. When they come out of the station, of course, they "blind" across the road to get to the park, and guard rails at that particular point would, I am sure, be very valuable. The traffic lights save time and money, and I think all drivers agree that they are a boon.
The driving tests will take a long time to show their value. I am very much more impressed by the number of bad 1199 drivers that there are on the roads than by the number of dangerous drivers. There is still an enormous number of bad drivers, with no mechanical sense, no sense of pace; they have a slow reaction time and consequently fumble, hesitate, and almost always do the wrong thing. The bad driver is a far greater menace than the dangerous driver. In fact, I have only seen one dangerous driver when travelling between Wimbledon and this House. I reported him to the police, and the police declined to take any action, so now I do not worry any more about the dangerous driver.
I look forward to watching the Minister grappling with the problem of trunk roads. I believe he will go down to history as a bigger and brighter Colossus of Rhodes. I would end with two quotations. The first is from Kipling:Transportation is civilisation.That is truer to-day than when he wrote it. Transportation to-day is indeed civilisation, and, therefore, I hope the Ministry will not find itself short of that executive power to which the Minister referred in his speech. The second quotation, which seems to me to be apposite to the criticisms that are levelled at the Minister, is from Bret Harte:Don't shoot the pianist; he is doing his best.I really believe that the Minister is doing his best, and, therefore, I think we ought not to shoot to kill, but I think we must keep up a certain amount of fire on him; we must shoot near him, so that he will realise that, if for one minute he relaxes his energies or falters in his stride, he will speedily pass out of existence.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
So many subjects fall within the province of the Minister of Transport that there are several on which one would like to say something, but, knowing how many Members wish to speak, I propose to confine myself to one topic only, namely, road safety. I wish to put before the Minister certain concrete suggestions which I think may help to solve a problem the seriousness of which is recognised in every quarter of the House. The Minister has given certain statistics. The statistics which I have, and which are not, I think, in conflict with the Minister's, may not be so up to date, but, as they deal with 1200 a slightly different point, I will give them to the House. Nearly 70 per cent. of fatal accidents occur on straight roads, or open roads with a good sight line; more than 85 per cent. occur in clear weather, and two-thirds in daylight. Road behaviour is accountable for nearly 90 per cent. of the fatal accidents, and I do not think it will be disputed that the two main causes of accidents on the roads are careless driving and careless walking.
I desire particularly to deal with a factor which, I believe, contributes to both these main causes of road accidents. I do not believe that road accidents will be immensely diminished by improved roads. In saying that, I am not suggesting for a moment that improved roads are not necessary; of course they are necessary; but I do not believe that improved roads alone will lead immediately to a great reduction in road accidents. One of the main factors contributing both to careless driving and to careless walking is the abuse of the motor horn. As long ago as 1933, the "Times" remarked in a leading article, with which a great many expert motorists and motoring organisations at once expressed their agreement:The motor horn is regarded as an instrument of safety. It is safety's greatest enemy. It is the possession of a penetrating horn which encourages the bad driver to go full speed into danger.There are two distinct abuses of the motor horn. The first is unnecessary hooting; the second is hooting with un-necessary noise. Each abuse by itself would be dangerous; together they lead to the dangerous habits of careless driving and careless walking—the two most prolific causes of road accidents. There is probably no single practice that has caused so many accidents on the roads as the practice known as "driving on the horn." The driver who indulges in that habit, instead of driving his vehicle at such a speed and keeping it under such control that he can stop in time to avoid an accident should something un-expectedly cross his path, relies on his horn to spread noise to such a distance and ad ahead of him that everything will keep out of his way, and he may thus be enabled to travel much faster than he would otherwise dare. Needless to say, that habit is universally condemned, but it is directly encouraged by the excessively loud and strident motor horns which are frequently fitted. Not 1201 only are such horns fitted as standard, but advertisements appear in the Press advocating such instruments in the following terms: "A necessity for fast touring"; "the loudest on the market, with a very impressive sound carrying an enormous distance. "I have another and more recent example taken from one of the motoring journals:Ideal for racing or fast touring owing to its extremely powerful, penetrating, yet polite note of warning.I know, of course, that the Minister disapproves of that sort of thing as much as anyone in the House, and I know, too, that he takes steps to get advertisements of that type withdrawn; but does he stop the sale and use of the thing advertised? It is quite insufficient to stop the advertising of these instruments of danger, or instruments of torture, if in fact they are fitted to vehicles on the road and encourage dangerous driving. There are three distinct ways in which these instruments contribute to the volume of accidents. In the first place, they encourage the dangerous driving which I have already mentioned. Secondly, I think that every lawyer, every coroner, and every chief officer of police is familiar with the fact that many accidents are caused by action taken in terror inspired by a sudden strident horn. I believe there are few motorists who have not themselves experienced the difficulty caused by somebody sounding one of these instruments in the act of overtaking, and who do not know the difficulty of retaining at that moment all their concentration and control. Thirdly—and this is a point which is generally overlooked—the more excessive hooting is permitted, the more careless does the pedestrian become. As long as this sort of hooting is permitted, the pedestrian will continue such lunatic action as stepping on to the road without looking.
In the cities of Finland, where for years hooting has been prohibited, accidents have been reduced by approximately a half. In Rome and other cities of Italy an enormous reduction of accidents has followed the total prohibition of hooting. There is any amount of experience abroad to show that, if you prohibit hooting, you increase public safety, in addition to contributing to the amenities. In Sweden hooting is prohibited except in two cases. It is allowed in case of emergency, that is to say, to 1202 prevent an accident not otherwise avoidable. It is also permitted in the country —and I believe enjoined—to the motorist in the act of overtaking. I believe that this prohibition works exceedingly well. No motor organisation is in any position to dispute this excess of hooting, because the Automobile Association itself admits it by drawing attention from time to time to the good results which follow from the notices that it puts up not to hoot outside hospitals. Hooting is either necessary in the interests of public safety or it is not. If it is necessary, it is just as necessary to hoot outside a hospital as anywhere else. If it is not necessary, it is not only the people in hospitals who have a right to have their nerves preserved.
Let me deal with the two excuses that are frequently put forward. First there used to be a widespread delusion that the motorist was under some statutory obligation to give audible notice of his approach. Needless to say, that is not, and never has been, the law. If it was the law, it would, of course, follow, since every motor car in motion is continually approaching something, that every motor car in motion must hoot continuously. The law though sometimes asinine has never been as asinine as that. What the law said in regulation 72 of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1931, was that a motor car must give audible warning of its approach whenever necessary—a very different thing. I am very glad to say that in the proposed new regulations that regulation is to be omitted altogether. There is, of course, no more reason to have a positive regulation saying, "Hoot whenever necessary," than there is to have a regulation saying, "Use your brakes whenever necessary." A careless or negligent driver will be liable without such a regulation, and I am glad to say that the Minister is, very sensibly, not proposing to repeat such a regulation in the new regulations that are now proposed. I also wish to congratulate my right hon. Friend most heartily on the enormous improvement that he has made in this respect in the Highway Code. In the original Highway Code there was a fantastically idiotic suggestion that you should sound your horn when approaching a danger point or when about to overtake, unless you were satisfied that such a precaution was unnecessary. Then it went on to say: 1203Do not take it for granted that your warning has been heard; in no circumstances can the sounding of a horn excuse a driver from taking every other precaution to avoid an accident.If other precautions are taken, hooting is rarely necessary. If they are not taken, the hooting driver remains dangerous. The order to sound your horn when approaching a danger point which was in the Highway Code for many years, shows that the Ministry during those years shared the superstition which is common among primitive savages that to make a noise at a dangerous place renders the place less dangerous. The intelligent know that it merely makes it more noisy. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on that improvement. The original Highway Code also contained this sentence:Motor horns should not be used unnecessarily, and always with consideration for others.I have an idea that it was intended to say that motor horns should never be used unnecessarily or without consideration for others, but unfortunately the draftsman got flustered with his negatives and conjunctions, with the result of the superb example of the King's English which I have quoted. I do not suppose for one moment that the legal department of the Ministry was in any way responsible.
The other excuse that is put forward for excessive hooting is that the question is very often asked by the coroner and in police court proceedings, Did the driver sound his horn? As long ago as 1929, when Sir Henry Maybury's Committee on Road Traffic Noises reported, attention was rightly drawn to the deplorable result of treating a negative answer to that question as any indication of responsibility for an accident. I think that, as the result of my right hon. Friend's improvement of the Highway Code and the proposed improvement of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, that habit has changed, and most sensible magistrates and coroners now realise that, in cases of direct collision on the high road between two vehicles, the fault is much more likely to reside with the party who was blasting his horn to indicate the fact that everything had better keep out of his way because, if anything crossed his path, he would not be able to stop in 1204 time to avoid an accident. That is too often the meaning of the motorist's blast if it is honestly interpreted.
I congratulate the Minister on proposing to omit the regulation about giving audible warning of approach whenever necessary, and I congratulate him heartily on the improvement in the Highway Code, which does not now from beginning to end contain a single recommendation to sound the horn in any circumstances whatever. But I suggest that he might well go further in two respects, first of all in regulating the use of the horn and, secondly, in prescribing the nature of the instrument. He might well look at the foreign examples of Finland, Sweden and Italy, as well as some very interesting experiments in Belgium, France and Germany and consider carefully whether he will not issue a regulation prohibiting, at least in built-up areas, the use of the horn except in case of emergency. I admit that that is controversial. I do not say that there is not something to be said on the other side, but I ask him to consider it very carefully.
It may be said in reply that he has already offered to make such a prohibition in any area if the local authority applies to him to do so, but that is not a satisfactory way of making the experiment. An individual local authority very naturally hesitates because it thinks it would be dangerous, for this reason. If you are going to have any such rule, it must be done either everywhere or in some well known place, like London, so that every one is aware of the regulation. If it was done in some chance place without it being sufficiently known, and it was not the practice elsewhere, that diversity of practice might itself be dangerous. I, therefore, appeal to my right hon. Friend to consider carefully the results of these experiments and, if he thinks it is justified, to make the experiment of such a regulation in London.
The main thing, however, that I wish to ask him to do is to limit the power of the instrument that may be fitted, for it is really a negation of common sense and civilisation that some of the instruments should be fitted which are at present allowed to torture the ears of the public and to endanger their lives. The object, in designing a motor horn, should be to give the very least noise that is 1205 necessary for drawing attention to the fact that something is there. What the motor car manufacturer often does is to fit an instrument which is the loudest possible that does not incite those who hear it to riot.
I believe the Minister has referred this question to an expert committee. That ought to have been done 10 years ago. I believe it was done years ago but the committee has apparently not yet reported. When it does report, I hope the Minister will not take too much notice of any representations from vested interests such as the manufacturers of the instruments of torture. It would be just as sensible, if you wish to promote public safety, to pay too much attention to the manufacturers of motor horns, as it would have been if, when torture was abolished from our judicial proceedings, a deputation of rack manufacturers had waited on the Lord Chancellor to draw attention to the unemployment that would be created in the rack manufacturing trade. The inquiry into these motor horns should be expedited, and the Minister will not do anything useful in prescribing the motor horn or limiting its power unless he has the courage, as I believe he has, to introduce such regulations as will make some of those that are at present being fitted to cars as standard wholly illegal.
I believe this question of the intimate connection of noise and danger to be very important indeed and worthy of being brought to the attention of the House. In making this plea for further regulation of the use of the motor horn, I am not doing it primarily from the point of view of noise abatement, though I am not in the least ashamed of being both on the Council and Executive Committee of the Anti-Noise League. I am advocating such regulation in the interests of public safety. Nothing will have an immediate effect on the number of road accidents except something which will lead motorists to drive more carefully, and pedestrians to be less foolish, and what I have advocated will do both. I invite the attention of the House to the correspondence that ensued in the public Press when the Minister first stated that he would consider the 24 hour ban in the use of the motor horn. Motorists in great numbers wrote to the motoring Press, and other journals, as they generally do. 1206 The general tenour of their letters can be well summarised in what one actually wrote in a motoring journal. He wrote something to this effect:The suggestion of the banning of the motor horn is idiotic. I tried it the other day as an experiment, and I found that the increased care which I had to take made me tired much sooner.There is nothing whatever easier than to drive dangerously, thinking that, if anything should wish to cross the road, you have a sufficiently loud motor horn, if all goes well, to avoid an accident. There are to-day thousands of motorists on the road who have never driven their cars with due care except during periods when mechanical or electrical breakdown has temporarily deprived them of the use of the horn. I hope that the House will excuse the length at which I have dealt with a topic which has a direct bearing on public safety and which, I may say, when I wrote on it in the journal of the National Safety First Council, led to no opposition whatever from expert opinion.
§ 5.48 p.m.
Captain Arthur Evans
I do not know whether it is the birthday of my right hon. Friend to-day, but he seems to be getting a large number of bouquets, and I would certainly join with my hon. Friend the Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holds-worth) and others in congratulating him upon the way in which he has reviewed the work of his Department in the House to-day. I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) in his long, careful and critical examination of the question as to whether you should drive with or without a horn, or whether my right hon. Friend should regulate the use of a horn or deal with the question of connection between noise and danger. It is undoubtedly a question which has its importance, certainly in London, and it is true that it has been tried with some measure of success in Italy. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has been to Italy lately or not, but in the City of Rome, and even in small places, like Livorno and Antignano, he will find the question of regulating the use of a horn has been carried out with some success. Last summer I motored down as far as Naples, but I found, in motoring through cities, that the prohibition of the use of a horn on a 1207 motor car undoubtedly had a tendency to make the pedestrian very careless. It is not only extremely difficult to drive —one knows how careless pedestrians are in this country—even with the use of a horn, but when its use is prohibited they feel that they have a sense of safety which, in fact, they do not possess. I hope that my right hon. Friend will examine this question in all its aspects before arriving at a decision, in spite of the long appeal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears) regretted in his speech that he was not in the House on Monday last when the Minister of Transport replied in some detail on the very difficult and complicated question of parking. I am sure that the House regretted his absence as much as he did himself, but if my hon. and gallant Friend had taken the trouble to read the OFFICIAL REPORT the next morning, there would not have been any doubt in his mind as to the exact meaning of the speech of my right hon. Friend. It is a matter for regret, that after the very clear and explicit explanation which was made then, misapprehension should again be raised in this House and so excite the public anxiety on this particular point. It is obvious that it is one of the first duties of my right hon. Friend, if he feels that the authorities who are charged with giving effect to the law of Parliament are not paying sufficient attention to a certain aspect of the case, as they ought to do—and perhaps the country as a whole is rather apt to view the question with complacency—to seek a suitable opportunity for reminding the local authorities of their duties in this matter. What more suitable audience could he find than that at a dinner of surveyors, those whose duty it will be to play an important part in providing the facilities which Parliament desires to see made available under the provisions of the Ribbon Development Act?
If one thing has been obvious in this Debate this afternoon—it has been made abundantly clear by Members on all sides of the House—it is the desire that the Minister of Transport for the time being should take the long view of the traffic problems. The short view of these difficulties must indeed lead to chaos. 1208 The House welcomed the announcement which the Minister of Transport made as long ago as 1934, when he told us that he had appointed that very distinguished surveyor Sir Charles Bressey, with a staff and offices of his own, and with complete liberty of consultation and conception, to make a survey of London and prepare plans of what London really should be. I believe that since his appointment he has had a census taken to ascertain the origins, the volumes and the destinations of traffic, so that he can re-design and make recommendations for communications, which, at the present moment, are not adequate. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nuneaton said in his speech, I believe that that report will be received by the Minister at the end of this year, and I hope in the meantime, that the Department concerned and my right hon. Friend will see whether it is possible to ascertain from Sir Charles at this point, whether there is any useful information which he has acquired as a result of the census which has been taken under his auspices which would enable him to take that aspect of the question into consideration in conjunction with any permanent plans for parking arrangements which might be made.
It it very clear—it has been made clear again this afternoon—that local authorities already have power to deal with this subject, and there are one or two outstanding instances where they have dealt with the problem with considerable success. For instance, at Hastings. I believe it is not very long ago since the Minister of Transport opened a very large and efficient underground garage on the front at Hastings which is more than sufficient for dealing with the number of cars it is desired to park on the sea-front at that resort. We all realise that the question of parking is not so much one of moment in the Provinces or indeed at seaside resorts; the real difficulty is in the City of London and in the West End. It has been suggested that it is not practicable for private enterprise to establish garages in parts of London where the ground sites are at a very high figure and where other charges would be of such a character that it would not be an economic proposition for them to undertake. I wonder whether that is strictly the case? We know of one particular site in London within a stone's 1209 throw of Marble Arch, where a very efficient underground garage has been built by one of the best known firms in the country. In the middle of one of the most expensive frontages of London an underground garage is being erected to accommodate many hundreds of cars if not over a thousand. It is not only a question of parking as such, but the real problem raised by this controversy is the question of whether a person, either for the purpose of making a business call or of shopping, should be allowed to leave his car not for a period of two hours, but for a temporary period which would allow him to carry out the business in hand. That is really the crux of the problem which makes the House a little anxious. There has been an experiment—and perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary when he comes to reply will he good enough to deal with this particular point—of leaving cars for a very limited period on one side of the street on alternate days in such narrow thoroughfares, for instance, as Jermyn Street. If the owner-driver motorist or the commercial traveller who wanted to go into a shop for any period up to say a quarter of an hour did not abuse such a privilege, it would go far towards overcoming our difficulties at the present time. As an owner-driver motorist myself of some years standing, I know how very selfish we are apt to be on the question of parking cars, and especially when it comes to our own cars, but I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should see whether it is possible for him, after conferring with the Commissioner of Police, to extend that facility, making it quite clear that the time which a car could be left in any one spot was definitely limited to a reasonably short space of time so as to allow other cars to enjoy that facility as well.
The suggestion has been made that the squares of London should be utilised for the purpose of the parking of cars. Local authorities are concerned with putting that into operation, and also with another important problem, and that is, making what arrangements are necessary in their view to provide defences and refuges in time of aerial attack in war. I wonder whether it will be possible for the local authorities, as an experiment, to construct in one of the squares of London an underground garage which would serve the purpose of garaging 1210 cars in peace time, and the purpose of a dugout in case of an aerial act of aggression in time of war. No one knows better than my right hon. Friend that the only way to get a sound and practical solution not only of parking problems, but, indeed, of any transport undertaking is by a system of experiments. I hope that he will take an early opportunity of placing himself in communication, particularly with the Westminster City Council, to see whether it is possible to encourage them in some way to make this experiment. If, of course, the underground garage can be made an effective proof against bombs, the Westminster Council would be entitled to ask the Government for a grant towards the cost of the erection of such an air raid shelter.
My hon. and gallant Friend, to whose speech I listened with considerable interest, referred to the question of trunk roads as they affect the defences of this country. The House as a whole was very gratified that His Majesty's Government took the opportunity of disclosing their plans in connection with the trunk roads, because it is obvious that that is very important from the standpoint of Defence in time of war. Now I fear that I am going to touch a thorny subject and I am not sure whether I am in order in raising it on this Bill or whether it would be better to raise it on Friday in the Special Areas Debate. In regard to the trunk road to the City of Cardiff, a place which should be the capital of Wales, it would be a great advantage if that trunk road were facilitated by the erection of the Severn Bridge. This question has been discussed and considered by a Select Committee of this House. I realise that the question of the Severn Bridge is not an isolated one so far as my right hon. Friend is concerned. He has to consider the question of the Severn Bridge and the Firth of Forth Bridge—
Yes. If the House is going to view this question of trunk roads from the point of view of Defence we are legitimately entitled, apart from the obvious reasons of the desirability of building these bridges in the interests of industry and commerce, to ask my right hon. Friend to consult with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister 1211 for the Co-ordination of Defence and see whether it is possible to further this plan at an early date. Finally, to come back to the difficult question of parking, may I say that now that the Minister has made himself clear, we should do all we can to encourage local authorities to carry out the will of Parliament? If they do not do so, do not let us seek the opportunity of criticising the Minister for carrying out his duties, but if the local authorities are not prepared to co-operate, at least let us show them the way from the national point of view, and let Parliament re-examine the whole question afresh.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
The Minister has received many congratulations, and I notice that the hon. and gallant Member congratulated him on his speech. That is as far as my congratulations will be able to go this afternoon. I want to mention a matter which is giving the greatest concern to my constituency and has done so for many years. I had the honour of introducing a deputation to the Minister on the subject, and I think that every one except the Minister went away from that meeting feeling that the morning had been thoroughly wasted. The problem of communications across the Tyne, near the mouth, is one of the outstanding difficulties of that part of the country. It is alluded to in the third report of the Special Commissioner for England and Wales, in which he said that there were three alternative ways of dealing with the matter—the possibility of a bridge across the river, the possibility of a tunnel, and the possibility of improved ferry services. Local opinion is unanimous that the third alternative is no answer to the problem. Therefore, that is the one solution that the Minister is prepared to help. He cannot wonder that, after that, there is a very serious feeling of disappointment in the locality. I believe that feeling of disappointment has been conveyed to him, and if it has been conveyed to him in the direct language in which it was conveyed to me, I wonder at his continued stubbornness on the point.
His answer to the request that the A19 road should be made continuous either under or over the river is that he will build a bridge to the West of Newcastle.
1212 Obviously, that is no answer to the problem that concerns the two harbour boroughs of South Shields and Tyne-mouth. It seems that all the traffic that originates in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Sunderland, Hartlepools and the other great industrial centres along the Durham coast, have to cross the Great North Road in order to get to this bridge. If the traffic wants to get back, after it has crossed the Tyne, to places like Blyth or any Northumberland town on the coast south of Berwick, it will again have to cross the Great North Road to reach its destination. Therefore, a bridge to the West of Newcastle is no answer to the problem that concerns these two harbour boroughs. I doubt very much whether the heavy industrial traffic that originates in the towns I have mentioned will ever be attracted to ferry services, no matter how efficient the ferries may be. The delays and the difficulties confronting them when they reach the ferry and after they leave it will always prevent them from using it.
The only real alternative is one of the other two mentioned by the Special Commissioner, and I hope in view of the answers that he is receiving from the two harbour boroughs on this matter that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the question and endeavour to arrange that either a bridge or a tunnel shall be constructed so that there shall be an uninterrupted flow of traffic across the River Tyne, near the mouth. It must be clear that in the event of a serious accident to any of the bridges in Newcastle during war-time, the possession of this alternative route near the mouth of the river would be of the greatest advantage to the defences of the country, and I should imagine it would be regarded by the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence as one way in which he could keep England and Scotland co-ordinated in the event of military difficulty.
I have been abused this afternoon as a pedestrian. I have never driven a motor car. I have no ambition to drive a motor car, and I always feel safer outside one than in one. I regret that on occasion it is necessary to use a motor car. Even in these days the pedestrian has some right of protection against the highly privileged community of motorists. Much as I enjoyed listening to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher), I could not help wondering 1213 why a member of this party, which gets so little help from the motorist at critical moments in the course of our existence, should be so eloquent a defender of their privileges.
§ Mr. Ede
It seems to me to be co-operation the wrong way. I would welcome the co-operation of the motoring community. My hon. and gallant Friend seemed to think that we need co-operation from the pedestrians. I am only here because there are more pedestrian voters in my constituency than there are people who wait for a motor car to pick them up and take them to the poll. The pedestrian has still some rights left in this country, and I am bound to say that I think the Minister of Transport should do a great deal more to help. Is he satisfied with the way that the Rights of Way Act, 1932, is being fulfilled?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Captain Austin Hudson)
I have never heard of it.
§ Mr. Ede
The Parliamentary Secretary says that he has never heard of it. I did not expect that he had. Is that all the care that the Parliamentary Secretary has for the pedestrian. The Rights of Way Act places on local authorities the responsibility of preparing maps of the rights of way in their respective areas, and provides that when the map has been agreed upon those rights of way should be secured to the public for ever. The highway authorities have the responsibility of preparing the maps. Has the Minister of Transport taken any step to ascertain how far these duties are being discharged? Has he insisted, as he has the right to insist under the Highways Act of 1835—which is sufficiently far back for even the Parliamentary Secretary to have heard about it—that the end of every footpath where it joins a main roadway shall be signposted? It would be a great relief to those of us who are pedestrians if we could get further away from the company of motorists than we are able to do, and any scheme which would enable the footpaths and bridle-ways to be made more generally available for the pedestrian is a thing which I should have thought in existing circumstances 1214 the Minister of Transport would have been prepared to bring about.
The Essex County Council has spent a substantial sum of money in the provision of sign-posts marking the entry to the footpaths where they leave the roadways. The Kent County Council has included in the next year's estimates a substantial sum of money for this purpose, and the Minister of Transport might very well press other county councils to follow that example and see that these footpaths and bridle-ways are kept open. I had a most amazing experience in the county of Surrey some time ago. I was walking over an undoubted footpath, just before the opening of the pheasant shooting season and was stopped by a gamekeeper in the employment of a duke, who said: "Do you know that you are on private land?" I said: "Yes." He was very surprised. I said: "I have not given the usual answer, have I?" and he said: "No." I then remarked: "Has it occurred to you that it would not be called a public footpath unless it was on private land. What are you going to do about it?" He replied: "Nothing. I have no instruction other than to ask that question." I asked him if he would like my name, and he replied: "No. I do not want your name." Someone who was with me said: "You would get a shock if you did have it." It was quite obvious that the gamekeeper was put there to frighten people off by asking a question that had no relevance to the matter at all.
There were three or four members of the party with me who undoubtedly would have turned back, because they would have thought that they were trespassing. I do not know what would have happened if they were trespassing. One sees notices about trespassing, but we can safely ignore them, possibly with subsequent recourse to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir Stafford Cripps), if one could afford him. I suggest to the Minister that all attempts to deprive the people of this country of the most ancient means of transport, "Shanks's mare," ought to be resisted and that local authorities who have duties imposed on them by the Rights of Way Act of 1932, should be kept up to their responsibilities.
I hope that in the construction of trunk roads and the widening of other roads the Minister will not interfere with the 1215 ancient commons of the country. I hope that no roads will be cut across commons. You do not halve the value of a common by driving a road through the middle; you destroy its use for those people who desire to get away from the motorist. I have written to the right hon. Gentleman about one of the most impudent proposals that have come to my knowledge for a long time. It is a proposal to take 16 feet off one side of Mitcham Green, one of the most historic open cricket grounds in the country, in order that the main road might be widened. It would completely destroy the green for this ancient and well-established purpose and would deprive the people of London of one of the best means of recreation they have at week-ends. I know of nothing more interesting on any fine Saturday afternoon than to see Mitcham Cricket Green with eleven local men contending against eleven other men and an umpire from some other place, with 3,000 or 4,000 people, not less, stretched out on the green watching the game.
I hope the Minister will realise that fast moving traffic is not the only thing which is necessary in this country, and that there will still be left to those who like to stand on the old ways in these matters an opportunity of enjoying quiet and rest and a feeling of remoteness from the turmoil of some of the things of this modern world in circumstances where we shall not be reminded that we live in a mechanical age. If the Minister can do these things, I hope that on the next occasion I may be able to adopt a more friendly attitude towards him than I have done this afternoon.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Bull
During the course of a very interesting discussion we have heard speeches about parking places, trunk roads and other matters, very important questions, but I want to raise the question of the travelling facilities on some of the branch lines of the London and North Eastern Railway Company. As regards the branch lines running from King's Cross to places in the north of London, there are many things which should be done to improve the conditions on almost all these branch lines, but the conditions which exist on most of these lines pale into insignificance compared with those which exist on the branch line from Liverpool Street through Tottenham and 1216 Edmonton to Enfield Town. Anyone who has made this journey at any time of the day or night and who has any knowledge of the railway conditions in other parts of the world will agree with me in saying that the only railways with which this branch of the London and North Eastern Railway can compare favourably are the railways in Russia and in some parts of China. I should like to hear something about the possible electrification at an early date of these branch lines. We have been told that it may be considered in two or three years' time, when the present schemes have been carried out. Two or three years is a long time, and meanwhile many people are living in these crowded and growing districts. I would urge the Minister of Transport to do everything he can to ensure that these lines are electrified at an early date.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
The subject which we are debating to-night is probably one of the least effective politically that hon. Members can consider, and particularly that aspect of the administration which is concerned with road transport. The speeech which was made by the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) could very easily have been made by an hon. Member opposite. The Minister has said that he wants the boldest and most imaginative steps taken by local authorities. Does the right hon. Gentleman want all local authorities to adopt such a policy? He also said that he wants every city to make a survey of its needs and relate its improvements to the plan as a whole. Does he want every city and municipality to make a survey of that character? Indeed, is he satisfied with the administration of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, in all areas? That Act says in regard to road service licences:Subject to the provisions of this Section the commissioners may grant to any person applying therefor a licence.And paragraph (d) says:The needs of the area as a whole in relation to traffic (including the provision of adequate, suitable and efficient services, the elimination of unnecessary services and the provision of unremunerative services), and the co-ordination of all forms of passenger transport, including transport by rail.Prior to the granting of a licence the commissioners are supposed to take into 1217 consideration those provisions. In addition the Act also says:The fares shall not be unreasonable.I want to ask the Minister whether he considers that the fares in the area I represent are reasonable? Does he consider they are reasonable compared with the fares charged by transport authorities in other areas? The Minister's policy is one of national co-ordination, that order should be brought into all forms of traffic. I am familiar with Manchester and Sheffield, and many other cities, where the traffic is a credit to the municipality, where there is complete co-ordination, where they have joint services running with other companies in the vicinity of the town, and where the employés engaged have relatively good wages and good conditions. In the area I represent there are approximately 300,000 people. There is no co-ordination of the services, and the fares are relatively high, that is, compared with the fares charged in many of the big municipal transport services of the country. These fares should have the early attention of the Minister. In this district many slum areas have been cleared and the poorest of the poor have been made to go and live on large housing estates, where they have to travel several miles to their work which has, of course, an important effect on the income and expenditure of these homes. Therefore, I want to plead with the Minister to give his attention to this area which, owing to its geographical situation, ought to be co-ordinated. Its traffic facilities should not be allowed to run in the way they have for some time, with some 57 transport authorities running their own services.
This lack of co-ordination, of course, means greater danger to pedestrians. The statistics which have been provided by the Ministry in reply to questions by me prove that the road accidents in this district are higher than in any other, and the amount of overlapping which takes place should have the urgent attention of the Department. Some 17 of the local authorities in the North Staffordshire area, constitutionally elected, put before the House a private Bill. They did all they possibly could to deal with local interests. They agreed to compensation in order to bring about an agreement between the various interests, but despite all that, vested interests were so well 1218 organised in this House that the Minister of Transport, whom I had looked upon as being a big man capable of dealing with big issues and with big vested interests, proved himself unable to stand up against these vested interests and sup., port a co-ordinating scheme, and the Bill was defeated. Having been beaten on that issue by highly organised vested interests in this House, I am now asking the Minister to apply his scheme for national co-ordination to this area and to meet the City Council of Newcastle-under Lyme and the Stoke Corporation in order that this district may receive the benefits of the Minister's policy in the same way as other districts in the country.
§ 6.30 p.m.
Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen
I was delighted to hear the Minister say, in his opening remarks, that his function is to create the conditions in which various activities can best flourish and form part of a coherent system. To my disappointment, he went on to say that he intended to make our roads models, and if he will look up the word in the dictionary, he will find that it means a small imitation of the real thing. That is partly the trouble with our roads to-day. They are far too small, and the country has to suffer from a restriction of existing facilities in order to make up for the deficiency of space. I think the public in general will be relieved to know that there has been a misunderstanding as to what the Minister was alleged to have said about parking spaces. I would like to reinforce what was said on this matter by the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth). The question of parking is a tremendously complicated one, and there has been far too much generalisation about it and far too few details. I think there should either be a public inquiry or a Select Committee of this House which could adequately bring to the notice of the public, for the careful consideration of all concerned, the various aspects of this problem. I would like to underline the hon. Member's remarks about costs.
I have been amazed that in all the discussions we have had there has not been any suggestion that crawling taxicabs or taxi ranks in such streets as Regent Street cause some of the congestion, and are part of the difficulty which has to be surmounted. From 1219 what the Minister said, I rather fear that he is trying to use motorists, through his threat about parking, as a lever with which to move local authorities, but the Minister can make local authorities move without using motorists as a lever, and I hope he will not so use them. We are all aware of what would be the consequences of too great a restriction on parking. It would be bitterly resented by the public and would, to a great extent, destroy the value of the car, and this would have repercussions on the manufacture of cars and the people employed in manufacturing them. Moreover, I would remind hon. Members that a great many of the motor factories are shadow factories for use in case of national necessity. We cannot afford to destroy the employment they give or to lessen the work they are doing for the country. Traders will be seriously affected if parking is either destroyed or diminished. I know that the Minister says that garages should be built to make up for the restriction, but if those garages are not reasonably cheap, the effect will be the same as if parking places were completely destroyed. A greater burden ought not to be placed on motorists, whether private motorists or traders, by forcing them to go to a garage and pay high rates. If that were done, it would cause a severe reduction in the number of cars on the road. On the other hand, if there is a reduction in the number of people who come to London in cars to do their shopping, there is bound to be an increase in the number of delivery vans. Motor cars in the hands of private owners keep many delivery vans off the road.
§ Mr. E. J. Williams
Is the hon. and gallant Member suggesting that the local authorities should incur expenditure in making parks for motorists?
Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen
The Minister has said that the road space which is being used for parking places should not be allowed to be utilised in that way, and that garages should be built for the purpose by local authorities. My point is that if the garages are built and the cost of leaving cars in them is too high, the effect will be to drive motorists off the road, and that will have very bad repercussions. If great care were not taken, the repercussions on the theatrical 1220 world and on. shopkeepers in London, for instance, would be very great. I urge the Minister to set up a public inquiry or a Select Committee in order that every aspect of this great problem may be carefully examined and discussed. We should then be able to understand the real problem and not talk in generalities as at present. I would like, in conclusion, to refer to the question of "A," "B" and "C" licences for road vehicles, and to urge the Minister that these matters should be kept secret by the licensing authorities. Last week the House allowed me to present a Bill which contained a Clause to enforce secrecy upon the licensing authorities. If that Bill does not get any further, I hope the Minister will take up that particular Clause and make it effective.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Montague
I do not know whether the Minister of Transport regards himself as one of the seven wonders of the world. It has been suggested that he will go down in history as a Colossus of the roads. I imagine that the Pharos lighthouse off Alexandria would be more appropriate, but possibly the answer to the question will be a Belisha. The right hon. Gentleman is more likely to go down in history as the Minister responsible in this House for one of the most miserable pieces of political meanness on record. The subject is one that I cannot discuss on this Vote, and I leave it to the Minister to realise the point I am making, which, of course, has to do with the question of roads, and particularly a most important road that will be built across the Thames in London.
I agree with the suggestion that has been made, with regard to the question of parking and the control of motorists on the road, that there should be a Select Committee. The hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) was the only hon. Member taking part in the Debate who referred to one question about parking which I regard as very important. I feel that if the matter is not very carefully considered, and if the Minister does not proceed in a very cautious way, he will land himself in complete chaos. I am referring to the needs of business people, and particularly commercial travellers. I happen to be an honorary official of the National Union of Commercial Travellers, and I think I 1221 may claim to know their point of view. The solution of the problem of commercial travellers is not only a question of providing parking places, but is partly a question of providing parking places at a reasonable charge. There are in this country something like 150,000 commercial travellers, probably one-third of them using motor cars. In most cases the cars are owned and run by commercial travellers, and I suppose that each of them covers an average of about 20,000 miles a year. They pay in horse power and the petrol tax probably £1,500,000 a year. Each one makes anything from 15 to 30 calls a day.
In one or two parts of London to-day, although it does not apply to the centre of London at all as far as I know, there are garages where a charge of 3d. an hour is made, but even if that were made more or less universal, under municipal control or in some other way, it would be a great financial burden on commercial travellers who have to park their cars 20 or 30 times a day, quite apart from the chaos caused in getting the cars in and out. But there is more to the problem than that. A commercial traveller does not know how long he is likely to stay with his prospective customer; it may be for a few minutes, or it may be for a long time—that depends upon the customer and upon the commercial traveller's powers of eloquence. A commercial traveller once called upon a prospective customer, after having climbed two flights of stairs, and announced himself, by way of breaking the ice, as a little stiff from bowling. The prospective customer said he did not care who he was, he would not give him an order. The commercial traveller has to make out his case and endeavour to sell his goods, and the idea that he can park his car in a particular area and take his samples round is one that arises from a lack of knowledge of the conditions of commercial travelling. Not all commercial travellers have a small attaché case; usually they have a large number of samples and must have them available. If parking in the streets is abolished, it will be necessary to insist that those commercial travellers should employ a chauffeur, and if the chauffeur has to drive the car around the streets until the traveller's interview is ended, I imagine it would be more of a menace to public safety than anything else. Apart from 1222 the question of commercial travellers and, as a matter of fact, the ordinary users of motor cars, a car that is standing still is at any rate a safer vehicle than one that is running over somebody.
We have heard a great deal this evening about the woes of the motorist, and I think something ought to be said about pedestrians, particularly in the country areas. It is calmly assumed that the problem is only a town problem, but it is not anything of the kind. Let it be remembered that 70 per cent. of the roads of this country have no footpaths at the side. Sometimes I like to go along a country road alone, singing a song to myself and to the open road and the sky, and I do not want always to be warned that some tremendous instrument of destruction is following in my wake. I would like to say a few things to the Minister on the subject of footpaths. There are not only adult pedestrians, but children. An Inter-Departmental Committee on road safety for children issued its report recently, and mentioned the fact that 70 per cent. of the roads are without footpaths and that many thousands of children have to use those roads. To talk about jay-walkers and pedestrians is surely to look at the matter from the wrong end. Surely the right thing would be to insist that there should be no motor car that could not pull up within the limits of human safety.
One hon. Member quoted advertisements of motor horns. I could quote advertisements of motor cars in which eloquent appeals are made to prospective purchasers on the ground that the cars can go along the roads at anything from 50 to 70 miles an hour. The Inter-Departmental Committee stated that the high speed of motor traffic must be cited as a frequent cause of accidents because the greater the speed the less the margin of safety. They pointed out that a motorist travelling at 15 miles an hour might be able to avert an accident to a child who had suddenly darted into the carriageway a few yards ahead of his car, whereas, if he were travelling at 40 miles an hour, his chances of doing so would be remote. We have heard a lot about motor horns and parking places, but, as one hon. Member has pointed out, the important thing is that the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents on the roads in one year is more than the 1223 number of casualties in the whole of the Boer War. We are on a war-time basis as far as the roads of the country are concerned, and I am not sure that people are going to tolerate it much longer. After all, motorists are only a fraction of the population. They are, I admit, a fairly big fraction, but the majority of the people are not motorists, and they are entitled to use the roads of the country in safety, and the mothers of the country are entitled to the assurance that their children will not be run over and mangled on the roads. This is not a question only of the towns. The Inter-Departmental Committee said that as a rule there was less serious danger to children and other pedestrians in areas of dense traffic where speed was necessarily limited, whereas on roads on the outskirts of towns where speed was higher there was a greater proportion of fatal accidents. That suggests, surely, that in considering the control of traffic and of speed we ought to look at the question from a different point of view—not from the point of view of how few places we can apply restrictions to, but of how many places are suitable for allowing free use of the highway to motor traffic.
As a matter of common sense it must be recognised that there are many roads in many parts of the country where high speeds are not dangerous. I was a member of the Royal Commission on Transport which had evidence from many sources, about conditions in various parts of the country, and my view is that if we allow the free and unfettered use of roads such as those I have indicated, we ought at the same time to give a liberal interpretation to such phrases as "the outskirts of towns" and "areas of restriction." The idea that speed is necessarily the same thing as progress is one which I am not prepared to accept. Instead of troubling about cars which are standing still, the Minister ought to give urgent attention to the question of the speed of cars and also to the question of providing footpaths on the 70 per cent. of roads which are now without them. I submit that to do so would be tackling the problem from the right end.
As I say, the great majority of people do not use cars, and I warn the Minister that they will not much longer tolerate the present slaughter on the roads, in the interest of something called progress, 1224 which is apparently only speed lunacy. They will not tolerate the continuance of the present condition of affairs for the sake of those who want to save a few seconds in getting somewhere, and do not know what to do with the time they have saved when they get there. The people will demand that the present slaughter shall come to an end, and that pedestrians, as ordinary users of the road and those who happen to possess cars shall be treated as of equal importance. I hope the Minister will consider these questions, particularly the question of safety and the regulation of speed. I frankly admit that there was a great amount of evidence before the Royal Commission in favour of doing away with the speed limit, and I was to some extent affected by it. I thought there was a great deal to be said for it. But we have had experience and the experience shows, according to the Inter-Departmental Committee's Report, that, looking at the question from the point of view of how much we can give to the motorist instead of from the point of view of how far we can protect the general public, it is leading to a tremendous amount of slaughter which ought to be stopped.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Captain Hudson
We are having a very interesting Debate on the subject of road safety and various other aspects of the work of the Ministry of Transport, and it may be convenient if I intervene at this stage to answer some of the questions which have been put to my right hon. Friend the Minister. As regards the parking of cars, my right hon. Friend has, I think, made his views clear. He has expressed his desire to see adequate parking accommodation provided off the streets in place of the inadequate accommodation now provided on the streets. He has made it plain that he cannot deal with the question of cars being left in the streets so as to cause obstruction. That matter must be dealt with on the merits of each case by the police, and nothing that my right hon. Friend has said has altered the position in that respect in any way.
Certain hon. Members have asked whether my right hon. Friend will hold an inquiry or cause a Select Committee to be set up to deal with this matter. I must point out that the Minister already 1225 has two committees to advise him, and that one of the duties entrusted to him by Parliament is that of dealing with such questions as parking. Parliament has also laid down the procedure which is to be followed, and I cannot help thinking that if any inquiry is necessary, it should take the form of local inquiries so that local areas could decide on what they considered to be best for themselves as regards the provision of adequate facilities, and could then, if they wished, seek the Ministry's advice. Other hon. Members have referred to horse drawn traffic, crawling taxi-cabs, and half-empty omnibuses as causes of congestion. Every one of these has been and is being dealt with by the Ministry. There are certain streets in London in which horse traffic is not allowed. There are rules about crawling taxi-cabs, and the question of half-empty omnibuses during the slack periods is being dealt with. In fact, there are fewer omnibuses now on the streets at those periods than there were before the passing of the London Passenger Transport Act.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears) and another hon. Member raised the question of garage charges. My right hon. Friend will do his best to see what can be done to avoid excessive garage charges. The question of unilateral parking was mentioned by one or two hon. Members including my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cardiff, South (Captain A. Evans). We consider that it is worthy of further attention and my right hon. Friend has already promised to give it that further attention, but he must do so in consultation with the police, and I may as well tell hon. Members that the police have found unilateral parking difficult of achievement in view of the peculiar circumstances of London traffic. As I say, however, we are going to see whether something further in that way cannot be done.
The hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) asked a question about the five-year programme. Grants have been made or indicated for works estimated to £68,000,000, of which we are paying £41,000,000, and the total plans submitted come to £142,000,000. I would remind hon. Members of the pledge given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1226 that the alteration in the finances of the Ministry in last year's Finance Act, would make no difference to the carrying out of this five-year programme. The hon. Member also asked a question about the Transport Advisory Council, and quoted a letter which, I think, has been received by every hon. Member. The composition of that Council is laid down in the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933. There are on it five representatives of the owners of mechanical vehicles, including three representatives of the owners of commercial vehicles.
The hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher), in his interesting speech, dealt to a certain extent with the question of road accidents on which I shall have something to say later, and also asked whether consideration was being given by the Department to the question of the distribution, by road, of food and other essentials in time of war. I assure him that that aspect of affairs is being very closely considered. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cardiff, South, also referred to the Severn Bridge project. That project came up in a private Bill, and was not accepted by the Committee of this House which dealt with it, and it is, therefore, for the promoters, if they wish to do so, to bring forward another Bill. We intimated to the promoters of the Bill that if they could get it through we were prepared to give a grant.
§ Mr. E. J. Williams
The Parliamentary Secretary is surely aware that the Commissioner for the Special Areas has since reported upon the Severn Bridge scheme and those who objected to the proposal may have a different point of view now.
§ Captain Hudson
All I can say is that my Department did everything it could to help the promoters of the Bill, and it was because the promoters could not make out their case before the Committee that the scheme was rejected. I think I may say that we were very disappointed that it was rejected, and if the promoters feel that they have a better case now, I assure them that we would again try to help them in any way we could. But when a Parliamentary Committee had thrown out the scheme when it was presented in a private Bill, we did not think that we ought to try to force it through the House by any other means.
§ Mr. Hopkin
Is there any possibility of the Government bringing in a new Bill of their own for the construction of this bridge?
§ Captain Hudson
I think I have answered that question in what I have said. The House having rejected the scheme it is not up to us to try to bring it in by another method. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) first mentioned the Tyne crossing. We have to consider the national rather than the local aspects of this question. He will know that we have given a great deal of time and trouble to this important problem, and we have finally decided that a bridge on the western side of Newcastle-on-Tyne is better than one near the mouth, and this has been done after careful inquiry. We have tried to help by freeing the ferries and freeing the toll bridges. I know it is a disappointment to the local authorities there, but the Department had to try to do the best they could from a national rather than a local point of view.
§ Captain Hudson
Yes, we have. The hon. Member next referred to the Rights of Way Act, and he was rather surprised when in an aside with my right hon. Friend I said I had never heard of it. I find the reason I have never heard of it is that it is not operated by us, and we have no responsibility for its operation. While we have sympathy with its objects as described by the hon. Gentleman, at the same time it is not an Act which is our responsibility. I gather that the responsibility for working it is local rather than national. He mentioned, also, a point with which we are all agreed, that commons should be preserved as much as possible when road construction and improvement are going on. I can assure him that we take the utmost steps we can to avoid any interference with commons, and if a part of a common has to be taken, compensation must be given in the form of another piece of land, and the fairness of such compensation is decided not by the Minister of Transport but the Minister of Agriculture. He mentioned Mitcham Common. We have no knowledge in my Department of any suggestions by the Surrey County Council to cut off a piece for road improvements.
§ Captain Hudson
We have no knowledge of any part of Mitcham Common being taken. Apparently, my hon. Friend and I are at variance as to the facts of this local case, but we are as anxious as he is that commons should not be disturbed, and, if they are, compensation in the form of an equivalent amount of land must be given.
The hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Bull) dealt with the proposed electrification of the Enfield line. I can assure him that I feel deeply with him in this matter, because the line goes through my own constituency. We have been promised by the railway that this electrification will be considered as soon as their present programme is finished, and I am afraid that I cannot go beyond that. Some years ago in this House we had a Bill which Parliament passed which provided for a large number of electrification schemes and extensions of tubes in the London area. At that time it was felt—I confess to my personal disappointment—that this line was not in the immediate priority list. We endeavoured to persuade the railway company to do this work at the earliest possible moment. They have promised to consider it as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Montague
If the hon. Gentleman is in touch with the London and North Eastern Railway in regard to the electrification of the Enfield line, will he ask them to consider the possibility of an escalator from the tube to the North Eastern platform at Finsbury Park. It would remedy the state of affairs considerably.
§ Captain Hudson
I will certainly promise to pass that suggestion on to the company and see if something can be done in that respect. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. E. Smith) was naturally disappointed that a Private Bill of last Wednesday was not accepted by the House. He had a lot to say about the fares charged in his area. This is a matter for the Traffic Commissioners set up by this House as independent of the Ministry, and they have this matter in hand.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
A lot of statements were made last Wednesday. Is it possible for the Minister of Transport to draw the attention of the Traffic Commissioners for that area to them, because if some of the things that were said are true, there is something lacking in that area?
§ Captain Hudson
Any Member of Parliament or anybody else can draw their attention to what was said.
§ Captain Hudson
The Minister can, but one has to be extremely careful in matters of this kind, because when the House has laid it down that the body should be independent and semi-judicial I do not think that the House would be pleased if the Minister tried to bring pressure to bear on such an independent body, whatever the merits of the case might be. The Member for Birkenhead West (Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen) dealt with parking, to which I have already referred, and asked that secrecy should be observed at the inquiries which are held in connection with the granting of licences. It is a Clause of the Bill which he introduced under the Ten Minute Rule and my Department are closely examining that Bill in all its details. The hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) asked about footpaths. I can assure him that we attach the greatest importance to having adequate footpaths on all possible roads. It is laid down in the memorandum which has been sent to all local authorities on the lay-out and construction of roads. The last figure I have is that some 1,200 miles of such paths were constructed in 1935. So that he will see that we are not neglecting this important side of road construction.
§ Mr. E. Smith
In view of the serious state of affairs put before this House last Wednesday night, and seeing that I have drawn the attention of the Minister to this state of affairs, is he going to take any step to use his influence with a view to dealing with this matter?
§ Captain Hudson
I think I dealt with that point just now. It is a matter for the Traffic Commissioners and I have no doubt they will have read the reports of this Debate, and will have seen what hon. Members said when that Bill was before the House. But I say categorically that 1230 in my opinion it would be most improper for my Department to interfere with the Commissioners, seeing that this House laid it down that they were to be an independent semi-judicial authority.
With regard to road accidents we have had, as my right hon. Friend the Minister said, an analysis of road accidents. That analysis tells us some rather extraordinary things. First we find that some 90 per cent. of the accidents are due to the human element—in both motorists and pedestrians. We find that some 50 per cent. of the accidents happen on straight roads, which makes one rather wonder whether it is faulty construction of roads, which so many Members seem to think is the most important of the factors in dealing with road accidents, or something else which is causing the serious number of accidents we continue to have. Taking the main causes of accidents, some 33 per cent. are caused by motors, some 28 per cent. by pedestrians and some 26 per cent. by cyclists. This analysis will prove of great assistance both to ourselves and to other people who are interested in getting down to the causes of accidents and finding the best way of remedying them.
Hon. Members have mentioned the lighting of the roads. As they know, that is a local matter, but the Minister has taken power in the Trunk Roads Act to enter into agreements with the local authorities to improve the lighting of such roads and a committee has been sitting dealing with the subject. Road surfaces also have been dealt with. We entirely agree that the provision of proper nonskid surfaces is most important, and we go as far as to withhold a grant where a local authority refuses to provide what we consider an adequate surface for roads. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) dealt at some length with the question of horns. We have noted with interest his views on non-hooting both by day and by night. As regards the stridency and noise of horns, a committee which has been sitting dealing particularly with the noise created by motor cars and motor cycles has now turned its attention among other things to the stridency of motor horns. It is a committee which has done extremely good work up to date and I am certain that we shall get from them a most interesting report.
1231 I want to deal finally with what I consider to be a very important part of our road safety campaign and that is the 30-miles-an-hour speed limit. The Minister in carrying out his obligations under the 1934 Act in this respect has had in his mind the object for which that legislation was introduced, which is the prevention of road accidents. That speed limit of the Act of 1934 was an innovation and it might have been a great success or a great failure. There were, in my opinion, two dangers which might have led to failure and which we have been endeavouring to avoid. The first one is that if the speed limit is put on in unsuitable places it will not be observed and will be treated with the same contempt as the 20-miles-an-hour speed limit suffered from in the years before, and, secondly, highway authorities will tend to neglect necessary road safety precautions, such as pedestrian crossings, light signals and guard rails. I would like to emphasise how much we agree with the hon. Member who said that he considered that guard rails were an important part of road safety precautions. The highway authorities might be tempted to neglect this part of the precautions and to rely on the speed limit alone.
Those were the two great dangers. As regards the first, that motorists might disregard the speed limit, or that it might fall into disuse, I think we can say it is observed now by the vast majority of motorists. They co-operate in its working, and I wonder often if that would be so if we had taken the advice sometimes given us to put a limit on all by-pass roads. With regard to the second point, the policy of scrutinising most carefully all applications for the introduction of speed limits has prevented that being realised. Incidentally last month's figures, which show that 321 persons were killed on unrestricted as against 140 on restricted roads, reveal how unwise it would be to rely on the speed limit alone for preventing road accidents. In giving those figures I would like to say that I agree with the hon. Member opposite that in the case of restricted roads only 2 per cent. proved fatal as against 4 per cent. on the unrestricted roads, which of course proves that people, if I may put it that way, are hit harder on the unrestricted roads and, therefore, the percentage of 1232 fatal accidents is greater. But I am making that point only to show that we cannot rely on the speed limit alone to bring about a large reduction of accidents.
There has been a criticism of our policy of de-restricting certain arterial and bypass roads in London, and all I would say is that we believe that if we did not keep to the policy it would tend not to lessen but to add to the accidents; one reason being that if you restricted such roads the motorist would not use them, because they are longer than the old roads, and you would have many more accidents on the old roads which the by-passes are to supersede. In this view we are supported by the Commissioner of Police, and again, what I said before about the speed limit not being observed would apply. But I would say to hon. Members who have been anxious about arterial roads that we are prepared to take all necessary steps on arterial roads where special circumstances exist, to see whether those sections should or should not be subject to restriction. We see now that the death roll has fallen from the peak of 7,300 in 1930 to about 6,500 last year in spite of an increase of some 480,000 motor vehicles.
Everybody wants to bring those figures down, and we agree that the 30 mile an hour limit, together with other suggestions which we are carrying out, and which have been made even to-night by hon. Members in this House, are a valuable help in this respect, but the limit must be made to work fairly and be only applied in suitable cases. It is in that spirit that we are endeavouring to administer the Act. A number of suggestions have been made in the Debate to-night, and I can assure hon. Members that those suggestions will be considered most carefully by my Department, to see whether they can be carried into effect.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon
I think it is discouraging to have a Supply day of so short a time on such an important subject as the Ministry of Transport. But we have been particularly happy in having two Ministerial speakers in a 3¼ hours' Debate. That only shows what vast fields there are to cover that come under the Minister of Transport. Do not think for a moment that because there are only a few Members here that 1233 there are only a few in the House who would like to say a word on the matter; they were discouraged from entering because they thought there was small chance of getting in in so short a time. I do not propose to take up any of the points that have been dealt with by the Minister to-night, but I want to put before him something which I think of great interest to the country economically, especially from the point of view of the distressed areas. We have to remember that road transport in this country can be grouped under three forms of propulsion—electrical, steam and the internal combustion engine. It has been unfortunate from the point of view of this country that the electrical vehicle has not been a success altogether, because that of course was charged by energy derived from coal, which is, after all, a native product.
Then we come to the steam vehicle which also has, I am afraid, not been a very great success when generating steam by coal. Also the steam vehicle when generated by petrol has not been a success. Therefore we fall back upon the internal combustion engine, which means to-day the importation of a foreign fuel. There has been an artificial change from the petrol position to the diesel position, but that really has had no economic significance except from the point of view of the operator who wanted to get a cheaper fuel and wanted it to take him further per mile per gallon. But from the point of view of the general country that has had no effect. We hear an enormous lot about the possibility of getting our oil fuel from coal, but if you view that really from a general point of view it looks to the ordinary observer as being, in the long run, practically impossible. The turning of coal by hydrogenation straight into oil requires such an expensive capital charge that to do enough of it to really take the transport of this country would really mean the creation of a plant too expensive to contemplate. We could not face up to it. You come to the second proposition—the oil derived from low carbonisation processes. From that quarter we get but little oil per ton—about 20 gallons—
§ but it has this great disadvantage, which the Board of Trade always bring forward, that it is at the same time producing an alternative fuel which can compete with the ordinary house coal.
§ I want to plead with the Minister of Transport to see whether he will advance a new form of transport—an internal combustion engine deriving its fuel from the gas-producer. There you are turning your coal straight into transport rather than first into oil and then from oil into transport. The best fuel at the present moment for the producer is anthracite, a form of fuel of which we could well sell more in South Wales. But there is practically no encouragement given for vehicles of that kind. It is not so in any other country. In Germany, in order to get lorries on the roads consuming coke fuel, the Government give them material grants per vehicle, and in France, where they run on charcoal, there is also a subsidy. I do not believe there is a subject of more importance than what fuel is used for our transport. We should do all we can to run on home-produced fuel rather than on imported fuel. There is nothing wrong with the efficiency of these gas-producer vehicles nor with their economics. It comes out at petrol equal to 2½d. a gallon. There are enormous economic advantages to be explored which would have great repercussions, I believe, in South Wales and other parts of the country. The Minister, apart from issuing regulations, has to think of the future, not only from the point of view of putting up a road system but in other ways as well. He must have imagination, and I would ask if he would investigate this problem and give, as has been done abroad, a prize for the best type of vehicle, and hold certain competitions to focus attention on the subject and to get ahead with it. I, really, believe he would shift "long hauls" from using foreign fuel, and get back to the use of home-produced fuel to the advantage of everybody in this country.
§ Question put, "That '£175,660,000' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 104.1237
|Division No. 101.]||AYES.||[7.28 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Atholl, Duchess of|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Apsley, Lord||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Aske, Sir R. W.||Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Assheton, R.||Balfour, G. (Hampstead)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Guy, J. C. M.||Petherick, M.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Harbord, A.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Hepworth, J.||Radford, E. A.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Holdsworth, H.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Bossom, A. C.||Holmes, J. S.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Hopkinson, A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rowlands, G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hunter, T.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Bull, B. B.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Salt, E. W.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Kerr, Colonel C, I. (Montrose)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Kimball, L.||Scott, Lord William|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Leckie, J. A.||Selley, H. R.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Lees-Jones, J.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Levy, T.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Lewis, O.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Critchley, A.||Liddall, W. S.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C||Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lyons, A. M.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cross, R. H.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crossley, A. C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Crowder, J. P. E.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Macdonatd, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||mcKie, J. H.||Strickland, Captain W. F|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Maoquisten, F. A.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Denville, Alfred||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Markham, S. F.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Dugdale, Major T, L.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Emery, J. F.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Wells, S. R.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Munro, P.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Foot, D. M.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Owen, Major G.|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Peake, O.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Grimston, R. V.||Peat, C. U.||Ward and Commander Southby.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Daggar, G.||Hayday, A.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Dalton, H.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Jagger, J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Day, H.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Dobbie, W.||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)|
|Barr, J.||Ede, J. C.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Benson, G.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bevan, A.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Broad, F. A.||Frankel, D.||Lathan, G.|
|Bromfield, W.||Gallacher, W.||Lawson, J, J.|
|Brooke, W.||Gardner, B. W.||Leach, W.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Burke, W. A.||Gibbins, J.||Logan, D. G.|
|Cape, T.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Lunn, W.|
|Charleton, K. C.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)|
|Chater, D.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Maclean, N.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Grenfell, D. R.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)|
|Cooks, F. S.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||MacNeill, Weir, L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hardie, G D.||Mathers, G.|
|Milner, Major J.||Ritson, J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Montague, F.||Rowson, G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)||Walker, J.|
|Muff, G.||Sanders, W. S.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Nayler, T. E.||Sexton, T. M.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Short, A.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Paling, W.||Simpson, F. B.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Parker, J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Parkinson, J. A.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Potts, J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Thorne, W.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.|
|Ridley, G.||Thurtle, E.|
§ It being after Half-past Seven of the Clock, and there being Private Business set clown by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 6, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.