HC Deb 21 November 1949 vol 470 cc19-20
34. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has yet reached a decision on the proposal to raise the speed limit for heavy road vehicles from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

Mr. Barnes

No. Sir. The National Joint Industrial Council for the Road Haulage Industry failed to reach agreement on those aspects of the proposal with which they are concerned and, as many of the vehicles which would be affected by the increased speed limit are in course of transfer from private hauliers to the Road Haulage Executive, I am deferring further action for the time being.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

Why is the Minister deferring action in increasing the speed limit from 20 to 30 miles an hour just because of a change of ownership? Has not this increase been approved by the Road Safety Committee? Who is against this perfectly sensible method?

Mr. Barnes

This is a controversial issue, but that has not influenced my decision. I desire to have as much cooperation and opinion with me as I can possibly get, and this is certainly not the time to consider a change of this character.

Mr. David Renton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this 20 mile an hour speed limit is observed much more in the breach than otherwise, and will he say to what extent serious attempts are made to enforce it?

Mr. Davies

In view of the strong objection to the increase in this speed limit, which is known to the Minister and which has prevented him from taking action so far, can he not make a decision one way or the other, because this matter has been hanging about for two years?

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Will the right hon. Gentleman enlighten the House as to how the proposed change of ownership can affect this question? What is the connecting link between the two?

Mr. Barnes

I have already indicated that that is one of the factors which I have under consideration at the present moment. The change-over of these vehicles, in my ' view, will alter very materially the negotiations which are being conducted on this subject.

Mr. Dumpleton

In view of the widespread objections to increasing the speed limit, will my right hon. Friend undertake not to consent to the increase until this House has had an opportunity to discuss it?

Mr. Barnes

In any case, a proposal of this kind would require the approval of the House.

Mr. Thorneycroft

Will the right hon. Gentleman take the House into his full confidence and say what is the objection to abolishing this restrictive practice?