HC Deb 17 December 1952 vol 509 cc1376-8
22 and 23. Mr. R. E. Winterbottom

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General (1) if he is aware that all military and naval cars are now fitted with suppressors; and why a compulsory requirement to this effect is not to be applied to civilian cars now in use;

(2) why, in framing regulations under the Wireless Telegraphs Act, 1949, he has not accepted the advice of the Advisory Committee to include the fitting of suppressors to old as well as new cars.

25. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General why the use of suppressors to obviate interference with the reception of television programmes is not being made compulsory for old as well as new cars.

Mr. Gammans

The Government hope that as a result of extensive propaganda already begun the co-operation of car users will be such that it will be unnecessary to introduce legislation for old cars. The regulations exempting old cars were seen and agreed to by the Advisory Committee at the draft stage.

Mr. Winterbottom

Is it not true that on 9th July the Television Advisory Committee recommended to the Postmaster-General that suppressors should be fitted to all old cars as well as new cars, and will the hon. Gentleman not consider making an Order applying to old cars as well?

Mr. Gammans

It was not the Television Advisory Committee. The point is that it is no good the House passing an order unless they are prepared to face up to all the implications of carrying it out. If we were to make it compulsory for old cars to have suppressors, it would mean having to recruit a number of inspectors—call them what you like—to go round poking their heads under the bonnets of cars. I should have thought the British people had been hectored and pushed about enough for a bit. I am very hopeful that this approach which is being made on a voluntary basis will prove successful.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the cost of this device is in the neighbourhood of only half-a-crown, and that therefore no hardship would be imposed on the users of old cars, which will continue to be in the great majority for many, many years to come; and will he say whether, by way of example, all Post Office vehicles are fitted with this device?

Mr. Gammans

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I assured myself that the Post Office was blameless before I answered this Question. It is not a question of the cost of the suppressors, but whether we should bring in a scheme under which it would be necessary to recruit inspectors to go round looking under the bonnets of cars. I do not think that is required, and I think the House would object to it.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is the Assistant Postmaster-General not aware that that is what he has already done; that an Order that has been laid on the Table of the House provides for inspection; and why is it that he has no objection to the inspection of new cars but suddenly discovers this objection to the inspection of old cars, especially in view of the fact that the special committee have advised that old cars should be fitted?

Mr. Gammans

In the case of new cars, the suppressors will be put on by the manufacturers. That is quite a different thing from recruiting a number of people to go round insisting on old cars having these suppressors.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Do I understand from that that no inspectors will be employed to see that people do not take suppressors out of the new cars?

Mr. Gammans

We do not anticipate that it will be necessary to add to the staff of the Post Office in order to deal with the new cars, but it would be necessary to do so if we were to insist upon the fitting of these suppressors to old cars.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

Would my hon. Friend consider fitting suppressors to one or two back benchers on the other side of the House, whose names I will gladly supply to him?