HC Deb 22 June 1953 vol 516 cc1471-4
41. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will now make a further statement in connection with the removal of the 20 m.p.h limit on certain commercial road vehicles.

52. Sir W. Wakefield

asked the Minister of Transport what representations have been made to him by the manufacturers of goods vehicles as to the handicap imposed upon their ability to develop the export trade in such vehicles by the imposition of unrealistic speed limits upon them in this country; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

60. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Transport whether, since statistics provided by the Road Research Laboratory show that the great majority of heavy goods vehicles at present by law limited to a maximum speed of 20 m.p.h. constantly travel at speeds in excess of that limit and that it has for long been impracticable to enforce the existing law, he will take steps to enable the operators of these vehicles, in the interests of efficiency, to re-arrange their route schedule times on the basis of a maximum possible speed of 30 m.p.h. and so remove the present waste to productivity through lost man-hours and idle vehicle-time.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As the House is aware, my predecessors and I have been strongly urged by representatives of the manufacturers and users of heavy goods vehicles to increase the speed limit for such vehicles from 20 to 30 miles an hour. This change has been powerfully argued both on the ground of economic use of resources at home and as an aid to the sale of vehicles abroad. While I am fully alive to the strength of these considerations, I do not think that action on my part to raise the speed limit can be fruitful and effective unless there is agreement in the industry as to the changes in existing arrangements which might follow. After careful consideration of the matter from this view point I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the present time is not opportune for me to place the necessary regulations before Parliament for affirmative resolution.

Mr. Nabarro

My right hon. Friend referred to agreement in the industry; can he say what parties within the industry are opposed to these proposals? If so, can he help us as to what prospect he has of reaching general agreement in consideration of the fact that the matter has now been debated, with powerful support for the proposal, for more than three years?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I think that if there is to be agreement within the industry it would be as well for me not to specify the attitude of various parts of it.

Sir W. Wakefield

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his decision will mean increased unemployment in the heavy vehicle industry because of inability to increase exports? Will he bear this in mind when he reconsiders the situation, which I hope he will do at an early opportunity?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

If that is the view of the manufacturing industry, including the workers in that industry, I hope that the workers in that industry will put that point of view before the workers in the operative side of the industry itself.

Mr. Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men who have to drive these lorries and the unions that represent them will be very pleased with the answer he has given this afternoon?

Mr. Paget

Has the right hon. Gentleman ever met one of these vehicles which was actually going at under 20 m.p.h.?

53. Sir W. Wakefield

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that under the present regulations a goods vehicle of 2½ tons unladen weight carrying a load of 9½ tons is permitted to travel at 30 miles per hour, whereas a vehicle of 4½ tons unladen weight but of more solid construction with better brakes and with a maximum permissible load of only 7½ tons is permitted to travel at no more than 20 miles per hour; and whether he will arrange to rectify anomalies of this kind at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Braithwaite

I do not think that any one would attempt to drive a vehicle of 2½ tons unladen weight with a load of 9½ tons at 30 miles per hour or, indeed, at all. The particular anomaly to which my hon. Friend refers does not occur in practice.

Sir W. Wakefield

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that there are anomalies of this kind? In the interests of road safety is it not highly desirable that these anomalies should be removed at the earliest possible opportunity?

Mr. Braithwaite

I think there may be anomalies, but not of the kind contained in the Question. My hon. Friend will be aware that under Regulation No. 72 of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1951, it is an offence to carry a load the weight or distribution of which is unsafe or to use a motor vehicle for purposes for which it is so unsuitable as to be dangerous.

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