HC Deb 16 March 1953 vol 512 cc1824-5
49. Mr. Vane

asked the Minister of Transport what provisions exist under his regulations to ensure that road hauliers, conveying abnormal loads likely to cause obstruction or danger to other Toad users, provide a pilot at their own expense to accompany such vehicles throughout the journey.

Mr. Braithwaite

There is no requirement on a road haulier conveying abnormal indivisible loads to provide a pilot on a separate vehicle, but where the width exceeds 8 ft. there must be one attendant in addition to the driver or drivers, and if it exceeds 9 ft. 6 in. there must be at least three persons including the driver or drivers.

Mr. Vane

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that it is safe to allow increasing numbers of very wide vehicles on our roads without a pilot? Is he also aware that the Royal Navy nearly always send a pilot on such vehicles and earn the thanks of the general public by so doing?

Mr. Braithwaite

The difficulty is that if it were made compulsory to provide a pilot, it would be implied that this person possessed the necessary authority to give instructions to other road users. Considerable objection would be felt if persons other than the police, and certain other persons with a recognised status, were to assume such powers and try to enforce them.

Mr. D. Jones

Is it not a fact that when these exceptional loads are carried by privately-owned vehicles the police of each district through which they pass have to provide special officers to protect the other traffic at the public expense? Ought that not to be borne by the private haulier?

Mr. Braithwaite

These vehicles are invariably carefully routed and, as the hon. Gentleman has said, the police in the various areas are informed accordingly.

Mr. Poole

Has the Minister had referred to him by any Service Departments the problems which will arise from the conveyance of the Centurion tank which is over the regulation width and whose weight can be carried by hardly any of the bridges in the country? Has this been referred to the Department by any of the Service Departments?

Mr. Braithwaite

Not to my knowledge, but I should like to check that.

Mr. Popplewell

Where the police are called in for this type of duty, will the hon. Gentleman consider whether the expense involved should be allocated to the person using the vehicle so that it becomes a charge upon the haulier?

Mr. Braithwaite

The police are called in for many purposes, but it is not usual for the person concerned always to bear the cost.