HC Deb 18 May 1954 vol 527 cc2037-52

10.35 p.m.

Mr. Henry Brooke (Hampstead)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Pedestrian Crossings Regulations, 1954 (S.I., 1954, No. 370), dated 22nd March, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th March, be annulled. I have been waiting for some time like an anxious pedestrian to see whether the heavy traffic of Government business would pause, and I want to start my remarks by expressing my gratitude to the Government for having so courteously pulled up to enable me to step off on to the zebra crossing. My first reason for initiating this debate is because it seems to me of vital importance that these Regulations should not come into force without one word about them, either by way of discussion, explanation or justification being said in this House.

The House will recognise that I use the word "vital" intentionally, because it will be of vital importance to old Mrs. Jones if she is out on a zebra crossing on 1st July and fails to realise that because of some paragraph in these Regulations the crossing has lost its legal status and the protection she has been enjoying for the past three years does not remain unchanged.

I am not at all sure that everything in the Regulations will commend itself to public opinion. I am quite sure that much that is contained in them is not yet understood by the public, and for this reason I want to impress on my right hon. Friend the Minister and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that there is a considerable task ahead of them to justify what the Regulations contain, and, having justified them to public opinion if they can, to explain and publicise them sufficiently so that in the few weeks before 1st July all the millions of people in our cities and towns who use the crossings will understand precisely what their rights are under the new Regulations.

Time is short this evening. This Prayer is governed by the new Sessional Order, and the debate must end by 11.30, so I feel sure that the House will forgive me if I compress my remarks. I will select one illustration to explain what I have been saying, but I know my hon. Friends will be ready to cite others from different parts of the Regulations, which, for reasons of time, I will not attempt to summarise in full to the House.

If the Regulations come into force on 1st July, from that date onwards a zebra crossing will lose its legal status if two beacons are not lit and flashing, by day as well as by night. I am perfectly certain that the vast majority of people do not realise that. To judge by my conversations with Members of the House, few of them are yet seized of it, although this is the last of the 40 days on which the Regulations lie upon the Table.

Old Mrs. Jones, to whom I referred, always uses that zebra crossing to get over to the shops every day. She is well accustomed to the idea that, provided she is on the stripes, the traffic will have to pull up for her. When the new Regulations come into force, her position will be that, standing on the crossing, she has no protection whatever unless she has made quite sure that the two beacons are lit and flashing. However bright the day, however glaring the sunlight, she will have to be careful to make certain of that. Otherwise, it will be a good defence on the part of any motorist that one of the beacons was out and so, under the Regulations, he was under no obligation to observe the crossing.

Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)

Is it not the fact that the beacons must merely be illuminated, and not necessarily flashing?

Mr. Brooke

I was abbreviating my remarks. It is possible for the Minister to authorise continuous illumination, although flashing is to be the normal practice.

The Ministry has issued Circular 701, in which the Minister's reasons for the Regulations are given. The circular says: The Minister is now satisfied that the flashing beacons have proved an effective means of indicating to drivers the presence of a crossing, both by night and often by daylight as well … He thinks that it would be unfair to drivers and dangerous to pedestrians to allow crossings to keep their legal status if for any reason the beacons were not lit. Those are the Minister's reasons, and we should pause for a moment to examine them.

Common sense might well say that the effect of the Regulations would be dangerous to pedestrians—more dangerous than the alternative which my right hon. Friend deprecates, that a crossing should retain its legal status even though one of the beacons may be out. After all, this means that from 1st July onwards, if something has run into one of the beacons and it is not functioning, if for any reason of electrical failure the lamp is not lighting, if there should be an interruption in the power supply over the area, the zebra crossings will lose their function. This is a considerable change from the arrangements to which the whole country has become accustomed in the last three years.

In October, 1952, the Minister issued a circular foreshadowing his intentions about the necessity for the beacons to be illuminated and for the crossings to lose their legal status after a certain date if two beacons were not lit. The local authority of the borough which I represent in Parliament protested at once against the implications of that circular. It was a protest on behalf of ordinary pedestrians. The council was not convinced that this was the right solution, nor that it would be conducive to road safety if the zebra crossing was not to be a zebra crossing whenever one light was out.

The Ministry wrote in reply on 25th November, 1952, that the point raised by the council would be given careful consideration before the Regulations were made, and that the Ministry would consult the associations of local authorities before making the new Regulations. But, whoever the Minister may have consulted, I cannot find any trace of his having consulted since that date the Standing Joint Committee of Metropolitan Borough Councils, which, in the case of London, are the authorities responsible for the maintenance of zebra crossings and, therefore, most interested in the contribution that can be made by the crossings to: road safety.

Many of us in the London area took it for granted that there would be further consultation before these Regulations were issued. It seems most desirable that if the Minister can prove to the House that the solutions put forward in these Regulations are the best ones, then he should carry with him, not only this House, but also local authorities all over the country; it is they who have an exceedingly important part to play in road safety, and it will depend very largely on their good will, helpfulness, and cooperation if zebra crossings under the new system are to make the contribution to road safety which we all so very much desire.

I should like to make it clear to my hon. Friend and, through him, to his right hon. Friend the Minister, that I am raising the subject tonight in no hostile nor militant spirit. I want to co-operate with his Department in every way possible to help to improve road safety, and, therefore, I do not take it as a waste of time for us to spend this hour in trying to decide if these Regulations are the correct ones, or in pleading with him not to bring them into force unless he has made quite sure between now and 1st July that they commend themselves to public opinion and, what is equally important, that they are understood by the public.

10.48 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I beg to second the Motion.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke), I support this Prayer in no hostile spirit. I do so because I am convinced that zebra crossings, and the Regulations governing them, are, and will continue to be, of benefit to road safety. It is my one anxiety that the rules of conduct to be laid down for the use of pedestrian crossings shall result in the considered and proper use of them by both pedestrians and motorists. As our experience of the use of these crossings increases, so they can be made safer still; so they can become of even greater value in their contribution to road safety.

My primary motive in supporting the Prayer is to urge upon the Minister the need to evolve from these Regulations some simple rules of conduct for pedestrians and motorists, and further to urge him to introduce these Regulations, not merely by surreptitiously slipping them on the Table of this House, but in all the glare of publicity so that the public will be well educated in the knowledge of them. Personal explanation and appeal by the Minister on the radio and television would do immense good.

I turn to the Regulations themselves. After 3rd July, when they are to come into force, we shall have at least two, probably three and, possibly, four different types of crossing. First, there will be those indicated by two lines of studs and with no stripes and no beacons. Those, I understand, are to be found where there are traffic lights or where a policeman is normally on duty for 20 hours or more a week. On those crossings the pedestrian is to have no precedence under these Regulations, and the only obligations I can find for the pedestrian or motorist is Regulation 5, under which the motorist must not stop on the crossing, and Regulation 8, under which the pedestrian must not remain there for a longer period than is necessary for him to cross.

Apparently, the intention is to demote the present occasional police-controlled crossings to the minor category of the two lines of studs. That is all right when the police are on duty there, but the pedestrian protection has gone for the remainder of the day. I urge the Minister not to remove the stripes. He will still be left with the expense of the policeman for part of the day, but the pedestrian will be deprived of the protection on the crossing for the rest of the day. In general, the installation of press button signals is perhaps even more preferable, saving the cost of a policeman and still giving the pedestrian protection when the policeman is not there and also not causing inconvenience to the motorist during slack periods.

That is the first class of crossing under these Regulations. The second is those which are fully marked with two lines of studs, stripes and beacons and for the time being controlled by a policeman. As I read the Regulations, if they are for the time being controlled by a police- man, whether normally controlled or not, it is as if the stripes and beacons were not there, and it is a crossing theoretically with only two lines of studs.

I quite appreciate the reason for these Regulations. If the Minister did not have to put them into formal language, he could say, "You must not rely on the stripes if there is a policeman or traffic lights." But I think he has gone a little further in these Regulations. It is said here in effect, "So that you shall not rely on the zebras, in such circumstances I shall remove the stripes." But I am not quite clear in what cases the stripes are to be physically removed and in what cases they are to be imaginatively removed.

Then we come to the third class of crossing, the crossings which are fully marked with two lines of studs, stripes and beacons, but which are not for the time being controlled by a policeman. That is the zebra crossing as we know it at present. It is as we know it now, but in future under these Regulations it will be with the proviso that it must not normally be controlled by a policeman for 20 hours or more a week. Otherwise, it ceases to have the legal characteristics of a zebra crossing, although it still has those physical characteristics.

I interpose a question to the Minister. Is it intended that at midnight on 30th June all zebra crossings normally controlled by a policeman for 20 hours or more a week will be rather like Cinderella at the ball and immediately lose their finery of stripes and beacons? We shall, at least for some time, have another category of crossing, namely, the fully marked zebra crossing which is normally controlled by a policeman for 20 hours or more weekly, but is not so controlled at the time the pedestrian wants to cross. Under these Regulations, although it will be marked as a zebra crossing it will not be one from the point of view of protection of pedestrians. The Regulations then will, I think, defeat their object, because that type of crossing will be a snare and delusion to the pedestrian.

If any crossing which is controlled for 20 hours a week is left marked by the stripes and the beacons, the pedestrian will be in a dilemma. Before crossing the road, I presume that the pedestrian, perhaps the Mrs. Jones of whom my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead spoke, will have to inquire whether the crossing is normally controlled for 2 hours, 21 minutes, 215/7 seconds daily. If the answer is "yes," Mrs. Jones will have no protection on that crossing.

This is making things rather difficult for the pedestrian. On this fourth type of crossing, if a policeman does normally control the traffic for just less than 3 hours daily, the pedestrian will have no protection, although there may be the stripes and the beacons. Those stripes and beacons will mean nothing. They are expunged in legal theory. We ought not to be providing only for those who have legal minds like Lord Chancellors or mathematical minds like Einstein. These Regulations will be providing for the safety of road users ranging from the toddling to the tottering. We must make them as comprehensible as possible.

I would ask the Minister whether there is evidence to show that accidents have resulted from pedestrians using zebra crossings when a policeman has signalled to the traffic to proceed. We ought to be told whether pedestrians ignoring signals have become such a danger that some action has to be taken. If there is evidence that it has become such a dangerous practice, does the Minister think the right solution is to deprive pedestrians of the protection of all crossings at which a policeman is occasionally on duty, whether he is on duty at the time the pedestrian wishes to cross, or is not on duty? If a policeman has to be on duty at certain times, surely that implies that the crossing is used fairly frequently at other times of the day. Simply because it is controlled at the rush hour, it ought not to be deprived of its status for the rest of the day. If the flaunting of policemen's signals has become such a danger, and if removal of the crossing as a pedestrian crossing is to be the solution of the problem, will the Minister say how many crossings will become unprotected by virtue of these Regulations, and what proportion the number bears to the total of crossings in the country?

When zebra crossings were introduced two-thirds of all crossings were removed, and these Regulations seem likely to lead to a further whittling down. Is not the press button the better solution? It saves the time and expense of policemen, it relieves motorists of inconvenience when there are not many pedestrians about, and it gives the pedestrian protection when it is needed.

I have every sympathy with the Minister's intention here. It is very wrong that, regardless of the policeman's signals, the motorist should be confronted by pedestrians. It is also wrong that the pedestrians should be induced by the stripes on the crossing when they should have regard to the signals. Nevertheless, the Minister's solution will not work unless it is simple and is fully explained in the Press, and on the radio and television to the schools, the old people's clubs and to everyone. What plans has the Minister for publicising these Regulations so as to make sure that they wit work and bring the hoped-for benefits?

11.1 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

I take a much more militant, if not more hostile, attitude to these Regulations than either the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) or the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). Were any argument needed to show the difficulties of this subject, the speech of the hon. Member for Crosby provided it. How on earth will it be possible for the Minister of Transport, or his Parliamentary Secretary, to explain in simple language the incredible complexities caused by having to add one Regulation to another and indulge in a series of distinctions, additions and subtractions, in relation to a safety system which people have been led to believe has been operating successfully for three years or more?

As the Parliamentary Secretary knows, the accident statistics for 1953 show that of all accidents involving pedestrians 5.3 per cent, occurred at zebra crossings. He is now engaged, as a result of Press criticisms and Parliamentary Questions, in investigations to discover whether these crossings are serving any useful purpose at all. At the moment there are some 300 urban authorities which have not yet introduced these crossings. They will heave a sigh of relief when they read of the difficulties facing those authorities which have.

The hon. Member for Crosby envisaged the grim possibility of three or four different types of crossings, their nature altering according to the time of day, whether or not a policeman was there, and whether or not the beacon was flashing. The fond hope of the Minister of Transport that pedestrians would be given a feeling of security on seeing the crossings is not likely to be realised when these new Regulations are put into effect.

It has been found hitherto that zebra crossings are not working satisfactorily. Now we have to have studs on both sides of the road surfaces to guarantee a greater degree of immunity. In some cases the Minister is going to indicate that black and white strips are not required at all, in other cases they are to be altered in size, some larger or wider, some smaller or narrower, and now we are to consider the possibility of zebra crossings ceasing to exist at all merely because of a breakdown in the lights. Vast sums have already been expended on existing installations and, if these further suggestions are to be adopted, then more substantial sums will be required.

Time does not permit me to develop the argument as much as I should like, but the Parliamentary Secretary knows that in Dundee, where they have no zebra crossings at all, the accident rate is lower than that which prevails in towns of comparable size. It seems to me that the case for zebra crossings has not been made out.

Is the Minister able to provide figures to show that in the 300 urban areas where zebra crossings have not been installed the accident rate to pedestrians is larger than in other parts where they are, If not, then the case for these Regulations has not been made out.

I want to acknowledge the efforts made by the hon. Member for Hampstead in providing an opportunity for this very serious and important matter to be ventilated, and to thank him for this further opportunity of expressing my grave doubts as to the value of zebra crossings.

11.8 p.m.

Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)

I support the Prayer against this Statutory Instrument mainly because I object—and I am voicing the objections of the local authority in my constituency and also many local authorities throughout the country—to the proviso to Clause 7 (c) of Part II of the First Schedule, which means that zebra crossings must be lit and that if the light goes out the pedestrian loses his immunity.

Incidentally, I would say to the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn), who raised the point, that it makes no difference whether they are lit by flashing or fixed lights, because lights will go out whether they are flashing or not. If they go out they will remain out for some time before the borough engineer can be informed and put them right, and a dangerous situation will arise.

Of course the alert and astute pedestrian will be perfectly safe under these Regulations—he would be perfectly safe if he simply took his chance and crossed the road in any circumstances. But the object of road safety is not to protect the astute and the alert pedestrian. It is to protect the aged, the old, the infirm and the muddled. These Regulations will defeat that object.

If we are to provide safe crossings for people who especially need protection, these crossings must be certain and unmistakable. People are accustomed to zebra crossings in their present unlit form and, however much my hon. Friend and the Minister may publicise these Regulations, the thought is going to remain in the public mind that zebra crossings are safe. Suddendly to declare, in the form of obscure Regulations, that they are only safe if they are lit in some specific way, is like putting arsenic into a baby's bottle.

I believe that the Minister is mistaken in the underlying conception of this part of the Statutory Instrument. His idea in making the proviso which I am complaining about is to avoid a little possible unfairness to the motorist. Surely, it is much more important to avoid the certain death of a number of old and young people.

11.11 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)

We have heard enough, I think, for the House to have sympathy with me when I say that I find the greatest difficulty in understanding these Regulations at all. If I have not understood the point correctly, the Minister will realise that the drafting is difficult to follow.

The question which I want to raise concerns the extent of the area of approach to the crossings which is laid down in the Regulations without any regard to what is felt locally to be the need in any specific instance. It is laid down as about 45 ft., or three car lengths, on the approach side to a zebra crossing. I have in mind the City Square, Leeds, where the Post Office have a lay-in where people park their cars. That will be cut down very much by this sort of regulation.

My purpose in adding my name to the Prayer is to ask the Minister seriously to consider whether, within reasonable limits, this is not the kind of decision which could be left to the local authority. I do not think this sort of thing can be laid down in regulations. The parking situation is extremely difficult. Vehicles have to deliver goods in one way or another. We want to secure safety but, on the other hand, it is quite unnecessary to lay these things down in regulations. Far too much of that is going on, leaving local authorities to carry out regulations when they are quite competent to decide the matter for themselves.

11.13 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. Hugh Molson)

My hon. Friends the Members for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) and Crosby (Mr. Page) have moved and seconded the Motion in a friendly spirit. My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead indicated that he thought that when Regulations of this kind were being introduced it was desirable that the Government should have an opportunity of justifying, explaining and publicising them. Indeed, the discussion which we have had indicates that these Regulations are not as easily understood as I had hoped would be the case.

The hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) was wrong when he spoke about there being one Regulation added to another. These Regulations repeal four existing sets of Regulations, codify them and, I thought, simplify the law.

Let me begin by dealing with the two —the only two—kinds of crossing which are legally recognised. There are the controlled and the uncontrolled crossings. A controlled crossing is one which is controlled either by a policeman in uniform or by lights. An uncontrolled crossing, which is now generally known as a zebra crossing, is one where there are neither lights nor a policeman.

Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)


Mr. Molson

I cannot give way. I intend to finish the explanation.

Mr. Crowder

My hon. Friend is wrong.

Mr. Molson

The zebra crossing is uncontrolled, and it is there that the pedestrian enjoys precedence over traffic.

My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby suggested that there were two other kinds of crossings. That, of course, is not so, but there is this provision that where there is a zebra crossing and a policeman in uniform is controlling the traffic, during the time he is controlling the traffic the zebra loses its uncontrolled nature and becomes a controlled crossing. There is no difficulty about this at all.

Mr. Page

Does it not also lose its uncontrolled status if, in accordance with Regulation 2, it does not come within Part II of the First Schedule, if it is normally controlled for more than 20 hours a week. If it is normally controlled for more than 20 hours a week, is it an uncontrolled crossing?

Mr. Molson

That only applies for the time it is controlled by a policeman in uniform. There are only two kinds of crossings—controlled and uncontrolled.

Mr. Crowder

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Molson

No, I will not. In the case of the zebra crossings where there is a policeman exercising control, it becomes a controlled crossing during the time he exercises control and no longer.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead complained that when these new Regulations were introduced the Ministry had not consulted the local authorities. What was actually promised was: that the Minister will consult the interested associations and organisations, including the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee, before he makes these Regulations. They were consulted, and I have the views which they expressed on the various Regulations.

It has been suggested that it is unwise that the zebra crossing should lose its legal status if the lights go out. It is not the case that that provision has been introduced merely in the interests of the motorist. That provision has also been introduced in the interests of the safety of the pedestrians seeking to use the crossings. In all cases where something is provided for and an accident happens, such as when the lights go out, it is difficult to know exactly where to draw the line. It is manifest where there are lights which indicate a crossing that many things might happen which will result in the lights going out. We have had a number of cases mentioned tonight, the most likely of which is where the local electricity supply fails. The question arises as to whether in those circumstances the zebra crossing should continue to retain its legal status.

What appears to me to have been underlying the speeches made tonight is the supposition that the zebra is solely for the benefit of those familiar with that particular district. That is not the case at all. We have to consider the case of motorists coming from remote parts of the country who have no knowledge of that road at all, and certainly in the case of driving by night or driving in a fog, it would be quite impossible for a completely strange driver to know whether there was a zebra crossing or not. If it were supposed that the pedestrian enjoyed some particular protection, when in fact the motorist had no knowledge that there was a zebra crossing in that place, it is obvious that the pedestrian would be given an entirely false sense of security, and that is the most likely way in which an accident could arise.

In all these cases it is necessary to draw the line somewhere, but of course it would be possible to attempt to draft regulations providing that on a summer's day, when there was plenty of light and where it was possible to see the zebra stripes, the zebra crossing should retain its legal status. But in fact, that would be extraordinarily difficult to do. In these cases it is generally wiser to lay down some perfectly simple and general rule of universal application, and since the purpose of the lights is to indicate to approaching motorists that there is a pedestrian crossing there, if the lights in fact are not alight it is better to provide that there is no pedestrian crossing carrying with it particular rights. From a practical point of view, this makes very little difference.

Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)

Or sense.

Mr. Molson

It was suggested by one of my hon. Friends that if a pedestrian were crossing the road on a striped piece of road where, owing to the lights being out, there was not the legal status of a zebra crossing, then in fact that would be dangerous to the pedestrian. Of course, in fact any driver who sees a pedestrian crossing the road anywhere is under a legal obligation to drive with reasonable care, and naturally the suggestion that simply because the lights were out the driver would be entitled to drive on and maliciously, recklessly and deliberately mow down the pedestrians who were seeking to cross at that time is quite absurd. Anyone doing so would be guilty of manslaughter in the case of death, and in any case of dangerous driving.

Therefore, it has appeared to us that it is far better to provide that in the case of a zebra crossing the particular legal protection which is enjoyed shall only apply as long as the lights are alight in accordance with the regulations. We have consulted all those who are likely to be able to give us useful guidance as to whether it was desirable to introduce regulations on these lines. The first question was whether it was desirable to introduce a universal rule prohibiting the waiting and parking of cars within 45 feet of a zebra crossing.

I do not intend tonight to discuss the matter which the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton has raised, whether zebra crossings have, on the whole, been a contribution to road safety. He has a Question down next week, and I shall hope to give him some information upon the subject then. The chief reason why the reduction in accidents as a result of the introduction of zebra crossings has not been as great as we might have hoped it would have been, has been the number of cases where vehicles have been parked close to a pedestrian crossing.

We therefore consulted all those likely to be able to advise us whether it would be desirable to make the prohibition of parking cars within 45 feet illegal throughout the country. We consulted the Road Safety Committee, the Police, the Road Research Laboratory, the Pedestrians Association, the motoring associations, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Association of Municipal Corporations, the County Councils Association, the Metropolitan Boroughs, the Urban District Councils and the Scottish local authority associations. There was complete unanimity from all of them in favour of prohibition. We have also consulted them on whether the marking should be improved, and all those who were consulted agreed that improvement was desirable. As for the distance within which waiting and parking should be prohibited, the great majority were in favour of leaving the law as it was in the earlier Regulations, under which it was open to any local authority, which desired to do so, to make it illegal. Therefore, we have retained the same distance.

Those organisations were also consulted about the abolition of existing exemptions against the rules which were previously in force. We have followed the views of the Pedestrians' Association and the Road Research Laboratory in doing away with the existing exemptions. When my right hon. Friend decided to take the further step to try to increase safety on the roads he consulted all those organisations which had the greatest experience and knowledge in the matter, and these Regulations have been based on the advice they gave to us.

I am not at all surprised that there should be criticism, and we welcome criticism if it is of a constructive nature. I gladly recognise that the proposer and seconder of the Prayer have only moved it so that the Government should have the opportunity of explaining, publishing and justifying these Regulations. We believe that, supported as they are by the vast majority of the organisations mostly concerned with road safety, they will commend themselves to the House and the country.

Mr. Crowder

My hon. Friend has said that the Government have explained the meaning of the Regulations. One has only to look at the Explanatory Memorandum to note that they have not been explained. One of the difficulties we find in the courts with legislation of this kind is that people come before the magistrates saying that they are sorry but they were not aware that they were doing wrong until they had it explained by their solicitors or counsel that not to know in law is no defence but only a means of mitigation. These Regulations are the finest means of mitigation for anybody coming before the courts.

My hon. Friend appeared to lay down that a controlled crossing was a crossing controlled by lights or by a police constable, but he did not say anything about the situation created by the odd people wandering about in white coats, who so kindly look after schoolchildren, when they are standing on a crossing waving one of their signs. Is that a controlled crossing? Do they take the place of the police constable under the Regulations? Will my hon. Friend answer that question? The simple motorist does not know, nor does the pedestrian.

It being Half-past Eleven o'Clock, Mr. SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Order [31st March].

Question negatived.

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