HC Deb 16 February 1955 vol 537 cc359-60
55. Mr. Callaghan

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he has considered the evidence sent by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, concerning breaches of the law; and if he will make a special investigation into the hours worked by private enterprise lorry drivers and the condition of their lorries.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes, Sir. I have seen the newspaper cutting which the hon. Member was good enough to send me. It does not identify any case in which a charge could be brought. I do not accept the implication that there is a general disregard for the law either by private enterprise employers or by their employees.

Mr. Callaghan

As this was not a newspaper cutting except in a technical sense—it was a detailed newspaper article written by a special investigator for a reputable newspaper in the North of England—does not the Minister think that he has a responsibility for doing a little more than dismiss it in this way? Does not the article reinforce the allegations which are made constantly to us? Has he not a responsibility for asking his licensing authorities throughout the country to go into these matters to see how well-founded these charges are?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman knows that the article, which is most interesting, contains no specific allegations on which proceedings could be brought, because it does not identify individual cases. It is rather a flimsy foundation for a general charge against both sides of an important industry. But my licensing authorities are always anxious to secure that the law is observed, and work extremely hard to that end.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Is the Minister aware that in all the technical Press—whether it be "Motor Transport" or "Headlight" or any of the other papers—there have appeared recently a large number of cases indicating that there is a breach of the law in this respect? Is he deceiving himself into believing that there has not been an increase in this practice since the 1953 Act came into force?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As I have said, I am always ready to consider evidence in respect of particular breaches of the law, but the hon. Member knows perfectly well that it is not possible to proceed in this kind of matter, involving possible prosecutions, on the basis of general allegations, however sincere.

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