HC Deb 15 June 1955 vol 542 cc578-9
29. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware that the seriousness of many accidents could be mitigated if crash helmets were worn by all motor cyclists; and if he will make it an obligation on motor cyclists to wear them.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I fully realise the value of crash helmets, and I take every opportunity of encouraging motor cyclists to wear them. The response is increasingly satisfactory and I do not contemplate compulsion.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that there are 18,000 road accidents of this character every year, that 1,300 of them are fatal, and that it costs £4½ million to treat these accidents in the hospitals? If these crash helmets were used, we should save a large amount of this money on hospital treatment.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I fully share the hon. Member's desire to encourage the use of these helmets. Where we differ is that while the hon. Member favours compulsion, I prefer to rely—with, I think, increasing success—on the good sense of motor cyclists generally.

Mr. Nicholson

Am I right in thinking that the main objection of my right hon. Friend's Department is that an undue burden would be thrown upon the police? If so, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there appears to be something hypocritical in constant statements by the Government that they desire to reduce road accidents while they will not impose the simple machinery which would be involved and which, as the hon. Member has said, would save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of injuries?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If one can, as one can in this case, make progress by encouragement and by the good sense of those concerned, I do not think that there is justification for going over to compulsion.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

As this is a safety measure and saves lives, as the Minister admits, surely it is not right to allow those who have no sense to imperil themselves and others.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The right hon. Gentleman raises profound issues almost of philosophy, but I am here concerned with the very practical question of what is the best method of encouraging the increased use of these helmets, and my view remains that compulsion is not the best method.