HC Deb 01 February 1956 vol 548 cc898-900
5. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware that the Midland Federation of Road Safety Committees is disturbed at his action in refusing grant of any road safety publicity expenditure for 1955–56 which is in excess of the expenditure for the previous year; and, in view of the smallness of the amount to be saved and of the rate of increase in accidents, if he will reconsider his decision.

Mr. Watkinson

I am aware of the concern expressed by the Midland Federation of Road Safety Committees. I recognise the great value of the road safety campaigns run by local authorities, but I am afraid I cannot increase road safety grants for the current year ending on 31st March.

Miss Burton

While I am glad that the Minister appreciates the anxiety that his has caused, may I ask whether his Answer means that after 31st March he will feel able, as in the past, to agree to any realistic increase of grant in this respect, particularly in view of the alarming increase in road accidents?

Mr. Watkinson

I will certainly consider very carefully what the hon. Lady has said.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

In view of the appalling increase in road accidents, could the Minister not reconsider, with the Treasury, the desirability of increasing by very small amounts grants for these active and most useful campaigns by local authorities, and not wait many months before taking the necessary steps in that direction?

Mr. Watkinson

I do not think, perhaps, that the right hon. Gentleman heard my last words. I am only concerned at the moment with the current year which ends on 31st March, and I cannot do anything in these remaining weeks.

12. Mr. Page

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many local authorities have not set up local road safety committees; and what percentage that number bears to the total number of local authorities empowered to set up such committees.

Mr. Molson

One hundred and seventy-four local authorities or 13½ per cent. of the total.

Mr. Page

Is there nothing else that my hon. Friend can do to persuade those local authorities which have not set up road safety committees to set up these very valuable committees?

Mr. Molson

We regard them as extremely important and valuable from the point of view of road safety, and we are doing all we can, through the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, to encourage local authorities to do so. I hope that the publicity which my hon. Friend's Question has given to this matter will result in some other local authorities setting up these committees.

32. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what plans he has for making the National Road Safety Campaign more effective.

Mr. Watkinson

I am planning to continue the National Road Safety Campaign through the local Road Safety Committees set up by local authorities and with the help of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. In addition, I intend from time to time to contribute to the general campaign by means such as the specially written booklet on "Sense and Safety," which was published on 17th January. Another immediate measure is the free distribution of the Highway Code for one year to people renewing their substantive driving licences. This starts today.

Mr. Greenwood

Can the Minister say whether he has read the statement issued by Mr. Maurice Rickard on resigning as publicity consultant to the National Road Safety Campaign? In view of the lamentably small number of local authorities that have set up road safety committees—as disclosed in his earlier answer to the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page)—does not the Minister think that some more centralised road safety publicity campaign is necessary?

Mr. Watkinson

I know Mr. Rickard's views, and those of many other people who naturally feel very worried about the number of deaths on the roads. I shall certainly look very carefully into the point raised by the hon. Member.

Mr. Greenwood

Will the Minister take as a precedent the campaign carried out by the Labour Government in 1947?