HC Deb 21 March 1956 vol 550 cc1227-9
14. Mr. Kershaw

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether in view of the continued high rate of fatal accidents involving motor cyclists, he will now make obligatory the wearing of suitable crash helmets by motor cyclists.

Mr. Molson

While I agree that suitable crash helmets afford useful protection, we prefer to rely on education and propaganda to persuade motor cyclists to wear them.

Mr. Kershaw

Is my hon. Friend aware that a situation in which there are 18,000 accidents a year, killing 1,300 people, at a cost of, perhaps, £4 million to £5 million in hospital expenses, cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely? Will he not look at it again to see whether, for the protection of other people as well of these young men, the wearing of crash helmets should not be made compulsory?

Mr. Molson

There are very great difficulties in enforcing any regulation of that kind. At the present time there is a most satisfactory increase in the proportion of motor cyclists who are wearing these helmets. Four years ago practically no civilian motor cyclists were wearing crash helmets, but now about one-third are doing so.

Mr. Ernest Davies

If the Joint Parliamentary Secretary is loath to enforce the wearing of these helmets, will he encourage their use by requesting his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remove the Purchase Tax from them?

Mr. Molson

I do not think that the small amount of Purchase Tax has any real effect upon the number of helmets worn.

Mr. Page

In connection with this increased rate of motor cycle accidents, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he has yet received the report of the Departmental Committee to which he referred this question? If he has, will he make the report public?

Mr. Molson

I have not yet received the report on this particular question.

Mr. Stokes

Does not the Minister think that the best way to get more crash helmets worn would be to encourage insurance companies to put up the premiums of those who do not wear the helmets?

Mr. Molson

It would be extremely difficult for the insurance companies to do that. I have already indicated that the police would find it difficult to enforce any regulation of that kind.