HC Deb 26 March 1958 vol 585 cc417-9
16. Mr. Darling

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why heavy goods vehicles are not included in the list of vehicles for compulsory tests of roadworthiness.

Mr. Watkinson

It is our experience that heavy goods vehicles are generally better maintained than light goods vehicles, and they are already liable to inspection under the provisions of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933. Although we propose to start with private cars, motor cycles and goods vehicles of up to 30 cwt. unladen, when the scheme is successfully under way I will consider extending it to other classes of vehicles, such as those which the hon. Member has in mind.

Mr. Darling

While the Minister's statement about the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles may be correct, may I ask whether he is aware that a number of vehicles operated for general haulage purposes are in a shocking state of repair and, because of difficulties of inspection, are not caught up by the provisions of the 1933 Act? Will he consider speeding up the road tests for these heavy vehicles as soon as possible?

Mr. Watkinson

I wonder if the hon. Member is aware that we inspect over 100,000 vehicles a year under the 1933 Act.

Mr. Nabarro

Would my right hon. Friend include in all future tests of roadworthiness for goods vehicles a provision that the emission of black smoke due to the poor condition of the engine, which is already an offence and is noxious to people living in built-up areas, should be taken into account by his inspectors?

Mr. Watkinson

I will look into the point made by my hon. Friend. As he says, it is already an offence under certain circumstances, but I will certainly look at the point. I think that it is a valuable one.

38. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will assign officers of his Department to the testing stations for motor vehicles to be operated by private garages to ensure that consistent standards of inspection are objectively applied.

Mr. Watkinson

This would not be practicable in view of the number of staff that would be required. However, the standards with which all testing stations must comply will be laid down by my Department, and the garages will be subject to regular inspection to ensure that uniform standards for the tests are applied. I am very anxious that all proper safeguards should be applied to the testing procedure.

Mr. Davies

Is the Minister aware that there is an increasing opinion that garages will not act disinterestedly in regard to the testing of motor vehicles? Did he see the leader in The Times yesterday which took that point of view? Would not it be far more effective and efficient if the testing took place by the Minister's own inspectors rather than that it should be delegated to private garages, which have their own axes to grind in the matter?

Mr. Watkinson

I think the hon. Gentleman's general distrust of private garages is misplaced. I propose to lay a White Paper as soon as possible putting forward the details of the whole of this testing scheme to the House of Commons, when I think it will be seen that it is the best solution. Incidentally, as the hon. Gentleman knows, any municipality that wants to join in this scheme is welcome to do so, providing that it provides its own testing stations. The White Paper will set out the safeguards, and I think the House will see that they are quite adequate to ensure, in the motorists' interests, a fair deal.

27. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will include road steam traction engines in the regulations for vehicle tests on the same basis as veteran-type cars and motor cycles.

Mr. Nugent

We intend to limit the tests initially to motor cycles, private cars and goods vehicles not exceeding 30 cwt. unladen weight, but I will consider the hon. Member's suggestion if and when the scheme is extended to cover heavier types of vehicles.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is the Minister aware that his decision to regulate tests so that rallies for veteran cars and motor cycles may take place is much appreciated and that it would be a great pity if by regulations he did not allow the steam traction engines to steam up the roads now and again on their charitable occasions?

Mr. Nugent

I will bear that in mind.