HC Deb 21 May 1958 vol 588 cc1289-91
32. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware that Section 19 (1) of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, says that no driver may drive for more than a total of 11 hours in any 24-hour period, commencing at 2 a.m.; and how he secures effective inspection.

Mr. Nugent

Yes, Sir. Inspection is carried out by the licensing authorities and the police who may examine the records of hours of work kept by employers and drivers and carry out spot checks of vehicles in service. Offenders are warned or prosecuted, and for frequent or wilful breaches of the law carriers' licences may be suspended or revoked.

Miss Burton

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware that we in the Midlands, and certainly in Coventry, feel that this inspection is really not adequate? Is he not further aware that it is a great benefit to employers if extra journeys are made, because they make more money out of them? Does he not also agree that the drivers on the return journeys are not mentally alert, which is a great danger to road safety?

Mr. Nugent

We have discussed this subject on more than one occasion, and I have told the House that I believe that the general standard of enforcement is reasonable.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Does not the Joint Parliamentary Secretary realise that a great number of hon. Members do not agree with his view and that we have presented evidence of the continued infringement of the law in this respect? Is not the evidence given by my hon. Friend further confirmation of the fact that there is an increasing number of instances of the law being breached regarding the keeping of records, and that there are an inadequate number of enforcement officers? Would he not agree that 100 officers is an inadequate number to deal with 1¼ million cars?

Mr. Nugent

I accept that we need to increase the number of enforcement officers, and we are taking measures to do that this summer. Inevitably there will be some breaches of the regulations of this kind, but I maintain that the general level of enforcement is reasonable.

Mr. Langford-Holt

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for Questions to be put down asking the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he knows the law which it is is his responsibility to administer?

Mr. Speaker

I think it is open to hon. Members to plumb the depths of any Ministerial omniscience.

33. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware of violations of Section 19 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, by operators of road transporter vehicles engaged in the transporting of cars from various Coventry car factories to different parts of the country; and what steps he proposes to take, following the information given to him on 30th April last by the hon. Member for Coventry, South, on this matter.

Mr. Watkinson

I have written to the hon. Lady about the alleged irregularities to which she refers; these are under inquiry, and I will let her know the result as soon as possible.

Miss Burton

While being appreciative of the letter which I received from the Minister, may I ask whether he feels able to give publicity to that reply, that the licensing authority will do everything to bring these inquiries to a successful conclusion? Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the evidence submitted to him by the Transport and General Workers Union secretary in Coventry gives chapter and verse in support of the action which I and my hon. Friends have been pressing?

Mr. Watkinson

As the hon. Lady knows, the evidence which she supplied is being checked and, if it is found to be accurate, the necessary action will be taken.