HC Deb 04 November 1959 vol 612 cc999-1001
1. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Minister of Transport what action he proposes to take to protect the public from excessive noise caused by exhausts of motor vehicles of various classes.

21. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Transport the present position regarding the measurement of noise, the inspection of complaints regarding noise, and the present legal position regarding persistent and spasmodic noise originating from road vehicles, including motor cycles.

The Minister of Transport (Mr. Ernest Marples)

The law requires all motor vehicles to be fitted with efficient silencers, which must be maintained in good condition at all times. Enforcement of the law is a matter for the police. My technical officers are collaborating with the International Standards Organisation to establish practical methods of measuring traffic noise. New methods of measurement were provisionally agreed at a meeting in Stuttgart last summer. In common with other countries, we are testing the methods proposed. We are arranging with representatives of manufacturers of all the main classes of motor vehicle for a new series of noise tests to be carried out on a wide range of production vehicles. The first group of tests is to start this week.

Mr. Snow

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this problem is not, as some suppose, confined to the very large urban areas, but, indeed, is a nuisance and a danger to health in quite small industrial areas? I am thinking particularly of motor cycles which have silencers which are deliberately designed not to be silent. Secondly, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has any contact with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health regarding the effect on health of excessive persistent or spasmodic noise?

Mr. Marples

The answer to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is "No, Sir, I have not," but I will have it. I will ask my right hon. and learned Friend what he thinks. The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is that I agree that there is nothing more maddening than the shrill staccato noise of a motor cycle, particularly when the silencer has been taken off.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Can my right hon. Friend say whether as a result of the present series of tests, which I understood him to say manufacturers were carrying out, it should be possible to get to a definite decibel standard of noise rather than leave it to be a generalisation?

Mr. Marples

I agree with my hon. Friend. I went this week to the Ministry's research depôt at Hendon where I saw an efficient machine for testing the noise of motor cycles, and if any hon. Member would like to see the machine for himself I would be very glad to arrange it.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is it not quite clear that all these remedies, tests and theories depend entirely on the degree to which they are enforced by the police? May I ask my right hon. Friend what arrangements he has in mind, or in prospect, for seeing that the police carry out the law and drop heavily on persons who create excessive noise?

Mr. Marples

I am very glad to say that the question of the police is not one for my Ministry.

Mr. Nabarro

There is too much noise in this House.

Mr. Marples

We shall have to have my hon. Friend tested at the research station at Hendon.