§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Rupert Speir (Hexham)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
As the Long Title makes clear, this is a Bill designed to control noise with a view to its abatement. At the outset, I wish to make it abundantly evident that the intention is not noise abolition, but noise abatement. Our aim is to control noise and to curb it. I realise that there are people who, in a matter of this kind, may be regarded as extremists or even fanatics, and I welcome the opportunity to make clear that my aim is to control, to curb, to restrict, and to reduce noise.
I believe that this can be done effectively and without any great difficulty or hardship to anyone by the means proposed in the Bill. To those who think that the provisions do not go far enough, that the Measure is not sufficiently severe, that we have not faced the problem, I say that I believe that they are mistaken and that they under-estimate the powers which the Bill contains. Obviously, there are gaps, and some rather glaring ones, including aircraft, aerodromes, railways, ice cream vendors. But I believe that the Bill, as drafted, will enable both local authorities and private individuals to take action in a simple, easy and cheap form if anyone causes excessive, unreasonable or unnecessary noise. I suggest, therefore, that the Bill, if accepted, will enable us to take a step in the right direction. Above all, I believe that the Bill is workable. I consider that it; provisions represent a happy compromise between the views of those who would go too far and those who think that not sufficient is being done.
1572 It would be useless for Parliament to seek to intervene in such a complicated, difficult and universal problem if it were out of step with public opinion. But, judging from my postbag in recent months, I believe that we are supported by public opinion. I am sure that public opinion now demands action by Parliament. During recent months I have received dozens of letters from members of the public unknown to me, all urging that the Bill should find its way on to the Statute Book. I am pleased to say that I have not had a single letter against the idea behind the Bill. I therefore believe that we can count upon public support and sympathy.
The noises about which people have written complaining to me are not only legion, but extremely varied in character. I have had complaints of about seventy-five different kinds of noise. They are too many to mention here. Most of the letters I have received have been sensible letters, moderate in tone and some of them have been really very pathetic, showing that people were almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of various kinds of noise. I should say that without any doubt the chief cause of complaint in modern life is the unnecessary noise caused by motor-cycles, coupled, of course, with the noise from scooters, and mopeds.
That, undoubtedly, is the principal source of complaint at present, but it is closely followed by complaints about noisy wireless sets owned by neighbours, about the slamming of car doors, particularly in the early hours of the morning, about the barking of dogs, on which I have had a number of complaints, about the continuous ringing of burglar alarms, which are sometimes allowed to ring continuously through a weekend, and also about the chimes of ice cream vendors. These are a few of the many complaints I have received in recent months.
A Bill of this kind cannot hope to curb all noises, or to eliminate all noise. Some people will be disappointed even if the Bill finds its way on to the Statute Book. Certainly, a Bill of this kind contains no magical powers. It will not prevent people from snoring, nor prevent the sparrows from twittering. On the other hand, I do not believe that a Bill of this kind will seriously inconvenience anyone. It is certainly not my intention to act 1573 as a killjoy. I believe that we must accept the fact, as the Bill does, that what is music to some people is an infernal nuisance and a noise to others.
To a certain extent, whether we have the Bill on the Statute Book or not, we must learn to live and let live. We must also await the outcome of the deliberations of the Committee which the Government have set up to study the whole problem of noise. We must await its report before we come forward with even more drastic proposals for action than those envisaged in the Bill. Obviously, however, that Committee—which has not yet started its deliberations—is bound to take a considerable time to study such a complex problem as this. In the meantime, I think that it would be worth while to take some steps to try to control the situation and to improve it. If we do not take action in the near future, I think that most people would agree that in this second half of the twentieth century the situation will soon become altogether intolerable.
In our fight against excessive noise, I think that we ought to employ three weapons: first, education and propaganda; secondly, we ought to go in for more insulation and research—a great deal is being done now, both here and abroad—and, thirdly, we ought to make use of legislation. The first thing to attempt to do is to make everyone a little more thoughtful and considerate for their neighbours and others. I am sure we ought to try to make people more noise-conscious than they have been hitherto. I believe that the mere fact that Parliament saw fit to place a Noise Abatement Act on the Statute Book, quite apart from the provisions of such an Act, would tend to make people more noise conscious. For that reason alone, I hope that the House may feel able to support this Bill.
Some people might assume that a Bill of this kind is rather novel, that this is a new subject for Parliament to tackle, but, in fact, there are plenty of precedents for Parliament seeking to intervene, both here and in other countries. As long ago as 1839, Parliament saw fit to pass an Act, limited to London, to control the cries of street vendors and noises made by horns and such-like instruments. Another Act was passed in 1574 1872 to deal with steam whistles. More recently, in this century, we have had a variety of road traffic Acts which, inter alia, have tried to ensure that motor vehicles and motor-cycles do not make an unnecessary or excessive noise. Some local authorities have had special powers given to them to deal with unreasonable noise.
I suggest the time has now come for us to take a step forward and to bring our legislation in this respect up to date. The best way of doing this is by amendment of and an addition to Part III of the Public Health Act, 1936, so as to makeExcessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance or an annoyance shall be a statutory nuisanceunder that Act and liable to be dealt with by local authorities or, subject to certain safeguards, by private individuals. If any hon. Member cares to glance at that Act he will see that the procedure laid down for abating nuisances is clear and simple. I believe most local authorities have found it very effective.
This proposal in Clause 1 may not be altogether all-embracing. I admit it has some gaps, but, on the other hand, it is fairly wide and I think it should cover a very large area of the problem. It will be seen that under the proviso to Clause 1 it is open to anyone about whom a complaint is made to enter a defencethat he has used the best practical means for preventing or mitigating the noise having regard to the cost and to other relevant circumstances.I think it will be agreed that that is a very fair and reasonable provision. Indeed, some people may think it goes a little too far.
It will also be seen that under subsection (2) of the Clause British Railways have an escape clause. Just why that is, I am not altogether sure. Nor am I sure that it ought to remain, but I am told that it is standard practice and that there are many precedents for the railways having a statutory let-out. British Railways are under attack from so many different directions at present that I should be loath to add to their burdens at present. If they give too many toots, then, like the old lady with the ear trumpet—one more toot and they will be "oot."
1575 Apart from the proposal contained in Clause 1 to make noise a statutory nuisance, the only other major proposal in the Bill is to place specific restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in the streets. It will be seen from Clause 2 (2) that it is proposed that there should be a general ban on the use of loudspeakers between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. I ought to make it clear that this ban will, of course, apply to hon. Members of this House equally with members of the public and that at election times they will have their hours of loudspeaking controlled.
Some hon. Members may welcome that proposal; others may regret it; and some may think that the hours should be varied. I should like to hear the views of hon. Members on this suggestion. For my part, I think that it is a highly doubtful proposition whether one gains more votes than one loses by bellowing raucously down a loudspeaker on the eve of the poll or during the course of an election campaign.
It will also be seen that by the first subsection (2)—which is a mistake and should read subsection (1)—a ban is to be placed on the use of loudspeakers for advertising purposes. An exception has been proposed in favour of electrical chimes now frequently used by vendors of ice cream, provided these chimes are not operated so as to act as to a nuisance. I ought to say that since the Bill has been published I have had a very large number of complaints about the misuse of these electrical chimes by salesmen with ice cream vans. I am told that, particularly in residential estates in the London area, these chimes are an infernal nuisance, especially on Sunday afternoons.
Unless ice cream salesmen mend their ways we shall have to consider, perhaps in Committee, whether this exception in their favour ought to be maintained. When these chimes are loud, or overloud, I believe that they become a far greater menace than any noise caused by church bells, or even by bagpipes. I hope that ice cream vendors will take warning and beware.
Among other things, the House will note that it is suggested that the Bill should apply to Scotland and the Scilly Isles, but not to Ireland. I am a great believer in the truth of the saying, "Silence is golden," in more ways than 1576 one. Recently, I had the temerity to append my name to a Motion suggesting that the speeches of hon. Members should be curtailed, so I think that I ought to practise what I preach and come to my conclusion.
[That this House, concerned with the large number of honourable Members who are unable to catch Mr. Speaker's eye in major debates, considers that in major debates speeches in this House should be restricted to thirty minutes from the front benches and fifteen minutes from back benches, including Members of Her Majesty's Privy Council.]
I do so by saying that the aims which have inspired the Bill are the same aims as inspired the Litter Act, which I had the privilege of sponsoring in the last Parliament. We in Britain are the fortunate inheritors from our forefathers of a lovely country and it behoves us to do our best to keep Britain a tidy, a pleasant and a peaceful country. That is the primary aim of the Bill. I do not pretend that a short Bill like this can solve all our problems. I do not suggest that it will enable us to achieve all our objectives, but I believe that it is a step in the right direction and a big step in that direction. I hope, therefore, that the Bill will commend itself to the House. In short, I hope that it will "go with a bang."
§ 11.25 a.m.
§ Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)
I am very pleased to follow the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir), and to congratulate him on the way in which he has introduced the Bill. I think that we have all enjoyed his modest speech and I certainly offer him my congratulations.
The Bill seeks to control noise. The hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. R. Harris), the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), and other hon. Members on this side of the House, probably receive more letters about noise than any other hon. Members. Unfortunately, the noise from which my constituents and those of other hon. Members suffer is from aircraft. Aircraft are not mentioned in the Bill. I expect that the hon. Member for Hexham would have encountered difficulties in getting the Government to agree to introduce a provision to eliminate aircraft noise.
§ Mr. Hunter
I notice that the hon. Member agrees with me.
Noise is a problem which is growing rapidly not only in my constituency, but in those of other hon. Members around London Airport, and also in other parts of the country, and the Bill therefore gives us an opportunity today of voicing I he grievances of our constituents. This twentieth century has brought many inventions. But it has brought speed and noise, and the Bill makes an effort to eliminate some of the noises which irritate people in business, in work, and in their homes. Peace and quietness is often one of the blessings of life.
The Bill seeks to eliminate the great worry of many people who suffer when a van is going round with a loudspeaker in the day time, selling ice cream or other commodities. The residents can tell the vendor with a loudspeaker van to get away in no uncertain manner, but they cannot do that with a jet airliner. Therefore, it is on that problem that I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to impress upon the Government the need to increase research into noise abatement from aircraft engines. I believe that that is the solution. If it were taken up with B.O.A.C., B.E.A., and the independent airline operators, the Government could step up research with the aircraft manufacturers to produce an aero engine which eliminates noise.
I find it hard to believe that in these days, when we have inventions of which Britain is proud and brilliant engineers, if the money is spent on aircraft engine could not be produced which would eliminate excessive noise. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to impress upon the Government the urgent need of finding a solution so far as aircraft are concerned and that research towards this end must be speeded up and increased.
We had a debate on Wednesday in which the Minister said that he expected that there would be an enormous expansion in civil air transport during the next few years. I think that the present-day figure for world travel in aircraft is 69 million passengers a year, of whom many millions come to and fly from this country. Looking ahead over the next ten years, that number 1578 could easily become well over 100 million. The problem is becoming more important.
Recently, B.E.A. applied to the Minister for permission to fly jet airlines at night, and I understand that this week the Minister is having noise tests made at night. The prospect of having jet airliners flying at night is worrying people whose sleep will be disturbed and who will find it difficult to carry out their work the next day. I therefore ask the Minister to urge the Government to find a solution to the aircraft problem.
The Bill will help in many ways. I have received complaints from night workers, railway workers and engineers on night shift that their sleep is disturbed by loudspeakers and by the chimes of the ice cream vendors to whom the hon. Member for Hexham referred. The Bill will put a stop to some nuisances. I do not think that the prohibition on loudspeaker vans will cause difficulty at elections. Very few candidates go round the streets with vans after 9 p.m. Mostly it is not later than 5 p.m. I do not think that this will have any effect on election activities. It will remove some of the loudspeaker noise after 9 o'clock, about which people complain.
Nevertheless, the great problem today is that of aircraft noise. If we can find a solution to that we shall help not only my constituents, but people in many other parts of Britain. This is a modest Bill and I am pleased to give it my support. I trust that we can improve it during the Committee stage should it receive a Second Reading.
§ 11.32 a.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
It may seem a little contradictory to make a speech in favour of silence, but I shall be as quiet and as brief as I can. As the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) said, my constituency suffers more from aircraft noise than most constituencies in the country. In South Bucks we have a considerable Quaker community, and the members of this community have the admirable practice of sitting in their meeting house in long periods of silence until someone thinks he has something worth saying. I always think that that is an admirable practice. I will not go as far as to 1579 suggest that it should be pursued in the House, because it might have a very serious effect upon our debates.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) has today had something worth saying. This is a truly admirable Bill, which makes a first-class double with his Litter Bill. In a way, noise is another source of litter. One of our objectives in putting forward the Bill is to encourage precisely that realisation in the public mind.
The hon. Member for Feltham, some of my hon. Friends and myself have constantly worried Ministers about noise from aircraft or from one source or another. I well remember my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), who at that time was Minister of Transport, saying at the end of an Adjournment debate, in which we had been getting at him on this subject, that although we had kept him up late that night he hoped we should continue to do so on many future occasions because the only way in which there would ever be any action against noise was by the persistence of private Members.
It was a surprisingly frank thing for a Minister to say, but my right hon. Friend was absolutely right. The fact is that noise does not worry any Government Department. I know that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government will tell us that his Department is full of worry about it. I know of many Government Departments which have had this matter under active consideration for many years and would continue to consider it for many years more were it not for such pressures as my right hon. Friend brings today with his Bill. It is private Members and private people outside the House who must wage the campaign against unreasonable noise.
The Bill is a modest beginning, made while the Wilson Committee is sitting. Some hon. Members may wonder why it is modest and why it does not attempt, for instance, to deal with the great problem of aircraft noise; but the chairman of that Committee has been appointed and perhaps my hon. Friend will tell us today that the other members have been chosen. They will carry this work forward in the months ahead. 1580 Committees, though they can be very helpful, can also be very dangerous, however; they can be an excuse for inaction. It is most fortunate that my hon. Friend used his luck in the Ballot to give us some action precisely at the moment when the Committee is starting its deliberations. My hon. Friend combines an affinity for good causes with the peculiarly Roman virtue of felicitas. The Leader of the Opposition will need a little of that virtue in the next few weeks.
On the face of it, the Bill may seem a little circumspect, but if hon. Members consider its implications fully they will see that it is far-reaching. It could certainly include traffic noise in its purview, although traffic noise is not mentioned in it. It is true that it is the local authority which will prosecute under it, under the terms of the Public Health Act, but inasmuch as the motor-cycle or other traffic must be in some local authority area, it is covered by the provisions of the Bill.
In my opinion, motor-cycles are the worst offenders of all. One of the difficulties about the problem, as my hon. Friend said, is that noise is largely a subjective matter. The young man on the motor-cycle does not think it is noise at all; he thinks it is a beautiful sound. That is true all the way through. Most noise is caused by thoughtlessness. I remember when I was an undergraduate at Oxford—I shall return there as a graduate tomorrow for a different purpose—that next door to my lodgings there were six spaniel puppies which made work impossible for several months. There were other things which made work difficult at that time, but the puppies were the worst. I am sure that to the woman who owned them their yelping was sweet music, but it was certainly not sweet music to me.
This is a problem which we have to face in trying to deal with a subject of this kind by legislation. It is a fact that there are certain technical difficulties in respect of aircraft and some other noises, but most noise does not depend on technical difficulties at all and is simply due to the fact that the people who are making it either regard it as inevitable or do not think that it matters very much. That is at the base of the trouble.
1581 I am sure that the man who is going round with an ice cream tricycle will find it hard to understand that his chimes can annoy anyone, because they are his chimes, but I very much hope that in Committee those chimes will be stopped. I know that my hon. Friend pointed out, quite rightly, that they are only permitted provided they are operated so as not to be a nuisance, but that again is a very subjective matter. I remember Judge Eavengey at Clerkenwell County Court having to try a case of nuisance on the ground of noise. It was suggested that there had been excessive whistling. The judge said that in his opinion all whistling was excessive. That is my view of ice cream van chimes, and I believe that my view is very widely shared. I shall be tempted to move an Amendment to exclude that exemption.
I very much agree with my hon. Friend that what we are fighting is an attitude of mind. Our whole attack should be shaped with that in mind. In a wide area of modern society noise is accepted as something which naturally accompanies activity. If one goes on a building site, one expects to find noise. Noise is considered to be almost the symbol of activity and prosperity and of men at work. Better examples of unnecessary noise will be found on building sites than anywhere else in the world. The classic case of unnecessary noise is the mortar mixer. There is no reason why a mortar mixer should make any perceptible noise. It has a very small and weak motor. The noise does not come from the cement being turned round, but from the exhaust of a very small motor which is not silenced because mortar mixers never are silenced. That is about the beginning and the end of it. There is no technical difficulty about silencing mortar mixers. Yet many people have spent hours of unhappiness having to listen to them.
In general, one can say that the noise and bustle of work is largely unnecessary. The pace of work could be greatly increased, the quality of work could be greatly improved and, at the same time, the strain of work would be greatly reduced, if on building sites, in factories and other places of work there were silence, or something approaching it.
1582 In silence there is repose and refreshment, but there is also much more than that. There are efficiency, safety, concentration of thought and, perhaps above all, there is the possibility of sustained and calm thought. It often seems to me that this subject on which we make such a modest start this morning, a subject which is often wrapped up with technical considerations and almost neurotic complaints from sufferers, is one of the broad questions of the second half of the twentieth century. I do not think my hon. Friend overstated his case in the least on that.
It is in faculty of thought that the great conflict between East and West, between Communism and the free world, will be decided. If we wash out of our minds every thought which cannot survive the clatter of modern civilisation, I would not take it for granted that we shall win that conflict. In a noise-ridden world, it is the dominant preoccupations of sex and greed which alone can survive. Many of the problems which we have to face on the general social plane are based upon the constant distraction of noise of the world in which we live.
My hon. Friend makes a contribution to our social progress by moving the Second Reading this morning. The Bill is a landmark. We shall see many further ones during the years ahead. Our principal prize, as it is our principal object, is to see a change in general public opinion. Observers who have been to the United States have been struck by the silence of the massed traffic in that great country, simply because it is taken for granted that motor vehicles there shall be better silenced. When I hear a sports car going through our streets with the tremendous roar which accompanies it, my main feeling is one of almost embarrassment that a grown-up should seek to show off in such a childish way. I feel that he must be rather lacking in distinction in other ways if he needs compensation in that way.
But, as my hon. Friend rightly said, we must avoid being eccentric or strident in trying to stop noise. We do not need to be strident. In the past this has been rather a lone battle, but now the tide is plainly running with us. The making of unreasonable demands would greatly alienate the public sympathy which this cause has already won. Therefore, it is 1583 right for us to go ahead cautiously, step by step, making concessions which may seem large at this stage, but which are valuable in keeping public opinion always fully up to us so that our next step may be the more facilitated.
We owe a very great debt to the Boeing and the T.U.104, which by their almost cynical disregard of the comfort of whole populations have made possible even this modest advance today. We should make no mistake about it: without the Boeing the Bill would not be before the House today with any real prospect of success.
Mr. Speaker, we do not forget the Air Navigation Act or the Road Traffic Act. By way of the Wilson Committee, by way of technical research, and the development of public opinion, we shall at long last approach these citadels. Today in my hon. Friend's Bill we make a significant start upon that journey, and I am indeed happy to give it my support.
§ 11.47 a.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I should like to add my congratulations to those already expressed to the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir). The discussion so far has rather disappointed me because of the sense of lack of urgency which it evinced. While agreeing with everything which was said by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), it is rather important to note that he talked in terms of the modest start being made towards reaching the final citadels, but this is in fact, a matter of extreme urgency in many cases.
The hon. Member for Hexham made one reference about which I was not very clear. He mentioned bagpipes. That might well have been a slur on that noble instrument, but it recalled to me one story about noise that may have relevance to the discussion. The story was about a young Scotsman who came to London. He was warned by his father about the perils of the great city. He booked a room in a hotel. When going into his room at night, he noticed a very attractive young blonde going into the next room. A few minutes later he saw a very attractive brunette going into the room on the other side.
The following day he wrote to his father and said that he had a nice room in the hotel, but, unfortunately, in the 1584 middle of the night there were tappings on the wall of his room from one side, then tappings from the other side, and, finally, tappings from both sides. He told his father that he completely ignored them, and carried on practising his bagpipes. This might be called noise in a worth-while cause, but, unfortunately, one has to consider the effects upon other people as well.
Much noise is entirely unnecessary, as the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South said. He referred to mortar mixers. Most of us who had experience of the traffic noise in Paris until a few years ago, and the sudden complete change when the ban on the motor hooter was imposed, have been struck by the fact that not only did this ban make life much more tolerable for the Parisian and for people visiting Paris, but it made the movement of traffic much more efficient. I have tried to drive a car in the traffic at the great roundabout at the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and elsewhere, but have been completely bewildered by the noise. The very suppression of that traffic noise has added not only to the peace and calm of Paris, but to the efficient movement of the traffic—
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
I might add that it also resulted in a sensational reduction in accidents, because drivers were no longer able to go across road intersections on their horns.
§ Mr. Hynd
Of course—that was part of the efficiency. Traffic noise like that results in a single noise not meaning anything. The hooter loses its value.
I want to draw more attention to an aspect of this problem that was only touched on by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South. Much has been said about the bells on ice cream vendors' vehicles. I detest them, though they are but a very small incursion into the peace of an area. I am completely with those who would ban these things altogether. Although the noise is not great, it is irritating, and disturbs a great section of the middle-class suburban population—although that is a very good thing, perhaps, because some of these residents are now beginning to realise what noise can mean.
It has also been pointed out that one of the things that has inspired the Bill 1585 has been the new noise caused by aircraft. I fully sympathise with those living in the vicinity of aerodromes and have these new aircraft going about overhead. The noise is very annoying, disturbing, nerve-racking and all the rest, but how many hon. Members coming from areas other than the large industrial cities appreciate that even the aircraft noise at the great aerodromes today is as nothing compared with the constant, incessant noise of machines drumming, hammering, whistling and drilling that has been going on there for many, many years—
§ Mr. Hunter
Surely my hon. Friend will agree that these great aircraft go over people's houses, and that the noise is carried right into their homes.
§ Mr. Hynd
Of course it is, but in a moment I propose to show how the noise of industrial machinery not only goes into people's homes, but even destroys articles in the houses, making it impossible for people to preserve their electric lights, or their radio, or television sets.
I will instance industrial noise accompanied by the throwing of rocks through people's windows, when old dumps, machinery, and so on, are being blown up. That has gone on in our industrial areas for years. Protests have been made, but there is no law to prevent it in an area scheduled for heavy industry, and nobody has been able to do anything about it. However much these aircraft noises may disturb people, they are not nearly so bad as some of the worst of the industrial noises.
The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South spoke of a Quaker community. There are large "quaker" communities in the industrial areas; they have been quaking for years—those who have survived. There is no doubt that this problem must be tackled very urgently, and the Bill must not be regarded simply as the first step on a long trail.
For many years we fought, particularly in the industrial areas, for legislation to deal with the menace and nuisance of smoke. It took a long time to get any action, but eventually a Bill was brought in. Many of us were dissatisfied with its scope and effectiveness, but at least it was finally accepted, and 1586 something is being done. Whatever the shortcomings of the Clean Air Act, there have been quite marked changes in some areas that were previously menaced by smoke. Nothing has so far been done about noise, though noise is a menace even greater than smoke to those immediately affected in certain parts of our industrial areas.
I fully endorse all that has been said today about the noise from aircraft, but it may have proved to be a blessing in disguise. This new noise nuisance has certainly brought to the notice of many people who were formerly quite undisturbed about the sufferings of their fellow citizens in other parts just what excessive noise means. The more it is appreciated, the better.
I would like to know whether the hon. Member for Hexham thinks that this Bill, even substantially amended, or a similar Bill, will be likely to have any appreciable effect on the control of aircraft noise within the reasonable foreseeable future. I ask, because Clause I makes an offence ofExcessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise … Provided that. … the defendant … has used the best practicable means for preventing or mitigating the noise. …I gather from what has been said that the problem of aircraft noise lies not so much in people not using the most practical means to mitigate it, but that adequate means of doing so have not yet been found. I should like the hon. Member for Hexham to tell me whether there is more in the Bill than I have noted to give some immediate result.
§ Mr. Speir
As I understand, it is not that the Bill is defective, but that the Air Navigation Act of 1947 made a statutory exception of aircraft and aerodromes. They are exempted from being proceeded against for noise nuisance, and, if proceeded against under this Measure as drafted, they would be able to say so. That is not my doing, but that of the Government in 1947. I believe that the Air Navigation Order that followed on that Act has improved the situation, but aerodromes and aircraft are still exempt from prosecution for causing nuisance by noise.
§ Mr. Hynd
In short, the Bill does not affect the aircraft noise at all. That is something that can be dealt with in Committee, perhaps, but in view of what 1587 has been said about aircraft noise something should be done about it if the Bill gets its Second Reading, as I most certainly hope that it will I should now like to refer to industrial noise, and here I can speak for Sheffield, where it is a vital and urgent matter. Something drastic must be done if any relief is to be given to the people suffering from the conditions that I now propose to discuss. When I became Member for the Attercliffe division, in 1944, one of the first things with which I was asked to deal was a tremendous steam hammer which was engaged on important war production on one side of a street, while, on the other side, were rows of houses in which it was quite impossible for people to sleep, or even to rest.
Technical difficulties were involved. Sheffield is built on rock, and to dig a trench in the middle or the side of the street was not likely to be very effective. In that street, and those adjoining it, people were completely unable to rest at night. Children and old people were thrown out of their beds by the vibrations of the hammer. Electric light bulbs were destroyed, ornaments were knocked to the floor, and doctors said that they were unable to treat their patients in that area because they could not use their stethoscopes. I have masses of correspondence on this case, and so have the Government.
This machine was engaged on vital war production. None the less, because it happened during the war to be under Government control, the Minister of Supply at the time, Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, was so impressed by the effect of the noise upon the peace, welfare and health of the people living in these houses, and recognised that these people, too, were engaged on vital war production in the pits, steel works and engineering works, and that the war production on which they were engaged would suffer if they were unable to get proper rest, that he went so far as to close down the nig it shift on this machine.
The important lesson there is the lesson of the social cost which may be involved by economising on a particular operation. When the end of the war came, and Government control was no longer applicable, the hammer 1588 returned to night shift work and because there was no legislation to protect the people living in those houses the local authority eventually had to tear down the whole street and rehouse the occupants. That is the state of the law at present. Here was a whole street of good houses which had to be demolished and the people who had built up their homes there had to move to other districts because the hammer continued working.
There were, as a matter of fact, methods by which the noise and vibration could have been prevented. I went to Thornycroft's, at Southampton, with an expert to see a system which had been adopted there. I do not want to describe the system, but it was almost completely noise- and vibration-proof. I was told at Thornycroft's that although this system cost a considerable amount of money to install, the capital cost had been saved over and over again on the cost of the hammer shafts, electric bulbs and other installations, which did not have to be replaced two or three times a year, as was formerly the case. The firm in Sheffield, however, was not prepared to undertake the cost of installing this system.
From 1944 until the present day I have been bombarded with protests from people living in the streets adjoining factories in which are carried on massive operations of electric welding and riveting, shaking and banging throughout the night, and I have found it impossible to understand how these people put up with the disturbance. Recently, some old pit heaps were blown up near some houses. It was a necessary operation in order to level the ground for the purpose of making a playing field for an adjoining factory. From time to time explosions occurred and rocks were even going through people's windows.
The operation itself was, no doubt, necessary, but something quite simple could have been done to minimise the inconvenience if the inhabitants had been told in advance that an explosion was likely to occur in fifteen or twenty minutes' time. But nothing like that was done. Imagine the condition of the women in the locality in trying to cope with the blasting that went on, never knowing when lumps of rock would be thrown through their windows.
1589 That operation has now ceased, but there are others. Many have been going on for years, and people are now getting used to them. I could quote many cases. The seriousness of the situation is that nothing can be done about it. People can organise petitions, but petitions get nowhere. They can employ a solicitor to try to get an injunction against the firm responsible for the noise, but the firm is protected because it is in an area scheduled for heavy industry, and if the worse comes to the worst the houses will have to be pulled down so that the industry may continue.
Many firms who have been approached in connection with these noises have been extremely helpful. They have gone to great trouble and often considerable expense to try to stop, or at least minimise, the noise, and I have a pile of correspondence from grateful citizens who appreciate what these firms have done. In a recent case, British Road Services, who decided to use a certain route for their lorries from a centrol depôt, were responsible for causing disturbances in an area where there had previously been no disturbance. The alternative was to open the depôt to the main road where trams used to run day and night, so that noise was not unusual there. It only required a word to the manager of that depôt; he immediately said that B.R.S. wanted to be good neighbours and did not want to disturb anybody, and the depôt was completely reorganised so that there was no unavoidable noise to disturb the people living there. Again, there were grateful letters from constituents to the manager of the depôt and myself.
However, even where firms are prepared to co-operate, as in this case and in many others—there are some exceptions which are rather deplorable and it is these exceptions that, I should imagine, form the strongest case for legislation. There are, too, unfortunately, cases of malicious noise caused by the employees of firms, which could easily be avoided. One would have thought that the workers in a working-class area, knowing that they were disturbing working people living round about, and that the management had taken trouble and had gone to expense to minimise the disturbance, would be prepared to co-operate. Very often they are, but not always.
1590 I could quote several instances where groups of workers, sometimes in the mass, have apparently maliciously set out to annoy people who have complained, just because they have complained. There is nothing in the Bill, so far as I can see, to provide for such a situation where managements of firms may try their best to subdue noise and may install new machinery and methods to achieve this, but where this is nullified by malicious actions of their staff. I hope that if the Bill gets a Second Reading and goes into Committee something will be done to provide for the offence of maliciously causing unnecessary or excessive noise in breach of any regulations that may be laid down.
There is a reference to Clause 1 (2) to railways. Railways are excluded from the provisions of the Bill, although I am not clear why this should be, in view of the wording of Clause 1 in general. The Clause says thatExcessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance or an annoyance …shall be an offence. I should have thought that this provision would apply to railways. I have known cases where railway authorities have altered their arrangements to minimise noise.
For instance, when a watering point has been near to some houses, it has been moved elsewhere or else the schedule has been rearranged to make the movement of the traffic more silent. I should have thought that Clause I would have applied to railways. There is probably no real reason for having subsection (2), but no doubt this is a matter which can be discussed in further detail later, and I merely draw attention to it for the time being.
Finally, there is nothing in the Bill, so far as I can see, which provides for any method of measuring unnecessary or unreasonable noise. I believe that there are instruments by which this can be done. We have been able to find a method of measuring what is black smoke and what is not, and I understand that there are instruments for measuring noise. I suggest that this point might well be considered as the Bill progresses.
There is a town in Germany, Celle, where, eighteen months or two years ago, a byelaw was introduced to deal with 1591 unnecessary or offensive noise. In that town a system of regulating and checking the number of decibels created by various forms of noise has proved invaluable. Perhaps the Minister will let us know something about the present technical efficiency of methods of that kind, whether it would be practicable to use them in this country, and if not, perhaps he would make further inquiries about the experiments which are being carried on in places like Celle.
I will not take more of the time of the House, but I did wish to draw particular attention to the fact that excessive noise is being suffered year after year by those people who live in the vicinity of factories and who, sometimes, might just as well be trying to sleep on the factory floor during the working day for all the peace they get in their homes nearby. The amount of noise and disturbance created makes the matter urgent.
Some of the objectives sought under the Bill, in regard, for instance, to the silencing of modern aircraft, may be rather long-term objectives. I have drawn attention to a simple urgent problem. Because of its importance and urgency, because of the social cost involved, and because of the indirect cost to other industries and to our general production, I sincerely hope that the Government will accept the Bill and allow it to go to Committee, or, alternatively, that they will give the House an assurance that they themselves will produce a wider and more effective Bill to which we should all gladly give general support.
§ 12.10 p.m.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
Every hon. Member really ought to declare an interest in this Bill. There must be few of us who have not at one time or another cawed suffering ourselves by excessive noise, and there can certainly be none of us who has not at one time or another suffered from excessive noise. It is not, therefore, with a sense of guilt but rather with a sense of injury that I gave my name as one of the Bill's supporters and now speak in commending it to the House.
We have heard much about the pace of modern life, but until recently we heard nothing about the noisiness of modern living. Yet we could not have achieved the present pace without an increase in noise. The speeding up of 1592 transport methods has itself meant an increased use of noisy machines. The speeding up of a great variety of industrial processes has involved an increasing resort to noisy methods of mechanisation.
Perhaps our failure to recognise what has been creeping upon us is largely due to the fact that the effect of noise is really incalculable. One cannot tell what is the consequence on human health, for example, of excessive noise. No true assessment can be made of the number of cases of shattered nerves, strained heart, or even of mental exhaustion, which either wholly or partially are in any way attributable to excessive noise.
There are really two kinds of noise. One is steady, persistent and ever-present, the type of noise of which one is conscious only when it has stopped. There is, for instance, what we call the "hum" or "roar" of London's traffic, the regular throb of an engine in a factory, in a ship, or even in one's own home, the kind of noise to which, by the very regularity of it, one can become accustomed. Indeed, some people even look forward to such noise; there are those who find comfort in the noise of London and who would miss it sadly if all London were to become silent overnight.
The other kind of noise, the noise which, I think, we have more under consideration in this Bill, is the sudden, sharp and penetrating noise which can cut through the walls of one's home, the type of noise to which the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) referred. This kind of noise is no respecter of privacy or of feelings. It can strike deep into one's mind—the kind of noise of which we are becoming increasingly aware as it screams out of the sky or hurtles through the street, without any consideration for the effect it has upon people. This sort of noise can throw one completely off one's balance.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) said, examples of such noise are legion. One thinks at once of the noisy motor-cycle. The motor-cycle by day is nothing like such an evil menace as the motor-cycle by night. Here, in parenthesis, let me say that I should like something done during the Committee stage to prohibit, after, say, 11 o'clock at night, the use of motor-cycles altogether. There is 1593 also the noise of sports cars without silencers and the noise of scooters and small motors. The scooter manufacturers bear tremendous responsibility for the increased incidence of noise.
I am reminded of days long ago when I was at school and had to learn Latin—now, apparently, out of vogue—and one of the jingles which assisted me to acquire the limited knowledge I now have of that language went something like this:What is it that roareth thus?—Can it be the motor bus?And the awful noise and humIndicat motorum bum"—and so it proceeded through the declension.
It is really the noise of the machine, isolated, unexpected, out of the ordinary run, which causes the distress and does the damage. There is a noise which is becoming an increasing menace in the suburban areas and the countryside, the noise of garden cultivators. Everyone now is resorting to labour-saving devices, but those labour-saving devices are equipped with the most noisesome and noisy engines, and the odious sounds one hears emanating from one's neighbours' gardens on Saturday afternoons is something to be deplored. I wish a little more sweat and a little less noise could be devoted to the cultivation of people's gardens.
We suffer to some extent, and I think are likely to suffer a great deal more, in this Chamber as a result of the noise of helicopters which occasionally fly up and down the river. It is sometimes impossible to hear what is being said in Committee upstairs because of the noise of a passing helicopter which comes right into the room and drowns the probably very valuable words which are probably being spoken and, as a result, may never be recorded in the archives of the House.
We must progress, but why can we not progress with a little more consideration for the consequences of the increased noise which that progress brings? I have a great deal of sympathy for those hon. Members who speak on behalf of people living in the neighbourhood of aerodromes or who live, as I do myself, on a direct route taken by aircraft coming in to land or taking off from an aerodrome. It is with mixed feelings that I learn, for example, that Bournemouth is to have its 1594 aerodrome facilities extended. The Hurn Airport there is scheduled, I believe, for considerable development and is to become one of the major airports of the country. No doubt, this development will bring a great deal of valuable trade and an increase in tourist traffic to Bournemouth, but this will bring little comfort to the people who live in the neighbourhood of the aerodrome who are already suffering unduly as a result of training flights and normal routine flights which take place from Hurn.
One can give many examples of the types of noise which cause real trouble today. Some of them, if not the great majority, are impossible to cure by legislation. What is really needed in conjunction with this valuable Bill is education, education which starts at the mother's knee, to teach children to give greater consideration to other people's feelings and to encourage adults to try to master or to cure some of the thoughtless acts in which they now indulge at the expense of other people.
Whistling has been quoted as an example. During the day and particularly in the small hours of the night this is an all-too-frequent occurrence. It is one of the worst offences which I think should even be classified as a crime. Whistling is a hideous sound at the best of times, if there is ever a good time for whistling. I cannot conceal my admiration for my grandfather in this respect, if I may make a personal point here. In the more spacious days in which he lived, he was so infuriated by the noise of a passing youth who was whistling that while he was having a suit fitted by his tailor he picked up the nearest object, which happened to be a flower pot, and flung it through the closed window of the upper room of the tailor's premises in order to put his head through and shout abuse at the whistling youth, who thereupon, possibly at the expense of a considerable increase in noise from my grandfather, stopped whistling. I have a great deal of sympathy for that sort of reaction.
Along with many friends and neighbours, I suffer in another respect. My home is in what many people would think to be a very peaceful part of the countryside—the New Forest. It conjures up thoughts of tranquillity, wooded settings, trees, ponies, rabbits and all the 1595 rest of it, but on any Sunday afternoon in the summer the peace is completely shattered for many square miles since, particularly in clear weather, noise carries very far, by the users of model aeroplanes. The members of model aeroplane clubs come out from neighbouring towns to take advantage of the open space to fly their little aeroplanes. One would imagine that this was a harmless, innocent pursuit, but such is the development of science today that these model aeroplanes are equipped with high-powered motors which make the most terrible whining noise.
On Sundays in summer the members of model aeroplane clubs are joined in the New Forest by motor-cyclists who ride racing motor-cycles up and down the runways of a disused aerodrome in order to practise or to show off to their girl friends. All efforts to try to stop this nuisance have so far failed. I hope that this is the sort or practice which will be stopped under the Bill.
With regard to noise, as in anything else, one man's meat is another man's poison, and doubtless the perpetrating of some of these noises gives pleasure to those who indulge it them. But why should the pleasure of the few in cases such as those which I have instanced be bought at the expense of the many? Selfishness such as this may not be curable by the Bill, but at least it will be to some extent reduced by the publicity attendant upon putting this Measure on the Statute Book, by the very welcome activities of the Noise Abatement Society and by such publicity as can be given by clubs of adult men and women—I am thinking of Rotary clubs, and so on—which can do a great deal to help in educating public opinion.
We in this country are not nearly as bad as some other countries in this respect. Italy, for example, seems to thrive on noise. I hope that we shall never reach the stage which has been reached in Italy, where television sets are on at full blast. The noise from television sets can be heard in every town and village. Even the peace and tranquillity of Venice itself has been ruined by the noise. I hope that the Bill, if it cannot overcome every difficulty, will, at any rate, point the way 1596 in which a greater measure of quiet can be achieved.
I think it was my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) who referred to the fact that we shall probably have to resort to legislation like this on a number of occasions in the next few years. This may well be so, because, as the amount of our leisure time increases, so will this problem become more acute. If we can pass the Bill through its various stages and make it an Act of Parliament, it may well ensure that a certain amount of our increased leisure time will be spent on what is needed more than anything else at present—on contemplation and reflection. Neither of these things can take place without the blessing of quiet.
§ 12.26 p.m.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)
This is an important Bill although, perhaps, in some ways a modest one. While it may not be as perfect as everybody would wish, I hope that the House will accept it so that it may be improved in Committee.
Some local authorities have produced Private Bills of their own on similar lines to this one. The City of Leeds, which both the Parliamentary Secretary and I represent, produced a Private Bill which went through this House in 1956, the Leeds Corporation Bill, which was on very similar lines to this Bill. No proceedings have yet been taken under the Measure, but it has been very effective in that warnings only have been necessary to bring the law home to offenders. There are two differences between the Bill which we are discussing and the provisions of the Leeds Corporation Act. I should like to mention these two differences, because I feel that this Bill could perhaps be improved by adopting them.
First, the Leeds Corporation Act includes not only provisions on noise, but on vibration. Everyone knows, particularly the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) and myself, who live in industrialised parts of very big cities, that vibration can be as bad, as big a nuisance and as prejudicial to health as noise itself. Leeds has found that, although on many occasions the noise has not been great enough to warrant action by the local authority, the provisions in the Leeds Corporation Act have made it 1597 possible to ask for steps to be taken to secure an improvement. I hope, therefore, that in Committee it will be possible for the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) to agree to include in his Bill provisions relating not only to noise, but to vibration. I understand that the hon. Member would be willing to accept such an Amendment should the Bill go to Committee.
§ Mr. Speir
When I first drafted the Bill, I included a provision about vibration, but, unfortunately, I was told that the Long Title of the Bill did not mention vibration and therefore such a provision would be out of order at this stage, although I could probably introduce an Amendment to cover the point in Committee. That is my intention.
§ Miss Bacon
I thank the hon. Member. I think that that would be a very great improvement, because we have certainly found it very beneficial in Leeds to have such a provision in the legislation.
The other slight difference is in Clause 2 concerning loudspeakers. Perhaps the hon. Member for Hexham should include among the exemptions the gas and electricity boards, who have to use loudspeakers in case of emergency. The Clause exempts only the local authority services. Although the Leeds Act restricts the use of loudspeakers, it has not been necessary for proceedings to be taken.
Everybody realises that noise is a serious problem in the modern world. Many examples have been given today of the kind of noises with which we have to contend. First, there is the noise of traffic. The astounding thing is that if we go to Piccadilly Circus, the Strand, or some of our big cities, with noise all around, we have become so accustomed to it that we hardly notice it. It does not follow, however, that noise is not harmful. It can be harmful although we are not conscious of it. In addition, of course, there are traffic noises at night.
Hon. Members have spoken also of the noise from aircraft, especially in areas near airfields, as well as from motorcycles. There are youths who regard it as splendid to make their engines roar. and particularly to start them up at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning after a party which goes on into the small hours.
My own personal noise aversion is one which has not been mentioned much 1598 today, but which is possibly the worst noise of all—the pneumatic drill. There cannot be anything worse than having a pneumatic drill under one's window early in the morning. I always cringe, even during the daytime, when I go along a road where a pneumatic drill is operating.
Then there is the noise from factories. I sympathise very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Atterclitfe. He represents part of Sheffield, I represent part of Leeds. My hon. Friend has a very great problem. Today I shall probably be travelling on what must be the worst little section of British Railways, between Sheffield and Rotherham, where there are the great steel works and factories with the houses huddled between them. I often wonder how people along that section of the railway, hearing not only the noise from the railway, but the noise and roar of the factories, get any sleep at all.
There are more simple noises like the noise of dustbin lids which clatter early in the morning. One noise which has not been mentioned today is the noise in offices where many girls are typing at the same time. I know that the Bill does not deal with every one of these noises, but they are all noises of our modern way of living.
Some people think that noise is simply a nuisance and not harmful. Sufficient is known, even now, to be able to say that not only is noise a nuisance, but that it is harmful and prejudicial to health. Even a nuisance can affect the nerves and become harmful. A good deal more research is needed in this respect. Even so, it is clear from what little research has been done that excessive noise can cause deafness. Indeed, after taking part in an experiment, during which he listened to an electric saw for three and a half hours, a doctor required two days to regain his normal hearing. This indicates the harm that is done to people who work in incessant noise.
In 1958, an anti-noise league was formed in France and its president, Dr. Fernand Tremolienes, issued a warning that noise was on the way towards destroying the human species. That, perhaps, was going rather far. He said that noise not only caused fatigue, neurosis and depression, but could spread from the brain to the muscles and other 1599 organs, causing digestive troubles and heart attacks.
Two or three years ago, the O.E.E.C. set up the European Productivity Agency, which, in 1957, organised a conference in Holland. It was attended by representatives from thirteen countries and included physiologists, psychologists, engineers and industrial physicians. They spent one whole day on the problem of noise and came to the conclusion that the damage done by noise was on a much bigger scale than was generally realised.
Are we doing as much as other countries are doing? The hon. Member for Hexham mentioned Italy. That happens to be the only country which has national legislation providing for compensation to workers for loss of hearing as a result of working in their particular industries. This shows at least that Italy has realised the dangers of noise and has taken steps to compensate workers in certain industries. I understand that in various American States, too, compensation is payable to workers for harm done by noise. Indeed, the amount paid out by American industry as a whole to industrial workers in one year is in the region of 40 million dollars. One firm paid out 2½ million dollars compensation in a year. I hope that if the Wilson Committee takes a long time over its deliberations, at least the Government can take steps in the intervening period.
It is a sad reflection that the age which has produced such wonderful discoveries cannot invent efficient means of silencing some of the discoveries which have been invented, it is not always the case, however, that effective means of noise prevention has not been invented, but rather that the inventions have not been used. Not long ago, in a letter to The Times, Sir Frank Whittle said that as long ago as 1936 he invented a quietener for jet engines, but that it was not being used.
In the New Scientist of 31st December, 1959, we see that the remedy exists, but is simply not being used. It states:The outstanding example … is the annoyance caused by aircraft. … The noise could be very much reduced by 'silencers' (the American word 'muffler' is more appropriate) or by a new design of engine if some quite serious penalty in reduced load and speed were accented. But it is most unlikely that noise has been considered as a major design factor in any of the jet aircraft on 1600 which £100,000 million has been or is now being spent.The truth is that in many instances the solution has been found, but is not being used because science in the modern world seems to be expensive.
To take the simple problem of dustbin lids, for example, we are told that rubber dustbin lids cost 14s. 6d., but that one manufacturer has offered to make them at a cost of 6s. if he could supply them in bulk. What a great difference this simple alteration could make. I am informed that rubber dustbin lids are compulsory in certain parts of America.
It is difficult to buy a garden motor mower which is silent, but in a letter to The Times of 12th September, 1958, a correspondent described how he tried to get a silent lawn mower and failed, but that at a cost of £4 he was able to convert his own lawn mower into a silent one.
It does seem to me that some of these things are not impossible. It is just that more attention needs to be paid to some of the problems. I am glad that this Bill is before us today, because it will mean that something will be done. We have had smoke-free zones; we cannot have noise-free zones, because many noises are mobile, but at any rate a good deal could be done. For too long the country has been much too silent about noise. The time has come when people must make a noise about noise, and I only hope that the noises which we are making today will have some effect in leading to noise abatement.
§ 12.41 p.m.
§ Wing Commander Eric Bullus (Wembley, North)
I am glad to be associated with the congratulations which have been extended to my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) on his good fortune in the Ballot and on his wise choice of this Bill, and also on the pleasant manner in which he has moved its Second Reading. I think that in this House my hon. Friend's name will always be linked with litter and noise-abatement legislation.
It has been generally agreed that this is a modest Bill, but it certainly is a beginning. In my own Borough of Wembley, we are already covered for the provisions sought by this Bill, but I know that there are other authorities which are not, as the hon. Lady the Member for 1601 Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) pointed out. In Wembley, a combination of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1944, and our own byelaws gives us the necessary cover. Nevertheless, the council, like other councils, is in favour of this Bill. The Association of Municipal Corporations, of which body I am a Vice-President, also supports the Bill. For some years the association has made representations to the Government on the subject, and we shall await with interest the results of the Government committee which, I understand, is to be set up, if it has not already been set up.
Towards that I think this Bill will be a very great help. Already there have been suggestions that there are likely to be some Amendments proposed to it in Committee. In that connection, I hope my hon. Friend will make it clear that the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain need not worry about showmen's use of streets for occasional fairs if local authority permission has been obtained. I think it is the intention of my hon. Friend that fairs established over the years—I think the Pinner Fair near my constituency has been established for some 300 years—shall be permitted. I think that so long as a fair is contained in one street it should be allowed.
My hon. Friend wants abatement of noise. I hope for the eventual elimination of unnecessary noise. I recall that I had an Adjournment debate in 1952 on aircraft noise. It seems incredible that it was eight years ago. The then Junior Minister who replied to me said that the problem was being tackled. I said then, and I repeat now:It passes my comprehension that in this twentieth century, this super scientific age … we have not yet conquered the problem of noise".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th October 1952 Vol. 505, c. 1890.]And that despite a certain amount of research which had gone into the subject.
I remember that there was under the old Ministry of Supply at that time in 1952 an Aircraft Noise Suppression Committee. When at that time I expressed the hope that it was not called "anscotmos", I earned a "Medal of the Week" in the Evening Standard. I did not accept a Minister's conclusion voiced at that time thatthe making of noise is unavoidable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 22nd October, 1952;1602 That was said in answer to a Question put down at that time.
Eight years ago I had complaints from constituents, and there were complaints also from Harrow-on-the-Hill where I live about the noise of aircraft flying in that area, and in that summer. I remember the boys of Harrow School on the Hill compiled a table of noise at the school which indicated the extent of the inconvenience caused, and in one week in particular there were times when they could not hear themselves speak. Today I find the position is much improved, except, I am told by the headmaster, when the wind comes from the south-west, as it did on Monday when I spoke to him. "When the zephyrs blow, the Comets are heard."
Complete elimination of noise is difficult, but I find it hard to believe that it is not possible of achievement, believe that this is an urgent problem and that it is worthy of high priority study by our scientists. There are some high-pitched sounds, I understand, to which the human ear does not respond. I have never quite understood why persons who have been standing near an exploding bomb have not heard the actual noise of the explosion—meaning, of course, when they have remained alive!
I remember that at the time of the Harrow rail accident some years ago the stationmaster in evidence said that at the time of the first collision he was standing near the first carriage of the local train and he heard no noise of the impact of the Scottish express when it took place. We know the terrible loss of life, over 100, in that accident. There was a huge pile-up. There must have been some noise, yet the stationmaster's evidence was that, standing a few yards away, he was not able to hear it. He also said that in the second collision—because three trains were involved—the noise was only slight.
The explanation for this must come from the scientists. Similarly, I think that we must look to our scientists for the solution of the problem of noise. I am wondering whether the question of vibration can be included in the Bill. Some years ago I had trouble in my 1603 constituency over vibration from suppressors which caused great inconvenience to some householders. There has been some improvement, but I think there could be a lot more.
This Bill cannot deal with the elimination of noise, but it can once again focus our attention on this most aggravating problem, and the passage of the Bill can take us, I suggest, a step nearer to the fulfilment of our aims.
§ 12.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Cliffe (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
I should like to add my congratulations to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir), first of all, on having been lucky in the Ballot, and secondly, on having chosen to tackle this problem which is now becoming one of the big social problems we have to face. I receive quite a number of letters almost every week complaining about excessive noises which interfere with the livelihood of people, and I have received letters from both the Shoreditch and Finsbury town clerks asking me to give whatever support I can to this Bill.
I should like to point out just some of the things which I feel could be dealt with subject to the extension to the local authorities of the powers which are being asked for in this Bill. Firstly, one of the abuses with which we are very often faced in these days is that of loudspeakers. For instance, there is "Music While You Work." It is very popular. There is nothing I would want to say or do to rob the workers of something they have now come to enjoy and appreciate.
During the summer months the windows of factories situated in densely populated areas are thrown wide open. To enable workers to make any sense of what is being played, the volume is turned up as high as possible so that the music can be heard above the noise of the machinery. The result is that annoyance is caused to people living in neighbouring housing estates. Despite protests, we have not been able to make any effective progress in our approaches to those who are responsible. If certain powers provided in the Bill were extended to local authorities, it might be possible to deal with some of this excessive noise.
1604 A great deal of noise is also caused by motor-cycles and other mechanical contraptions. We all know that some of the younger elements get a thrill out of putting some kind of double-baffle arrangement on the exhausts of these machines to make them even noisier than they are normally. I believe that it is not beyond the ingenuity of manufacturers to cut down some of the excessive noise made by motor-cycles and other mechanically-propelled vehicles.
I cannot entirely agree with what has been said about small motor-boats on lakes in public parks. I do not think we are concerned with things of that kind. We are concerned with the excessive noise over which we are asking that there should be a certain amount of control. In my constituency there are marshalling yards where work goes on night and day. Parcels are loaded there with an enormous amount of noise. Numerous protests have been made but nothing has ever been done about it. I believe that if we had the necessary powers at local level we should be able to secure a good deal more co-operation than we are able to obtain at the moment. One of my hon. Friends was perfectly right in saying that when protests are made about excessive noise there is little response from workers in factories from which the noise emanates.
It is important that the Bill should be supported, for many reasons. New types of noises are now being created. In recent years the cement mixer has been greatly improved in its capacity to produce more cement, but that has meant that it also makes a great deal more noise. These machines are operated in some places night and day. I received a letter from a constituent a few days ago complaining about it. I have written to the local authority about it and I have raised the matter with the county council. I inquired what byelaws the council had to deal with it and I found that it had none.
It is important, therefore, that the powers contained in the Bill should be extended to enable us to deal with abuses in the use of machinery, especially at certain times of the night when people who have not been able to escape the constant noise of traffic during the day are entitled, wherever possible, to have some peace and quiet at night. This is a Bill which should recommend itself 1605 to all of us. I hope that the Government will accept it and do something about it as speedily as possible.
§ 12.55 p.m.
§ Lady Gammans (Hornsey)
I am glad to have the opportunity of speaking briefly in the debate. I, too, am convinced, as are most other hon. Members, that excessive noise has a tremendous impact on human beings. There is much new noise nowadays which we have not yet fully measured. We do not yet fully know about its effect on human beings and the human nervous system.
When, as we so often do, we consider the great amount of violent crime, juvenile delinquency, broken marriages and mental instability and all the other things which are evidence of disharmony and disrupted nervous systems today, I do not think that it is sufficient to say, as many people do, that two world wars and their aftermath are the reasons for these things. I think that the reason is much more the pace of life of which we are all very conscious, and excessive noise definitely has a part in that.
During the war people got used to noise. They had no alternative, and perhaps they got into the habit of not being as quiet as they were before the war. As one of my hon. Friends pointed out, it is the responsibility of each one of us that counts in the long run. Perhaps it is because during the war we lost that habit of ourselves being quiet that so much noise is now being permitted by all of us. We all share responsibility for it. But that noise is harmful to human beings I am quite convinced.
I should like to refer to an example of a noise now heard in my constituency which is definitely quite a new thing. Because commuters are now choking the main roads in Hornsey in the early mornings and late afternoons, the side-roads are being used as short-cuts. In these side roads there are not the signs and warnings that are common on the main roads and the result is that new users of these roads are constantly tooting their horns. To people who live in these localities, this tooting of horns all the time, which in itself may not be particularly loud, is a most irritating and nerve-racking noise. It is sharp and is emitted at odd intervals, and it has made 1606 a great deal of difference to the lives of people living in these hitherto quiet roads.
I understand that research is going on into means of measuring noise, but it seems to me that it is not always the loud noise that causes the most harm. A meter for measuring noise is already being used in several constituencies, among them Southend. The meter is called "Dezzybell," and although it may measure only loud noises, other noises can do just as much harm. I would like to know how the following noise would be measured. Let us suppose one is driving a car along a main road on which there is a lot of traffic and suddenly a dozen or so motorcycles come along, the noise they make can be very disturbing and dangerous for anyone with weak nerves.
I welcome the Bill, and give it my support because it is the first step towards dealing with noise, which is so bad for our nervous system and contributes very much to nervous tension. As we all know, this is in itself a bad thing, because nervous tension leads to so many other evils.
§ 1.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
When a branch of that excellent organisation known as the Noise Abatement Society was formed in the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth, it was attended by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir), whose Noise Abatement Bill we are now discussing. I told the hon. Gentleman then that I was so convinced of the virtue of his case that, if possible, I would support the Second Reading of this Bill, which I hope will meet with favour from the Government today.
I presume that the Bill comes within the purview of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, because that would account for the presence of the industrious Parliamentary Secretary, who is taking copious notes of what is happening. I am a little less confident when I see the Minister of Health present, but perhaps we may assume that his Ministry will not on this occasion be a stumbling block in the way of progress, and that if the Ministry of Housing and Local Government feels that the Bill is worth supporting it will not be diverted by the curious views on health subjects which are sometimes propounded by the right hon. and learned 1607 Gentleman the Minister of Health, particularly in reply to Questions that I put to him in this House from time to time.
My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) has drawn attention to the inconvenience caused to neighbouring residents by London Airport. Although I do not live as close to it as my hon. Friend, I live within 15 or 20 miles of it. In these days of modern aircraft, particularly jets, which start to descend about 100 miles away from London Airport, the quiet peace of the countryside in Berkshire where I live is sometimes rudely shattered at all hours of the day and night by civil aircraft preparing to land at the airport. Also, not too far from my home there is the Royal Aircraft Establishment, at Farnborough. I do not mind a little noise on the occasion of the annual air display there, but some of the experiments carried on at the Establishment, and the occasional breaking of the sound barrier, are not conducive to peace and quiet in the neighbouring countryside.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) has rightly drawn attention to the grave inconvenience caused by the noise of motor-cycles, on which I also have strong views. It so happens that in the heart of my constituency there is one of the largest sellers of motorcycles in the country. The noise is "nobody's business," particularly on a Saturday, when young men who own these machines come along to pay their weekly hire-purchase instalments. The racket is tremendous. I advise anyone who wants to get the concentrated effect of a lot of motor-cycles operating at the same time to coin; to the Stockwell Road, in Brixton, any Saturday, when he will be able to judge for himself.
The time has come when we should ask all the manufacturers of internal combustion engines to apply themselves a little more assiduously than they have done in the past to the problem of reducing noise. Expensive cars, such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley, are not heard as they pass along the thoroughfare, and it is wrong that for the purpose of producing a cheap vehicle the reduction of noise should not be so carefully attended to by the manufacturers as in the case with the more expensive models.
1608 My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe) referred to the noises to which office workers are subjected. This reminds me of a further contribution I can make to the debate. Why is it still necessary to manufacture typewriters which make a noise? It is possible to produce a noiseless typewriter, so why should the manufacturers continue to produce machines which create an awful din in all our offices day in and day out?
I know that the hon. Member for Hexham will not argue that his Bill will solve the problem of noise. Nevertheless, it represents a small but desirable contribution towards the purpose that we all have in mind, namely, a more peaceful existence. We are faced with the fact that unless the problem of noise is dealt with seriously we shall finish in soundproof and air-conditioned rooms, with double windows which will never be opened because that will be the only way by which we shall be able to exclude noise from our lives. I cannot imagine anything more horrible. It is worse than anything that George Orwell or Aldous Huxley contemplated, because if we are not to enjoy the benefits of clean, fresh air, at least outside the urban areas, life will not be worth living.
I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies to the debate he will be able to promise that every facility will be given to the promoter and supporters of the Bill, so that it reaches the Statute Book at the earliest possible moment.
§ 1.9 p.m.
Mr. Brian Botsford (Ealing, South)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) on introducing this Bill, but in adding my support to it I should not like it to be thought that I am in any sense a killjoy or spoilsport. I am well aware that a large number of people like to make a lot of noise; in fact, it gives them an infinite amount of pleasure and satisfaction.
I was told the other day that middle age is the time of life when we change our emotions for symptoms. I think that it is also the time of life when we become far mare sensitive to noise. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden), every time I 1609 flinch at noise created by the exuberance of youth, I try to look back to my own younger days and think of the thousands of middle-aged and elderly people I have annoyed. In fact, I remember with Tennyson:How many a father have I seen,A sober man among his boys,Whose youth was full of foolish noiseMuch of the noise which irritates us today, and is, of course, very damaging to our health, comes from the internal combustion engine, a noise which is inseparable from the heavy traffic on our congested roads. This is a nuisance which is particularly apparent in my own constituency of Ealing, South, to the west of London, which is, so to speak, an island surrounded by a sea of traffic, or at least great rivers of traffic. To the north there is Western Avenue, to the south the Great West Road, to the east we have the North Circular road, running through comparatively narrow tree-lined residential roads, and right through the centre of the constituency we have the old Uxbridge Road, which, once again, is being used by those people who wish to avoid the main roads which twenty years ago were constructed to avoid it.
I hope I am not out of order in mentioning the question of the noise of traffic. Having lived for the last fifteen months on the corner of a London square I have come to realise, as many hon. Members have mentioned, that it is not a question of the normal hum or buzz of traffic. One gets used to that, and it would be difficult to do without it. It is the short staccato, sudden, isolated noise, the squeel of tyres as a vehicle goes round the square, the enormous heavy lorry with a loose load which rattles when the vehicle goes over a lump in the road, and then the roar of the sports car no doubt emulating very satisfactorily the round-the-houses race at Monaco.
It is criminal that anybody should be allowed to drive through the streets of London at dead of night making noises of that sort and leaving behind a trail of disturbed and angry people. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will seriously consider banning not one type of vehicle in the streets at night, but all through traffic in the quieter squares and the streets of London.
1610 In the debate on this subject on 2nd December, 1955, my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), talking about the noise of cars, said:noise is inseparable from movement"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 2nd December, 1955; Vol. 546, c. 2694.]I do not altogether agree with that. I would say to him today, knowing his connection with the manufacture of cars, that there is one noise that cars make when they are stationary, which is when anyone slams their doors. That is one of the most irritating noises in London. A car may glide silently up to the kerb, and then, suddenly, those inside begin climbing out—perhaps I should say, extricating themselves from this piece of machinery—and one gets this ear-splitting cacophony of noise as they get out. It is extraordinary to me that it has not been possible for the manufacturers, who spend such large amounts of money upon increasing the speed which can be obtained from a small, compact engine, to build a car—certainly a cheap car—with which one can avoid the ghastly clash of metal against metal every time the door is shut.
Clause 2 (1) of the Bill refers to mechanical chimes. I fail to see why exemption from the provision should be claimed for them. I have never come across anybody who does not think they are an absolutely infernal nuisance. I have lived in the north of London for some years, and vehicles belonging to not one but several manufacturers come round day after day creating this noise. I do not understand why it is necessary for any trader to advertise his wares in the public street in that way.
Why should it be confined at this stage to ice cream? As a publisher of books. I am, naturally, interested in their circulation, but am I likely to advocate that when one of the excellent mobile libraries provided by the borough council parks at the end of the street it should announce its arrival with a fanfare of trumpets, or recorded excerpts from Mendelssohn's overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream"?
Only yesterday one of my constituents complained bitterly about these mechanical chimes around the constituency not only at all hours of the day, but late into the night. The mothers to whom I have spoken have the strongest objections to 1611 these invitations—that is what they are—to drag children out of their homes late in the evening to eat ice cream.
Therefore, I suggest that the time limit of nine o'clock in Clause 2 (2) is unrealistic. I am certain that most children—perhaps I should say children at least of ice cream eating age—are, in spite of television, in bed, or should be in bed, long before nine o'clock. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, who is a father of young children, would not like his children kept up as late at night as that.
§ Mr. Batsford
I am delighted to see that in Clause 2 (2) mention is made of the nuisance caused by radio in cars. I would similarly classify all portable radios. I suppose few things in life are more irritating than somebody's radio. It is not only in the street; that these radios cause a good deal of annoyance. One hears car and portable radios in the fields and on the verges of roads in the countryside, on coastal headlands and in parks; in fact, anywhere where it is possible to have a picnic party within earshot of a radio in a car.
There are a number of other things which I am certain manufacture could easily remedy. The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) referred to dustbins and their lids. Why do we still manufacture metal dustbins? I would also mention milk floats. In the early hours of the morning—though it is, in a sense, a tinkling sound—they make a tremendous amount of noise. There are countless items of household equipment which could be made more silent.
I feel that we cannot really solve this problem by legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham recently introduced a Measure to prevent the littering of the countryside, which is a despicable habit. Like the prevention of noise, it depends really upon the human attitude. I am certain that it is public opinion, with strong backing from the Government, which will demand the abatement of the noise evil. I do not say that people enjoy scattering litter, but many people enjoy making a noise, or perhaps I should say that they are impervious to the noise which they create.
1612 Consequently, I would say that a greater appreciation in the future of the feelings of others, reinforced by the fact that those concerned will know that they are likely to be committing offence, would go some way towards making our life a little quieter. It is appropriate, perhaps, to remember the words of John Selden:They that govern most make the least noise.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isleworth)
I do not think that I would quarrel with anything which has been said by hon. Members who have taken part in this debate. I wish to add my congratulations to those extended by other hon. Members to my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) on having introduced the Bill.
Many of the things mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford) could never be the subject of legislation—such things as a milkman delivering bottles of milk. I doubt whether we could legislate against the slamming of car doors. But it might be possible to persuade people to be more considerate to others.
Much noise is relative. When I listen to a gentleman named Mr. Reginald Smith bawling his head off on the television screen—for professional purposes he does not call himself Reginald Smith, but Marty Wilde, and "wild" is an apt description—the sort of jungle-like noises he emits give enormous pleasure to my family, although he makes me sick. One cannot tell what will be the effect of noise. Some people may like it and others will not. Life would be dull if there were no noises at all and we lived in continual silence. Indeed, I think that it has been proved that if a person is put into a sound-proof room for a short time, he goes mad.
Noises can be pleasant and it is not the most unmelodious noises which are unpleasant. The important thing from the point of view of the Government is to find out which noises are deleterious to health. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us whether there has been any research into the question of the effect of noise on health. Mention has been made of the noise of typewriters in an office. I am certain that nothing could be worse for a number of girls working in a typing pool than having 1613 to listen to 40 or 50 typewriters slamming away all day long. That must be hard on their health.
I am particularly interested in the effect of the appalling noise of aeroplanes. The hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) and I have our Parliamentary lives made insane by the number of letters we receive from constituents on this subject. Those hon. Members who represent constituencies in the neighbourhood of London Airport know what it is perpetually to receive letters from people living in that area, particularly in the summer months, complaining about the noise of aircraft. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether there has been any research into the effect on the human body of the noise of jet aircraft. A jet aircraft emits a very high-pitched whine.
What is the effect of that noise on the human ear? Does it have a deleterious effect on health? I do not know, but I should like to know. I think that the Government ought to conduct some research into the matter. The noise of jet aircraft is not usually accompanied by the vibration which accompanies some noises and which can actually cause damage to buildings. The noise of jet aircraft is something quite new in our lives and I should like to know its effect.
The noise from aircraft is now getting to a stage when it is becoming a national problem, if not a national scandal. Life is becoming impossible for people who live in places like Heston and Isleworth, Feltham, Hayes and Harlington, Uxbridge, even Twickenham and perhaps Ealing. There must be a million people who are now affected by aircraft noises from London Airport. The airport was built on its present site immediately after the war. I apportion no blame to any particular Government, it might have been a caretaker Government of the time or a Labour Government. But somebody decided to develop Heathrow and, so far as I know, there was no planning permission sought or public inquiry held.
We have now reached a situation in which an aeroplane is either arriving at or taking off from London Airport every minute and if I kick up a fuss about the noise over Heston and Isleworth and the Commandant of London Airport does something about it, the only result is 1614 that the nuisance is diverted somewhere else and perhaps the hon. Member for Feltham then has cause to complain.
I should have thought that we might ask for the support of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to try to arrange for jet aircraft, which require an enormously long runway, to land and depart from a coastal air strip well away from an inhabited area. Ordinary aircraft could come to London Airport, but the jet aircraft ought to land and take off a long way away from any inhabited area. At any rate, they should do so at night. We already have the prospect of the Comets landing and taking off from London Airport at night.
The Minister of Aviation has told us that he is having noise tests carried out, but there is a wide belief that a decision on this matter has already been taken, and that this question of noise tests is just a hit of "window dressing" if Comets land and take off at night, soon the Boeings will be doing the same; and how can the Minister resist the aircraft companies when they say that they cannot afford to run their aircraft economically unless they can operate at night?
The real trouble about the noise of aircraft is the provision contained in Section 41 (2) of the Civil Aviation Act. 1949. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham would allow us to insert an Amendment in his Bill to delete that Section from the 1949 Act. Subsection (2) states that:No action shall lie in respect of nuisance by reason only of the noise and vibration caused by aircraft on an aerodrome to which this subsection applies by virtue of an Order in Council under section eight of this Act, as long as the provisions of any such Order in Council are duly complied with.There is the "noise-makers charter" so far as aircraft operations are concerned. If only we could get that section deleted from the 1949 Act, my hon. Friend could rely on my constituents erecting a statue to him at Heston and Isleworth, constructed of solid gold, and it would be worth every penny of the cost. I do not know how to cope with the problem. One answer may be found by research into the silencing of aircraft engines. How many years that would take I do not know, but I should think that it would be many years.
§ Mr. Harris
I have had no complaints about the Britannia aircraft. If only Britannias operated from London Airport we should be delighted.
§ Mr. Harris
It is possible to make an aircraft silent, but they it will not cross the Atlantic in about four hours. The journey would take nine or ten hours, or even thirteen. I hope that before we approve the Bill we shall be able to insert some provision relating to the noise from aircraft.
If, by this Measure, we can silence motor-cycles, we shall have done a tremendous amount. I wish to mention some of the noises which cause the greatest amount of aggravation and not refer to the smaller nuisances, because we cannot legislate for all the little noises in the world. But if we could do something to silence the noisy motorcycle, that would be a great thing, and we should have done something to earn the gratitude of many millions of people.
§ 1.29 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon (Wells)
My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) is to be congratulated on having introduced this Bill. He did a great public service in the past by introducing the Litter Act. Now he has produced this Measure, if I may say so, out of the same litter. There is one thing in common between these two problems of litter and noise. People must be educated in these things from childhood. It is the responsibility of parents and school teachers to see that less noise is caused and that there is less litter deposited.
The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) referred to the question of compensation. While I consider that a proper aspect of this problem it does not go to the root of the matter. Here we are trying to deal with the prevention of this evil and not with the question of compensation.
§ Miss Bacon
I did not mean to give the impression that I thought everything would be all right if there were 1616 compensation. The point I was making was that in Italy and in America it was evidently felt that noise was so injurious to health that compensation should be provided in certain industries. I was underlining the assertion I made that noise did affect health.
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
I fully recognise that, but I would very much hesitate to say that we should take the example of Italy and America. I have not been in Italy recently, but I do not think that would be a good example to follow. Another hon. Member has mentioned Italy and said how deplorable the noise was there. It would be a pity for us to emulate the Italians.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) referred to the railways and asked why they were not included in the Bill. I agree that much of our present difficulties with railways stem from the fact that in many ways they have been excluded from what I might describe as normal legislation. I think it a pity that they should be the exception to the rule in this Bill. Let us face it, it will not be for very much longer that we shall have steam engines, which probably are among the largest perpetrators of noise. The diesel and electric engines which will follow them can be adequately silenced. It always amuses me when I come up from or go down to the West Country to see a notice beside the lines not far from Paddington saying, "Keep engines silent". I often wonder how one keeps an engine silent apart from stopping it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) mentioned small boys, and not so small boys, whistling. I entirely agree with him. I point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that for many years in the Royal Navy whistling was prohibited in ships and barracks. I hope it is still prohibited. If that can be done in the Navy it could be done elsewhere.
In this Bill, which I fully support, most of the emphasis has been necessarily given to mechanical and electronic noises, if one can describe noises as electronic—noises caused by electrical apparatus—but I should like the other sort of noise not to be forgotten; that is the human noise, rowdy youths, those silly young idiots known as "Teddy boys." Boys they certainly are, but little 1617 else. They run about the streets shouting at the top of their voices. I believe there is adequate legislation to meet such nuisances at present, but it does not seem to be very commonly used by the authorities. I should like to see much more attention paid to that.
Noise is a peculiar thing in that it affects different human beings in different ways, but we can all agree that the major noises of modern traffic are objectionable to all of us. Certain people have objections to certain kinds of noise more than others. For instance, I cannot bear to hear a saucepan scraped with a metal spoon. It sets my teeth on edge. It is not a loud noise and many people would not think it objectionable, but to me it is probably worse than most other noises.
I think it would be a great mistake to ban certain types of traffic from certain areas. What we want is standards to be set up and enforced. Noise can be measured scientifically. The manufacturers of motor-cycles, mopeds and even motor cars can be made to conform to those standards. I spent most of the war years in the submarine branch of the Navy. Noise to us was a matter of life and death. We took great care to silence it. We took great care to measure, its level in every sort of machinery, both large and small. If that could be done fifteen or nearly twenty years ago, it can certainly be done with motor cars and motor-cycles in this age of the 'sixties.
I support this Bill. I hope some of the things I have spoken of this afternoon will be looked at when the Bill is in Committee. I think the Bill goes a long way, but I should like to see it go a lot further.
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
It would seem that the Noise Abatement Society is not in the telephone directory because it cannot stand the noise of a bell ringing. I must confess that when I discovered this I was not very much impressed with the effectiveness of the society, nor the literature it sent to me when I asked yesterday for a brief on this subject. However, one should not allow prejudices such as that to influence one's views on this Bill.
I am very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) has brought the Bill in. I hope it will 1618 be effective in dealing with what I regard as the two most unnecessary noises of all. Many noises present quite difficult problems, such as those caused by aircraft, but there is no excuse for the very loud noises made by many motorcycles and sports-cars. I remember reading some years ago that if a motorcycle crossed Paris at 5 o'clock in the morning it would wake up about a quarter of a million people. I dare say that is true, and it is that sort of thing which is very objectionable. This applies not only to the motor-cycle but to the "pip-pip" machines, the mopeds and scooters.
Local authorities say that the Bill would be a help to them in combating the nuisance of noise. I wonder very much whether it should not go further and actually lay down specified permissible noise for motor vehicles and whether there should not be official measurements. There are—used, of course, chiefly in industry—pocket sized sound-level indicators which measure the pressure of sound waves and record them in decibels. I should have thought this something of which the police should be in possession.
I think the real reason why so much motor-cycle and sports-car noise has got out of hand is that existing legislation has not been properly used. I take the view that it is the duty of the citizen to initiate prosecutions in certain cases, for example, in cases of dangerous driving, cases of litter and, to quote a minor instance, cases of dogs fouling the pavement. There is perfectly good legislation available. I must confess that after great provocation I made use of such legislation and initiated a prosecution about two years ago. It is a nuisance to have to do that, to go to the police to make a statement and in due course to go to a court of law and give evidence. But I believe it the duty of the citizen in cases like these to support existing legislation and make use of it when there are nuisances which should be abated.
We know quite well that there is legislation already, which I need not specify because it is well known, under the Road Traffic Acts, which should be much more vigorously used against the young men who ride these motor-cycles and sports-cars and who have in many cases not only an ineffective silencer 1619 but one which they have tinkered with so that the machine will make the maximum possible noise to the detriment of their neighbours' peace and enjoyment of life.
I hope the House will give this Bill a Second Reading, because there is no doubt that it will go some way towards mitigating this nuisance.
§ 1.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
I support the Bill entirely, but there is one small reservation which I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) will consider when his Bill reaches Committee.
The agricultural implications in the Bill are considerable. There are many items of agricultural equipment with which, I am afraid, the operators tinker with the silencers. The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) spent some time dealing with the ordinary, domestic motor lawnmower. With agricultural equipment, as opposed to domestic gardening equipment, it is sometimes necessary to remove a silencer for a short time in order to give the machine an extra boost.
To give a simple example to the House, there is a class of equipment known as the green crop or forage harvester and under various other names. This equipment can be fitted with an efficient silencer—indeed it frequently is—but if because of weather conditions and so on there has to be a late cut when the crop has become particularly long and is, therefore, a very heavy crop, it is necessary for the farmer to remove the silencer almost entirely. I hope that there will be some safeguards for farmers who may temporarily find it necessary to remove a silencer.
Having made this point that I hope there will be safeguards for our farmers, I should like to support the Bill wholeheartedly from the rural point of view. In country districts we suffer almost entirely from our urban neighbours coming out and making noises of various sorts—the portable wireless was referred to by one of my hon. Friends. Greatly to our inconvenience, young people roar their motor-cycles when they find a nice 1620 open stretch of road. The rally motorcycle rider is a very great menace to safety—not so much the safety of other people, because they are largely experienced drivers, but to their own safety. They have various forms of competition. They jump off their machines and go to look for a clue under a milestone or tucked behind a signpost. These people dash across the road. I can give an example of an incident which happened to my wife about a year ago.
At the foot of our garden there is a ford. Four young airmen in a car came tearing through this ford and then discovered that it was too deep, although they could have read a notice at the entrance which told them that it was too deep. These excellent young men then got out of the car. The car became lighter and was swept away downstream, unhappily—this is the sad part of the story—pinning one of the young men at the downstream end against a stanchion.
These people come to the country weekend after weekend, making a very great noise to the inconvenience of the inhabitants. They endanger people, themselves included, and it should be a matter of education to explain to all people from childhood upwards that if they must make a noise they should be considerate. I would, therefore, ask the Noise Abatement Society, which appears to be in close touch with my hon. Friend, if it would go forward with much better propaganda than it is doing at present in the educational sphere.
I should like to deal briefly with another agricultural or rural instance of noise, which I am afraid has been hardly mentioned today, caused by the Royal Air Force. We know that station commanders do their best to keep noise down, but it is all too evident that on occasion there is "incompetent" flying, if that is the right word, and there are multiple take-offs and multiple landings which ought to be prohibited. This flying from the military air stations takes place too frequently at week-ends. It causes great discomfort to the rural community, and in my division we suffer greatly from the West Mailing Air Station. The air station is not within my division, but the line of flight passes very close to a mental hospital and causes discomfort, to put it at its lowest, for many people, not only 1621 the patients but the staff. This air station commander was once sent for by a judge of assize and told that he must restrain his flying during the assize. This was all very nice and feudal, but the judge of assize, although I am sure a very learned gentleman, was there only for three or four days, whereas my unfortunate constituents are there for 365 days in the year.
I urge the Government to pay very close attention to my hon. Friend's Bill. I also ask those Ministers who are present this morning to pass on our disapproval to some of their Service colleagues of the noise inflicted on the countryside by the R.A.F. When the Bill reaches Committee, I ask my hon. Friend to pay particular consideration to the necessary—I emphasise the word "necessary"—removal of silencers on occasions from agricultural equipment.
§ 1.48 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams (Manchester, Openshaw)
I had not intended to detain the House on this subject, but I think it is perhaps necessary to do so to associate this side of the House still further with the contents of the Bill.
I am in full support of the main provisions of the Bill. For about thirty-five years, in other capacities, I have been lighting in one way or another to try to eliminate noise, or at least to reduce noise, in Government Departments in other connections. I suppose that one of the most pertinent things in this age is the noise of the machine on the minds and nerves of people. It is possibly one of the biggest contributors to the many neurotics we have around and the fact that many people are becoming old long before their time as a result of the cumulative effect of noise on the community. I find that almost every year this is increasing in a remarkable way, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) has thought it necessary to introduce the Bill.
I have a very pleasant recollection of chairing the Committee which dealt with the hon. Member's previous Bill, the Litter Bill. It seems to me that this Bill is equally important, and I wish him the same success with it, although I hope that if it is passed the facilities to do what he wants will be more markedly provided than they have been provided under the Litter Bill. As Chairman of the Com- 1622 mittee which dealt with the Litter Bill I was reflecting the other day how much I deprecated the fact that wherever I went I saw very few receptacles intended to carry out the purposes of the Litter Act. I hope that the facilities to enable the full implementation of this Bill will be made available if it is passed.
The Manchester Corporation has always been keenly interested in abating and eliminating noises. It has included proposals to this effect in a number of its byelaws, and to some extent it insists that those byelaws and their conditions are carried out. It is a much better proposition for the House to determine, on the strength of such a Bill as this, what they are prepared to accept in the way of noises and nuisances than for corporations to be put to the great difficulty from time to time of including in their Private Bills before Parliament some of the things which are included in this Bill. I have been advised by Manchester Corporation—and I have the honour to represent one of the Manchester divisions—that it is fully behind the hon. Member in his Bill.
I hope that we shall not try to do the impossible. When the House tries to legislate for the impossible, or even for the improbable, I think it weakens itself in the sight of the community. For instance, I should not go as far as to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon), who spent so long in the submarine service, who said that a boy whistling in the street upsets his nerves. I do not think it right for the House to try to deal with perhaps ridiculous and even impossible things. An extension of that argument would be that we should try to make sure that the birds do not chirp, either. We must be careful not to make ourselves look ridiculous in the eyes of the community.
Having said that, however, I must add that I am wholeheartedly against these hogs on the roads who take the silencers off the exhausts of motor-cycles and, when they are taking their young girls to the cinema at night, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, want all the other young men and girls to know that they are on their way. The air is full of hullabaloo from the exhausts of these machines.
I often wonder how some of these young men get away with it. If one 1623 tries to park a car for ten minutes in a prohibited area it seems that all the police forces in existence are there within five minutes, but these young men and girls who make this very irritating noise with their motor-cycles seem to get away with it with no difficulty, and very seldom are they pulled up by the police. That is one aspect upon which we are fully entitled to legislate and to make sure that the police forces of this country carry out the law quite strictly, because if there is anything which annoys the country it is these young people on noisy motor-cycles.
I am pleased that the hon. Member has included in Clause, 1 (1, a) a provision that every effort must be made to see that unnecessary noises are eliminated in businesses. He leaves himself an escape clause, however, thatit shall be a defence for the defendant to prove that he has used the best practicable means for preventing or mitigating the noise, having regard to the cost and to other relevant circumstances.I hope that in Committee the hon. Member will try to be a little more specific about that and will say exactly what he means, because it seems a rather loose term which it might be difficult for local authorities to enforce, especially in small businesses.
My experience over nearly fifteen years in the House has been that, by and large, in the new factories, new businesses and new large concerns, the question of noise and nuisance is tackled scientifically and every effort is made to consider sympathetically the elimination of all unnecessary noises. That is my experience. In a built-up industrial area, however, such as some parts of my constituency, there is a good deal of trouble both in respect of nuisance caused by dirt and dust and in respect of noises, mainly from small businesses in congested industrial areas, where a firm, perhaps started in a small way, has done rather well in business and has expanded considerably over the years. In those cases, I do not think that the same care and attention are being given to tackling such nuisances as dust, dirt and noises as are given in the larger factories and larger concerns.
I have a case at present on hand with one of the local authorities in my constituency. An old mill has been converted to other purposes. On one side 1624 of the mill are residential houses and on the other side are wide open spaces of almost derelict land. I accept that it was necessary for this firm to have some big presses and some other noisy machinery; I admit straight away that the firm must have them, and that it is physically impossible completely to eliminate the noise from them.
What I cannot understand is why the firm put these heavy presses and the noisy machinery near the residential side of the factory when, if it had taken a little care and planned a little more carefully, all these machines could have been on the opposite side of the factory, where they would not have been a nuisance to any of the residents. We have to bear in mind the effect on the value of the property as well as the physical and nervous annoyance in these cases, and I do not think that it is too much to give local authorities power to ensure that in cases like this some planning, some care and some consideration are devoted to the effect of some of these works on the community outside.
I have another case, in one of the highly congested industrial areas, of a small haulage firm which started business with small lorries, which it worked, perhaps, from 7 a.m. to about 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. These were irritating noises, no doubt, in their own small way, but with the expansion of the firm and the development of its business, it has acquired lorries about 70 feet long, which are working not for eight or nine hours a day but day and night. The result is that the children and other residents of that area hardly ever get a night's sleep and the area is becoming a centre of irritation and it is also becoming dangerous for those who live there. One or two houses have already been knocked. The residents come to me almost every week when I go to the constituency, and they tell me that they cannot stand this any longer.
I hope that under the terms of the Act, when it reaches the Statute Book, an obligation will be placed not only on the big firms when they are building up their huge businesses but also on the smaller firms, as they are expanding their businesses, to make sure that they give full consideration to the effect of certain parts of their businesses and industries on other members of the community.
1625 My final point arises from my experience of the situation in Heston and Isleworth, for which I was Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1950. I have no doubt that the present Member of Parliament for that constituency will have already contributed on this subject. unless hon. Members have heard the terrifying noises of planes in places like Cranford and other parts of Hounslow and that part of Middlesex, they will have no idea of their terrifyingly frightening effect upon women and children in that area.
When I represented that constituency I used to visit houses between the hours of eight and ten night after night in the winter months. When planes came down one could swear that they were coming into the bedrooms. It was almost like a Cinerama effect upon one. Although one knew that the planes were 100 feet or 70 feet up, the psychological effect upon one's mind was that they are coming into the bedroom. From 1945 to 1950 I saw women and children frightened almost to death when large planes came down. If that was the case from 1945 to 1950, what must the effect be now with the Comets and huge aeroplanes which now use London Airport?
I know that this is one of the most difficult problems to solve. I was in communication with the Air Ministry more than a hundred times to try to do something to eliminate or abate noise. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is very persistent once he takes any of these matters up. I find him an excellent Minister to deal with complaints and I am glad that he is on the Front Bench to listen to the debate today. Despite everything that the Ministry of Aviation says to him, I hope that he will pay some regard to the terrifying effects of these noises on the minds and psychology of men and women, and especially children.
I am very pleased indeed to have been able to attend this afternoon to support the hon. Member for Hexham and his Bill. I hope that as a result of his efforts—no doubt it will be improved in Committee—some of these terrifying nuisances will be at least abated, if not totally eliminated.
§ 2.3 p.m.
Major W. Hicks Beach (Cheltenham)
I give my full support to the Bill, but I have one criticism of it in that it is 1626 far too weak. The importance of the Bill is that it recognises that the problem of noise is national and not local. As the hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) said, there are a number of local authorities which are up to date on this subject. Perhaps it would not be inappropriate for me to mention the Cheltenham local authority, which has indicated that it fully supports the Bill. It has also supported the Gloucester County Council in its recent Private Bill, which incorporated the exact provisions of the present Bill.
The great problem is to enforce these Measures when they are incorporated locally or on a national level. There are, in fact, two problems. The first is the present statutory bar concerning noise from aircraft. There is legislation which bars any claim at the moment. That is by far the biggest problem, and it should be faced by the Government. It is a very large problem indeed in Gloucestershire, where we have many aerodromes. The Bill does not touch that aspect of the problem. Secondly, there are deliberate offenders with motor-bicycles. The only way in which they can be dealt with is through the police.
I give my general support to the Bill and congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) on the way that he has introduced it. I hope that, in Committee, my hon. Friend will try to strengthen it so that it will be more effective to deal with the deliberate offender who deliberately alters the mechanism of his motor-cycle so that it makes much more noise. Subject to those few remarks, I hope very much that the Bill will have a Second Reading today and will be strengthened in Committee and in its later stages.
§ 2.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
My sole object in intervening is to say how much I support the Bill, as far as it goes, and to echo the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) that the exemption of railway undertakers should be reconsidered. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham. (Mr. Speir) will do that.
In my constituency, there is a carriage cleaning works whose activities I have discussed in the House previously. It 1627 not only makes noise, but also smell and smoke. The chief causes of noise at the moment are steam engines and a loudspeaker. I understand that the steam engines will be replaced eventually by diesel locomotives. There is nothing more noisy than a diesel locomotive if it is not silenced. I gather that they can now be silenced. I hope that British Railways will be compelled to silence diesel locomotives, otherwise, when they become more frequent, they will be a complete nuisance to the whole countryside, not only in carriage cleaning works.
Subject to saying that I hope that my hon. Friend will reconsider that point, I hope that the Bill will have a Second Reading.
§ 2.6 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Sir Keith Joseph)
Perhaps it would be helpful if I now indicated the Government's attitude to the Bill. We have had, as is quite appropriate, a quiet debate, but one in which the speeches have all maintained an extraordinarily high and constructive standard.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) has earned universal congratulations, to which I should like to add mine. He has made himself into something of a pioneer of these civilising campaigns which benefit the whole country. His campaigns, both against litter and against noise, have this in common. They depend, as so many speakers have said, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden), Ealing, South (Mr. Batsford), and Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells), on education as much as on law.
While it is true that in these campaigns private Members have led the Government, it is not true that the Government are not deeply concerned. I think that the House will recognise that the presence today for part of the debate of my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Health, the presence for much of the debate of his Parliamentary Secretary, who is here now, and also the presence for much of the debate of my right hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, shows just how wide an interest the Government take in my hon. Friend's Bill and the campaign against noise.
1628 I am delighted that my hon. Friend stressed that it was not his object in the Bill in any way to be a killjoy. He recognised that there is a danger of invading privacy and the legitimate activity of the citizens of our country. One of his allies, my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South, while equally declaring his intention not to be a killjoy, went on to list a number of fairly innocent activities of his fellow citizens against which he wanted to operate. Most hon. Members have taken the very healthy attitude of not wanting to be killjoys. I thought that the hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) was very sensible in stressing that, even if the Bill was any stronger, it would not stop the singing of birds in the trees. No one would want it to. A Bill will not stop the noise of dogs or, mercifully, the noise of children.
The attitude of the House must be one of consideration and live and let live in this age of increasing industrialisation and leisure. I have only one minor criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham, and that is that surely we need not suffer the invention of a verb like "loudspeakering." "Loudspeaking" will suffice.
I want to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) on what I thought was a most valuable and reflective speech. He related noise, as did many hon. Gentlemen, to its effects on efficiency, health and a civilised life. The problem of noise, particularly its effect on the ordinary man in the street, is one in which the House has shown much interest in recent months. As hon. Members are aware, the Government have decided to set up a Committee—the Wilson Committee—to examine the nature, sources and effects of the problem and to advise on what further measures can be taken to mitigate it.
The subject is a complex one. The ordinary man is assailed by a wide variety of noises, from his neighbour's loudspeaker to the pneumatic drill in the street and the jet aircraft overhead. My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham referred to seventy-six separate sources of noise. I am reminded of a passage in Coleridge, where he talks of twenty-six distinct smells and two stinks in a harbour that he visited.
1629 The Committee of which I am speaking has a formidable task in front of it. Its membership will include people with a wide range of scientific and other interests. I am not in a position today to announce the membership of the Committee, but the House has already been informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, on be half of the Minister for Science, that the chairman will be Mr. A. H. Wilson, F.R.S., who, as a Deputy Director of Courtaulds, and the general manager in charge of research and development there, has the great advantage of combining business experience with scientific eminence. I am sure that when all the members are appointed, the Committee will study with great care the contributions that have been made by hon. Members today.
The kind of inquiry on which the Committee is about to embark must, by reason of its wide-ranging nature, take some time, and, when it has reported, the Government will have to consider whether there is a need for legislation and, if so, what form it should take. In the meantime, my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham has seized the opportunity afforded him by his good fortune in the Ballot to bring forward this short Bill on noise abatement. I am sure that he will not make any claim that it is a final word on the problem of noise, but at least he can claim that it aims to do something about the more outrageous noise nuisances.
Clause 1 of the Bill is, in fact, based on a model clause for inclusion in local Acts which my right hon. Friend had it in mind to include in the Public Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which he hopes to introduce when time permits. This model clause has been widely adopted, and the effect of this Bill will be to apply it throughout England and Wales and Scotland.
My right hon. Friend has some reservations about the Clause in this Bill as drafted, because it goes rather further than the model clause. For instance, the Clause in the Bill provides that noise which is an annoyance as well as noise which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance shall be a statutory nuisance. Another example is that in respect of noise which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance, the Clause in the 1630 Bill enables a single occupier of premises to make a complaint to the justices under Section 99 of the Public Health Act, 1936, whereas in the model clause the justices may not entertain a complaint made by less than three occupiers of premises. There is also a difference in the use of powers in respect of loudspeakers in the Bill and in the Metropolitan Police Act, 1839, on the other hand. However, by right hon. Friend feels that these are all matters that can be usefully discussed in Committee.
I have been asked several questions. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), supported by my hon. Friends the Members for Hornsey (Lady Gammans) and Solihull (Mr. Lindsay), spoke strongly about the social cost of industrial noise. I am sure that the measurement of this will be one of the main subjects that will be in front of the Committee which the Government have appointed.
A number of hon. Members, particularly the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter), my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South and the hon. Member for Openshaw—in a particularly powerful speech—spoke about the effect of aircraft. Here, again, I can only say that careful research is going on it is obviously a subject that the Committee will look into as seriously as it can.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) asked about street fairs. These. I am sure, are more a matter for the sponsor of the Bill than for me to deal with. The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon), in a most interesting speech which discussed the productivity implications of noise, suggested that vibration might be considered, but, again, that is a subject more for the sponsor than for me.
My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone made a constructive point for consideration in Committee, about the exemption, in certain circumstances, of agricultural machinery—once again, a matter more for the sponsor of the Bill than for me. My hon. Friend the Member for Solihull made some procedural suggestions which I can assure him will be given careful study.
I can answer more absolutely what the hon. Member for Openshaw said about 1631 the importance of noise being considered in town planning decisions. That is one of the factors which is very much taken into account, but he must recognise the difficulty of spotting the small firm that has no noise nuisance attached to it today, but which will grow into a giant firm with a large noise implication. That is a difficulty that we are trying to tackle in all town planning decisions.
Hon. Members have universally stressed the need not to invade privacy too much in the abatement of noise. It is true that some of the young may find that noise increases their pleasure, or results from it. It is true that some middle-aged and elderly people may be very sensitive to it. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) in what was, if I may say so, a most thoughtful speech on the social effects of noise, was an illustration of one, who is, after all, among the not so elderly Members of the House, who shows himself particularly sensitive to noise. He brought a whiff of reforming intolerance to the debate—an attitude much to be admired.
There has been much criticism of industry, and I am sure that the manufacturers will note the unanimous feeling that many modern services could be made available with less noise. On the other hand, it is scarcely fair that no one has explicitly paid tribute to what industry has already achieved. The Britannia aircraft has been mentioned, and so have silent typewriters, but no one has said that there represent considerable achievements on the part of the industries that manufacture them. It is a fact, as my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull said, that very often good products are tinkered with by their users and made noisy, when the manufacturer had made them silent.
The fact is that work and leisure are often noisy. Work can often be silenced at a cost in money; leisure can often be silenced at a cost in freedom. As all hon. Members have recognised, there has to be a compromise between cost, freedom and tranquillity. These, however, are all general reflections, I have mentioned the few reservations that my right hon. Friend has on details in the Bill, which could, if the Bill gets a Second Reading, be discussed in Committee. 1632 Subject to those, and to any other points of that sort which may arise, my right hon. Friend welcomes the Bill and wishes it a successful passage.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 (Committal of Bills).