HC Deb 25 May 1960 vol 624 cc431-2
23. Mr. James

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has studied Swedish statistics showing the decline in loss of life that follows upon the fitting of diagonal safety-belts to the front seats of cars, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown; and whether he will consider ways and means of popularising these methods in the United Kingdom in order to reduce accidents and to promote road safety.

Mr. Hay

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for sending these details; information on the Swedish use of safety belts was already available to my Department and had been circulated to the Committee of the British Standards Institution, which recently agreed a new standard for safety harness. The answer to the second part of my hon. Friend's Question is "Yes".

Mr. James

I thank my hon. Friend for that Answer, but may I ask whether he is aware that roads take many years and much money to build, whereas this is an aspect of the problem where 700 lives could be saved and up to 50,000 serious casualties prevented by immediate administrative action?

Mr. Hay

Yes, Sir. We are in no doubt as to the value and efficacy of these safety belts and types of safety harness. I have one in my own car, as I think I have told the House previously. We are anxious to see that safety belts and safety harnesses are used in more cars in the future.

Mr. Benn

What is the position with regard to the British Safety Council, which has approved certain types of safety belt but appears to be a body which is not officially established? I wonder whether the Minister would see that belts are not put on to the market approved at a safety standard below that required by the British Standards Institution, which has recently been published.

Mr. Hay

I cannot give any details about the British Safety Council without notice. Under the present system the British Standards Institution will lay down the right sort of standard for safety belts, to make sure that they are as safe as possible—and that is the standard to which I referred in my original Answer.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

In view of the great importance of this matter, can the Minister say what steps his Department is taking to give publicity to the findings of the British Standards Institution? Many people do not know what is the right type of belt and what is the wrong type.

Mr. Hay

The answer is that the new British standard, to which I referred in my original answer, should be ready for publication about the end of June, and supplies of harness regarded as complying with this standard should be available to the public towards the end of August. From that moment we will consider what publicity campaign, if any, should be adopted.