§ 4. Mr. Wingfield Digby
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many escorts were provided by the Metropolitan Police for abnormal indivisible loads during the last convenient year; how many police officers were engaged in these duties; and for what other duties the officers employed on such escorts were required.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Renton)
During the twelve months ended 30th September, 1961, 2,198 such escorts, requiring 18,060 man hours of police duty, were provided by traffic patrols of the Metropolitan Police.
§ Mr. Digby
Is there not a danger that the provision of this free service may encourage these loads to go by road when they could go by rail? Will my hon. and learned Friend at least ensure that the police see that these loads are moved at a convenient day and time so as not to cause unnecessary congestion?
§ Mr. Renton
Of course, it is impossible to say whether these services do encourage goods to go by road. At any event, it is for the user of the transport to decide that. The work of the police in this matter, for which the public at large pays, is of great benefit to road users generally. It is a service which the police provide, and I think it right that they should do so.
§ Mr. Popplewell
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that considerable inconvenience is caused to other road users by these very difficult loads being carried by road and requiring police escorts? Is it not something to which the hon. and learned Gentleman's Department should give very serious attention with a view to assisting in guiding these loads on to a different form of transport which would not interfere with the ordinary convenience of the general public to the degree that they do at present?
§ Mr. Renton
The police do give advice. They try to avoid obstruction as much as they possibly can. I can assure my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) that the police give a great deal of thought to this matter. It is remarkable what large loads have to be carried which mostly can only go by road, and, bearing in mind the assistance given by the police, it is remarkable how little obstruction they cause.