HC Deb 17 July 1962 vol 663 cc357-65

Where a policy of insurance issued under Part VI of the principal Act is restricted to insure one named driver only the certificate of insurance shall be overprinted in a different colour with words "Driving restricted to policy holder only" and there shall be conspicuously displayed on the motor vehicle to which the policy relates the words "Driving of this vehicle is restricted to policy holder only".—[Mr. C. Royle.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. C. Royle

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This proposed Clause is a simple one. I do not claim that any great principles are involved or that anything of great importance hangs upon it. It is very reasonable and would, I suggest, be very useful for the courts.

My right hon. and hon. Friends and I are suggesting that in the case of insurance certificates for the driving of cars, motor cycles and other motor vehicles the certificate in the case of one main driver should have in print, boldly displayed and probably in red letters on the top of it words such as "For one main driver only".

This question arises from the experience of the counts where rather irresponsible young people come into possession of motor vehicles, usually motor cycles, and are involved in an offence. In many oases they buy second-hand motor cycles and sometimes cheap second-hand cars. Often they are bought on hire purchase. They have no insurance experience. Sometimes they are inclined to lend their machines innocently or ignorantly to friends who go out on them and are not insured because of the limitations of the policy and of the certificate.

I am not trying to defend the irresponsible, but it is the experience of the counts that many of these cases arise. When these people are brought before the courts they often say, "We did not know." I know that it is true that often they do not take the trouble to read the policy, the cover note or the certificate of insurance.

The reason I advance this new Clause is because, like the Minister of Transport, I believe that prevention is better than cure. I believe that if there were a more bold statement on the certificate there would be less risk of the law being disobeyed. The overprint would be seen very clearly and there would be less risk of these motorists coming before the courts.

Apart from the question of overprint, we suggest in the Clause that there should also be on all vehicles some sort of label attached to show that the machine is insured for one main driver only. During the debate in Committee, the Parliamentary Secretary suggested that there were practical difficulties and that these labels would blot out part of the windscreen. There is not a great deal of strength in that argument. I drive a rather old car and along the bottom of the windscreen are the foreign sagas that I should have to obey when on the Continent. They have been on the windscreen for years, and they do not blot out anything from my vision. There could easily be something like that along the bottom of the windscreens of these vehicles. In the case of motor cycles, the notice could be attached to the handlebars or to the windscreens which many motor cycles now have. It is a simple matter. It would prevent a great many people from disobeying the law because they would be quite clear about the matter.

I do not want to delay the House a moment longer. We have made rather slow progress with the Bill, but I hope that the fact that I have made only a short speech will not lead anyone to believe that I am not sincere in my desire for this provision to be adopted. I hope that the Minister will accept it.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Hay

The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle) has already raised this matter in Standing Committee. The first part of the new Clause is virtually the same as that which he put down then and which we debated. He has not told the House—I think that he might have done—that I gave an undertaking then that we would see what we could do to meet it. I pointed out that it would require regulations and that we had power to do this by regulation, although, as we are obliged to do, having drafted our regulations we must circulate them to the interested parties and bodies for comment.

As far as we are concerned, that undertaking stands. I hope that the hon. Member will accept it that since the Committee stage concluded last week there has not been time to draft regulations and to circulate them to all the interested parties, to receive their comments, to sift them and to make the final regulations. That would have been expecting rather too much of a Department, which can move very quickly when it needs to do so. But just because we have not been able to report very much progress since we dealt with the matter last week does not mean that we are doing nothing about it. My undertaking stands, and we shall produce the regulations and consult the interested parties, including the insurers. I cannot go beyond that.

That is the first part of the new Clause. The next relates to the display on the vehicle of a notice saying that the driving of the vehicle is restricted to the policy holder only. The genesis of this idea was in some extempore remarks of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) in the debate on that proposal for overprinting the insurance certificate. Speaking immediately after him, and giving my first impression, I said, as the hon. Member for Salford, West repeated, that I saw some possible difficulties on the road safety point of view if we have notices stuck on windscreens. But that was not a considered view.

I have taken a good deal of advice on that idea since we met in Standing Committee. There is a substantial difficulty to start with in meeting this proposal. First, how should we decide who was responsible for displaying the notice? Quite a number of people may be involved. There is the vehicle owner and the policy holder, and there may also be the driver. The new Clause does not say which of these people shall be responsible for the display of the notice, but if the Clause is to have any effect we must attach some kind of sanction to it, and it is not clear to whom that sanction would attach.

Secondly, I remind the hon. Member that the named driver in a policy may by no means always be the policy holder. There is the obvious example of a commercial vehicle, in which case the policy holder is the employer but the named driver for the vehicle is an employee.

It would be extremely difficult to find a place on a motor cycle on which the notice could be exhibited if the hon. Member's objective were to be achieved —the objective being to bring to the notice of anyone mounting the machine the fact that it was insured for only a named driver. It would be difficult to find a place to which it could be attached.

I think that the House would wish carefully to consider whether it is wise in all the circumstances to single out for special mention in a notice of this kind a condition which is one of many conditions which can attach to an insurance policy. There are many other conditions in an insurance policy which are just as important as that of the driver or the person who is insured to drive.

Finally, I think that the conclusive argument is that if we were to accept the suggestion we should have to decide what to do about the vehicle which is insured by its owner on a single-driver basis, but which, nevertheless, can be driven by some other person whose own insurance policy covers him while he is driving not only his own, but any vehicle.

For all these reasons, the suggestion in the latter part of the new Clause just will not do. I am sorry, but I really had hoped that in Committee I had made it clear that we would approach the other suggestion about the over-printing of the insurance certificate with a good deal of favour. We will do all we can to bring the regulations forward, but beyond that I cannot go. I cannot advise the House to accept the Clause, principally because it is unnecessary and also because on the second leg it is unworkable.

Mr. C. Royle

I am very disappointed with what the hon. Gentleman has said. I have given a great deal of thought to this matter since we finished the Committee stage and I still think that it should be within the terms of the Bill. I cannot, therefore, in any circumstance, ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Mr. Cole

One example which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary gave left him uncovered, because if the employer of one of the employee drivers drove the vehicle the Clause would not apply, because it would be a case of the policy-holder only and that case is ruled out. However, that is a minor matter and when my hon. Friend translates into action the first part of the

Clause, and, I also hope, the second part, I trust that he will bear in mind two things.

My hon. Friend said that there were other points of the insurance policy of equal import to its being restricted to the policy holder only. Is there anything more important in a policy than the fact that a man should be driving without insurance at all? That is the import of the Clause. It seeks to deal with the case where a driver would be driving a motor car or a motor cycle without 'being insured, and any third party would be liable to have a claim against the driver without the possibility of satisfaction.

If there were something on the car or motor cycle—and I leave the insurance policy for a moment—the case of a person driving the vehicle without insurance would never happen, because the man would know that he was committing a felony at the very moment he took the vehicle. He could not plead ignorance of the conditions unless he drove the car with his eyes shut. He would shy off borrowing the motor cycle or motor car and we should never have a case such as the one I have quoted, of a man who was awarded £18,000 damages against the driver but who will not receive a penny. It should be shown without peradventure that the man would be breaking the law if he borrowed the vehicle.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 118, Noes 179.

Division No. 247.] AYES 19.53 p.m.
Awbery, Stan Dempsey, James Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis)
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Dodds, Norman Herbison, Miss Margaret
Beaney, Alan Edelman, Maurice Hilton, A. V.
Bence, Cyril Edwards, Rt. Hon. Nets (Caerphilly) Holman, Percy
Blackburn, F. Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Hooson, H. E.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Lelcs,S.W.) Evans, Albert Houghton, Douglas
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Finch, Harold Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Hoy, James H.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Forman, J. C. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Calpern, Sir Myer Hunter, A. E.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Ginsburg, David Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Crossman, R. H. S. Greenwood, Anthony Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Grey, Charles Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Dalyell, Tarn Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Davies, Ifor (Cower) Hannan, William Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hart, Mrs. Judith Kelley, Richard
Delargy, Hugh Hayman, F. H. Kenyon, Clifford
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phllip(Derby, S.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
King, Dr. Horace Oswald, Thomas Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Lawson, George Parker, John Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Pavitt, Laurence Swingler, Stephen
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Taverne, D.
Lubbock, Eric Popplewell, Ernest Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
MacColl, James Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
MacDermot, Niall Redhead, E. C. Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Mclnnes, James Rhodes, H. Thornton, Ernest
McKay, John (Wallsend) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tomny, Frank
Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wade, Donald
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Weitzman, David
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton) Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Manuel, Archie Ross, William Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Mapp, Charles Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Marsh, Richard Short, Edward Woof, Robert
Mellish, R. J. Skeffington, Arthur
Monslow, Walter Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Morris, John Sorensen, R. W. Mr. G. H. R. Rogers and
Neal, Harold Spriggs, Leslie Mr. McCann.
Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Steele, Thomas
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Gower, Raymond Partridge, C.
Allason, James Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Ashton, sir Hubert Green, Alan Peel, John
Atkins, Humphrey Gresham Cooke, R. Percival, Ian
Batsford, Brian Gurden, Harold Peyton, John
Baxter, sir Beverley (Southgate) Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Pilkington, Sir Richard
Bell, Ronald Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Pitt, Miss Edith
Berkeley, Humphry Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd) Pott, Percivall
Biffen, John Hastings, Stephen Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Bingham, R. M. Hay, John Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pym, Francis
Bishop, F. P. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Rawlinson, Peter
Black, Sir Cyril Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bourne-Arton, A. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Rees, Hugh
Box, Donald Hirst, Geoffrey Roots, William
Boyle, Sir Edward Hocking, Philip N. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brewis, John Holland, Philip Russell, Ronald
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. St. Clair, M.
Brooman-White, R. Hughes-Young, Michael Scott-Hopkins, James
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hurd, Sir Anthony Sharples, Richard
Buck, Antony Hutchison, Michael Clark Shepherd, William
Bullard, Denys Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Skeet, T. H. H.
Burden, F. A. James, David Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Smithers, Peter
Cary, Sir Robert Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Channon, H. P. G. Joseph, Sir Keith Storey, Sir Samuel
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Kaberry, sir Donald Studholme, Sir Henry
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth,W.) Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Summers, Sir Spencer
Cleaver, Leonard Kerby, Capt. Henry Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Collard, Richard Kirk, Peter Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Cooper, A. E. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Teeling, Sir William
Cordle, John Linstead, sir Hugh Temple John M.
Corfield, F. V. Litchfield, Capt. John Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Coulson, Michael Longbottom, Charles Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Craddock, Sir Beresford Loveys, Walter H. Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Critchley, Julian McLaughlln, Mrs. Patricia Turner, Colin
Crowder, F. P. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Curran, Charles McMaster, Stanley R. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Currie, G. B. H. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Van straubenzee, W. R
Dalkeith, Earl of Maddan, Martin Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Maginnis, John E. Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Deedes, W. F. Maitland, Sir John Walder, David
Digby, Simon Wingfield Markham, Major Sir Frank Walker, Peter
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Wall, patrick,
Drayson, G. B. Marshall, Douglas Ward, Dame Irene
du Cann, Edward Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Webster David
Duncan, Sir James Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Elliott, R. W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne,N) Mawby, Ray Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Errington, Sir Eric Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L, C. Wise, A. R.
Farr, John Mills, Stratton Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Finlay, Graeme Miscampbell, Norman Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Fisher, Nigel More, Jasper (Ludlow) Woodhouse, C. M.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Nicholls, Sir Harmar Worsley, Marcus
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Noble, Michael Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Gibson-Watt, David Osborn, John (Hallam)
Gilmour, Sir John Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Page, Graham (Crosby) Mr. Chichester-Clark and
Goodhew, Victor Page, John (Harrow, West) Mr. McLaren.

Proceedings on the Road Traffic Bill [Lords] exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[Mr. Iain Macleod.]