HC Deb 27 February 1963 vol 672 cc1249-50
32. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport how many applications he received in January to move loads exceeding 14 ft. wide or 90 ft. long; in how many cases he gave permission; and in how many cases he varied the proposed day and time of travel.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

During January, my right hon. Friend received II applications for the movement of the largest category of loads, that is, those over 20 ft. wide or over 90 ft. long; 3 were approved and 7 rejected. My right hon. Friend also received 185 applications to move loads between 14 ft. and 20 ft. wide; 165 were approved and 11 rejected.

In no case did he vary the proposed day and time of travel; the power to do this is vested in the police.

Mr. Digby

In view of the traffic congestion very frequently caused by these heavy loads, will the Parliamentary Secretary do all he can to encourage the police to vary the times so that such loads may be on the roads at times when there is the minimum of other traffic?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Yes, Sir. My information is that the police endeavour to do this.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that these huge loads are preceded through every city by a posse of police? The services of the police have to be paid for by the local authority and not by the people who are carrying the commodity. Will the Minister put upon those who are carrying the commodity the responsibility for paying for the posse of police in these circumstances?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

The hon. Gentleman will recall that this particular matter was referred to and discussed in the House during the last Parliament on the Report of the Estimates Committee. The feeling of the House at that time was that it was best to leave the arrangements as they are.

Mr. Prior

Will my hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind that these heavy loads and badly shaped loads are causing more and more inconvenience to other road users? Would it not be better to get many of them back on the railways, which would help the railways and cause people on the roads a good deal less inconvenience?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I entirely agree with the sentiments which my hon. Friend expresses. Normally, road movement is not approved in the following circumstances. We never approve it if the load is capable of being redesigned and broken down. We do not approve it if the journey is a long one and it is reasonable, both geographically and economically, to use rail or sea. We do not approve it if the load can safely be tilted and loaded vertically to reduce the space. However, as I am sure my hon. Friend appreciates, many of these big loads are far too big to go on the railways.

Mr. Manuel

But does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that, before he authorises these out-of-gauge loads to go by road, the senders should be advised to get in touch with the railways to find out whether such loads can be taken under the special precautions laid down where movements are conducted and one can have the full width of the loading space and carry lengths greater than that mentioned in the Question, thus avoiding damage to the roads and possible danger to other road users?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I assure the hon. Gentleman that those particular points are looked into by the Department very carefully when applications come in.