HC Deb 31 July 1963 vol 682 cc433-5
26. Mr. Russell

asked the Minister of Transport why permission was given for a load 19 feet wide and 65 feet long carrying a ship's propeller weighing 35 tons to travel by road from Birkenhead to Falmouth, in view of the inconvenience caused to other road users and other difficulties; why he did not require the load to be sent at least part of the way by sea; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Galbraith

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer which my right hon. Friend gave on 24th July to the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp).

Mr. Russell

I read that reply which was adequate so far as it went. Would my hon. Friend agree that a load which is 19 feet wide is too wide for any kind of road, even a three-lane motorway? Can he say how loads like this were sent before the invention of Scammell lorries and vehicles which are able to carry such heavy loads, and should not such loads be prohibited?

Mr. Galbraith

I do not know the answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I am sure he realises that sometimes it is necessary to get a propeller to a ship quickly and sometimes it appears that the quickest way to do that is to send it by lorry. However, in view of the difficulties which occurred on this occasion, my right hon. Friend, as he said on 24th July, is reviewing the best method to deal with future loads of this size.

Mr. Hayman

May I ask whether the Minister is aware that there is a regular shipping line operating between Birkenhead and Falmouth and that when this huge load came by road the Cornwall County Council was not informed although the vehicle bad to travel over 60 miles in Cornwall on the busiest roads at the height of the tourist season? Will not the Minister look at this again?

Mr. Galbraith

I am surprised to hear what the hon. Gentleman tells me about the county council because it is necessary to give the police two days notice.

Mr. Mellish

Is not it a fact that we cannot possibly give instructions about loads of this sort unless we have a publicly-owned co-ordinated transport system?

33. Sir K. Thompson

asked the Minister of Transport what action he has taken this year to ensure that large and unwieldy loads are transported by the most suitable routes, other than by road.

62. Commander Kerans

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will introduce legislation to prevent very heavy loads going by road where port facilities in the United Kingdom are adequate, and thus prevent congestion on the roads.

Mr. Marples

From 1st November last year the Regulations governing the movement of abnormal loads by road were strengthened giving me control over all loads more than 14 feet wide, more than 90 feet long or more than 150 tons in gross weight. These Regulations have been applied with progressively increasing effect throughout this year. There has been a steady decrease in the number of applications for movement by road, attributable to the use of other means of transport and also to the steps being taken to reduce the sizes of loads for transport by road. Availability of port facilities is not the only factor in the use of sea transport. Journey time, cost and liability in some cases to damage must also be taken into account.

Sir K. Thompson

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, as he has said, there is available coastwise shipping for the transport of this kind of load? Will he pursue with vigour his determination that the roads shall not be cluttered up with large and unwieldy loads which ought not to be on the roads at all?

Mr. Marples

We have said that we are reviewing the matter. The number of applications to the Ministry has been reduced because of the announcement of new Regulations. Over all, there are fewer large loads going by road.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will the Minister consider the suggestion of his hon. Friend? Is he aware that great difficulties are created for the manufacturers of large-scale plant? Rather than that such plant should be conveyed by road, with the need to redesign it in order that it may be so conveyed—and thereby affect the production costs—would not it be better if large-scale plant were conveyed by sea?

Mr. Marples

A number of organisations representing heavy engineering industries, in which I know the hon. Member is interested, have set up Abnormal Loads Committee to consider the increasing problem of the transport of heavy, oversized loads. It is all linked up with the design of the machinery we are trying to export. In many cases, people say without thought that the machinery should go by rail, but in some cases that would mean knocking down about a hundred bridges. There are also difficulties about transport by sea. In many cases it is technically not possible for it to go by sea. All these things have to be taken into account, and we should try to put it all into its proper perspective.