HC Deb 01 July 1964 vol 697 cc1336-7
3. Sir B. Janner

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the fact that a large number of lorries of over 30 cwt. carrying capacity on the roads are mechanically unsound, he will now introduce legislation for all vehicles of such carrying capacity to be periodically examined.

Mr. Galbraith

I dealt with this problem in my speech on the Motion for the Adournment on 23rd June and at the moment I cannot say more.

Sir B. Janner

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his statement on that occasion was entirely unsatisfactory? How on earth can he, in all conscience, allow these heavy lorries to be on the road without a regular test, rather than a check-up as at present? Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there are about 750,000 of these vehicles on the road, and that there are only 12 teams dealing with them? Why does he not have a test for these vehicles in the same way as he has a test for a much less vulnerable kind of machine which also does damage? Will he realise that the public will not stand for this kind of thing, and that something should be done very rapidly?

Mr. Galbraith

I am glad that the hon. Member read what I said in the Adjournment debate. I still think that he is exaggerating. The safety record of these vehicles is better than that of any other class, and that is the important thing. However, this summer my right hon. Friend is stepping up the checks on these vehicles on the roads, and having a blitz on them in certain areas.

Mr. Webster

Is it not understandable that the owners of commercial vehicles are reluctant to bring their fleets up to date when they run the risk of having them nationalised, or put completely off the road, with no compensation, if the Labour Party gets into office?

Mr. Galbraith

I certainly think that the policy of the party opposite—in so far as we know what it is—is responsible for undermining the excellent spirit of the road hauliers.

Mr. Mellish

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it has always been assumed in this House that road safety was above party matters? Is it now being said that it does not matter what the community thinks and that it is fair for any section of it to put unsafe vehicles on the road? Is he aware that it is admitted that we have not got the inspectors to carry out these checks? In one year only 12½ per cent. of these vehicles can be checked, which means that it will take over eight years for them all to be checked. What about increasing the number of inspectors?

Mr. Galbraith

The hon. Member keeps forgetting that the safety record of these vehicles is better than that of any other class. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend is not content to rest there, and is instituting these special spot checks this summer, in the hope of even further improving the safety record of these vehicles.