HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc601-3
19. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the police now have means of measuring noise from motor vehicles; in how many cases the Metropolitan Police have proceeded against those responsible for vehicles making undue noise, and with what result; and how many prosecutions have been undertaken in the Metropolitan Police District of drivers sounding horns when stationary or in the proscribed hours, and with what result.

Mr. Woodhouse

The law does not prescribe maximum permissible levels for noise from motor vehicles and the police do not therefore need noise level meters for law enforcement purposes. In 1963 there were 2,960 prosecutions in the Metropolitan Police District for offences relating to vehicle noise, of which 2,913 were successful; 489 cautions were also issued. There were 16 prosecutions for sounding horns when stationary or in the proscribed hours, all of which were successful; 30 cautions were also issued for such offences.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people will be grateful to hear this and will wish the police well in their efforts to reduce what appears to be a growing nuisance? Has my hon. Friend observed that many drivers nowadays seem to be using their horns as a substitute for careful driving or as an outlet for their impatience?

Mr. Woodhouse

I have, indeed, noticed that, as I am sure many other hon. Members have. I would tell my hon. Friend that the figures for 1963 represent a substantial increase on the figures for 1962, so he will see that the police are doing their duty in this matter.

Sir J. Eden

Is my hon. Friend aware that in addition to horns some of the worst offences in this regard are caused by motor vehicles without silencers? It seems to me that the smaller the car the more noise the driver wants to make. Would he ensure, in so far as he is able, that this nuisance is brought to the notice of the authorities, and can he say whether he has had success in inviting the support of the motor vehicle manufacturers?

Mr. Woodhouse

It is an offence under the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1963, to fail to have a silencer or to maintain it in good and efficient working order. This is certainly a matter to which the police pay attention, but I would remind my hon. Friend that the police can take action only when they witness an offence or when competent witnesses are prepared to come forward. The onus to some extent must rest on the public. With regard to the last part of my hon. Friend's Question, I think that is rather a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.

Mr. Fletcher

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this is a matter in which members of the public can help very considerably by reporting instances of noisy motor cars and motor bicycles and taking their numbers to the police so that appropriate action can be taken?

Mr. Woodhouse

I agree, but it is further necessary that they should be willing to give evidence.