HC Deb 13 May 1964 vol 695 cc419-20
8. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is now taking to prevent the loading of vehicles beyond their authorised capacity to an extent where they are sometimes reduced to a crawl on gradients, thereby forming long queues behind them and becoming a danger to other road users.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

While the regulations provide that the load of a vehicle must not be a cause of danger, there is at present no authorised capacity for individual vehicles; but we are taking into account minimum power-weight ratios in a scheme for specifying individual maximum permitted weights for all goods vehicles which we are now considering.

Mr. Digby

Might not a minimum speed limit be the right answer? Will my hon. and gallant Friend consult the Minister on his return from America, where so many States have a minimum speed limit in operation, to see whether that might deal with this great problem for many motorists in this country?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I appreciate my hon. Friend's point, but our present view is that by fixing a power-weight ratio sufficiently high in relation to the maximum permitted load we shall ensure that vehicles can ascend hills at reasonable speeds when carrying their maximum permissible load.

Mr. Fernyhough

Would not the Parliamentary Secretary readily agree that the sensible answer is that, instead of the lorries being overloaded, the goods which they carry should be carried by rail?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I am sure that we should all like to see the railways gaining more traffic, but, with great respect to the hon. Member, I do not think that that in itself would solve the problem raised by my hon. Friend in his Question.