§ 14. Mr. Bagier
asked the Minister of Transport how many goods transport vehicles have been examined under the spot check scheme; how many were found to be defective; how many were found to be dangerous and taken off the road immediately; and what percentages of these figures are in the public sector and the private sector, respectively.
§ Mr. Tom Fraser
In the 12 months ending 30th September, 1965, 139,428 vehicles were examined. 64,335 were found to be defective in some respect and of these 14,017 were the subject of prohibition notices with immediate effect. The records do not distinguish between vehicles owned by private firms and public bodies.
§ Mr. Bagier
Is not my right hon. Friend shocked by these figures? Will he not agree that they show that nearly 50 per cent. of vehicles examined are potential lethal weapons on the road? Will he take such steps as are within his power to ensure that at least the public sector toes the line, and state his intentions as Minister to ensure that these vehicles are quickly brought into line and either taken off the road or put into a fit condition?
§ Mr. Fraser
I have already informed the House that I intend to bring forward legislation at a very early date which will enable me better to deal with defective lorries. I shall provide for the annual testing of lorries, for which there is no provision at the moment, and for the plating of lorries, which will impose a load limit beyond which it will be an offence to overload a lorry. In this and other ways—by means of regulations dealing with braking efficiency and so on—I am doing all I can to deal with the manace of the lorries.
§ Mr. Webster
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are adequate powers under the 1960 Act dealing with road traffic for the licensing authorities to give revocation and prohibition orders in these cases, and what steps is he taking to ensure that the licensing authorities use the powers which they already have?
§ Mr. Fraser
The licensing authorities are using the powers which they already have, but I was asked whether I might take more powers so that I might do more.
§ 51. Mr. Rhodes
asked the Minister of Transport what action he proposes to take to keep defective goods vehicles off the roads, in view of the recent evidence of his inspectors' checks on such vehicles using roads in Northumberland and Durham.
§ Mr. Swingler
We are developing plans for the annual testing of the heavier classes of lorries. Meanwhile our examiners are continuing their checks. Action in relation to carriers' licences is the responsibility of the Licensing Authorities. In the Northern Traffic Area 76 vehicles were suspended from carriers' licences during the 12 months ending 30th September, 1965, following offences against safety regulations.
§ Mr. Rhodes
Is my hon. Friend aware that when his inspectors recently checked heavy goods vehicles in Northumberland and Durham more than 40 per cent. were found to be defective? Can he confirm 1414 statements in the local Press that when traffic commissioners revoke the licences of these cheeseparing companies the appeals tribunals give them back by return of post?
§ Mr. Swingler
I have no information about that, but I shall certainly investigate it, because we want to get better enforcement. Perhaps I might tell my hon. Friend that in this area proceedings have been taken in 461 cases, and there have been 457 convictions.