HC Deb 20 January 1965 vol 705 cc175-7
3 and 4. Mr. Powell

asked the Minister of Transport (1) when he expects to make regulations prescribing load limits to be displayed on commercial vehicles;

(2) when he expects to complete his discussions on the establishment of an annual testing scheme for heavy road vehicles.

36. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Minister of Transport what further steps he proposes to take to deal with the danger to road users caused by defective heavy goods vehicles.

Mr. Tom Fraser

I have asked for the comments of interested organisations on comprehensive proposals for the annual testing of heavy goods vehicles and for the plating of all goods vehicles to indicate the maximum gross weight at which any individual vehicle may safely operate. I intend to press on with these proposals as quickly as possible.

Mr. Powell

While I am glad to learn that the right hon. Gentleman attaches great importance to improving the Construction and Use Regulations, may I, in regard to the question of annual testing, ask if he can deal with this separately and in advance of any general reissue of the Regulations? This is a matter which is generally recognised to be of great importance. It has been under consideration for at least six months and I hope that he can bring it to an early conclusion.

Mr. Fraser

I am pressing on with this matter. I am in touch with the interested organisations. It is right, I think, that I should take the views of the operators, the manufacturers and the unions before I reach conclusions on these matters. I think I should tell the right hon. Gentleman, however, that I am informed that the introduction of annual testing would require some amending legislation.

Sir C. Osborne

After the inquiry is made, could the right hon. Gentleman say how far it would be possible to have some of these very heavy loads taken off the roads and put on the rails?

Mr. Fraser

This is one of the matters, I am sure, to which a great deal of consideration will have to be given in the co-ordination study I have under review.

Mr. Popplewell

The Minister says he is pressing on with the question of testing as quickly as possible. Could he give the House some indication of when he hopes to make some decision about it? If it does require legislation, will he assure the House that the legislation will come pretty soon after he has arrived at his decision, because there is urgent necessity for this? He will know from the spot checks and inspections which take place in various parts of the country how essential it is that heavy goods vehicles should be kept in a roadworthy state.

Mr. Fraser

My information is that the spot checks, which are continuing, have had a very good result. Work has already started to provide facilities for experimental testing of heavy goods vehicles in the Ministry's own depot at Hendon, but there are still many detailed problems to be solved and I cannot at present say when it will be possible to bring a comprehensive scheme into effect.