HC Deb 26 July 1965 vol 717 cc13-5
17. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the condemnation by the National Board for Prices and Incomes in its Report, Command Paper No. 2695, of the restrictive practice in the road haulage industry in refusing to operate lorries at 40 miles per hour, and by keeping to the old speed limit of 30 miles per hour, if he will confer with the union leaders with a view to ending this practice; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Thornton

My right hon. Friend proposes to discuss the recommendation of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on this subject with the trade unions concerned at an early date. He has already had informal consultations with this in mind.

Sir C. Osborne

In paragraph 47 of its recent Report, the Board stated that the average speed of the motor vehicles involved is only 21/23 m.p.h., which is an under-use of the existing machinery, and that the recommendation that the maximum speed should be allowed to go to 40 m.p.h. was resisted by the trade union leaders because they had not been consulted. In the national interest and the interests of efficiency generally, will the hon. Gentleman consult the trade union leaders to see that this go-slow on their part is discontinued?

Mr. Thornton

It would be unwise to ignore the safety factor here. My right hon. Friend is well aware of all the implications and he is anxious that progress should be made as quickly as possible.

Mr. Snow

Is my hon. Friend aware that this side of the House at least will welcome his observation that the safety factor must be borne in mind? Is he aware that the high speeding of lorries is a cause of grave concern on certain of the cross-country routes in the Midlands and the factor of great importance to be borne in mind is the safety of such elements of the population as school children who have to use the roads? Will he note that on some country roads the danger can be very great?

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the hon. Gentleman realise that an average speed of 22 m.p.h. for freight vehicles compares very badly with most other countries of the world and that the safety consideration is one primarily for the Minister of Transport, who, as he has not revoked it, presumably agrees with the earlier order? Will he, therefore, persuade his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to take some energetic measures in this very obvious case?

Mr. Thornton

My right hon. Friend is aware of all these considerations and, as I said in my original Answer, he has already had some consultations.

Mr. Bagier

Is my hon. Friend aware that average speeds are very misleading, particularly in this country, and that those of us who travel on the main trunk routes have very seldom seen lorries travelling at anything like 22 m.p.h.? Will he agree that, on those occasions when lorries do hesitate to travel at more than 30 m.p.h., the reason may be the mechanical standard of some of the vehicles involved?

Mr. Thornton

These are all factors which must be borne in mind.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will the hon. Gentleman say, from his personal observation, whether he has ever seen a lorry travelling at under 40 m.p.h.? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to use his wit and ridicule on the trade unions to bring them into line on this very practical point?

Sir C. Osborne

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies, I shall, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, seek an early opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

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