§ 10.13 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. George Thomas)
I beg to move,That the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order, 1965, a draft of which was laid before this House on 14th April, be approved.This Order has been drafted in pursuance of the powers conferred on my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary by Section 2 (3) of the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act, 1960. It adds new functions to those already prescribed as appropriate for discharge by traffic wardens by the Function of Traffic Wardens Order, 1960.
I should make clear to the House at the outset that these functions are permissive and not mandatory. By the 1960 Act, which the party opposite placed on the Statute Book, Parliament said, in effect, that police authorities might employ traffic wardens to aid police officers in the performance of certain functions associated with road traffic, but that the functions which traffic wardens appointed under the Act should undertake in any locality must come within a list of functions declared appropriate by the Home Secretary. Within that list, however, traffic wardens might be used for all or merely for some of the functions.
In 1960 the setting up of the traffic warden organisation was a considerable innovation. Many expressed fears about the acceptance of traffic wardens by the public, about the level of efficiency that they would attain, and about the effect of their employment on relations between the police and the public. The House, I know, will share my pleasure that those fears have proved groundless. Traffic wardens in the areas where they have been employed have been quickly accepted by the public.
I quite realise that the sight of a traffic warden bearing down on a car parked in a wrong place does not give rise to the "Hallelujah Chorus" on the part of the motorist concerned, but generally motorists realise that we must have restrictions in our crowded cities and that those restrictions are worth while only if they are properly enforced. 406 Nothing causes more legitimate annoyance to the motorist than the feeling that other people are getting away scot-free from infringements of the traffic laws, especially as regards parking.
Traffic wardens have played a most worth-while part in helping to keep the traffic flowing. They have convinced the public at large that they have carried out their duties of enforcement in the tradition of the police service with impartiality and courtesy. They have built up a high reputation for themselves, and this, I believe, is generally recognised. The public now turns to them for help and gets it. In 1960 it was thought, and rightly so, that the service ought to start on a limited basis so that it could grow roots and consideration could be given to further development. Accordingly, the 1960 Order authorised traffic wardens to enforce the law in respect of a limited number of parking offences and to act as parking meter attendants and at school crossing patrols.
The growth of the service has been slow. In some areas, notably the metropolitan district in London, this has been due partly to difficulties of recruitment. The essential qualities required of a traffic warden, honesty, courtesy, accuracy in making unbiased reports, are the very qualities that other employers are looking for. There are still only a little over 1,000 traffic wardens in England and Wales, but police authorities are now beginning to use them in increasing numbers. We expect that the rate of increase will be further improved as police authorities and chief constables see more clearly the usefulness of this new aid to our hard-pressed police as parking meter schemes and fixed penalty schemes spread more evenly and widely.
After four years and an encouraging start in dealing, in the main, with stationary vehicles, we are convinced that the time has now come for further development and we have spent much time considering what new duties could properly be given to the wardens. We have naturally consulted chief constables and the police authorities associations, and we have concluded that the functions of controlling and regulating moving traffic stand out as the most 407 useful of the functions in present circumstances. Some of the duties that these might cover are point duty at the simpler junctions where there are, none the less, heavy peaks of traffic. The traffic warden might undertake regular tours of duty. It might be that he will serve at weekends only or for short periods in the morning or the evening when the traffic is at its peak and where there are tidal flows in and out of urban areas.
This proposal will be particularly welcome in the West Country and in the south of England where there is at present a heavy and wasteful toll of our police manpower controlling traffic. I was little surprised to see in The Times on the 8th of this month this statement on the proposals now before the House. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), who for very good reason, I know, is not in his place at the moment, is quoted as follows:Mr. Peter Bessell, the Liberal spokesman on transport, said that it would be pointless to appoint traffic wardens at a busy junction it motorists knew they could ignore their signals with impunity. But on the general proposition of employing traffic wardens—given the right powers—to assist the police, the Liberals were not antagonistic.It is our turn tonight.'Subject to the wardens having adequate and proper training—preferably under the supervision of the police—and to their work being co-ordinated with the work of the police, this is a desirable step', he said.In Cornwall for the past 30 years a few civilians have been employed for this very kind of work in the summer months. They have done it without any statutory protection. It works adequately and it is acceptable to the community there.
§ Mr. G. R. Howard (St. Ives)
Would the Joint Under-Secretary say a little more about this? Does he mean people who control school crossings, or does he mean that there are some people in Cornwall other than the police controlling traffic?
§ Mr. Thomas
What I meant was that civilians are engaged by the local authority there to help in the controlling of traffic at the peak seasons and that the public and the motoring community are grateful for the work that these folk do.
408 Traffic wardens might help with dealing with traffic jams around fairs and shows. In these cases part of the difficulty is enabling heavy streams of traffic to enter and leave private land and their control and regulation has to be done off as well as on the highway. That is why the draft Order specifically refers to road traffic, whether on the highway or not. We could not possibly be expected to list all the occasions on which it would be useful and sensible to use traffic wardens.
The draft Order, therefore, also includes a general form of words referring toany other functions normally undertaken by the police in connection with the control and regulation of road traffic.We believe that this will allow flexibility and, what is more important, experiments by chief constables to meet local requirements. It is the wish of my right hon. and learned Friend, and I am sure that of the House, that chief constables should endeavour to make the best possible use of the service of wardens in their areas to release the police for other important duties.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I support the Order and therefore I am, as it were, on the side of the angels, but may I ask whether it is the hon. Gentleman's intention that in the event of a motorist contesting a case the traffic wardens would be the people who would give evidence for the prosecution in a magistrate's court, thereby releasing police from having to wait many hours in the queue? Is that the intention, or is that duty still to remain with the police?
§ Mr. Thomas
I will deal with that later on when I deal with the fact that traffic wardens will not have the power of constables in carrying out their duties.
The draft Order includes the provision that traffic wardens shall not exercise their new function in a moving vehicle. This is to make it perfectly clear that they are not to be employed as members of traffic patrol crews. Those crews perform a wide range of duties requiring special training as well as the exercise of the powers of constables. Traffic patrol crews are often required to deal with criminals who are using stolen cars, which seems to be one of the main weapons they use at present in setting about their crimes. We believe that it 409 is wiser for the traffic wardens, at least at this stage, not to be traffic patrol crews.
Under the 1960 Act traffic wardens are not given the power of constables. Those who were responsible for getting that Measure through the House took the deliberate step, with which I agree, to ensure that traffic wardens were not given the powers of police constables, and paragraph 1(3) of the draft Order merely restates this position to avoid any possible misunderstanding. This makes it important that they should not be employed as traffic patrol crews where they might be called upon to exercise powers which they do not enjoy.
Mr. R. Gresham-Cooke (Twickenham)
I remember that when that Act came before the House as a Bill traffic wardens were not given the powers of constables. How is it, therefore, that they are being used in the West Country for controlling traffic? I should have thought that they were thereby usurping the powers of constables. Would not that be against the Order?
§ Mr. Thomas
It is perfectly possible for the hon. Member to control traffic if he so desires. No doubt on occasion when a friend was driving a car out of a garage he has stood by to guide the traffic and has therefore controlled the traffic. Lorry drivers' mates often control traffic. A.A. and R.A.C. scouts control traffic, and the motoring community are deeply appreciative of the part which they play. What we are doing is helping the police authorities throughout the country by giving them the facility of increased manpower, which will be covered by grant, to help to relieve the pressure on the police forces dealing with traffic problems.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
As far as I recall it, the person to whom the hon. Gentleman refers was a man in uniform who used to control traffic in Boscawen Street, Truro, many years ago, in about 1950, I think, long before the Act of 1960. He was not a constable, but he was allowed to control the traffic there.
§ Mr. Thomas
They are very progressive people in Cornwall, as I well know. I do not for a moment dispute what the hon. Gentleman says, because he knows his facts on this matter. We are not saying that it is illegal for anyone else to 410 control traffic. We are making provision for traffic wardens, who will be properly trained and under the supervision of the police forces, to help in relieving the growing burden of traffic which we face today.
§ Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)
I understand that, in the old days, there used to be what were known as traffic controllers in Scotland, men who had power to stop, direct and control traffic. I gather from Scottish friends on both sides of the House that the use of these traffic controllers has fallen into abeyance. Is it intended that we should have the Scottish traffic controller system in England now?
§ Mr. Thomas
Yes, I know. Every hon. Member is entitled to fight for time while he is thinking of the answer. There has not been anything like the traffic wardens before. These are people who will be employed, trained and supervised by the police. They will be uniformed people. I know that some hon. Members have expressed anxieties, as did a report in The Times, because the traffic warden will not enjoy the powers of the police if, for instance, there is a drunken driver or someone who ignores his signal. It has been asked, "How can he carry on with his work if he has not authority to impose his decision?".
That is a fair question, but I have a fair answer. There is no reason at all to believe that drivers of vehicles will not stop for wardens any more than they refuse to stop for A.A. scouts or R.A.C. patrolmen. It is, indeed, a witless person who will whiz past in great danger to himself and to everybody else, and, if such a thing occurs, the civilian traffic warden—for he is not a policeman—will do what any other civilian has an obligation to do; he will report it to the police. If a motorist refused to obey the signal of the man controlling traffic and insisted on going his own way regardless of others, that would be, I am sure the House agrees, an example of careless driving. Perhaps I ought to have said that any reasonable person would agree.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
Of course, the House agrees that 99 per cent. 411 of the motoring public will obey the signals of the traffic warden just as they obey those of the R.A.C. and A.A. at present. But there is a great distinction between the signals of the traffic warden and those of the police officer because, in the former case, no offence is committed under the Road Traffic Act, 1960, if a driver ignores them. Will the hon. Gentleman address his mind to the observations of the House of Lords Committee which commented on this very point?
§ Mr. Thomas
I reject those comments. I do not think that they are well founded. I am trying to make a case to the House. It is suggested that someone controlling traffic has to have powers to arrest. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what is being asked for. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Powers to do what, then? To take out summonses? If it is not power to arrest, what powers do hon. Members want to give traffic wardens?
§ Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)
I accept the hon. Member's contention that it may well be that to refuse to obey an order of a traffic warden may well amount to careless driving. But, under the school crossing rules, it is an offence not to obey a command given at a school crossing. Where is the difference in principle?
§ Mr. Thomas
I will deal with that point.
The draft Order makes a large extension of the activities in which traffic wardens may be employed. In the present situation of a hard-pressed police force and the steadily mounting total of cars on the roads, we believe that it is essential for this House, which speaks often enough about the hard-pressed police, to take positive steps to relieve them of some burdens. Traffic wardens have a vital part to play in this regard.
The police authorities and the service associations have been consulted and are in general agreement with the proposal. The extent to which the new powers are used will now depend upon police authorities and chief constables, but my right hon. and learned Friend wishes no one to be in doubt that he regards the effective use of traffic wardens on all proper occasions as an important element in the modern policing of an area.
412 We in the Home Office will do all we can to advise and help police authorities and chief constables in using to the full this new service. It is the custom of the House to move slowly in matters of this sort. We have waited four years for this extension of the functions of traffic wardens. If, in the course of time, it is proved that, in practice, they need further powers we shall not be reluctant to face up to that need, but I believe that the House itself would be reluctant to extend the powers of the police to other people who are performing duties of this sort and I hope that the House will give its approval to the Motion.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Sharples (Sutton and Cheam)
We on this side welcome almost any measure that will relieve the police of their routine duties. I certainly join the Joint Under-Secretary of State in paying tribute to the work of the traffic wardens since this service was established. But, having said that, I should say that this Order has defects in it which have been somewhat glossed over by the hon. Gentleman. Our difficulty is that while we would not wish to oppose the Order, under our rules of procedure we are not able to amend it in any way once it has been laid.
The Under-Secretary referred briefly to the comments of the Special Orders Committee of another place and said that he did not take much account of criticisms made there. I hope that he will give them further consideration. He pointed out that the traffic wardens scheme was introduced under the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act, 1960, and he was at pains to point out that it was introduced not without considerable misgivings on both sides of the House and outside. The then Opposition spokesman from the Front Bench, Mr. Gordon Walker, described the scheme as an untried and possibly dangerous experiment, and that sentiment was echoed by the present Foreign Secretary.
I believe that the success of the scheme was largely due to the care taken in its introduction and especially to the first Order made under the Act, the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order, 1960. The difference between that and this Order is that that Order was absolutely specific 413 and both the motorist and the traffic warden knew exactly where they stood.
The Under-Secretary said that the present Order simply confirmed that the powers of constables were not to be transferred to traffic wardens, but that is not so. The 1960 Order says:traffic wardens may exercise the functions conferred on constables by the said section one in the area to which the said section one extends.Under the previous Order, in a specific and limited respect it was clearly understood on both sides that the powers of constables given to traffic wardens would be in the enforcement of parking regulations and only in those respects. Both motorists and traffic wardens knew where they stood and that only in this limited respect traffic wardens had powers of enforcement.
This Order goes a great deal further than the original under which the successful operation of the scheme has been carried out. The Under-Secretary referred to the use of wardens for the control of traffic on point duty on different occasions and referred only briefly and vaguely to the second power given to them by this Order. After referring to control of traffic and point duty and matters of that kind, the Order says:and any other functions normally undertaken by the police in connection with the control and regulation of road traffic.These powers which the Under-Secretary seeks for traffic wardens could be extremely wide. The difficulty arises because they depart from the principle contained in the original Order that the powers of traffic wardens should be clearly and definitely defined.
The Joint Under-Secretary said that the Order would allow of flexibility in the working of traffic wardens. What is the meaning of these words in the Order? Why are they included? Why is it not the intention to lay separate orders for the extension of these powers of traffic wardens so that Parliament should know the purposes for which they are to be used?
These are specific questions to which we require answers. Is it the intention that traffic wardens should be used for the investigation of accidents? Is that to be one of their functions? Are they to be used in connection with traffic 414 offences? Are traffic wardens to be used for the operation of radar speed meters and technical requirements of that kind? Are they to be used for the taking of breath tests when they are introduced? Are they to be used for the enforcement of regulations relating to public service vehicles under Sections 146 to 148 of the Road Traffic Act? As far as I can make out, all these functions are covered by the words contained in the Order and there are many other functions besides. The House should be told what are these flexible functions which traffic wardens may be required to carry out.
My second point, to which the Under-Secretary referred briefly, concerns the powers of traffic wardens. As I have said with regard to their present functions, their powers are clearly defined in the 1960 Order. The hon. Gentleman gave the impression that they would be able to carry out all these vague, undefined functions——
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)
They are not at all vague.
§ Mr. Sharples
—without, apparently, any powers whatever. The hon. Gentleman's colleague from the Ministry of Transport remarks that these functions are not vague. The expressionany other functions normally undertaken by the police in connection with the control and regulation of road trafficis as vague as it possibly could be. According to the cutting from The Times to which the Under-Secretary referred, a spokesman, apparently, from the Home Office, said:We appreciate that this lack of power by the traffic warden is open to criticism, but we do not think it justifies holding up the Order.Of course, that reply will create difficulty.
The powers of a constable, for example, to direct traffic, to require traffic to go into a certain lane, to require traffic to stop when he raises his hand, or not to turn to the left, are contained in Section 14 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960. Powers under that Section will not, I understand, extend to a traffic warden. He will not have the power of a constable to direct traffic or to compel a vehicle to stop. That power is exclusively reserved to a constable under Section 223 of the Road Traffic Act. If 415 somebody drives past a traffic warden and takes no notice, he will have no power to order that vehicle to stop.
A traffic warden will have no power to ask the driver of a vehicle to produce his driving licence, or even to look at it to find the name and address of the driver. That power is reserved to a constable under Section 226 of the Road Traffic Act. He will not have the power to ask the driver of a vehicle to give his name and address unless an accident has occurred, which any civilian is able to do so under Section 77 of the Road Traffic Act, or he can allege that a charge of dangerous or careless driving is to be brought.
The hon. Gentleman gave the impression that ignoring the signal of a traffic warden or a police constable was the same offence as careless or dangerous driving. That is not so. They are two separately defined offences under the Road Traffic Act, and I do not believe that it would be possible, or, at any rate, it would be very difficult, to prove a charge of dangerous or careless driving simply by saying that somebody had ignored a signal given by a traffic warden.
A traffic warden only has the powers of an ordinary civilian. The fact that he wears a uniform gives him no additional powers. He has powers equivalent to those of an A.A. patrolman. I contacted the A.A. this morning, and was told that the vast majority of people obey the signals of A.A. patrolmen when they are directing traffic, but they do not direct traffic at busy intersections. Normally, they direct traffic at agricultural shows, private events, and things of that kind. The A.A. told me that there are people who deliberately ignore the signals of an A.A. patrolman on duty at such places, and that there is no action that he can take when that happens. I think that traffic wardens should have powers commensurate with the duties which they are called on to perform.
§ Mr. George Thomas
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the A.A., which he rang up this morning, is anxious to see traffic wardens given powers comparable to those of the police, and different from those given to A.A. patrolmen?
§ Mr. Sharples
I am not saying that, and I did not put that question to the 416 A.A. I merely asked whether patrolmen acting in the capacity to which I have referred were ignored. I was told that the vast majority of people obey the patrolman's signals, but that there is nothing that he can do about those who deliberately ignore them.
A man acting as a school crossing patrol has definite powers. It is an offence, punishable by a fine of £20, to ignore his signals. Equally, it is an offence, punishable by a fine of £5, to ignore the signals of a keeper in a Royal Park when he is directing traffic. If it is thought necessary to give limited powers of enforcement to someone acting as a school crossing patrol, and to a keeper in a Royal Park, why should not traffic wardens have similar limited powers of enforcement in the narrow fields in which they can be called on to operate?
Having said that, I repeat that we on this side of the House are anxious to support any realistic measure which will relieve the police of routine duties of this kind. I pay tribute to the realistic and constructive attitude adopted by the Police Federation to the whole question of traffic wardens, but let us be quite clear about one thing. The main problem of the police is to combat the wastage which occurs, and one of the main reasons for the premature retirement of policemen is weekend and night duty.
This Order will make very little difference to solving the problems of the police, unless traffic wardens undertake a fair share of these unpopular duties—a fair share of weekend work and night work. Unless they do so all that the Order will mean is that a greater proportion of night work and weekend work will fall upon the regular police.
I have criticised the Order, but I certainly would not wish to oppose it. What I would say to the hon. Member is that there are grave defects in it, as it stands. We would not wish to oppose it, but if the Under Secretary should, on consideration, feel that he should advise his right hon. and learned Friend to take the Order back and redraft it in a form in which it would have more chance of operating successfully, we would not hold that against him.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Oakes (Bolton, West)
I, too, would like some clarification of this 417 Order from my hon. Friend, particularly on the question of enforcement. The point has been well expressed—if it will not be considered presumptuous of me to say so—by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) and also in the interventions of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) and the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). The big difference between the functions proposed in this Order and those which were provided for in the previous Order is that traffic wardens were previously dealing almost exclusively with stationary vehicles, whereas this Order proposes that they should deal with moving vehicles.
The previous Order dealt with lights on stationary cars, under Section 1 of the Act; it dealt with parking and obstruction, and with parking meters. In certain cases traffic wardens could be used as school crossing patrol officers, suitably uniformed. But this Order is quite different. It deals with a moving vehicle, and two difficulties arise from that fact, one from the point of view of the person controlling the traffic and the other from the point of view of the driver of a vehicle.
I urge my hon. Friend to realise that the direction of traffic is a very skilled job. From what he has said I am sure that he does. There are many functions that the police must undertake which are a waste of police manpower. The direction of traffic is not in that category. It reminds me of the story of the small boy who went to see a symphony orchestra and afterwards described the conductor as "the man who wagged his arms about". It may appear that the constable on point duty is wagging his arms about, but he knows how to wag them. Very special training is needed for the job. An unskilled person doing this could cause traffic chaos and accidents. That point may be covered by the training that the traffic wardens receive.
The other difficulty arises from the point of view of the driver. A driver, particularly in a congested spot, must be aware of many things, such as other traffic, pedestrians, road signs, and so on. The one thing that any driver recognises in any part of the country is a policeman in uniform. He has no doubt about it; he recognises him for what he is, and obeys him. The traffic warden is also uniformed, but his uniform is not 418 distinctive. It could be—and it often appears to me to be—an ambulance man's uniform.
The traffic warden could be a Civil Defence worker returning home, or a majordomo from a cinema. He is not in the same category as a policeman, whom one recognises at once: there is no confusion there, but there could be confusion about a traffic warden as seen from a moving vehicle, as distinct from talking to the man when one has left one's car too long at the kerbside. One can then read on his hat that he is a traffic warden. I think that the motoring public needs to be educated to the fact that these men whom we now recognise as traffic wardens may legally control traffic. The motorist, with the best intentions in the world, may not realise that these men have the authority to do what they are doing.
The other point which has been mentioned is the vexed question of enforcement. I do not like the idea of giving a man a job to do and giving him no power to carry it out. This would be a particularly dangerous state of affairs for traffic wardens. I join with what has been said about the excellent work they do. They do a wonderful job in helping the police, and also, if the motorist only knew it, in helping the motorist, though not all motorists think so. Some motorists have something of an aversion to traffic wardens. They do not have an aversion for an A.A. or R.A.C. scout; they regard him as someone who helps motorists. But if a "barrack room lawyer" type of motorist thinks that he can disobey a traffic warden's signals, he will do so. That could cause grave difficulties to other traffic. In any event, it is not a good thing to have a man in authority to do a job, but with no powers to carry it out.
That is one of the difficulties over this Order. So far as I can see, if I were to ignore a traffic warden carrying out his duty, nothing could happen to me. It is not correct to say that I would be committing the offence of driving carelessly or without reasonable consideration. I may be, but I may not be, Section 14 specifically mentions a police constable. A traffic warden must not act as a police constable or even as a special constable. This is reinforced in the Order itself. One thing which he could not do 419 is exercise the powers of a police constable. It does not say "in uniform," but Section 14—which is the only Section, so far as I am aware, which makes it an offence to ignore a signal—lays it down quite specifically that it must be a police constable. Under this Order, if I ignore the signal of a traffic warden, nothing can happen to me. I can get off scot-free.
I think that it is a pity, from the point of view of the traffic warden, the motorist and the general laws of the country, that a man should be given a job to do and no "teeth" to see that that job is carried out.
§ 11.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
I think that it was always foreseen and intended that the functions of traffic wardens should be extended in some such way as this Order proposes if the original experiment succeeded. I say this without having been in on the original proceedings in establishing traffic wardens, but this was certainly my understanding when I was at the Home Office.
I am glad of the evidence which the Order constitutes, that it is the view of the Home Office that the experiment has now succeeded, so far as it has gone, especially as the Under-Secretary has assured us, as expected, that this decision has been taken after consultation with the chief constables and the representative organisations of the police.
Some reservations have been expressed about the Order by the motoring associations, by the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Oakes), by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) and, judging by the number of hon. Members who wish to take part in this discussion, some further reservations are likely to be expressed.
Any doubts I might have had about the wisdom of this extension are, at any rate, mitigated by the knowledge that any employment of traffic wardens on these additional functions will be at the discretion of the chief constable in every case. The Under-Secretary stressed that the Order was permissive and that chief constables would not have accepted this extension unless they were convinced that it was workable in practice.
420 I am not completely clear, from what has been said so far, how responsible will be the nature of the tasks which the traffic wardens will carry out. It is one thing to marshal cars out of a football ground at the end of a match. It is quite another to control traffic in Parliament Square. It is also a different matter to act as an observer in a police patrol car which, I am glad to see, is specifically excluded by the Order. Obviously, the intention is to make the extension discreetly and cautiously, but it is still important for the reasons stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam, to know what powers traffic wardens will have.
It is clear that those powers will fall short of the powers of a constable and I think that my hon. Friend may have overlooked the crucial words at the end of paragraph 1(3):… a function conferred expressly on a constable as such by or under any enactment.The words "as such" appear to be crucial there. What the powers of "a constable as such" are is not an easy matter to define exactly. The last attempt known to me to produce a comprehensive definition of the powers of a constable was in one of those interminable but well briefed speeches which I made during the Committee stage of the Police Act, 1964. The question, of course, is how much less will the powers be? Will they, for instance, approximate those of the uniformed employees of the Ministry of Public Building and Works who control the traffic in the Royal parks? Indeed, what are the powers of those employees?
§ Mr. Sharples
I did refer to this point. A penalty of £5 can apply for disregarding the signals of employees of the Ministry of Public Building and Works when controlling traffic in the Royal Parks. As I understand the position, traffic wardens, on the other hand, only have the powers of a civilian.
§ Mr. Woodhouse
I thank my hon. Friend, but it is for the Under-Secretary to answer this point. How close an approximation does the Minister consider that there will be between the functions of these two classes of uniformed civilians?
The question which is particularly important is the possibility of more serious 421 complaints arising against traffic wardens on the part of the public. I recall that an Amendment, dealing with complaints, was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) in Committee on the Police Act, 1964. I have a feeling of personal responsibility about this, because in replying to his Amendment I stressed the fact that in dealing with complaints by the public traffic wardens were at that time in a quite different position from constables. The passage appeared in columns 600–2 of the OFFICIAL REPORT proceedings for 6th February last year.
I twice stressed that the traffic warden did not have the power of controlling moving traffic and that, therefore, the provisions for dealing with complaints against him did not need to be the same as those for dealing with complaints against constables because it was in the matter of dealing with moving traffic that the most serious complaints against constables were likely to arise.
It appears that the same argument will in future be applicable to traffic wardens, as it was not a year ago, when I made those remarks from the same position as Under-Secretary of State. It is particularly important because the suggestion has been made in a memorandum from the Standing Joint Committee of the motoring associations that this Order provides the framework for the development of what may ultimately become a virtually independent force of traffic police. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to assure us that this is a somewhat exaggerated picture of what is intended because if there was any intention of creating a separate police, certainly traffic wardens, as at present constituted, would seem to be a very inappropriate body on which to build.
Does this Order represent the limit of the extensions open to the Government under existing legislation in relation to traffic wardens and will the traffic wardens wear any distinctive mark when on duty in their new function? How many police areas operate traffic wardens in their existing function and have all the chief constables in those areas agreed, without qualification, to the desirability of this extension of their powers? Subject to satisfactory answers 422 to these questions, I certainly feel inclined to approve this Order.
§ 11.11 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Howard (St. Ives)
I support this Order wholeheartedly. In my time in local government in London, nearly 20 years ago, the traffic problem was a serious one. Today, this problem is far more serious, and constables are being used on the duty of checking on the number of cars parked alongside the road when they ought to be doing much more important work.
It has been asked what will happen when the warden fails to stop a car. I do not think that this will happen. I remember when I was a special constable in the mounted police before the war, and the great thrill I had, riding out into the middle of a busy traffic junction, holding up my hand and seeing everything stop. It was quite an experience.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
That is against the Order. My hon. Friend was wearing police uniform.
§ Mr. Howard
My hon. Friend has anticipated what I am going to say. How many people would have known the powers I had? How many would have known I carried a warrant card and had the power to arrest, and all those other things?
There is a form of tradition in England that if a man is given an enforcement job to do the average person obeys that man. It matters not if he is in a traffic warden's uniform, a policeman's uniform, or the uniform of an A.A. scout. If he holds up his hand people will obey him, like the lorry driver I saw yesterday afternoon, whose lorry had broken down. He was in control of the traffic and people obeyed him.
I think that it is a poor excuse far opposing this Order to say the warden has not got the rights of a policeman. The average person would obviously obey a traffic warden and if he does not the warden will have powers, under this Order, to take the number of the car and then report the matter to the police. After all, if someone disobeys a policeman, the policeman has to do the same thing, unless he can run after the person——
§ Mr. Webster
Is not the difference that if the policeman lays an information the magistrate will immediately take action, but that if a civilian lays an information the magistrate will consider the case in his own judgment? Is not that the basic difference?
§ Mr. Howard
No, I do not think that it is. As I understand the Order, the traffic warden will have the same powers—and I would think that he would be considered by the magistrate to have the same powers—as a policeman in such a case.
We have to consider the job of the police. The police forces are undermanned. They have far more important jobs than this to do, and if the traffic wardens could take on the work I should have thought it an excellent idea that they should. I would hope that we could recruit, say, ex-Service men with good records—that could be checked from their Service papers. I think that they would be only too pleased to take on the job.
I would hope that as a result of this Order we would be able to recruit many more people, not only in London but in others of our cities, to take on the job, thus releasing the police for the work for which they are trained. The police are not there to waste their time walking up and down, taking the numbers of motor cars parked outside our flats all day. That is not what they are trained to do. I think that we have here an excellent idea. I wholeheartedly support this Order, and hope that we can greatly increase the numbers of wardens.
The traffic wardens are a new corps, and do a very good job in many places. They do not have the same background as the police, however, and in some places may make what one might call pettifogging restrictions—stopping someone parking for just a few minutes to attend to some job or other. There, they would have to be trained to be a little more lenient to the motoring public—that is very important. If they are to be approved by the police, as I understand will be the case, I wholeheartedly support their being used in this extremely important duty, thereby releasing the police to get on with the prevention and detection of crime, and doing the other things for which they are trained.
§ 11.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Clive Bossom (Leominster)
I am one of those who has for the past two years pressed both the previous Government and this one to look into the possibility of extending the use of traffic wardens so permitting them to control and regulate traffic. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples), I think that the Order is too vague in its present form. It must be improved, and tightened up so as to give wardens more specific powers.
I think that selection and special training are the key to the whole question of this use of traffic wardens. The men would have to be very carefully selected for this work in regard to age, fitness and eyesight. I should also like them to be not anti-social. It is also important that, if possible, they should be able either to drive or to know all about driving. They would then undergo special training by the police. Once they were qualified, I should like to see them promoted and designated as "traffic controllers".
This new type of trained traffic controllers could be of great assistance to the police. They could be made available for many duties, and so relieve the police to get on with their mobile traffic patrol duties, because there is at present a great lack of traffic patrol policemen.
Before this plan is finalised, two or three pilot schemes should be tried out over the country so that some of the snags mentioned in the debate may be overcome. Yesterday, we saw the introduction of the disc parking system in Cheltenham. That has been welcomed by trade and industry, and especially by tourists and holidaymakers. I believe that many towns, especially seaside resorts, will want to try out this system, which has been tried and tested in over 100 towns on the Continent, including Paris. I foresee the duties of traffic wardens in many towns changing, although they will still be required for supervision of parked vehicles. We must remember that not all traffic wardens are tied to the job of supervising parking meters. The City of Leicester has a non-meter scheme and other towns are bound to follow Cheltenham's example and have the disc system.
The traffic warden's duties must become more flexible as different systems 425 are introduced, as I am sure they will be in the next few years. Like my hon. Friends, I welcome the Order with a reservation about the wardens' specific powers. These should be clarified tonight. When wardens are trained for these types of duties they should be promoted and, I hope, called "traffic controllers". We should then have the two types: the ordinary traffic warden and the trained traffic controller.
§ 11.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)
I make clear to the Under Secretary, in case my intervention raises doubts in his mind, that I fully welcome this draft Order. I do so because I think it important, as my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) said, the police force being overburdened as it is today, that we should see that those types of service which can be adequately carried out by traffic wardens should be given to them and they should have the power to perform them.
I hope that the Under Secretary will not think it unreasonable, in welcoming the Order, to look somewhat critically at its terms. It is extremely wide. The Under Secretary said that the intention was basically that traffic wardens should be able to control traffic at the smaller junctions. I should have thought that at the least it went somewhat wider than that. I assume that traffic wardens might take from the police duties of controlling traffic at places such as Cardiff Arms Park and other football grounds and, in time, at the more important junctions. They might well have a reasonable part to play in controlling radar speed traps.
The terms of the Order include the words:control and regulation of road traffic",which seem to be very wide. I hope that they will be used widely and not limited, as the Under Secretary tended to imply, to the control of traffic at smaller junctions. We must all accept that the first duty of the police is to deal with crime. Any of us who are concerned with the rise in the crime rate in this country feel that the greatest deterrent to crime is the likelihood of conviction. It is, therefore, essential that the police who are available should be used in preventing crime and arresting criminals rather than on normal traffic duties.
426 The Order will help in two ways, first, in taking from the police the duty of regulating traffic and also by saving many hours which police officers have to spend waiting to give evidence in court in cases arising from offences at road junctions. But I feel that if this Statutory Instrument is to be properly used, the Government, if they intend to give them these duties, should also give the traffic wardens adequate powers.
I am not suggesting that they should necessarily have the power of arrest. The Joint Under-Secretary of State referred to the drunken driver. I am not suggesting that the traffic warden should be in the position of being able to arrest without warrant or to require someone to stop and give his name and address to him, but he should have the limited power at present laid down in Section 14 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, where it is specifically stated to be a statutory offence to fail to obey the order of a police officer given when regulating traffic.
I do not believe, with respect to the Under-Secretary, that he answered my question, which was why, if it was felt necessary to give such powers to school-crossing wardens one should not give similar powers to traffic wardens. Section 48 of the Road Traffic Act specifically states that it is an offence not to stop when the prescribed sign is exhibited by a school-crossing warden. I should have thought that this Statutory Instrument would have been far more suitable if it had included a further provision to make it an offence not to obey the order of a traffic warden when regulating traffic.
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has said that if one flagrantly disregards the order of a traffic warden one may well be committing the offence of careless driving. With respect, the more likely offence would be driving without due consideration, but why take a sledge-hammer to crack this nut when there is in the case of the police force and school-crossing wardens the specific offence, with a limited fine, of failing to obey their signal? Without asking for such wider powers as the power to arrest, I should have thought that we should at least give the traffic wardens powers so that it would be an offence to fail to obey their signal to stop at a road junction.
427 There is another matter which has not yet been raised by any hon. Member. I refer to the Under-Secretary's comment when he said, with a sense of Welsh pride in his voice, that, of course, the traffic wardens would be supervised and properly trained by the police for their task. What training does the hon. Gentleman envisage? I ask this because Section 2(5) of the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act, 1960, which set up traffic wardens, states thatA police authority shall not employ as traffic warden any person who is a constable, but shall take steps to ensure that only persons adequately qualified are appointed traffic wardens …
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;
§ House counted, and, 40 Members being present—
§ Mr. Carlisle
I remember similar circumstances, when a count was called on a Friday morning, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State claimed that the result had been to bring into the Chamber rather bigger fish to fry. I am not claiming that tonight, but I am glad to see that it has brought in at least another of the Under-Secretaries of State for the Home Department.
The question of training is important. The hon. Gentleman glibly repeated what is set out in the 1960 Act about the need for these people to be properly trained, but, if we are to extend their duties—quite rightly, in my view—it is more important than ever that they should be properly and adequately trained. Quite apart from what is laid down in the 1960 Act about proper training, what means have the police authorities for seeing that the people they employ on this important duty are adequately qualified and trained?
I welcome the purpose of the Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will deal with the question of training, and will consider again whether the powers of traffic wardens will be adequate for the duties which they will be required to undertake.
§ 11.31 p.m.
§ Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)
I endorse what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) about qualifications. Many 428 of the laymen—I think it better to call them that rather than civilians—who control traffic do not seem to have had the experience of driving a car. This is certainly the impression of a good many people who have had experience of the way some school-crossing patrols, for instance, work.
I should be glad if the Under-Secretary of State would describe the training which will be given. Will these traffic wardens have to have been motorists? Will they have had experience of what it is like to be at the control of a vehicle? These things are important.
One of the reasons for the lack of sympathy between motorist and warden is that they seem to be people apart. I am sure that in many cases this is not really so, and one wants to break down attitudes of that kind. What qualifications will wardens have? Will they have gone through the advanced motorist test? Will they be required to have had a certain time at the wheel of a vehicle? What other experience will they have? Qualifications of this kind could be of great value if the service is to work as we all wish it to do.
I was worried when it was said at one point that we should have a separate form of police force. We do not want that, and this is why I am a little worried about the type of information which is laid by a traffic warden in these circumstances.
We are now getting various private police forces, which is often regrettable. Having spoken to people with Home Office experience, I think there must be greater supervision of people who have anything to do with the protection of law and order and also the control of traffic and that their own personal reputability needs thorough checking. I know that the Under-Secretary of State will go into this with thoroughness and I hope that he can give some information to calm the public mind, which is exercised on this point.
I asked the hon. Gentleman earlier about the Scottish type of traffic controllers. I hate to say this because reference to race is no longer to be allowed, but as a Scotsman with an English constituency I would recall that in my birthplace we had three traffic controllers who had absolute control over 429 traffic, as far as I know. I was only a boy of 12 or 13 riding a bicycle then. No doubt we are a law abiding people who tend to take orders given by such people, but I would be grateful for information about what sanction these controllers in Scotland had. This is a tricky point. It is right that traffic wardens should be obeyed provided they are not abusing the privileges the law gives them.
As a layman who has taken legal advice on this for the debate, I understand that a policeman on point duty, if he is unable to move and a motorist fails to obey his direction, lays information and there is almost an automatic summons. In the case of a lay or civilian form of control, that form of information is measured by the magistrate, using his own judgment on it. This is a matter of some significance. I will not say which I prefer, but I would like clarification.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
If a man fails to obey an order of a police officer, that is an offence. If he fails to obey the order of a traffic warden that is not an offence and no information could be laid.
§ Mr. George Thomas
Traffic wardens will be working under the supervision of the police. If a warden sees an example of careless and irresponsible driving, obviously he will report it to the police, who will lay the information and he will be the witness.
§ Mr. Webster
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) and to the Under-Secretary of State for clarification. It was not clear in the hon. Gentleman's opening speech. I wonder whether the draft Order will be wide enough. Paragraph I(2) says:Nothing in this Article shall permit any of the said functions to be exercised when a traffic warden is in a moving vehicle.Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can clarify that.
Surely this is a case where one has the great problem of trying to get lane discipline in our traffic arrangements. Specialists like Buchanan and others have great knowledge about the use of our roads and the movement of traffic. One of the best ways is lane discipline. To have a traffic warden giving this sort of 430 direction would surely be no more offensive than putting a coat of paint down on the road. We all wish to ensure that the police undertake activities which protect the citizen from violence and robbery. This is their function. Anything which can alleviate their extraneous duties is to be welcomed.
That brings me to a former Minister of Transport and a former Home Secretary, no longer in the House, both of whom were trying to improve our roads and streets. The Minister of Transport said to the Home Secretary of the time, "Your job is simple. It is to get the girls off the streets. My job is to get the traffic off the streets". It is right for the police to concentrate on law and order and for both the girls and the traffic to be dealt with in another way. [Laughter.] I am glad to hear that jollity from lower down the benches. The police should be protecting law and order and should concentrate on their job and leave traffic to the specialists. But let us make sure that they are specialists and that their legal position is precisely defined.
I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary can help me with this. If he can, I shall be glad to give the Order my blessing.
§ 11.41 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Thompson (Croydon, South)
The Under-Secretary may be feeling rather bewildered that so many hon. Members should be agreeing with the Order and yet subjecting it to a string of criticisms. I hope that I shall not go over the fairly well trodden ground which has already been covered. Like every other hon. Member, I believe that the police should be reserved for the kind of duties for which their high degree of training, splendid character and high degree of physical fitness best qualify them. There is no difference between us about that. It is far better that people with a lower degree of training and not so fit and not requiring such high standards should do the simpler repetitive duties, leaving the police free to do the more important work. However, having said that, I have one point of clarification which I wish to put to the hon. Gentleman and which nobody else has mentioned.
431 It is about time that we introduced a little more rationalisation in our arrangements for controlling parking in our towns. We now have three separate bodies of people all having a go part of the time. There are the police themselves—and the objective of the Order is to remove them as far as possible from this responsibility at ordinary time—the traffic wardens, whom the Order refers to, and parking meter attendants, who are employed by local authorities. Their control is not a function of the Under-Secretary, but I mention them because in a sense they compete in an important part of the duties of wardens.
If we are to relegate the enforcement of parking restrictions, plus a limited responsibility for traffic control, to a sort of auxiliary police force, not having the powers of constables, would it not be a good idea to have one army doing this instead of two or three as now? It would be a uniformed body with a uniform standard of training and not, as at present, an auxiliary body responsible as traffic wardens to the Home Office and as parking meter attendants to the local authority concerned.
In the centre of Croydon, for example, we have both parking meter attendants and traffic wardens sometimes controlling the same street, the attendants looking at the cars parked by the meters and the wardens at the spaces on the other side of the road. That seems to us to be rather over-egging the pudding. We have 35 traffic wardens and 20 parking-meter attendants in the centre of Croydon alone and people sometimes wonder whether, with a little rationalisation, we could not have only half as many people doing the same job without any overlapping.
There is one more thing to which I should like to draw the Under-Secretary's attention. We have had discussion about the precise powers of traffic wardens, and no doubt the hon. Gentleman will deal with that when he replies. I should like him to say whether a traffic warden has any discretionary powers. I am told that he has not.
The following case comes to my mind. A driver who was approaching the centre of Croydon realised that his car was about to run out of petrol. He did not want to cause obstruction by stopping 432 in the middle of a congested main street and stopped his car off the main road. Fortunately, he had a can of petrol in the back and he got out to refill the tank, when he was promptly booked by a traffic warden. On protesting, he was told that had he genuinely broken down he would not have been booked, but that because he was trying to prevent the consequences of running out of petrol he was in trouble.
I am told that had that happened where there was a policeman, he would have had the power, after interrogating the man, to say, "I quite understand the circumstances. Carry on", and that would have been the end of the matter. The traffic warden, however, could not do that, with the result that a man who was trying to help the situation was penalised.
I hope that the Under-Secretary can clear up this point for me because I am as anxious as he is that traffic wardens' duties should be clearly and readily understood by the motoring public. As hon. Members have pointed out, the motoring public feel that they are somewhat victimised. They accept discipline readily and gladly from the police, whose powers they understand, but there is doubt about just how far traffic wardens can go. That is the only point which I wish to put to the Under-Secretary and I shall be glad if he can enlighten me on it.
§ 11.47 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
In speaking to an Order which does not apply to Scotland, I trust that I shall not incur the wrath of the Prime Minister, or that there will be any limitations in the future on the participation of Scottish Members in debates of this kind.
When the Joint Under-Secretary was speaking, and received a slight cheer in the middle of his address from this part of the House, he understandably, but quite mistakenly, thought that it was for him. It was, in fact, for the entry of the Minister of State, Scottish Office, who was showing due regard for this piece of legislation. I am glad to know that we have also had the presence intermittently of one of the Under-Secretaries of State and we now have the presence of the Secretary of State. This shows the 433 due regard of Scots for the affairs of others.
My reason for intervening briefly is that the Under-Secretary referred to some remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), who is unable to be present tonight and has asked me to make one or two points for him. The hon. Gentleman mistakenly referred to my hon. Friend as the hon. Member for Cornwall, North in a very prophetic note, but no hon. Member for Cornwall, North yet sits on these benches. The hon Gentleman was referring, I believe, to my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin.
§ Mr. Steel
In view of the concern which the Under-Secretary showed for the relevance of the Order to Cornwall, it is surprising that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) is not present.
I wish to make two points. The question of training and supervision has already been raised and I take it that when the Under-Secretary replies he will give further details of this. I do not, therefore, wish to go further into that matter.
I should like to add to the general consensus of what has been said about powers.
§ Mr. Webster
The hon. Gentleman has referred to the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins). Will he take note of the fact that the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston), the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. George Y. Mackie) and——
§ Mr. Steel
I am glad the hon. Gentleman was out of order, but I had notice that he was here.
With regard to the powers of traffic wardens, I think that perhaps the Under-Secretary has been rather coloured by his correct refusal to accept the Report of the Special Orders Committee of 434 another place, but I think that there was a distinction which that Report failed to draw between different types of powers accorded to the police which might be accorded to traffic wardens. Nobody has suggested, as the Report did, that traffic wardens might have the power to stop a person alleged to be driving while unfit to drive through drink or drugs, but I think that there is a wide consensus of opinion in support of the view that it should be made an offence under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, to disobey the directions of a traffic warden.
It seems to me that there is a case for saying that the powers of traffic wardens should not be extended to the point which this Order suggests. No one has supported this view tonight, and if we are agreed that these powers should be extended it seems only logical that they should have the full force of the law behind them. If there are penalties for disobeying the orders of a school-crossing patrol, or the orders of Royal Park attendants employed by the Ministry of Public Building and Works, it cannot be said to be an illiberal extension of the law to give traffic wardens adequate powers if they are to undertake these tasks. This point has been raised and supported by all three parties, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman, with his reputation for broad-mindedness and generosity, will consider it carefully and consider improving the Order at a later stage.
I support the view expressed by one hon. Gentleman opposite about the standardisation of uniforms. This would be helpful, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will deal with this when he replies to the debate.
Any measure which takes an ordinary chore away from the police force and puts it on to traffic wardens is welcome if it helps to relieve the difficult task of the police.
§ 11.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
This Order has been fully debated for the last hour and a half, and I intervene for one reason only, and that is to clarify a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Webster). During the speech of my hon. hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) he said that if a person 435 failed to take notice of a signal given by a traffic warden, the warden could report him. He cannot do that, because there would be no offence to report.
The Joint Under-Secretary says that if it was careless driving the warden could report the motorist for that offence. I can think of many cases where there is no suggestion of any offence of careless driving or anything of that sort, but there is a clear indication on the part of the driver to take no notice of a warden. Many hon. Members have made the point that the powers of traffic wardens ought to be strengthened in this one respect, if in no other.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will realise that many of us who support the Order in outline are very much exercised on this one point, and that is why I intervened to make it again.
§ 11.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
In his opening remarks the Joint Under-Secretary referred to the fact that in Cornwall, some years ago, we had civilians controlling traffic. I recollect one of the cases to which he referred. A gentleman in uniform used to control the traffic at the junction of Boscawen Street and Lemon Street, in Truro. As far as I know, he was not a constable, nor a special constable. He was a well-known character in Cornwall, because he always used to sing in a loud voice while on duty. He controlled the traffic quite satisfactorily for many years. He retired some years ago. He was never in any difficulty about his duties.
I do not know what the complaint of hon. Members is about the possibility of non-constables controlling traffic; the A.A. and R.A.C. Joint Committee has objected to the Order, on the ground that it could be a step in the direction of an independent road police. I have always been in favour of an independent road police. I could never understand the objection of the police authorities to such a development. The railway police have existed for 100 years as an independent body of equal authority to the county police in any area, and there has never been any difficulty about their co-operation with other police forces.
I could never understand why it should not be possible to have a road patrol of 436 the same nature. I am in favour of the Order, I do not see why it should not work. Even if it is a step in the direction of an independent police force for the roads, I welcome it.
§ 11.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)
I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will not become impatient if, having gone through the ritual formula of telling him that I am in favour of the Order, I ask him still more questions about it. He has been bombarded with questions ever since he concluded his speech.
We are discussing this Order against a background to which a little more attention should be given than has been given so far. It is common ground that the police are finding it very difficult to keep level with the rise in the rate of crime. It is clear from all the figures and evidence we have that the police are finding it ever more difficult to do this. There are various consequences, one of which is the growth of private police forces. The fact that police forces are no longer equal to the business of controlling crime means that the gap that they have failed to fill is being filled by private enterprise. I find that very disquieting.
Secondly, the proposals that we are now discussing seek to extend the powers of the traffic police. In spite of what my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson) has said, I do not believe that it is anything like as easy as many people suppose to separate traffic duties from crime, particularly since nowadays so many crimes are committed with the aid of motor vehicles—either cars or lorries. To say, as many do, that it would be quite easy to create a separate traffic force which could deal with traffic matters and leave the police to their job of the pursuance of crime, seems to be altogether too superficial.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson
The railway police are of exactly equal authority to any other police force, and can deal with crime in the same way—burglary, murder, or anything else.
§ Mr. Curran
I think that I can convince my hon. Friend of the distinction. I am aware of the powers of the railway police, but there are difficulties that arise in connection with traffic wardens. Let 437 us suppose that we have a traffic warden who does not have the powers of a policeman, and that in the exercise of his control functions he stops a car and then has reason to suspect that the car is stolen, or that it contains stolen property. He may discover that it contains a firearm. If he were a policeman, or had the powers of a policeman, there would be some things that he could do, but being a traffic warden, with no powers of the police, he is in no better position than an ordinary member of the public; he must call a policeman to do something which he himself cannot do.
It would not be difficult to construct a whole series of such cases, illustrating the point that it is not as easy as many people suppose to separate the handling of traffic from the control of crime. It is to this point that I hope that the Under-Secretary will give a little attention, because this, I think, is the root of the matter. What sort of powers does he see these traffic wardens having? How will he draw the frontier line between looking after traffic and controlling crime? I and, I imagine, other people in this country feel a certain amount of unease at the prospect of any increase in the numbers of people who can give orders to other people.
When we are—as we are now—creating an additional number of people who will be able to give orders to other people, it is very important to say what sort of authority they will have, what its limits will be, and what sort of remedy the citizen has if he believes that those powers are being used improperly.
A number of very sensible questions have been asked about what power a traffic warden has if he gives an order and it is disobeyed. I shall not repeat that question, because the Under-Secretary must be sick and tired of hearing it, but I would ask him the other one. What sort of remedy has the citizen if he is given an order by a traffic warden which he thinks is unreasonable? Has he any remedy at all against a traffic warden which he would not have against a police officer, for instance? I ask these questions simply because I do not know the answers. I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to deal with these matters: the frontier between the authority of the traffic warden and that of the police, and the remedy, if any, which a citizen may 438 have who feels that the authority of a traffic warden is being exercised improperly.
§ 12.2 a.m.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
I have an infinite variety of titles, but this is the British Parliament.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, having promoted you to such a high office, I hope that you will accept my apologies. Perhaps it is the shape of things to come.
Everyone who has spoken tonight has said that he is in favour of the Order. I am not one of those. I have many doubts about it. When traffic wardens were first introduced under the 1960 Act, their functions were carefully discussed in the House and in Standing Committee. They were given seven separate functions: to deal with traffic left or parked on roads during the hours of darkness; with vehicles obstructing the roads; with offences in connection with parking on the highways; they could deal with offences with a fixed penalty; they could act as parking attendants in street parking places under the control of the Minister; they could deal with places designated as parking places; and they could act as school-crossing patrols.
These functions were very strictly controlled. The Order takes them into a different category altogether. It will make their position much more that of traffic police. While I am in favour of traffic police and argued that case during our discussions on the Police Act, 1960, I would suggest that, if we are to have traffic police, they should be properly trained men, mobile in motor vehicles, and that upgraded traffic wardens could not be traffic police.
The difference between what we said in 1960 and what is being said tonight is, of course, that these men will now have the powers to deal with moving traffic. They are still to work under the police, as auxiliary police, and if a motorist brings a complaint against them, such a complaint, I take it, will have to be dealt with by the police authorities who employ the traffic 439 wardens, and not by the chief constables. Complaints can only be made to the police authorities which employ them.
If these men are not constables—and we know that they are not—can they give a signal to stop a moving vehicle? From my understanding of the discussion, they can, but the position needs to be made clear. Can they ask for the name and address of a motorist who disobeys one of their instructions? Can they go further and, say, take a specimen of the breath of a motorist who is suspected of driving while under the influence of drink? Can they operate radar machinery? It appears that they cannot, although——
§ Mr. Carlisle
Before my hon. Friend goes further with the point he is making, may I tell him that I see no reason why they should not operate radar equipment, since presumably anybody can operate radar as such? As I understand the position, they have none of the powers of a police officer to take steps if their commands are not obeyed. However, like any individual they can, if they know how, operate radar equipment.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
My hon. Friend may be right, but when I asked the Home Secretary recently about the operation of radar in the metropolitan area he told me that normally radar had to be operated by two constables; one to operate it and the other to stop vehicles. Since there is some confusion over this we should be told the exact position. In any case, would these men be able to overate complicated radar equipment? It must be remembered that it has been found in the north of England that radar equipment can be upset by birds or other moving traffic.
The traffic wardens are overworked at present and I urge the Joint Under-Secretary to consider this as a human problem. In the London area they work from 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 8.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Saturdays. It seems ridiculous that they should have to work these hours. In Westminster, where I live, although, on a Saturday morning, the streets are almost completely empty—everyone has left the centre—we find traffic wardens on the look-out patrol.
440 Since they already work a five-and-a-half-day week and long hours, are we now to expect them to control moving traffic? We must consider this is a human problem. Many of these men are past the age of the average policeman. Will we be asking these men, many of whom are of retiring age, to run after moving vehicles, remembering that the majority of them have not had experience of this sort of work?
For these reasons, I am doubtful whether this is a wise extension of the functions laid down for traffic wardens in the Act.
§ 12.9 a.m.
§ Mr. Forbes Hendry (Aberdeenshire, West)
My hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) referred to the peculiar effects of calling a Count. Sometimes it results in some big fish being brought into the Chamber to fry, he said. He omitted to notice that the Count we had earlier brought in no less a big fish than the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland. Unfortunately, we could not fry him, because the Order concerns England and Wales.
The Count did not produce the big fish I had hoped for, and to which we are entitled; one or more of the Law Officers of the Crown. On many occasions I have had to complain about the lack of the presence of the Law Officers for Scotland, but this is the first occasion on which I have had to complain about the absence of the Law Officers for England and Wales.
Where are they? Presumably in bed. Why are they not here? This is a very important Order raising difficult legal points and this House is entitled to clarification. I believe that the Order contains the seeds of its own destruction, and I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will consider this immediately and send for legal advice. I am surprised that he did not seek the advice of his right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary before producing this Order, because I am certain that his right hon. and learned Friend would never have allowed him to produce such an Order.
Looking at the statutory foundations for this Order, it will be seen that subject to subsection (3) of Section 2 of the Road Traffic and Road Improvement 441 Act, 1960, traffic wardens shall not be employed to discharge functions other than appropriate for the purpose by order of the Secretary of State. Any Order under the subsection may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order of the Secretary of State.
The then Home Secretary produced an Order in 1960 to which he had given a great deal of thought, particularly in relation to the duties appropriate to traffic wardens. He produced the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order, 1960, in which he set out what he thought were the appropriate duties.
This Order under discussion does not seek to vary or revoke the previous Order. What is does is add to it and it makes that very clear because the very first words of this Order are:Without prejudice to the provisions of the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order 1960(b) the following functions are hereby prescribed as appropriate for discharge by traffic wardens …In other words, it does not vary the previous Order at all. It does not seek to vary or revoke it. This is a completely new Order and it is completely ultra vires of the Home Secretary. It is a most serious thing that this should be brought along without a single word of explanation, or any of the Law Officers of the Crown who are the only people, other than the Secretary of State himself, present to advise the House.
It is perfectly obvious that this is absolutely characteristic of the contempt which the Government hold for the House.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will confine himself to the Order, which I thought he was about to discuss.
§ Mr. Hendry
I was about to revert to it, but my enthusiasm carried me away.
We are asked to approve an Order, which appears to be ultra vires of the Home Secretary and we are entitled to know whether this Order is or is not ultra vires. I hope that the Under Secretary of State will speedily obtain legal advice and advise the House.
The legal effect of this Order in another respect concerns me. The Road Traffic and Road Improvement Act, 1960, 442 seeks to control the duties conferred upon these persons called traffic wardens in the Act. It says that… a police authority may appoint persons to discharge, in aid of the police, functions normally undertaken by the police in connection with the control and regulation of road traffic.We also read in Section 2(3):Traffic wardens shall not be employed to discharge functions other than those prescribed as appropriate for the purpose …of the Order. That puts a clear duty on the Secretary of State to consider what those duties are.
In 1960, the then Home Secretary went to a great deal of trouble to do that, and produced a long Schedule containing three principal paragraphs setting out these duties in considerable detail. I do not believe that this Order has been produced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, but by some lesser person, who gave less thought to the legal niceties. Whoever it was, he started by referring to the… control and regulation of road traffic at road junctions …and then put in an omnibus provision:… and any other functions normally undertaken by the police in connection with the control and regulation of road traffic.Nothing could be wider than that. Those words are taken from the 1960 Act.
In other words, the Under-Secretary, or his advisers, has not given any thought at all to this point, but has put in this blanket power in complete defiance of an Act which says that the duties are to be laid down in the greatest detail. On that ground, too, I think that this Order is quite ultra vires. I hope that the Under-Secretary—who, I am perfectly certain, has not had legal advice—will be able to satisfy us on that point.
I am concerned about the tremendous width of the Order. Such an Order should be carefully thought out, and that has not been done. The Order seeks to confer on traffic wardens… the control and regulation of road traffic at road junctions or at other places, whether on the highway or not …That is a very wide and serious power.
Are the traffic wardens to be given power to enter upon private premises in order to control traffic there, and are they to be able to do so with or without 443 warrant? The Law Officers of the Crown are the only people competent to give us the advice we seek. Whether these people are given power under this Order to enter private property, possibly without a warrant, is an extremely constitutional matter.
On the other hand, the Order seems to be self-contradictory, because it later states:Nothing in this Article shall confer on a traffic warden a function conferred expressly on a constable as such by or under any enactment.That seems strange, unless there is some particular reason for its inclusion in this Order, because it was not in the 1960 Order.
My legal interpretation of the present inclusion is that the Order automatically confers the powers of a constable on a traffic warden. Is that the intention? We are entitled to know about that from one of the Law Officers. The point seems to be of very considerable constitutional importance and legal nicety, and it is one which, with respect, the Under-Secretary, with all his charming qualities, is not qualified to answer.
I am sorry to be talking at great length at this late hour, but these are matters of considerable importance. Even though the hour is late, I am sure that Government supporters will not mind being kept here a little longer to discuss these things. The final paragraph of the Order says that it does not apply to Scotland. Why is that? The 1960 Act applies to Scotland. There must be an ulterior motive in this. Why are these provisions made for England and Wales but not for Scotland? There is collective responsibility in the Cabinet and, although the Under-Secretary may not find it possible——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think I can help the hon. Member. This is an Order concerning England and Wales. We cannot, therefore, discuss tonight the implications of the Road Traffic Act and various Acts as they might apply to Scotland. The hon. Member must discuss the Order.
§ Mr. Hendry
I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have made my point and will discuss it in correspond- 444 ence. I hope that while I have been speaking the Under-Secretary in some mysterious telepathic way has sent for the Law Officers to come here to give a proper answer before we decide whether or not to approve the Order.
§ 12.22 a.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I am glad to have the opportunity of speaking after my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), because I was rather scared that I might be the only person in this debate expressing concern about the content of this Order, which might have regrettable consequences for England and Wales.
One of the reasons why I think this could be so arises from the content of the Act from which the Order stems. When that Act was introduced it was not the intention of the Government—at least, I hope it was not—that we should have a period of five years between the two Orders relating to traffic wardens without any other Orders being brought in in relating to training of wardens. The first Order related to vehicles which are not moving and the other Order refers to vehicles which are moving. If the two Orders had been brought in at the same time it would have been possible to establish a traffic warden force which was able to fit into these responsibilities without difficulty.
We have now established a force of wardens who for five years—in certain places for a shorter period—have been exercising functions over vehicles which are not moving. Now they are to take over new powers. In order that they should be able to do so without difficulty, new regulations should have been made laying down specific standards of training and provision that they should be a calibre of person who can carry out far more major functions than those referred to in the 1960 Order. Here is a quite major departure in which we are greatly to extend the responsibilities of traffic wardens.
It is unwise of the Government to make this provision without going ahead with other matters important for the safety of road traffic. The principal argument advanced by the Under-Secretary in support of the Order was that at present we are wasting a great deal of talent of the 445 police force which could be usefully employed on other duties. This is a relevant argument and we have to accept it, but I think it has been argued to a far too great an extent. I was amazed when I heard the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) referring to traffic duties as a perfectly ordinary chore.
I do not consider that traffic control is a perfectly ordinary chore. It is a vital and complex job which involves human lives. Do hon. Members realise that, according to statistics given to me only three weeks ago by the Ministry of Transport, while we have been discussing this Order about 130 people will have been killed or injured on the roads? During 1964, 377,000 were injured and 78,000 were killed. On the basis of those figures it is most unwise to bring in a new group of people to control traffic unless we are confident that they are able to carry out the job. We should consider carefully before we make a major departure and have anyone except the police carrying out this important function.
Another argument forcefully advanced by the Under-Secretary was the shortage of police. Nobody denies that there is a shortage, but unfortunately we have never been given a precise estimate of the shortage. Chief constables are not in a position to offer specific figures. Before we make this enormous change in the functions of traffic wardens, should we not consider seriously whether the powers contained in the 1960 Order should not be exercised more fully and thus obviate the need for this Order?
Hon. Members have referred to policemen walking round and noting the numbers of vehicles. This situation would not arise, nor would our present problems have arisen, if local authorities had used more fully their 1960 powers. Quite apart from that, I do not deny that there is a shortage of police and that something must be done. Last year the number of indictable offences rose for the first time to over the one million mark. In the last four years indictable offences have risen in number by 35 per cent., crimes of violence by 40 per cent., and juvenile crimes by rather more. Clearly we have a serious problem.
It is difficult to justify a major departure in the responsibility of police and 446 traffic wardens unless we have this estimate of the shortage of police officers. The only estimate I have, for which I cannot vouch, is a shortage of 7,000 in the London area, 10,000 in the rest of England and Wales, and about 1,000 in Scotland. Clearly, action is needed and the Government should have investigated fully the possibility of using the 1960 Order to a greater extent before embarking upon a new one.
Another argument not yet mentioned, to which we should have some regard, is that if there is a problem at present it will grow to be more serious as time goes on. Whereas at present there are 10 million vehicles in this country, the Buchanan Report estimate is that by 1980 there should be no fewer than 27 million. This gives some idea of the increase in the volume of traffic and therefore the increase in traffic problems which we shall have to face in the future. With that in mind, we should be thinking not of temporary palliatives but of a fresh fundamental approach to the problem.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson
Since the publication of the Buchanan Report, there have been further estimates which show that Buchanan under-estimated traffic growth. In fact, it will be considerably more.
§ Mr. Taylor
If there are such further figures, they fortify the point I make. We should be thinking in terms of a fundamental change in our way of tackling the problem. The real answer lies in the development of the police forces as we now have them. The problems of traffic control are far too serious to be considered in any other way, and it is for this reason that I should be reluctant to give approval to the Order without more explanation from the Government.
If the House is to approve the Order, as I think it will, it is entitled to demand certain assurances from the Government. First, will the powers of traffic wardens be adequate for their new and extended functions? Second, will there be adequate promotion opportunities within the service? Third, what kind of training will be given to the traffic wardens?
§ Mr. Webster
Promotion is very important for recruitment. Could my hon. Friend tell us what is the senior rank in 447 the service what is the salary? Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State could develop that matter a little.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. If the hon. Gentleman obliged his hon. Friend who put the question, he would be right out of order. He was on the edge of it in his speech at that point.
§ Mr. Taylor
I have looked into this matter with some care, and I hoped to make what I regarded as some serious points, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Although at this late hour some hon. Members may adopt a light-hearted approach, it was not my intention to make a light-hearted speech. I shall ignore the other points which I had in mind, because of the time—[An HON. MEMBER: "Go on."]—and confine myself——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a serious speech. The last kind of frivolous interruption the Chair would welcome is one which encourages hon. Members to make longer speeches.
§ Mr. Taylor
My last point arises on the final paragraph of the Order which provides that it shall not apply to Scotland. At the time of the passage of the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act, 1960, there was a determined effort made to find a way of providing that traffic legislation was the same in both countries. Section 2(1) of that Act introduced in England the situation which was covered in Scotland by the Police (Scotland) Act, 1956. There was a clear indication given at the time—I think that the Government gave an assurance about it—that the intention was that both countries should have similar legislation and regulations on traffic. This has not been secured. It was not done under the 1960 Order, and the situation has remained unchanged since.
I hope that, despite this, the time will come when we can have some relationship between the positions in both countries, and I hope that the Government will make an endeavour along these lines. I apologise for speaking so long at this late hour. It is not my intention to waste time. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State will reply to my queries.
§ 12.35 a.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas
With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and that of the House, I will now try to answer the important points raised in this very interesting and comprehensive debate. It is a reminder of how much the motor car affects our modern life that such a sustained interest has been shown in this draft Order. The House must remember that we are now operating within the terms of the 1960 Act. The Order cannot go further than that Act, cannot impose powers that are not provided for in the Act and certainly cannot impose powers that the Act specifically indicates ought not to be provided.
The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) was, I gather, asking for a redraft of the Order so as to include powers which we just cannot give under the Act. We are not saying that if, at a later stage it is found necessary to take these powers we would be reluctant to do so. What we are saying is that we see the necessity for extending the functions of the traffic wardens now and think it wrong to delay because legislation is necessary if other powers are to be added as well. There is no doubt that the police authorities want this Measure and believe that it will help them in their work. The House must understand that.
It would be exceedingly unfortunate if any speech by any hon. Member tonight encouraged any foolish motorist to think that he can disregard a traffic warden on point duty in future. It is a most irresponsible thing to lead any motorist to believe that he can get away scot-free if he ignores a traffic warden in the operation of his duty and causes difficulty or danger to anyone else, as he would be likely to do.
We want to give the wardens, in taking up their new duties, a fair chance which pre-eminently requires that the community should have the encouragement of this House in realising that these men are entrusted with an onerous task after training and that they have a right to expect all reasonable people to cooperate fully with them in their duties.
As the service develops, the House might be asked later to expand their powers of enforcement—for instance, in regard to the operation of radar meters, 449 as one hon. Member suggested. But it is not intended to do so in this draft Order and, if we seek to use wardens for such a purpose, the Home Secretary will have to indicate such a proposal.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke rose——
§ Mr. Thomas
No. I gave way enough before. I gave way at least seven times when I opened the debate. I have listened with great care and, of course, with increasing patience to every speech and trust that the House will now allow me to get on, for we are not only keeping ourselves up but we are keeping other people up as well. I know, of course, that we must do our job adequately. I am trying to deal with all the main points and I can only do justice to the House if I now continue.
Section 2 (5) of the Act provides that traffic wardens must be suitably trained before undertaking their duties and must be adequately qualified for their appointment as such. It is true that there is no national training school for traffic wardens. It was my great privilege and honour to be at Bedford last weekend at the divisional police headquarters. I hasten to tell the House in modesty that I was opening the building. I found there the great pride of the police in their new traffic warden training scheme which is beginning. I can give the House an indication of the sort of training which these wardens receive. In the metropolitan police force they are instructed in relevant parts of the road traffic law—which is essential—in the law of evidence, relations with the public, the making of reports and the basic principles of driving and parking, which covers the points made by hon. Members opposite. If the duties to be undertaken are widened, so will be the course of the training.
A number of hon. Members asked me whether traffic wardens would deal with traffic offences, with taking the breath test. Of course, nobody not even constables, are taking breath tests yet. The hon. Member for Twickenham, for the first time in his life, is in advance of his time. These questions concern the enforcement of the law relating to road traffic and the Order is not concerned with that.
What duties will they perform within the general phrase to which I drew the 450 attention of the House? Possible duties are point duty at crossroads, dealing with traffic jams, diverting traffic to prevent traffic jams, placing road signs under police direction, the driving and parking of vehicles, directing traffic trying to move on and off the highway, advising and assisting motorists on routes through towns and on parking problems, and regulating traffic in the vicinity of road accidents. This development is forced by the sheer necessity of the growth of our motoring problem.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse), whom I succeeded in this office, how many authorities now had traffic wardens. Thirty-three police authorities out of a total of 125 are using traffic wardens. Half of the traffic wardens today are in the London area, but there is every sign that their us is spreading considerably.
I was asked whether the proposed extension of powers would provide for complaints by members of the public. The circumstances are that traffic wardens are employed by police authorities to act under the direction of chief constables. Complaints about traffic wardens by members of the public should, therefore, be made in the first place to the chief constable and, if the complainant is dissatisfied, it is open to him to complain also to the police authority. There are no statutory disciplinary regulations for traffic wardens made by my right hon. and learned Friend. In this connection, wardens are in the position of other civilians employed in a police force. Since they do not exercise police powers, the very strict police discipline code is not necessary in their case. It is also possible for them to be sued in certain circumstances, of course. The hon. Member also asked me whether the Order represents the limit of the extension of existing powers under the Act. The draft Order does not exhaust the functions which may be prescribed under the Act.
The hon. Member's fourth question was whether traffic wardens should wear a distinctive mark. I am pleased to tell him that provision is made for wardens in Section 2(6) of the Act, which provides thatTraffic wardens shall wear such uniform as the Secretary of State may determine, and shall not act as traffic wardens when not in uniform.451 The uniform that has been determined is as follows: (a) a navy blue peaked cap, with which we are all familiar, with a yellow capband and the words "Traffic Warden". It may have a local badge or crest as an optional extra. (b) Either a navy blue jacket and trousers with yellow "Traffic Warden" flashes and the warden's number on each shoulder, or a navy blue linen jacket with shoulder flashes and number. There need not be any confusion. As the traffic warden scheme develops, the yellow band is distinctive and I am sure that the motorist will soon recognise with whom he is dealing.
I was asked whether the chief constables in the areas concerned have agreed without reservation. The Home Office has not asked individually each of the chief constables, but we have talked with the representatives of the chief constables who strongly support these proposals.
It may well be that I have overlooked or not answered some of the questions which have been raised. I assure hon. Members that if such is the case when I read tonight's debate I will ensure that every hon. Member who has raised serious points will receive a serious reply. I know that I am adding to the work of those who work with me, but I know that they will gladly undertake this responsibility.
It was interesting to me that the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) and the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson), both of whom come from the West Country, made strong speeches in support of the Order. Many other hon. Members have declared themselves in support of it but, naturally and rightly, they went on to express their anxieties. There is no intention of creating a separate police traffic corps on its own. It is too much a part of the national police force of the land. It is true that chief constables estimate that three hours out of every eight on the beat are taken up with motor traffic and road traffic matters, but the police are anxious to keep their identity.
We have had a good debate and I earnestly hope that the House will give the Order its approval.
§ Question put and agreed to.452
That the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order, 1965, a draft of which was laid before this House on 14th April, be approved.