HC Deb 26 April 1966 vol 727 cc526-7
33. Mr. Kelley

asked the Minister of Transport if she will seek power to ensure that the chassis of vehicles which have been written-off are not used in the construction or repair of any vehicle which will be put on sale to the public.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)

I do not think that my hon. Friend's proposal solves the problem associated with insurance "write-offs". Because a vehicle is an insurance "write-off" it does not always follow that its chassis is beyond repair. Section 68 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, already prohibits the sale of a vehicle if it is in an unroadworthy condition.

Mr. Kelley

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of the vehicles that are being sold are botched up jobs from total wrecks which have been written off by insurance companies and that they are a menace to road users? It is not only a matter of consumer protection; these are a menace to all users of the roads. Is my hon. Friend aware that some legislation is necessary to prevent such vehicles from being used on high-speed motorways?

Mr. Swingler

I would make it clear to my hon. Friend and the House that it is already an offence to sell a vehicle if it is in an unroadworthy condition, and if, therefore, what he says is true, offences are being committed and should be reported. We have made proposals to the insurance companies, which I cannot at the moment reveal, in order to tighten up the procedure for handling written-off vehicles.

Mr. Mills

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that this is a very real problem and that even in the West Country it is developing into a racket? Ought there not to be some form of registration of chassis and engine numbers at county halls so that licences are not given to such built-up cars in future?

Mr. Swingler

If the hon. Gentleman will report instances of this sort to us, we will deal with the matter, because it is clearly an offence now under the road traffic legislation to sell a vehicle in an unroadworthy condition.

Mr. Maxwell

While my hon. Friend is looking into it, will he also look at the problem of garages charging exorbitant rates for repairing vehicles which do not require any repair at all?

Mr. Speaker

That is another question.

Mr. Deedes

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that this is a real scandal, widely acknowledged in the industry, which might be a suitable candidate for inclusion in the Road Safety Bill when it returns?

Mr. Swingler

As I have said, we have put proposals to the insurance companies and are discussing procedure for catching written-off vehicles. It may be, as a result of our discussions, that we shall put forward proposals for legislation.