HC Deb 18 July 1967 vol 750 cc1855-8

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

10.10 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

The Schedules to the Bill show how scattered is the law in connection with Road Traffic Regulations; and that it was a wise choice not only to consolidate the law in this respect but to deal with it as a memorandum case under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act of 1949 so that minor corrections and minor improvements might be made in the law before the Bill came to this House on Second Reading. The Bill therefore comes here from the Joint Committee shorn of a number of ambiguities in the law and in a tidy state. But it is difficult to draw the line between Road Traffic Regulations and Road Vehicle Regulations.

This is a consolidation of a small part of the law, and the right hon. and learned Solicitor-General owes it to the House to explain why it is expedient that there should be consolidation of this part of the law on road traffic, and this part only. For example, in the Road Traffic Act, 1960, there is a part entitled Construction and Use of Vehicles and Equipment and Section 64 of that Act provides for the Regulation of construction, weight, equipment and use of vehicles. Yet in this Bill there is no mention at all of that part of the 1960 Act, although in Clause 112 provision is made for the type of vehicle used on the road.

It therefore seems to be something of an artificial distinction between Road Traffic Regulations and Road Vehicle Regulations when we find that the regulation-making power under Section 64 of the 1960 Act—and, indeed, Section 69, which deals with trailers on the road—does not appear in consolidation. Yet we have such Clauses in this Bill as Clause 15 which deals with the use of public service vehicles on the road.

Again, the Road Safety Act, 1967, which only receives very small mention here, makes some substantial extensions in the regulation—making powers and might well have been included in the consolidation—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman, who is a very old friend of mine in these particular debates, may debate whether these particular Acts may be consolidated or left as separate Statutes. What he cannot do in this debate is to argue that some other Statutes than these ought to be consolidated in this Bill.

Mr. Page

With respect, Mr. Speaker, I apprehend that I am in order in asking the right hon. and learned Gentleman to explain why it is expedient at the present time to make this consolidation. I call attention to a Bill which is passing through Parliament at present, the Civic Amenities Bill, which contains provisions altering provisions within this Consolidated Bill. If that Civic Amenities Bill, which alters completely Clause 20 of the Bill now before us, receives the Royal Assent before the Bill we are now considering, there will be considerable confusion in the law. I ask for an explanation why at this point of time when there will be conflict between two Bills going through the House it is expedient to consolidate the law relating to Road Traffic Regulations, only a small part of the law on road traffic, and likely to cause confusion when in fact it is only a small part of the law.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Dingle Foot)

If I may speak again with the leave of the House, I willingly reply to the questions put to me by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). It is perfectly true that this Bill does not deal with the whole of road traffic law. As he and the House know, we have a large number of Acts of Parliament relating to road traffic. Those Acts are constantly being amended and added to. Of course, it is desirable that we should consolidate the law in this as in other respects, I am sure the hon. Member would agree. But I assure him that this is only the first of a series of consolidation Bills which together will cover the whole subject of road traffic.

This is part of the process of law reform which the House and the country have come to expect from a wise and beneficent Administration.

Mr. Graham Page

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer the point about the Civic Amenities Bill and Clause 20 of the present Bill which deals with the removal of vehicles illegally, obstructively or dangerously parked, abandoned or broken down, which is dealt with in another place in the Civic Amenities Bill at present?

The Solicitor-General

The answer, I should have thought, is perfectly obvious. If that Bill is being dealt with in another place at present it cannot be included in a Bill here. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. No heat on these very contentious questions.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. McBride.]

Committee Tomorrow.