HC Deb 08 May 1967 vol 746 cc1223-6

Lords Amendment: No. 12, in page 13, line 12, leave out from "which" to "not" and insert "in the opinion of the Minister should".

Mr. Swingler

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

I think it would be appropriate also to take Amendments Nos. 13 to 27, 29 to 31, and No. 40.

Mr. Swingler

I appreciate that there are a number of complexities here which will have been illuminated to those hon. Members who studied the proceedings in another place, but I would like to render a full explanation of the reason for these Government Amendments to the Bill.

These Amendments result from a series of discussions with interested organisations, in particular the manufacturers, operators and transport unions in the road transport industry, all of whom are agreed on the underlying objective of policy that is incorporated in the Amendments.

As the Bill stood, my right hon. Friend when granting type approval was required by Clause 10(4) to specify the plated weights for a type vehicle and for vehicles conforming thereto. Similarly the manufacturer when issuing a manufacturer's certificate for a conforming vehicle coming off the production line was required to specify the plated weights and also to mark them on the vehicle.

The difficulty arose because the plated weights to be allocated to an individual vehicle may not be known until it is known to what use that vehicle will be put by the ultimate purchaser. An articulated vehicle is a typical example; a prime mover may be entitled to operate under varying weights under the C. & U. Regulations according to the braking capacity of the trailer. The same may apply in reverse to the trailer. There is also no single overall weight under the existing C. & U. Regulations for a given prime mover or trailer when in combination with a towed or towing vehicle, and it depends on the partner to which the vehicle is attached. The pair together may be entitled to a higher or lower combined gross weight depending on the total number of axles, their configuration, and the total length of the combination.

Secondly, my right hon. Friend, who is concerned only with the type vehicle, and the manufacturer, who in fact may make no more than the chassis, may be able to specify in advance only the design weights of the vehicle, that is to say the weights at which, regardless of factors such as the limitation of bridges and highways to which the current C. and U. Regulations are largely directed, the vehicle: itself is technically capable of operating.

I trust that all hon. Gentlemen will pay attention to this. The interested organisations which were consulted about this—and I made plain on the Committee stage of this Bill that we were carrying on a continuing series of consultations—are all agreed that unless the maximum permissible operating weights for a vehicle are shown on its plate—that is the weights permissible under the C. and U. Regulations if these are lower than the design weights—the plate becomes meaningless whether for existing vehicles or for any type approval scheme because it must be indicated clearly to all concerned what are the weights which must not legally be exceeded.

Therefore, and this is the point of all these Amendments and it results from the consultations we have had, it is necessary to indicate in this Clause that my right hon. Friend when granting type approval is concerned only with design weights and to define what is meant by design weights. This explains the previous Amendment.

11.15 p.m.

Secondly, we are concerned to leave open the option whether the manufacturer's certificate should specify the plated weights, that is, the maximum permissible weights, in addition to the design weights, or should specify only the latter.

Thirdly, we are concerned to leave open the option whether the manufacturer should be required to mark the plated weights, or whether this should be arranged by my right hon. Friend once there is a prospective purchaser who can provide the information on which the proposed use of the vehicle, and thus the appropriate plated weights, can be ascertained.

All these Amendments represent a proposal to provide sufficient flexibility in the operation of the type of approval scheme because of this problem of the difference between the design weights and the plated weights. I hope that this answers the point raised by the hon. Gentleman on the previous Amendment, and we trust, having agreed with the interested organisations that these options should be left open, that the House will accept the Amendment.

Mr. Awdry

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that explanation, and for confirming that the trade organisations have been consulted and have agreed to this Amendment.

As I said before, these are complicated provisions, and the hon. Gentleman's speech has not made them any less complicated. We will certainly study everything the hon. Gentleman said, but at this time of night it is not easy to follow the details of it. Clearly the intention is to give flexibility, and we welcome this. The hon. Gentleman has answered the point I raised on an earlier Amendment, and we are prepared to support this one.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.