HC Deb 28 May 1968 vol 765 cc1667-716


Mr. Awdry

I beg to move Amendment No. 542, in page 84, line 22, to leave out from the beginning to 'on' in line 23 and insert: (1) In every licence granted by a licensing authority to an operator who at any one time has three or more goods vehicles for use for carriage of goods under section 56 of this Act. Clause 61 relates to transport managers' licences. In Standing Committee, because of the Guillotine, we had no opportunity at all to discuss this important new concept of transport managers' licences. Indeed, I started to move this important Amendment in Standing Committee, I spoke for about two and a half minutes—and that was the end of that; and no one has yet heard from the Government very much about this new con- cept, and so we hope that this debate will give an opportunity for both sides of the House to hear a little bit of how the Government think this will work.

I remind the House of what the White Paper said about transport managers, and I quote paragraph 48: It is the ultimate aim that applicants for a transport manager's licence should have to produce evidence of their professional competence by passing appropriate examinations, and discussions as to how progress might be made towards this objective will be started with all interested organisations. Once a system of examinations is in force the Government hope to be able to hand over the administration of transport managers' licensing to a separate professional body organised and supported by the industry itself. We should like the Minister to tell us how those discussions are going on with the organisations, because we have not heard anything of them so far. What reactions has the Minister had from the organisations? We have received many representations from industrialists that it is not really necessary to have a transport manager in very small fleets. Most of them are thinking of fleets of, say, half a dozen vehicles. The industrialists who come to see us suggest that for the small fleets it is not necessary to go through all the paraphernalia of a transport manager.

We appreciate that the Government will probably be a little reluctant if we put down an Amendment limiting the requirement to, say, a fleet of six, so we have said in this Amendment that for fleets under three vehicles—which is a pretty small fleet and means only one or two vehicles—it is not necessary to have a transport manager, with a transport manager's licence and so on.

I do not know whether hon. Members who were not on the Transport Bill Committee appreciate that under this Bill a small farmer in, let us say, Cornwall, who operates his one vehicle on 20 acres, has to get a transport manager's licence. We do not know how difficult and sophisticated the examination will be, whether it will be written or oral, but it will need to be a fairly simple examination for some farmers. What I seriously suggest is that for fleets of one or two vehicles it really is not necessary to go through the complications of having a transport manager.

This is a particularly responsible Amendment, because we have also provided for the maintenance point. Of course, we on this side appreciate that what the Government are trying to do is to improve the maintenance of vehicles, so that in Amendment No. 541, which is being taken at the same time, we have said: Where an operator has less than three goods vehicles for use for carriage of goods under section 56 of this Act, the licensing authority shall be informed of the place or places where the maintenance of the authorised vehicles will be carried out, in accordance with section 60(2)(d) of this Act, and of the person or persons responsible for this service. So whatever else the Minister may say in replying to this debate, he cannot say that we have lost sight of the question of maintenance, because we have deliberately provided for it in our Amendment.

We are trying here to save unnecessary bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape. As I said earlier, we support the concept of quality licensing. We support the concept of transport managers. We are not complaining about that. We merely say that it is a little ludicrous if there has to be a transport manager and an examination for a fleet of two lorries or even one lorry. I hope that when the Minister replies—and we are very glad that he is going to reply on this Amendment—he will tell us a little more about the Government's ideas on this concept. Perhaps he will also tell us what sort of examinations the transport managers are going to have to take. Are they going to have a written examination, are they going to have an oral examination or, to begin with, will everybody be granted a transport manager's licence automatically? If so—and I really suspect that in the early stages that is exactly what will happen—then that is an even stronger argument for not bringing in this provision for fleets of one or two vehicles.

We are trying to save a lot of extra paper work which is going to be caused by this whole procedure. I repeat that we are not against the concept as we know it. We have not been told much about it, and perhaps we shall hear a bit more, but we are not against the concept of a transport manager's licence. But for a fleet of one or two vehicles it is just madness to have to set up all this bureaucracy.

Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)

I rise to support this Amendment, and Amendments Nos. 228 and 229 which are being taken with it. We are not opposed to the principle of quality licensing, which is basically designed for greater safety. Part of the quality licensing system involves the appointment by every operator of goods vehicles of a transport manager, whose purpose is apparently to be the individual against whom prosecutions for violations of the provisions of the Bill can be instituted. The transport manager has the same responsibility in connection with the quantity licensing system, to which we are of course opposed. There appears to be no advantage to be gained from having such managers as no difficulty has occurred in the past in bringing actions for violations of existing safety regulations against the person responsible for the operation of a vehicle. In the case of a corporate body or an individual owning a lorry or a number of lorries and employing one or a number of drivers, he has a clear responsibility for the maintenance of vehicles in a fit condition to prevent undue hazard.

9.45 p.m.

Many representations have been received to the effect that it is unnecessary to have transport managers for every little fleet. The N.F.U., the Transport Users' Association and the Road Haulage Association have suggested, for example, that transport managers should not be required for individuals, companies or partnerships operating two or less vehicles.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield rose

Mr. Davidson

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to come in after I have spoken—

Mr. Huckfield

I wish only to point out that the hon. Gentleman is reading his speech.

Mr. Davidson

I should like us to get through as many of these Amendments as possible. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to continue.

Amendment No. 228 suggests that a reasonable compromise would be five or less.

The important question concerns the qualifications which will be needed for a transport manager to obtain an operator's licence. The Government have indicated that, initially, almost anyone will be granted a transport manager's licence if he is employed by a company or individual. This seems to be bad, for two reasons. First, it may force employees to accept responsibilities that they do not understand and for which they are not qualified. It could literally be the managing director's shorthand typist. The second objection is that, if the system is to have any meaning, clearly the individual concerned should have proper access to vehicles, records of maintenance and at least some experience of driving such vehicles, especially in the case of large fleets of lorries. It may be that he should have some understanding of the law and of the penalties which may result from a violation by a driver theoretically under his control.

Unless the law can be enforced properly and unless the Minister is satisfied that a virtual army of motor mechanics is available, this provision should not be introduced into the Bill.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Well read, sir.

Mr. Leadbitter

This matter is of vital importance, and I should be unhappy to see the inclusion of provisions in the Bill which could end up by being ludicrous.

I think that the principle of transport managers' licences is already established and accepted. However, to require a licence for the operator or owner of one or two vehicles might be to test the administration a little too hard. In view of that, can my right hon. Friend say whether the provisions in Clause 61(6) could be invoked to meet the objections which have been raised? In order to assist the House, I will read the operative words: The Minister may by regulations— (a) modify the requirements of subsections (1) to (4) of this section in any respect, or substitute for any of them such other requirements relating to transport managers' licences as may be specified in the regulations ". It occurs to me that my right hon. Friend may be able to meet this difficulty by means of regulations. I suspect that the Amendment goes too far and that experience should tell us that a manager's licence might not be required for a person who owns six vehicles or even 10. I think that this is a matter where experience will lead to the making of regulations to meet the problem. I hope that the Minister, in the light of experience, will be able to indicate whether subsection (6) and the power to make regulations will be used to determine any problem about a manager's licence.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)

The White Paper, in mentioning appropriate examinations and a separate professional body at some later stage, must mean that this concept is intended to apply to those people and organisations which are in the road haulage transport business. Yet as the Clause stands it would seem that anyone with a vehicle needing an operator's licence must have a transport manager. I have discovered with a shock, having heard the Clause explained, that apparently I shall have to become a transport manager.

Any farmer who has one vehicle needing an operator's licence will need a transport manager. Hon. Members can think of a fanner with one vehicle of less than 30 cwt. unladen weight and using the road a lot. There is also the tax-exempted vehicle which, by agreement with the local authority, can use the public roads for not more than six miles a week, because it must cross the road from field to field. It may be a substantial vehicle doing a lot of haulage on the farm.

I apprehend that an operator's licence will be needed for such vehicles and consequently a transport manager's licence. This is multiplying bureaucracy. I must declare an interest. I am the possessor of a second-hand septic tank emptier, a suction vehicle, purchased from my local authority, which enables me to avoid polluting certain ditches with silage effluent and to empty a few septic tanks on my farm. We must occasionally cross roads and therefore we have an exemption licence.

There may be many farmers in this position. Are we expected to apply for a special licence, and who will be the transport manager of a second-hand septic-tank emptier? Are we elevating this task into a profession? It must be nonsense. It represents a classic error of Labour Governments—[Interruption]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The House must allow the: hon. Gentleman to make his "septic" point.

Mr. Hill

It is a classic error of Socialist Governments, not septic Governments, in that what might be called a very Socialist measure is brought in and there is no de minimis rule, and therefore one is saddled with the most unfortunate consequences. One classic example is the Capital Gains Tax; now we have had to introduce a de minimis rule. Please let us have it in this case, otherwise there may be great resentment and a great deal of wasted work, and in the end the laugh will be on hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I support the Amendment because a number of my constituents have approached me about the matter. As my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) pointed out, farmers are particularly worried about this provision. This concern is felt by many small haulage operators, particularly in rural areas, and by farmers and others operating just one or two lorries which are driven, in the main, by members of one family and are owned by closely controlled companies. They do not know what burdens are being placed on them. These people have approached me with great concern as to the way in which the provision will be implemented. Will they need to take classes and be given instruction? [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite should take this seriously because these matters which are worrying many people were not debated in Committee upstairs.

I have been asked to raise the matter in the House and this is the only chance I have of doing so. [An HON. MEMBER: "Get on with it."] I cannot understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite will not listen to what my hon. Friends are saying. They are trying to gag us even now. They hope that we will not be able to tell our constituents of the burdens being placed on them.

This is an eminently reasonable Amendment which must be accepted if we are not to add to bureaucracy. Amendment No. 541, which is being discussed at the same time, makes it clear that we are not attempting to do anything to spoil the provision which demands that vehicles must be well maintained. We have no desire to destroy the purpose or spirit of quality licensing.

Mr. Marsh

I hesitate to intervene in view of the pent up confusion which hon. Gentlemen opposite still appear ready to pour into our midst. It is important to get exactly clear what is intended in these provisions. I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite have not understood the Bill, particularly since my experience with the road hauliers and Transport Traders Association has been that the trade fully understands it. I do not understand the purpose of hon. Gentlemen opposite, unless they merely desire to keep the debate going. [Interruption.]

Mr. Peter Walker

Unlike the road hauliers, hon. Members, as a result of the Guillotine, are not being allowed to discuss the matter adequately.

Mr. Marsh

I suggest that the whole of this part of this magnificent Measure was sufficiently clear for anybody to understand quite easily. Nevertheless, I will answer the questions that have been asked, as there is obviously a wide area of misunderstanding.

The first purpose of the Clause is to ensure that vehicles on our roads are properly maintained and are in a safe condition. A number of hon. Gentlemen opposite have made it clear that there is no dispute about the principle which we are attempting to achieve. Nobody disputes that there are numbers of casualties—accidents and deaths—caused as a direct result of badly maintained vehicles. The numbers are quite large, although I do not want to exaggerate the position. This is accepted on both sides and we therefore agree with the purpose of the provision, which is to ensure that these types of vehicle are properly maintained and properly operated.

It is at this point that hon. Gentlemen opposite begin to argue about numbers. It is a superb piece of logic, since they presume that if, for example, six dangerous vehicles are owned by one owner, then those six vehicles should be subject to proper control. On the other hand, they argue that if two owners own three vehicles each, the same six vehicles should be excluded from the Bill.

Mr. Peter Walker indicated dissent.

Mr. Marsh

I trust that the hon. Gentleman will explain exactly what his hon. Friends mean, since the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) argued the case for the system of de minimis to operate so that if an owner operated less than a certain number of vehicles he would not be liable to the provisions of the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]

Mr. Awdry

I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman is trying so hard to mislead himself. An operator with one vehicle must have an operator's licence. He will, therefore, be subject to the Bill. We say that it is not necessary to oblige him to have a manager's licence as well.

Mr. Marsh

That intervention proves that it is a mistake to give way. I was coming to that point and was about to explain that hon. Gentlemen opposite have misunderstood the whole concept of the transport manager. He does not have to be an additionally employed person. To suggest that would be an absurdity.

10.0 p.m.

It would be absurd to say that a man operating two vehicles must employ a professionally qualified person from outside to manage those two vehicles. The transport manager is the person designated as being responsible for the operation and maintenance of the vehicle. This is just as necessary for one owner with 10 vehicles as it is for two sets of owners with five vehicles each. It is similarly necessary for the small fleet. The transport manager could be the same person as the operator of a small fleet. He might be the foreman or garage proprietor. It could be the operator himself. The Bill merely says that the person must be defined.

How are we to define these qualifications? They will vary acording to the extent of the applicant's responsibilities. The hon. Gentleman with his sewage tank or septic tank, or whatever it is—I do not know the technicalities of it—may require special qualifications for its operation. But clearly the extent of the applicants' responsibilities will vary, because they will be differing jobs. One will not place upon the person who is held responsible for a very small number of vehicles the same responsibility that one would place upon a person responsible for very large fleets, because in fact he is doing a different sort of job.

How then does one arrive at what the qualifications are? It seemed to me the sensible way of doing this was to ask the industry. Therefore, what I have done is to circularise the industry and various organisations involved, who are, as far as I can see, on the whole not violently opposed to this. Most of them seem to be in favour of it once they recognise it is not intended that everybody should employ an additional man, and that what they have to do is to designate a person who is responsible. I have asked the industry, and that is why I have not detailed what the qualifications shall be, because I want the industry to tell me what it thinks the qualifications ought to be. When we have received advice from it I am in no doubt that we can produce a situation wherein we can ensure that every fleet, small or large, of vehicles has a person who has reached a particular approved standard in their maintenance and operation.

I find it very surprising, as I have on a number of occasions today, that the Opposition, with the important issues which they say they so desperately want to reach, find themselves incapable of understanding a section of this Bill. Whatever the criticism of the Bill may be—[Interruption] But this is the whole point. I joined the Committee after this Clause, and if it is crystal clear to me it is terrifying that the hon. Gentleman does not understand it now, and he has sat all the way through it. It has certainly been clear to all the interests I have spoken to on the Bill. As I understand it, the basic proposition is the one made by my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter), who on these occasions injects the highest level of argument into the debate. He said that all that he wanted was to be assured that this was not a nonsense. And it was a nonsense if anyone thought for one moment that we were going to require additional people, who would have to go, to night school and take examinations, to be on the payroll to look after two or three vehicles. That was not the intention at all. I am only amazed that some hon. Gentlemen thought it could have been.

Mr. G. Campbell

When we had that very brief debate on the Clause in Committee, which was stopped after about three minutes, the right hon. Gentleman was Minister of Power. He joined the Committee after we had had to leave the Clause, and it is clear from what he has said tonight that he has not even read the White Paper issued long before he began circulating information to the industries concerned.

All we had in the way of statements by the Government about this completely new concept of a transport manager's licence when we reached the matter in Committee and had our three minutes' discussion, which was then chopped off by the Guillotine, were the three paragraphs on page 13 of the White Paper, The Transport of Freight. One of the main points was that in smaller concerns the transport manager would often be the owner himself or one of the partners. That is why there has been a great deal of inquiry and doubt about how this would work in practice. The next paragraph says: It is the ultimate aim that applicants for a transport manager's licence should have to produce evidence of their professional competence by passing appropriate exmina-tions … Those concerned in trade and industry all over the country, whether farmers, manufacturers or traders have been concerned about when this would develop to a stage where a diploma was required or examinations were required. They have been much more concerned than the haulage industry, to which this is not a problem. It is used to this kind of question of safety and maintenance.

We have had very little chance of debating this. When we were able to discuss related matters in Committee we got on to this and simply got a word or two from the Government that it was their intention to hold consultations later on with the industry, and in five or 10 years work out some form of professional examinations. But we are dealing with the situation now. The quality licensing system is due to come in not very long after the Bill is enacted. It will then be necessary for anyone running even a single lorry over 3½ tons plated weight or 30 cwts. unladen not only to have an operator's licence but also a transport manager's licence, either his own or that of someone in his employment. We are concerned about the problems of the next two or three years, which are concerning trade and industry throughout the country. They are not concerning them as much as the quantity licensing provisions, to which we shall come later, but they are concerned because of the lack of information at present.

Mr. Leadbitter

May I direct the attention of the hon. Gentleman to c. 2393 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of our Standing Committee proceedings. He might then accept that he was given an assurance in Committee by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Secretary, who said: The whole purpose is that there should be somebody identifiable with the proper maintenance of the fleet, …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 3rd April, 1968; c. 2393.] The embellishments about qualifications and courses are quite irrelevant.

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman's intervention has relevance to a fleet, and a fleet does not consist of one or two vehicles. That is what the Amendment is about. We are dealing with the situation where someone operating a business has one or two vehicles which are eligible for quality licensing. If the Government carry through the system which we understand they are devising in the Bill they will have to acquiesce, when the Bill is enacted and quality licensing comes into effect, in a situation where the businessman or farmer with one vehicle is himself the transport manager. He will then have to have an operator's licence and the transport manager's licence. There can be no question at that stage of his having to have qualifications or pass examinations as mentioned here.

We understand that, but the question arises as to the whole concept of the transport manager's licence in the coming years in a situation in which somebody has to be qualified. It was stated in the third paragraph that there would be strict disciplinary powers against the operator. The White Paper stated that in serious cases of mismanagement the holder of the transport manager's licence in the organisation would be responsible. These are all onerous matters relating to the transport manager's licence.

When the Bill comes into force, the Government will have to acquiesce in the situation that the farmer with the single vehicle will himself be the transport manager with a transport manager's licence. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will confirm that this is the position. But this does not make the vehicle any safer. The right hon. Gentleman pretended in a facile way that this Amendment suggested that two vehicles would be safer than six vehicles. But that is not what we are suggesting. We are saying that if you make a farmer who owns and operates one vehicle the transport manager, although he may be a good farmer, he may know nothing about vehicles. The more important point, which is dealt with by our second Amendment, is that there should be available to that farmer proper facilities for maintenance, rather than that he should have some bogus form of transport manager's licence.

Mr. Marsh

The hon. Gentleman makes clear the difference between us. He said that a particular farmer may be a man who knows nothing about the maintenance of vehicles. All the Bill says is that somebody must be defined who does know something about maintenance. This does not seem unreasonable.

Mr. Campbell

This is becoming more interesting than I thought. A large number of farmers will not be expert mechanics or have experience of motor vehicle maintenance, who will be most conscientious to make sure that the vehicles are properly serviced and are not allowed on the roads unless they are in a safe condition. The farmer needs to have proper arrangements to service his vehicles.

Mr. Marsh

I make quite clear that such a person could designate a garage proprietor, who could be the transport manager purely in title for a number of other people.

Mr. Campbell

This most interesting point was never made in Committee. The garage proprietor at a garage three or four miles away may be unwilling to take on the task of transport manager. The transport manager, as described by Government spokesmen and as set out in the Bill, will be the person against whom disciplinary action is taken. He has to have control over the vehicle and decide whether it is fit to go out on the roads. He is definitely responsible for seeing that the vehicle on the road is capable of carrying out its duties.

That is not a job which a local garage proprietor will willingly undertake. He could be responsible for servicing the vehicle and for handing it back to the operator, but he cannot be responsible for what might happen in the ensuing six weeks as to the way in which the vehicle is used on the road, or for the situation if the brakes for some reason deteriorate. It is the farmer's decision that the lorry goes out on the road to carry out some task.

The Government previously have said that it must be the farmer himself, or an employee in the business of the operator, who must be transport manager for the purpose of the licence. If this is not so, the Minister has introduced something quite new. If it is to be a local garage proprietor, this opens a completely new vista, and certainly does not agree with what was said in the White Paper or what has been said in the very few moments that we have had to discuss the subject in Committee.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Bessell

This is a very serious matter, because if the local garage proprietor is to be asked to be responsible for any action at law that may be brought against him under the terms of this Bill— this is what we are saying—what does the hon. Gentleman imagine will be the sort of charges likely to be made by that garage proprietor to undertake a very heavy and even dangerous responsibility?

Mr. Campbell

I am grateful to the hon. Member who with his great discernment has seized upon this point. He, too, heard what went on in Committee in the brief discussion we had, and realises that it is one thing for a garage proprietor to be responsible for servicing a vehicle and to hand it back saying that it is all right for the road, but it is quite another thing for him to take on the responsibility for the vehicle over the next three months.

I hops that this will be clarified. If the Minister is right it is certainly a change from the concept as understood, and it brings out the point that the industry which will be affected does not know of this because there has not been the chance to discuss this concept of a transport manager's licence. The statements that the Government have made, in the White Paper and elsewhere, have made it clear that this is something quite new, to start from small beginnings with no qualifications needed, handed out for the asking—it will have to be in the case of one man operating one vehicle, because he has to be his transport manager as well as the holder of the operator's licence. Then it is said this will grow into something requiring qualifications and examinations. Of course the industry wants to know more. Of course it was disappointed that the Minister, although he may be consulting it, has not given proper time for discussion.

We hope that the Minister will see the sense of not requiring that there should be a transport manager when there are only one or two vehicles eligible for quantity licensing. The Government have made considerable changes, permitting greater flexibility. There is provision whereby two vehicles of a large concern, widely separated, can be looked after by one transport manager at a larger base. Why cannot the Government continue to introduce flexibility and accept this Amendment which would make it a great deal easier for this new concept to get started and be accepted, not for the road, haulage industry only, but for industry throughout the land?

Mr. Mapp

I have listened carefully to the debate, because I may be the only Member who has had the daily responsibility for the turn-round of a fleet of 200 to 300 cars. I would like the Minister to be patient about this problem. Both sides of the House have broken the principle. I have had the responsibility many years ago for looking after a fleet. What we; are trying to do now is extend this across the industry.

It has come up as a side issue from the farming community. I see their point. But the first essential of maintaining a fleet (a) roadworthy, and (b) conforming to the law of the land, requires the person doing the work, preferably daily and certainly weekly, to have such executive responsibility to deal with the driver's hours and to ensure that he makes such remarks in his log book as will enable the executive to carry out his responsibilities. He must also have regard to servicing and take into account the daily incidents that happen with a fleet operation.

If the Minister, in his consultations with the industry, does not take these daily problems into account, he will be imposing considerable difficulties on large and small undertakings, whether concerning farmers or others.

Clause 61 repeats on two or three occasions "the person so specified". I appreciate that in subsection (5) there is some arrangement whereby, if the person so specified has left that employment or is away due to sickness or goodness knows what, there is some flexibility. It is not the person who needs specifying; it is the post and the function in the firm or the undertaking that must be allied with the responsibility of making sure that the fleet is not only properly serviceable, but that the people who operate it day by day have that responsibility.

Clause 61 also speaks of the separate areas and, in effect, the separate garages of one major firm. That is all very well. It may be that Smith, Brown & Robinson have a large fleet with eight or nine different operating points, but the Clause means that a traffic manager must be at each depot. It does not mean that the point of responsibility in a large firm is three or four stages removed from the managing director; it has to be at the depot.

I beg the Minister to take this into account—particularly what I have said about the emphasis being on the point of responsibility rather than the person. When one appoints to that job one points out what that person's responsibilities are.

One other point disturbed me considerably. The Minister contemplates that a garage could undertake this responsibility. I do not know whether the Minister will reiterate that after careful thought. One cannot hive out to a garage the responsibility of maintaining a fleet operation. The discipline required in running a fleet involves personnel, daily work, and a feeling that the fleet is good, or it has to be good. I do not know how one can hive that out to a garage, because it will have a vested interest in another direction. If the firm is large enough to have its own garaging facilities it will be mechanical in mind and will not have the requisite authority to deal with the illegal hours of drivers.

I may have said something helpful to the Minister. Candidly, I believe that these things have to be said. I hope that the Minister, in regulations later, will bear in mind these hard daily prosaic problems of trying to run a fleet in the spirit of the Bill, and at the same time realise that in naming persons one can have extremely cumbersome machinery. Concerning offences in the magistrates' court, what is looked for is the point of real responsibility in the firm. The individual is secondary. Would that right person be caught for this offence? This is what the courts will be interested in.

Mr. Peter Mills (Torrington)

The Minister's speech was one of the most arrogant I have heard for a long time. We are representing constituents who are worried about this point, and he did nothing to explain the difficulties which may confront them. It is no good his raising the smokescreen of bluff, saying that we have not read the Bill or do not understand it. This is pure arrogance and I do not see why we should put up with it. If he wants the Clause to work, he should allay these fears of ordinary people, small farmers and smallholders— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Hon. Members who have been listened to quietly should listen to others quietly.

Mr. Mills

These are the fears of small businessmen, builders and many others, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to speak again to allay these fears.

I support the Amendment. To apply this provision to the interests which I have at heart, those of the farmers, is stupid, costly, Socialist nonsense. One cannot expect farmers, who are already burdened enough, to do more and more examinations and investigations and fill out more and more forms. This should be reconsidered. If the Minister cannot do it now, perhaps what it involves for these people can be fully and carefully explained at some other time.

Mr. Marsh

There is clearly a difference between the two sides on this issue. There is a potential danger which is recognised by all in the public haulage industry. I do not exaggerate the extent. In 1966 and 1967, roadside spot checks of 142,831 vehicles revealed that 55,695, or 38.9 per cent., were defective—[An HON. MEMBER: "How many were B.R.S.?"]—I hope that we can keep the debate on its previous higher level— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot debate by running commentary.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

How many were serious defects and how many were minor?

Mr. Marsh

The number of immediate prohibitions of these vehicles was 12,863, or 91 per cent. immediately taken off the road. This is not a situation which anyone in the House can view with equanimity. It is not true of the vast majority of people who operate these vehicles, but there is a problem of serious proportions which we want to solve. So we say that all such vehicles should be under the control of someone responsible for their operation and maintenances.

The argument behind the Amendment is very simple. The Opposition say, "We agree with what you are trying to do, but feel that you should not apply it to the small fleets of vehicles." But those small fleets with one to five vehicles number 69,100, or 34 per cent. of the total. If we take the one to three vehicles, the groups being excluded here, we are talking about 38,800 vehicles—20 per cent.— against the kind of defective vehicle figures we are discussing here, can it really be argued that we should exclude that 20 per cent. of the traffic concerned from these regulations?

10.30 p.m.

Mr. G. Campbell

The right hon. Gentleman is talking about the figures for one to three vehicles. This Amendment would apply to one to two vehicles, and therefore the figures he has given do not apply to this Amendment. I wonder if he has the figures which apply to this Amendment. This is not an argument as to a farmer having a particular licence.

Mr. Marsh

We are still on the same argument. Perhaps it is not five vehicles, or three. Perhaps it is two. This is 15,700—rather a lot of vehicles. We are saying, of course, we want to have a sensible introduction, and this is what we have done. The Bill is not set out on the basis of some Ministerial view as to how this should be arranged. We have asked the industry to tell us. They are at liberty to do so; they are invited to do so and they are willing to co-operate and to let us know how they see it being operated.

A great deal has been made of the suggestion that one could use a garage in this field. The hon. Gentleman expressed surprise that this could mean a garage proprietor. That was a point I made before some hon. Gentlemen opposite emerged. I said earlier in my speech that there will be varying qualifications for various people. It would be absurd to put on a farmer with two vehicles the same responsibilities as are being placed on a large fleet owner. That is the kind of arrangement we want to secure, with different qualifications for persons with differing experience. There is no reason at all why the functions cannot be split. There is no reason at all why a designated garage, any more than happens at present with compulsory testing, could not be responsible for the maintenance of the vehicles if that was the requirement or wish of the owner.

The basic proposition—and I finish on this because there is a total difference of philosophy between us—is that we start from the proposition that there are a large number of heavy vehicles on the road which are potentially dangerous. They are not, in the main, vehicles of the big and well-known operators.

There is another aspect to be borne in mind. When we find in one year, in spot checks alone, that we get 38.929 per cent. of defective vehicles, 9 per cent. of which are immediately taken off the road, then hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House will realise that there is here a problem to be solved; and when the small fleets constitute such a very large proportion of the total number of these vehicles—and for the reasons to which I have already referred, on the whole, the bigger owners tend to be those with the good safety records—it seems to me extraordinary that the Opposition should say these safety regulations, while good in principle and good in relation to the larger fleets, should not be applied to others. If the hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) decides to divide the House on that I have no doubt my hon. Friends will be pleased to.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)

The right hon. Gentleman said that the function could be split and that the maintenance could be handed to a garage proprietor. Did he intend to say that that person could then become the transport manager, which earlier he described as a highly technical title, and that the operating responsibility would remain with someone who was not the transport manager? If so, what would be the purpose of the operation? Would it not be strange that the transport manager should be disconnected from the operation of the vehicles? Could there be a multiple transport manager of several different firms?

Mr. Marsh

He would have a licence and see that the licence was fulfilled. To that extent the function can be split. I do not see any difficulty in holding the garage responsible. We accept that something should be done. Hon. Members opposite should say if they think it should not or could not be done. We shall circulate all the interested bodies and obtain their views on the best way of doing it.

Mr. Peter Walker

I am very sorry that the Minister has taken the attitude he has taken because he must realise that hon. Members on both sides of the House do not share his enthusiasm for this concept on the basis of which it would be operated for one or two vehicles. The speech by the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) brought out a very valid point. We have always supported the concept of transport managers licences. I support it because I consider that it would be a useful measure to raise the standards of transport management in this country, and this is a very important factor in improving the safety record.

I therefore looked upon this as a way of appointing people who would have responsibility for running fleets with considerable technical ability. The White Paper said that it would require a professional examination, and I welcome that trend. Now we discover that the owner of one vehicle could have an operator's licence and a transport manager's licence, or even that this should go to a garage, which may be a big multiple garage. Presumably it would be in the name of an individual, not of a company. Presumably it could be Bill Bloggins, one of the mechanics in the garage. What happens if he is transport manager to 15, 20 or 30 individuals? What happens if in this capacity, acting for Joe Smith, he violates his position as transport manager? Presumably he loses his licence as transport manager for all those who use the garage. Presumably they then use another garage hand and put his name on the licence.

The hon. Member for The Hartle-pools (Mr. Leadbitter) suggested that there could be transport managers licences for single vehicles. He recognised that the basic concept here would undermine the very objective which most of us want to achieve—high professional standards for transport managers. If a man owns one vehicle and decides to put in his own name as transport manager, is that the basis of qualification? This is not an attack on safety. If a person is the operator of one vehicle and allows it to go on the road badly maintained, the whole weight of the law should be against him.

Mr. Manuel

Not on the driver.

Mr. Walker

I agree. Unless the driver is substantially responsible, it should not be on the driver.

If one is the owner of a vehicle which is operated on behalf of one's business, one feels the full weight of the law if anything goes wrong. The whole quality licensing system is based on trying to get better standards of maintenance, which is why we all support it. But to say that owners of single vehicles not only have to have operators' licences but transport managers' licences as well is a mockery of democracy and defeats the whole purpose.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Gentleman knows well enough—he has spoken often about it—what the effect of a defective lorry can be in causing accidents. Who is to be charged with allowing a lorry to be defective? This provision links the responsibility with the transport manager.

Mr. Walker

Under this system, if the owner of a single vehicle went to a multiple garage he could have a motor mechanic there as his transport manager.

Mr. Manuel indicated assent.

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman thinks this an absurd idea, but nevertheless that is what could happen. Therefore, presumably the person to sue will be the mechanic. That sort of thing is not what we believed the Government had in mind.

Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)

Has my hon. Friend considered the full beauty of the Minister's last refinements —that the operator might hold a transport manager's licence himself and delegate responsibility for maintenance to a local garage?

Mr. Walker

The more one thinks of this concept applying to owners of single vehicles or of two vehicles, the more absurd it becomes. We are right in our Amendment. The Minister is obviously committed to voting against it, but I hope that on reflection he will see that it is sensible and reasonable and that he will move an appropriate Amendment in another place.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Peter Mahon.

Hon. Members: Oh.

Mr. Peter Mahon (Preston, South)

I served five months on the Standing Committee and I have spoken as little as any other hon. Member who served on it with me. Since I have your kind permission to speak, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I intend to exercise my right as an hon. Member who served on that Committee diligently.

On innumerable occasions in Committee, it was said that there are none so blind as those who will not see. Here we have the Opposition being as difficult, as obstructive, as obstinate and as intransigent as ever. When I say that, I say a great deal because hon. Members who were on the Committee know quite well how the Opposition behaved there. Their attitude once more, whether or not they are prepared to admit it, is irresponsible. The concept of the transport manager in this context has been looked at through the eyes of a farmer only—and that mainly a farmer who not only cannot maintain his vehicles but cannot manage his septic tanks either. I am sure that, on sober reflection, hon. Members opposite will realise that there are other considerations.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

Will the hon. Member give way?

Mr. Mahon

Not just yet. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] Just a moment. I am going to speak for only four minutes, and I will allow the hon. Member one minute of the four.

A large or small firm must have a traffic manager. That is implicit in the Bill. My right hon. Friend tried desperately hard to say this. I will repeat with emphasis that there is none so blind as those who will not see. The traffic manager can be the owner if he is qualified to look after his vehicles; he can be an employee if he is qualified to look after the vehicles.

My hon. Friend the Member for Old-ham, East (Mr. Mapp) said we should designate the post. We do that eventually. We will have people highly qualified who can fit admirably into the post, where there are many vehicles. What my right hon. Friend is asking Parliament to do is to approach this position gently, and to be patient.

Mr. Hill

Would the hon. Member not realise that the confusion tonight is between qualifications and liability? I am not saying a farmer should not be liable for maintenance, but simply that he should be relieved of all this paraphernalia of having to appoint himself as transport manager. That has nothing to do with liability. That remains.

Mr. Mahon

I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman. What I am saying is that the good farmer—and there are here tonight vested interests in farming—is not necessarily a good mechanic, and he has to be safeguarded, safeguarded against himself, safeguarded against being brought to book because

he is unable to look after the safety of his own vehicles. If he is not prepared to accept responsibility for the vehicles on his own farm we reach a sad pass, for the farming community is supposed to give a good example to other people. If he is not prepared to face that responsibility —well, my word, there will be a lot of other people who will refuse to face their responsibility. That is the reason why my right hon. Friend was able to give us those startling, alarming figures of the number of unsuitable vehicles being run on our country roads and on the busy urban roads.

I cannot for the life of me imagine why it is that people who are supposed to have so much inteligence cannot see the inherent dangers in not recognising the principle that, if we are going to have a quality licensing system, we must have a man of the calibre of a transport manager in every firm, large or small. I should not mind if this attitude were delightful irresponsibility, but it is positively wanton irresponsibility. There were many times in the Committee upstairs when I was very pleased with hon. Members opposite, but I am bitterly disappointed with them tonight.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 236, Noes 278.

Division No. 189.] AYES [10.52 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bruce-Gardyne, J. Digby, Simon Wingfield
Astor, John Bryan, Paul Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Doughty, Charles
Awdry, Daniel Buck, Antony (Colchester) Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Bullus, Sir Eric Drayson, C. B.
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Burden, F. A. du Cann, Bt. Hn. Edward
Balnlel, Lord Campbell, Gordon Eden, Sir John
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Carlisle, Mark Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshaiton)
Batsford, Brian Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Emery, Peter
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Cary, Sir Robert Errington, Sir Eric
Belt, Ronald Channon, H. P. G. Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Chichester-Clark, R. Ewing, Mrs. Winifred
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm) Clark, Henry Eyre, Reginald
Berry, Hn. Anthony Clegg, Walter Farr, John
Bessell, Peter Cooke, Robert Fisher, Nigel
Bitten, John Corfield, F. V. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Biggs-Davison, John Costain, A. P. Fortescue, Tim
Black, Sir Cyril Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Foster, Sir John
Blaker, Peter Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Crouch, David Gibson-Watt, David
Body, Richard Crowder, F. P. Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan
Bossom, Sir Clive Cunningham, Sir Knox Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Currie, G. S. H. Glyn, Sir Richard
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Dalkeith, Carl of Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Braine, Bernard Dance, James Goodhart, Philip
Brewis, John Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.) Goodhew, Victor
Brinton, Sir Tatton d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Cower, Raymond
Bromley-Davetiport, Lt.-Col.SlrWalter Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Grant, Anthony
Grant-Ferris, R. MacArthur, Ian Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Gresham Cooke, R. Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross & Crom'ty) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Grieve, Percy Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Royle, Anthony
Gurden, Harold McMaster, Stanley Russell, Sir Roland
Hall, John (Wycombe) Macmilian, Maurice (Farnham) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maddan, Martin Scott, Nicholas
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maginnis, John E. Scott-Hopkins, James
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Marten, Neil Sharpies, Richard
Harrison, Brian (Matdon) Maude, Angus Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mawby, Ray Silvester, Frederick
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Sinclair, Sir George
Harvie Anderson, Miss Mills, Peter (Torrington) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Hastings, Stephen Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Hawkins, Paul Miscampbell, Norman Speed, Keith
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stainton, Keith
Heseltine, Michael Monro, Hector Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Higgins, Terence L. Montgomery, Fergus Stodart, Anthony
Hiley, Joseph More, Jasper Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Hill, J. E. B. Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Tapsell, Peter
Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Holland, Philip Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Hooson, Emlyn Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Hordern, Peter Murton, Oscar Teeling, Sir William
Hornby, Richard Neave, Airey Temple, John M.
Howell, David (Guildford) Nicholls, Sir Harmar Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Hunt, John Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Hutchison, Michael Clark Nott, John Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Iremonger, T. L. Onslow, Cranley Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Irvine, Bryant Codman (Rye) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Vickers, Dames Joan
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Page Graham (Crosby) Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Wall, Patrick
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Pardoe, John Walters, Dennis
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Webster, David
Kaberry, Sir Donald Peel, John Wells, John (Maldstone)
Kerby, Capt, Henry Percival, Ian Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Kershaw, Anthony Peyton, John Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Kimball, Marcus Pink, R. Bonner Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pounder, Rafton Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Kirk, Peter Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Klteon, Timothy Price, David (Eastleigh) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Lambton, Viscount Prior, J. M. L. Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Pym, Francis Woodnutt, Mark
Lane, David Quennell, Miss J. M. Worsley, Marcus
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Wylie, N. R.
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Younger, Hn. George
Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dlield) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lubbock, Eric Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Mr. R. W. Elliott and
McAdden, Sir Stephen Ridsdale, Julian Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Albu, Austen Brown, R, W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Delargy, Hugh
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Buchan, Norman Dell, Edmund
Alldritt, Walter Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'bum) Dempsey, James
Allen, Scholefield Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Dewar, Donald
Archer, Peter Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Diamond, Rt. Hn. John
Armstrong, Ernest Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Dlckens, James
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Cant, R. B. Doboson, Ray
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Carmichael, Nell Doig, Peter
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Carter-Jones, Lewis Driberg, Tom
Barnes, Michael Castlo, Rt. Hn. Barbara Dunn, James A.
Bamett, Joel Chapman, Donald Dunnett, Jack
Beaney, Alan Coe, Denis Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Bence, Cyril Coleman, Donald Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Concannon, J. D. Eadle, Alex
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Conlan, Bernard Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Bidwell, Sydney Corbet, Mrs. Freda Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Bishop, E. S. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Ellis, John
Blackburn, F. Crawshaw, Richard English, Michael
Blienkinsop, Arthur Cronih, John Ennals, David
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Ensor, David
Booth, Albert Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Cullen, Mrs. Alice Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)
Boyden, James Dalyell, Tarn Faulds, Andrew
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Femyhough, E.
Bradley, Tom Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Foley, Maurice
Brooks, Edwin Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)
Brown, Rt. Hn. Ceorge (Belper) Davies, Harold (Leek) Ford, Ben
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Davies, Ifor (Cower) Forrester, John
Brown, Bob (N'C'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) de Freitaa, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Fowler, Gerry
Fraser, John (Norwood) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Freeson, Reginald Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Galpem, Sir Myer McBride, Neil Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Gardner, Tony McCann, John Price, William (Rugby)
Garrett, W. E. MacCoil, James Probert, Arthur
Cinsburg, David MacDermot, Nial Rankin, John
Cray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Macdonald, A. H. Rees, Meriyn
Gregory, Arnold McKay, Mrs. Margaret Reynolds, G. W.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mackie, John Richard, Ivor
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Mackintosh, John P. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Hamling, William Maclennan, Robert Robertson, John (Paisley)
Hannan, William MacMilIan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Harper, Joseph McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) McNamara, J. Kevin Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Haseldine, Norman MacPherson, Malcolm Roebuck, Roy
Hattersley, Roy Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Rose, Paul
Hazell, Bert Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Heifer, Eric S. Mallalieu, J.p, w. (Huddersfield.E.) Rowlands,. E. (Cardiff, N.)
Henig, Stanley Manuel, Archie Ryan, John
Hilton, W. S. Mapp, Charles Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)
Hooley, Frank Marks, Kenneth Sheldon, Robert
Hough ton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Marquand, David Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Maxwell, Robert Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Howie, W. Mayhew, Christopher Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hoy, James Mendelson, J. J. Skeffington, Arthur
Huckfield, Leslie Mikardo, Ian Slater, Joseph
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Millan, Bruce Small, William
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Miller, Dr. M. S. Snow, Julian
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Spriggs, Leslie
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Stonehouse, John
Hunter, Adam Molloy, William Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Hynd, John Moonman, Eric Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Swain, Thomas
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Swingler, Stephen
Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Taverne, Dick
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, John (Aberavon) Tinn, James
Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Moyle, Roland Tomney, Frank
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Murray, Albert Urwin, T. W.
Johnson, Carol (Lswisham, S.) Neal, Harold Varley, Eric G.
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Newens, Stan Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Norwood, Christopher Wallace, George
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Oakes, Gordon Watkins, David (Consett)
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Ogden, Eric Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Judd, Frank O'Malley, Brian Weitzman, David
Kelley, Richard Oram, Albert E. Wellbeloved, James
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Orme, Stanley Whitaker, Ben
Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Oswald, Thomas Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Lawson, George Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Leadbitter, Ted Owen, Will (Morpeth) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Ledger, Ron Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Paget, R. T. Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Lee, John (Reading) Palmer, Arthur Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Lestor, Miss Joan Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Winnick, David
Lever, Harold (Cheerham) Park, Trevor Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Parker, John (Dagenham) Woof, Robert
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Yates, Victor
Lipton, Marcus Pavitt, Laurence
Lomas, Kenneth Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Loughlin, Charles Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Mr. Charles Grey and
Luard, Evan Pentland, Norman Mr. Alan Fitch.
Mr. Deputy Speaker

The next Amendment is no. 221.

Mr. Swingler

I understood that the next Amendment to be called was No. 223, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. G. Campbell

On a point of order. You are perfectly correct, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There are two Government Amendments—Nos. 221 and 222—which meet points made by us in Committee. We hope that the Government will move them. However, they have been debated.

Perhaps that is why the Minister of State is having trouble.

Amendments made: No. 221, in page 84, line 25, leave out from ' each' to ' a' in line 26 and insert: 'place in the area of the authority which, when the licence is granted, will be an operating centre of the holder of the licence '

No. 222, in page 84, line 36, at end insert: (1A) Where, at any time after an operator's l icence has been granted as mentioned in subsection (1) of this section by the licensing authority for any area, a place in that area becomes an operating centre of the holder of the licence, that subsection shall, at the expiration of the period of three months beginning at that time, apply to the new operating centre as it applies to any operating centre which the holder of the licence has when the licence is granted.—[Mr. Swingler.]

Mr. Bessell

I beg to move Amendment No. 223, in page 85, line 9, at the end to insert: 'for the purpose of subsection (2) and subsection (3) of this section the Licensing Authority shall be required to have regard to representations made to him by the applicant'. When I tabled this Amendment, I did not imagine that it would occupy a great deal of time or that it was of particular significance. However, having listened to the previous debate and heard the answer of the Minister of Transport to the questions put from this side of the House, I am bound to say that I regard this Amendment as having particular significance. Neither the Minister, nor, apparently, any of his advisers, has the least idea about how the transport manager system will work. If they understood how it would work, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not have said in his reply a few minutes ago that it would be possible for a local garage proprietor to be appointed by a local farmer to act as his transport manager. If this happened, the local garage proprietor would be responsible for the operation of the fleet in the sense that if there were a serious accident or defect the prosecution which would follow under later Clauses would be brought against him.

In these circumstances, when it has been made clear that the Minister has not yet had final consultations with industry, with the operators of fleets big or small, it is obviously essential that the Amendment be written into the Bill. As things stand, the licensing authority has a very wide discretion. Its powers can be exercised arbitrarily and without regard to the wishes or qualifications of the operator who may be making the application on behalf of the transport manager. When neither the Minister nor the House—nor anyone associated with the Bill—can really understand how the system will operate, it is essential that the person making the application for the licence should be able to make representations, which should be taken into account.

Under subsection (3) the licensing authority may decide that the responsibility for the transport manager's functions may be divided between two persons. Does this mean the farmer to whom we have referred and the local garage proprietor, the farmer and his wife, the managing director and his personal assistant? What does it mean? The answer is that we know that the person who will be the transport manager will, according to the White Paper at least, have to have certain qualifications. But they have not been spelt out, for the very good reason that there have been no consultations, and it is not possible even to know at present who would be suitable and acceptable, and who the licensing authority might decide in its discretion to appoint if it was asked to make such an appointment.

From the two subsections one understands that the whole of the discretionary powers rest with the licensing authority, and that the applicant does not have any right to make representations, or, if he has, there is no statutory obligation on the licensing authority to take any note or account of them in determining whether the transport manager's licence should be granted.

We are in a serious situation here, because it was impossible to discuss the Clause in Committee.

Under pressure of the guillotine on Report stage we are only able to deal with this matter superficially. In these circumstances, I believe it is vitally important that we should write in as much protection as we possibly can for the operators of vehicles who will be selecting people for the job of transport manager and submitting them to the licensing authority for that task.

Mr. Swingler

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way, but we did discuss this matter in Committee. I distinctly recollect making a statement about transport managers' licences, and in particular about our hope—and we have said this on many occasions—that in the industry there would be developed the qualifications and the methods of training that would be established later on. We have always said that it is not a matter for the Ministry of Transport but a matter for the industry to establish the professional qualifications. It was in the light of that that I explained the nature of the proposition being made.

Mr. Bessell

I accept that we had a debate on this, but the Guillotine fell before we could go into any detail on this matter, and it is because of this that I am emphasising the point.

The Minister of State has, in fact, made my point for me. He has said that account will be taken of the representations that will be made to the Ministry in respect of the qualifications of the person who shall be appointed, or be allowed to be appointed, as transport manager. This is precisely what my Amendment seeks to do—to place on the licensing authority an obligation to consider the representations made to it by those persons who are applying for transport managers' licences in respect of the vehicles which they operate.

We could debate this at very great length but we are very short of time. I believe the purpose behind my Amendment is self-evident and that it must commend itself to the Minister of State because he is a reasonable man and he will appreciate the degree of anxiety that will be felt throughout industry, the fanning industry and the road haulage industry, as a consequence of the debate which took place earlier.

In these circumstances, where there is such a wide degree of uncertainty, I hope the Minister of State will assist us by accepting this Amendment which will at least ensure that representations shall be made to the licensing authority and that there will be a statutory obligation upon the licensing authority to take note of and have regard to these representations. In the present circumstances, it is clear to me that the operator is far more likely to know the consequences and the responsibilities than the licensing authority will, because it is so badly defined by the Minister's earlier statement.

Mr. Swingler

It would be highly regrettable if a subject on which we have had lengthy discussion over a long period of time with the trade, for example the Road Haulage Association, the Traders Road Transport Association and others, many of whom have desired for a long time to establish a professional standard of transport manager, was to become jeopardised by misrepresentation or allegations that would prevent the progress we hope will be made, and which can only be made in co-operation with, and to some extent on the initiative of, the industry itself.

I have endeavoured previously to explain the modest nature of this proposal in the Bill. It really is a modest proposal for the introduction of the transport manager's licence in order to designate a person responsible for the efficiency of the fleet.

There is no need to accept the Amendment in any case, because it is already in the Bill. I would invite the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) to turn to Clause 58(3) which reads A person applying for an operator's licence after the appointed day for the purposes of Section 61 of this Act shall also give to the licensing authority a statement of the person or persons and of the other matters which he proposes should be specified in his licence for meeting the requirements of that section. That means that he can make representations. It is provided for precisely that purpose; and he can supply whatever information is required in connection with these provisions of the Bill. I assure the hon. Gentleman that this is a perfectly workable proposition. It will not in any way prevent anybody supplying any information or making whatever representations he may wish to make which are relevant to achieving the objects here. I hope the hon. Gentleman will accept my assurance that the interpretation of Clause 58(3) which I have given completely covers the point.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Bessell

The hon. Gentleman is referring to Clause 58(3) of which I am well aware, but this is in relation to making application for operators licences. We are discussing in Clause 61, conditions as to transport managers' licences, which is something completely different. I accept that representations can be made in the case of operators' licences, but when it comes to the transport manager he may well be a separate individual, a separate entity.

Mr. Swingler

I do not want to read all the Sections of the Bill to the House, but Section 61 starts with the words: In every operator's licence granted by a licensing authority… and goes on to deal with the question of the nomination of a transport manager; and if the hon. Gentleman will refer back to Section 58(3) there are the words: … for the purposes of Section 61 of this Act … a person or persons … applying for operators' licences— and it is precisely referring to this. In every operator's licence and in every application for a transport manager's licence— far from being divorced, these two things go together. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should suggest that this is something divorced from the operator's licence, for it was emphasised again and again in Committee in connection with quality licensing that these two things went together, the operator's licence based on quality standards and criteria, and nomination and appointment of the transport manager responsible for the efficiency of the vehicles. They cannot be divorced. The hon. Gentleman must see that they are absolutely bound up with each other. I assure the hon. Gentleman that taking the application for the operator's licence and nomination of the transport manager in conjunction, there is the opportunity for him to make whatever representations he wishes in connection with persons or any other matters which he proposes should be specified. I assure the hon. Gentleman that that point is covered and the information that he wants to have supplied to the licensing authorities can and will be supplied in accordance with the statutory provision with which we are here concerned.

Mr. Awdry

The Minister of State has got it all wrong again which shows the harm that is done when a Committee stage is guillotined, for had there not been a Guillotine these points would have been ironed out. The Minister of State draws attention to Clause 58(3), which is said to be an answer to our point. The words are: A person applying for an operator's licence after the appointed day for the purposes of section 61 of this Act shall also give to the licensing authority a statement of the person or persons and of the other matters which he proposes should be specified in his licence for meeting the requirements of that section. That says representations shall be put forward. What we are seeking to do is to make certain that those representations are properly regarded. Our Amendment says: For the purposes of subsections (2) and (3) of this subsection the licensing authority shall be required to have regard to representations made"— so if the argument of the Minister of State is good, which I doubt—

Mr. Swingler

Surely the hon. Gentleman who, unlike some others, took this Bill seriously, will have seen in Clause 58(3) a reference to Section 61, referring to the appointment of transport managers. If he says I am wrong, what is his explanation of that reference? It makes statutory provision for representations to the licensing authority precisely on the content of Clause 61. That is my last word.

Mr. Awdry

I accept that representations can be made. We are only asking that the licensing authority shall have regard to the representations. The difficulty we are in is that until this evening no one knew how the transport manager concept would work. We have now heard that a garage proprietor can be a transport manager and we were told later by the Minister that there are to be different qualifications for some managers. I got the impression that the Minister was making this up as he went along. If this is to work—and we hope that it will—there has to be a practical approach.

We rather agreed with the suggestions in Clause 61(3), and we think it will be sensible. There may be cases where it is wise to share the duties of transport manager between two people, but clearly if the licensing authority is to lay down these requirements and to participate in the management of the company that authority must pay fair regard to any representations put forward by the operator. If the Government are not prepared to write these straightforward and simple words into the Bill, it means that they have a theoretical rather than a practical approach. We are trying to make certain this works in practice, and I feel that the hon. Gentleman has not met the point by his reference to Clause 58(3). I hope that the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) will press the Amendment.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Why cannot the Minister accept the words proposed if they mean the same as the words that are already in the Bill? The first sentence of Clause 61(2) reads: Unless in any case the licensing authority in his discretion otherwise determines the person holding the operator's licence shall be in a position to submit the name and give the qualifications. The sentence provides that those can be disregarded if the licensing authority in his discretion thinks otherwise. Why not put in the paragraph that under the Statute he has to pay regard to the words put forward by the applicant? If the words mean the same thing as the hon. Gentleman has suggested he will not be giving anything away. If they do not he is using words to say something which should not be in the Bill.

Mr. G. Campbell

I was glad the Minister of State returned to our proceedings because he at least has been dealing with Clause 61 so far as it was touched on in Committee and with the question of transport managers' licences, whereas the Minister himself has just made it clear that he is new to the subject and was chancing his arm and getting it wrong. I realise that the Minister of State has had an enormous job during the period of the Bill and is perhaps somewhat dazed. I had to come to his rescue in almost moving two Government Amendments which otherwise might not have been made. The Minister has had to carry an enormous Bill with an incredible amount of content right the way through, because of changes in Ministers, with two coming and two going. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not seen the point of the Amendment, which is similar to the one we also have on the Order Paper.

He has referred to Clause 58(3). That simply requires a bare statement by an applicant for an operator's licence of the particulars, including the name of the person who is to be the transport manager. The Amendment requires the licensing authority to have regard to information and the views given by the applicant concerning subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 61. As my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir Hamar Nicholls) said, these are different. Subsection (2) deals with the question of discretion. It gives the licensing authority discretion to appoint one transport manager for two or more operating centres. This is quite different from Clause 58(3). It is within the discretion of the licensing authority to say that one transport manager can be responsible for vehicles in more than one operating centre. It puts it the other way round, but it gives the licensing authority that discretion.

Subsection (3) goes into the question of who is to bear direct responsibility for operation and maintenance. It also makes provision for the sharing of this between transport managers. Two transport managers can be responsible for operation and maintenance, again within the discretion of the licensing authority. These are quite different but important points. These are matters in which the applicant for the operator's licence and the necessary transport manager's licence is very concerned about. That is why the words we have suggested have a great deal more meaning than Clause 58(3).

We come back to the suggestion by the Minister, out of the blue—probably it was a gaff and he quickly tried to cover it up—that a neighbouring garage could hold a transport manager's licence and therefore have direct responsibility for the operation as well as the maintenance of a vehicle. No doubt the Minister will try to continue to withdraw from that position. If it were correct, and this is a new aspect which we have not heard before on transport managers' licences, subsection (3) becomes even more important because there would be the question of how much of the operation and maintenance would be taken on by the local servicing garage and how much the farmer with the single vehicle would have to be responsible. They would both have to have transport managers' licences.

These are important matters—and I have pointed out how much is involved —which the licensing authorities should have to have regard to and about which they should also consider representations. I therefore encourage my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Amendment.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) is making heavy weather of this issue. The debate has been along the same lines and has covered the same ground as the debate on the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman in Committee, when he spent an hour on a small though important point in relation to road safety.

I am astonished that we should have to have gone into the lobby in connection with quality licensing and on a question on which everyone said they were agreed. The truth is that the Opposition are not prepared to provide the tool that will hold the person owning a vehicle as the person responsible for keeping it in a state of good repair, even though they say they accept the concept of quality licensing. They want the old system whereby the driver of the vehicle had the burden to carry. We are moving away from that, and the Bill will raise our sights to something very much better, but that former system is what some people are favouring, even if they do it unthinkingly, not knowing it.

11.30 p.m.

Confusion was brought into the debate by the advice of a lawyer. Every time lawyers speak, they make confusion worse confounded. Common sense is what we need to apply here, and the common sense of the ordinary people is that there must be fewer deaths than there are on the roads because vehicles are criminally not maintained properly. The ordinary people have made up their minds about that.

Clause 58 and Clause 61 should be accepted in common sense. The provisions for operators' licences and transport managers' licences are clearly set out. The applicant can be heard and that should make it easier for the applicant in obtaining qualification. There is clear indication of that in Clause 61(6). Are hon Members opposite so full of suspicion that they do not trust this part of the Bill? What does it say? The Minister may by regulations modify the requirements of subsections (1) to (4)"— dealing with the licences— in any respect, or substitute for any of them such other requirements relating to transport managers' licences as may be specified in the regulations.". Regulations can be brought forward at any time Again and again the Minister of State and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary have explained that all these discussions are taking place with the trade organisations, to get their advice, and that they are prepared to accept their advice, and the organisations include the Road Haulage Association which has affinity with the Tory Party, and, may be, other people in this House. At any rate, many people are supporting these provisions for strengthening quality licensing, and I have not had a single letter which is not in favour of quality licensing.

I hope the Minister of State will stick to his guns—I know he will—and keep this part of the Bill as strong as we want it to be.

Mr. Swingler

I certainly hearken to the plea of my hon. Friend. I know he would not suspect me—nor would anybody, I hope—of shrinking from the conflicts and struggles inevitable on the main issues involved in this Bill, but I would personally find it undesirable that we should have to go through a series of Divisions on an issue on which, I thought, there were no party politics or party divisions. They would certainly compromise and might set back for quite a long time a proposal which, I thought, was generally accepted as a progressive proposal, and an essential part of quality licensing, namely, the beginning, initial, extremely modest, step, towards the establishment of transport managers with professional standards by the introduction of transport managers' licences.

I do not retract in any way from what I have said, that the matter is covered in Clause 58(3), and those who have proper faith in the discretion of the licensing authorities—and many of these matters must be decided in a discretionary way by the independent statutory licensing authorities, who must make judgments on these matters—will regard it as absurd if we provide in the Bill for the making of representations to the licensing authorities, and spring to the assumption that the licensing authorities are not going to have due regard to those representations for which we by Statute have provided.

Nevertheless, this point is apparently being pressed further in relation to the contents of Clause 61. I hope that hon. Members will not complain, if further things are done, about repetitions in the Bill or about extending the length of the Bill, because of their insistence on saying the same thing more than once through the columns of the Bill. But on the basis of this, and if it might have the effect of it not being necessary to have a party Division—unless the Opposition is now moving towards opposing the concept of transport managers' licensing— and if it will have the effect of avoiding the wrong impression outside, I undertake to consider the Amendment that has been put down here and the possibility of inserting words to convey the impression at a later stage in the Bill—

Mr. G. Campbell

I thank the Minister—

Mr. Thomas Swain (Derbyshire, North-East)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are having the Report stage of the Transport Bill. Is it in order for Members on both sides of the House, including Ministers and Front Bench spokesmen on the other side, to speak two or three times on each Amendment without the permission of the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

The Minister is entitled on Report stage to speak more than once. The mover of an Amendment has a right of reply. At the present moment, the hon. Member is asking the Minister for clarification of an important statement which he has just made.

Mr. G. Campbell

Further to the point of order and for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman, I have spoken only once on this Amendment, and on the others I have only spoken a second time if I have been the mover. I know of no occasion during this evening when there has been any departure from the rules which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have just mentioned.

Mr. Manuel

You did not move this Amendment.

Mr. Campbell

No. But the Minister had given way to me before he had finished.

Hon. Members: He had sat down.

Mr. Campbell

If the Minister has not given way, I shall ask him to give an opportunity.

Mr. Swingler indicated dissent.

Mr. Campbell

The Minister had given way in order that I could—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There are plenty of precedents, where a Minister has made an important statement designed to enable an Amendment to be withdrawn, for the Opposition Front Bench spokesmen to ask for a point of clarification.

Mr. Campbell

I rose to be courteous and to thank the Minister—that was all —for what he has said on this Amendment, because I wanted to clarify our view on this which, again, is not against the safety measures in the Bill, but is an attempt to improve the machinery, which is what both sides of the House wish to do. Therefore, we are grateful that he is prepared to consider the addition of this point.

Mr. Bessell

The Minister of State has gone a long way to meet the point that we were trying to make.

Mr. J. T. Price

With great respect to the Ruling which you have just given, Mr. Deputy Speaker, defining when it is permissible under the rules of this House for an hon. Member to address the House more than once during the Report stage, I paid great attention to what you said about seeking elucidation and the Minister's right to speak more than once with the permission of the House. But certainly if you are going to allow the hon. Member for Bodwin (Mr. Bessell)—

Hon. Members: He moved the Amendment.

Mr. Price

Contrary to the rules of this House, the hon. Member for Bodmin has addressed us twice already. He is now being called a third time. In my submission, that is contrary to Standing Orders.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have said already that it is perfectly in order for an hon. Member who moves an Amendment on Report to speak a second time. That is what the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) is doing.

Mr. Bessell

I am merely seeking to reply to the debate, which is well understood practice. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) has been here a lot longer than I have and should know that.

I join with the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) in welcoming the words of the Minister of State, and I would echo the tribute paid to him. He has carried a tremendous burden throughout our proceedings, and it appears that he has grasped the point which was not wholly clear to his right hon. Friend the Minister, though I have some doubts about the interpretation which he has placed upon Clause 58 and its relationship to Clause 51.

He has given us an assurance that he will look at the matter again and will investigate the point which has been raised to see whether we on this side of the House are right. In view of that, I have no intention of pressing the Amendment. However, the hon. Gentleman would help matters considerably if he took to heart the point made by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls), who said that, if the provision is in the Bill already, no harm can result from accepting the Amendment. On the other hand, if it is not, clearly the Amendment is a matter of substance. In reconsidering the matter, I am confident that the Minister of State will take that into account.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Further Amendments made: No. 225, in page 86, line 2, leave out 'in any area '.

No. 226, in page 86, line 6 [Clause 61], leave out from 'licence' to 'is' in line 7 and insert: 'held by him'—[Mr. Carmichael.]

No. 227, in page 86, line 9 [Clause 61], leave out from 'required' to 'in' in line 10 and insert: 'by virtue of subsection (1) or (1A) of this section to be specified'.—[Mr. Swingler.]

Mr. James Davidson

I beg to move Amendment No. 231 in page 86, line 16 at end insert: (9) The provisions of subsection (7) of this section shall not apply if the authorised vehicle is used in connection with any emergency caused by fire, shipwreck or any circumstances involving danger to or loss of human life. At least four Amendments, which are all very similar, seek to give certain exemptions from the conditions of operators' licences so that, if the driver of a vehicle is faced with an emergency, he can meet it without infringing the law relating to operators' licences.

A number of different types of emergencies are referred to in the various Amendments, such as fire, shipwreck, circumstances involving danger to or loss of human life, a road accident, some national emergency unspecified, or an emergency where the driver of a vehicle has been asked to perform a certain duty by a chief constable. Acceptance of the Amendment would mean that a driver would be able to perform an errand of mercy to save human life or contend with some unforeseen circumstances without infringing the conditions of his operator's licence.

On one occasion I was asked by a constable who had stopped a lorry which had infringed the law to perform a duty, namely, to try to 'phone the local police station and then tell him whether I had been successful in getting through. This type of request might be made to the operator of a vehicle which might infringe the rules.

These are sensible Amendments and I hope that the Minister will accept them.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Swingler

I appreciate why the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) has put forward these Amendments, but they are not the right way to deal with these circumstances, on which we have had many discussions. Cases of this sort are more properly dealt with by making provisions for exemptions. And in Clause 56(2) the Minister has the power to make exemptions by regulation. Moreover, the licensing authorities have the power to grant temporary authority in an emergency for the use of vehicles in whatever way necessary. In cases of national emergency, the licensing authorities would usually become regional transport commissioners and would have complete power to authorise the use of vehicles in all kinds of circumstances.

The licensing authorities have, therefore, this considerable discretion in cases of national emergency and a discretion for authorising the temporary use of vehicles in other kinds of emergency. Suppose that a part of the country were to suffer a disastrous flood. The licensing authorities would have power to vary the terms of licences at short notice to cope with a critical situation. Moreover, my right hon. Friend has power to make exemptions in the case of those who should be properly exempted from the licensing provisions. That is the proper way to deal with the sort of cases about which the hon. Gentleman spoke.

Mr. James Davidson

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that there will be general exemptions included in the wording of the licences, or that in the case of an emergency the local licensing authority will make a public statement, perhaps, on television to the effect that the conditions of licences are suspended? How does the hon. Gentleman envisage these exemptions being implemented?

Mr. Swingler

In two ways. First, my right hon. Friend has power to make exemptions in the ordinary way by issuing regulations. Something which will fall for consideration when Parliament has approved this Bill is whether there should be exemption by regulation of certain operations by people from the licensing provisions. Secondly, cases of emergency and crisis in particular parts of the country are dealt with by the use of the discretionary power of the licensing authorities. In those circumstances, the licensing authorities are able, at the shortest possible notice, to vary the conditions and to permit the use of vehicles in all circumstances as the situation demands.

We have had a system of licensing for over 30 years. We have a good deal of experience of dealing with this sort of situation, and licensing authorities are accustomed to varying conditions to accord with emergencies.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

I can understand licensing authorities using their discretion in cases of emergency, but would the Minister take the House into his confidence? Does he contemplate that he will use the power to bring in regulations granting exemptions? Some

thought must have been given to this matter in the formulation of the Clause.

Mr. Swingler

I am only saying that the Minister has the power. I do not want anybody to jump to the conclusion that my right hon. Friend is thinking of using it immediately. We think that it is right that the power to grant exemptions should exist, but in the introduction of the quality licensing system we are most anxious to achieve universality, to make the conditions workable, and to apply them for the sake of road safety in all respects. It is right that there should be a fall-back position so that the Minister can grant exemptions if they prove desirable, as it is also right that the licensing authorities should have discretionary power to vary all licensing conditions to cope with emergencies.

Mr. James Davidson

The Minister's answer is reassuring in the sense that his intentions concerning emergencies are right. But I do not think that it is altogether satisfactory, because he has not answered the point of what happens in an emergency when there is not time for the licensing authority to take action and for the Minister to exercise his powers. There should be a provision in the Bill allowing exemption from the conditions of an operator's licence in an unforeseen emergency. Exemption in cases such as a large fire, where there is not time to get in touch with the necessary authorities, should be written into the Bill.

Unless the Minister is prepared to say that he will at least look at this with a view to writing specific Clauses on the matter into the Bill, we must press the Amendment to a Division.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 230, Noes 276.

Division No. 190.] AYES [11.53 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Bell, Ronald Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward
Astor, John Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm) Braine, Bernard
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Berry, Hn. Anthony Brewis, John
Awdry, Daniel Biffen, John Brinton, Sir Tatton
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Biggs-Davison, John Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Black, Sir Cyril Bruce-Gardynle, J.
Balrriel, Lord Blaker, Peter Bryan, Paul
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M)
Batsford, Brian Body, Richard Buck, Antony (Colchester)
Beamish, col. Sir Tufton Bossom, Sir Clive Bull us, Sir Eric
Burden, F. A. Hiley, Joseph Peel, John
Campbell, Gordon Hill, J. E. B. Percival, Ian
Carlisle, Mark Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Peyton, John
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Holland, Philip Pike, Miss Mervyn
Channon, H. P. G. Hooson, Emlyn Pink, R. Bonner
Chichester-Clark, R. Hordern, Peter Pounder, Rafton
Clark, Henry Homby, Richard Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Clegg, Walter Howell, David (Guildford) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cooke, Robert Hunt, John Prior, J. M. L.
Cortield, F. V. Hutchison, Michael Clark Pym, Francis
Costain, A. P. Iremonger, T. L. Quennell, Miss J. M.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthome) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Jenkln, Patrick (Woodford) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Crouch, David Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Crowder, F. P. Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Cunningham, sir Knox Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Currie, G. B. H. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Ridsdale, Julian
Datkeith, Earl of Kaberry, Sir Donald Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Dance, James Kerby, Capt. Henry Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kershaw, Anthony Rossi, Hugh (Homsey)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Kimball, Marcus Royle, Anthony
Deedcs, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kirk, Peter St. John-Stevas, Norman
Doughty, Chales Kitson, Timothy Scott, Nicholas
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn, Sir Alec Lambton, Viscount Scott-Hopkins, James
Drayson, G. B. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Sharpies, Richard
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Lane, David Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Eden, Sir John Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Silvester, Frederick
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sinclair, Sir George
Eliiott, R.W.(N'c'tie-upon-Tyne,N.) Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) smith, Dudley(W'wick & L'mington)
Emery, Peter Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langslone) smith, John (London & W'minster)
Errington, Sir Eric Lubbock, Eric Speed, Keith
Ewing, Mrs. Winifred MacArthur, Ian Stainton, Keith
Eyre, Reginald Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross& Crom'ty) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Farr, John Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Stodart, Anthony
Fisher, Nigel Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McMaster, Stanley Tapsell, Peter
Fortescue, Tim Macmillian, Maurice (Farnham) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Foster, Sir John Maddan, Martin Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Maginnis, John E. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Gibson-Watt, David Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Teeling, Sir William
Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Marten, Neil Temple, John M.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maude, Angus Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Glyn, Sir Richard Mawby, Ray Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Vickers, Dame Joan
Goodhart, Philip Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Goodftew, Victor Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Cower, Raymond Miscampbell, Norman Wall, Patrick
Grant, Anthony Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walters, Dennis
Grant-Ferris, R. Monro, Hector Weatherill, Bernard
Cresham Cooke, R. Montgomery, Fergus Webster, David
Grieve, Percy More, Jasper Wells, John (Maidstone)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Gurden, Harold Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Murton, Oscar Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)-
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Neave, Airey Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Nlcholls, Sir Harmar Wolrige-Gortfon, Patrick
Harrison, col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Nott, John Woodnutt, Mark
Harvie Anderson, Miss Onslow, Cranley Worsley, Marcus
Hastings, Stephen Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wylie, N. R.
Hawkins, Paul Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Younger, Hn. George
Hay, John Page, Graham (Crosby)
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Page, John (Harrow, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Heseltine, Michael Pardoe, John Mr. Peter Bessell and Mr. James Davidson.
Higgins, Terence L. Pearson, Sir Frank (Clirheroe)
Albu, Austen Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Brooks, Edwin
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)
Alldritt, Walter Bidwell, Sydney Brown, Hugh D, (G'gow, Provan)
Allen, Scholefield Bishop, E. S. Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)
Anderson, Donald Blackburn, F. Brown, R. W. (Shorecfitch & F'bury)
Archer, Peter Blenkinsop, Arthur Buchan, Norman
Armstrong, Ernest Boardman, H. (Leigh) Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Booth, Albert Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Boyden, James Cant, R. B.
Barnes, Michael Braddock, Mrs. E, M. Carmichael, Neil
Bamett, Joel Bradley, Tom Carter-Jones, Lewis
Bence, Cyril Bray, Dr. Jeremy Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara
Coe, Denis Hunter, Adam Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Coleman, Donald Hynd, John Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Concannon, J. D. Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Conlan, Bernard Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Paget, R. T.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Palmer, Arthur
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Crawshaw, Richard Jeger, Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Park, Trevor
Cronin, John Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pavitt, Laurence
Dalyel I, Tarn Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Huff, W.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Pentland, Norman
Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Judd, Frank Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Keliey, Richard Price, William (Rugby)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Probert, Arthur
Delargy, Hugh Kerr, Dr. David (W' worth, Central) Rankin, John
Dell, Edmund Lawson, George REES, Merlyn
Dempsey, James Leadbitter, Ted Reynolds, G. W.
Dewar, Donald Ledger, Ron Rhodes, Geoffrey
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Richard, Ivor
Dickens, James Lee, John (Reading) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dobson, Ray Lestor, Miss Joan Robertson, John (Paisley)
Doig, Peter Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Driberg, Tom Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Dunnett, Jack Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Cwyneth (Exeter) Lipton, Marcus Roebuck Roy
Dun woody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lomas, Kenneth Rose, Paul
Eadie, Alex Loughlin, Charles Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Luard, Evan Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Ryan, John
Eills, John Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)
English, Michael McCann, John Sheldon, Robert
Ennals, David MacColl, James Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Ensor, David MacDermot, Niall Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Macdonald, A. H. Silikin, Rt. Hn. John(Deptford)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardely) Mckay, Mrs. Margaret Silikin,Rt. Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Faulds, Andrew Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) silverman, Julius (Aston)
Ferny hough, E. Mackie, John Skeffington Arthur
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mackintosh, John P. Slater, Joseph
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Maclennan, Robert Small, William
Fotey, Maurice MacMillian, Malcolm (Western Isles) Snow, Jullian
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Spriggs Leslie
Ford, Ben McNamara, J. Kevin stonehouse John
Forrester, John MacPherson, Malcolm Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Fowler, Gerry Mahon, Peter (Perston, S.) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Fraser,John (Norwood) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Swain, Thomas
Freeson, Reginald Mallallieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.) Swinger, Stepen
Galpern, Sir Myer Manuel, Archie Taverne, Dick
Gardner, Tony Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Rt. Hn. Geroge
Ginsburg, David Marquand, David Thomas, Rt. Hn. Geroge
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Tinn, James
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Tomney, Frank
Gregory, Arnold Maxwell, Robert Urwin, T.W.
Grey, Charles (Duharam) Mayhew, Chirstopher Varley, Eric G.
Groffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mendelson, J. J. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mikardo, Ian Walker, Harlod (Doncaster)
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Millan, Bruce Wallace, Geroge
Hamling, William Millier, Dr. M. S. Watkins, David (Consett)
Hannan, William Milne, Edward (Blyth) Watkins, Tudor (Brecin & Randor)
Harper, Joseph Mitchell, R. C. (S't'pton, Test) Weitzman, David
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Molloy, William Wellbeloved, James
Haseldine, Norman Moonman, Eric
Hattersley, Roy Moonman, Eric Whitaker, Ben
Hazell, Bert Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Whitlock, William
Heffer, Eric S Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Hilton, W. S. Morris, John (Aberavon) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Hooley Frank Moyle, Roland Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Murray, Albert Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Neal, Harlod Willis, Rt. Hn. Geroge
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Newens, Stan Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Winnick, David
Howie, W. Norwood, Christopher Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Hoy, James Oakes, Gordon Woof, Robert
Huckfield, Leslie Ogden, Eric Yates, Victor
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) O'Malley, Brian
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Oram, Albert E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Orme, Stanley Mr. Charles R. Morris and Mr. Neil McBride.
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Oswald, Thomas
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