HC Deb 14 July 1969 vol 787 cc20-1
29. Mr. Ronald Atkins

asked the Minister of Transport if he will introduce a code of practice to secure the safer loading of road goods vehicles, especially where bulky loads are concerned.

Mr. Carmichael

There are already general regulations on safe loading which are regularly enforced. We are currently participating in the drafting of a European code of practice which will give detailed advice to operators.

Mr. Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that, despite the regulations to which he refers, there are a large number of fatal accidents resulting from the insecure loading of lorries, including one last month in Maryport, Cumberland, where four people were killed when 15-ft. logs fell off a lorry on to a bus? Is it not shocking that this state of affairs should be allowed to continue?

Mr. Carmichael

That is one of the reasons why we are participating in the drafting of a European code. Bearing in mind the number of vehicles on the roads—I do not want to appear to be lacking in thought about this—the police seem to consider that the existing provisions are sufficient and that enforcement would be more difficult if methods of loading were specified in regulations. There are 5,500 convictions a year for unsafe loading of vehicles.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Would not my hon. Friend agree that, although 5,500 may seem a significant figure, many of us on this side would be happier if the figure were twice that, or 11,000? We can talk until we are blue in the face about the European code. Let us have a British code first and save lives.

Mr. Carmichael

There are British regulations. My hon. Friend seems to feel there should be more convictions. I think he should address his question to the Home Secretary, because he is responsible for the enforcement of the regulations; but we understand that the police are agreed that the existing codes are sufficient.

Mrs. Thatcher

Could the Joint Parliamentary Secretary say whether convictions have been increasing in recent years and give us some yardstick by which to judge last year's convictions?

Mr. Carmichael

I am sorry, but without notice I cannot give the hon. Lady that answer.