HC Deb 26 April 1972 vol 835 cc1517-8
5. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to introduce legislation to govern the conditions under which self-drive hire vehicle firms operate; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Transport Industries (Mr. John Peyton)

No, Sir.

Mr. McCrindle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I find that a very disappointing reply? In view of the constant use of the vehicles I have described in my Question, and the need to reassure hirers as to the condition of vehicles, does he consider that it would be a good thing to require perhaps an annual roadworthiness test, more stringent than that for private cars, with the requirement that the certificate be displayed on the vehicle before it leaves the premises?

Mr. Peyton

I hate to disappoint my hon. Friend, but in this instance I hope he will consider that a mere multiplication of law and regulations on this subject could be an embarrassment to the good firms while achieving nothing with respect to those who disobey the law.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the condition of some of these self-drive hire vehicles represents an appalling menace on the roads? Can he stand aside and do nothing about it?

Mr. Peyton

It is a question not of standing aside but of effectively enforcing the law as it is. This is already difficult enough and I do not want to add to the volume of law which would then be inadequately enforced.

Mr. Dell

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the report in Which? on this subject which says that many of these cars are in a very bad condition, including cars run by some of the most reputable firms? Is it not time that he studied further the recommendation of the Consumers Association that there should be a licensing system?

Mr. Peyton

I have seen that report and have given it the most careful consideration. I doubt very much whether the mere increase of licensing systems, however much satisfaction they may give to us in this House, would necessarily achieve the desired results.

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