HC Deb 12 January 1977 vol 923 cc1412-4
5. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his proposals to change the road speed limit regulations.

Mr. Horam

My right hon. Friend has asked representative bodies for their views on the future of the fuel-saving limits by the end of January. The Government will reach a decision in the light of the views expressed.

Mr. Rost

As the Government have admitted that the 50 and 60 mph speed limits that were introduced during the fuel shortage are contributing only marginally to energy savings, would it not be better to scrap those two limits? Is the Minister satisfied that five different speed limits are necessary? Is he satisfied that they are in any way contributing to the sensible use of the roads by motorists, who are thoroughly confused by the present system?

Mr. Horam

No, we are not satisfied. That is why we are engaging in consultations. That is why we renewed the fuel-saving limits for only a short period. In any lower speed limits, there is a clear road safety element, which should not be neglected, as well as a fuel-saving element.

Mr. Whitehead

Does my hon. Friend agree that almost everywhere the regulations are honoured only in the breach, which brings the law generally into disrepute? Does he agree that the figures from his own Department, which were quoted in the recent debate, indicate that the energy saving element is insignificant?

Mr. Horam

I recognise that the saving is small, but compliance is still surprisingly high.

Mr. Mawby

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the longer these temporary arrangements exist the more important it is that the various speed limits should be clearly signed, bearing in mind that many motorists do not know at any time whether they are in breach of the law? The present situation is all right as a temporary arrangement, but if it is to become permanent surely we should have clear signing of the various speed limits.

Mr. Horam

I should hate to sign them if they were just about to go out. As we are discussing whether they are about to go out, I think we should leave the matter of signing until a decision has been reached.

12. Mr. Budgen

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what replies he has had on his consultation letter on the 50 and 60 mph speed limits.

Mr. Horam

Replies to the letter were requested by 31st January, and only a few organisations have submitted views so far.

Mr. Budgen

Do those replies indicate that there is no widespread public support for these restrictions? Will the Minister confirm that they were introduced only as a crude form of fuel rationing and that they have no justification on safety grounds? Will he note the view expressed from all sides of the House that the restrictions are economic nonsense and are bringing the law into contempt?

Mr. Horam

So far, we have received only a few replies. To comment on them at this stage might be tendentious as we do not know whether further replies will reflect the same view. The saving achieved by fuel rationing has not been great, but there has been a clear road safety element to which we must pay attention.

Mr. Lawrence

Will the Minister kindly take note that the National Association of Driving Instructors has amalgamated with the Society of Approved Driving Instructors to form the National Association of Approved Driving Instructors, and that it would like to be consulted on these matters?

Mr. Horam


Mr. Mellish

Will my hon. Friend tell me where there is a road in London on which I can drive my car at 50 miles per hour?

Mr. Horam

My right hon. Friend has put a good supplementary question. He is well versed in these matters.