HC Deb 12 January 1977 vol 923 cc1428-9
20. Mr. Arthur Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has had on the installation of tachographs.

Mr. William Rodgers

I have received a variety of sometimes conflicting views.

Mr. Jones

What steps do the Government propose taking to harmonise the situation between the circumstances for lorry drivers on the Continent and in Britain with regard to the installation of tachographs?

Mr. Rodgers

I have never regarded harmonisation as an essential virtue. There are very different circumstances in the different countries within the Community, and I think that we must proceed in a sensible way. I have said that I would prefer not to see the tachograph in domestic use, and I am not planning to move in that direction. That is where I rest. However, I think that we shall have to feel our way along.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Taking into consideration the fact that vehicles travelling to other Common Market countries already have to have these instruments installed, are the Government nevertheless convinced of the technical advantages of the tachograph? Will my right hon. Friend further bear in mind that, in countries in which vehicles have these instruments installed, very often they are installed to protect the drivers' interests, but that in this country we have trade union organisations to do that very thing?

Mr. Rodgers

My hon. Friend makes some very important points. It is very widely understood that if British vehicles travel abroad they must obey the law of the land, and, therefore, use of the tachograph internationally has not been resisted. There is no question about that whatsoever. However, given the circumstances of this country, I do not believe that the institution of the tachograph in domestic use would substantially add in any way to road safety or provide a method of regulation better, as my hon. Friend says, than the methods that have grown up historically here.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

As part of our membership of the EEC, to what extent are we committed to work towards the introduction of this system?

Mr. Rodgers

We inherited certain obligations. In that respect, I suppose that it could be said that we are committed to working towards a certain uniformity here. However, I think we should adopt, as I have said, a commonsense and relaxed attitude. There are conflicting views and there are problems to be reconciled. We must accept our obligations as a member of the Community, but we must also recognise our own problems at home.