HC Deb 02 August 1978 vol 955 cc752-3
19. Mr. Michael Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what case he will be putting to the European Court on tachographs.

26. Mr. Mates

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what case he will be putting to the European Court on tachographs.

Mr. William Rodgers

As the case is now before the European Court, I would prefer not to add to what is contained in the Government's response to the European Communities' reasoned opinion, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Mr. Roberts

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's reply. What steps is he prepared to take to secure voluntary agreement between employers and unions for the installation of tachographs, in the interests of the safety of road transport and of the general efficiency of that industry?

Mr. Rodgers

As the House knows, I have made it very plain that I am happy to see voluntary agreements of this sort. If both sides believe that it makes good sense, so be it. I am quite content.

Mr. Mates

Difficult though it may be, as the case is sub judice, must not the Government come out with a firm policy on this sensitive matter? Does it not mean that the Government must govern and the trade unions must do as they are told?

Mr. Rodgers

As usual, that is a huge simplification of a difficult problem. It is better that I should not be led into making new statements at this stage. The Government have a clear policy in their attitude to the introduction of the tachograph. Now we must wait to discover what the European Court will say.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us on the Labour Benches are absolutely delighted that the Opposition have recognised today—by the supplementary questions that they have put to him—that we shall continue in office for the next five years? They have asked my right hon. Friend what we shall do about the future of the road transport industry, the docks, the roads and now the tachograph. Is it not a good sign that the Opposition have now decided that, whenever the election comes, they will not become the Government but will remain as the Opposition?

Mr. Rodgers

My hon. Friend is profoundly right. I am greatly looking forward to the next Question Time.

Mr. Norman Fowler

In the dying days of this Government, may I bring the Secretary of State back to tachographs? The issue is now going to the European Court. Is it the Government's attitude that they will accept the European Court's decision, whatever that decision may be?

Mr. Rodgers

The issue has already gone to the European Court. We must wait and see.