HC Deb 01 March 1978 vol 945 cc440-2
7. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what advantages will accrue to the United Kingdom when the EEC regulations on drivers' hours are introduced.

Mr. William Rodgers

It is difficult to be sure, given the United Kingdom's long record in road safety and working conditions. However, we inherited certain obligations on accession to the Community and I am sure we shall adjust.

Mr. Marten

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the Commission that, while the drivers' hours proposal may be valid for vehicles going to the Continent, in this country the employers do not want it, the employees do not want it and the customers do not want it, because of the rising costs? Will he tell the Community that while such a proposal may be suitable for Continental countries it is irrelevant and unwanted in this island country of ours?

Mr. Rodgers

I have probably expressed a view very similar to that of the hon. Gentleman, but in more diplomatic language—I make no criticism of the hon. Gentleman—in the course of the very long and difficult negotiations leading to the agreement on 17th October last. But my view now is that we must see what we can do over a period of time to persuade others of our partners that there is a good case for a modification of Regulation 543.

Mr. Litterick

The House appreciates my right hon. Friend's concern for road safety and for the prevention of accidents, but will he explain why it has taken his Department so long to warn the public of the serious and dangerous mechanical defects in the Volkswagen Scirocco and Golf models, which have been sold in this country?

Mr. Rodgers

I confess that I do not know the answer to that question, or even whether it is the role of my Department to deal with defects of that kind in motor vehicles. But I shall look into the matter and write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Speaker

It has nothing to do with this Question, either.

Mr. Adley

Does the Secretary of State agree that the use of tachographs could overcome some of the restrictions on distance which are inherent in the regulations? Will he now publicly support voluntary agreements entered into between employers and unions on the fitting of tachographs?

Mr. Rodgers

There is no restriction at all on voluntary agreements on the fitting of tachographs. As the House knows, the use of tachographs on international journeys is something that is taken for granted because the law of the land must apply. The hon. Gentleman, unwittingly, possibly confuses Regulation 543 in respect of journeys of 450 kilometres with the wider issue of the general use of tachographs on goods vehicles.

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