HC Deb 21 February 1979 vol 963 cc417-8
24. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what additional measaures to improve road safety are currently under consideration in his Department.

Mr. Horam

The House will be aware of our initiatives on compulsory seat belt wearing and on motor cycle training. In addition, we are carrying out the necessary preparatory work for new drink and driving legislation. Further measures are under consideration to improve the safety standards of coaches and heavy goods vehicles; and new initiatives are planned on child cycling.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Since the Minister has referred to motor cycle training, may I remind him that 90 per cent. of all learner motor cyclists do not enter the training scheme? What initiative does he intend to take to encourage young people buying a motor cycle for the first time to use that scheme and thus to improve road safety?

Mr. Horam

As the hon. Gentleman may be aware, we are increasing the facilities available for training for people wishing to ride a motor cycle, and that scheme is going very satisfactorily. In addition, we are advertising much more widely the training facilities which are available. All of this will help. Also, we have just received a report from the standing advisory committee on motor cycle training, and we shall see how we can take further measures to help in this direction. The figure given by the hon. Gentleman is entirely accurate and is most deplorable.

Mr. Pavitt

Is my hon. Friend taking any further steps to deal with irresponsible motorists on motorways who, at times when the red lights are flashing or when there are patches of fog, still seem to think that they can go along at 70 mph?

Mr. Horam

I think that the police have strong views about that and are making them generally known whenever it happens.

Mr. Jessel

How can the Minister use the word "initiative" to describe the Government's activity on seat belt legislation when in a week from now it will be three years since the House, on a free vote, gave a majority of 100 to that legislation? As every week's delay costs 20 lives, what is the reason for it? Since we all know that both he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State want to introduce this legislation, can the hon. Gentleman explain why it is that two persons, the Leader of the House and the Government Chief Whip, are stopping them from doing so?

Mr. Horam

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is accurate in what he says in the last part of his question. Nevertheless, I recognise his personal concern on this issue over many years. We have had the First Reading of the Road Traffic (Seat Belts) Bill, and I hope that we shall have the Second Reading very shortly.

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