§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
My right hon. Friend made regulations on 6 August which reduce the maximum noise levels permitted for new motor cycles from 1982. We are considering even more stringent limits for all vehicles for the longer term.
§ Mr. Adley
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that helpful reply. Does he agree that if it were possible further to reduce the permitted noise levels that would not only protect the environment but might act as a de facto import control with regard to Japanese bikes? In view of what he has said, will he keep in close touch with the Home Office to ensure that, as far as possible, the new regulations are enforced by the police?
§ Mr. Clarke
I am not sure whether regulations will distinguish between motor cycles on the basis of their origin. The EEC regulations that we have implemented have taken us in the right direction, and we intend to go further. Enforcement can be difficult where people modify motor cycles compared with their original manufacture. The police have difficulties, but they bring 11,000 successful prosecutions each year for noisy vehicles of all kinds. I shall draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, so that that enforcement effort can be maintained.
§ Mr. Hardy
Despite the changes in regulations, is not this noise still inflicted in large measure in support of the Japanese balance of payments? Should not a higher priority be afforded to safety than to noise? In that regard, has the Minister noted the extremely serious comments of the South Yorkshire coroner? Will he take note of those and show rather more urgent concern about reducing the current heavy toll of young lives?
§ Mr. Clarke
There is considerable concern about noise on the roads, whether the noise be Japanese in origin or of any other nationality. As to motor cycle safety, I have noted the remarks of the South Yorkshire coroner. We have been considering this problem for some time, and my right hon. Friend is due to answer a later question on the subject.