HL Deb 29 November 1911 vol 10 cc404-12

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Charnwood.)


My Lords, before the House goes into Committee on this Bill I should like to ask the noble Lord who represents Irish interests in this House (Lord Ashby St. Ledgers) one question. I observe he has put down some Amendments to the Bill, and I presume that means that the Irish Office approves of the Bill. But I would like to ask whether this Bill has been submitted to and approved by the Irish Local Government Board and the Irish County Councils' organisation, and whether it has been brought under the notice of the Road Board and the Development Commissioners. I would invite the noble Lord to exercise circumspection in this matter, because it so very often turns out, as noble Lords must know, that when in the future we want to carry out some improvement in reference to transit facilities and such like work, some regulation in some Bill like this blocks all progress, and we are told that we cannot carry out the improvement unless we get a certain Act repealed. It therefore becomes impossible to carry out what may be a very desirable improvement. There are considerable portions of Ireland in which transit facilities are very badly required, and only quite recently Lord Iveagh and Lord Pirrie experienced the difficulty I have referred to when proposing to carry out transit services in certain parts of Ireland, not merely a motor passenger service, but a service of wagons carrying goods, and the scheme came to an end. Under the operations of the Development Commissioners it is very likely that there may be a desire to start similar motor transit facilities in Ireland, involving heavy wagons for carrying goods, in districts which have no train service and no other mode of carrying either passengers or goods; and it would be lamentable if in the future it should turn out that any regulation in this Bill impeded the carrying out of such improvements. I would therefore ask the noble Lord, if the Irish Office is going to adopt this measure, whether it has been thoroughly considered by the Local Government Board, by the Irish County Councils' organisation, and by the Development Commissioners, not only from the aspect of the present position but from the possible and likely aspect of the future when new transit facilities are desired.


This Bill, as the noble Lord knows, is not a Government Bill; it is brought forward by my noble friend Lord Charnwood. All I can say is that the Irish Office approve of the Bill, and I presume it has not aroused any hostility on the part of the bodies to whom the noble Lord referred, otherwise naturally they would have communicated with the Irish Office about it. I do not myself think that the restrictions which he anticipates upon motor traffic come under the terms of this Bill. The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, when he spoke on this subject on the Second Reading on August 31, was, I think, under the impression that this Bill was intended to cover the case of motor traffic. I do not think it does; but perhaps we shall get to closer quarters when I move the Amendments which I propose to move on the subject.


May I say that this Bill was unopposed in the House of Commons. It was most carefully considered by a Select Committee there, and I understand that all sections of opinion represented in the House of Commons were strongly in favour of it.


Was the matter debated in the House of Commons? A thing may often pass without objection because complete silence is observed with regard to it.


The Bill was amended in the House of Commons.


Yes; but did any discussion take place? I find, for instance, that County Courts are given jurisdiction up to £150. That is an enormous jump, and is quite unprecedented in the history of County Court jurisdiction. I should like to know whether that matter was considered by any one conversant with County Court practice, because that seems an immense change, and one that should not be made without very careful consideration.


The Bill was referred to a Select Committee of the House of Commons, and that Committee carefully considered it. There was considerable discussion, I believe, on the Bill in Committee itself, and only a few alterations were made in it. It simply makes applicable to Ireland enactments which have been the law in England and Scotland, all of them for over twenty and most of them for over thirty years.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Weight of Locomotives and Construction of Wheels.

2. It shall not be lawful to use on any public road a locomotive, locomotive wagon, or wagon hauled by a locomotive constructed otherwise than in accordance with the following provisions (that is to say):—

  1. (1) A locomotive not drawing any wagon, and not exceeding in weight three tons, shall have the tyres of the wheels thereof not less than three inches it width, With an additional inch for every ton or fraction of a ton above the first three tons; and
  2. (2) A locomotive drawing any wagon shall have the tyres of lie driving wheels thereof not less than two inches in width for every ton in weight of the locomotive, unless the diameter of such wheels shall exceed five feet, when the width of the tyres may be reduced in the same proportion as the diameter of the wheels is increased, but in such case the width of such tyres shall not be less than fourteen inches; and
  3. (3) A locomotive shall not exceed nine feet in width or fourteen tons in weight, except as hereinafter provided; and
  4. (4) The thriving wheels of a locomotive shall be cylindrical and smooth-soled, or shod with diagonal crossbars of not less than three inches in width nor more than three-quarters of an inch in thickness, extending the full breadth of the tyre, and the space intervening between each such crossbar shall not exceed three inches: Provided that the requirements of this subsection may be from time to time varied by order of the Local Government Board.
  5. (5) Locomotive wagons or wagons hauled by mechanical power, and not exceeding three tons in weight shall have the tyres of the wheels of not less than three inches in width, with an additional inch for every additional two tons in weight.


My Lords, I move to omit, at the commencement of the clause, the words "locomotive wagon, or wagon hauled by a locomotive." I think these words, which were added by way of amendment in the House of Commons, were really the result of misapprehension. It seems to have been thought that when legislating for the weights of locomotives some provision ought to be made for the weight of locomotive wagons, and in consequence of that these words were inserted. But, as a matter of fact, there is a sufficient reason for not alluding to the wagons in dealing with this question. That matter is already regulated by the Locomotives Act of 1861, which applies to the United Kingdom as a whole. In that Act it is laid down that wagons of 1½ tons for each pair of wheels are to have tyres of not less than 3 inches in width, and so forth, and therefore it does not seem desirable to retain these words when the ground is already covered by a previous Act. I may say also that the drafting as it stands is not satisfactory. For instance, it is difficult to discover the difference between a locomotive wagon and a wagon hauled by a locomotive; and, moreover, I understand there is no penalty imposed for an infringement of the clause. I therefore hope your Lordships will agree to omit these words on the ground that they are unnecessary.

Amendment moved— Clause 2, page 3, line 11, leave out from the first ("locomotive") to ("constructed") in line 15.—(Lord Ashby St. Ledgers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I next beg to move to leave out subsection (5). It is not very certain what the intention of this subsection is, and perhaps it was this subsection which led the noble Marquess to believe that this Bill was intended to apply to motor traffic. But if it were so it is perfectly obvious that it would be very undesirable in the shape in which it at present stands, even if it were desirable at all to introduce legislation dealing with the subject. It has nothing to do with the weight carried by the wagon or the locomotive wagon; it merely refers to the unloaded weight of the vehicle. A large wagon just under 3 tons capable of carrying a very great weight would come under the same conditions as a trailer drawn by a motor cycle, and the subsection would impose on the trailer the necessity of having tyres 3 inches in width. As far as one can understand what is contemplated here, such provisions do not apply to any other part of the United Kingdom, and it is thought desirable, therefore, that this subsection should be omitted.

Amendment moved— Clause 2, page 4, lines 1 to 5, leave out subsection (5).—(Lord Ashby St. Ledgers.)


May I ask the noble Lord in charge of the Bill whether this in any way affects the vehicles referred to by the noble Marquess the Leader on this side of the House and also by my noble friend below me—namely, big motor chars-a-bancs and vehicles used for passenger traffic. I am sure the noble Lord would not wish to put any difficulty in the way of passenger-carrying vehicles which might weigh 3 tons and therefore be called locomotive wagons.


I do not agree that there is nothing touching motors in this Bill. The first clause covers motors, and is particularly aimed at enabling road authorities to recover damages inflicted upon the roads by any kind of extraordinary traffic of excessive weight. That clause, therefore, would apply particularly to motor chars-a-banes, as I believe they are called. The whole of the other provisions in the Bill, the provisions as to weight, breadth of wheels, and so forth, are so framed that they would not apply to any kind of motor whatsoever. It is solely Clause 1 which applies to motors of this description.


I presume I am not in order in referring to Clause 1, which has already been passed. But arising out of what the noble Lord has just said, if it is really intended that difficulties should be put in the way of the excellent service of motor cars which has been established by various Irish railways, for instance, for the purpose of carrying people to the different picturesque resorts in Ireland, it would be a very serious thing. I do not think that the House understood that that was within the power of the Bill.


Certainly under Clause 1 the road authorities would have power to recover expenses for damage caused by extraordinary traffic. That would apply to any form of traffic. But where the Bill deals with the breadth of the tyres it has no application to motors.


I hope that the point will be thoroughly considered, and that, if necessary, an Amendment will be brought up on the Report stage. What some of us want to know is whether beyond all doubt this Bill does provide for a case which has notoriously arisen, particularly in certain parts of Ireland with which I am familiar. That case is this. Large motor cars of great weight, capable of carrying, I should think from twenty to thirty people, are being used upon roads constructed for light traffic only. The result is that the surface of the road is entirely destroyed, and the ratepayers are involved in very great expense in making good the damage. I take it the noble Lord is under the impression that that case is provided for by the clause which has already been passed.


Yes, with regard to the recovery of expenses for damage caused by extraordinary traffic.


If there is any doubt as to whether the point has been met, then I would suggest that at a later stage the noble Lord should consider whether the definition clause of this Bill—Clause 8—which we have yet to deal with, does cover the case I am discussing. I know I am out of order in referring to it now, but I am under the impression that that clause is so drawn that any motor ear weighing more than three tons—I think that is the weight—would be beyond the reach of the Bill. My point is that the owners of a car of that description, if it is constructed to carry a great number of people and is of such a weight as to occasion serious damage to the surface of the roads, should be made liable for the exceptional mischief which they do to the roads by the use of them.


I went into this point carefully with the draftsman, and I conceive there is no doubt at all that the definition clause to which the noble Marquess refers does not apply at all to Clause 1, and that consequently Clause I, which provides a remedy to road authorities where their roads are damaged by extraordinary traffic or by the excessive weight of traffic, would apply to any kind of vehicle of an excessive weight or of an extraordinary kind. Whether it will be effective in its application I do not quite know; but it is, as I have explained, what at present exists in England and Scotland.


I think I quite understand the noble Marquess's point, and I will look into the matter and see whether anything can be done on Report. But it is, perhaps, going further than what was originally contemplated to regulate the breadth of tyres, because it may be that that is not a very effective way of dealing with the difficulty. I will, however, look into the matter and let the noble Marquess know what the Government's view is with regard to it on Report stage.


I have no antagonism to this Bill, but I would be very glad if the noble Lord would have two or three copies of the Report of the Select Committee placed on the Table at the next stage so that we may have an opportunity of referring to it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

Penalty for breach of foregoing Provisions.

3.—(1) The owner of any locomotive used contrary to the foregoing provisions shall for every such offence be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds; Provided that any county council or urban district council may, on the application of the owner of any locomotive exceeding nine feet in width or fourteen tons in weight, authorise such locomotive to be used on any public road or part of a public road which the council are liable or have undertaken to repair under such conditions (if any) as to them may appear desirable.

Provided also that the owner of the locomotive used contrary to the provisions of subsection (2) of the last preceding section shall not be deemed guilty of an offence under that section if he proves to the satisfaction of the court having cognizance of the case that such locomotive was constructed before the passing of this Act, and that the tyres of the wheels thereof are not less than nine inches in width.

(2) Section three of the Locomotive Act, 1801, and section five of the Locomotives Act, 1865, are hereby repealed.


My Lords, my Amendment to this clause is merely a verbal one. It is to omit the word "foregoing" at the commencement of the clause in order to insert "of the last preceding section." The result is merely to make it a little clearer that this has reference to Clause 2.

Amendment moved— Clause 3, page 4, line 7, leave out ("foregoing") and after ("provisions") insert ("of the last perceding section").—(Lord Ashby St. Ledgers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:

Steam locomotives to be constructed so as to consume their Smoke.

5.—(1) Every locomotive used on any public road shall be constructed on the principle of consuming its own smoke and fitted with apparatus to prevent the escape of sparks and with catchers under the fire boxes to prevent the dropping of live embers and cinders on the road; and any person using any locomotive not so constructed, or not consuming, so far as practicable, its own smoke, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds for every day during which such locomotive is used on any such public road.

(2) Section eight of the Locomotive Act, 1861, is hereby repealed.


My Lords, I propose to omit the words "and with catchers under the fire boxes." As your Lordships see, the object of the clause is to compel owners of locomotives to catch the sparks which fall from the engines, and as it stands it would limit them to one particular method only—that is, the fire box system. It is thought that it would be better not to define any particular method by which this object can be attained, but merely to state it in general terms, and leave it to the owners to adopt that or any other method which may commend itself to them.

Amendment moved— Clause 5, page 5, line 28, leave out from ("and") to ("to") in line 29.—(Lord Ashby St. Ledgers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My final Amendment is to insert the words "or not fitted with such apparatus as aforesaid" after the word "smoke"["and any person using any locomotive not so constructed, or not consuming, so far as practicable, its own smoke"]. This is an Amendment merely to render those persons who infringe the provisions liable to a penalty.

Amendment moved— Clause 5, page 5, line 32, after ("smoke") insert "or not fitted with such apparatus as aforesaid").—(Lord Ashby St. Ledgers.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 5 as amended agreed to.

Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.

Clause 8:

Interpretation and Saving.

8.—(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

The expression "Local Government Board" means the Local Government Board for Ireland, and the expression "prescribed" means prescribed by that Board;

The expression "road" includes "bridge";

The expression "county" includes a county borough, and the expression "county council" includes the council of a county borough;

The expression "locomotive" means a locomotive propelled by steam or other than animal power, but does not include any light locomotive or motor car within the meaning of the Motor Car Acts, 1896 and 1903.

The expression "agricultural locomotive" includes—

  1. (a) Any locomotive used solely for threshing, ploughing, or any other agricultural purpose; and
  2. (b) Any locomotive, the property of one or more owners or occupiers of agricultural land, employed solely for the purpose of their farms and not let out on hire;

The expression "wagon" includes any truck, cart, carriage, or other vehicle.

(2) Nothing in this Act shall affect or derogate from the provisions of any local Act dealing with the licensing of locomotives, (whatever the payments in respect of the licences may be,) or otherwise relating to locomotives in any county borough or other area.

(3) Nothing in this Act shall authorise any person to use a locomotive which is so constructed or used as to be a public nuisance at common law, or shall affect the right of any person to recover damages in respect of any injury sustained in consequence of the use of a locomotive.


Perhaps the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will tell me, with regard to the expression "locomotive," whether the clause does definitely exclude anything in the nature of a motor char-a-banc, motor car, or other motor passenger-carrying vehicle.


I understand that this definition of "locomotive" does definitely exclude anything in the nature of what is ordinarily called a motor.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

The Report of Amendments to be received on Tuesday next, and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 224.)