§ Read 3a.
§ Clause 35:
§ As to vehicles overtaking stationary tramcars.
§ 35.—(1) When any tramcar is standing at a tramway stopping place in the City of which the position is shown by a notice sign or other indication placed painted or affixed near thereto the driver of any vehicle who intends to pass on the left or near side of such tramcar shall draw up before arriving at such stopping place, and shall not pass such tramcar until the carriageway on the left or near side is clear of passengers entering or leaving the same.
§ (2) Any person contravening the provisions of this Section shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU moved to omit Clause 35. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise with some hesitation this afternoon because, as a rule, I think every member of your Lordships' House would desire to support the decisions of Committees, which have been arrived at after a patient hearing upstairs. I am very sorry that I have on this occasion to challenge the decision of this Committee, if only on the ground that the noble Lord who presided over it, my noble friend Lord Redesdale, takes a great interest in the work of this House. I am informed that the Committee was extremely well conducted, and gave a most careful hearing to all the aspects of the case.
§ But this is one of the few occasions when a Committee upstairs has allowed a piece of legislation, or at least has suggested that a regulation be allowed, which not only affects the area concerned, but might affect the whole country. In the case of Newcastle an exceptional regulation is being asked for which has only been given in the case of Glasgow, and in the case of Glasgow it was allowed as a by-law and was never sanctioned by 868 any Committee of this House or of another place. This, therefore, was the first time that a regulation of this kind has been sanctioned by a Committee and that is largely my excuse for drawing the attention of your Lordships to it this afternoon.
§ There are two separate aspects of this question. There is the general question as to whether you should legislate piecemeal on a subject which is national and not local. Everyone knows that traffic, nowadays, is entirely general in character and that the streets and roads in this country are used by persons who need have no acquaintance or connection with a particular locality. It is not only the people of Newcastle who have to be considered but the general users of the roads of the country. On that point I would remind your Lordships that the Government has announced its intention of bringing in a Bill next year to deal with this and many other matters. As I understand it, the Bill is already in preparation at the Ministry of Transport and will be a revision of the Act of 1903. I suggest, on that ground alone, that it would be advisable to leave the matter to be dealt with at the proper time.
§ I shall be prepared to say something on the merits of the question later on. As I have said, it is only in the City of Glasgow that this regulation exists, and I think it would be inadvisable to extend it for the reasons I have already given. On the evidence given in Committee on the general question, I observe that my noble friend may argue with truth that one or two racing motorists came forward and supported the Newcastle scheme. I am not a racing motorist, but I have had a great deal of experience of traffic in various countries of the world. When I was on the Road Board I went on a Mission which studied the traffic in various cities of America and elsewhere, and from my experience my inclination is to the belief that a proposal to stop all traffic passing on the near side of a stationary tramcar would not increase the chances of safety.
Your Lordships will observe from the paper I have circulated that the Home Office has reported adversely to this particular clause, that the Ministry of Transport dislikes it, and that a conference of Chief Constables which met a
short time ago in London decided against it by a large majority. On page 8 of their Report the Committee of representatives of Police Forces and road users say:—
In the interests of safety of passengers a Lighting from tramcars, it was strongly urged that, when a tramway car is stationary at any point authorised as a stopping place"—
that is exactly the Newcastle position—
which is indicated by a notice or sign in the thoroughfare for the taking up or setting down of passengers, every driver of a vehicle who intends to pass on the left or near side of such tramway car shall draw tin immediately before arriving at such stopping place until the roadway is clear of passengers entering or leaving the car.
The Conference fully discussed the subject and the majority were of opinion that the existing powers under Section 1 of the Motor Car Act of 1003 were sufficient to enable them to deal with the matter. I am bound to say, therefore, that when a clause is opposed by the Home Office, by the Ministry of Transport and by a. large majority of the members of a conference of Chief Constables, there is something to be said for my asking your Lordships to reject that clause.
§ One thing that affects this question is the lack of uniformity. I dare say your Lordships are aware that on the open road you have to proceed in some countries on the right-hand side and, after a time, on the left. Such lack of uniformity causes serious obstruction and leads to a continual risk of accidents. In some French towns there is a special speed limit and when a case arises out of it, the defendant says, and with justice: "How am I to know when I enter this locality that this particular law is in force?" And if any of your Lordships were driving, or being driven through Newcastle, how would you know when you had passed over the high level bridge from Gateshead that this special law was in force in Newcastle and that if you saw a tramcar stationary in the road you could not pass it until it had moved on?
§ Then, in regard to passengers leaving tramcars, I think the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will hear me out when I say that the general rule has been in existence for a very long time, that a vehicle passing another has to pass it on the off side. That is the general law in this country under the Highways Act of 1835. I think I am correct in saying that the law has 870 never been altered and that if its provisions were strictly enforced you ought always to pass a tramcar on the off side. If that is so, in a very narrow street it would be dangerous, as I have no doubt your Lordships will realise, and if there is, as is often the case, a double line of tramways it would be a risky thing to pass on the off side, unless the road was clear. I have had a great deal of experience in London and other towns and I only do that when it is absolutely necessary. Under this clause the stipulation is that a conveyance shall not pass a stationary car on the near side, so that only those passengers which leave the car on that side are protected. There is no protection at all given to passengers leaving the ear on the off side. A lot of people, when they get off a car, cross to the off side. Further, passengers do not always know which is the near side and I can only come to the conclusion, therefore, that the protection afforded by the clause is very limited in character.
§ A case has been made out, or alleged, by the Newcastle Corporation that this particular regulation is needed because the powers under the Act of 1903 are not adequate. I do not think that can be the case. Your Lordships who are magistrates have, no doubt, often tried cases whore, on the evidence of two constables, it has been difficult to determine whether a car was travelling at a particular speed or not. But the question of speed limits does not enter into this matter. In Gateshead, on the other side of the Tyne from Newcastle, the General Act is in force and has a very good effect. So far from that being ineffective, since the Bill was in Committee under the Chairmanship of my noble friend I have ascertained that in the last eighteen months there were actually nine prosecutions which resulted in seven convictions in Gateshead. That rather looks as if the matter should be dealt with by the ordinary law without having this special clause.
§ Section 1 of the Motor Car Act of 1903, your Lordships will remember, gives very wide powers. When that section was originally passed in another place, the late Viscount Long, who was then President of the Local Government Board, and myself tried to draft it in such a way as to deal with every case of dangerous driving or driving to the 871 public danger and if there is one section in that Act of 1903 which is watertight that one, I think, is Section 1, which has served its purpose well. It has been used with effect and, in fact, it is the governing clause of the whole Act. I still think that it is sufficient to deal with this matter. As regards the accidents that are caused, I believe in Glasgow it is claimed that a clause like this has had the effect of reducing the number of accidents. But we want to know the circumstances in which those statistics were gathered and we want to trace a great many of the accidents in detail to see what value can be placed upon the conclusion that has been drawn. Until that is done it is very difficult to say precisely to what an accident was due in a particular case.
§ Some evidence was brought forward with regard to the operation of this law in the United States. The situation there is, however, quite different from ours. When once the police allow the traffic to go on in any direction and the red light is changed to green, if you do not run for your life it is your own fault. We do not want to imitate that system in this country. We have conducted our traffic, I think, on the whole more soberly than any other country in the world, and we do not want to have American precedents introduced here. I put it to the House that really this clause is not needed. I do not know that I have anything more to say, except this. This clause is objected to by a number of public bodies and by chief constables. It has been turned down already in, the cases of Manchester and Liverpool, and by, at any rate, three other great cities. It is, in my opinion, and I hope in the opinion of your Lordships, introducing an intolerable nuisance. Piecemeal legislation of this kind ought never to be passed because it leads to differentiations in the law as regards different towns. Although I am reluctant to disagree with the decision of the Committee, I think this is a case in which your Lordships should do so. I beg to move.
Leave out Clause 35.—(Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.)
My Lords, as I was Chairman of the Select Committee appointed by your Lordships to deal with 872 the Newcastle Bill I think you may wish to hear from me why the Committee allowed Clause 99 as it was then—Clause 35 now—to pass. The real truth of the matter is that this clause merely seeks to enforce by law the consideration due and usually accorded by motor drivers and others to pedestrians. It is very important to appreciate what the clause does say. I have heard the strangest interpretations of this clause. What, in effect, it says is that when a tram car is stopped at one of its regular stopping stations no vehicle shall pass that tram on the near side until such time as the roadway is clear of pedestrians joining or leaving the tram. There is nothing to prevent a motor car passing the tram on the off side, assuming that the momentary conditions of traffic permit. The trams are of no use to the people unless the people are allowed to get into them, and there really is no reason why they should be compelled to thread their way through a string of motor cars, very often at considerable personal risk. They are just as anxious to reach their destinations as people in the cars.
Most of your Lordships are only too familiar with the procedure of Committees dealing with Private Bills and are well aware of the voluminous nature of the evidence that is brought both by promoters and opponents. I will not trouble your Lordships with more than the gist of that evidence and its source, because the source in this case is of great importance. The evidence differed from that usually heard upstairs, in that it was not the evidence of experts, as your Lordships understand the word; it was almost all evidence on matters of common knowledge, and I may safely say, within the personal experience of most of your Lordships. The opposition to the clause was based mainly on three points—firstly, that it would congest the traffic; secondly, that the existing law—Section 1 of the Motor Car Act, 1903—was sufficient to deal with the offenders; and, thirdly, interference with motorists.
I think it was the third point that worried the opponents, the Automobile Association, more than anything else and it would be convenient if I dealt in the first place with that point. Their fear is that the motorist from a. distance passing through Newcastle and being unaware of 873 the existence of this clause will get into difficulties with the authorities in Newcastle. That is true, but only to this extent, that he will have to deserve to get into the difficulty. As a matter of fact, no evidence of any kind was produced to show that the motorist had got into any such difficulties when passing through Glasgow, where this clause is already in operation. It is not reasonable to suppose that Newcastle is seeking these powers in order to obtain convictions of a frivolous nature on technical grounds and, further, Newcastle has undertaken to erect efficient notices of warning.
As to the first point in the opposition—the probable congestion of traffic—the opposition brought evidence to show that it was imperative to keep the traffic on the move. That, no doubt, is true, but even that must be subject to certain limitations. You cannot keep the traffic moving over, or even at the expense of, the pedestrians. The superintendent of traffic in Glasgow gave it in evidence that far from interfering with traffic it actually helped it. On the remaining point in the opposition—that the existing law is sufficient to deal with offenders—I was going in any case to direct your Lordships' attention to the Report that has been referred to by the noble Lord. The Committee which presented that Report, as he has told you, consisted largely of Chief Constables. There were seventeen Chief Constables sitting on that Committee and seven representatives of road users. But of course, it is misleading to soy that that is a large proportion of Chief Constables. There are over 250 Chief Constables in the country and there were only seventeen of them on this Committee.
Even then, this is only a Majority Report and there is nothing to show that it was adopted by a large majority. They discussed this particular clause. The noble Lord has read their recommendation, but I will read it again:We fully discussed this subject, and the majority of us are of opinion that the existing powers under the Motor Car Act, 1903, Section 1 (1), are sufficient to enable the police to deal with the matter.That Committee was either right or it was wrong. If it was right, and the existing law is, in fact, sufficient, then this clause will make no practical change. If, on the other hand, they were wrong and the existing law is not sufficient, then this 874 Committee has advanced no reason whatever for objecting to the clause. It is true that the omnibus owners, in a Petition, claimed that the clause destroyed their chance of effective competition with the trams, but this claim was never supported by any evidence whatever. Are not your Lordships of opinion that, if the omnibus owners really thought they had a case, they would have brought that case before the Committee and would have supported it with some sort of evidence?
The promoters of the Bill called as a witness Major Seagrave, who holds the world's speed record, so that it must necessarily be presumed that Major Seagrave is a driver of very considerable experience. Major Seagrave supports this clause absolutely. Mr. McConnell, the chief examiner of Brooklands Racing Club, supports this clause absolutely. Mr. Crawley, the Chief Constable of Newcastle, the very man who is responsible for the smooth running of the traffic of Newcastle, supports this clause absolutely. Mr. Peters, superintendent of traffic in Glasgow, which is the only City in this country which has the provisions of this clause in force, supports this clause absolutely, as the result of his own practical experience of its working. As I have told your Lordships before, he gave it in evidence that so far from its interfering with traffic it actually helps it. Evidence was given to the effect that in Glasgow and New York, where the provisions of this clause are in force, it had not in any way increased congestion of traffic and had been the means of diminishing street accidents to a great extent.
Your Lordships will not object to my quoting figures, because they are of importance and tell their own story. In 1914 there were registered in the City of Glasgow 7,413 motor cars and there were in that year 45 accidents directly attributable to motorists pushing their way through pedestrians between the pavement and the trams. In 1925, that is to say after the clause had come into effect in Glasgow, there were registered in that city 25,900 cars and there were 43 accidents of the same sort. The noble Lord suggests that there may be other reasons for this extraordinary diminution—because while the number of cars has been multiplied by four the number of accidents has actually decreased. I 875 think, however, it is fair to say that probably a very considerable proportion of the decrease is due to the clause. Evidence was given—and very strong evidence—as to the difficulty of making efficient use of the existing law to meet the particular case dealt with by the clause, and to the effect that it was almost necessary that an accident involving loss of life or injury should actually have taken place before a conviction could be obtained under the existing law.
I turn now to the evidence that was brought by the opponents. Mr. Stenson Cooke, secretary of the Automobile Association, gave evidence to the effect that the Motor Car Act of 1903 was already far too wide, that the Automobile Association had had to defend scores of thousands of cases, and that there had already been too many convictions to suit the Automobile Association. Mr. Temperley, a solicitor residing in Newcastle, gave evidence against the clause as an ordinary motorist and not as a solicitor. He never touched on any legal point; in fact, when he did start to do so learned Cousel advised him to leave it alone. Mr. Spens, Scottish secretary of the Automobile Association, when giving his evidence, in effect merely contradicted the evidence given by the superintendent of traffic in Glasgow.
As for saying that such legislation should be general or should not exist at all, I submit to your Lordships that there is any amount of precedent for the inauguration in this way of legislation which has been found to be good and has subsequently been embodied in general legislation. It is either good or it is bad. If it is, as I submit, good, there can be no earthly reason why Newcastle should be denied the benefit of this legislation until such time as it can be made general. On the point regarding the recommendations that are received by Committees from Departments, while Committees sitting upstairs are very grateful for the assistance and guidance they receive from the Department and for the benefit of their experience, it must be left at that. If memoranda received from Departments are to be regarded as instructions to Committees it means nothing short of government by Departments.
876 The Committee allowed this clause after careful consideration of the evidence, and they were unanimous. It was not a case where any persuasion or discussion was necessary. I can understand opposition by the Government. If the Government, or those more immediately responsible for the conduct of the Select Committees upstairs, were of opinion that this matter had been mishandled, if they were of opinion that the Committee had arrived at an improper conclusion, it would be their duty to intervene in the interests of the public. But that is not the case, and I find it very difficult to understand intervention at this stage by a private body which has had a full hearing upstairs, especially in view of the fact that this clause has yet to be considered in another place. Moreover, it was open to opponents, if they did not intend to accept any decision of the Committee in favour of the clause, to move an instruction to the Committee on Second Reading, and if your Lordships had accepted that instruction the Bill would have been unopposed. It is not necessary for me to point out the saving to both parties that would have resulted from this, as I think, more satisfactory course, had it been adopted. I sincerely trust that your Lordships will reject this Amendment.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I should like to support the noble Chairman of this Committee which sat upstairs, for this reason: there is no doubt that all motorists, no matter how fast they drive, when they arrive at a town where there are tramways have to pass through narrow streets, and pedestrians when they get out of these tramcars have to get into the roadway in order to pass safely along the particular path which pedestrians use. I know this place in Newcastle very well. The trouble has arisen from the fact that there is a very narrow street in which pedestrians get off on the near side. When the car move on it blinds the motorist and, if he wants to rush through, he is very likely to catch a pedestrian.
Your Lordships as a rule support your Committees that sit upstairs. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, the Chairman of the Committee, has quoted Glasgow, where this rule is in force. This Amend- 877 ment proposes the deletion of a whole clause and, if you omit a whole clause in a Bill that has been considered for so long and after the hearing of so much evidence, a Bill, moreover, which applies to such an important town as Newcastle, you are taking a grave step. The noble Lord mentioned that there would have been plenty of time on the Second Reading to give notice of the intention to object to this clause. I do not know what the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees will have to say about the matter, but I strongly support Lord Redesdale's contention. I am not going to repeat the arguments that he so ably put before you, but if Glasgow has this provision I do not sec why Newcastle should not have it, too. It will not be a precedent to aply to every big town in the Kingdom. Why should it? People are being killed at that place, and I have a personal recollection of it because I was myself as nearly as possible caught in that narrow street.
My Lords, I had not proposed to deal at any length with the merits of this clause but in view of what has been said by the noble Lord, the Chairman of the Committee, I must go into them a little more fully than I had intended. He gave us a review of the evidence, but it seems to me that this review is open to one or two criticisms. First of all, among the people whom he put forward as having been called in favour of this clause, the first and second were a racing motorist and a member of a racing authority at Brooklands. It seems to me that racing motorists are not, perhaps, the best people to give evidence about ordinary traffic on ordinary roads. The majority of them know very little about it and pay very little regard to it. When they travel on ordinary roads they travel at an early hour in the morning, but they spend most of their time as motorists racing round tracks. It would have been better to hear the view of some ordinary paterfamilias who goes about his business by car like the rest of us.
The noble Lord gave us some figures from Glasgow from which he invited us to draw the conclusion that a similar clause in Glasgow had been particularly useful. He said that the number of motor cars had increased fourfold, while the number of accidents apparently re- 878 mained stationary. That makes many assumptions which I think are open to observation. First of all, it does not follow in the least that the accidents that occur in Glasgow are due to motor cars that happen to be registered in that City. The chances are that they are not registered there. In the next place it appears that the number of accidents must depend very much more upon the number of tramcars, the number of stopping places and the number of coveys, go to speak, of passengers who have been exposed to danger than upon the number of motor cars, and if the number of tramcars has remained stationary—and the noble Lord said nothing to show that it had not—I do not see why the number of accidents should not remain stationary, no matter how many more motor cars there were, because not more than one motor car would be likely to run into a covey at the same place. I think that the argument was a little fallacious.
The noble Lord asked us to look at the clause itself, and I should be very glad indeed if your Lordships would do so. The clause says:—When any tramcar is standing at a tramway stopping place in the City of which the position is shown by a notice sign or other indication—It will be seen that the clause applies only where there is a sign, and one must hope that the motorist will be able to see that sign. The clause goes on to say that, when these conditions are satisfied,the driver of any vehicle who intends to pass on the left or near side of such tramcar shall draw up before arriving at such stopping place, and shall not pass such tramcar until the carriageway on the left or near side is clear of passengers entering or leaving the same.That seems to me to be infinitely more difficult to interpret than the simple provision of Section 1 of the Motor Car Act, 1903.
In the first place, let it be noted that this will not, as the noble Lord seemed to suggest, apply to every pedestrian. It applies only to passengers entering or leaving the tramcar. It will not apply if a motorist sees a pedestrian crossing from one side of the street to the other, but only to those who pass from the kerb to the tramcar and vice versâ. In the second place, how is the motorist to know exactly at what moment the roadway is clear? Your Lordships, or those of you who drive in streets where there 879 are tramcars, know very well that it sometimes happens that there will be a rush of five or six passengers from the car and then, after an interval, some belated passenger will come out and embark upon a separate excursion to wards the kerb. If the motorist observes that the street is clear, as is provided under this clause, and then a belated passenger appears, it will be extraordinarily difficult to decide if the clause could be enforced.
What is this clause intended to hit? It is aimed at a perfectly legitimate object of deprecation—a thing which I am sure all of your Lordships wish to see stopped—the careless, reckless and inconsiderate behaviour of a driver who, seeing passengers get off a tramcar and go towards the kerb, pushes his way through them as if they were a flock of sheep, quite regardless of their safety or comfort, and takes his chance. But there can be no doubt as to the principle to be followed in such a case. If that is the conduct complained of, surely it is exactly the conduct covered in Section 1, the offence of driving in a manner dangerous to the public. I am sure that no magistrate would have any hesitation in convicting if evidence were given of that sort of thing. The noble Lord who was Chairman of the Committee said that convictions were difficult to obtain unless somebody had actually been injured or killed. Let me remind your Lordships of a somewhat notorious village called Buckden, on the Great North Road, where hundreds of motorists were convicted of driving to the common danger simply because they had passed through the empty village street at twenty-five miles an hour when there was nobody in the street at all. They never had any difficulty in getting convictions under Section 1 in that village.
May I interrupt the noble Earl for a moment? I laid particular stress upon the fact that the difficulty was in dealing with this particular place. It is not concerned with villages in other parts of the country. The difficulty is to apply the existing law in cases where pedestrians alighting from tramcars are injured.
I am afraid that it is due to my own denseness, but I do not quite follow the distinction that the noble 880 Lord wishes me to draw. If you drive dangerously it seems to me that it is merely a question of evidence whether you can be convicted or not. It ought to be a question of whether the fact has been proved. So much for the merits of the clause. I was really not particularly anxious to dwell upon its merits. Whether some provision of this kind, if it were established, would be useful or not, I am not prepared to say. I entirely agree that passengers alighting from tramcars are entitled to be protected. I would just point out, in passing, that your Lordships are probably acquainted with a very large tramway shelter near Blackfriars Bridge, where thousands of passengers are taken up by trams and have to cross a most complicated and dangerous stream of traffic in order to get there. It is not thought necessary to hold up that traffic every time a passenger is crossing.
But my objection to this clause goes further than that. It is an objection which the noble Lord, the Chairman of the Committee, did attempt to meet to some exent. It is an objection to legislating piecemeal on what ought to be a matter of general legislation. We have heard that we are going to have a Roads Bill introduced soon. We have heard that for three years, but it will come soon, and if this is a proper subject for legislation then it is a proper subject for general legislation. There is no reason why tramcar users in Newcastle should be protected more than those in Kingston. I go through Kingston three times a week, but I do not think that any difficulty is found in conducting the traffic there under the auspices of the Metropolitan Police, and, as I have said, my objection is to legislating piecemeal. I think I am almost as great a purist on matters of Committee procedure as is the Lord Chairman, whose advice I am always prepared to follow, and naturally as a lawyer I prefer the experience of a tribunal which has heard all the witnesses rather than the uninformed prejudices of members of this House, in these matters; but there are cases and matters of principle in which your Lordships can intervene, and really I rose to say that my objection is based on the question of principle, that I think legislation on this subject should be general and not piecemeal.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE)
My Lords, you often have to complain in deciding these matters of a paucity of counsellors. In this case we may congratulate ourselves upon having a multitude of counsellors, and our difficulty is in deciding between them. On the one hand we have the promoters, who are one of the most important corporations in the country, who, realising their responsibility, ask for this clause. They are not the first promoters who have asked for it, although they are the first to persuade a tribunal of this House to pass this clause. The promoters are supported in this debate by your Lordships' Committee, which was presided over by Lord Redesdale, and I am glad of this opportunity to thank him for the great deal of work which he does in the Committee Room upstairs, most industriously and conscientiously. I hope we may continue to have his assistance in future Sessions as in the present and the past.
On the other side we have my two noble friends who have spoken, who, of course, are keen traffic men with worldwide knowledge of the traffic question. We have two very strong Government Reports, by the Home Office and the Ministry of Transport, recommending that this clause should not be allowed. The Ministry of Transport is supported by a Departmental Committee, and we have previous decisions of Parliament inimical to this clause. I may mention, of course, the Glasgow precedent. The Glasgow by-law was allowed by the Scottish Office fourteen or fifteen years ago tinder the general powers of a clause. I need hardly remind your Lordships, however, that without one nation being unkind to another I am not exaggerating when I say that in English legislation Scottish precedents are no more regarded than English precedents are regarded in Scottish legislation. I think the noble and learned Lord opposite, who has unrivalled knowledge of both English and Scottish legislation, will support me in saying that that rule is inevitably followed in all Private Bill legislation.
But it has been claimed in the course of the debate, and I want to emphasise the fact, that we are not merely deciding a Newcastle question. Lord Mayo, with 882 his knowledge of Newcastle, thinks these are powers which can be given to Newcastle without being a precedent for being granted anywhere else. I could not take that view. If they were granted in Newcastle I think we should have to grant them elsewhere. My objection to the clause can really be summed up in one sentence: I think the rule of the road must be uniform all over the country. I hesitate to delay your Lordships, but it is only a question of reading three or four paragraphs, and I think I must read the whole of the Report of the Home Office on this clause. To my regret only one paragraph of it is quoted in the memorandum circulated by my noble friend, but it is so important, and at the same time so succinct in its objections to the clause, and it expresses my views so clearly, that I think I ought to read it.
It refers to Clause 99, as it was originally numbered. It is as follows:—The Secretary of State understands that this clause is based on a by-law now in force in Glasgow which was made under the Glasgow Corporation Order Confirmation Act, 1912, and came into operation in May, 1915.The Secretary of State feels that there is considerable objection to allowing a provision of this nature for a particular locality. If such variations of the general law are allowed for different localities, a good deal of confusion will result, and drivers of motor vehicles passing from one part of the country to another may unwittingly find themselves criminal offenders against a local law. Drivers who attempt to push through crowds in the road can already be dealt with under Section 1 of the Motor Car Act, 1903, which makes it an offence to drive to the danger of the public, and the Secretary of State suggests that no further provision is required.The Secretary of State has consulted the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, as the authority controlling the traffic in the streets of London, as to the probable effect of such a provision in the streets of a large town. In the opinion of the Commissioner the provision is likely to be impracticable in streets with a large amount of traffic and to give rise to more accidents than it will avoid. Amongst the objections the Secretary of State may mention in particular the following:—(1) At busy stopping places where there is a frequent service of tramcars a literal enforcement of the provision would result in great obstruction of the traffic.(2) There would be a strong tendency for vehicles to attempt to pass tramcars on the off or right side—an admittedly dangerous proceeding.883(3) There might be considerable temptation to vehicles to race a tramcar to a stopping place in order not to be made to pull up and wait while it took up or set down passengers.(4) Drivers of vehicles cannot always tell when tramcars intend to pull up at stopping places where the cars only stop by request, as drivers of tramcars are not able to indicate with their hand when they are going to do so.The Secretary of State recommends that the clause should not be allowed. Similar proposals were withdrawn from the Liverpool, Burnley and Preston Bills of 1921, and disallowed in the Manchester Bill of 1924.The Ministry of Transport say that they are aware of this Report and that they support it. These Reports are made to Parliament under the Standing Orders of this House. We order these Reports to be made, and they are not made as instructions to Committees, as the noble Lord behind me suggested might be mistakenly thought by some people.
The noble and learned Lord opposite drew attention to the wording of the clause, and I will not take up time by supplementing what he said. I have done my best to understand the clause, but I cannot understand it. A vehicle which intends to pass on the left may be five miles off, but any vehicle, the driver of which intends to pass on the left, must instantly stop. It is, however, not on the technical drafting side that I object to the clause. I object to it for the reasons I have stated, that I believe it to be unsound from the general point of view. I am extremely reluctant, as the noble and learned Lord said I would be, not to support the decision of any of your Lordships' Committees, but I think I should remind you that exactly the same clause was asked for in 1924 in the Manchester Bill. I think the clause was almost in the same words. The same Government Reports were made against it and very similar evidence was called against it. Lord Clarendon went into the clause at great length. I have, of course, had to refresh my memory, and I have re-read in the last few hours all the evidence given before the Committee over which Lord Clarendon presided and all the evidence given before the Committee of my noble friend Lord Redesdale. With reluctance I find that I am unable to support Lord Redesdale. I shall sup- 884 port the decision of Lord Clarendon, given two years ago, and therefore if my noble friend Lord Montagu proceeds to a Division I, for one, shall vote with him.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.