HL Deb 26 March 1931 vol 80 cc586-604

My Lords, I think my best procedure will be to move formally the Motion on the Paper in my name, and then to reply at the end of the debate to noble Lords who wish to make any comments or criticisms.

Moved, That the Highway Code prepared by the Minister of Transport under subsection (1) of Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, which was presented on Thursday last, be approved.—(Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.)


My Lords, this Code has, I understand, been very carefully considered with a number of interests and a number of experts, and far be it from me to attempt to deal with the technical details contained in it. It is drafted in a most attractive way. It begins with an allocution as to what you ought to do—to be a careful and considerate driver, and to remember that all persons have a right to use the highway and an obligation to respect the rights of others. Then it says:— Good manners and consideration for others are as desirable and are as much appreciated on the road as elsewhere. Admirable sentiments, and I trust that they will be deeply considered by those to whom they are addressed. I ought to point out, by the way, that under the Act the Highway Code has to be sold at a penny. I am told that on the copies on the Table the price is twopence. That is a matter which is, perhaps, worth considering.

But the point that I wanted to raise is on page 4, as follows:— Pedestrians.—Always walk on the footpath where one is provided; if there is no footpath it is generally better to walk on the right of the carriageway so as to face oncoming traffic. I entirely sympathise with the suggestion to pedestrians that they should always walk on the path. I always do myself when there is one. But the difficulty is that in a very large proportion of the country roads, even the main country roads, there is no path at all That is a point I raised on the Committee stage of the Bill. I am informed—and I should like the noble Lord to look into this matter rather carefully, if he will—that in several parts of the country the roads are perpetually being extended widened, sometimes necessarily, sometimes unnecessarily, and that the way they widen them is to take in the green verges of the road, which, though they may not perhaps be technically footpaths, do serve to some extent the purpose of footpaths. At any rate, they give a refuge to harassed pedestrians when there is a difficulty in consequence of the traffic.

I do think that something ought to be done to call the attention of the local authorities to the real necessity of providing footpaths where they can. I do not really think they are in the least alive to that. Indeed, as far as I can make out, until the Road Traffic Act was passed it was no part of their duty to provide footpaths. We only succeeded in getting a very anæmic provision, saying that they ought to do so where they think it necessary, but, in point of fact, they do very little indeed. I was told in the discussion of the Bill that in the administration of the Road Fund there was a great opportunity for the Ministry of Transport to insist upon footpaths being made, and they always did insist—so I understood the suggestion made by the Government—whenever they were called upon to contribute to repair or improvement of a road and agreed to do so. My experience does not conform with that. I do not think they do insist on the provision of footpaths, and I think that really an enormous deal has now been done in the last few years for making the passage of the roads marvellously suitable for wheeled traffic. They are probably, from that point of view, the best roads in the world. But nothing, or almost nothing, has been done to provide for the pedestrian traffic. I hope that the noble Lord, hearing in mind this advice that is officially given to the pedestrians to walk on the footpath, will see that that advice is capable of being fulfilled by using all the powers of the Ministry of Transport to see that footpaths are provided. It is a matter of real importance. I trust that the noble Lord will be able to give very close attention to it.


My Lords, I should like, if I may, first of all to pay a tribute, which I am quite sure at any rate the motoring organisations would wish to pay, to the Minister of Transport for the way in which he has met them on the various points which they have placed before him during the unofficial discussions which have taken place on the subject of the Highway Code. I happen to be closely associated with one of the motoring organisations; in fact, I am on the Committee of the Royal Automobile Club, and I know that our representatives were very much impressed by the way in which the Minister met all the points which the Royal Automobile Club ventured to place before him. I think it can be said that the Code generally is more or loss an agreed code, and there is not very much to be said about it, but I have one or two points of detail to which I intend to refer in a minute.

I would like to ask the Minister in charge of the Highway Code this: If both Houses of Parliament pass the Code what happens then? What steps, for instance, are the Government going to take in order to bring the Code effectually to the notice of everybody who is concerned? Is it the intention of the Government to bring it before the schools of the country; to ask, for instance, some of the classes in the schools to answer reasonable questions based upon the Code, or what other steps are going to be taken? At the moment the public Press is very helpful, and the Safety First Association has done, is doing, and will, I am sure, continue to do everything it can; but I think that more will be required, and I cannot help feeling that the Minister of Education could do a very great deal, through the medium of the schools, to get the Code really well known by at any rate the younger element of the population throughout the country. With regard to the motoring world, as I explained during the passage of the Road Traffic Bill through your Lordships' House, I would very much have preferred to see every applicant for a driving licence required to pass an examination on this Code. Two or three or six questions, taken at random from this Code, would have ensured that the people affected, in order to obtain their driving licences, would have committed this Code very much to heart. Whether they will actually do so in future I do not know, but I hope they will, and I hope it will have a good effect.

There are one or two detail questions which I would like to put to the noble Lord. On page 4 we have, under the side-heading "Vehicles," an exhortation "Keep to the Left." We also have this very important provision referred to on pages 6 and 8. There are few more prolific causes of accident, and few circum- stances which cause greater difficulty on the high roads of the country to-day, than vehicles which do not keep to their proper side of the road. It is that which is responsible for a great deal of the dangerous driving, and indeed reckless driving, that takes place. I cannot help feeling that the Code might have been perhaps a bit more emphatic than it actually is upon the very important rule of keeping to the left.

Again, on the opposite page, we have a paragraph that relates to signals. It says when you intend to do all sorts of things—stop, slow down, change direction and so on—"signal clearly." I do not know whether it is sufficiently emphasised, but I am quite certain it is not sufficiently realised by a lot of people that the signals that are provided are signals of the intention of the driver, and no power is given to the driver necessarily to direct other vehicles, or other forms of traffic, on the road. There is an idea in the minds of some more experienced people that signals give them a definite right to order other traffic about.

On the next page we come to a most important paragraph headed, "Do not cut in." Cutting-in is a thing which has never really been defined. Most people have a rough idea of what it is, but there is a tendency on the part of many people to confuse the legitimate operation of one vehicle passing another for cutting-in. I cannot help feeling that it is a pity. I suppose there is no other expression which could be used, and that it has been impossible to define cutting-in, but if it could have been given in a more definite way I cannot help feeling that it would probably be a good thing.

A few sentences further down comes a paragraph relating to tramcars. It tells the motor driver to watch carefully to see if passengers are intending to board or alight. A new difficulty is arising on the roads of the country. A new form of tramcar is being put on some of the routes, and this tramcar is one which is all-enclosed. Samples of it may be seen on the Uxbridge Road. Any of your Lordships who motor in that direction will be able to see the vehicles which I mean. They are entirely new; they are entirely all-enclosed. The passengers do not alight from the rear end as formerly. The passengers themselves cannot see motor traffic overtaking the tramcar, and the driver in a vehicle overtaking the tramcar cannot see any passengers intending to alight. I think it is a matter of some importance. I suppose the Minister has control over the type of vehicle which tramway companies are able to place upon the roads. I think it is of importance, if the Minister has control, that he should see to it that provision is made by tramway companies for the passengers in their vehicles to be able to see vehicles overtaking, and also for overtaking vehicles to see what is likely to be happening in the tramcar. The new vehicles have windows all round, and the passengers alight from the front end and not from the back. They are flush on the side, and you get no warning of the intention of anybody to alight.

On the opposite side of the page we have a paragraph relating to white lines, and the concluding sentence is to the effect that even when the road appears to be clear the indications given by white lines should be followed. There have been several prosecutions in different parts of the country of people driving dangerously, and the allegation has been that they have ignored the white lines. Take a cross-road where white lines define the centre of the road on either side of the cross-road. Occasionally drivers have gone across the intersection, and on the further side have gone over the white line as there was nothing coming in the opposite direction. This has been held in one or two places to constitute dangerous driving. I do not know what is really intended by the sentence to which I have referred—whether it is intended to cover this point, or whether it is not.

There is one other point I should have referred to when I was dealing with the question of tramcars. The paragraph relating to tramcars begins:— Subject to any local provisions to the contrary, tramcars may be overtaken on either side. Many of your Lordships are probably aware that on the Continent it is absolutely forbidden to pass tramcars on the off-side, and to do so constitutes an offence. You are only allowed to pass them on the near side. I do not know that I necessarily agree with that. It is rather a wooden sort of administration which does not altogether facilitate the circulation of traffic, but, on the other hand, it has the advantage that it is uniform in character and covers the entire Continent. In this country you are allowed, as it is stated, to pass on either side, except in one or two places. There are, it is true, one or two towns—I think Edinburgh is one, speaking from memory, and I fancy Glasgow is another, but I am not sure about Manchester—where it is forbidden to pass on the off-side. There is no way of knowing; unless you are a very close student of the Motor Press and the motor world you will never know; and it is quite possible for offences to be committed. Would it be possible for the Minister in future to get some uniformity in this matter? If there is a general rule covering the country, it would not much matter what it was; but it is a great difficulty to the careful driver if there is one rule in one place and another rule in another place.

There is a paragraph on the next page relating to lights. It does seem to me that this paragraph is not sufficiently comprehensive. It says: "Do not use your headlights unnecessarily." Nothing causes greater danger or more inconvenience to all road users, pedestrians and everybody else, than the driver who in a well-lighted urban area proceeds to switch on his headlights and drives with his headlights full on. Your Lordships must have seen it done in the London streets occasionally. I do wish it had been possible for the Minister to be a little more emphatic in regard to the use of headlights in localities where the street lighting is sufficient. I alluded to it during the passage of the Road Traffic Bill through the House, and the late Earl Russell stated that that point would be met in the regulations published by the Minister. I think it would be a very good thing indeed if it could really be made an offence against the law for drivers to do so. I know the difficulties, but I should have been glad if the regulations could have been more emphatic and have alluded to the danger. It would have been a good thing.

Nothing is said in the paragraph about reducing lights when you meet other traffic. On the Continent, it is an offence not to reduce lights if you meet any form of traffic—pedestrians, or cyclists or any other form of traffic. You have to reduce your lights. I cannot help thinking that some provision might have been included in that paragraph to enforce the use of either dipping or dimming devices or whatever device may be fitted. It is stated that every oar, after a certain date, will have to be fitted with some such device, but it will be no use having those devices if drivers do not use them. I suggest that the Code might well invite them to make use of those devices. There is a paragraph about avoiding leaving a vehicle at night facing the wrong way unless the street is sufficiently well lighted to prevent other users being misled. I should have preferred a definite prohibition of Vehicles being left facing the wrong way. Nothing makes for congestion in urban areas more than vehicles trying to pull over facing the wrong way and nothing creates more danger in the country and on roads badly lighted than this practice.

The next point I would like to draw attention to is the paragraph relating to cyclists on page 13. There is a paragraph relating to pedal cyclists and it is headed "At night." It tells the cyclist "If you do not use a red rear lamp, remember to keep your red reflector clean and properly fixed." It must be the universal experience of everybody who uses the roads that the regulation which actually now exists is more honoured in the breach than in the observance. Very few cyclists have adequate reflectors and very few reflectors, when fitted, are properly fixed to the machine, and it is a very great source of danger at night. Serious accidents have taken place as the result and many people have lost their lives. I do not know whether it is possible for the Minister to have the attention of Chief Constables again drawn to the point. I hope that before we go through another winter, the Minister will see to it, if he can, that the attention of Chief Constables throughout the country is drawn to this point. This particular paragraph fails to refer to the case of reflectors that get obscured. People ride bicycles with long coats that flap over the reflector and obscure the reflector. I think that point might have been mentioned in the Code.

The next page refers to pedestrians. It invites pedestrians to do various things. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, has just referred to the advice given to pedestrians about footpaths. I wish that the advice given to pedestrians could be a little more specific than it actually is. It must be the experience of your Lordships in all too many cases that even where footpaths are provided—and very good footpaths too, not footpaths uncomfortable to walk upon—they are, in many cases, avoided by the pedestrian. That, I suppose, cannot be helped. Then, too, there are refuges provided in London streets and in other cities. Everybody knows that there are many pedestrians who make no use of the refuges and subways provided. Then there is the question of crossing places. I would remind your Lordships that in foreign countries—in Paris, for instance—people are compelled to use certain crossing places. If they offend against the regulation, the fine is merely nominal but the inconvenience is considerable and the system works. In some towns—one that comes to my mind is Sydney, Australia—it is an offence to cross the road obliquely. You have to cross at right angles. I cannot help thinking that something might have been said about crossing the road obliquely in these regulations. The pedestrian gets a better view of the traffic from both directions if the street as crossed at right angles. Nothing is said about crossing the street at places where a roundabout system of traffic is in operation. It must be well-known to everybody—you can frequently see it in London streets—that very dangerous situations are brought about at places where the roundabout system is in operation by pedestrians launching themselves into the middle of the street, suddenly realising that the traffic is coming from all directions and then very often starting to run. That has often lead to serious results.

Then, on page 15, there is a reference to signals and there are illustrations of the signals given by the police. I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to this matter and to ask what steps have been taken or are being taken to ensure that the signals given by the police throughout the country are uniform in character and are, in fact, the signals laid down in the Code. May we take it that in future the police throughout the country are going to adopt the signals in the Code? At present, going from one town to another, one sees policemen on point duty making the most wonderful signals and acting as human semaphores, but the meaning of the signals is not always obvious. If we could get uniformity in the matter it would be a very good thing. The only other point in the Code to which I want to draw attention is that of the signals given on pages 20 and 21 from the point of view of the driver. It is suggested there in No. 7 that if the driver wants to turn to the left he has to bring his right arm across him. Well, my Lords, when a saloon car is being driven towards you the driver is not very visible. If he is driving straight towards you and tries to give an indication of his intention to the police officer on point duty, it is not very easy to see. I submit that where a driver is behind a windscreen in a saloon car with a dark background it is almost impossible for a policeman to distinguish his signals. I cannot help thinking it would have been much better if, in this particular case, the Minister had relied upon the signal laid down for the motor driver who desires to turn to the left—that is to say, in No. 3 on the previous page, page 19. It would be far more obvious to the police than the signal in No. 7.

Those are the main criticisms I would like to make upon the Highway Code. I hope most sincerely that this Code will do what it undoubedly is the intention of Parliament that it should do. I hope it will really do something to reduce the appalling roll of casualties on the roads of this country to-day. It must be a matter of grievous national concern, and increasingly so, that some 6,000 or 7,000 people should be killed annually and hundreds of thousands injured on the roads of the country. It is not the fault of any one particular form of traffic. I suppose that all are to blame in a minor way, but it must or should be the endeavour of everybody to try to do everything they can to disseminate this Code about the country. I do not know whether the Minister will bring in amendments to this Code from time to time, and I should like to ask him whether it is the intention to amend it in the light of experience gained and common sense in the future. I hope he will be able to answer the questions I have ventured to address to him.


My Lords, I do not rise for the purpose of paying a tribute to anybody in connection with the Code, but to call attention to what I regard as a very regrettable omission respecting pedestrians, although it may not appear a very important matter. I observe that no fewer than 1,700 persons were killed in the streets of London last year, which rather bears out a statement made some years ago by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies that walking in the streets of London was even more dangerous than working in a coal mine. One of the most prolific reasons for the mortality amongst pedestrians arises from the fact that in this country we have, unfortunately, two rules of the road—a left-hand rule for vehicles and horses, and a right-hand rule for pedestrians. The main safeguard of the unfortunate pedestrian at the present time is that he should be able continually to face the traffic. That is exactly what he cannot do. Under the existing rule a person walking on the outside edge of the pavement, that is to say, the dangerous side, is liable at any moment to be run over by traffic proceeding from behind him should he step inadvertently into the road. I can only speak from my own experience, but I never go out for a walk without having a comparatively narrow escape from, perhaps, a fatal accident, and I am perfectly certain that if I am prematurely cut off my end will be due to this absurd and illogical rule.

I do not want to detain the House on this matter because I have often brought it forward before, but this question has been constantly enquired into by ail sorts of bodies, by Committees and Commissions. In fact, every kind of inquiry has taken place, and I believe I am correct in saying that in every single instance the report of the inquiry has been in favour of the change I am now recommending. It has been approved also by the Ministry of Transport and by various individual Ministers of Transport. There appears in the Press only to-day a letter from an ex-Minister of Transport, Lord Brentford, in which he expresses the sentiments that I am endeavouring to express this afternoon. This particular change has been constantly urged by the National Safety Association which has done more for the protection of pedestrians than any other body. It is perfectly true that most of the suggestions made by this body have been accepted from time to time by the Ministry of Transport and many of them are given effect to in this Code. But the particular recommendation which has always been put forward by this Association as to changing the rule for pedestrians has been omitted altogether. All that I ask, all that the Association asks is that there should be interpolated in the section of the Code dealing with pedestrians on page 4 after the words "always walk on the footpath where one is provided" the words "and preferably on the left-hand side thereof."

This is not an enactment. It is merely advice. The Minister will probably reply to me that it is no good giving advice if it is not followed. Perhaps he thinks that the Ministry will put itself into a humiliating position by making a suggestion of this kind which is not likely to be paid attention to. I think it is a very great pity that they should not adopt this course. If the Ministry of Transport would insert that recommendation people would realise that the change is not advocated by, say, a person like myself who might be regarded as an irresponsible crank, but that it represents the reasoned view of responsible people. Unfortunately, I cannot move an Amendment to the Code. I believe the only course that can be adopted is to refer it back altogether. It would be absurd, of course, to expect that the whole thing should be rewritten in order to introduce the amendment I suggest, but I ask the noble Lord opposite to consider this question once more and to see whether he cannot do something to meet the views of the Association for which I speak. I do not know whether it is in his power to do so, but I have a strong belief that he is inclined to favour the proposal. I hope I may be right and, possibly, he may give me some hope that this course will be adopted. Meanwhile, if we deliberately neglect to take this very simple precaution we can only expect that the roll of passengers who are killed on the road—something like three or four a day I think it is in London—will continually increase and they only have themselves to thank if they do not take the trouble to get this trifling alteration made in the Jaw.


My Lords, I can understand the motorist buy- ing this Highway Code because it is issued in pursuance of Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act which deals with motorists only. But why should the driver of a horse-drawn vehicle or a pedestrian or a push bicyclist take the trouble to buy it? I would ask the noble Lord, therefore, how he would propose that the attention of pedestrians and drivers of horse-drawn traffic should be called to the Code. Would he distribute it free to such people?


My Lords, there is only one point that I would like to mention; that is on page 4 where it says with regard to led animals:— It is the usual practice when leading an animal to keep to the right so as to face oncoming traffic. There are more observations about animals on page 9 and directions to persons in charge of animals. I should have thought it would have been desirable (of course, one knows) for the sake of absolute clearness to put into the Code directions to motor cars how to pass a led animal and to people leading animals how to pass a motor car. I think it would tend to clearness especially in regard to motors. Many people seeing a man riding a horse and leading another may possibly pass in the wrong manner. I venture to suggest that would be a useful addition.


My Lords, it seems to me that this Code is quite inadequate to result in any saving of the lives of pedestrians. It does not really solve how pedestrians are to walk safely in the roads. My noble friend Lord Cecil, I think struck the right note at the commencement. So far as the country is concerned and on most of the roads no means have yet been provided for pedestrians to walk in safety. On the Continent, especially in Holland, magnificent roads are provided for five different purposes—motor traffic, cart traffic, riding, bicycling and walking. And yet we have made these magnificent roads all over the country and we have never tried to adopt such a system. It seems to me that we must have a separate place for pedestrians and also for the riders of bicycles, and thus alone can we get safety.

There is another point to which I wish to draw attention. In the paragraphs with regard to pedestrians we are told that:— The use of subways, islands, or special crossing places (especially those marked 'Please cross here'), will help you to avoid danger and assist in the easy flow of traffic. We have those very places in London, with notices that say that the pedestrian can cross, but I venture to say that it is in those very places that you cannot cross. There is such a place here at Westminster in which no pedestrian can safely get across. There is no policeman there, the traffic is going on continually and if, at the risk of his life, the pedestrian gets to safety in the middle, he cannot get away to the other side. I have recently been in Paris. Paris, having been the most dangerous place in the world for pedestrians, is now the safest, for the simple reason that they have taken the question from the point of view of giving the pedestrian safety. In the Paris streets you will now find places marked with studs, across which the pedestrian is urged to go and the motor car goes on sufferance. It is extraordinary to watch motorists crossing these places. They crawl past, paying the utmost deference to the pedestrian. You can step into the road and walk across, and you have the right to cross safely. It seems to me that in London and the large towns we want places where people would be able to cross safely and would know where they could do so. It is not a difficult thing to do, as it has been shown to be practicable in Paris.

I would make one other very small point, and that is with regard to signals. I see for the first time, on page 15 that:— Drivers should note that once they have been stopped the constable may lower his hand or use it for giving other signals. They should not move on until the constable signals to them to do so. That is not the custom in London. The moment the constable's arm is down the whole traffic comes forward. With the automatic system, which has been seen a good deal on the Continent and elsewhere, there are three signals, red, green and yellow. One forbids you to go, the other lets you drive by, and the third is a short interregnum between the other two. The result is that the pedestrian, if he knows what he is doing and is sensible, waits until the red or green light, as the case may be, is showing, and then he is perfectly safe in crossing, not only for that period but for a short period afterwards. That also seems to me to be one of the things that ought to be done for the safety of pedestrians. What I feel about this Code is that, if people think it is all that is going to be done for the pedestrian, the public will be very dissatisfied about it. I hope that the Ministry of Transport will, at any rate in practice, carry out some of the suggestions that I have made, and that occur to any one who knows the practice in some foreign cities, where they really have solved the problem much more effectively than we have.


My Lords, I am glad that this Highway Code has been received without any serious comment. I think the Minister of Transport set the right way to work in drawing it up. He first of all, after careful consultation, drafted a Code, which he issued broadcast through the country for comment. It was in all the newspapers and everybody commented on it. We had letters from individuals and associations and, after sifting them, we had a conference of forty or fifty different bodies, and every consideration was given to the points that they raised. The result is that this little booklet, I think, is one which commends itself to everybody who has examined it. I do not know about the style. Perhaps it is a little bit like the Litany.


It is more like a parish magazine, I think.


At any rate the tone is thoroughly high. I should like to deal with the various points that have been raised by noble Lords, and I will begin at the end with my noble friend Lord Dickinson. These comparisons of London with foreign towns are all very well, but London is the largest city in the world and the least well-adapted, because of the structure of its streets, to the exigencies of modern traffic, and that is the difficulty and the drawback. The beautiful mechanical devices that you see in the streets of New York, the long and magnificent boulevards and straight streets of Paris do not exist here, and the problem of Bond Street alone, which comes periodically before the Ministry, is in itself insoluble unless you rebuild London. I do not think, therefore, that too much blame should be attached to the authorities in London. I think that the management of traffic by the police is something which, while we are asked to admire foreign countries, every foreigner who comes here is apt to refer to with the greatest praise.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, has said a word about footpaths. I quite admit that there are narrow lanes that have had to be broadened where it has not been possible to make a footpath, but I have travelled about the country a good deal looking at roads and, without any exception, where a new road is constructed footpaths are constructed at the same time—always one, sometimes two. It is not always easy, in broadening a narrow country lane between banks, to construct a footpath, though I have seen footpaths on the banks or behind the hedges. Far from the Minister neglecting the point, he is always considering it, and when he is giving a grant to local authorities for road construction this question of footpaths is always coming to the front.

The pedestrian's case, of course, is one that we all want to take into account. Indeed, we are all pedestrians, and have been for many years. I would ask noble Lords, especially those who drive motor cars, to compare their state of mind while they are driving a car and when they are walking in the streets. It is very different. When you are driving a car you have to give your attention to the roads and to what you are doing, because it is absolutely fatal to let your attention wander for one quarter of a minute. But when a pedestrian is walking in the street he is thinking of everything and anything, and he does wander, as we must all admit. If I could give a word of advice to the noble Lord, Lord Newton, it would be, when he goes out, not to attempt to walk on the left of the pavement. I have tried it, and I have come home bruised. The important thing to do is to follow the Code's advice, which is, when stepping off the footpath, to look towards the on-coming traffic.


You have not time to do it.


The noble Lord must not be in such a hurry when in the streets, and, when he is on the edge of the pavement, that is the time to pause and look towards the on-coming traffic; but I entirely agree with him that if we could persuade pedestrians to keep on the left of the pavement they would face the on-coming traffic much more often when attempting to cross the street. From the point of view of safety it would be very advisable, but we went into this very carefully indeed. The Pedestrians' Association were against it; the Safety First Association were in favour of it; and you cannot dragoon pedestrians, especially British pedestrians. You cannot regiment them even to cross where there is a refuge. They will not do it. Therefore we felt that any attempt to make people walk on the left-hand side of the pavement was bound to fail. Everybody knows that you do not want to walk near the kerb when it is raining, because you are likely to get splashed. Again, you want to walls on the shady side of the path in hot weather, and no regulations or white lines will make people do differently. When people want to look into shop windows, they will do it and I think that even recommendations such as Lord Newton suggested would have been of very little use in this Code. An attempt was made, I may remind Lord Newton, in 1922. The Safety First Council organised a special campaign and notices were exhibited at all conspicuous points, with whitewash marks on the pavements, and every other sort of thing. But it amounted to nothing. You cannot coach people that way, but you can din into their ears recommendations and instructions and injunctions as to how they should cross the street.

Lord Howe made a good many comments and, I am glad to say, none of them damaging. I was very glad to hear of his approval of the Code. I may note that the twopence was on the draft Code; the penny on the final Code. With regard to the circulation, it will be issued with all driving licences, and I quite agree that it would be a very good thing if it could be introduced into schools and be at the disposal of various associations. I am sure that the Safety First Association are likely to get a great many copies. It is very advisable that it should be circulated as much as possible, and I hope that the Press, which took so much notice of the first draft, will again emphasise the chief points in the Code.

I found myself really in agreement with most of the noble Earl's points, but I think they were points more of emphasis and of definition. I think the word "cut-in" really is now recognised, and that everybody knows what it means. Perhaps a definition in more precise language might have been confusing. The whole question of trams was one requiring consideration, and we gave it. We saw representatives of the Scottish authorities which enforced the rule that no tram may be passed by a car on its near side, and we sought as to whether by some uniformity of regulation you could not put some more definite device in the Code. But we came to the conclusion that beyond the caution which is necessary in passing a tram which is unburdening itself of its passengers, it would not be advisable to prevent cars from passing on the near side or making them stop. With regard to uniform signals all over the country, that is so at present. I agree that when you see a provincial policeman he seems to gesticulate in a foreign language, but it is only because he has not got the perfect technique of the London Police. I wish they could see the London police who, without so much waving of the body and the arm, manage to control a larger volume of traffic. But there are no different signs in the provinces from those in London.

The Light problem caused us a very great deal of trouble, and we should have liked to put more about lighting, but we felt we might be going into refinements which would overload the Code. Also, we did not want to enforce any instructions which could not be universally accepted; but the question of reducing lights when meeting other traffic will be dealt with in regulations which the Minister has at the moment under consideration under the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1927, by which he is empowered to issue regulations on this particular point. I agree with the noble Earl that it is of the utmost importance, but at the same time there are certain occasions when the dipping of lights when passing other lights is likely to obscure cyclists who do not always observe the rule of having their buttons at the back exposed. My noble friend Lord Dickinson said he would like to see roads with special paths for pedestrians and equestrians and cyclists and motorists. No doubt in the future we shall reach that point, but at present the cyclists would not thank him for making that proposition. They are not at all anxious to have any track to themselves. On the whole, I think that all the bodies that have helped us—and we are grateful to them for the help they gave us in framing this Highway Code—are satisfied with the result, and although the pedestrians necessarily under the stress of modern traffic may feel that they have some grievance—


I should think they have.


—I think the Pedestrians' Association, of which Lord Cecil is a prominent member, is doing very valuable work for them. On an old 17th Century road sign in Devonshire, the other day, I saw a motto carved which I think the Pedestrians' Association might appropriately take for their motto. It read:— Oh, hold thou up our goings in thy paths, that our footsteps slip not.


My Lords, the noble Lord has alluded to the question of cyclists and their reflectors. Could some words be added to the end of the paragraph on page 13, such as "properly fixed, and not obscured by a coat or anything of the kind"? I asked the noble Lord one other point, and that was about the amendment of the Code.


My Lords, I am sorry I omitted to deal with that. The Code, of course, cannot be amended now, but in future it is within the power of the Minister to re-issue the Code with such amendments as he thinks advisable. That point about the reflectors will be borne in mind, but it is an offence now to have an obscured reflector, and we did not want to put in more than was absolutely necessary, and to refer in the Code to general offences against the law.