§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, we will resume the debate upon the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, I am afraid that I, on behalf of the noble Lords on this side of the House, cannot join him in wishing to annul the Regulations. I do not think he himself desires that. I sense that the noble Lord has put this Motion down for the purpose of expressing some views he has about the various Regulations but has no idea of asking your Lordships to proceed to a Division on this, matter.
I agree with a great deal the noble Lord has said. In my view, the signs are multiplied far too much. They are wordy. They show, in some respects, a Victorian outlook on modern road conditions. I am not going through every 610 one of them, but I will ask your Lordships to look at one set of these road signs which I think illustrates the lack of modern vision upon the requirements of road users, or even of the general public. I refer to page 47. Here we have signs that denote "Public Lavatories", "Public Urinals", "Public Conveniences", "Ladies", "Gentlemen", "Men" and "Women". I suppose they all relate to the same thing. I cannot understand the blatant vulgarity of it. It is funny in one sense, but it is tragic in another. Some time ago, when I was in Australia, and particularly in Melbourne, I never saw signs like that; I saw one standard sign, and it was called "Comfort Station". I thought that was very descriptive and in good taste. I think these signs are terrible. Surely we could use a little more imagination than to plaster our towns and our countryside with signs such as this.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Somers, in much of what he has said. I would have thought that these signs should have been submitted to a body like the Fine Art Society—not that I believe that the Society are very good in many respects, but I am certain they could have done something better than this. The noble Lord criticised the signs warning of "School" and "Children". I do not know what the figures shown are doing—playing ball or something like that. It could be a far more simple sign. Why have the word, "School" on the sign? Why not just the figure of the child? I drive six miles to the station through a housing estate, usually just at the time the children are going to school. I have been most impressed with two or three little toddlers of the "Lucy Atwell" type, with their pigtails rampart and their satchels on their back, toddling along to school. I always slow down at that particular point, because I think they make such a pretty sight. It would be far better to have a figure of a child like that without the word "School" underneath. It would attract attention, And why not have it in colour?
I could go on with many of these things. I agree that the authorities have had difficulties in trying to draw up a new sign code of international application, but J should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, whether it is necessary, on many of these pictorial signs, to have international agreement. Take the case 611 that I have just stated of, "Comfort Stations". You will never get those places called the same, or the signs to be of the same size or the same design, in an international agreement. The same applies to the sign for school-children. I am very much concerned with this question, but not so much concerning the design of the signs. My criticism would be that in some cases the Ministry require two years' grace to install them. Two years is a very long time. The streets of our cities and towns are being painted with many signs and direction indications. Does the noble Lord not think that there should be something universal in their design?
There are unilateral parking signs on some of our narrow streets in country towns, and the one person who is allowed to break that rule is the driver of the van or the commercial vehicle which is loading or unloading on the side of the street on which no waiting is allowed upon that date. So that does away with all the benefit of unilateral "No Waiting" signs. I am conscious of the fact that, with the noble Lord's assistance, and with the assistance of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, we did something about this waiting in no-waiting areas in the Road Traffic Bill, before we had the "No Waiting" sign. But does not the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, agree that we have to go further to make any of this signposting in our cities really effective?
We have a simple and universal code for loading and unloading. I will not reiterate the arguments I put forward to the noble Lord and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, upon the Road Traffic Bill, when I opposed the powers given to local authorities to make these regulations themselves. Some of these highways through our towns are really not the concern of the local authorities; they are national highways and through routes. I am not going into the old argument I raised on the City of Oxford, but I was in the City of Oxford yesterday morning at 12 o'clock, and right by Carfax on one side of the road was a 5-ton lorry and on the other side of the road within two yards of the traffic lights was a pantechnicon. It funnelled the traffic there down two lanes, and those two lanes could just squeeze through. A bus could just squeeze through with 612 one inch to spare. What is the good of having "No Waiting" signs and unilateral parking signs when the local authorities, the Ministry of Transport and the Home Office allow these vehicles to act directly contrary to what we want them to do?
I should like to ask the noble Lord one other question. This is inspired by what I thought was an excellent idea printed in one of our Sunday newspapers, the Observer. We used to have a policy of two-carriageway roads. Then we had three-carriageway roads. Then we decided that three-carriageway roads were far too dangerous so we had four-carriageway roads. Now we are reverting in many cases to three-carriageway roads, and some of these three-carriageway roads can be highly dangerous unless they are properly signed. In my view, it is a most tragic state of affairs. I expect your Lordships will remember that on one of our great highways, the A.34, at the entrance to Southampton, there has just been built a new road which is a three-carriageway road. In my view, it is highly dangerous.
I should like to ask the noble Lord to consider seriously this planning. If he has not a copy of this paper, may I give him mine? I think that to make a three-carriageway road, by painting signs, a two-carriageway road one way and one carriageway the other, instead of allowing both sets of traffic to fight for the middle would be a very great help. Speaking on behalf of noble Lords on this side of the House, I do not oppose the passage of these Regulations, but I would ask the noble Lord and the authorities to give some serious consideration to the multiplicity of signs and traffic lights that are going up in this country.
One's attention to-day is so distracted from the main purpose of driving a motor vehicle and keeping one's eyes on the road that one has to look all over the place—up in the sky, right and left—and, with the present congestion of our traffic, many of the signs that are designed to save life and injury contribute more to accidents than carelessness on the part of the driver. If there is one person for whom I have great sympathy, it is the driver. As I get older, I drive on the roads less and less, principally, I suppose, because I have less tolerance and less patience; but one has to keep 613 one's eyes to the left and the right, upon the roads, upon the signs and upon the signs of the driver in front. The multiplicity just makes bedlam and a highly dangerous condition when we are trying, in Regulations like these, to make the roads safer.
§ 3.55 p.m.
My Lords, I do not propose this afternoon to go into any great detail as the noble Lord who has moved this Prayer did. As a member of the Standing Joint Committee of the Royal Automobile Club, the Automobile Association and the Royal Scottish Automobile Club, I merely want to say what our opinions are in the matter, in principle. As your Lordships know, draft Regulations of this kind come before the motoring organisations for their comment. Each individual constituent of the Standing Joint Committee discusses them, and then they go into consultation together. This practice was followed and the motoring organisations came to the conclusion that the time had come for a definite step to be taken in adopting the European system of using diagrammatic and pictorial representations.
The Ministry, however, pointed out that there was a snag in this, in that the signs recommended by the 1949 Geneva Conference, which very much followed the European system, had been superseded, as it were, in 1952 by alternative proposals put forward by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It was not possible at that time to get worldwide approval in this matter. That may be desirable in the long run because people are driving more and more in different countries and it is advantageous if the signing is the same throughout the civilised world.
If your Lordships look at this document, you will see it very largely confirms the old signs, with certain alterations. At least five points are particularly welcomed by the motoring organisations. I can give them in this order: first, the authority for larger traffic signs; secondly, requirements for the illumination of certain traffic signs and the incorporation of reflecting material—and, in particular, I should mention the "Halt" signs; thirdly, additional signs to indicate parking places; fourthly, pictorial, signs for schools and children, and, fifthly, "Bend" signs which indicate the direction of the bend.
614 I think it would be fair to say that the new Regulations incorporate certain improvements and, therefore, I myself and certainly the motoring organisations would not like to see them annulled. That would be a backward step. But we sincerely ask the Minister to do his best to bring forward the date when a real improvement is made in the signs. I am certain that he motoring organisations, who represent the people who are using the signs, should be really brought into consultation. I think the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, said that more imagination should be used in certain directions. I am not certain that it might not be better if there were less imagination used and we got down to the real facts of the case. I hope that the Ministry will pursue this matter, and that, if it is not possible to get world-wide agreement within a very reasonable space of time, we shall extend the pictorial sign.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, I agree with much of what the mover of this Motion has said about signs. I have estimated that there are about twenty-four signs illustrated here which are really quite redundant. I submit that the fewer signs that the ordinary driver of a vehicle on the highway has to deal with the better will it be, and the more likely will it be that those signs will be observed and be of real value.
I think that page 47 of this document is perfectly stupid. I can hardly believe that the Government can seriously put forward such a proposition. I should like to ask my noble friend who is to reply to this debate to turn his attention to page 47. It is not necessary to have all that outfit. It is not going to affect public safety and all the rest of it. With the noble Lord, Lord Waleran, I am strongly in favour of the signs being obvious to a person driving along the road. One should not have to think twice as to whether one has seen a sign; it should strike one in the eye, as it were, and one should be prepared to take the necessary action.
On the whole I think that there is perhaps more good than bad in these Regulations if only the Minister can be persuaded to go through the whole thing with an effective blue pencil and scratch out those signs which are really 615 redundant. I do not want to repeat all the arguments that have been advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and the noble Lord, Lord Waleran, but I should just like to say that as an ordinary humble individual I agree with those arguments. I would go through pages 38 and 47 with a fine comb. Surely it is not necessary to have two "Children" signs. One sign such as one finds on the Continent is enough. Let us have our signs in line with those found on the Continent. Do not let us be too much led up the garden path by the suggestion that we in Europe should make our signs conform to those of the United States. Traffic conditions in America are quite different from those here, and I suggest that we should be satisfied if the signs in use here conform to those in use on the Continent. I do not see why we should try to go further than that.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I wish to raise only two points on these Regulations. The first, on which I agree with so many noble Lords who have spoken, on both sides of the House, concerns the mere multiplicity of signs. The Ministry of Transport seem determined sometimes to put up signs merely for the sake of multiplicity. I cannot remember the exact wording of one you will find scattered about Slough at the moment, from whatever point you approach it. It runs, I think, as follows, "Caution. Slough—Safety Town". My Lords, whatever may be meant by "Slough—Safety Town", I can scarcely believe that it renders it more dangerous. Why the fact that Slough is a safety town should render it necessary to warn all motorists of some special danger defeats me! I should like to know from the noble Lord who is going to reply, what is the purpose of these signs, and, if he knows it, how much public expenditure they have involved. I noticed another sign the other day in the country which said, if I remember aright, "Road ahead may be muddy". I think that, if we go on at this pace, by next year we shall have a sign all over the country, saying, "If it rains, it may be wet". I hope that my warning may be in time to stop this development.
I now come to the question of the particular signs that are the subject of the 616 debate on this Prayer. Here I would welcome a remark of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth—though I think that, by a slip, he misnamed the body when he spoke about the "Fine Art Society", as the people who might be consulted. I think the people who might well have been consulted are the Council of Industrial Design, who have been much concerned with the question of street furniture and are the body set up and financed by the Government themselves, a body whose advice is really worth both obtaining and generally following. I should like to read, because I think the House ought to have it before them, a paragraph of the last Report of the Royal Fine Art Commission. Paragraph 72 reads as follows:Like the Council,"—that is, the Council of Industrial Design—it"—that is, the Royal Fine Art Commission—is also interested in the design of the new Traffic Signs adopted by the Ministry of Transport. It is a matter for regret that draft designs should have been prepared by a committee on which those interested in the general appearance of street furniture were not represented. The present designs are below the standard that the public is entitled to expect in a matter of this importance, and indeed below that commonly seen on the Continent. The Commission had hoped that the details would be reconsidered before final approval was given to them.My Lords, those are the considered words of the Royal Fine Art Commission. It is most puzzling to many of us in this House that the Government should set up two such bodies as the Council of Industrial Design and the Royal Fine Art Commission, and should either not consult them at all or, if they do consult them, invariably ignore their advice.
To deal with the specific Regulations now before us, I believe it is a fact that no expert typographer has been employed at all. I think it is quite possible that some advertising agent or other may have been consulted, but no expert typographer has been employed. That is of some importance, because there are in these Regulations elaborate provisions about the size of letters but, I think I am right in saying, none at all about their spacing. Anybody who knows anything at all about typography knows that, when you are considering lettering, the question of spacing is as important as that of size.
617 Let me mention two other matters or errors which I think follow from this fact. The first is the confusion caused where lettering of different sizes is combined in a single sign. I wonder whether noble Lords who have the Regulations before them would look at page 37 and would compare sign 306 with sign 307. If they look at sign 306 they will see a quite clear sign "No right turn"—all the lettering of uniform size. But sign 307 has an enormous "No" and then an almost invisible "right turn". I do not believe that any expert typographer would for one moment have approved sign 307 with these mixtures of size. They lead to quite unnecessary confusion of the person whom it is intended to warn.
Probably the pictorial signs are among the worst of the new signs. I agree with many other noble Lords that there is a great deal to be said for the Continental system in which you have a good symbol and let it speak for itself. For the mixture of symbol and lettering there is very little to be said. I think the most comic example is No. 153, which your Lordships will find on page 27. There we see a pictorial—indeed, I believe, a photographic—representation of a cow. I cannot conceive that anybody who has ever seen a cow could mistake the animal for anything else. But, by way of explanation for the motorist who has never seen a cow, there is written underneath in bold lettering the word "Cattle." I have consulted a former Minister of Agriculture, who assures me that it would be generally recognised that what is represented is a cow; and the only suggestion I have had from my noble friends is that probably, if it were not for the word "Cattle", a motorist would not be prepared to meet a bull. It is really quite absurd that the Ministry should have so much doubt of their own pictorial representation that they must give an explanation of what is represented.
I do not wish to repeat any of the criticism which has already been made, but I do beg, in the interests both of economy and of public safety, that the Ministry of Transport should rid themselves of the idea that any useful object is served by unnecessary multiplication of signs. And, secondly, I beg Her Majesty's Government to say to the Ministry of Transport, as I hope they have already said to other Government Departments, 618 that where questions of design are involved which concern the convenience and amenities of the public, they should, as a matter of course, consult such bodies as the Council of Industrial Design, which is certainly the appropriate body where street furniture is concerned, or the Royal Fine Art Commission. To set up and finance public bodies of this kind and then ignore them is demonstratively contrary to the public interest and also quite foolish.
§ 4.13 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to raise one particular point on these Regulations, but before doing so I would say how much I agree with my noble friend Lord Somers when he urged that it should be made clear to users of the road, beyond all doubt, whether they have the right of way at a road junction or whether they have not. I have felt for many years that one of the major causes of road accidents is the uncertainty and doubt which faces road users, particularly motorists, owing to the fact that they are not at all clear, and are not told in clear terms whether or not they have the right of way. That was done many years ago with regard to traffic on the sea, and I believe that I am right in saying that it has also been done with regard to air traffic; but it has still not been done with motor traffic. I do not know why. I have in mind a particular case which came into the courts the other day, and which must be a very common kind of case. Two motor cars on right-angled courses collided at a cross roads in the country where there was no sign of any description indicating the existence of a road junction or crossroads, still less saying which road had priority over the other.
The particular point which I rose to make concerns "Halt" signs. If I am right, the coming into force of these Regulations will mean that a number of existing road signs which have not been altered to comply with the Regulations will be invalid. It may be said at once—and I am sure it will be said by Her Majesty's Government—that it is the duty of local authorities to see that signs are altered so that they are valid; and that I do not dispute. But I should like to ask whether it is generally realised that, until they are altered the signs will be invalid, and that no successful 619 prosecution can therefore be initiated under them. I am told that in one large town in England, far from the largest, there are no fewer than seventeen "Halt" signs which, on the passing of these Regulations, will become invalid and, therefore, of no use; and it may be that in other towns there are corresponding numbers.
I thought it right to draw attention to this fact and to ask whether the extension of time which was granted in the year 1950, when I believe the existing Regulations came into force, could not be further extended. Between 1950 and 1957, it has been lawful, I believe, for the old "Halt" sign, with the triangle pointing upwards, to be in force and valid. Under these Regulations that will no longer be so, and all "Halt" signs with the triangle pointing upwards will be not only out of date but invalid. Surely we could extend that period of time for some few years longer so as to avoid making those signs invalid or the cost of correcting them. I wish to stress that point, which has been drawn to my attention, because I believe that it is one of some significance.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (LORD MANCROFT)
My Lords, I was comforted to hear my noble friend Lord Somers tell your Lordships that he does not intend to press this Motion to a Division, because that would indeed have been unfortunate. If these Regulations were not to come into force, we should have worse chaos on our roads, which at the moment are not wholly free from chaos. These Regulations, which have been discussed in some considerable detail this afternoon, are the fruit of the work of many years, and the need for them has been accentuated by the passage of the Road Traffic Act, 1956, which was initiated in this House and which we debated in so much detail last year. The draft was circulated to about fifty organisations, representing all possible interests concerned, and over 200 suggestions were considered. Since my noble friend Lord Conesford has raised this point, I may say that I understand that both the Royal Fine Art Commission and the Council of Industrial Design were, in fact, consulted, though I am afraid that agreement 620 was not reached with them on quite a considerable number of points; and an expert typographer was consulted concerning the construction of the letters and spacing on pages 74 and 75 in the Regulations.
These new Regulations are not perfect, of course, and this afternoon your Lordships have naturally drawn attention to the ones which you do not like, so I can only take it that the others meet with your Lordships' approval, and I am happy to see that apparently a very large number do so. I cannot possibly answer this afternoon in detail all the points which your Lordships have raised, but I will make this promise: that all your Lordships' suggestions will be carefully considered. This draft is not the last word on road signs and regulations. They will have to be amended from time to time to meet changing circumstances, brought up to date and modified as the occasion demands. The points raised by your Lordships will be carefully looked at by experts, and if the points are valid they will certainly be considered in any further amendments.
One thing which has come out of our debate this afternoon, and on which there is no disagreement, is that the standard of signposting and direction signs generally in this country has improved considerably. Indeed there was room for improvement. That improvement is continued in these Regulations. Higher standards are laid down for clarity, lettering and visibility. I draw your Lordships' attention particularly to diagram 448 and the larger lettering in 430. I was glad to hear that this met with your Lordships' approval. I agree with those of your Lordships who have said that, though our direction signs have improved, they are still not so good as some we see on the Continent. Certainly they are not so good as some one sees in France, which I think is the country most of us know best, and where the signs are, I think, outstanding. I myself drove from London to the South of France last summer. It was a road which I had not travelled before, but I got lost only once in the the course of the whole journey, and that was at the top of the Old Kent Road.
I would, however, remind your Lordships that our signs are much older than the Continental ones. As I have said, 621 there have been considerable improvements of late, and I think your Lord-ships, like myself, will have been impressed with the new system of "through London" signs which are now going up. They have met with widespread approval, and they are a great help to the traveller who is a stranger to London and who is trying to find his way around it. But these signs, I regret to say, are very expensive. They may cost as much as £50 each, and they cannot all be put up at once. Some of your Lordships have talked about the multiplicity of signs. I would point out that very few signs will be changed. There is no reason to change a large number of the existing signs which are still serving their purpose quite adequately. I have referred to the additional "through London" system of signs which we hope will spread and will be adopted by more cities in the country.
There is one matter to which I would draw attention. The Ministry of Transport have hitherto lacked powers to require the erection of these traffic signs. To give one obvious example in London: you will find that, if you get as far on your journey through London as Stepney, you are then likely immediately to get lost, because the signs peter out when you get to that borough. The highway authority there has refused to bear any part of the cost of the signs. It would seem that the good citizens of Stepney subscribe very closely to the lesson of Matthew, Chapter VIII, Verse 39:An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign and there shall no sign be given to it.Highway authorities can now be directed to participate in this scheme. That is clearly an improvement. This scheme of sign-posting in London alone—the through-routes with a yellow background, and the local ones with a blue background—will cost nearly £150,000.
I agree with what has been said about the need for a high standard of signposting from all points of view—from the points of view of the elimination of confusion and the reduction of the risk of accidents. It is, however, part of our system, and has been for some time, that no right of way should be indicated: that nothing should be put up to tell you that it is your road. That has been part of the policy for some time. Signs can be put up bearing the words "Halt", 622 "Slow", and "Yield" on the minor road, but the road user is not actually told when it is his road. Everybody must therefore keep a look-out.
I agree also with those noble Lords who have said that there are too many signs. There are, indeed, far too many. There is too much confusion because of advertisements and other pictorial signs. Hammersmith Broadway, for example, is a clutter of signs, and it confuses rather than instructs. In one roundabout near London there are five different direction signs, including the rare "Port" sign, in this case leading to Southampton. Highway authorities have power to remove unofficial signs, and they do try to clear up the confusion. Some have done it very well. I wish that more would show zeal in this matter. Of course the Ministry have the right to compel them to do so, in the last resort, but naturally one does not want to use compulsion unless it becomes really necessary, There has been a great deal of improvement at Peterborough and Nottingham. I particularly draw attention to those two cities. They have made great improvements, and their example is being followed in Manchester, Grimsby, Worcester and two or three other places. Perhaps one might express the hope that Birmingham will also follow this good example. At present the Birmingham city fathers seem intent on getting you into the city and never letting you out again.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Somers upon the need for simplicity and clarity, but I think that, in this connection, there is a misunderstanding concerning page 47—those vexed signs which have displeased Lord Lucas of Chilworth. Those signs are simply signs which local authorities are permitted to put up or retain. If we were to do away with all those shown on page 47, and substitute one only, it would be expensive. We hope, in due course, to get more uniformity, but we cannot suddenly do away with all the existing signs which are tolerably clear and serve their purpose. To do so would be very expensive.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
May I ask the noble Lord if it is any more costly to call a woman a lady than simply to call her a woman?
§ LORD MANCROFT
Of course it is not. What we want to do is to make certain that the new signs that are put up are as uniform as possible, and we wish to allow for as little variety as possible. We allow the old ones to remain only where they are perfectly clear and give a straightforward indication of what is intended. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, especially drew attention to the question of the cow, and sign 153. That cow has caused more trouble than the noble Lord knows. The animal is, I am informed, a South Devon cow. When this was first produced, we received communications from indignant people in Hereford, pointing out that not only was it a South Devon cow but that it was a pretty poorly bred cow at that. They wanted to know why they could not have a Hereford beast in Herefordshire. If we agreed to that, people in Ayrshire, Lincoln, Aberdeen, Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney and the Highlands might well be likely to ask for variations of their own.
My Lords, there are many other details connected with these Regulations into which I should like to go if time permitted, but it does not. We are, for instance, preparing a code of practice for marking and lighting road works. That, I think, has been a considerable source of trouble in the past. Our aim is to get something which will ensure safety and uniformity. Contractors must not only provide a uniform system of signals but they must have to work them a man who has a rough understanding of what he is doing and what traffic conditions are in the area.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
The noble Lord is on a very important point here, and I am grateful to him for mentioning this. Will he consider the advisability of not allowing public works contractors to use automatic lighting signals when they want to have one-way traffic on the road, because often those concerned have no experience of the volume of the traffic with which they have to deal?
§ LORD MANCROFT
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, about the importance of this matter. Too often the operation of these signs is put in the hands of "Charlie," because he is not bright enough to make the tea.
624 The main criticism, however, which has been levelled against our whole system is that we have not adopted the Continental protocol which is used throughout Europe. Why have we not followed the Continental system, which has many admirable points and which many think is preferable to ours? The trouble is that ours has been in existence much longer. The Continental system did not have final legal authority until about 1949. We were hoping that there would be agreement throughout the world on a world system, and we were prepared to make changes had that agreement come about. Unfortunately, the Americans would not come into the world system, and having abandoned all hope of a world system and as there were going to be two systems anyhow, we decided to stick to our own rather than to adopt the Continental system. We should have liked to adopt the Continental system but it would have cost a great deal of money and taken a lot of time to make the necessary alterations. It might cost as much as £15 million; therefore, as I have said, we have decided against change. Undoubtedly there are many admirable features in the Continental system.
What we are now trying to do is, with typical British liking for compromise, to get the best of both worlds. We are gradually incorporating their good points in our system, particularly with regard to legibility and clarity of lettering. The Continental system is, however, not altogether suitable for this country. It is much more suitable for a large Continental area where many languages are spoken, and conditions generally are very different from those in this country. But while I do not deny that the Continental system has excellent points, I do feel that it is less flexible than ours, and not so adaptable in some respects. Our system undoubtedly has its faults but they are being steadily eliminated. It does not really cause confusion to the degree that some people imagine to foreigners who come to this country. It gives them a quiet laugh now and again, but it does not cause many accidents.
I think that, on the whole, the decision we have taken in not changing to the Continental system but incorporating it where we can is a sound one. It is a difficult matter to decide, because there is so much to be said for both 625 sides. We are, of course, experimenting with other Continental schemes. There is the double white line for dangerous roads, which is now being experimented with down the Portsmouth Road and which has been a great success on the Continent and in America. We are certainly going to look at the "Onno" scheme which was mentioned in the Observer last Sunday. There has been much improvement in the standard of illumination, which is now compulsory for some signs. Investigations have been carried out on the best methods of illumination and on reflecting materials, including the American Sectchlite, now being manufactured here. These and other experiments are going on. My noble friend Lord Conesford made fun of Slough. Many people have done that in the past and no doubt many will do it in the future. The reason that motorists are warned to go carefully through Slough is that it is a safety area which contains many new signs the motorist does not expect to find. There are experimental signs and schemes and all sorts of new terrors to motorists, including, perhaps, the possibility of finding Lord Conesford driving towards you.
I have twenty or thirty more points still unanswered, but I do not propose to enter into them at this moment. I promise again that I will look carefully at all the suggestions which have been put forward, and when further regulations are being framed they will be considered by the Department, which keeps them constantly under review. These Regulations are not free from blemish—I do not pretend that they are—but the more fact that your Lordships have tended to concentrate on those which can be criticised only shows how admirable are the remaining ones. When these Regulations pass into law to-morrow I hope that all motorists will appreciate the further clarity, safety and help they provide on the Queen's Highway.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, first of all, I should like to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. Some very interesting points have been raised and I am glad to see that with most of my chief points most noble Lords were in agreement. I am particularly grateful to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that this is not 626 the last of our reforms and that we may hope to consider further reforms before long. I cannot say that I agree altogether with what he regarded as our tradition of not implying who had the right of way. I think that uncertainty on that point makes motorists do uncertain things and that not being absolutely certain whether one has the right of way or not is a great source of accidents. But no doubt that point will be considered when we have our next reforms. I again thank noble Lords and beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.