§ 3.5 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to the criticism of the state of the hard standings on M.1 motorway; whether notice has been taken of the opinion of the Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire on the death of Police Sergeant G. Bickerton, when he stated that this police officer might be alive if the hard standings on M.1 had been efficient; whether the four chief constables of the other counties concerned have made a report; and, if so, what action is proposed.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, the hard shoulders of grass construction on the motorway are still immature and not fully consolidated. My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport is aware that in places they have received much heavier usage that was expected and have suffered considerable damage in consequence. The Minister has heard with great regret of the death of Police Sergeant Bickerton while on duty on the motorway. He has received so far only a brief factual report on the accident in which this officer was killed, but all the chief constables concerned have commented adversely on the state of the grass shoulders in their reports about traffic conditions on the motorway, and have drawn attention to the difficulties which arise when heavy vehicles have to stop on the motorway in emergency. My right honourable friend is giving 1188 urgent consideration to the steps which can be taken to strengthen the construction of the grass shoulders.
§ EARL HOWE
In the meantime, my Lords, may I ask whether the existing regulations are likely to be modified so that everybody can know exactly what is going on? May I also be told how long it is expected it will be before the hard shoulders or hard standings can be so modified that they will be more satisfactory?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, so far as I am aware, I do not think it is intended to amend the regulations. So far as the second part of the Question is concerned, I am unable to say now when it is expected that the work will be carried out, but I did use the word"urgent" in connection with my right honourable friend's consideration, and I can assure the noble Earl that"urgent" means urgent.