§ 3.10 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, in asking your Lordships to approve this Order I think I should point out that it continues in force indefinitely the provisions of Section 21 of the Road Traffic Act, 1962, which removed from the users of certain small goods vehicles the obligation to keep records of drivers' hours and other related matters, which otherwise would fall upon them under Section 186 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960. The vehicles affected are "C" licensed vehicles weighing not more than 16 cwt. unladen weight when they are on journeys within five miles of their base. This really means small vans on local delivery work.
Records required under Section 186 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, are used mainly to enforce the statutory limits on drivers' hours. These limits are laid down in Section 73 of the Act, which says that drivers must not drive for more than five and a half hours without at least half-an-hour's break, or for more than 11 hours in 24. It also says that a driver must have 10 hours continuous rest away from his vehicle in every 24. The danger that drivers of small local delivery vans will exceed these limits is in practice very slight, and this was the reason why the exemption was introduced. But as it was something new, a new departure, we made the exemption for an experimental period of two years to see what would happen. This period lapses on October 31. When the exemption first came into force we asked the licensing authorities, whose staff enforce the hours rules, to 806 let us have reports on its effects. The licensing authorities have found no evidence of any abuse due to the exemption. It has clearly given a useful, although perhaps small, relief from unnecessary paperwork to van drivers. Both sides of the industry agree that it should continue. So, my Lords, do Her Majesty's Government, and I therefore beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Goods Vehicles (Keeping of Records) Order, 1964, be approved.—(Lord Chesham.)
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, we wholly support this Order. The noble Lord is quite right in saying that it has not led to any abuse, but has saved a good deal of unnecessary paper work. I would ask him, however, whether he is aware that, in our view, the great difficulty is the abuse of record-keeping in the much wider field of vehicles which is not dealt with in this Order. That, in our view, is one of the contributory factors, not only to the exploitation of the men who drive the vehicles but also in the incidence of accidents, and I wonder whether the noble Lord's Department has anything in mind for dealing with this.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Yes, my Lords. I am glad to give the noble Lord some reassurance on this matter, because we are engaged at the moment on a careful and detailed study of how enforcement can be stepped up. I am grateful to the noble Lord because he was one of those, among, I think, all of us, who originally had misgivings to some degree about this particular Order. I think I can reasonably say it has worked out all right, and he has confirmed what I said. The only other point I might mention is that I think I remember the noble Lord saying at the time that he thought this was probably the thin end of the wedge to extension of this kind of thing. Frankly it is not, and there is no evidence that it should be, because we share something of his concern about abuse over the wider field, and that is why we feel we ought to tackle it very carefully and seriously at the moment.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.