HL Deb 03 July 1968 vol 294 cc320-461

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 62 [Applications for operators' licences]:

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 151: Page 89, line 10, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Lord said: Subsection (4) of Clause 62 deals with and describes the information which an applicant for an operator's licence must give to the licensing authority. Over most of the requirements we have no dispute whatever, and I would say at the beginning of my few words that I see, or I think I see, the Government's object in including subsection (4)(b) which we are endeavouring to delete. This paragraph requires the applicant to furnish particulars of the demand which he expects for the business he is running or entering.

The Minister opposite may say, and with some reason, that one of the existing problems of the licensing authority has been the number of small, would-be hauliers who have applied for licences with no substantial resources or expectations, some of whom have, in the event, gone out of business without contributing anything very much to the industry or to satisfying the needs of producers or customers. If the Minister says this I shall not contradict him. But our agreement is that, even so, the requirements is unfair to the great majority: it is unfair to expect the bona fide potential operator to measure in advance the custom he is going to attract. He may be fairly shrewdly aware of the demand in his district; he may even have come to agreement in advance with some prospective customers and some firms; and yet it may be difficult for him to be accurate in setting down the demand with any certainty. Nor would he wish to reveal confidential information to do with business already arranged or expected.

Apart from these objections the requirement seems to us misplaced in this Part of the Bill. Part V deals with quality licensing. This is a quantity licensing proviso. The Minister of State said in another place: This is not a system of quantity licensing. It is a system of quality licensing. Therefore, the judgment which the licensing authority is called upon to make is about the quality". [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Standing Committee F, 28/3/68, col. 2280.] That was in Standing Committee debating the previous Clause 61, then in fact Clause 57; but as a touchstone, of course, it is also applicable to this clause. I suggest that this is a reasonable change to make, in harmony rather than in conflict with the Government's own objectives and guidelines. I beg to move.


I suggest to the Committee that this paragraph is quite properly placed here. It has a bearing on quality licensing, and we could not accept this Amendment as it stands. The effect of it would be to deprive the licensing authorities of an important means of assessing the likely financial stability of an applicant's business, which in turn is obviously important in relation to the continued proper maintenance of his fleet. It is this aspect—the ability to continue to operate a properly maintained fleet—which is important from the quality licensing point of view.

However, the Government are quite willing to accept that the drafting of the Bill could be improved to make it clear that this is the sole reason for requiring particulars of future demand, and I am prepared to accept that paragraph (b) could be deleted if at the same time there were an Amendment made to paragraph (g). The Amendment which we would propose to make to paragraph (g) is that that paragraph should read: particulars of the financial resources which are or are likely to be available to the applicant". The words which are new are: "which are or are likely to be". This addition, with the deletion of paragraph (b), will certainly get rid of any lingering impression that there is an element of quantity significance in quality licensing, and we are anxious that any impression of that kind should be removed. On the other hand, the clause as it then would be will enable the licensing authority to take into account the future prospects of an applicant, should he apply for a licence without having enough money to show that he has the means to look after his vehicles properly. But, deletion of paragraph (b) without such an Amendment to paragraph (g) would not achieve this objective, and could act to the detriment of the applicant for licence.

I am happy to proceed in either of two ways. We could accept the deletion of paragraph (b) if we have an assurance from noble Lords opposite that they would accept in due course the Amendment to paragraph (g); or, alternatively, if they accept that this Amendment should now be withdrawn and be re-tabled at the next stage when the Government Amendment is tabled and the two could then go through together. I must make it clear that the deletion of paragraph (b) without alteration to paragraph (g) would not be acceptable to the Government, as we think it would be neither in the interests of quality control nor in the interests of the potential applicant.


When the Government by co-operating with the Opposition Front Bench start to redraft this matter, will they bear in mind that the noble Lord in his explanation has spoken as if the only vehicles which are concerned are those under Clause 60(1)(a)—those operated "for hire or reward". The Government should remember that the vast majority of the vehicles cove -ed by this Bill are going to be operated under Clause 60(1)(b), for or in connection with any trade or business carried on by him". Therefore, I think it is entirely irrelevant that the person who has a large fleet of vehicles to operate his own business should be asked to give particulars of his financial resources to some licensing authority before he is allowed to carry on his ordinary business. Will that be borne in mind? It is an important point.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for explaining the Government view on Amendment No. 151. As my noble friend Lord St. Oswald said, we attach some importance to the point because we think that paragraph (b) imports quite a significant element of quantity licensing into a scheme which is, basically, quality licensing. While we welcome the willingness to agree to leaving out paragraph (b), I am bound to say that the noble Lord's alternative of an addition to paragraph (g) on the following page is really almost as objectionable to us as was paragraph (b) in the first place. My noble friend Lord Hawke made a relevant point here. Why is it necessary to inquire into the future financial prospects of an industry which runs some lorries for itself? Why is it necessary to do this in order to determine whether there should be a quality licence for that particular fleet? It is going very far and wide. This is primarily the quality licensing Part of the Bill, to ensure that the operator is a responsible and competent person who will operate his fleet in a responsible, competent way. It is a matter of judgment how much information it is necessary to ask for. While I would accept paragraph (g), which requires particulars of the financial resources of the applicant to make sure that he has the necessary means to operate a satisfactory fleet, it seems to me to be quite another matter to ask him what finance he is going to have in the future. Where is this going to end?

I would urge the noble Lord to think again before he puts down such an Amendment. If he agrees to take out paragraph (b) now then we certainly could not commit ourselves to accepting the addition to paragraph (g). We will certainly look at it and study it. I have had some indication that something of this kind was coming; my noble friends had not. I think we ought to study it a little more. If the noble Lord would like to take it on that basis, to accept this Amendment without any commitment from us as to what will be done on the Report stage, we shall be happy to look at it on its merits and discuss it when we reach it. We could not accept it on the face of it.


What I would do is to invite the noble Lord to withdraw this Amendment. If I take the paragraph out without any commitment that the other half is going to come into operation, he is asking me to buy a pig in a poke. I think the transaction ought to be done in one. I appreciate that noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite may not be in a position to give an undertaking at this stage; but, after all, if they withdraw the Amendment they are completely free to put it down again, whether or not they are going to support the second one. So the Opposition have nothing to lose by re-tabling it at the next stage, whereas the Government may have something to lose.

I would say in reply to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, that it will be for the licensing authority to ask for such information as they may consider necessary. There may be many cases in which they will not ask for any information of this kind. They will not ask questions to which they are certain that they already have the answer. I think this is as much as I can say on that point.


Probably the right thing to do is to cooperate with the noble Lord and to give him what he wants so that the whole Committee can see the two Amendments on the Marshalled List together. Like the noble Lord, I have some idea of what his words mean; other noble Lords here have not.




The noble Lord, Lord Stonham laughs. Other noble Lords have heard of the noble Lord's ideas for the first time a few seconds ago. They are not on the Marshalled List. The right thing to do is to put down the Amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, wants. We are willing to leave in paragraph (b) so that the issue can be debated as one at Report stage. I would add that our apprehension is that we should not find the Amendment to paragraph (g) acceptable. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

2.58 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 152: Page 90, line 18, after ("may") insert ("reasonably").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 152. This is a small point but one of principle. The effect of this Amendment would be to provide that the licensing authority must act reasonably in specifying the form in which it requires information when application is made for an operator's or transport manager's licence. Noble Lords may have observed that the word "reasonably" is used in Clause 62(4) when relating to information which a licensing authority may request. The word is again used in Clause 68(2) when referring to information required for the variation of a licence. It is used again in Schedule 9 when it refers to information that a licensing authority would need for a transport manager's licence.

At the Report stage in another place the Government spokesman said that these were not parallel to being reasonable when specifying a form and that such an Amendment was totally unnecessary. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will agree that every care should always be taken to see that the general public are never antagonised by unnecessary form filling. I feel sure that no licensing authority would take it amiss if this Amendment were accepted.


When this same Amendment was being considered in Standing Committee in another place, my honourable friend the Minister of State undertook to consider the point further. As the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, has indicated, on reconsideration the Government came to the conclusion that the parallel drawn in the case of the use of the word "reasonably" in subsection (4), at least, where it relates to seeking for information was not a good one in this case. The noble Lord quoted three cases where the Government have used that word. I think this is a clear indication that where it is appropriate to do so the Government have no objection to the word being used. This is important when we are asking people to provide information, because cases can vary enormously. What may be reasonable to ask in one case may be totally unreasonable in another, so the proper thing to do is to put in the word "reasonably" in these cases.

When it comes to putting a statutory requirement on a licensing authority to be reasonable in specifying the manner in which the information is submitted, we think that is going too far and would be quite out of line with current practice in other legislation. It was, after all, only yesterday when it was suggested that so far as possible forms should be standard and used in the same way up and down the country. It seems to me that in this case the opposite is being asked. It may well be that the form used should everywhere be the same, or it may be that it should be different in one place from another. I do not know. I should have thought it more likely that the same sort of form would be used, but this amounts to saying to a very responsible body like the licensing authorities that they have to take care that the forms are of the right size, the printing is the right size, that the wording is right and so on. That is what it boils down to when you consider what is meant by saying that they should be reasonable in relation to the forms. If we cannot depend on the authority to put out a reasonable sort of form, we are entrusting very heavy responsibility to the wrong people altogether.


As always the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is thoughtful in his reply. I have listened to him and to my noble friend, and I do not see why it should be inappropriate or unreasonable to be reasonable in the design of a form or in the selecting of the questions the applicant is required to answer, or the information he is required to give.


I should like to support my noble friends and say that I find the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, in this matter quite unconvincing. It seems to me that de same sort of argument applies in this case as to the previous Amendment, and I must confess that I was somewhat disappointed that that Amendment was withdrawn, because I thought that the assurances of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, were somewhat vague. Surely the point with regard to both Amendments is how much power these licensing authorities are to be given in the inquiring into the financial status or operating ability of a potential applicant.

I would urge my noble friends to stand firm on this Amendment, because I feel that this sort of body may tend to become over-inquiring into matters that are really commercial matters which should be left to the commercial judgment of the potential applicant and should not become the concern of the licensing authority.


I should have been more impressed by the criticism from the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, of my remarks had he not associated his criticism with what he called the unsatisfactory assurance which I gave on the previous Amendment. I do not think that my assurance on the previous Amendment, Amendment No. 151, could possibly have gone further. I was willing to accept it provided I got the acceptance in return of the other Amendment I mentioned which the Government were to put down on the next stage. I was as specific as it was possible to be. If he thinks that I have done as much regarding this Amendment the noble Lord has nothing to complain about.


It is obvious that this Amendment raises a deep question of principle in the minds of some people. I think it just as well to see what would be the effect of it. It would make no difference whatever to the information to be provided. It would simply be the form in which the information was provided and therefore that form would have to be reasonable. It is very hard to imagine a wholly unreasonable form, but I believe that sometimes some Government Departments can get quite near to producing one. Equally, a perfectly reasonable form is a little difficult to produce, but how these somewhat metaphysical considerations affect the working of the subsection I quite fail to understand. I am afraid that some noble Lords may be chasing a principle and that they will find, when they catch it, that it is a bit of a March Hare.


I wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for his most courteous and full reply to this Amendment. I think it fair to point out that the Amendment refers to the way in which statements and information would be put into a form and that it has nothing to do with the size of the form—at any rate, that is not mentioned in the Bill. The noble Lord referred to standard forms. I should have thought, with respect, that this added to the strength of the Amendment. The noble Lord pointed out that the word "reasonably", having been used in certain places which I submitted to the House was, presumably, used in the correct places. I have the greatest respect for noble Lords on the Government Benches, but I do not think that I could take that as being necessarily a sequitur. In common with many other people in this country I was recently asked to give my height when applying for a gun licence and therefore I cannot honestly say that I have the same confidence in form-filling which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has. However, I do not think that a great matter of principle is involved, and I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 62 agreed to.

Clause 63 [Objections to grant of operators' licences]:

LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 153:

Page 90, leave out line 30 and insert— ("The licensing authority in considering an application for an operator's licence may, if he thinks fit, consult—").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 153 in the name of my noble friends and myself. Clause 63 sets out the basis of certain statutory objections which may be made to the granting of an operator's licence by the licensing authority. I am moving this Amendment because in relation to this aspect of an operator's licence I, and I dare say many other noble Lords, would like to understand more clearly what the Government have in mind. On the first Amendment we covered some of the points regarding the operator's licence and the fact that it is primarily a quality licence; in point of fact it is entirely a quality licence. Perhaps I may briefly recapitulate what is happening with this very big change in the law which the Government are here proposing.

The existing system of licensing is divided into four categories—"A", "B" "C" and "F". The "A" and "B" licences are the professional hauliers' licences and they are very tightly controlled by the traffic commissioners. The "C" licence, for the vehicle belonging to the industrialist or trader and used entirely for his own goods, is at present without any control except for such vehicle regulations as exist. Thus any industrialist or trader who wishes to have a goods vehicle operating for himself has only to pay the appropriate licence fee and get his vehicle licensed to operate wherever he likes all over the country. This system has developed tremendously in the last 20 years, generally to the great benefit of industry and trade. In this context, the operator's licence can be seen for what it is, a licence to ensure that an operator is a reliable and reasonable person capable of operating the fleet of vehicles in his charge, compared with the present system where there is a professional haulier's licence, tightly controlled, and the "C" licence, virtually without control.

Perhaps I should mention how the existing "A" and "B" licence system works. Any proposal to vary an existing licence, to extend it, or to add another vehicle or get a new one, is usually heavily opposed by all the existing interests—the railways, the existing hauliers and anyone who thinks his haulage interests will thereby be affected. The existing hauliers are very much concerned with the objections of self-interested objectors and, as any noble Lord who has ever sat in a traffic court will know, it is a pretty cumbersome business. I should think that one consideration that weighed in the minds of the Committee, which my noble friend Lord Geddes so ably chaired and which recommended that the present system should come to an end, was the cumbersomeness of a system which leads to this privilege of class of hauliers whose licence is of great value.

This is the background to what the Government are now proposing in this Bill, to get rid of all "A", "B" and "C" licences—I leave out for the moment the question of quantity licences. In future, all who wish to do so will be able to obtain a licence for a goods vehicle, provided that they satisfy the conditions in the clauses we have just been looking at. The broad theme is that an operator should be a responsible and competent person, with sufficient resources to operate the fleet he has under his control.

There are imported into Clause 63 certain classes of people who can have a statutory right of objection to the grant- ing of a licence by the traffic commissioners. I very much question whether this is a wise move. It is going to be extremely difficult to decide by what criteria the traffic commissioners would be guided and what would be the proper basis on which an objection could be made. In another place, the arguments on this became political and difficult to handle, but I hope that here, in our more dispassionate atmosphere we can discuss this problem in an objective way and consider all the pros and cons of introducing a system of statutory objection.

The effect of our Amendment would be to substitute a single process of consultation by the traffic commissioners with anybody they wish. This is much the same system as that which is operated with regard to passenger service vehicles and which, I may say, operates very satisfactorily. I greatly doubt whether the bodies mentioned in subsection (3) would wish to make a statutory objection. These bodies are a prescribed trade union or trade association, persons holding an operator's licence or carrier's licence and the employees of any such persons, a chief officer of police or a local authority.

Let us consider what would happen if one of these bodies wanted to make a statutory objection, and for the sake of the more vivid illustration let us take the most difficult one—a trade union. This is a heavy responsibility, and I should think that the executive council of a trade union would lay down in its rules that if a district branch wished to promote an objection this would have to be referred to headquarters, so that they could decide whether or not such an objection should be carried forward. Supposing the traffic commissioners decided to refuse the application for an operator's licence, almost certainly the applicant would appeal to the Transport Tribunal. The traffic commissioners would naturally call the trade union as one of the supporting witnesses. The union would have to send a senior official to give evidence on such an important issue, and I should think they would have to brief counsel in order to assist their official in giving his evidence and possibly in cross-examination. All this would be expensive and troublesome for them.

That is not the end of it. Meantime, no doubt, the applicant would call on his trade association to support him and to provide counsel. The point is that, whichever way the appeal went, the whole affair would be troublesome, costly and unpleasant—and unpleasant for the trade union as well. At the end of it an unhappy atmosphere would be left between the trade association, on the employers' side, and the trade union, on the employees' side—exactly the reverse of what noble Lords, and indeed every other sensible person in the country, are trying to achieve. I suggest that the public image of a trade union or trade association or local authority who decided to take such action would be damaged by them appearing in the role of a "snooper". I am bound to say that if I were responsible for the actions of any of these bodies, I should be most reluctant to see them involved in a case of this kind.

When we consider the criteria that are set out here and in the subsequent clauses for the grant of a licence we see how difficult it is to find grounds for objection which would not be invidious when trotted out in open court. Of course, where the operator has police convictions against him for traffic offences, that is something specific that everybody knows about and there is no difficulty about handling it, but in other matters it seems to me invidious for any of these bodies to have a right of statutory objection I should have thought that, in practice, they would rarely use it On the whole, I should think that the principle of statutory objections was a mistake in the whole concept of the operator's licence

I put this Amendment forward, to a large extent, on a note of inquiry: how do the Government see this working? Are they sure that this is going to assist the general operation of the licensing system? Are they sure that it is going to promote the general improvement in this field that they want to see? I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord opposite can say in answer to this. I beg to move.


I share the same doubts and ask the same questions as the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, but I have another one, as well. It seems to me that in order not to complicate further this already complicated Bill (and I congratulate the Government on that) the Government have actually lumped in on one side four different classes of people and on the other, if you count sub-divisions, six classes of objections and made them all, so to speak, a cross-permutation. But if they are going to do this, there should be much more selectivity. Even more difficult than the question of the trade unions would be the question of the associations of persons holding operators' licences or carriers' licences, because they would be in the position of potential competitors to the person applying for the licence, and that they should be able to make statutory objection on such matters as insufficient finance and previous convictions seems to me to be most distasteful. I hope that the Government will think about this subject again.


I have looked carefully at the proposed Amendment, and the regard which the noble Lord has expressed for the trade unions is touching indeed. It almost brought tears to my eyes to find that there is so much concern about the trouble a trade union might get involved in, the possibility of having to brief counsel, and all sorts of things that might happen. But let us look at what the Clause would do if it were changed in the way suggested. The licensing authority may consult "any of the following persons". That, then, would be a matter for the licensing authority. The licensing authority, deciding to play safe, decide that they will specifically consult all the people who are named instead of leaving it to those people to lodge an objection. The best way that I know of inviting objection is to ask anybody if there is anything to which they object. The majority of people will be looking to see if they can find anything to which to object.

But if the notice is published, it is there in the standard form for them to see: if they do not see it, that is just too bad; and if they do, and do not think much about it, they certainly will not give it very much thought. But if they get a letter from the licensing authority: "We have an application here from Mr. so and so for vehicles. Have you any objection?", they may go into the matter very thoroughly and probably find objections. What would result would be the opposite of what the noble Lord seeks to achieve, and it would be far better to leave it as it is, with a statutory right to object on the publication of the notice, rather than to invite objection through the licensing authority. What are the licensing authority to do? By and large, in operating this provision they are bound to play safe. They are much more likely to consult far more people as a result of the fact that they are given leave not to consult them, than they would if the clause were left in the form in which it is. I suggest that the noble Lord should look carefully at what he is proposing, because it looks to me as if it will invite far more objections than otherwise would occur.


I entirely agree with what my noble friend has just said. A remarkable doctrine is being put forward by noble Lords opposite. I should have thought that the police, who are one of the specified classes, in certain respect local authorities, and surely a trade union's employees, have a duty in these cases, and a duty that they ought not to be prevented from performing, and that this is something that ought not to be left to the licensing authority. Let us see what the grounds are in the following clause. One is that the vehicle should be fit to carry what is proposed to be carried, and should be kept fit, and that the fleet of vehicles, if the man has a fleet, should be kept fit, too. Are we to put it on the licensing authority, who I should have thought in these cases were in a semi-judicial position, to pick and choose what should happen about this? Are we to say that it is not the duty of the trade union, on behalf of its members who may have to drive the vehicles, to see that those vehicles are safe to drive? And are we to say, if someone is starting a harum-scarum racket of some kind or another for which he cannot possibly find the necessary finance, that the local authority, whose constituents will have to use these vehicles, should not see that there is instead a proper provision.

I should have thought that there was nothing very much to alarm noble Lords opposite. I must say that I am rather surprised. I often hear objections to bureaucracy, but I never thought before that so much ought to be taken away from the police, in whom I hope we have some confidence, and so much taken away from trade unions, about whom we heard moving words from the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, and so much, too, from local authorities, and handed over to the licensing authority. Surely, it is their duty to decide, and there ought to be a provision that those who have a public duty, broadly speaking, if only on matters of safety, should be the people to object in performance of that public duty.

I would call the attention of your Lordships particularly to the fact that a later subsection in this clause provides that the burden of proof is to be on the objector. That seems to me to be a right and proper condition in the cases that I have in mind and the cases which would, I think, form the vast majority of instances of action under this clause. I venture to think that here is a question of principle and that there is confusion between the judge and the responsible public authority, a confusion as to the functions of the licensing authority. For something that is really likely to work pretty ill, this Amendment, if I may use the phrase, takes the cake.


Despite the usual impressive way in which the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, moved this Amendment, I have to inform him at the beginning of my remarks that I have to resist it. I do not think he will be surprised to hear that. So far as I understand it, we are taking together Amendments Nos. 153 and 154, the latter being consequential on the first. These Amendments would remove the right of objection to the grant of an operator's licence from the persons described in subsection (3) (a), (b) and (c), and substitute a right of a licensing authority to consult or refer to such persons if he thought that the applicant could not match up to the requirements set out in Clause 64(2) for the grant of an operator's licence.

Your Lordships will know that similar Amendments with the same purpose were debated in Committee in the Commons (cols. 2345 to 2352) on April 3, and on a Division these were negatived. In advising the Committee to reject the Amendments, my honourable friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that the objection procedure is an important part of quality licensing. Unlike the present carriers' licensing system, where a new applicant for a licence does not have to undergo investigation of his fitness to be an operator, quality licensing lays particular stress on the need—I think this is the most important part of all—for preventing people who are unlikely to run vehicles safely from ever getting a goods vehicle on the road. The statutory rights of objection will be more effective in getting the facts about an applicant before a licensing authority than a system which leaves the full burden on him to make his own inquiries. I use the same argument in resisting these Amendments.

May I also stress that giving a right of objection to a particular body does not impress upon that body a duty to object to every single application. Indeed, one would expect an objection only where the objector happened to have relevant knowledge about a particular application. There was some misapprehension on this point in the Commons, where one Member seemed to imply that every local authority would need new staff and officers to carry out its "duty" of objection. There may also be some concern that objectors may in some cases be trivial and even vindictive. But I feel sure that the licensing authorities can be relied on to deal with such cases in the way they deserve. I should like to thank my two noble friends behind me, particularly Lord Mitchison, for coming to my aid in replying to this Amendment. He made many of the points which I should otherwise make. But, having said that, I hope that the noble Lord will agree not to press his Amendment further.

3.32 p.m.


My noble friend made a very important speech on the subject of trying to get information from the Government as to how the size of the lorry fleets of the country would be limited in future. He gave the licensing procedure at the moment, under which there is built in a self-limiting procedure by the competitors' being able to object to a new person coming in. I could find nothing of that sort in this Bill, and it does not seem to me that the particular persons who have the right of objection—the trade union, or the chief officer of police or the local authority—will have any interest whatsoever to see that there is not an undue extension of lorry capacity on the roads. My noble friend put his Amendment down to explore and discover what the Government's position on this is; how they visualise that this system will work. I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Hilton of Upton, did not reply to that at all, and my ears were agog to hear what he was going to say.


I think the Committee would be surprised if I could give that information on the spur of the moment. This is, I agree, a very particular but none the less a very important point, and I promise that as soon as it is possible I will convey the information to the noble Lord, but I just cannot give it to him now.


It is not the noble Lord who wants it; it is the Committee who want it. It is really a very important point. It is the core of licensing of lorries in this country.


May I then substitute "the Committee" for "the noble Lord"?


I feel rather of the same mind as my noble friend Lord Hawke. Although the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, gave us, in his usual agreeable way, a very pleasant answer he did not throw a very great deal of light on the philosophy behind the Government's mind on quality licensing. I had understood that quality licensing was concerned simply to ensure that the quality of the operator and his capacity, and the quality of the vehicle, judged by construction-and-use standards, were such as to make them safe and competent for the road (I am leaving out for the moment quantity licensing for the big vehicle) and that only economic factors would determine what the ultimate size of the fleet was. I can only make this comment to my noble friend Lord Hawke, because there is no clue as to anything else.

However, to return to the specific point here, I am bound to say that, despite the interesting speeches from noble Lords on the other side, I do not feel convinced that this procedure of statutory objection would be better than a system of consultation. After all, the system of consultation works, and has worked for many years, extremely efficiently for the passenger service vehicle. The traffic commissioners have a right to consult anyone they like, and to do as they wish. I am sure that noble Lords would agree with me that nothing could be more important than the competence and reliability of the operator of the passenger service vehicle which is going to carry large numbers of the public; and the consultative system works perfectly well.

I just do riot understand why the Government want to have this cumbrous system, as I see it—I repeat, cumbrous system—of a statutory right of objection to certain people here. I am 100 per cent. with the noble Lord, Lord Hilton—and I am sure that all my noble friends are—in the wish that the quality licensing should be directed to preventing unsuitable people from putting unsafe vehicles on the road. There are not many bad actors in this connection, but there are some, and I am as interested as he is to deal with them. I am just not convinced that this rather cumbrous machinery is going to do it. When the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, was making his customary entertaining speech, and referred to the need to judge whether the applicant was a fit person, I wondered whether he was going to suggest that the National Health Service should provide a medical certificate, or possibly, on the financial resources, that the bankers should have a right of statutory objection, too.


That is too much. If I may say one thing further, I was only suggesting that the police, for instance, on matters of safety ought to have a right of statutory objection; that the trade union, on behalf of its employees, and the local authorities in perhaps slightly different cases, ought to have the same. It is a great pity to try to shift the burden of what is right in these cases on to the licensing authority, who are the judges and ought not to be the advocates.


Of course, I quite agree with the noble Lord. The traffic commissioner sits in a semi-judicial capacity and he is ultimately the judge who will decide on the merits of the case. But the noble Lord referred to the fact that subsection (5) provides that the onus of proof for the objection shall lie on the objector. One thing I am quite sure of is that the police will never make an objection unless it is founded on fact; and facts of convictions in the past. The police, of course, know many things about all of us—in fact, they probably know everything about all of us—but they certainly would not stand up and give information about it unless it was information that could be proved in a court.

I suppose it does not matter very much if we leave this provision in, because I do not think it will be operated very often. As the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, said, there will occasionally be trivial or vindictive objections. This is inevitable if we give a right like this. But in the main these bodies, being responsible bodies, will not make statutory objections because of all the difficulties that are involved. I suppose that what will happen in practice is that the traffic commissioner will proceed very much as he has done in the past with passenger service vehicles: he will consult anybody who he thinks will help him in any particular case and make up his mind in the light of all the facts, and we shall very seldon hear of statutory objections being made.

It seems to me to be a pity to rut this provision into a Bill which is starting with what I believe is a good idea, of getting rid of all the cumbrous machinery as recommended by the Geddes Committee, but this is the responsibility of the Government, and if they really, wish to do it, although to my mind it detracts somewhat from the Bill it is certainly not a matter on which I would invite my noble friends to divide the Committee. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 63 agreed to.

Clause 64 [Decision on applications for operators' licences]:

3.41 p.m.

LORD ILFORD moved Amendment No. 154A: Page 91, line 38, at end insert ("and for their garaging or parking off the highway").

The noble Lord said: This is not an Amendment which calls for any elaborate explanation, because your Lordships are all familiar with the nuisance and annoyance which is caused by the garaging of vehicles on the roads. When large commercial vehicles are left by the kerbside in residential streets the annoyance is still greater. Clause 64(2) enumerate a number of what: are called "requirements" which the licensing authority have to take into consideration in awarding a licence to an operator. These requirements cover a wide field. The operator must be a fit person to hold an operator's licence; there are arrangements for securing that Part VI, which deals with a driver's licence, must be complied with, and so on. At the end of subsection (2)(d) it provides that there shall be satisfactory facilities and arrangements for maintaining the authorised vehicles in a fit and serviceable condition, and this Amendment seeks to add the words: and for their garaging or parking off the highway".

When this matter was being discussed in another place the Minister said that it was considered that the combined effect of Clause 64 and of Clause 122(1)(b) (which extends the power to refuse licences in cases where the granting of a licence is likely to affect the amenities of the area) would be sufficient to protect the residents in those streets where vehicles are left in this way, without the need for any further provision. That is all very well, but what the Minister is saying is that there would have to be a prosecution under the combined effects of Clause 64 and Clause 122. But one does not want to multiply the number of prosecutions. If it is possible to deal with a matter of this sort without exposing the drivers and owners to additional grounds for prosecution I should have thought your Lordships would wish to take that course.

This Amendment proposes that there should be a discouragement at an earlier stage, rather than prosecution. It proposes that when the licence is granted the operator should appreciate that it is granted upon terms that his vehicle is not parked out in the street, either during the daytime or during the night-time, when long-distance vehicles are much more commonly parked. One knows what happens; the drivers have a run into central London from some provincial town, they perhaps go to the docks and off load and then, instead of putting the vehicle into a garage during the night the vehicle is taken to the nearest residential street and left on the kerb. When the unfortunate people who live in that street wake up in the morning they find themselves confronted by a large pantech- nicon, or a lorry, or a lorry and trailer, or even a concrete mixing machine. That gives rise to a great deal of annoyance and nuisance. The purpose of this Amendment is to try to minimise that nuisance.

It would be a much more effective and satisfactory way to do that, to encourage the owner of the vehicle or the driver not to leave the vehicle in the road, by making it a condition of the grant of his licence that the vehicle shall be properly garaged or that proper accommodation shall be found for it. That would not necessarily involve a prosecution, but it would mean that the operator would appreciate that if he did not make adequate provision for the garaging of the vehicle he might well lose his operator's licence when the time came to renew it. That seems to be the most satisfactory way of dealing with the matter. I hope your Lordships will agree and that the modest Amendment which I am proposing will be accepted. I beg to move.


I am a little concerned at what the noble Lord has said as to the extent to which this particular clause should go. I thought the Amendment was designed to ensure that the owner of the vehicle would show that he had sufficient parking space at his place of business to keep the vehicle off the highway. However, in his speech the noble Lord spoke about a long-distance lorry driver coming into London to go to the docks, and I am not sure just how far one can require an operator to say that under all conditions he would have adequate parking space for a vehicle, possibly in places and under conditions which he could not envisage. It would seem to place an impossible burden upon him. If the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, said that the operator shall have at his place of business or at the address from which he operates his vehicles adequate parking space off the highway, that would seem to be entirely reasonable, but I do not think one could require any operator to show that in all circumstances he will have adequate garage space available at any particular point.


We would all agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, about the problem of the parking and garaging of lorries, sometimes for long periods. We know that this applies to a large extent in areas of London and in most of the other big towns and cities. But I hope I can prove to the noble Lord that we do not regard this Amendment as the way to solve this problem. We regard his Amendment as unsatisfactory on at least three grounds. The first is this. It would not deal with the problem of lorries operating away from their home base—the point my noble friend Lord Pargiter was just making. In an undertaking whose lorries are reasonably fully employed, the vehicles probably spend at least as much time away from their home base as they spend at home. It would manifestly be unfair and impossible to require an operator to show that he could provide adequate off-street parking at all the multitude of places to which his lorries might run. The Amendment would thus be ineffective in dealing with an important potential source of parking nuisance.

Secondly, it would not deal with the driver who takes his lorry home at night and parks it on the street. There are a number of reasons why a driver might do this. His home might lie on the route he would have to follow the next day from the depot to his destination, so he would be helped on the way by taking his lorry home at night. Or he might want to start early in the morning, to get clear of a large city before traffic builds up and before transport would be available to take him to his depot. Or using the vehicle for home to depot journeys might simply be one of the "perks" of his job.

The third reason is this: street parking of lorries does not always cause a nuisance. It would be onerous to require the provision of offstreet parking in cases where the leaving of lorries in the street outside premises could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to cause a nuisance to residents or a danger to traffic—for example, where the premises are in a back street in a nonresidential area. The provisions of Clause 69(4)(g), on the other hand, deal with all these problems by making an operator's licence liable to revocation, suspension or curtailment if his lorries persistently break the law by parking improperly, wherever this may be. It is thus a far more effective way of dealing with the situation; and I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will agree that his Amendment is unnecessary.


I feel much inclined to support the Amendment the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, has moved, because I am a little unhappy at the terms of the noble Lord's reply from the Government Bench, which seemed to me to show some measure of acceptance of the condition that lorries may be parked, and parked overnight, on public highways. As one deeply interested in the matter of research into road accidents, I feels certain that when the forthcoming Report of the Road Research Laboratory is on the Table it will be seen that the stationary vehicle problem is a real killer in terms of accidents. I should be much happier, if the noble Lord is to withdraw his Amendment, if from the Government Benches one heard words which were firmer than the last few words of what the noble Lord said in condemnation of this very dangerous practice. Not only is it dangerous, but any sort of acceptance of the fact that an individual owner, whoever he may be, is entitled to leave his vehicle overnight in a public highway is wrong.


May I draw attention to the fact that there are sufficient penalties available under the Highways Acts to deal with ordinary parking? Here you are placing a responsibility on the operator to provide that in all circumstances the vehicle will be garaged, and I think that is quite impossible. I suggest that the usual provisions of other Acts to prevent unauthorised parking on the highway where the vehicle creates an obstruction are adequate but are not sufficiently used.


With due respect, this says "garaging or parking off the highway". I do not think there is any suggestion in Lord Ilford's Amendment that the vehicle must be garaged.


Before the noble Lord withdraws his Amendment, may I say how much I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, about the danger of parked lorries, very largely because it is far more difficult to see past them than past the ordinary parked private car. I understand the difficulty about providing parking or garaging in rather distant towns. I wonder whether her it would be possible at a future stage of the Bill to make some regulation that lorries must always be garaged or parked off the street where off-street parking is available, and to put in another regulation saying that local councils must provide, where possible, off-street parking for commercial vehicles only.

3.55 p.m.


I wonder whether the Government would reconsider this matter at a later stage. Accepting everything the Minister said from the Front Bench about the difficulties of lorries away from their base, I would point out that this Amendment in fact refers to the base, the home town, the home garage of the organisation, and it seems to me not unreasonable that one should ask that an operator should have proper garaging at his home base. After all, to-day local authorities and planning authorities will not give permission for a private residence in many parts of London or office accommodation in the centre of London unless there is also running with that accommodation a reasonable proportion, laid down by regulations, of garage accommodation for private and for commercial vehicles. If that is mandatory for new buildings, private and commercial, surely it is not unreasonable that it should also be mandatory for an operator in respect of his base. I hope the Government will be reasonable and think again on this matter before we come to a later stage.


May I, before the Minister replies, add one word in support of Lord Ilford's Amendment? There are two aspects of the parking of goods vehicles on the highway: one relating to parking on the traffic route and the other to parking on the residential street. On the traffic route, normal traffic regulations will take care of this; parking will be prohibited, and the vehicle will be cleared away if it is parked there. But in the case of parking in the residential street there are no such regulations and no such considerations. But there is a consideration, as my noble friend Lord Ilford so well brought out, from the amenity point of view. To have a very large van or lorry or cement-mixer, or something like that, standing outside your house is not particularly agreeable to the people there; and to have several of these vehicles in a residential street is really very hard on the occupants. I think this is a point which is not really covered by any of our existing arrangements, but it certainly does arise out of my noble friend's point.

My noble friend is concerned with the vehicle away from its base, as it very often will be. We all know what happens. If there is a convenient parking place, no doubt the lorry driver will use it, but if the parking place is some way off he probably will not but will leave his vehicle in the nearest residential street. This is offensive. It is a growing practice and it is bound to get worse. It is much worse having a vehicle of that kind left outside a house than having an ordinary private car, which is relatively small. This point may not fit in particularly well here, but I hope that, since it has been raised, the noble Lord will undertake that the Minister of Transport will have a look at it.


In view of the support which this Amendment has received from different quarters of the Committee, I hope the noble Lord will be able to modify to some extent the answer which he gave me a few moments ago. This Amendment, of course, deals with the case where a lorry is parked in a street at its base town, as well as the case which I was putting, where it is parked in the street at the end of the run and will return to its base the following day.

Of course there is no excuse for an operator's acquiring a commercial vehicle and not having any place to put it. There is no excuse for that at all, and I should not have thought that that aspect of the case called for much emphasis. So far as the lorry is concerned, it is parked at the end of its run after being sent from some provincial town into London, perhaps to the docks, where it off-loads its load. It is then parked overnight until it returns to its place in the morning.

The real reason why those vehicles are parked in the street is that the operator is not prepared to pay for garage accommodation for them. All over London garage accommodation is available for these vehicles, but in a great many instances it has to be paid for. It is because the operator is not prepared to pay for the garage accommodation that the vehicle is left in the street, for which he has to pay nothing. I hope that in the light of this discussion the noble Lord will hold out some prospect that the Government will consider this matter, and at a later stage, so far as it is necessary, extend the powers of local authorities to prevent this nuisance.


May I support this Amendment? Outside the block of flats where I live, in Prince's Gate, the Metropolitan Police found that this practice of parking large lorries was so dangerous that they have forbidden any large lorry to stop, even temporarily, outside the flats. This is because there have been so many accidents to people coming out and being unable to see round the lorry. If that has been done by the Metropolitan Police in a residential district of London, why should not the Government do it elsewhere?


I think the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, should be satisfied that he has initiated such an interesting debate. When I spoke originally, I said that we all agreed that this is a problem, and the number of speakers who have taken part in this interesting debate has proved that point.

What I tried to do on the Amendment was to reply to it as it stood. The speeches which have followed from a number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, have suggested that we might have further regulations. I believe all noble Lords who have spoken are greatly experienced in this sort of situation and they know that at this stage I cannot do anything about it. All I can do—and I do promise this—is to draw the attention of my right honourable friend to this debate, and to the concern that this particular point is causing. I cannot possibly do anything more; but that I promise to do. With those remarks I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord He concedes that this is a problem. Unfortunately, it is a problem at present without a solution. It is the solution of the problem which I am endeavouring to pursue. In view of what the noble Lord has said, of course I cannot go on with my Amendment, and I will withdraw it in the hope that we shall in the end find a solution to this most disagreeable and annoying problem.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.6 p.m.

LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 155:

Page 92, line 5, at end insert— ("The licensing authority's decision shall be given within one month of the date of application and shall be published")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 155. Clause 64 increases the number of people who may object—it still is a matter of objection as a result of an Amendment a little time ago—to a haulage operator's application. As the Bill does not lay down any period of time for objections it would seem not unreasonable to stipulate a length of time (and in this Amendment we suggest one month) within which a licensing authority's decision should be reached. The former Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Morris, in Committee, in another place said that discussions would be held with interested organisations about the appropriate time limit for objections. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, could tell us whether these discussions have yet been held, and whether they have a bearing on a time limit for the licensing authority's decision.

This Amendment also calls for a licensing authority's decision to be published. Noble Lords may recall that in another place the Government resisted an Amendment to Clause 59 which asked for quarterly published reports to the Minister from the licensing authorities. I think I am right in saying that the Government gave as their reason that there already exists a fortnightly issue for each licensing authority of a document which is called Application and Decisions. None the less, it would assist applicants if the Government would accept the whole of this Amendment.

Publication will give applicants for these entirely new forms of licence, operators and transport managers, some idea of the basis for decisions which the licensing authorities reach. In common justice, where a licensing authority refuses an application I suggest that reasons should be given. May I remind your Lordships that there are the six requirements in subsection (2) of this clause to which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, referred a little while ago. Quite obviously, an applicant and all sorts of other people are going to want to know which of the six requirements a certain applicant has not been able to fulfil. I would therefore ask the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, when he replies, whether he would confirm that reasons will in fact be given. I beg to move.


The effect of this Amendment would be to require the licensing authority either to grant or refuse a quality licence within one month of the date of application and to publish his decision. Although in many cases it will be possible for the licensing authority to issue a licence within a month of the application, none the less where objections are made to applications and hearings have to be arranged it may not be possible always to keep within this limit. After receipt the application has to be published, and this is customarily done at present in respect of applications for carriers' licences in a publication known as Applications and Decisions which appears in each traffic area every fortnight. It is contemplated that this practice will continue.

Under Clause 63(4) regulations will be made prescribing the time which must be allowed for objections to be made after publication of the application. At present, in the case of public haulage licences, the interval is 14 days. If no objections are received, the licensing authority can then give his decision forthwith. If an objection is received, the licensing authority may consider it necessary to hold a hearing under Clause 87(1). Time will be needed to arrange the hearing, and even after the hearing the licensing authority may need additional time to consider his decision in the light of the evidence presented. He will then have to convey his decision to the applicant. All these stages could, in particular cases, take well over a month.

Nevertheless, the applicant will not be prejudiced. Special provision has been made in Clause 67(5) enabling the licensing authority, immediately an application for a quality licence is made, to issue a provisional licence, if the applicant so desires, which will last until the decision to grant or refuse a substantive licence is made. This will provide full protection for the applicant who needs a licence urgently. It is contemplated that the present practice of publishing decisions will continue. It is not necessary to specify this in the Bill, but it will be specified in the procedural regulations following the practice adopted under the 1960 Road Traffic Act, which is also silent on the question of publication of decisions. A similar Amendment was tabled in the Commons but was not moved.

On the other point made by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, a promise by my honourable friend, the then Joint Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Morris, in another place, that discussions would be held, I am afraid that I cannot tell him at the moment if those discussions have taken place. But I will find out and let him know as soon as possible.


I thank the noble Lord for his courteous reply. Could he say a word about the timing for objections? Perhaps this question is not quite in order, because this matter is not part of the Amendment, but I tried to point out at the beginning of the words I submitted to noble Lords that the whole point of the first part of this Amendment is the time that will be taken for objections. I quite take the noble Lord's point that after the objections have been made the licensing authority must go through certain procedures which the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, outlined a little while ago on a previous Amendment, but before I decide whether to proceed or withdraw the Amendment could the noble Lord say a word about the time limit for objection?


I cannot give an actual timetable. If I did this on the spur of the moment I should probably mislead the noble Lord, and I would rather not do that.


I thank the noble Lord for all that he has said. I was glad to hear him repeat the period of 30 days as being a probable time. Although I would not in any way wish to misinterpret him, he then carefully added that 30 days may be exceeded in some cases. I should be most grateful if he would be so good as to do as he said and would let me know about the discussions; and I think that noble Lords on this side of the Committee will be very pleased to hear it repeated in this House that publication of the document Applications and Decisions will be continued. I think this is a most important point. With your Lordships' permission I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 64 agreed to.

4.12 p.m.

Clause 65 [Conditions as to transport managers]:

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 156A: Page 92, line 26, leave out from ("In") to ("on") in line 2.7 and insert ("every licence granted to an operator who at any time has three or more goods vehicles for use for carriage of goods under section 60 of this Act").

The noble Lord said: Here we move into the realm of transport managers and, in a sense, it is unfortunate that these Amendments come up for debate before the series of Amendments put down in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, which immediately follow—that is, the Government Amendments referring to the introduction of classes of transport managers, and we are not at all clear in advance of what these classes consist or may entail. I will simply say that we on this side accept the concept of transport managers as we accept the concept of operators' licences. We have reservations on part of what has been explained and a good deal on what has not been explained, and because I believe that several of my noble friends behind me, and perhaps in other parts of the Committee, wish to argue these particular Amendments strongly and in some detail, I shall not be lengthy in my opening presentation, but I hope that they will use their persuasiveness in commending what I put forward.

A group of similar Amendments in another place fell under the guillotine after two and a half minutes of debate, but the issue was raised again on Report and discussed more fully, although without much clarity being introduced by the Government. So far as the appointment of a transport manager contributes to road safety through the proper maintenance of vehicles and the keeping of regulations we commend it, but we think it is an appointment appropriate to a fleet of transport vehicles. Stretching flattery about about as far as it can sensibly be stretched, one might regard the owner of six vehicles as having a fleet and, therefore, requiring a transport manager to accept responsibility and to accept blame and suffer the penalties for serious breeches of regulations. Under that number it can be reasonably argued that the owner should be able to keep alert eye himself on the vehicles and 10 know his individual drivers and their reliability.

But, as noble Lords will notice, we are not seeking such a dispensation; we are asking that the owner of half a fleet by this calculation—that is, the owner of one, two or three vehicles only—should be freed from the requirement to appoint and pay a transport manager. Clearly he still has to obtain an operator's licence, and to obtain that he has to satisfy the authorities, providing the strict particulars which we discussed in Clause 62. We consider that, in all conscience, this should be enough to achieve the objectives of the Bill, or this Part of the Bill, without going through all the procedure connected with the appointment and licensing of a transport manager. If, as we consider, the operator himself is perfectly capable of exercising proper supervision over the running of three vehicles, then he can accept also responsibility for infringements. Prosecutions can be brought against him. There has been no difficulty that I have ever heard of in the past in bringing the owner to book in cases of violation. We can see no advantage in this new obligation, and great disadvantages for the small operator placed under an unfair and needless burden.

Noble Lords, including Ministers, will be aware that this has caused considerable anxiety among farmers. There are cases, for instance, where the farm is worked by the family itself. I: seems slightly crazy that one of the family has to be appointed transport manager in order that he, or she, shall be responsible for the vehicles which they all drive, and responsible for any misdeed which any of them may commit on the highway. We do not yet know what the test or examination for a transport manager will contain, or how sophisticated it may be. We believe that in particular cases cited here the obligation will be burdensome and unnecessary. As the: Committee will see, we provide a safeguard in Amendment 158A. I should have explained that, for the convenience of the Committee, I am moving Nos. 156A and 158A together.

In No. 158A we provide a safeguard to satisfy the licensing authority as to the standard and competence of the maintenance of these vehicles. We recognise that badly maintained vehicles cause death and injury on the roads. Therefore we propose that an operator relieved by Amendment 156A from appointing a transport manager shall be given the obligation to inform the authority of the place or places where the maintenance of his vehicles will be carried out in accordance with subsection (2)(d) of Clause 64. This will have to be declared in the application for an operator's licence and will have to satisfy the authority in the first place. I hope it may also satisfy the Government. I beg to move.


I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee that along with these two Amendments we should also consider Amendments 163 and 163A, since they are, to a certain extent, alternatives to the present Amendments. I understand that this is acceptable to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, and also to the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, who is moving Amendment 163A. We on these Benches should like to associate ourselves with the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, and we will not waste the Committee's time by repeating them. We would just say that when we originally put down our Amendment we thought that there was a case for saying that three vehicles should be the limit of exemption for ordinary small firms, but that for farmers and horticulturists, and I am sure, for forestry too, five would be better. There is a special case for small farmers and small horticulturists, who often have up to five or six vehicles. It is difficult to draw the line, but we thought that this would be a more reasonable line; and on balance we still prefer it.

We like the Conservative Amendment No. 158A, with its provisions for safety, which must remove a good deal of the Government's objection to-day. Ideally we should like to see a combination of Amendment No. 158A with its safety requirements, and Amendment No. 163 with its slightly greater latitude for farmers and horticulturists. But we accept that, if we follow the Conservatives and compromise on four vehicles, we shall avoid a large number of difficulties which will arise from a definition of classes in Amendment No. 163. We do not necessarily accept that these difficulties would be insuperable, but as this series of Amendments is down we feel that it is probably best to accept them. For those reasons, we very much hope that the Government will accept Amendment No. 156A and the consequential Conservative Amendment.


I should like to add my support for these Amendments. It is important that owners of three or less vehicles should be exempted from the conditions of having to employ a transport manager. There is a very good case for large companies having to nominate such a man who can be held responsible for the safety of the company's vehicles. I understand the Government's desire to be able to pin the responsibility for roadworthiness of lorries on a particular individual in a particular organisation. But most of these small transport people who own only one, two or three vehicles operate under their own names. This applies particularly to farmers, foresters and, I have no doubt, horticulturists, and I should not have thought that there was any difficulty about knowing who would be responsible for the roadworthiness of vehicles in those cases. Therefore, I hope that the Government will be able to accept Amendments Nos. 156A and 158A; or, if they cannot do that, that they will introduce some form of exemption for people who operate their vehicles in their own name and not in the name of a company.


I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, in saying that in the view of many people on this side of the Committee the concept of transport managers is admirable in respect of large haulage fleets, but seems to be nonsense in respect of the very small operator. May I try to make rather more colloquially a point which was made by Lord St. Oswald in a more general way? Let us say that a man with two lorries successfully applies for an operator's licence. Under the terms of the Bill he must then appoint a transport manager who will probably be himself. The Minister on the Report stage in another place, referring to the transport manager, said at column 1675: He does not have to be an additionally employed person. To suggest that would be an absurdity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 28/5/68.] This process will not make the operations of the small operator any safer. The transport manager's licence in such a case will be a bogus qualification. This case is somewhat strengthened by the fact that very often these small operators are people who run vans which will be caught by quality licensing because they are just over the 30 cwt. and are more or less light vans.

The White Paper The Transport of Freight (Cmnd. 3470) made it clear that in future a test will be instituted for transport managers. What form will this take for the small farmer, the jobbing builder, or possibly the small shop? In another place the Minister suggested that the small operator could overcome this problem simply by nominating a local garage as his transport manager. It was pointed out that this would obviously be unworkable, as a garage will prepare a vehicle for the road but will not be answerable at law for the management of vehicles and the conduct of drivers.

Mindful of the prime importance of maintenance, safety and quality licensing, we have tabled Amendments Nos. 156A and 158A. These Amendments in no way seek to remove the responsibility for small fleets. The small operator with one, two or three authorised vehicles will have to hold an operator's licence. He will be subjected to the requirements of Clause 64(2) which the licensing authority must consider in respect of an operator's licence, and he will be subject to the revocation, suspension and curtailment procedure in Clause 69, particularly subsections (1) and (4). Therefore, this is a desperately important Amendment. We on this side are most eager for the transport manager's licence to work. We feel that this Amendment will remove the danger of a bogus qualification, and it will make a decision in regard to a transport manager's test easier to reach. Taken with our second Amendment, No. 158A, we believe that we make rather better provision for safety. It leaves responsibility where it should lie in small fleets, with the operator himself, and will give the real transport manager the status which his responsibilities will command.


May I ask for a little clarification? Last night we removed vehicles under agricultural licences. Does this mean that these vehicles will now no longer require a transport manager?

4.27 p.m.


I would not wish to speculate about the effects of the inclusion of an Amendment about which the Government are not very enthusiastic. In moving these Amendments, the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, made one statement with which I must disagree. He referred to the possibility that a transport manager would be responsible for any misdemeanour which may be committed on the highway. This is not so. His responsibilities are mainly to sec that vehicles are properly maintained and that drivers' hours are observed. His manager's licence may be revoked only if he commits an offence or is responsible for the revocation, suspension or curtailment of the operator's licence with which he is connected. I should like to clear up that point at the beginning.


Could the noble Lord say where that is contained?


In a note which has been passed to me from the Box.


But it is not in the Bill.


Before I conclude, another note will probably be passed to me which no doubt will make noble Lords opposite equally happy. I should have thought that they would be happy to have the information whether it is in the Bill or not, and if we do find that it is in the Bill they will be even happier.

May I go on with the rest of what I want to say? I agree that Amendments Nos. 156A and 158A are linked and are perhaps also influenced by the series of Amendments which I shall be moving, beginning with Amendment No. 157 in relation to classes of licence. I hope noble Lords will not think I am just using a usual form of words when I say that our main objection to the Amendments is that they are unnecessary. Even if the Minister decided to do exactly what the Amendments seek to achieve, the Bill already has adequate powers to enable him to do so. Indeed, Clause 65(7) gives the Minister wide powers to introduce changes into the transport managers' licensing scheme, if any seem desirable in the light of consultations with the industry or of experience of the scheme in practice. These powers, plus the possibility afforded by Clause 156(2)—which deals with the commencement of the Bill's provisions—of introducing managers' licences by stages, give great flexibility. I emphasise as firmly as I can that the Minister's mind is quite open on these matters, but it would be wrong at this stage, before any detailed discussion within the industry has got very far, to contemplate any radical amendments to the outline system.

There are a number of points which I think I ought to emphasise. First of all, although the system of transport managers' licences will ultimately form an integral part of quality licensing, the appointed day for its introduction—that is, for the introduction of Clause 65 (managers' licences)—need not be the same as the appointed day for the introduction of Clause 60 (operators' licences). The Minister's intention is that operators' licences will be required from a date in the latter part of 1969; licensed managers, however, will not be required until later. This will allow time for a satisfactory scheme to be worked out fully. Then there will be a transitional period for qualifications. During an initial period, no formal qualifications will be required of the holder of a manager's licence; paragraph 1(4) of Schedule 9 provides for this. During this period, the licence holder will have to show that he is a fit person to hold a licence and that he holds a position of responsibility.

We now come to what will happen when qualifications are introduced. When they are introduced, there is no intention that everyone should reach the same standard, regardless of the size of the fleet he manages. The Amendments which I shall be moving—No. 157 to Clause 65, No. 164 to Schedule 9, and the related ones—will make it clear that licences of different classes will be available to accord with different needs. The qualifications of a transport manager will not necessarily be technical. The impor- tant requirement will be that he knows how to organise and administer a programme of maintenance, rather than how to carry out the actual repairs himself. Thus a small operator of the sort we have been talking about, or a farmer, might get a licence simply by showing, for example, that he knows how often his vehicle needs to be sent to the local garage and what he should require to be done to it.

The transport manager need not be full-time on the job. He does not necessarily have to be exclusively, or even mainly, engaged in managing vehicles. In a small fleet this may be only a subsidiary duty, taking up a small part of the time of someone engaged mainly in a quite different task—even, perhaps, that of being a driver or a farm hand. I wish to emphasise that, before any scheme of managers' licences is introduced, there will be the fullest possible consultations with the industry.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but could he say which industries? I fully understand that he will probably have full consultations with the Road Haulage Association, but the people about whom I, and I think my noble friends, are worried are not, on the whole, members of the Road Haulage Association. They are members of the N.F.U., the Scottish Woodland Owners' Association and such organisations. Will those organisations be consulted? If they are, I can tell the noble Lord here and now exactly what they will say.


If the noble Duke would care to put that question in writing, it might save a lot of time later. I have said that there will be the fullest possible consultation, and I should have thought that meant consultation with anybody who had a reasonable claim to be consulted. That will, in fact, take place. I should be very surprised if, in consultations of this kind, my right honourable friend managed to avoid involving himself either with the N.F.U. or the Scottish N.F.U., or even some of the other organisations. But if the noble Duke is saying in advance that consultations with them are going to be a waste of time, he is not giving very much encouragement to my right honourable friend to embark on such efforts. However, I think he would probably prefer to rest on what he thinks is likely to take place, rather than on what the noble Duke threw off a moment or two ago.

There is little doubt that the pressures for the exemption of the small fleet operators arise, at the moment, mainly from agricultural interests, and that at least some of them arise from the fear that something technical and expensive is going to be imposed on them. I hope I have made it clear that that is not the case. We believe that the Amendments which I shall be moving about different classes of licence, and the fact that this system will not be introduced without the very fullest consultation with all the interests involved, will satisfy the legitimate fears that people may have. The answer to the question which I was asked, after I read from my first piece of transmitted information, has reached me during the course of these last few minutes. The information for which the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, asked is that Clause 65(1) and Amendment No. 162 give the managers' responsibilities, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 9 gives the grounds for revoking or suspending a manager's licence.


I realise that the noble Lord is trying to satisfy me, and perhaps I can explain what still puzzles me. I am looking at Clause 69, "Revocation, suspension and curtailment of operators' licences"—but I may be confusing operators with transport managers here. This gives me anxiety. However, I shall study what the noble Lord has said.


It is difficult to sort out these matters in a few moments across the Floor. In case the noble Lord has not had an opportunity to take a note, may I repeat the references? If the noble Lord is still in doubt later, perhaps we can talk about the matter. The references were Clause 65(1) and Amendment No. 162, which give the managers' responsibilities, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 9, which gives the grounds for revoking or suspending a manager's licence.

I conclude by inviting the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, to withdraw Amendments Nos. 156A and 158A on the grounds I have stated: that the powers already in the Bill make it possible to do all that is wanted, and the Amendments which I shall be moving, from No. 157 onwards, will in themselves, I think, remove the grounds for fear which so many small operators appear still to have.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for giving us such a long and patient explanation—and, indeed, exposition—on this difficult subject. But I know he will not be surprised to hear that we wish to press the matter further. Transport managers, after all, are a completely new concept—as, indeed, is the operator's licence—and in another place had no debate at all on the Committee stage. The guillotine fell, so that this extremely important matter had no detailed discussion at all in Committee, aril only one brief discussion on Report stage. Yet it has far-reaching implications for all industry, farming and trade, and I am sure the noble Lord will accept that it is our duty to probe very carefully into these implications.


May I interrupt the noble Lord, very briefly? I think he is not quite correct in saying that these matters had only a very brief discussion at Report stage. The information I have is that they were discussed at length on May 28; and this, I think, is borne out by the fact that the reference covers columns 1667 to 1692 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of another place. I hardly think that could be called a brief discussion. It was in fact a wide-ranging discussion.


I thank the noble Lord. I furnished myself with the Report stage Hansards, and I have them here. It was quite a brief discussion. I shall refer to it in detail in a minute, and in particular to the Minister's suggestion on how this particular problem could be dealt with—and I think this will add weight to the point I am going to make: that the Government have not yet fully thought out how the transport manager's licence is going to work, especially for the small fleets. My noble friend Lord St. Oswald, ably supported by my noble friend Lord Belstead, very well brought home to the Committee, I think, some of the problems which are involved here; and make the point advisedly that the noble Lord will find that the length of discussion on Report was very brief indeed for a subject of such great importance. This is something which requires detailed consideration, and it is clearly our job to give it that consideration here.

The noble Lord referred to the conditions in Schedule 9, paragraph 3, which deals with the revocation and suspension of a transport manager's licence. Here again we are in the field of speculation. We simply do not know. In paragraph 3(1)(a) of Schedule 9 we are told that a transport manager's licence may be revoked or suspended if he has been convicted of an offence specified in regulations which are to be made. We do not know what they are. We are in the field of the unknown, as indeed we are when we come to the prescribed classes, to which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, referred, which the Minister is now considering and on which the noble Lord will later be moving Amendments. Here is an immensely wide field, as yet completely unknown. Nobody knows at present how these things are going to work, and we on this side are particularly concerned about the position of the small operator.

There is no doubt that the big operator already has a fully qualified transport manager. That is exactly what he should have, and any man with a large fleet who has not got a competent manager would certainly deserve to be pressed by this Bill. We are entirely in favour of the principle; but there is no doubt that the position of the small operator, the man with two or three vehicles, is completely unknown, and our personal knowledge of his problems—whether he is a small farmer, a small builder or any other small trader—leads us to believe that he may be in very severe trouble.

I should like to refer again, if I may, to this brief debate—and I emphasise again that it was a brief debate—which took place on the Report stage in another place. The Minister of Transport was very heavily pressed about this. He was asked how this was going to work, and, as my noble friend Lord Belstead has said, the Minister's reply was that the small operator could appoint his own garage, that which does his maintenance, as transport manager. I suppose this would be either the proprietor of the garage himself or, perhaps, if it was a larger garage, the works foreman. But let us consider for a minute how that would work. First of all, can we be sure that a small farmer or a small builder will always be able to find a garage which will take this on? After all, the person who becomes the transport manager is not only responsible for the maintenance of the vehicles: he is also responsible for the drivers' hours, and can be prosecuted if the provisions governing them are broken. Is this the sort of job that any garage is going to take on? Of course it is not. I should think that in most cases it would be quite impossible to find a local garage which would take on that duty.

But let us suppose that the small farmer was lucky, and did find an enterprising works foreman who said: "I don't mind taking a chance; I will take it on. Appoint me transport manager for your two vehicles. I shall want a suitable fee for it, of course, but I am quite willing to do that if the vehicles come in for maintenance". It may be that he finds it quite a good thing, and perhaps he takes on a number of other farmers as well. But suppose one of them commits an offence, and this man is prosecuted and his licence is taken away. If that happens, all the others have lost their transport manager, too.

Viscount SIMON

If the noble Lord will forgive my interrupting him, perhaps I may ask: has he observed that subsection (3) provides that nobody can be a transport manager for more than one person?


In subsection (3) of which clause?


Of Clause 65. It says that one person cannot be a transport manager for two people at the same time.


In that case, that part of my argument falls to the ground; but the first part of my argument is completely valid, unless Lord Simon feels inclined to challenge that, too. And if he can suggest how a small farmer would normally be able to find a garage which would take on a liability so severe as to involve his being responsible for the hours of the drivers of his vehicles he will torpedo the other part of my argument, too. But perhaps he cannot. I think there is no doubt that the Minister's suggestion in another place does not hold water, and the fact that it was seriously put forward by the Minister shows quite clearly, I think, that this whole problem of transport managers has not been thought out yet —and this, of course, is borne out by the fact that further on the Order Paper has on it a large number of Amendments from the noble Lord opposite making changes in the Schedule which would enable the Minister to bring in prescribed classes. We will discuss those in a minute. These matters, of course, are still literally under consultation with the transport industry concerned.

I come back to the point with which we are concerned. We feel that when the small farmer or small builder, the man with two or three vehicles, is faced by an establishment of prescribed classes of transport manager and is required to take the minimum test, he is being placed in an unfair position. Many of these people will not be in any way expert. They will rely entirely on their garages to do their maintenance. They simply know how to drive and operate their vehicles. Is it really logical, in the terms of the White Paper and the conditions which the Minister is considering laying down, to include these very small fleets? I would seriously suggest that this concept is fully applicable, and wisely applicable, to the large and medium-sized fleets, but not to the small fleet; and if the Minister tries to stretch the qualification to include the very least informed small farmer or small builder he will only make a complete nonsense of any qualification at all for the transport manager. This is our point. We think the Minister would do very much better to say that this is really rather de minimis, and that so long as the maintenance of the vehicle is properly done—as would be secured by our second Amendment—the safety factor is assured, and therefore these fleets (if one can call them such) of one, two or three vehicles should be completely excluded from the Bill. This is what we are putting to the noble Lord.

It may be that this is too large a concept for him to say, "Yes" or "No" to to-day, but. I would urge him not to say "No", but to say, "All right, we will take it back". The noble Lord knows that this is still entirely formative in the Ministry. I shall have something to say later about the consultations that are going on; but it is still entirely formative. From what the Minister said in another place and from what the noble Lord and I know about the consultations, this matter is still fluid and it is a matter of importance for tens of thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. We should make sure that there is sufficient flexibility in the Bill to avoid committing either a nonsense or an injustice to large numbers of people. I hope that by the time this debate concludes the noble Lord will say that he is willing to consider it further and to come back to it, if necessary, on Report.


I wish most strongly to support the proposition so cogently argued by my noble friends. The Minister, as always, was extremely reasonable, sweetly reasonable. One might have thought that the millennium had moved in. He referred to the Minister's powers. The Minister spoke with great ability; but he is not the Minister in charge of this Department—with that the noble Lord will readily agree. He spoke about the Minister's power of modification; he spoke about the Minister's intentions; he spoke about the scheme being worked out later on and about the fullest consultations with the industry—consultations, but not agreement. What he did not mention is that this is the last time that this matter comes before Parliament. Of course, we have the Report stage and Third Reading; but we have had no change so far on this. This is the last occasion—and I am speaking of the Bill and not of the stage of the Bill —on which this Bill comes before Parliament.

Some of us are mildly suspicious, because we know quite well that this Bill is being introduced to penalise road transport and to drive traffic from the roads on to the rail. Therefore we feel that it is not always going to be the case that even the little man will get the fullest consideration from the Minister. We are worried that this is the last occasion on which we shall have the opportunity to protest before the Bill becomes law and the Minister is virtually empowered to do what he wants. For that reason, we feel strongly about this Amendment, and I hope the Minister will be able to give some forthcoming assurances.


There is one other thing that the Minister did not mention, and that was any positive reason why these Amendments should not be accepted except that of the convenience of the Bill and the arrangements that had been worked out. In fact, he went a long way towards saying—and the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—that the objects of these Amendments are entirely acceptable. If they are entirely acceptable, if nothing awful is going to happen if these people are excluded from the safety regulations included in Clause 158(a), surely it is much easier, much less bureaucratic, much better and, as the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, said, much safer, if we pass the Amendments now and cut out any risk of doubt. I do not believe there is any positive reason why these Amendments should not be accepted.


May I add one more plea? The Minister said, rightly, that subsection (7) enables his right honourable friend the Minister of Transport to do all that we want. But, meanwhile, some small people are worried about the provisions of this Bill and particularly of this clause. They will be much happier and will appreciate the work we have done if the Minister would be prepared to accept these Amendments or to say that, at least, the principle behind them is acceptable and that the Minister will exempt all these small fleet owners.

Further, on a completely different point, I must admit that I read subsection (3) in a different way from the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. I read it to mean that the same person could not be transport manager to the same operator if that operator had his fleet scattered in different places. He could be transport manager to the operator only in one place; there is nothing to stop him from being transport manager to different operators in the same place. Could the Minister confirm what subsection (3) means?


There was one matter I should like the Government to take into account, because this particular clause, to my mind, gives great point to what Mr. Gunter told us on television last night: that this Government is being run by a bunch of academics not very skilled in trade and commerce. Subsection (3) is going to be very difficult to work by the people who have large fleets of vehicles scattered in small depots all over the country. I am on the board of a group which will shortly have 2,000 vehicles on the road. They will be in various little depots of from two vehicles to 20 or 30 vehicles. The transport manager is going to have two functions. First of all, he will have to deal with the hours of the drivers, and then with the maintenance. The drivers' hours are obviously the responsibility of the man in charge of the local depot; he will require no technical mechanical knowledge. On the other hand, maintenance requires technical knowledge and the transport manager appears to have to pass some sort of examination in maintenance.

In the particular case I am thinking of the maintenance will all be done from several central depots. The vehicles will go to those central depots to be maintained. It will be quite ridiculous if the local manager, who has two or three vehicles in his charge, has to qualify mechanically when his vehicles will be maintained by a totally different person at a central mechanical depot elsewhere. This is only one group of many in this country who are operating in precisely similar conditions—not road hauliers, but just carrying on their own business. The Government must give this sort of consideration full weight. This is a highly academic clause which has been drawn up without any knowledge of how trade and industry in this country carries on.


Before the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, replies, may I put two small technical points to him on Clause 65(3) on the subject that the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, raised. As I read this subsection—


Could I shorten the discussion? I shall be disagreeing with the noble Viscount, Lord Simon.


I thought that that would be so. The fact is that it is within the discretion of the Traffic Commission and therefore that clears up that point. May I inform the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, that I have checked the length of the Report stage on this particular item. It occupied about one hour and ten minutes which, I think he will agree, is a very short time for this important subject. That was the total amount of time that the other place spent on traffic managers.


May I ask two quick questions? The first question is something which I think will come up again; perhaps it will save time to ask it now. Would the noble Lord agree that transport managers are under the Bill going to be subject to Clauses 65, 66 and 69, and that their licences are going to be at risk under these clauses? If the noble Lord does not agree, could he explain the words in Schedule 9 which give me reason to believe that that is so? Secondly—and I hope that my own Front Bench will jump on me if I am wrong—does the noble Lord realise that all we are talking about in this Amendment is a paper qualification which we consider to be unnecessary? This is without prejudice to all sorts of things that are going to come up within the next half an hour or hour. There is really very little—unless I am told I am wrong—between both sides of the Committee on this subject. Would the noble Lord, in the light of what my noble friend Lord St. Oswald said at the beginning, agree that we are not trying to shift the onus of responsibility; we are trying to cut out the name "transport manager" from a fleet of fewer than four vehicles?


Before the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, sums up, I wish to support my noble friend Lord St. Helens, because this is the last time that this matter will be considered in Parliament. If we could possibly pass an Amendment it would at least give another place time to reconsider the matter and perhaps even send back reasons for disagreeing with our Amendment. I urge my noble friends to stand by the Amendment and, if necessary, seek a Division.

5.0 p.m.


I am amazed at the passion of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, for Divisions and his constant urging of his Front Bench to stand firm. I do not understand it, but possibly if I did I should he sitting beside him. First, I ought to make clear that what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, was not correct. The restriction is that the manager, as was said by the noble Duke, can be responsible only for one centre. Therefore, the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, did not need to withdraw the second part of his case. I must admit, frankly, that there is no need for him to withdraw the first part either.

I do not wish, and I do not think that my right honourable friend the Minister would wish, to argue very strongly that the answer to the small man's problems is to be found in the garage. I do not think it was intended to be other than a case, or a possibility, which might arise. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, that the number of responsible garage proprietors who would he willing to shoulder these responsibilities might well prove to be a minority rather than a majority.

I think that the most effective answer I can give to the various points which have been raised is to take noble Lords back to what I said in my opening remarks: that my right honourable friend's mind is quite open on this matter. Noble Lords have taken this open-mindedness as a basis for criticising the Government, but in fact the Government have no specific detailed proposals to lay before Parliament at this stage. My right honourable friend having made a sincere point of the fact that this system of quality licensing will be introduced only after the fullest consultation with everybody concerned, it would make a farce of such an undertaking if in advance he said in detail what he wanted to do. In fact, we are going on to a series of Amendments which, as I say, will prescribe classes that will show the difference between what would be required for a small operator and what would be required for the operator of a large fleet.

It seems to me that the difference between the Opposition and the Government on this matter has narrowed down to the point which I feel the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, put very well when he said that the Government may be faced with a choice between having no manager for the small fleet or having a manager with qualifications so tenuous that they really amount to having no manager at all. As the noble Lord anticipated, I cannot give any assurance on these points. I cannot go further than ask my right honourable friend to look particularly at the arguments which have been advanced on these Amendments and to consider whether the right way is to prescribe minimum qualifications for a transport manager of a very small fleet or to exempt small fleets altogether from this requirement. I do not know what the answer to that will be. It is not for me to make a decision on this matter. All I can do is to say that I will certainly urge that this be looked at from this point of view. I think that is all the difference there is between us.

I do not know whether on that point the noble Lords will wish to withdraw the Amendments and re-table them at a later stage. I do not want to have a build-up of Amendments at the next stage of the Bill to any greater extent than is necessary, but I think this is a case where there must be further consideration of the points which have been raised, particularly in view of the fact that the noble Lord has said that not everything that Members wanted to say on this point was said during the discussion in another place. We can argue about whether it was a brief discussion: it depends on how many people spoke in an hour and a quarter and on how much was said. You might have a discussion in your Lordships' Chamber for an hour and a quarter during which nothing very much might be said. On the other hand, you could have a discussion for half-an-hour in which everything might be said. Certainly, as this was one of the points inadequately discussed in another place, one cannot lightly dismiss the points made by noble Lords opposite.

Regarding the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, with, I think, the association of the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, I should like to say that this is not the last time that Parliament will have to deal with the question of transport managers. I have pointed out that this system will be introduced only after very considerable consultation. The regulations then made will be laid before both Houses of Parliament. So there will be a very effective opportunity for Parliament to discuss this item later. That was why I was shaking my head when the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, said that this was the last time Parliament would have the opportunity to discuss the matter. One of the complaints made to-day is that we are discussing it almost in a vacuum. When we come to the regula- tions we shall discuss them in very broad detail, and it may well be that it will turn out then that there is no or little disagreement about them. However, that is to anticipate the future.

The noble Lord, Lord Hawke, referred to what Mr. Gunter said on television. Probably I left this House later than the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, so that I neither saw nor heard Mr. Gunter, but I have a suspicion that whatever Mr. Gunter said on television he was not talking about Parliamentary draftsmen; and much of the difficulty the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, is finding in this matter comes from the intricacies of draftsmanship rather than from difficulties of Government.


This is the first time I have ever heard that policy is laid down by Parliamentary draftsmen.


I was going to say "if the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, does not do me the courtesy of listening to what I say"—but that is obvious from some of the remarks which he made, and which I ignored, because this has been a very pleasant debate and there is no reason why I should fall out with the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, at this point. But I did not say anything about draftsmen working out policy. I said the things which appear to be giving the noble Lord difficulty arose from the intricacies of draftsmanship. He may disagree with that but I think that if he will look at some of them, he will find that the difficulty lies in the form of words in which the principles are expressed rather than the principles themselves.

I am reluctant to ask noble Lords to withdraw Amendments and to give assurances about consideration before the next stage, but I think this is an exceptional occasion and that it would be wrong for me to ask them to withdraw without giving an assurance that before the next stage we will consider the whole range of this debate on this comparatively narrow point of difference.


Despite the reluctance which the noble Lord has expressed, he has been very reasonable and I think that it would be quite unreasonable for us to press this Amendment now. He has undertaken to look at it again. We ourselves are at a disadvantage in not knowing what the next series of Amendments regarding classes of transport managers will bring. But in the light of noble Lord's undertaking, I gladly beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.10 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 157: Page 92, line 37, after ("licence") insert ("of the prescribed class."). The noble Lord said: With this Amendment are associated Nos. 160, 161, 164, 166, 167, 168, 175, 176, 177 and 185. The main Amendment is No. 164 to Schedule 9.

These Amendments make explicit provision in Clause 65 and Schedule 9 for the granting of transport managers' licences of different classes. This was the situation envisaged by my right honourable friend the Minister at the Commons Report stage, when he said: How are we to define these qualifications? They will vary according to the extent of the applicant's responsibilities."—[OFPIc!AL REPORT (Commons). 28/5/65, col. 1675.1 This has all along been the Government's intention. It would clearly be absurd to expect the manager in charge of a fleet of two or three vehicles, who may well have other quite different duties as well, to have the same qualifications as the man in charge of 500 vehicles, whose whole job is transport management. The aim of the manager licensing policy is to ensure that the manager has a qualification sufficient, but not over-sufficient, for the responsibility he has to undertake. Clearly this implies a range of qualifications from the very simplest, possibly acquired, for example, on the basis of knowledge of the law's requirements about goods vehicles and a basic understanding of the maintenance needs of vehicles, to those requiring extended training and study.

The details of all this must be worked out in the closest consultation with the industry. What is important now is to provide powers in the Bill for "grades" to be introduced if necessary when a scheme has been agreed, and that is what the Amendments do. With extensive consultations to take place, it is not possible to speak in detail now about what kind of scheme may be evolved, simply because we want the consulta- tions to be the fullest and freest, without preconceived ideas of what the particular classes might be. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, any regulations to implement a scheme will have to be laid before both Houses, so there will be ample opportunity for discussion.


Is it not the case that when these regulations are introduced, neither House will have any power to amend them but only to approve or disapprove of them?


The noble Lord could not see what I was looking at and could not know that I had another three lines in my brief. The last three, lines are these, and perhaps they will answer the noble Lord. Naturally, any ideas and suggestions from the House will be carefully examined in the course of working out the scheme of qualifications. As the noble Lord has said, once the regulations are before Parliament the usual procedure will apply. The regulations can be only accepted or rejected. But in the period of consultation it would be wrong to think that suggestions put forward in this or in the other House are the only things which the Minister would not take into consideration when working out a final scheme. I beg to move.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for explaining to us what this innovation means. Of course, there is difficulty in a matter which has appeared on the Marshalled List within the last few days. It is a little unfortunate that in a Bill already heavily overloaded there should be such an important innovation at this stage. The other place has not seen it at all. We are getting an opportunity to debate it now and I think that we should be careful to try to explore every angle of it. The noble Lord was good enough to acknowledge that the debate in another place on the whole subject of transport managers was very short. It was not taken in Committee at all. So when we get a new feature appearing for the first time in this House, I feel that we have some ground for protesting that this further loading up of this already overloaded Bill is a churlish way to treat Parliament.

I understand that consultations with the industry are currently under way and that as late as Friday afternoon the Minister saw the leaders of transport interests, the Transport Consultative Council, to have a further talk with them about this very point—about whether there should be a statutory prescription of classes. I understand that the transport interests have been asked about this before, and the view they have given to the Minister is that they accepted that the Minister would wish to prescribe a minimum qualification but that, over that, it would be better if the industry developed its own scheme of classification. They thought that in the light of their experience as it built up they could more flexibly and better do this themselves.

The Minister is a very persuasive person, and when he saw them on Friday afternoon he persuaded them. As no doubt the noble Lord will be able to say, they have consented to the Minister's taking these powers of statutory prescription of classes. But I think it is right to put on record that their preference would have been a prescription of a minimum qualification and thereafter a flexible classification by the industry. I am bound to say that that would have been my preference, too, and I think that on the whole it would have been better.

Nobody knows what this is going to bring. The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, rightly made the point that regulations will have to come before both Houses of Parliament before they can be put into effect. We shall then have a chance of debating them. But we cannot amend them; all we can do is either to accept or reject them. Normally it is not the practice of this noble House to reject statutory Orders.




The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I know, is in a great state of anxiety about this; but he need not be; he has some good prospect in the future. But this is the fact, as noble Lords will know and, therefore, it is important in considering a matter of this kind to recognise that, if we agree now to put into the Bill—which is what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is asking us to do—a statutory scheme of classification, in due course regulations will come along defining that scheme and we shall have to say Aye or No to it; and almost certainly we here will say Aye. The Minister has managed to get the industry to say that they will accept it, and therefore I feel I am not in a position to argue for my preference, that is, that it would have been better had they been allowed to develop their own scheme over and above his minimum classification.

Amendment No. 164A, to which the noble Lord referred would be an Amendment to the Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is moving. Lord Hughes' Amendments to the Schedule start at No. 164, and the effect of that Amendment would be to say: There shall be such classes of transport managers' licences as may be prescribed". My Amendment would follow and would add to the Amendment: but no scheme of classification shall he introduced without prior consultation with representatives of the industries affected". This kind of provision is very common in many Acts of Parliament, and I should have thought was the absolute bare minimum that your Lordships' Committee should insist on here. We are here moving into a completely unknown field, where the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has been gracious enough to say that the Minister's mind as yet is quite unformed. Industry is clearly not completely with him on it, although they are doing their best to co-operate, and they accept the general concept. So for the Minister to commit himself firmly in the Bill to do what he would do in practice—I accept that—I feel is the minimum that he should do in all the circumstances.

The Amendment is entirely constructive, and I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will be able to accept it. I have had to interpose these remarks in the middle of the noble Lord moving his Amendments. The right moment for me to move my Amendment has not yet arrived, but it is so germane to the whole of this debate that I have argued it in that way.


I should like to add one word. I do not like delegated legislation. My noble friend Lord Trefgarne was quite right when he said that we can throw out the Order if we do not like it, but we cannot amend it. Yet we do not know what the scheme is going to be. Neither House of Parliament likes delegated legislation carried out by Order. I do not think it is very satisfactory, although I see the difficulty. The scheme has not yet been agreed with industry. We are asked in Parliament to agree to this clause, which is a form of delegated legislation. We shall have great difficulty if we do not like it and we throw it out, as we did the other day on the Rhodesia Order. I wish to make that protest, because I think we are doing something in the dark.


We on these Benches welcome this Amendment and the Amendments that follow, though we think that if this was always the intention of the Minister it has been rather well disguised for quite a long period of time. We think that in this scheme of different qualifications for different types of transport managers the good ones, of course, would be quite acceptable if the industry itself had such a scheme; but we do not think it is at all unreasonable that the Government should want to organise it themselves. We hope that, following on the last debate, there will be considerable exemptions at the bottom end which will mean that the absolute minimum qualifications for transport manager will not be needed, because this would seem to debase the whole idea of a transport manager.

May I say in parenthesis what I have not had time to say before: that we very much welcome the assurance we received from the Minister on the last debate, and we shall not be moving our Amendment No. 163. We think that this is a good idea. The regulations will come before us. If we had got into the habit of, or even started, throwing out Orders, it might have been better to throw out Orders by Ministers on internal affairs rather than Orders following a mandate of the Security Council of the United Nations. But that is another matter. We welcome this Amendment; it is what we want.


I do not want to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, on the question of throwing out Orders. It does not seem to me that we should be allowed to make it a habit of long duration.


Before the noble Lord leaves that point, may I make the suggestion that it is perfectly possible to lay Orders in draft form so that Parliament can debate them, and in the light of that debate the final form can be made.


The noble Lord is quite right but I do not know that it is very often done. This might well be the case, and I should not like to venture an opinion on it. It would be idle for me to pretend that I have much disagreement with Amendment No. 164A. The simplest thing would be to say that we accept it; it could not do much harm. But this would be wrong, because one of the complaints which has been made against this Bill is that it is far too long already, and all we should be doing in accepting this Amendment is putting in something which is there already. Clause 90(8) imposes a general requirement on the Minister, before making any regulations under Part V or Schedule 9, including regulations under Amendment No. 164 and others, if they are accepted, to consult with such representative organisations as he thinks fit. Therefore, the Amendment is really asking us to put in in one place something which is already in the Bill in another place. Parliament, and this House in particular (and if may mention him in his absence, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, in very special particular) is always keen that we ought not to say twice what we want to do if once will suffice. I suggest that, in view of the wording in Clause 90, it is unnecessary to put this in as an Amendment in due course to my Amendment No. 164.

On the question about consultations with industry, to which the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, referred, the interesting thing is that the main initiative at the moment is coming from the industry. This is entirely as the Government would wish it. Secondly, the ideas that are produced by industry will be carefully examined and then discussed with them. Thirdly, the agreed scheme, as I have said, will then be embodied in the regulations. In the longer term, I think it is right to say that the Minister would hope to hand over the running of the scheme progressively to industry. But I think it would not necessarily be satisfactory in the initial stage, at any rate, to depend only on a minimum standard and leave the rest to industry.

But I do not want to go further on this. The more I say on this matter the greater is the danger that I shall create the wrong impression about the particular direction in which we wish to proceed. What I am at pains to make quite clear is that the field is wide open in these discussions, and the field is equally wide open so far as Members of your Lordships' House are concerned. Proposals which are put forward will he considered. It was because of the fact that the field was so wide open that I felt I could not properly refuse to consider the purport of the previous Amendment, which seemed to me to fall properly within consideration of a scheme of this kind.

I appreciate the difficulty in which the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, finds himself and that he would have perhaps preferred at this stage not to commit himself to a scheme of prescribed classes but, because the industry has accepted, or has been persuaded (whichever way it is), that this is a workable proposition, he is presented with a certain amount of difficulty. However, I think it is a difficulty that he will be able to live with, particularly if, in the end, industry and the Government manage to agree on a workable scheme as a result of introducing this scheme of classification. I am quite certain that, although it comes in at a late stage, the noble Lord must accept that a scheme providing for wide variations is obviously preferable to one which would make variation impossible —or, at least, possible only to a limited extent. But the scheme we propose makes it very much clearer that variation is likely. I hope therefore that your Lordships will be able to accept Amendment NO. 157.


I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for answering the debate, and in particular for dealing with my Amendment No. 164A. I have to acknowledge that his detailed knowledge of the Bill far exceeds mine. Although I am fairly familiar with most of its 268 pages, I am bound to say that I am not familiar with all of it, and perhaps even he requires a little professional assistance now and again.


The noble Lord does me too much credit. I have, perhaps, more advisers than he has.


I acknowledge that Clause 90(8) meets my point. My Amendment has nevertheless given us a peg on which to hang a quite useful debate on this point, and indeed for the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, to give us a glimpse into the Government's thinking on how the classification of transport managers might proceed. I think this is most interesting, not only to all noble Lords but also to people outside. Industry is extremely interested in this concept. Most industrialists welcome it, as the noble Lord says. They think it a sensible thing to do. But there are still many anxieties, and it is very helpful to have a general debate such as this and to elucidate a little more the Government's thinking on the matter.

Everyone will welcome the Minister's assurance that he expects, and indeed welcomes, initiative from the industry in this connection. He said that in the main the ideas will come from industry as to how the classification might he built up. That seems to me entirely right. After all, they are the people who do it, and therefore they know. The Ministry can only speculate about it in theory. So this seems a very sensible approach, and I certainly welcome it. I have to accept that the Minister's handling of my Amendment was, as he said, in the spirit of his willingness to look again at our previous discussion on whether the very small fleet should be exempted in order to make better sense of the minimum prescription. And I thought how gracefully the noble Lord handled this aspect, where he turned even defeat into victory. But this is what we have come to expect. For myself, I shall be very willing to agree to these Amendments when they are moved and, when the time comes, not to move my own.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.35 p.m.

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 159A:

Page 93, line 15, at end insert— ("() For the purposes of subsections (2) and (3) of this section the licensing authority shall be required to have regard to representations made to him by the applicant.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment introduces a rather more recondite aspect of the transport industry, and as neither the noble Lord opposite nor I have lived or worked in that industry I hope we can be patient with each other. My noble friend Lord Hawke may be impatient with both of us, having virtually moved my Amendment three Amendments ago. This, however, does not discourage me from saying that there are two subsections affected here, subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 65. They allow discretion to the licensing authority, but the intention of this Amendment is to give guidance to the authority for which it may be grateful. The provision states (I hope I am not over-simplifying) that a transport manager may not have responsibility or exercise responsibility in more than one operating centre or depot. Indeed, we now know this to be the case from a previous explanation.

The purpose of this Amendment is yet again to avoid unnecessary administrative complication for the industry. In a given business the internal organisation may well entail a more appropriate plan of control than is visualised in these subsections. It may be that an operator (and this no longer concerns small operators, about whom we have been speaking) has found it convenient to split the supervision of the two sides of the business—the mechanical performance, the dependability of the vehicles, and the operating of the fleet; that is, dealing with the drivers themselves. It may even be that one form of control and supervision is, and ought to be, in the territory of one licensing authority, while the other is, for instance, in a separate county.

This Amendment directs the licensing authority to take into account any sensible representations made along these lines by an applicant and to apply a degree of flexibility if the authority thinks fit, which is not foreseen in the Bill as it stands. I have said that this does not apply to the small operators, but nor does it severely affect the very large companies—for instance, the very large oil companies. It will be possible for them to have two transport managers in each depot responsible for the respective sides of the business. But in the case of a smaller company with, say, 40 or 50 vehicles it may be over-demanding to have two transport managers in depots of 10 or 12 vehicles. They will then be obliged to have a manager in one depot, qualified in man-management but responsible for both sides, while at a depot a few miles away he may have a colleague, with great experience on the operating side, unable to accept responsibility. This would make not for greater but for less efficiency. It would not further the objects of the Bill; it would, I think, inhibit them. I therefore hope that the Government will forgive my no doubt untechnical explanation of the Amendment, but look kindly on its purpose. I beg to move.


I should have been surprised if an Amendment along these lines had not appeared on the Order Paper, because during a debate on a similar Amendment on Report stage in another place my honourable friend the Minister of State gave an undertaking that he would consider whether such an Amendment would be helpful. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, will be rather disappointed when I say that the Government, having given consideration to this, have come to the conclusion that the Amendment is unnecessary. As the noble Lord has said, its primary purpose is to ensure that in considering the numbers of licensed transport managers a particular operator will be required to have, and in considering which particular persons in the organisation are to be licensed as managers, the licensing authority is to have regard to representations nude to him by the applicant". When my honourable friend the Minister of State was speaking about this, he explained that Clause 62(3) already requires every applicant to state in his application for an operator's licence the names of the person or persons aid the other maters which he proposes should be specified in his licence for meeting the requirements about transport managers; there is nothing to prevent his including such supporting matter as he may deem desirable. Indeed, the licensing authority could not possibly exercise his functions under subsections (3) and (4) adequately unless he had information from the applicant about the way in which his business was organised and about the names and positions of the persons proposed as licensed managers.

In another place, the Opposition accepted that position. What they did not appear to accept was that, having received this information (or "representations", whichever you like to call it), the licensing authority would have regard" to it. It seems to me tat to suggest this line of argument is carrying a mistrust both of the Bill and of the ability and good sense of the licensing authorities to quite unnecessary extremes. The only way in which a licensing authority could sensibly exercise his discretion in, for example, deciding whether a particular operator could be allowed to have the same transport manager specified for two or more operating centres under subsection (3) would be by having regard to what the applicant had told him, under Clause 62(3), about, for example, the way in which his business was organised and how maintenance arrangements were controlled. Any other way of reaching a decision would rightly be regarded as perverse, and would certainly be open to appeal.

I would remind your Lordships that there is a right of appeal in this matter so the licensing authority will obviously, so far as humanly possible, operate in such a way that his decisions will not be overturned on appeal. Obviously he will try to arrive at decisions which are more likely than not to be sustained on appeal. In short, the whole basis of the licensing authority's decision will be the information given by the applicant under Clause 62(3); without regard to that information no sensible decision could be made. In view of this, all that we are being asked to do is to add some superfluous wording to the Bill. There may be two points of view as to whether or not the Bill is the right length at the present time. I think there cannot be two points of view on the point that we ought not unnecessarily to make it longer than it is.


I do not know whether my noble friend is satisfied with that explanation, but it goes some way to satisfy me. When I made some remarks about the academic qualifications of Her Majesty's Government I hope they were not taken to apply to Her Majesty's Ministers in this House, because in fact I think they are the exceptions. Indeed, if the Labour Party like to reconstruct the Cabinet I think that many of us would agree with: Shackleton, Prime Minister; Rowley, Foreign Minister and Shepherd, Chancellor of the Exchequer.


We feel that this is a most sensible Amendment—not surprisingly since we put it forward in another place: sensible enough for it to have been taken over by the Conservative Party, and sensible enough for it to have been considered by the Government. However, I think the explanation we have had shows that it should not be forced to a Division, and I hope the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, will accept what the Minister has said.


I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont. The Minister's explanation was perfectly satisfactory, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 160.

Amendment moved— Page 93, line 26, at end insert ("of the prescribed class ")—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 161.

Amendment moved— Page 93, line 40, after ("licence") insert ("of the prescribed class")—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.45 p.m.

TIIE DUKE OF ATHOLL moved Amendment No. 161A: Page 94, line 19, leave out ("from an operating centre of his").

The noble Duke said: The only reason I have put down this Amendment is because I had great difficulty in understanding subsection (8) of this clause, and I thought that if I put down an Amendment we might get an explanation from the Minister as to exactly what it means. The first half of subsection (8) says: Subject to subsection (6) of this section, any person who uses an authorised vehicle from an operating centre of his for a purpose for which it cannot lawfully be used without the authority of an operator's licence.… I should have thought that any person who used an authorised vehicle from any centre for a purpose for which it could not lawfully be used was committing an offence, and that to say "from an operating centre of his" was introducing a dangerous concept.

What I should like to know is whether, if a transport manager transgresses in one operator's centre and is disqualified, it will affect the operator in his other transport centres, if he has a whole lot of them, or whether these words are included for some other purpose which I cannot quite understand. I beg to move.


I think this conception springs from the idea that this Bill deals only with "A" and "B" licence matters. There must be flexibility for the people who own their own fleets, and from what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said I believe there will be fresh thought on that subject. Possibly such fresh thought will throw light on the Amendment which my noble friend has just moved.


If the noble Duke had difficulty in understanding the significance of these words I can assure him that he presented us with equal difficulty. We generally know what is behind an Amendment, but my advisers have given me two guesses at what the noble Duke might intend. They are what I might call a priority No. 1 reply and a priority No. 2 reply, arid then they went on to envisage the possibility that they had in fact not guessed right in either case and suggested a "waffling" line for me to take in those circumstances. I am happy to say that my advisers were on top of their form: their priority No. 1 is right.

May I say this? One might come to the conclusion reading the first four lines of subsection (8) in isolation, that the phrase is unnecessary, on the ground that it is impossible for an operator to use an authorised vehicle in a way requiring the authority of an operator's licence unless it be used from an operating centre of his. But in fact the purpose of the phrase is to prepare the way for the words, in relation to that operating centre which appear in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection. The inclusion of the words it is sought to omit ensures that where an operator has more than one operating centre specified in his operator's licence it is an offence to use a vehicle only-from any of those centres which does not have the necessary licensed transport manager in post. If the Amendment were made, together with the consequential removal of the later words "in relation to that operating centre", it would he an offence to use a vehicle from any operating centre specified in a licence, even if a licensed manager was in post, whenever any other centre in that licence did not have the necessary manager. Such a result would be clearly undesirable. Before I resume my seat and say to the noble Duke that I hope he has the information he wanted and therefore realises that the Amendment is unnecessary, may I say that I was very interested in Lord Hawke's recasting of the Cabinet. I do not want him to prolong this in the debate, but perhaps in the Library afterwards he might indicate where he was placing me. I hope it was not on the Back Benches.


It was Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office in charge of Scottish Affairs.


Before withdrawing the Amendment, I should like to point out we have now been engaged on this Committee stage for 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is approximately 50 per cent. longer than the other House had for the consideration of the whole of Clause 65 and Schedule 9, so I think it is fair comment to say that we are giving more efficient and better consideration to these provisions than the other place were able to do, through no fault of their own. I was, of course, entirely satisfied by the explanation of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. His advisers were very clever in anticipating what train of thought I was pursuing in putting down this Amendment, and I fully appreciate that there were consequential Amendments which had to be moved if this Amendment was to hold water. As I did not put down the consequential Amendments, I thought it would console the noble Lord to know that I was not intending to press this Amendment in any circumstances whatsoever even before we started the debate. Once again thanking the noble Lord for his explanation, which I found entirely satisfactory, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 162:

Page 94, line 32, at end insert— ("() In this section references to responsibility for the operation of any vehicles include (without prejudice to the generality of that expression) references to responsibility for securing that the drivers of the vehicles are properly licensed and comply with Part VI of this Act or, so long as those sections remain in force, sections 73 and 186 of the Act of 1960.")

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 162 and the Amendment in Schedule 9, No. 169, are related. These are drafting Amendments designed to clarify and make more specific the responsibilities of the licensed transport manager. The need for them arises because the present phrase in Clause 65(1) and Schedule 9 describing these duties is, Ȧthe operation and maintenance of the authorised vehiclesȦ It is not entirely clear that this phrase would sufficiently clearly include the matters dealt with in the Amendments; namely, the licensing of drivers and the observance of the legal hours restrictions by drivers, which might be held to be not strictly connected with vehicles. There is no question of imposing additional duties upon transport managers; it was always intended that these matters should come within their field of responsibility. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 65, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Transport Managers' Licences]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 164.

Amendment moved— Page 224, line 29, at end insert—

("Classes of licences

1. There shall be such classes of transport manager's licences as may be prescribed")—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 165:

Page 225, line 6, at end insert— ("() that he is a fit person to hold a transport manager's licence; ")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment corrects an error in Schedule 9. One of the requirements for getting a transport manager's licence will be that the applicant should be a fit person to hold that licence. But as the Bill stands, that requirement will apply only until formal qualifications for managers are introduced, since paragraph 1(4) of the Schedule deals only with the requirements to be met by applicants until such time as a test is prescribed.

Paragraph 1(3) deals with the requirements after the test is introduced; it does not, however, at the moment include a "fit person" requirement. This is clearly illogical, since the passing of a test and the gaining of a qualification is no guarantee of itself that a person is "fit" in the broader sense to hold a licence—for example, if he has a record free of relevant convictions, or has not had a manager's licence revoked or suspended previously. The wider requirement of "fitness" will also enable professional standards to be upheld amongst managers by the exclusion of those few persons who, though qualified, might have poor records in the industry. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 166.

Amendment moved— Page 225, line 8, after ("prescribed") insert ("in relation to the class of licence applied for").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 167.

Amendment moved— Page 225, line 11, leave out from third ("the") to end of line 12 and insert ("test prescribed in relation to that class of licence or held a transport manager's licence of that class;"1—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 168.

Amendment moved—

Page 225, line 16, leave out from ("regulations") to ("and") in line 21 and insert ("in relation to any class of licence for the test mentioned in paragraph (b) of the last foregoing sub-paragraph— (a) that sub-paragraph shall have effect in relation to any application for a licence of that class as if the said paragraph (b) were omitted;")—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 169.

Amendment moved—

Page 225, line 25, at end insert— ("() In this paragraph references to responsibility for the operation of any vehicles include (without prejudice to the generality of that expression) references to responsibility for securing that the drivers of the vehicles are properly licensed and comply with Part VI of this Act or, so long as those sections remain in force, sections 73 and 186 of the Act of 1960.")—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.57 p.m.

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 170:

Page 225, line 30, at end insert— ("The licensing authority shall be empowered to specify that the Transport Manager's Licence shall continue in force during the life-time of the holder, or for such shorter period as the Minister may by Regulation prescribe; differing periods may be specified to cover differing circumstances.")

The noble Lord said: I hope that the brevity with which I intend to present this Amendment will not deceive the Government as to the importance we give it. It involves the whole concept of the new profession of transport manager. As intended at present, this licence will last five years and come up for renewal at the end of every five years. Other professions once qualified do not have to present themselves again. Take the case of lawyers, for instance. In some periods of five years the law changes drastically; yet neither barristers nor solicitors are expected to prove their understanding of it anew. The same applies to medicine and various other professions. The transport industry will be changed a great deal by this Bill, it is true, but thereafter it is unlikely to change a great deal except in quite unforeseen circumstances.

Within the industry the basic skills of engineering and man-management do not alter a great deal. It is not as if this will enable a transport manager after five-year periods to be judged on his record, because if his record is bad to the extent of having violated any of the professional standards listed in Clause 69, which we are coming to, then his licence will be suspended or curtailed. It seems to me that this new profession, which requires men to undertake considerable responsibility and risk very heavy penalties will not attract the right holders unless it is to be given a certain status. This status seems to be undermined, to say the least, by the requirement to renew the licence every five years. What we are suggesting is that the normal transport manager's licence should be granted for life, but noble Lords will notice that differing periods may be specified to cover different circumstances. As I have said before, we do not yet know what sort of examination, what sort of qualification, h to be involved when tests are introduced. If the Minister wished to regard the automatic granting of licences up to the introduction of the test as being a special circumstance this Amendment would enable him to do so, making these initial licences subject to five years or even shorter duration. But for the licence proper taken after the test we believe this should be granted for life, and that is the paint of the Amendment. I beg to move.

6.0 p.m.


This Amendment is identical to one which was tailed in another place but was not discussed because of the guillotine procedure. The noble Lord has stated fully and briefly the purposes that lie behind the Amendment. I can say quite definitely flat the principle is one with which I fully sympathise. The noble Lord will immediately know from my having said that that I cannot go much further. Once the tests envisaged in paragraph 1(3) have been introduced as the criteria for obtaining the manager's licence, there is to real reason for maintaining that the licence needs to be reissued every five years or so. But equally, we feel that it is not necessary to amend the Bill in the way suggested. The Minister has full power under paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 9 to prescribe any period other than five years for the duration of a licence. I want to make it quite clear that once qualifications have been introduced it could be appropriate for licences to be current for more than five years. It could e yen be quite appropriate for licences to be current for the lifetime of the holder.

This is a matter about which tin views of the industry will be welcomed. I should not like to say that the Minister will in due course make regulations saying that the licence will be held for the lifetime of the applicant, but there is at least a strong possibility that that could be so. I must say that I am impressed by the analogy which the noble Lord has drawn with the professional qualifications of other people: how, once they have attained a status as a result of adherence to particular standards or through tests that are laid down, that status is not subsequently withdrawn, no matter how much change may have taken place in the interval; and therefore although there is much change taking place in the transport industry there is no occasion for making an exception here.

I should like to discuss the way in which this Amendment has been moved, in view of the fact that because of the guillotine procedure my right honourable friend has not had an opportunity of listening to the arguments that have been put forward; and in inviting the noble Lord to withdraw the Amendment I will in due course and as speedily as possible, let him know what the result of the discussion is. The basic case is that what is proposed can in fact be done without its going into the Bill. What the noble Lord is much more interested in, in the alternative way, is whether it is likely to be done. This I would hope to be able to give him some information about.


As the Minister is going to listen to the argument sympathetically and carefully, may I suggest to him one analogy which I believe is more appropriate; namely, the analogy of the master's ticket? I believe that once a man is a master mariner he is always a master mariner. He has charge of a ship. If he is past his work, he does not get employment. If the transport manager is past his work no transport operator will risk employing him. I think it is quite safe to give him his ticket for life.


That is a fair point. I should like to emphasise that one thing which will be most definitely in the Minister's mind is the way in which the licence is to be issued. That is something with which the industry will be much concerned; and in fact the Minister is almost leaning over backwards to make certain that he is not going to put anything in which prejudges this matter. But I should like just to re-emphasise the fact that we should regard as important the views expressed by the industry on that point. I will let the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, have the reactions of my right honourable friend to these suggestions.


May I put one brief question? When the final decision on this matter of the duration of the licence has been made, will it come before Parliament in the same way as the qualifications of the transport manager?


Yes; it would be in regulations.


May I say just one thing that occurs to me? Quite apart from the merits of the Amendment, which have been so eloquently expressed from our own Front Bench, it is presumably greatly in the interests of any Government to have as long a period as possible, because that would reduce the bureaucratic staff which is necessary for "churning out" the licences.


I hope that my noble friend will not feel inclined to accept this Amendment. The analogy that has been suggested in regard to doctors and lawyers is a false one, because it is frequently suggested that refresher courses are desirable, and indeed necessary, just as I have maintained in your Lordships' House that at some stage some of us, including myself, will reach a certain age and ought to undergo tests in regard to driving vehicles. I hope that this particular Amendment will not receive favourable treatment from my noble friend.


Will the Minister consider carefully what my noble friend Lord Hawke has said, because if he reads my remarks on Second Reading he will see that that suggestion was put forward at a meeting attended by various representative bodies, such as the Road Hauliers' Association, T.R.T.A., and others? I would urge on him that this question has been considered by the various bodies representing industry, and they have recommended the suggestion put forward by my noble friend Lord Hawke as being appropriate.


Those assurances coming from the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, are perfectly good enough for me. I have no intention of pressing this Amendment, even though my decision was almost sabotaged by the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon. The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, has no better idea than I have of what are going to be the qualifications of a transport manager. In any case, I rest perfectly happily on the assurances of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and I beg to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.8 p.m.

LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 172: Page 225, line 44, at end insert ("has been responsible for serious mismanagement and") The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 172, and by leave of the Committee I should like to discuss with it Amendment No. 174. Both of these Amendments to Schedule 9 deal with transport managers' licences. What I am proposing is that at line 44 we should add the words: has been responsible for serious mismanagement and as a requirement before a transport manager loses his licence or has it suspended. The Schedule as now drafted reads thus: Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, any licensing authority may direct that a transport manager's licence be revoked or suspended on the ground that the holder of the licence—

  1. (a) has been convicted of an offence specified in regulations,"
and so on. My Amendment would require that, apart from being "convicted of an offence specified in regulations" the transport manager should have been responsible for serious mismanagement as well as having been convicted of the technical offence.

Moving into this field of transport managers, I feel that we should he most careful to see that we do not make these punishments too draconian. We do not know what is going to be in the regulations. Therefore, of course, we do not know on what grounds the poor chap may lose his licence. What we do know is that if the transport manager loses his licence, or probably indeed if it is only suspended. he will lose his job so that the penalty for him is a pretty serious one. I should think that in the circumstances the traffic commissioners—who are very reasonable men—would interpret these regulations as reasonably as possible. I suggest that it is our duty, when we are responsible for putting a new Bill on the Statute Book, to see that the law is fair to start with, and not rely on the discretion of particular individuals who are to administer it.

Nor do I feel that it is enough—and I hope that the noble Lord does not have a brief which says that it is—that a transport manager can go to appeal. If the transport manager had his licence sus- pended or revoked and he felt he had been unfairly treated and went to appeal, I do not know how long this would take. It would probably be a month or two before his appeal was heard, during which time of course he would presumably be suspended. But what a harrying, worrying time for the wretched man while he is waiting to hear whether or no he is going to lose his job.

I am somewhat fortified in pressing this case on the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, because his White Paper at paragraph 49, which talks about the qualifications and the operation of the transport manager's licence, in discussing how the system will work in its disciplinary powers, says: In serious cases of mismanagement the position of the holder of the transport manager's licence in the organisation would be called in question; his own licence would be at risk unless he could show that he was not responsible. The words I rely on are the words: "In serious cases of mismanagement". These are the words, it will be noted, that I have put into my Amendment. I think these are very reasonable words. I am sure that in practice nobody would consider taking away a transport manager's licence simply on a technical offence, and unless there was such a background as this I am sure his licence should not be taken away. I beg to move.


The noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, has correctly quoted from paragraph 49 of the White Paper, The Transport of Freight, and I wish to confirm that it is still the Minister's policy that these powers of taking away, suspending, or revoking a licence would only be exercised in circumstances which would warrant this very serious step—I cannot quarrel with the way the noble Lord has put it—with the result of either temporarily or permanently taking away a manager's livelihood. The difficulty is that the addition of these words would not materially help the licensing authority to decide whether to take action in particular cases, and, secondly, in some cases the Amendment could cause practical difficulty.

If I could deal with the first point about not being a material help, it should be noted that paragraph 3 of Schedule 9 already limits the occasions on which a licensing authority can revoke or suspend a manager's licence to instances where the manager has been convicted of offences to be specified in regulations, or has been at least partially responsible for an order under Clause 69 revoking, suspending, or curtailing his employer's operator's licence. These conditions are themselves a safeguard against any licensing authority deciding to take action on a manager's licence without at least some prima facie reason for doing so. To try to circumscribe the authority's powers any further would be undesirable. What constitutes "serious mismanagement" must always be decided in the circumstances of individual cases. Licensing authorities, as responsible and experienced people, would only consider taking drastic action against a manager's licence where they thought the circumstances of a particular case were serious enough to warrant it; it is clear from the Minister's public statements hitherto that the Government would not expect such action to be taken except in serious cases.

I must say, although the noble Lord begged me not to, that there is the further safeguard that by paragraph 4 of the Schedule any manager whose licence is suspended or revoked has an appeal to the Transport Tribunal. I am told that under paragraph 3(5) of Schedule 9 the licensing authority can suspend the operation of his order revoking a transport manager's licence pending the outcome of such an appeal.

However, it is when we come to the second stage that the real objections, or the more important objections to the Amendment arise, and this is where it might, in fact, cause difficulty. I think the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, would agree that the White Paper did not provide disciplinary action only in cases of serious mismanagement. It is quite possible that occasions will arise where the licensing authority would, quite properly, wish to revoke or suspend a manager's licence on grounds having nothing to do with the manager's conduct since the licence was granted. One situation would be where the licence-holder had made a false statement to obtain his licence with the intention, for example, of concealing past convictions which might have caused the licensing authority to doubt his fitness to hold a licence. A conviction for making such a false statement would undoubtedly be prescribed under paragraph 3(1)(a) of Schedule 9 as one of the offences for which a manager's licence could be revoked or suspended; in such a case, "serious mismanagement" would hardly be an appropriate matter for the licensing authority to consider.

Having said that, I wish to assure the House, however, that the Government are in complete sympathy with the motives lying behind the Amendment; namely, that this is an exceedingly serious step to be taken against a transport manager and should, in fact, be reserved only for serious offences, and it would be quite wrong for the licensing authority to do otherwise. I hope I have made it clear that by circumscribing them in this way we could prevent them from revoking a licence in circumstances where perhaps it ought never to have been granted, although nothing that had happened during the currency of the licence could possibly come under the description of "serious mismanagement".


It must be a very trying job to be a transport manager, and I hope that the Bill provides somewhere for what happens if he goes mad during the currency of his licence.


That is provided for. The Minister has been so sympathetic and understanding about this that I wonder, as an old President of the Board of Trade, whether I might make the suggestion to him of the parallel of the master mariner, which he himself took and said was one of the cases which he would wish to follow. As one of my noble friends pointed out, quite rightly, once a master mariner has his master's certificate that certificate lasts his lifetime and is very much valued, although when he attains the age of Lord Mitchison or myself he would no doubt not be employed in that capacity by the wise shipowner. But the certificate lasts his lifetime, and I think I am right in saying that the terms—and of course it is not the President of the Board of Trade as in my days; it is the Minister of Transport who administers this—of the Statute laid down very clearly what were the grounds on which a master's certificate could be taken away. I hope that the Minister will consider looking at this matter to see whether, if that parallel is correct, it would not be wise to put into the Bill some provisions of the same sort in regard to a responsibility which is equal to that of the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Transport in regard to a master mariner's licence.


When Amendment No. 162 was being explained by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, I thought that the transport manager's responsibility, as set out in Schedule 9, had in some way been revoked or changed and that I had not listened closely enough, but it is apparent from what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said that this is not so, that the wording is clear, and that Clause 69 operates in the case of the transport manager. That is what worries many of us in this Committee and many people in the country at large. My noble friend Lord Nugent has dealt fully with the fact that "serious cases of mismanagement" are the words which are used in the White Paper, and these words have now moved a long way to become a responsibility under Clause 69; and there is also a responsibility under Clauses 65 and 66.

When one looks at the variety of matters listed in subsection (4) of Clause 69 and finds that they include convictions in respect of vehicle maintenance, drivers' speeding and drivers' hours, and loading and licensing offences, it is surely not unreasonable to say that many people, inside and outside Parliament, will say to themselves, "Will the transport manager's licence be at risk in every case?" This is the sort of matter which was in the mind of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, when he spoke a moment or two ago. Many people connected with road haulage in this country believe that if the operator were the only person to lose his licence in the way that Clause 69 lays down, it would be necessary to ensure that operators did their utmost to see that the transport managers were properly provided for, whereas in the Bill as at present drafted a bad operator may hide behind the responsibility of the transport manager.

This Amendment does not follow that line of thought, nor does it seek to alter the main purpose of this part of Schedule 9: that the onus of responsibility shall be squarely on the transport manager. I hope the Committee will forgive the repetition, but the Government seem to have changed their mind considerably between the publication of the White Paper and the drafting of the Bill. They have thereby created a dilemma, in that a transport manager's licence will be at risk for offences over which he may have no control, such as speeding, or the loading of a back-load when he is not there to see it. I hope that the noble Lord will agree with the addition of these words. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has already said they are not acceptable, but perhaps he would agree that it would be worth while looking at these words once again before the Government throw them out of the window.


The discussion is going fairly strongly against the noble Lord, despite the best arguments that he could put up. I should have thought that the case put by my noble friend Lord Swinton is the best way out. The master mariner position may well provide a precedent which would be helpful in seeing how to deal with the position of the transport manager. My noble friend Lord Belstead put the matter admirably when said that the Bill as drafted without any doubt makes the transport manager liable; either to lose his licence or to revocation or suspension on a technical offence—a technical offence specified either in Clause 69(4) or in the Regulations which we have not yet seen.

The White Paper is quite specific on this matter. It does not speak about other offences. It says that: In serious cases of mismanagement the position of the transport manager's licence in the organisation would be called in question. His own licence would be at risk unless he could show that he was not responsible. That is stated quite specifically. Although I would not suggest that my words are correct—they seldom are, if they come from the Opposition!—I believe that words of this kind ought to appear in the Schedule. This point was not discussed in the other place at all, and it is very important to get it right. It is not good enough to say, "We will leave it to the discretion of the traffic commissioners." Excellent officials though they ale, that is not enough when we are laying down something as important as this. The noble Lord has been very accommodating up to date. I hope that he will say that he will take this matter back and discuss it with his right honourable friends, since we feel that it is essential to have this safeguard in the Bill.


I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, is disputing the fact that his words would leave a possible loophole. I suggest that he is not disagreeing with the case which I put forward where a licence-holder gave false information or concealed information which would have resulted in his not getting a licence. That could not possibly be covered under the heading of "serious mismanagement". He may have managed the organisation during the period perfectly well, and yet if this Amendment were accepted the fact that he had got his licence under false pretences could not be dealt with. Obviously that is a situation which should be capable of being dealt with. I have dealt with the suitability of the Amendment. The Amendment is not acceptable for the reason that it would create difficulties under which it might not be possible to take away a licence from a man who ought not to have one. I am certain that is not the noble Lord's intention.

Having said that his Amendment cannot be accepted because of these defects, I am willing to look at the situation as to whether or not anything else can or ought to be put in. The noble Lord will appreciate that I am not in a position to give any undertaking about the inclusion of any words, but I shall be very happy to look at this matter, particularly when one bears in mind that what is at stake here is what ultimately will be a man's professional career. This ought to be safeguarded as fully as possible. It does not necessarily follow that, because the words of the Amendment are defective, it is impossible or unnecessary to make Amendments in another way. That is what I am prepared to look at.


I thank the noble Lord for the concession he has made. I acknowledge his point that a false statement by the transport manager in his application for a licence is a point outside the particular qualification which I wish to include. This is in Clause 69(1)(c). It is the only point which stands outside and on which the transport manager should be in danger if there is no qualification. But if the noble Lord is prepared to look at the general position to see how this general safeguard—which I think is the wish of noble Lords on all sides—can be put into the Schedule, on that undertaking I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 175.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 13, after ("the") insert ("appropriate").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 176.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 14, leave out ("a") and insert ("any, or any specified class of").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 177.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 17, after ("licence") insert ("or, as the case may be, no such licence of the specified class").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.30 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 178: Page 226, line 26, leave out ("public") and insert ("an").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 178, 179. 194 and 195 are all linked Amendments, and I think the Committee will find them acceptable. The effect of these Amendments will be to permit any party interested in an application for either an operator's licence or a special authorisition to request a hearing in camera before a licensing authority, or, on appeal, before the Transport Tribunal. It would, however, remain in the discretion of the licensing authorities or the Tribunal, as the case may be, to determine in the light of the particular circumstances whether it would be right to grant the request.

The Amendments are designed to give effect to undertakings given by the Government in another place. Both the Opposition and the spokesman for the Liberal Party had represented that, in particular, Clause 62(4), in relation to operator's licences, and Clause 74(5), in relation to special authorisations, might require firms, particularly those wishing to carry goods in their own vehicles, to disclose financial and commercial information which might be of value to their competitors. The Government recognise the force of this argument; and that is why these Amendments are now being proposed.

Amendments 178 and 194, with which are also linked Amendments 206, 210 and 220, remove the requirement that all inquiries shall be held in public; Amendments 179, 195 and 211 are merely consequential drafting improvements. The first new subsection of Amendment 221, prescribes that, except where the regulations governing the conduct of cases before licensing authorities provide otherwise, inquiries shall be held in public. It will therefore be possible to make regulations permitting licensing authorities to hold hearings in camera if they consider it appropriate. The Transport Tribunal will he able to make a similar provision by amending their Rules of Procedure. The advice of the Council on Tribunals and the Lord Chancellor's Office, was that it would be preferable to provide for hearings in camera by regulations or procedural rules, rather than by a substantive provision in the Bill itself.

Finally, the second new subsection of Amendment 221 strengthens the policy still further by making it an offence, under certain circumstances, to disclose information provided by a firm during a hearing in camera, notably if the firm has not given its express permission for this. I beg to move.


I thank the noble Lord for explaining the purport of this string of Amendments. I acknowledge that they meet the undertakings given in another place, in particular with regard to whether or not certain types of application should be heard in public. The structure that he has here devised entirely fulfils the undertakings given, and I thank the noble Lord for putting this into the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment 179.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 27, leave out ("hold such an inquiry") and insert ("do so").—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Loan HUGHES moved Amendment No. 180: Page 226, line 32, leave out ("Minister") and insert ("Transport Tribunal").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is the first of a very long series of 25. They are interrelated and are all necessary to implement the undertaking given by my honourable friend the Minister of State during the Commons Report stage, that Amendments would be tabled in your Lordships' House to direct all appeals connected with both quality and quantity licensing to the Transport Tribunal. This arrangement replaces that at present in the Bill under which appeals concerning operators' and transport managers' licences would be decided by the Minister, along with disciplinary appeals connected with special authorisations, while other appeals corcerning special authorisations would lie to the Transport Tribunal.

The somewhat forbidding nature of this list of Amendments is unavcidable; such a change has consequences for many clauses and Schedules. Indeed, my honourable friend the Minister of Stale, in explaining why the Government could accept the principle but not the substance of the Opposition's Amendments in the Commons, said: I know that the honourable Gentleman will appreciate that many consequential Amendments, which naturally he has not been able to devise, will be required if this is accepted." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 29/5/68, col. 1747.] Many of the Amendments, however, involve no more than a straightforward substitution of "Transport Tribunal" for "Minister" in the appropriate places. I beg to move.


Again, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for introducing this set of Amendments. The quite doughty arguments in another place, both from our Benches and from Liberal Benches, that the Transport Tribunal would be a very much better court of appeal than the Minister, have prevailed and I am duly grateful to the noble Lord for this Amendment to the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 181.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 36, leave out first ("Minister") and insert ("tribunal").—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 182.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 36, leave out ("Minister shall give his") and insert ("tribunal shall give its").—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 183.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 45, leave out ("Minister") and insert ("Transport Tribunal").—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 184.

Amendment moved— Page 226, line 46, leave out sub-paragraph (2).—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 185.

Amendment moved— Page 227, line 29, after ("licence") insert ("of the same class").—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 66 agreed to.

Clause 67 [Duration of operators' licences and grant of interim licences]:

6.37 p.m.

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 186. Page 95, line 15, leave out ("shorter") and insert ("longer").

The noble Lord said: The chiefly offending words which we seek to correct and replace in these Amendments (and I am discussing Nos. 186, 187 and 188, if that is for the convenience of the Committee) are to be found in subsection (3)(c) of Clause 67 which I shall read, and I hope that to-day is the last that we or anyone else will see of them. The passage relates to the duration of an operator's licence, and directs that the period of that licence may be shortened—and I now quote the words which certainly should never have been put in: if the licensing authority is of opinion that such a course is desirable in order to arrange a suitable and convenient programme of work for the licensing authority.

We quite appreciate that at certain times, and in particular initially, the licensing authority may be overloaded with work, through no fault of its own, but equally, not through the fault of the applicants for licences or for renewal. It really is intolerable, in our view, that to suit the convenience of the authority the operator's licence may be shortened, probably to his own great inconvenience. The operator is a man who has put money —perhaps a good deal of money —and experience—perhaps a lifetime of experience—into his business. Here is yet another case reminiscent of my stricture on Clause 61, in my Amendment No. 149, of extra work being created by the central Government and being shifted by officialdom on to the private citizen rather than being borne by Government servants.

In this instance, the convenience of the licensing authority would be just as well served by lengthening the period of the licence as by shortening it, and that is what we propose in this small but important group of Amendments. By accepting them the Government will render relations between licensing authorities and applicants in the industry far easier and more harmonious. I hope that they will see us, also, as doing them a good turn. I beg to move.


Perhaps I might add a word to what the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, has said, on a slightly different point. We on this side of the Committee realise of course that the circumstances of an operator may change over the years, may be for the worse, but I would submit that Clause 66 can take care of this. By Clause 66(1)(c), the licensing authority can require to be notified of just about everything under the sun, so far as I can make out. I should not have thought there was any enormous point of principle involved here. With the numerous safeguards which will ensure that an operator not only obtains but continues to hold a licence, I should have thought that this was a reasonable Amendment.

6.41 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Belstead. supports Amendments from the other side in such a pleasing and convincing way that I wish he could lend his support to an Amendment which I could accept. Up to the present he has not yet done so. I almost feel guilty in saying "No" to Amendments which he is supporting. I very much sympathise with the point of view which is expressed. But that is not to say that I am putting this forward unwillingly. I am fully in agreement with what is in my brief on this matter when I say that we consider it is not desirable that a licence should last for longer than five years. It is necessary to ensure that an operator's standards are kept up, and to do this the licensing authority needs an opportunity to review his whole performance at regular intervals. The renewal of his licence presents this opportunity, and my right honourable friend the Minister is quite firmly of the opinion that five years is the maximum time that can be contemplated if such a review is to have any meaning at all.

The operator whose standards are reasonable has nothing to fear from the need to renew his licence, whether it is every five years or every five months. The time and trouble involved will be minimal—certainly less than the difficulties and delays which could be caused if the licensing authority were unable to spread its workload evenly by the use of this power. Apart from the transitional period at the start of the new licensing system, it is unlikely that the power will be used often—if, indeed, it is used at all. It is in arty case similar to a provision in respect of the existing carriers' licensing system, in Regulation 25 of the Goods Vehicles (Licences and Prohibitions) Regulations 1960, which has not given rise in the past to any difficulties or complaints. Being able, as I am, to stand on what noble Lords opposite, at least, must accept as a respectable precedent—something done in 1960—I hope they will not find it necessary to press these Amendments, because I can assure them that we are firmly wedded to the opinion that five years is the maximum period that should go by without a review taking place.


I think it is a pity that the harmonious atmosphere which has existed so far, with much cooing of doves, should come to an end at this particular moment. We on these Benches, at any rate, cannot be expected necessarily to approve of what was done in 1960; but whether it was done in 1960 or not, we maintain that what is proposed in the Bill is bad. I agree that it almost certainly will not happen very often after the original period, but why should it happen during the original period? I think this should be done in this particular way to suit the convenience of the operators rather than that of the licensing authorities. In most cases, presumably, it would not mean an extension of more than one or two years. I cannot see why five years is such a sacred period, and I hope that this Amendment will be pressed.


I think this is another case where the Bill has clearly mixed up two totally different classes of vehicles and tried to treat them in the same way. I think that the noble Lord, in his reply, and in much of what has been said, was thinking he was dealing with the "A" and "B" licences of road hauliers who ply for hire; but, as I pointed out earlier, the greater number of vehicles to be regulated under this Bill are the ones which are at the present moment operated under "C" licences—vehicles which are the property of the firms and are used for their own deliveries. The service industries, without which, in spite of the opinion of some of the Government's economic advisers, this country cannot exist, would be very hard hit if they had to come forward to ask for operators' licences at frequent intervals when their very existence depends on getting them. Many of them are public cornpanies. What sort of support are they going to receive for their stocks and shares if it is realised that every five years they can be put out of action completely because somebody says they are not to have another operator's licence?

The analogy which the noble Lord drew of 1960, I think it was, concerned vehicle licensing. The service industry could perfectly well exist if some of its vehicles were refused licences, but if it were refused an operator's licence it would have to close down its entire organisation. I think that this clause needs reconsideration from that point of view. It is quite impossible to apply the same set of rules to two totally different types of vehicle.


I should have thought this was a case where a bit of practice was worth a great deal of theory, and if a similar provision was introduced in 1960 and has caused no serious inconvenience since then I should personally require a good deal of convincing that there was much wrong with it. I do not, of course, rely on the fact that it was introduced by a Tory Government: that does not necessarily make it any better. On the other hand, I feel that noble Lords opposite ought not to be zealous to prove that something introduced by their Government could not possibly work. Is this not the point? Surely the provision for a five-year period and, in certain cases, a shorter period, stipulated at the time when the licence is granted, is not unreasonable. It is suggested that the shorter period ought not to be provided for if that is not desirable for the proper working of the licensing authority. Does that not come to this: that if the licensing authority cannot meet the requirements of its programme (that is the word used in the subsection) then it is being overworked. Looking at Clause 59, I notice that it is perfectly possible to have more than one licensing authority in the area. It seems to me, therefore, that what noble Lords opposite are asking for, as an alternative to this provision, is an increase in bureaucracy, the numbers of which they occasionally criticise.


I should like to say a word or two in amplification of what my noble friend Lord Hawke has just said. Surely consideration must be given to investment in any business, and if there has to be a renewal of equipment, and things of that kind, then, with a licence coming to an end and possibly not being renewed, surely there must be grave anxiety as to whether that equipment ought to be renewed or not, even though it may be desirable, in the interests of efficiency, to renew it. Again, is this not another ex- ample of the Government's saying that there ought to be an increase in productivity yet introducing something which is most restrictive to that very end—where, although new equipment ought to be introduced and modernisation should take place, because of the refusal of an application for the renewal of a licence, that modernisation may not take place? That must be less efficient, less productive—which is again contrary to what the Government are always urging upon industry. I hope that the Government will take another look at this and give support to this Amendment.


It appears that we are going off at a tangent. My noble friend Lord Hughes said that the good operator had nothing to fear. Surely that is so. The operator's licence is likely to be revoked only if there has been bad maintenance of vehicles, if there have been convictions against him in respect of evasion of the regulations on drivers' working hours or because of some other breach of the law in regard to the operation of his vehicles. Therefore, so long as the operator is operating properly, any licence that he holds will be continued. Are noble Lords opposite arguing that the bad operators—and there are some— whose vehicles are below standard: who, when attention is called to them, do not even take notice of certificates that are issued against their vehicles; who connive with their drivers to work excessive hours and who are a danger to the public, should not have their licences revoked? All we are talking about are the cases where there is reason for revoking a licence.


The noble Lord is confusing the question of a licence to carry on a business at all with that of a licence for a vehicle. It is right that the kind of vehicles he mentioned should be run off the road—in which case the firm would have to buy a new fleet. That is fair. But to say that a man is not entitled to run a business at all because he may have slipped up in the operation of his fleet is, in my view, not fair.


No one is going to suggest that that should be done. It is ridiculous to import arguments like that into the matter. I referred to what took place in 1960. My noble friend Lord Lindgren did not think that this was necessarily a good thing. I said that it ought to commend itself, at least to noble Lords opposite—in fact, it also commends itself to me. I have never worked on the basis that everything that happened before October, 1964, was wrong. There was a lot, that I did not like during those 13 years; but I have never suggested that everything was wrong. May I point out the situation that this seeks to deal with? On the appointed day for Clause 60—that is, the day on which quality licensing will come into force— all existing operators will have to be issued with operators' licences, which will be dealt with under the special transitional provisions of Clause 93(1). If the powers of the paragraph which is now being discussed were not available, all those licences would have a currency period of five years and would therefore be due for renewal in a mass five years from the appointed day. This situation would result in the licensing authorities having to deal with some 175,000 licence applications once every five years and with very few in the intervening period. This would be a nonsense.

What we are doing is to make it possible for the initial issue of operators' licences to be spread as evenly as possible by granting licences for three, four or five years. Licence holders cannot with justification complain that this arrangement will be particularly hard on those who get licences for only three years or four years in comparison with those who get the full five-year term, since all operators' licences issued under transitional arrangements will be largely a paper transaction which will put the operators concerned to little if any trouble at all. This seems to me to be

such an obvious administrative arrangement that I cannot see that if noble Lords opposite had the job of implementing this system they would put themselves and the licensing authorities to the bother of working in such a way that everything had to be done once every five years. After all, there have been many other changes made in connection with renewals of the driver's licence, the licensing of cars and so on, all with the purpose of attempting to spread the work load as evenly as possible over a period. This is so as to avoid a situation in which people are "worked to death" for a few weeks of one year in every five, with little or nothing to do in the interval. That does not seem to me to make sense.


I am sorry that what seems obvious to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is the opposite of what seems obvious to us. Neither he nor the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, seem to have hoisted in our point that the licensing authority may be equally well relieved by an extended licence as by a shortened licence. That is what we think. The noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, was arguing a completely different point and I will not join issue with him. Without breaching the harmony which exists, and which was described by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, I must press this Amendment.

7.1 p.m.

On Question; Whether the said Amendment (No. 186) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 100; Not-Contents, 43.

Abinger, L. Bolton, L. Drumalbyn, L.
Ailwyn, L. Boston, L. Effingham, E.
Airedale, L. Brooke of Cumnor, L. Falkland, V.
Albemarle, E. Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Ferrier, L.
Allerton, L. Burton, L. Fisher, L.
Alport, L. Carrington, L. Foot, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Coleraine, L. Gage, V.
Arran, E. Colgrain, L. Gladwyn, L.
Ashbourne, L. Conesford, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.]
Audley, Bs. Cottesloe, L. Greenway, L.
Balerno, L. Craigavon, V. Gridley, L.
Barnby, L. Craigmyle, L. Hawke, L.
Barrington, V. Cranbrook, E. Headfort, M.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Crathorne, L. Horsbrugh, Bs.
Belstead, L. Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Ilford, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Daventry, V. Inglewood, L.
Bledisloe, V. Denham, L. [Teller.] Jellicoe, E.
Jessel, L. Mottistone, L. Salisbury, M.
Kilmany, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Sandford, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Newton, L. Savile, L.
Lambert, V. Nugent of Guildford L. Sempill, Ly.
Lansdowne, M. Nunburnholme, L. Sinclaire of Cleeve, L.
Latymer, L. Oakshott, L. Somers, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Powis, E. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Lothian, M. Rankeillour, L. Swinton, E.
MacAndrew, L. Rathcavan, L. Teviot, L.
Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Rochdale, V. Thurlow, L.
Massereene and Ferrard V. Rockley, L. Vivian, L.
Merrivale, L. Sackville, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L
Mersey, V. St. Aldwyn, E. Windlesham, L.
Mills, V. St. Helens, L. Wolverton, L.
Milverton, L. St. Just, L. Wrottesley, L.
Molson, L. St. Oswald, L. Wynford, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Archibald, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Phillips, Bs.
Arwyn, L. Hughes, L. Plummer, Bs.
Beswick, L. Iddesleigh, E. Raglan, L.
Blyton, L. Kennet, L. Rhodes, I.
Bowles, L. [Teller.] Kilbracken, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Burden, L. Kirkwood, L. Rowley, L.
Champion, L. Leatherland, L. Serota, Bs.
Collison, L. Lindgren, L. Shepherd, L.
Crook, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Sorensen, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Stonham, L.
Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor) Longford, E. Strabolgi, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. McLeavy, L. Walston, L.
Granville of Eye, L. Mitchison, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Henderson, L. Peddie, L. Winterbottom, L.
Hill of Wivenhoe, L.

On Question. Amendments agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


Amendment No. 187 is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 95, line 25, leave out from ("made") to end of line 29.—[Lord St. Oswald.]

LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 188:

Page 95, line 29, at end insert— ("() If in the opinion of the licensing authority it will assist his administration he may extend the duration of the licence.").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Clause 67, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 68 [Variation of operators' licences]:

7.10 p.m.

LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 188A:

Page 97, line 13, at end insert— (" () If an applicant under this section so requests, the licensing authority may, pending the determination of the application, given an interim direction under this section, that is to say, a direction expressed to continue in force only until the application, and any appeal arising out of it, have been disposed of; and a request for such a direction shall not for the purposes of subsection (4) of this section be treated as an application under this section.")

The noble Lord said: This is a small textual Amendment to Clause 68, which provides for the variation of operators' licences. The position with regard to issuing a quality licence under Clause 66(5) is that the licensing authority can issue a temporary licence to tide an applicant over until the application is determined and any appeal disposed of. This is obviously a sensible, practical arrangement. It helps the applicant who might otherwise have some time to wait, and so long as the licensing authority are satisfied that they are almost certain to give a licence, they should not have any objection to granting a temporary one.

But here in the machinery for the variation of licences there is no such flexibility. The traffic commissioner has no power under Clause 68 to give a temporary variation which would tide over the applicant until the matter can be determined. Clearly it is most desirable that the flexibility which is granted already for a new licence should be similarly provided for an applicant for variation. This somewhat long paragraph does this. It will make a small but material improvement to the Bill. I beg to move.


In respect of the last Amendment the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, said it was a pity that the period of billing and cooing had come to an end. Apparently he assumed that we had reached the end of that period when we arrived at the time for a Division, as if our joint labours were to be considered complete and as if we were henceforth embarking on a stage of complete disagreement. That is not so. I can find nothing wrong with this Amendment and therefore I am prepared to accept it.

Clause 68, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 69 [Revocation, suspension and curtailment of operators' licence]:

7.16 p.m.

LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 189A:

Page 97, line 32, at end insert— (" (iii) but in relation to paragraphs (a), (f), (g) and (h) of subsection (4) of this section a licensing authority shall not suspend, revoke or curtail an operator's licence unless his overall record is such as to give rise to serious public danger.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment, which is of rather greater weight than the last, and I can but hope that the noble Lord will be equally receptive to it. Clause 69 is primarily concerned with the revocation, suspension and curtailment of operators' licences and therefore is of great importance to all operators. As the clause is drafted, a licence can be revoked or suspended rather easily in my judgment. The clause sets out a number of offences, conviction on any of which can result in a licence being revoked or suspended. Some of them are substantial, but under subsection (4)(a) to (h) are listed such things as exceeding the speed limit, overloading vehicles and other technical offences. In the management of a haulage business obviously technical errors can and will occur. They are inevitable because of the carelessness of employees. While a persistent occurrence would probably be due to weak or bad management, the odd case probably would not. The noble Lord kindly reminded us earlier that there are 175,000 industrialists and traders up and down the country who would be operators and who make up the trading life of a country. Clearly it could. not be the Government's intention that there should be a stream of suspensions and revocations going on, because obviously that would hold up the whole trading life of the country.

What is wanted here by the Government, I imagine, and certainly what we want, is a new system that will make it possible to catch out the persistent bad operator who either as a matter of cheap trading policy or just through plain carelessness exceeds speed limits and the like in order to get an advantage over his competitors in other words a man whose overall record is such as to give rise to serious danger. This is the effect of the Amendment that my noble friends and I have put on the Marshalled Li3t: that the licence shall not be revoked, suspended or curtailed in connection with any of the offences set out in subsection (4) —these are the technical offences set out in paragraphs (a) to (f), and (h)—and that in addition his overall record must be such as to give rise to serious public danger.

I cannot get as much help out of the White Paper for this Amendment as I could last time, hut I can get some. Paragraph 49 of the White Paper, The Transport of Freight says this with regard to the operator's licence: The new system will provide strong disciplinary powers against a defaulting operator. First, whenever there has been a breach of the law relating to vehicle operation, the licensing authority will be required to consider suspending or removing from the quality licence one or more of the operator's lorries, or suspending or revoking the licence altogether. Here is a sentence which I think has some cogency in this particular context: In considering this question the licensing authority will also take into account any previous breaches of the law relating to vehicle operation committed by the operator. This seems to me clearly to imply that the traffic commissioner is not going to suspend or revoke the licence on the first breach of any of these regulations. He will look at the record to see how this operator has been doing, and if he has been a persistently careless operator then, clearly, the traffic commissioner will, and should, consider suspending or revoking the licence. The words that my noble friends and I are advocating putting in the Bill would make sure that the traffic commissioner would take into account the overall position in considering any one of these single offences. I beg to move.

7.24 p.m.


A similar Amendment to this was discussed, though not at length, in another place on May 29, and I hope that noble Lords opposite will follow the example of their friends in another place, because there the Amendment was withdrawn after debate. When my honourable friend the Minister of State asked the other place not to accept the Amendment he said this: If this qualification were inserted, it would be interpreted as more or less the repetition of the present law, and we know that disqualification under present law has been little used in spite of the considerable increase in the numbers of defective vehicles on the road. For these reasons—because we want to get a serious strengthening of the law in this respect, because we trust the licensing authorities to use their power justly, because there is a system of appeals against any penalty handed out by a licensing authority—I ask the House to resist the Amendment."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 29 / 5 / 68, col. 1740.] That is the essence of the case against the Amendment. It is an essential feature of quality licensing that the power of a licensing authority to deprive an operator temporarily or permanently of his licence, or in less serious cases of the temporary use of some of his vehicles, is the most effective practicable means of raising standards of goods vehicle operation. The present Act is defective in this respect. The licensing authority has, it is true, power to revoke, suspend or curtail licences, but this power is hedged around with restrictions. For instance, he cannot direct that a carrier's licence be revoked if the operator is convicted of failing to maintain his vehicles properly or if he had been prohibited from using one or more vehicles found to be defective unless—to quote Section 178 of the Act: he is satisfied that owing to the frequency of convictions or prohibitions, or the wilfulness of the act or omission leading to the conviction or prohibition in question or the danger to the public involved in that act or omission", he should give the direction. Yet roadside checks have found one goods vehicle in ten to be so unsafe as to merit an immediate prohibition on its further use. The reason 10 per cent. of vehicles on the road are in that condition is that the present law is so defective that they cannot be got off the roads. This is the situation that we want to bring to an end. In another place it was accepted that although these were wide powers it was essential that they should be there.

Clause 69 of the Bill gives the licensing authorities much wider powers. For example, in subsection (3) it requires licensing authorities to consider whether to give a direction revoking, suspending or curtailing a licence whenever a conviction or prohibition under subsection (4) is brought to their notice. The Amendment would, if carried, mean that the licensing authority could give a direction in respect of certain convictions and prohibitions only if the operator's record gave rise to "serious public danger". In effect, the licensing authority would be virtually unable to suspend even one vehicle from an operator's licence unless there was evidence of repeated and persistent misdemeanours over a period of years. The Amendment could in fact go a long way to perpetuating the inadequacies of the present Act, with deplorably dangerous results on the roads. I cannot believe for one moment that the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, intends to make it easy for even one of these 10 per cent. of dangerous vehicles to be allowed on the road for one moment longer than is necessary.


I should like to say—and I know my noble friend Lord Nugent would be the first to say this—that we on this side do not want in any way to be interpreted as supporting the use of dangerous vehicles on the roads. While not wishing to give the impression that I am going bald-headed against what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said, I think it is fair to point out that the 1960 Act says that the licence could be removed if the convictions were of such frequency or of such a wilful nature, or such danger to the public (these were alternatives), that the licensing authority felt bound to take action.

In this Amendment we are not seeking to put these very wide alternatives; we are simply referring to the public danger. As my noble friend Lord Nugent pointed out, we have just criticised three subsections which we felt were minor ones. The only other thing I want to add—and I say it with some timidity because one is so liable to be misinterpreted—is that I have a figure from an earlier year of 38.9 per cent. of defective vehicles in spot checks. These are desperately worrying figures. The point put in another place--and I do not think we should disregard it—is that in these spot checks the vehicles stopped are very often those vehicles which the authorities think are defective. We do not want people to believe that we in Parliament think that people who use the roads are criminals—we do not. At the same time, I am very anxious that no one should be able to misinterpret what has been said from the Benches behind my noble friend Lord Nugent and think that we are in favour of danger on the road.


It was because of the fact that I could not possibly believe that that was the intention of Lord Nugent, or of any noble Lords on the opposite Bench, that I went out of my way to draw the attention of your Lordships to the fact that in another place, after discussion, the Amendment was withdrawn. As regards the figures, I do not think it is right, through use of them, to attempt to create any false impressions. But there cannot be any false impression about these figures. From the years 1962-63 to 1966-67 615,834 vehicles were examined; 59,128 of these were in so bad a condition that they were immediately prohibited from remaining on the roads; and a further 197,673 were the subject of delayed prohibitions. In a situation where 256,000 out of 615,000 vehicles were found to be defective in one way or another, and 59,000 faults were of such a major nature, it is obvious that the law as it stands is not enough.

It is therefore very fitting that in this matter there should be no doubt at all about the unanimity of the Committee in seeking to take, I think I am almost justified in saying, the severest possible steps to remedy the situation, in the knowledge that the wide range of power which is given to the licensing authority enables them to make the punishment fit the crime. It is not the case that they are going to deprive everybody of his licence and put all their vehicles off the road. It does not follow that they will put any vehicles off the road; some of them may not. But it is important that in a case where either a temporary or a permanent removal of vehicles from the road is necessary there should be no doubt at all about the licensing authority's power.

It is not that we want vehicles put off the road. We want as speedily as possible—and I am certain that noble Lords opposite will be with me in this--at the earliest opportunity people to be made so conscious of their responsibilities that if spot checks are undertaken they will reveal a completely different situation. We do not want to have people put off the road; we want to make certain that people are so maintaining their vehicles that their vehicles are safe and in no danger of having any preventive action taken.


I approached this Amendment thinking that I should be able to support the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford. I still think that the minimum level of reasons why a person's licence can be taken away is too low and that there should be better safeguards, but I am largely persuaded by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, that if we passed this Amendment it would make the very necessary discipline for safety far too weak. I am fortified in not supporting this Amendment by the fact that it is now to be a transport tribunal which will be judging the appeals. I hope the Government will look to see whether there is no other way in which they car. phrase this provision, so as to make it less likely for a person to be deprived of a licence for a technical offence. I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, will not seek to press this Amendment.


I always know when the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, thinks that he is on a better case by the tone with which he addresses himself to his reply. I agree that he has a much better case this time than he had on the transport managers, and he quite rightly says that this Amendment was withdrawn in another place. But let me remind him that it had the briefest discussion there. It had only about 15 minutes consideration on Report and, so far as I know, none at all on Committee. So, considering its great importance, it had the minimum discussion it could possibly have. However, I have to accept—and all of us who are familiar with the position do—that the 1960 Act has not proved as effective as we should wish it to be. The Amendment that my noble friends and I have proposed does not go anything like as wide as subsections (3) and (4) of Section 178 of the 1960 Act, and it is related to only three out of eight of the paragraphs of subsection (4) of Clause 69 of this Bill; so we really have confined to a pretty narrow scope this qualification which we feel should be inserted. We have left all the offences referred to in subsection (1) of Clause 69, and five of the offences in subsection (4).

We recognise that the law needs strengthening and that the traffic commissioner should have greater powers than he has in order to deal with the bad operators. I am entirely with the noble Lord. I can well remember the position when I was in the Ministry of Transport. It was thoroughly unsatisfactory and we were clearly getting ready for a strengthening of the law then. But I think we have a point here. Maybe our Amendment goes too far, but, as my noble friend Lord Belstead and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, said, in our desire, which joins with the Government's, to make sure that the traffic commissioner has enough power we may be giving him more than is necessary. There may not be quite sufficient safeguard here for the interests of the operator.

I wonder whether the noble Lord would be prepared to look at this matter again. I myself should like to look at it again to see whether this safeguard could be drawn a little narrower. We want to get the balance right. I have to concede the noble Lord's case, that the law must be a lot stronger for the traffic commissioner to have enough power. Having given this question another airing, I am persuaded that we should not press the noble Lord to accept the Amendment as it stands now. I should like to give a little more thought to it before the Report stage, and perhaps the noble Lord and his advisers will do so as well. The Bill is pretty tough as it is now drafted, and it could be too tough, and this at the end of the day would not be good for anybody. So I hope I can leave that thought with the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and with those words I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.38 p.m.

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 190: Page 97, line 36, leave out ("whether").

The noble Lord said: I think the Committee would wish me to move this Amendment together with Amendment No. 191 since they go together. These two Amendments, which delete only three words from the Bill, can transform injustice to justice and spell the difference between indignation and acceptance in the eventual implementing of these measures They also have to deal with the important matter of revocation, suspension and curtailment of an operator's licence, as did my noble friend's last Amendment. Subsection (1)(b)(ii) rules that a licence can be revoked, suspended or curtailed if it is discovered that in his original application the operator told an untruth. That is fair enough, but our objection is based against the proposal to penalise him whether or not he knew he was making a false statement.

I should not care to say which of us in this Committee could say that we had never unintentionally given misinformation, even from a Government Dispatch Box. All that a Minister has to do is to appear at the Dispatch Box, express regret that he has unintentionally misled the House, and the House or Committee is quick to grant absolution. We do not demand his resignation. Therefore let me ask the Minister, taking into account the fallibility of each one of us, not to insist that all transport operators should be mentally as well as morally immaculate in filling up their application forms. I beg to move.


Before the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, replies, I should like to support my noble friend Lord St. Oswald on this Amendment. I feel sure that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will refer us to Section 178 of the Road Traffic Act 1960 in which the words "whether to his knowledge or not" are used, but I should like to put a suggestion to the noble Lord. As the 1960 Act was passed by a Conservative Government would it not be a good idea, as the present legislation is being passed by a Labour Government, to change things round: to accept the advice of my noble friend, and his Amendment?


I think the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, must look seriously at the advice which he is now giving. He is striking at the very roots of Conservative thought, because he is now advocating that change is in itself a good thing, and I do not believe that that is in keeping with Conservative thought.


A change—and so say all of us! What about a General Election?


I am afraid it does not figure in my own thoughts either. I have never thought that change for the sake of change could be justified. However, the noble Lord was right in saying that it had not escaped my notice that these words appear in the 1960 Act, so I will say no more than to confirm the accuracy of his prediction.

We cannot agree to this proposal, simple as it might appear. If we did, it would mean that if an applicant, in good faith, made a false statement when applying for a licence the licensing authority would be unable to revoke, suspend or curtail the licence if it were subsequently discovered that the statement had been untrue.

The power in the Bill, as in the 1960 Act, to revoke, suspend or curtail a licence is discretionary, and obviously it would not be used in respect of any errors of fact made in an applicant's statement when he originally applied for a licence if those errors were not material to the question of whether a licence should or should not be granted. If the operator considered that this power had been misused by the licensing authority he would have a right of appeal. But there are occasions when a mis-statement of fact can be made in good faith, and yet be material, For instance, an applicant might say that certain maintenance facilities were available to him, because he thought they were—not because he was deliberately telling a lie—whereas in fact they were not, although he might have been misled into thinking that they were.

The provision of those facilities might have been a highly material factor to be taken into account by the licensing authority in deciding whether to grant a licence. Therefore it would be quite wrong if the licence were to persist after information had become available that in fact this material circumstance did not exist at all; that the grounds for granting the licence were not there. In those circumstances, it does not really matter whether the man made the statement believing it to be a lie or believing it to be true. If we were to tale these words out of the clause we should continue to penalise the liar but should be giving a bonus to the man who, because he genuinely made a mistake, received his licence, whereas if he had been careful enough to check his statements he would have been deprived of it. I cannot accept that this would be a reasonable thing to do.


I quite agree; the noble Lord has explained the position perfectly. I took it that the penalty would fall on the operator for the actual act of making the statement, not knowing that it was a false statement. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.47 p.m.

LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 193: Page 99, line 17, at end insert ("provided that the offence relates wholly or in part to the period 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.").

The noble Lord said: Subsection (4)(g) of this clause enables a licensing authority to consider the revocation of an operator's licence for a series of offences against road traffic regulation orders, such as waiting, parking, loading, and so forth, in a prohibited place. I am urging your Lordships to consider whether, for what one might call minor offences, this extensive power which would permit the revocation of an operator's licence should be given. I should have thought that such minor offences were not sufficiently serious as to jeopardise an operator's licence.

I understand that in another place the provision was justified on the comparatively narrow issue of the nuisance caused by lorries parked at night in residential areas. Therefore this Amendment seeks to limit the subsection accordingly; in other words, that the licensing authority will be able to consider the revocation of a licence only for those minor offences that occur between the hours of 10 o'clock at night and 6 o'clock in the morning. The Minister may reply that licensing authorities would be most reticent to use this power for what one may term in effect "trivial parking offences". If he cannot accept my Amendment I hope that he will give some guidance regarding the implementation of this new power by the licensing authorities. I beg to move.


Paragraph (g) of subsection (4) was inserted into the Bill at the Committee stage in the Commons on an Amendment moved by a Government Back-Bencher with Government support. It was clear from the tenor of the debate on that occasion, on April 3, that the Committee had specially in mind the amenity problems arising from the indiscriminate overnight parking of lorries in residential streets, as the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale has said.

In any event, the Amendment is not acceptable to the Government because it is far too limiting. Although the Commons had especially in mind overnight parking, this was clearly not the only factor which influenced the Committee to accept it. For instance, another Member mentioned, among other dangers from indiscriminate long parking, that children playing might be endangered, or that emergency services might be unable to reach houses. Amenity can be damaged by parking by day as well as by night. Indeed, other road users are likely to be much more seriously affected by daytime offences which might create congestion or safety hazards.

I would remind noble Lords that there are various safeguards already in the Bill against the abuse of the power. First of all, the power is not mandatory, it is discretionary, and clearly the licensing authority will take account of the circumstances of an individual cases before invoking the power. Secondly, by sub- section (1)(b)(ii) of Clause 69 parking convictions must be "sufficiently numerous" to justify the giving of a direction before the licensing authority can act under subsection (4)(g). And, thirdly, of course, by Clause 70(1)(b) there is a right of appeal, and as one noble Lord—I think the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, on the last Amendment—mentioned, the right of appeal has more attractions in certain directions, if not in all directions, by virtue of the fact that it will be to the Transport Tribunal and not to the Minister.

I think it is right that there should be this discretionary power. I would certainly not be enthusiastic about supporting it if it were mandatory rather than discretionary. And I think it is equally right that, as in the reference that I have quoted in Clause 69, convictions should be sufficiently numerous to justify it. When we do that, and add to it the fact that even with these provisos the person against whom the action is taken still has a right of appeal to the impartial Transport Tribunal, I think it is wise that the clause should remain unchanged. I hope, therefore, the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, will feel that he has done sufficient by once again airing the matter and does not find it necessary to take it further.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply. I am sorry that he cannot accept my Amendment because it contains a discretionary power, although I understand that if it had been a mandatory power he would have accepted it. I fail to understand why he cannot accept my Amendment, considering that it was said in another place that this subsection was inserted in the Bill mainly to deal with the problem of overnight parking. I should have thought that my Amendment covered the point of overnight parking.


I think the noble Lord has, quite unintentionally, misquoted me. I did not say that it was mainly to deal with overnight parking; I said it was clear that in another place they had overnight parking especially in mind, but other considerations were mentioned, too.


I think we are splitting hairs. I feel the Minister will not go any further this evening, and I therefore beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendments Nos. 194 to 198 are all consequential upon previous Amendments, and with the permission of the Committee I would move them en bloc. I beg to move.

Amendments moved—

Page 100, line 30, leave out ("a public") and insert ("an")

Page 100, line 31, leave out ("hold such an inquiry") and insert ("do so")

Page 100, line 36, leave out ("Minister") and insert ("Transport Tribunal")

Page 100, line 42. leave out ("Minister") and insert ("tribunal")

Page 100, line 43, leave out ("Minister shall give his") and insert ("tribunal shall give its") —(Lord Hughes).

Clause 69, a amended, agreed to.

Clause 70 [Appeals in connection with operators' licences]:


This is a drafting correction. The phrase to be inserted was omitted in error from Clause 70(1)(b), and I regret to say that without it the paragraph would not make any sense. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 101, line 14, after ("Act") to insert ("is aggrieved by that direction or order").—Lord Hughes.)


With permission I would move Amendments Nos. 200 and 201 together. They are consequential upon previous Amendments. I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 101, line 18, leave out ("Minister") and insert ("Transport Tribunal") Page 101, line 23, leave out subsections (3) to (8).—(Lord Hughes.)

Clause 70, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 71 [Control of the use of large goods vehicles]:

7.55 p.m.

LORD ST. OSWALD moved Amendment No. 202: Page 102, line 11, after ("section") insert ("which shall not be before 31st December, 1971").

The noble Lord said: We cane now in Clause 71 to the Slough of Despond created by the present Government in the path of British industry. As noble Lords will observe, this sub-division of Part V of the Bill is bureaucratically and euphemistically entitled, "Special authorisations for use of large goods vehicles". Authorisations, forsooth! Factually it should be entitled "Circumscription of large goods vehicles", because that is what it is. The Government are pretty fortunate that the anodyne name of "quantity licensing" has caught on and become current, and we shall no doubt be using it throughout this debate. But let us be conscious of what "quantity licensing" means or is meant to mean by its inventors.

My noble friend Lord St. Helens said earlier this afternoon, and we all know in this House, and by now several million poeple outside are also aware, that the purpose of quantity licensing is to force the carriage of goods, or an important volume and several important classes of goods, out of road haulage, which at present in a free market is the method adopted and preferred by industry, on to the railways, which at present and in an unbiased, unrestricted market, cannot obtain the custom.

To put a more pleasing gloss on this intention Ministers concerned have explained, and continue to protest, that this will really be very good for industry even if industry does not appreciate it now. Here we see and here we listen to the eternal Socialist nanny persuading her sceptical victim to swallow a tablespoon of syrup of figs—and what a week this happens to be to try to persuade anybody to swallow this particular medicine! It is somewhat ironic to recollect that at the time of the Second Reading of this Bill in another place, the Government had just scraped by in avoiding a rail go-slow. To-day, when it befalls that we debate this particular and objectionable element of the Bill, the country is in its second week of a go-slow on the railways, which the Government did not scrape through, and the headlines this morning were "Go-slow goes on", and "Unions refuse peace offer".

My Lords, it is naturally difficult to obtain anything like a precise idea of what the country has lost in the past eleven days by the disruption caused, let alone what it will lose if the dispute continues. The Press has been full, understandably enough, of the sufferings of rail passengers, and anyone driving into or out of London or even circulating within London must be aware of the exasperating effects of the present impasse and receive an impression of the costly delay it has caused and is causing. That is one aspect of the fallibility of the railways. We have heard very little of the delay to goods in rail transit, and it is virtually impossible to quantify. I made an inquiry this morning through British Rail as to the ton-miles lost since the dispute began. They were unable to help very much, though I must pay tribute to the efforts they made. The figures will not be available, I gather, until next week, possibly Monday, but I think it behoves us to weave some estimate, however rough, into the present argument to-day.

Trying from another direction, I sought some indication as to the amount of freight which had been transferred to road haulage during this dispute. For what it is worth—and I do not want to exaggerate this or claim it to be in any sense definitive—I obtained some specimen figures. A small rapid survey of twenty hauliers based in the principal cities showed increased carryings varying from 5 to 10 per cent. These goods appear to have been transferred from rail to road, and the figures are restricted to consignments of over 100 miles in vehicles of over 16 tons; that is to say, the traffic which would be circumscribed under the provisions of this Part of the Bill since in an emergency they would require special authorisations to assist at all. Even the figure of 5 to 10 per cent. is fairly impressive when translated into ton-miles, but I think it is fair to suppose that a far higher proportion of goods are still being held back in the hope of an end to the dispute, and if they can wait no longer they also will have to go by road. I might usefully mention one specific instance of the way in which one large manufacturer has been able to meet the situation. The Ford Motor Company, finding itself unable to entrust any of its products—that is, cars and spare parts—to the railways which nor- mally it sends by that method, has had to hire over 200 road vehicles to carry out the work in the present emergency. That is separate from and independent of the small survey I mentioned earlier.

What stands out in the knowledge of everyone is that in the past the difficulties of trade and industry in distributing goods, whether for internal consumption or for export, in the face of a railway strike or go-slow, have always been met by the road haulage industry. They are being met and satisfied in that way to-day. But if this Part of the Bill were to pass on to the Statute Book and be implemented, if large vehicles, the long distance and so-called "abnormal loads" vehicles, were to be handicapped and thereby reduced in number, if the requirement for special authorisations were imposed upon their operators, then no such rescue operation could be carried out in future.

In their secret hearts the Government must be saying to-day, "God bless the hauliers who are saving our bacon and the British economy! Keep those wagons rolling, and heaven protect them from punctures!" In the face of all this, may I be permitted to say that my heart bleeds for noble Lords opposite who have to defend the policy and the system we are debating. I have noticed—who has not?—that the heart of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, of whom we are all so rightly fond, bleeds for his opponents with such oratorical frequency that I sometimes wonder why he is not as anæmic as the remainder of his Cabinet colleagues—I mean those who remain. My heart is responding, in the same sympathetic fashion to-day, though not perhaps as copiously or as wastefully as that of the noble Lord the Leader of the House. It is to the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, that we have to extend our personal sympathy to-day.

To be scrupulously fair, by way of outlining the provisions about quantity licensing I am going to quote Lord Shepherd in his factual description, wherever it is factual and undisputed, as presented in the Second Reading debate. But first I should remind noble Lords opposite that in the same speech he said: Those who regard this Bill as being no more than doctrinaire socialism will no doubt point to the provisions of Part V, for the so-called quantity licensing of road goods transport." [OFFICIAL REPORT, col. 16; 11/6/68.] The noble Lord is most sensitive and he is often right, or half right, as he was on that occasion. He was wrong in supposing that we who attack this Part of the Bill over which he revealed a latent guilty conscience, are attacking the whole Bill on political grounds. We have given our blessing to quality licensing. We have approved the concept of the operator's licence, and of the transport manager. We have been able, during yesterday and to-day, to improve those provisions. Our attack on quantity licensing is not mainly political. We attack it as bad, unrealistic transport policy. I read again yesterday with great care Lord Shepherd's descriptive passages in columns 16 to 18 of Hansard of June 11. It was succinct and admirable when he stuck to pure description; but when it came to the context and the consequences, he was nothing if not disingenous and more than somewhat political in his rendering.

It seems essential, in an opening speech upon an issue of this importance, to describe the actual measures to which we are objecting, and I would do so by, as I have said, quoting directly from what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, himself said as recorded in Hansard. He said: What we are proposing in the Bill is the eventual scrapping of the existing system of carriers' licensing—the 'A','B' and 'C' licences, of which 'A' and 'B' licences are in themselves a form of quantity control, restricting competition even within the private sector—and its replacement, in so far as it represents a system of controlling the capacity of the road haulage fleet, by a system of special authorisation for heavy long distance vehicles. It will apply to lorries of 16 tons maximum laden weight going on journeys of longer than 100 miles, or on shorter journeys down to five miles if they are carrying a few specified heavy goods, such as coal, certain ores or steel. The control will apply to not more than 100,000 vehicles out of a total goods fleet of some 1½ million, all of which are at the moment subject to carriers' licensing. Thus we propose sweeping away a great deal of the existing control.

I do not think I can be fairer in describing the Bill than to use the words of the Deputy Leader of the House in his Second Reading speech. This passage ended with the words: we propose sweeping away a great deal of the existing control. But if he or I, or the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, were to ask anyone in the transport or transport users' world whether he considered that the general effect of quantity licensing would be a sweeping away of existing controls, then he or I would receive a pretty mirthless laugh in reply to our question. what the provisions are doing is to impose an immense new bureaucracy, for no good reason that anyone can see.

This is the way we regard the proposals, and this is why we are opposing them to-day. If the system works fairly it will put through the general transport net, a delaying net, all tonnage going beyond 100 miles and all bulk traffic. The end product, in terms of net gain of traffic to rail, will be very small. A vast number of companies will have been involved in expenditure of staff time, involved procedures and uncertainty, with the minimum result so far as the physical carriage of goods is concerned. They will also exchange rigidity for the present flexibility. This is the best that can happen if the system is worked fairly, as I have no doubt that Ministers intend. If, on the other hand, there is to be a significant benefit to rail —that is, to realise the Government's objectives in presenting this cumbersome and contentious legislation—then I submit it cannot be as a result of working fairly. It is going to have to be biased in favour of rail.

The main difference between the Government and ourselves, assuming, as we do, that the Minister of Transport is sincere, though misguided, is that the Government genuinely believe that there is a large section of trade and industry which does not know what it is doing. Trade and industry, under this theory, are taking wrong decisions and not looking carefully enough at freightliners; and therefore, in their interests as well as the interests of the country, a system which would divert some goods from road to rail is desirable. This is the theory of the Government. But they halve never provided any evidence whatever to support this sweeping and dubious generalisation. It is said to be based upon a survey, a Ministry of Transport survey, which will not be published until after this Bill is law. I am not saying that this is a false prospectus, but it is certainly a hidden prospectus, and therefore a meaningless and suspect prospectus. Even at this stage of the Bill, the Ministry have not produced any, even partial, interim evidence.

It is believed by the traders and customers who have most to lose or to gain by this that the Government have been "led up the creek" by their advisers. It is true that there may be a small minority, companies controlling small traffic flows, a minute proportion of the whole, who do not bother sufficiently about their transport costs. But it is no more than a minute proportion. And here we are, busily erecting this immense and restrictive edifice to deal with a very small problem.

We learn that the Minister believes that a large proportion of traffic won over to rail will come from the break-even point. That is, where on investigation the licensing authority finds that road and rail are more or less equally matched, then, as we see, the licensing authority is under a direction to see that the traffic goes by rail. The criteria for obtaining a special authorisation are that road shall be superior to rail. In the case where they seem to be equal, the authority is entitled not to grant a special authorisation to the haulier himself. That is in Clause 74(3). I understand that the latest figures, as estimated by the Government, for the proportion of traffic which they think would be diverted is 10 million tons.

I have to point out that the Government appear to be fairly inconsistent in their approach. Mr. Neil Carmichael, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, in a speech given to the Management of Transport Workers' Conference on June 20 on quantity licensing, said, in this immediate context: It is, of course, at this point that those who accept that this is what the Bill intends are riled by the implicit suggestion that firms do not know and choose the mode of transport that is most profitable to them. I don't think that anyone disputes that in the vast majority of cases firms are efficient in their transport choices, but in a small but important number of cases the railways do dispute that firms know their own best interests. A minute or two later in the same speech he said: Meanwhile, there is evidence that in very many cases transport managers do not consider the railway alternative or indeed even know the cost of modes other than those they use. Here, in the same speech, is a clear conflict which could be very significant. Either it is a "very small number" or it is "very many cases". As a result of this sort of confusion what we expect is that a very small proportion of the 10 million tons will be accounted for advantageously to the user; the remainder will come from the pro-rail bias written into Clause 74.

At this point I feel I should refer to one more passage in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on June 11, and also to an intervention by him in the speech of my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford which has caused some surprise, blended with incredulity, among those most close to the problem. The passage is recorded in column 17 and reads: It also follows that if road haulage can move goods more cheaply and quickly than rail, they will go by road."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11/6/68, col. 17.] In practice, this is bound to conflict with Clause 74(3) even if it does not in theory. The railways have the benefit of the doubt, and who is going to assess the doubtful quality of the railways? The criteria are to be speed, reliability and cost. We have all heard harrowing stories of those who on occasion, entrusting their goods to rail, have suffered grievously. I was told last week of an example of a firm which had sent a cargo of steel for export by British railways on the first stage of its journey. The cargo was lost by British Railways for a month, and the firm had to pay a penalty of £20,000. But it is too much to expect that examples of this sort would be taken into account in disposing of the marginal break-even traffic. The railways' yardstick will be a railway timetable, on paper.

I would also refer to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, when he sought to correct a statement by my noble friend Lord Nugent that all journeys over 100 miles for heavy lorries would in future be at the discretion of the railways and the National Freight Corporation. Lord Shepherd intervened to say: My Lords, I think that the noble Lord would like to be corrected on this. This will happen only within freightliner areas. Where there is no freightliner service the licences will be free."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11/6/68, col. 25–26.]

My noble friend was quick to point out that this itself covered a very large area. But, as I say, it has astonished those who have been in touch with Ministry spokesmen and I think the noble Lord may have been in error—unintentionally, it goes without saying. Naturally, I will not ask the noble Lord opposite to reply now, but I should like him to take note of the fact that the trade very much doubt whether that can be true, because it is at variance with what they have been told in the Ministry.

The main practical disadvantages which these measures spell for all concerned are twofold. They inhibit both longterm planning and flexibility. The burden of bureaucracy will be multiplied many fold if the railways take a tough line. Ministers have made light of this and no doubt the Ministers opposite will be no exception. But the road hauliers' experience of the railways' attitude at present in fighting applications for "A" and "B" licences does not encourage them, does not make them sanguine as to the use which will be made of the new and more powerful influence they are offered under these provisions, or the restraint which will be observed. My noble friend, Lord Nugent of Guildford, referred to this when he proposed our earlier Amendment 153.

The anxiety in the trade is that the railways will set up a considerable machine to contest these licences. Some noble Lords opposite may choose to shrug this off by saying, "What does it matter if, at the end of the day, a deserving man gets his licence?" It matters because, in the meantime, he will have spent days or more probably weeks in preparing his case before the licensing court, engaging accountants and lawyers for the whole process. Perhaps more important is the fact that during that time he and his clients or customers will be in a state of uncertainty as to the outcome, and this uncertainty will permeate and bedevil the whole of industry.

The Government can be under no illusion as to our intention in seeking to add these few simple words to the Bill at this point, but they may find it slightly harder to acknowledge that it would have that effect. They know that Mr. Edward Heath has said that a Con- servative Government would abolish quantity licensing. We take it that by December 31, 1971, a Conservative Government will have the power as well as the will to do that. The more vigorously they seek to defeat this Amendment—if that is their intention—the more they will reveal their despair as to their electoral prospects. It is not as if they are in any great hurry over this. Ministers have continually said that there is no intention to bring in quantity licensing until the freightliners have proved their worth. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, repeated that in his speech. Nobody expects that to be for some time—I doubt whether anyone would put it before 1971. What we are doing in this Amendment is to build a bridge aver the Slough of Despond—a bridge which will either be reinforced by a Tory Government, reinforced and made permanent, before the date mentioned, or totally demolished by a future Labour Government, if such a disaster should occur.

We are entitled to ask, in fact we are bound to ask, the Government, "Who wants quantity licensing?", Who favours it or deems it in any sense necessary or helpful? Industry abominates it, agriculture even more violently so; manufacturers in the motor industry (a powerful contributor to our export performance) are convinced it will harm them, and unanimously condemn it. Traders and customers have expressed their detestation because it robs them of choice, it limits or prohibits competition among those who carry their goods, and it must put up costs—and when costs go up in a period of high taxation, unprecedented taxation, such as this, they feel doubly deprived.

Dislike is expressed, in no uncertain form, from another quarter. The drivers have demonstrated in every part of the country. Those demonstrations did not, I can assure noble Lords opposite, require any elaborate or expensive organising or propaganda. They were not rallies of Tories. They were spontaneous and very angry. I went, more as an onlooker than a participant by intention, to a demonstration in Roundhay park, Leeds, and found myself talking some drivers out of strike action. They wanted to strike against Socialist measures by which they felt their livelihood was threatened.

Ministers and Labour spokesmen have sought to make almost a virtue out of all this. They have patted themselves and each other on the back, declaring how brave they were to continue with these measures despite the opposition from so many quarters. But these were mostly well informed quarters. To take pride in ignoring this indignation is a queer form, a queer interpretation, of democratic government. This is government of the people in spite of the people and to hell with the people! It is the sort of thing which cost King Charles his head. I hope that it will not cost the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, his political head, but even if it does we can be certain that he will still be walking and talking well beyond half-an-hour afterwards so that we shall continue to have the comfort of his company.

Earlier in this speech I said that the architects of the Bill were no doubt honest in their endeavours and their motives. But they are negative endeavours and motives. They are based on a supposition—we say an illusion—that the road haulage industry of this country is inefficient, or less efficient than rail, and that the traders and manufacturers of the country do not know what is good for them, that they have a kind of childlike preference for the roads when they would be far better off dispatching a lot of their goods by rail. I have said, and I suppose it will be said again in the debate which follows, that we can feel sympathy with those who try, this week, to win the House of Lords into a belief that this fairy tale is not a fairy tale. It is a fact. This is a bad week to mesmerise your Lordships into any such weird fantasy.

But we do not argue simply from the position of this week. Any week is a bad week for trying to tell us that hardheaded British businessmen and industrialists do not know their business, or an important part of it; that they are in reality soft-headed and deluded. The provisions in Clause 71 and in the clauses which follow are misconceived and negative. In my faraway youth there was, one year, a popular song, to which I supposed I danced, with a notable lack of grace. It was called "Accentuate the positive—eliminate the negative". With this Amendment we are asking the Committee to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.

Earlier in this speech I quoted extensively from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, opening the Second Reading debate. I will end by quoting briefly from the winding up speech of my noble friend Lord Windlesham in that debate. He said: The Bill cannot leave this House in the form in which it has arrived."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11/6/68, col. 120.] His words have already been proven prophetic. We must reiterate, extend the truth of his prophecy later to-night by, I hope, carrying this Amendment. In doing so we shall be most usefully and emphatically serving the interests of the British economy. I beg to move.

8.23 p.m.


My Lords, I am certain that the Committee are grateful to the noble Lord for his rousing Party political speech. It will help to keep us awake during the remaining hours of a long debate. I have of course come to the Dispatch Box to present your Lordships with a reasoned case as to why the Government believe that the proposals for quantity licensing are in the best interests of the country as a whole. But I feel that reason will not penetrate the noble Lord's mind. It needs something more forcible. The noble Lord's mind is made up; he is biased; he says that he can see no good in our proposal. But perhaps there are others in this Committee who are still open to reason.

The main tenor of the noble Lord's attack was the terrible state of the railways, that they cannot be trusted, and that no one in his right mind would conceivably use them.


No, I did not say that.


He was saying "Thank God that the wheels are there to roll".


I said, "this week".


The wheels have got to roll on road and rail for many years to come. I should have thought that the present troubles on the railways, which will pass, prove the essential nature of the rail services of this country. We all know that we cannot do without a railway system. The problem we are facing is that we have a railway system which was geared to provide the whole of the major transport of this country in the last century. The system has been weakened and damaged by a long war, and has been overtaken by new forms of transport. But for the foreseeable future, until the turn of the century at least, we have to have a railway system.

Your Lordships would all agree that the railways must not be a parasite upon the economy as a whole. They must earn their keep and provide a return on their capital similar to that earned by other forms of transport. But because they have had to recast their whole method of working, we have had to take a series of measures which will enable them to compete on an equal footing with the free-booting road system. The alternative facing us was to run the railways at a deficit of over £100 million a year, year after year. This is something we could not tolerate, and therefore something had to be done. This Government are going to do it. That is the idea which lies behind the system of quantity licensing.

I cannot see that the vast scrapping of licensing which is going to take place for a very large number of vehicles will lead to greater bureaucracy. Admittedly, the controls on a certain number of goods vehicles are to be tighter, and perhaps more onerous. But many thousands of vehicles will be freed altogether. Indeed, I suggest that one of the reasons why the transport industry is not very fond of this particular measure is that a substantial measure of competition will be introduced into the road haulage industry which does not exist at the moment. Whenever I hear people preaching free enterprise, it usually means that they are finding some way of avoiding it. I believe that it will be much easier for a man who wishes to start a new haulage business now to get into business than it was in the past, when any of his existing and established competitors were able to make opposition to his proposals and perhaps block his entry to the industry.

I ask the Committee to consider what we are trying to do. We are attempting to move a proportion of the larger quantity of the goods traffic which at the moment is going by road from the road to the railways. If our estimates are correct (and I believe them to he correct; the Government are no trying to kid themselves by the survey which the noble Lord has mentioned), we should like to see approximately 10 per cent. of the total road freight moved from roads to the railway system. This, for a growing road haulage industry, will not be an intolerable burden, but it does represent roughly a 30 per cent. increase in the total rail movement of general merchandise. This must have an important effect on the profitability of the railways. Is this wrong? We are certainly not asking British industry to send goods by a transport system which is slower, more expensive, or less efficient than the road system. All we ask is that, if it can be proved, by a clear-cut and simple procedure, that it is cheaper, quicker, and more efficient to send goods by rail rather than by road, then they should go by the rail.

The noble Lord made much of the fact that we know better than the individual customer; that the individual does not know what is best for him. I do not know how noble Lords run their lives, but I am afraid that I myself often do stupid things and do them for many years out of sheer mental laziness. Every time I come up from my home by train to London, I travel from Kettering. It would be much simpler for me to travel from Wellingborough, which is 5s. cheaper and ten minutes quicker. But I got into the habit of travelling from Kettering when I first arrived in my part of the world, and I have continued to do so. There is an element of inertia in everything we do. If a system is working well, we continue to use it even if it is not necessarily the best way of doing what we want.


The noble Lord is not competitive in his journey to London. He is saying that the industry is not merely idle, but is criminally idle, in that it does not know how it can put up a better performance than its competitors.


I deny what the noble Lord said. We are human beings and industry is run by human beings. In many cases the forces of inertia will cause individual firms, and individuals themselves, to carry on with practices which are less efficient than the alternatives open to them. This problem faces the whole of industry, and not only in this country; it is part of human nature.

While in the long run we would accept the fact that if the new goods-handling system now adopted by the railways is more efficient, it will anyway attract the business that we believe should go to the railways, we cannot afford to wait very long. We are losing well over £100 million a year on the railways, and anything we can do to speed up the reduction of that loss must be done. That is one of the main points of the argument. Although we admit quite clearly that this interferes with the freedom of individual choice, nevertheless, as a Government, we have to take into consideration the interests of the country as a whole; and the railways form an integral part of the interests of the nation.

All that the noble Lord is doing is, first, to preach a certain doctrinaire dislike of Government interference in any activity of industry; and, secondly, to argue strongly the case for the road haulage industry, which I should have thought was doing sufficiently well to accept the competition that we are proposing to bring to bear upon it. I offer those reasons, and I hope that your Lordships will reject the Amendment moved by the noble Lord.

8.33 p.m.


There can be only three possible reasons for the Government's putting forward these arrangements in this clause of the Bill. The first is that they think transport users are knaves; the second is that they think that transport users are fools; and the third is that they want to push from road over to rail some transport which should not go over. I do not think any of those reasons would reflect any great credit on the Government. They say that the reason is because they regard the transport users as fools, and seldom has this House heard that contention put forward by a Minister declaring his own foolishness as support for such an argument.

I do not think we can help feeling that there may be an element of both of the other reasons in their thoughts. For in- stance, it was most noticeable that the Minister referred to the "freebooting road users". I always thought "freebooting" was a term applied to pirates and people who were against the law. I cannot help feeling that at the back of the Government's mind is some slight feeling in that direction, as well as a desire to make the railways pay, even at the cost of pushing over to rail some transport which should not go over.

What will be the effect of this Bill? In amplification of what the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, said, I should like to enumerate one or two other points. First of all, there is the most tremendous burden that will be put on road users. This Bill seems to revel in an increase of officialdom and complication, and long applications and form filling. An application must be made by the operator, either someone operating on his own account or a professional haulier, for all traffic to be carried by a large vehicle over 100 miles. It is impossible at this stage to forecast what will be required in an application for a special authorisation by the licensing authority. The description might be in wide or in narrow terms; the types of vehicle might or might not be limited, and so on. However, it is clear that because special authorisation will not be transferred from one operator to another, a separate authorisation will be needed by each haulier whom a transport user may need to use from time to time.

Each application will mean supplying information, and being ready, in case of objection, to support a haulier with detailed evidence on the comparative benefits of the road and rail alternatives. Where a number of hauliers are used, as they sometimes are, this work will be very considerable. Whether or not an application by a haulier on his own account, or by an operator, is objected to, he will always have to have the case prepared and ready to argue in case there is an objection. Whenever unforeseen circumstances arise, such as diverted traffic, rail or haulage strikes, the need to switch from a customary haulier and so on, users will have to obtain and expedite a grant in a very great hurry, which may be very difficult to do at night or at weekends. This immense amount of bureaucracy which is being caused just is not warranted.

In addition, there is the hardship to remoter areas, where a distance of 100 miles means very little, and to development areas. This applies particularly in Scotland, Cornwall or Devon, where a radius of 100 miles will extend in certain directions out to sea or to a long peninsula. That is why in another place my Party sought exemption for those areas. Indeed on the Committee stage they gained exemption for some of these areas. but it was withdrawn on Report stage by the Government. To increase the burdens in those areas is a complete reversal of Government policy, and will not help to allay anxieties in those parts of the country, particularly as the Government have encouraged firms to move there.

In addition, we shall get added congestion in town centres, particularly if the facilities for dealing with the increased rail traffic prove inadequate, as they easily may. Many firms are taking their goods on the motorways to other factories on the outskirts of cities, and so relieving the congestion. But if goods are forced on to the railways there will be increased congestion in the cities. There are difficulties with specific goods. Many representations have been made from particular industries for exemptions. To give some examples, sending fish by rail from Cornwall means an enormous increase in handling and requires a much more expensive form of packing.


The noble Lord must surely agree that if it is more expensive and mere handling is required, the goods can go by road. The noble Lord must not exaggerate the case he is making.


I accept to a certain extent the correction of the Minister, but I was not exaggerating.


The noble Lord must not just accept it "to a certain extent". What I said was a fact and I hope the noble Lord will accept it.


It is not entirely so, and I do not entirely acknowledge it, because in borderline cases a balance of doubt will always come down in favour of rail. But where the balance may lead to a difference of 5 per cent. each way, this can be a very considerable expense. I do not accept that I am exaggerating.


If the noble Lord will read the Bill carefully, he will see that if it is cheaper to move goods by road there is no question of its being forced by this Bill to go on to rail. If it is more expensive or takes longer by rail, or if the reliability facto- comes into it, then the goods will still be carried by road. The noble Lord must not exaggerate or distort the truth.


if the balance is regarded to be equal it will come down in favour of rail, and the balance may easily be regarded as equal within minor degrees of tolerances of several per cent. Surely the Minister is not saying that the licensing authority will be able to judge between 1 or 2 per cent. in balancing cost, speed and facility. It just is not true.


If the noble Lord will read the Bill, he will see that it is quite clear.


I have read the Bill, and I think the Minister is exaggerating his case now. Anyway, I shall pass on. We have put down from these Benches Amendments to delete Clauses 71 to 80, but since the Conservative Party have put down this Amendment to postpone the operation of the Bill we think it is a very good thing that this Chamber, which is, after all, a reviewing Chamber, should give the Government plenty of time to think again.

It does not much matter to us, I may say, whether what the Conservatives say is true and they are in power and form the next Government. It would give a good thinking time, and we are prepared to support it. We cannot possibly agree to a system whereby the Government say that objection will be made to the granting of licences to hauliers only if it can be proved that the job can be done better and more cheaply by the railways, yet the Government insist on the right to make that decision, or on the right of an outside body to make it.

This is a question where it seems that undoubtedly the judgment of the individual entrepreneur should take precedence; and there is nothing to make us believe that it is worth going to all this "fiddle-faddle" in order that someone should make up his mind for the entrepreneur. The Government are saying, as I said before, that the entrepreneurs are either knaves or fools. I do not believe that they are either. They are perfectly capable of making up their own minds on what is the best form of transport. They are not going to go to great lengths to "do down" British Railways. They are quite capable of working out for themselves which method of transport is the cheaper. In fact, if this Bill is any evidence they have considerably more knowledge of the economics of their affairs than the Government seem to have. They are certainly just as profit-conscious, and in many cases far more so. This part of the Bill is a thoroughly illogical piece of legislation. It is the acme of paternalism and the denial of the right of the individual to make up his own mind, and I sincerely hope that we shall pass this Amendment.

8.43 p.m.


I should like to join in the congratulations which were given to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, when he resumed his seat—but my congratulations are from a different point of view. I thought he read his brief—prepared, I strongly suspect, by the Road Haulage Association or some other such body— very well. I would not quite class it as a speech, but I think that as a demonstration of brief reading it was very good indeed. But there are many weaknesses attaching to that brief, and I should like—


I must interrupt the noble Lord and inform him that his suspicion is quite unfounded. It was my speech. I wrote every word of it, and I meant every word of it.


I do not dispute that the noble Lord wrote every word of it and I do not dispute that he meant every word of it. I merely suggest that it was prepared from rather different sources. That is all I am suggesting, and I do not think the noble Lord would contradict that. Personally, I think the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, enjoyed himself very much at the expense of the dispute that exists in the railway industry to-day. I think that every one of your Lordships deplores the dispute, and one can only hope for a settlement at the earliest possible time; but to take the opportunity of a discussion of this description to use the words which the noble Lord used, as though railwaymen were the only people who were subject to industrial disputes, is, I think, a little unfair. There are road haulage disputes and disputes in many other industries which certainly play a part in damaging the economy of the country, and we all deplore these things when they arise.

But I want to deal with some of the points mentioned by Lord St. Oswald and also by Lord Beaumont. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, laid down the criteria of speed, reliability and cost.


It was not I who laid down the criteria.


If the noble Lord will contain himself he will find that I was going to add that this is laid down in the Bill. What objection is there to the case being put to the licensing authority, the licensing authority having the remit contained in the Bill, that they must make an assessment as to who will carry these goods based upon the criteria of speed, reliability and cost? Surely this is the very essence of that competition which noble Lords opposite like so very much, and I cannot for the life of me understand why they should object to these criteria instructing the licensing authority as to how they should deal with any given application. Is it not rather labouring the point to say that an application to a licensing authority will involve a lot of costs, and such like? Is it not the present position that these heavy goods vehicles, and also a large number of other goods vehicles, already have to apply for a licence before they can run? Therefore, where are the additional costs and inconvenience which are going to be caused to them by their having to submit this application to carry goods over 100 miles? I suggest to noble Lords opposite that they are really overstating the case in this particular direction.

I think it may have been fairer, too, if they had mentioned in passing that this Bill will remove the necessity for applications for a licence by a very large number of the hauliers who to-day have to apply for a licence—900,000 of them. I know this is not under special long-distance, that this deals with the "C" licence, but I think that in balancing the Bill these things must certainly be borne in mind. The object of the Bill is to ensure an efficient service. Is there anything wrong in that? That is the very spirit, surely, of that competition which noble Lords opposite like so much. Therefore, instead of taking sectional interests, which I suggest many of them are doing in this direction, they might look at the best interests of the nation as a whole to see whether it is not possible to challenge the railways to give an efficient service, based on the criteria embraced in the Bill, in order to take some of these heavy lorries off the roads—roads which are already over-congested—and be brought into the system that is laid down and which is admirably suited to deal with them if they show that commercial judgment necessary to get themselves into the required state of efficiency.

There is another point that noble Lords opposite might have made when they were talking about the difficulty of licensing. One would almost think, according to the things they were saying, that these people would have to make an application for each load they had to carry. We must remember that these licences, once granted under Clause 77 of the Bill, operate for five years. That is a very important point indeed. These are some of the factors that should weigh in the minds of noble Lords before they carry this Amendment to a Division and leave it to the other House to correct once again.


The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, will be interested to know that I do not have a brief; that I am not one of those fortunate people who get handed briefs. Whatever the noble Lord says, there is no doubt that if this clause goes through as drafted, it will increase the cost of freight transportation. Freight transportation accounts for 8 to 10 per cent. of the total national expenditure.

Actually I am pro-railways; I am all for the railways carrying the heavy freight if they can carry it efficiently, but I can give your Lordships plenty of examples to the contrary. However in deference to the noble Lord, Lord Winter-bottom, I will quote a very mild example of the difference between road transport and rail transport. Recently, on the Ministry of Transport's insistence, a large load was sent by rail from Stockton- on-Tees to East Greenwich. I took 13 days. The time taken by road would have been two to three days. The cost of the rail transport was £440; the cost of transport by road would have been £195. I have many worse examples than that. I will not give them. I do not wish to rub too much salt into the wound. The noble Lord, Lord Winter-bottom, spoke about "freebooters". I thought that freebooters were people who took liquor over the frontier and sold it. I would point out to him that, so far as I am aware, the money extracted from the owners of commercial vehicles through road tax and the tax on petrol and oil more than pays for the roads. I do not think the railways can claim that achievement for their permanent way.

I have a great many objections to Clause 71 and it would bore your Lordships if I were to state them all; but another of its effects will be to increase congestion because the hauliers, in order to escape quantitative licensing, are bound to buy smaller vehicles and will therefore have two lorries doing the work of one. Apart from increasing the congestion on the roads, this wall obviously increase the cost of freight transport on the roads; for I am told that if you use two lorries to do the work of one the cost is increased by about 27 per cent. In any case, if you have all these heavy loads going by rail, you must take them from the terminals in the urban areas by lorry, and therefore you are going to increase the cost and also increase the congestion in the urban areas. I frequently send produce by lorry and train. I am prepared to send it by rail alone if the rail is as cheap and as efficient.

The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, when speaking on the subject of speed, reliability and cost, complained that private enterprise was objecting to the competition to be provided by the National Freight Corporation. As far as I am aware (and perhaps I shall be corrected) the licensing authority have not the power to inquire into the rates quoted by the N.F.C. for the carrying of freight. I find it difficult to understand how a nationalised industry work! out its costs; but, having no experience of nationalised industries, that is quite understandable. But there is another objection. The N.F.C. who, after all, have State support and have the taxpayers' money behind them, are going to be able to undercut private business. Presumably they will eventually be able to buy up the private haulier and will in that way increase the scope of nationalised transport by rather devious means.

There are many other points I should like to mention, but one important one is the question of our export trade. The manufacturers of heavy vehicles in 1966 exported £5 million worth of vehicles over 16 tons. They now reckon that, through this Bill, sales this year will be 50 per cent. down. If you do not have a strong home market you cannot have a strong export market. That is a well-known economic fact.

Before I end I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he can produce any evidence that British Rail can transport heavy goods more efficiently than the road hauliers. So far, I have not heard any evidence that they can, although they may be able to do so in three or four years' time. There is one other question that is very worrying: the question of railway strikes. It has been mentioned in this debate that if the road hauliers are to be put in pawn to the N.F.C., what is to happen in the event of a railway strike? It is possible that the whole transport system of this country could be crippled; and if the transport system were crippled, the economy would be crippled. Could the noble Lord tell us what will happen in the event of a railway strike?

The whole position of quantitative licensing—meaning, as it does, more bureaucratic control, really means more Government expenditure, more time wasting and a restriction of the country's economy. I should have thought it was preferable at this time to subsidise the railways for social reasons rather than to try to force freight on to the railway and by so doing to increase the general transportation costs of the nation.

9.0 p.m.


I should like briefly to support my noble friends in their Amendment to-night, and particularly because the very lucid and reasoned arguments of my noble friend Lord St. Oswald apply with particular reference to Scotland. Your Lordships will have noticed that there are on the Marshalled List two Amendments or at any rate one Amendment that refers par- ticularly to Scotland. I think that the next Amendment on the Marshalled List in the name of my noble friend Lord Selkirk relates basically to Scotland.

We must all appreciate that, apart from the central industrial belt, the main centres of industry and population in Scotland are spaced very far apart and frequently at distances far more than the 100-mile limit proposed in the Bill. Added to this, transport costs in Scotland, by reason of geography and the difficulties of the terrain, tend to he rather higher than in England. Consequently, they play a larger part in the calculations of Scottish industrialists than in those of industrialists in other parts of the United Kingdom. At a time when Scotland is striving hard and, I may say, with a good deal of success, to attract new industries and new populations particularly to the remoter parts of the country, it is foolish to put further difficulties in the way of industrialists and to increase their costs. I think my noble friends have proved conclusively that whatever else this clause does, it will tend to increase the costs of the road haulage industry.

So far as I can see, hauliers and manufacturers will have to do one of three things: they will have to go through a time-wasting process of making their applications and waiting for approval or objections; they will have to carry their goods in smaller vehicles, which will undoubtedly entail greater overheads; or they will have to adopt the highly complicated and in some ways rather ludicrous procedure of transporting their goods in heavy vehicles for distances of under 100 miles and then transferring the loads to other vehicles to continue the journey. This is not so fanciful as it may sound—I have heard of firms who are actually planning this operation. It seems to me foolish to ask sensible, commercial undertakings to adopt such a course.

We in Scotland are grateful for some of the concessions which have been won from the Government in another place. For example, it is excellent that the 100-mile limit is to be calculated as the crow flies and not in road miles. This will make a great deal of difference in the Highlands where deviations on roads are so formidable that 100 miles is really nothing at all. We are also glad to know that the Islands are to be exempt from the provisions in this clause, as is the transport of livestock. I feel strongly that this exemption should extend to the fishing industry. There we have a commodity which must be moved in the quickest and cheapest way possible in order to preserve quality and quantity. I see that my noble friend Lord Selkirk has an Amendment down which is designed to extend the exemption to home-produced agricultural and horticultural produce.

There is a great deal that one could say about this clause but I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee. I believe that in principle it is not a good clause. It ignores the very special position of Scotland and its transport system. It is another example of the centralised approach of Whitehall which will not pass entirely unnoticed by Scotsmen North of the Border. No one will quarrel with the desire of the Government to get more traffic on to the railways, but surely this should be done by the railways becoming more competitive and efficient rather than by penalising the road transport industry and interfering with the commericial judgment of those who in my view are best qualified to choose.

In some parts of Scotland there are no railways, and therefore this argument will not apply. In others, including my part of the country (and here I know that my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood will agree with me), we do not know whether we are to have a railway or not. The subject has been mentioned several times during the debates in this Committee, but I feel it is very disheartening for the industrialists who are operating in the Border country, in view of the fact that we now have very far-reaching development plans for the area. Any prospective industrialist should be able to know whether or not there are to be railway facilities. I do not wish to say any more, except at this very late stage to urge the Government to think again about this clause and particularly to review the matters relating to Scotland, some of which I have mentioned.

9.8 p.m.


I should like to support my noble friend Lord St. Oswald who moved the Amendment in a vigorous and most convincing way. I should also like to say that throughout the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, has treated us with the utmost courtesy and with painstaking charm, and I felt extremely sorry for him this afternoon when he had to defend an indefensible case. This Bill, and in particular this clause, is designed to force goods off the roads and on to the railways. As my noble friend the Marquess of Lothian made very clear, the method of doing this is not by increasing the efficiency of the railways but by penalising road transport. That is something we deplore. Incidentally the noble Lord, Lord Winter-bottom said that reasons will not penetrate the Benches opposite him. May I reply that knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.

The criteria mentioned in this Bill several times are speed, reliability and cost, but if we analyse these words we see that they are in the nature of "gimmick", like the "snap, crackle and pop" taken from a breakfast food packet, because it is impossible to equate fair competition as between public transport as it is at present organised and private transport. Under this clause the consumer is to be deprived of his freedom of choice and of exercising hip commercial judgment on the cheapest and most efficient method by which goods should he carried. What is more many firms will have to switch from 32-ton to 16-ton vehicles, and this will cause appalling congestion on the roads, which is precisely what the Government wish to avoid; and where road vehicles are driven off the roads, this will cause increased congestion at the rail termini in the big cities, which we also wish to avoid.

When this clause was being debated in another place one or two questions were raised which were not satisfactorily answered and I wonder whether the Minister, if he cannot answer them now, can let me have an answer in due course. The first point is this. The economic use of trade vehicles depends on their maximum use when fully laden. This means that the planning of back-loads, of laving full loads on return journeys, is of cardinal importance to the economy of a firm. The debate on this clause in Committee F in another place was peppered by examples given by Members of firms in their own constituencies who would no longer be able to ensure return loads because many of these arrangements are ad hoc, and, so far as I can see, it will not be possible to make that sort of arrangement under the Bill.

Over and above this, Members put forward from their first-hand experience pleas for many special cases, giving examples of the damage that would be done to various firms and their activities in their areas where they were undertaking tasks of a special nature. To begin with there was a rather long debate on the question of coastal shipping which depends largely upon loads carried to the ports, mostly over 100 miles, by heavy vehicles. It would appear that these loads are to be penalised under the terms of this clause. One of the cases mentioned by honourable Members in another place who come from the South-West was that of china clay, which I understand is one of the main loads carried by coastal shipping. It was said that this trade would be badly hit by this clause. And this was certainly not refuted by the Minister in his reply.

Another case quoted was that of fish, and it applies equally to Scotland and to the South of England. As your Lordships know, this question really does not arise in the case of the deep-sea fleets, because they carry with them their own icing equipment and so forth, and as the catch is taken in it is cleaned and packed in boxes with ice. But it is a very different question for the inshore fleet. The inshore fleet does not carry this equipment, and is dependent upon delivering its fish fresh to market. The inshore fleet arrives at all sorts of odd times. Any of your Lordships who have seen the inshore fleet arriving will know that the boats arrive at irregular intervals, one after the other. The fish is transhipped immediately on to vehicles and immediately goes to the market. If the boat is a little late it cannot afford to wait for the next train which comes in or leaves six or twelve hours later. They are entirely dependent on transporting the goods immediately into refrigerating vehicles which take them straight to market. Often there is only one handling off the ship on to the vehicle, and the fish is sold in the market from the vehicle. This Bill is going to penalise these people, and it is unlikely that they will be able to make their proof on costs.

Then there is the question of horticultural and perishable goods. I am not going into details but, as your Lordships know, horticultural and perishable goods have to be transported to the market immediately they have been picked, and the less handling they suffer, the better. Here again these goods will not be able to wait for a train. Take the question of fruit-picking. Fruit-picking depends entirely on the weather. And when the fruit has been picked it has to be taken straight to the market. And, again, this is a trade which must go on a vehicle.

The question was raised in the other place about the delivery of milk. The delivery and collection of milk, as your Lordships know, is a trade which goes from farm to farm, and then often to the individual market and to the individual. Twenty-five per cent. of the vehicles which are to-day carrying milk are of over 16 tons weight. Are they to be penalised, or are the vehicles to sit and rot and rust in the garage? The National Association of Millers have stated recently that no method exists for sending flour efficiently by rail. Who is to judge the question of that efficiency?

There is also the question of wine merchants. In their case speed, cost and efficiency do not enter into the matter. The wine merchants of this country, the brewers, send their merchandise by lorry because if they send it in their own lorries with their own drivers, there is something like 50 per cent. less chance of pilfering. This does not come into the question of speed, cost and reliability. Nobody suggests that the railways are pilfered, but if consignments of wines are left on station platforms, or even in locked rooms, they are much more liable to be pilfered than if they were sitting in a lorry owned by the firm and driven by one of the firm's drivers. The wine merchants and brewers go further: they say that if they send their own wine, beer or spirits in their own vehicles there is far less chance of breakages, particularly when the cases are handled by their own employees. They say, also, that what is extremely important to the trade is that they should have a quick return on the "empties". Again forgetting speed, cost and reliability, they have a much better chance of a quick return on their "empties" if they send these goods in their own vehicles, serviced by their own staff.

Finally, there is the question of seasonal demand. Everybody who is in any form of trade knows perfectly well that there are seasonal demands for their goods. Without wearying your Lordships with examples, I would just point out that the most obvious seasonal demand is the demand related to the season of Christmas, when the trains are overloaded, rush orders are called for, and the only way they can be dealt with is by sending the goods in the firm's own vehicles by road, from door to door, to the person who buys.

These pleas were made in the other place, but they fell on deaf ears, and were not answered. I think that we are entitled to have an answer to-night if the Minister expects us to take this clause seriously. It is not the short-term effect that I personally worry about, but the long-term effect, when vehicles are diverted from the roads, not because they are more efficient, but simply because they are penalised, and lie rusting up in the garages. And, what is worse, these measures are not designed to make the railways more efficient. If these measures were designed to make the railways more efficient I should accept them happily. But they are not. They are designed to penalise the roads, and it is for that reason that I thoroughly object to the clause.

9.20 p.m.


I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but I should like to bring out three points. The first is that I oppose the Government on Clause 71 because I think they are going over to the Conservatives on a question of protection, and I did not believe that the Socialists believed in protection—protection for the railways against free enterprise. My Party has always been a believer in free enterprise, and I feel it is a sad blow if—


I think that in fairness to the noble Lord we should show him the courtesy of letting him speak in silence. This is a courtesy that has been given to other noble Lords. I know it is late, but I think the noble Lord should be heard in silence.


I have made my point about free trade and free enterprise.

The second point is about the inconvenience and delay in action of bureaucracy. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, said that the licences were issued only once a year. But, as I read the clause, to carry over 16 tons laden weight over 100 miles one has to get a licence for each journey. Therefore, I think that this is a very damaging clause to the transport industry.


I wonder whether I may correct the noble Lord, because I feel there is a certain misunderstanding between us on this point. What I said, in so far as these particular licences under Clause 77 are concerned, is that when these licences are granted they are for a five-year period, not for the period of a year.


The point I was trying to make was that for over 100 miles one has to get an individual licence. That is all I have to say on the matter.


On the whole I support the Bill as a progressive measure, but in considering the provisions of this particular clause dealing with the control of large goods vehicles I wish to draw special attention to its effect on the china clay industry (I think this has been mentioned before by noble Lords), which is confined entirely to Cornwall and South-West Devon and has a world export market of the greatest national importance. The opencast pits producing china clay from the decomposed granite mass are in rural areas. The stated policy of British Rail is to establish central loading depots in urban areas, and in the greater majority of cases in my part of the country—I am Welsh but I live in Cornwall—at some considerable distance from our production units. The existing rural feeder roads are already inadequate, and with the proposed increases plus the increased output planned over the next few years we can expect only a gradual chokage which might be very serious. The freightliner system with door-to-door road/rail service again presents difficulties, unfortunately, in this case. The severe time schedule, if demurrage charges are to be avoided, will involve suppliers and customers in increased cost by way of additional equipment and labour. Over the course of many years the china clay industry has evolved a system of handling with suitably equipped and specially constructed vehicles which will make for ease of loading and convenient off-loading by tipping at the precise point required by the customer. The whole operation can be precisely programmed, with guaranteed times of delivery.

The expression "china clay" is a misnomer. The "clay" in fact is the result of the "deterioration" of the felspar in a granite mass. It is called "china clay" as it was first used to make china in the 18th century. In fact it is the anhydrous silicate of alumina, and its correct geological designation is "kaolin" It is a basic raw material used in the production of paper, ceramics, paints, rubber and plastics, textiles, pharmaceuticals and many other commodities too numerous to mention. The industry produces a wide range of clays, many of which are often required at short notice to meet special circumstances. There is a need for flexible road transport services, and these now exist. The drivers are experienced, much like milk roundsmen, and the vehicles are not only suitably designed for the delivery of china clay but are easily adaptable for the return journey carrying loads of fuel and other essential supplies to the industry.

The industry exports large proportions of its clay and products, and needs a readily available service to supply loads to the ports in the South of Cornwall. Flexibility is once again a most important factor. A number of commodities, including china clay, have been named in a tentative list published by the Minister, to be scheduled as "prescribed goods", requiring special authorisations under the Bill for all journeys. In these cases, therefore, such authorisations will be needed continually by those operators to maintain their services which feed the ports from which the material is exported.

The provisions requiring special authorisations for the conveyance of loads of over 11 tons would create hardship. The industry is unique and confined to the far South-West. Most of its inland customers are situated in the main industrial centres, anything from 100 to 300 miles away. At the maximum it might mean changing three times. If the industry is to be scheduled under the regulation which may be made by the Minister under the heading of "prescribed goods", it will mean applications for special authorisations continually for inland deliveries as well as for exports.

Furthermore, while applications for special authorisations may only be objected to by the Railways Board and/or the Freight Corporation on the prescribed criteria of cost, reliability and speed, the licensing authority will, under the Bill be required to, act in accordance with any directions contained in regulations made by the Minister and this, in the absence of any knowledge of the nature of the regulations to be made, could appear to place a restriction on the licensing authority's independent assessment of any application made to him.

The ability of British Rail to meet the criteria expressed in the Bill can, from time to time, be undermined by periodical unrests, such as we have now. If the proposals contained in the Bill are carried to their logical conclusion the alternatives now readily available by way of the specialised system of road transport, to which I have referred, will no longer exist. No one would dream of saying that these unrests will never be repeated, or would guess at the length of the period. The fleets of specialised vehicles built over the course of the years to meet all needs would have to be written off, which means a very considerable sum of money on vehicles, apart from special equipment. The cost will have to be recovered, and also that of the capital which will be needed to provide for specialised storage by the inland customer. All this will affect trading opportunities at home and overseas, where markets exist for the final product, for example, ceramics.

To conclude, I must emphasise my concern as a member of the China Clay Council appointed to promote the development of the china clay industry. The limitations which are proposed and might be imposed on the industry's own road transport will have a very serious effect indeed. I would ask my noble friend Lord Winterbottom for an assurance that the Minister will be prepared to consider making regulations under the provisions of subsection (5) of this clause to exclude the china clay industry from requiring to seek special authorisations for the conveyance by road of its clays and associated products because of its unique geographical position, its outstanding export achievements, and its importance to the country as the source of a basic raw material the use of which is expanding every year because of its competitive price. Any serious escalation of costs would result in the margin becoming precarious.


We have all listened to the noble Lord, Lord Arwyn, with great interest making out a very cogent case, if I may say so, for china clay. But as noble Lords will know, an equally cogent case can be made out for many other industries, too, and this is the problem that confronts us. Moving towards the end of this very interesting debate, which was opened so ably by my noble friend Lord St. Oswald, I should like to say one word about the answer which was given by the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, who had the invidious task of trying to justify quantity licensing. He did so, I thought, in a very straightforward way by telling us that the Government's intention was that there should be a switch of haulage of freight from road haulage to rail of the order of 10 per cent., which in the Government's view would go a long way to wipe out the rail deficit. He added that he thought that some sections of industry needed to have good done to them by being compelled to use rail services more often. As my noble friend Lord St. Oswald observed earlier, this is not a very good week in which to make that case out.

Noble Lords should not overlook the fact that these periodic unrests, to which Lord Arwyn rightly referred, are unhappily a matter of fact, and they influence industrialists in making their decisions, as they are bound to, because so very often freights, unless they arrive on time, will lose their market altogether.

I should like to address myself in the few minutes of my contribution to the debate to what this policy might cost the nation. The noble Lord told us that he thought this switch would benefit the rail services, but he dealt in no way with what the cost would be to the national economy of the resulting delay and dislocation and hi,-,,her costs. I have five points to which I should like to refer. The first point is as to the position of the "C" licence vehicle. We al understand that. Industry and trade throughout the country run their own transport fleets in order to carry their own goods, and in this particular category of 16 to 32-tonners there are something like 60,000 "C" licence vehicles. These vehicles are operated by industry for their own goods, and in the main they carry components, spares and materials from one factory to another.

The modern trend, as noble Lords will know, is specialised factories east making components for the final product; for instance, the motor car industry, which then brings together all the components from different factories and assembles the ultimate motor car. The "C" licence vehicle has developed over these post-war years into becoming literally an extended factory conveyor belt. What is ving to happen? At the present time, the links spread all over England from factories in the South to the development areas in the North and in Scotland. The whole of this system is going to be in a state of uncertainty. For all these movements transport managers have to get special authorisations before they can use these big vehicles. British Rail or the National Freight Corporation will be allowed to resist if they wish to; and there will be more than a danger that the industries concerned will fail to get a licence. Inevitably, quantity licensing would oblige industry at least to carry greatly increased stocks in order to cover the resulting uncertainties. It really is difficult to imagine a measure which would more completely disrupt the existing transport system in this particular respect.

The first point I ask noble Lords opposite—I hope somebody is going to answer this—is, what would be the extra cost on this account? The second point I should like to put to the Government is the point referred to by my noble friend Lord St. Oswald concerning the long-term planning of transport. The fact that this elaborate, bureaucratic machinery has to be negotiated in order to get permission to make normal commercial journeys about the country, eve a from one factory to another, makes an element of uncertainty which would completely destroy the flexible transport planning which modern transport engages in.

I hope that noble Lords on the Front Bench would at any rate agree with this (I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Arwyn, would agree) that it is normal to-day for large scale industry to plan its transport arrangements for five years ahead, in terms of vehicles, personnel, maintenance depots and so on, all of which is geared into the general development plan of the industry. Under quantity licensing this kind of comprehensive transport planning becomes completely impossible. All heavy-vehicle use over 100 miles would be dependent on the decision of Government civil servants, the traffic commissioner, plus British Railways and the National Freight Corporation. Again I ask, what would this cost to operate? What additional cost would come out of this for our industry as a whole?

At the same time as disrupting long-term planning of transport in industry it would also disrupt the short-term transport management, which at present is so effective in speed and flexibility in meeting existing needs. This enables the transport manager to react immediately to any sudden need or crisis as soon as it arises. Quantity licensing would necessitate an application to the traffic commissioner, with all the rigmarole involved in the Bill; and reference to British Railways and to the National Freight Corporation. Weeks would go by before the transport manager would know whether or not he could send his vehicle, by which time the emergency would have become a disaster or some other solution would have been found. And the special expediting machinery does not get over this. It still takes time, and the uncertainty is always there, whether you get permission or not. Again what would this cost the economy?

A further point which was made by my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard and it is my fourth point, relates to the switch from the 32-tonner to the 16-tonner. This is bound to happen. Quantity licensing is certain to influence the use of fleets of smaller vehicles of 16-ton capacity, in order to avoid the hazards and uncertainties of the licensing system of the 32-tonner. There are two direct disadvantages to the economy as a result of that. First of all, there is the obvious loss of transport efficiency, with higher transport costs from using smaller vehicles; and secondly, there is the handicap to British heavy vehicle manufacture, with the loss of part of the domestic market and therefore the handicap in the export market. Again, what is going to be the cost of this to the national economy?

My fifth and last point is the return load. All connected with the transport world fully understand that all road freight prices are calculated on the basis of about a 75 per cent. pick-up on the return' load. Almost invariably, this is arranged at the last moment, usually through the transport clearing houses. It is impossible to predict what will be offered, but they can pick up these return loads. It is impossible to forecast in advance what they will be, or where they will go; they switch about all over the place. If return loads cannot be picked up, if each time a special authorisation has to be asked for, once again it is going to raise the cost of transport throughout the country. Again the expedited machinery in Clause 75 just could not begin to meet this need. What is the cost of this to the national economy? I have referred briefly to five major aspects in which this system will inevitably and substantially raise transport costs. Have the Government quantitified any one of them? The answer is no, not one; and yet here they come to Parliament to force this system on the industry of the country for the benefit of British Railways without any idea of what the ultimate cost will be to the economy as a whole.

I said on Second Reading that this is easily the worst feature in this Bill. I am very critical of some other things in the Bill too, but this is easily the worst, and I say again what I said on Second Reading: instead of running the railways to serve the country this is a policy of running the country to serve the railways. Our people at the end of the day judge a Party by its capacity to put national interests first, and when they get the chance the nation's judgment on this measure will be an unqualified condemnation, and so will ours to-night.


Would the noble Lord not agree, in view of his last remarks, that much of the case that has been made consistently throughout this Bill has been made on evidence and support, financial support, of the Road Haulage Association?


No answer.


We have had a very wide ranging debate that has covered a number of clauses dealing with the proposals for the quantity licensing procedures. Before I reply to the various criticisms, may I thank not only noble Lords who have so courteously offered me their condolences but the noble Lord who has said such agreeable things about me. I hope that the noble Lord weeps for me. I have enjoyed this debate and I shall enjoy answering it. I should like to start with one of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford—it has also been a thread running through the whole debate—and that is the fear that railway strikes and unrest will be such a permanent feature of our economy that no one, unless put under pressure by the licensing authorities, will willingly send their goods by rail for fear that they will be unable to carry on their production because goods are frozen in transit on the railways. That is always a possibility. But I hope noble Lords do not believe that strikes never take place in the road transport industry. I can remember periods when the motor industries of this country were tied up completely for a long time by the strike of the delivery drivers who were not taking the cars away from the factories. As a result, the factories had to stop production because they had nowhere to store the motor cars which they were turning out. The risk exists on the roads as well as on the railways.

I should like to make a point which I think your Lordships, in fairness, will consider worth making. We are trying to create a healthy railway system. Part of the malaise on the railways at the moment is the fact that they are not in a healthy condition. The railwaymen—and I know this from many old friendships—are a group of men who, in the main, are proud of their industry and would like to see it restored, if not to its former greatness at least to the position of playing an important role in the economy of this country. I believe that a great deal of this malaise and unrest will disappear if we can restore the railway system to a healthy economic position. Negotiations, whether on basic wages or on productivity, are always bedevilled by a situtation where the organisation is making heavy losses. I believe that if we restore health to the railway system, we shall have a more stable system and many of the fears which have been expressed this. evening will come to nothing.

I turn now to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, on the question of cost to the nation. This is a subject which we could argue almost to the end of time. I have come with some figures which have been prepared for me, but I believe that they are entirely hypothetical. I will not argue them; I will simply state them. The Multiple Shops Federation suggest that the Bill will add 3d. in the pound to every purchase made by the public. I have a set of elaborate calculations, which at this hour of night I will not read to your Lordships, but which indicate that the increase will be, at the most, a farthing in the pound. Nobody this evening has quantified or put in the balance the fact that the railways are most certainly losing money in very quantifiable terms, and that society as a whole is suffering substantial losses through the operation of sub-standard vehicles.

Earlier in my speech I referred to freebooting. I do not repent of that remark. My noble friend Lord Hughes, when winding up the debate on the quality licensing of vehicles, indicated the very large number of sub-standard vehicles which are on the roads at the moment and which will be in danger of removal under the quality licensing procedure. Nobody has quantified the cost to society if these vehicles remain on the roads in a dangerous condition. This is a great deal of money, but the actual total is difficult to quantify. The question of cost is something that cannot be calculated with precision at this stage and it would be a waste of lime to attempt it. Some things will cost more money, but without doubt railway losses will be reduced; and let us hope that the cost of accidents, also will be reduced. So we all hope, at the end of the day, the total social cost of the transport industry will improve as a result of these measures and not be made worse.

Before I go on to deal with some of the points made by noble Lords, may I just read one subsection of the Bill which I believe underlines everything else? There have been many arguments about imposing extra costs on certain industries. The noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, in a reasoned speech which interested me very much, indicated certain areas where increased costs might be expected as a result of an incorrect application of the intentions of this Bill. Subsection (5) of Clause 74 says: The factors relevant for making the comparison mentioned … shall be speed, reliability and cost and the licensing authority shall assess their relative importance by reference to the needs of the person for whom the goods in question are to be carried and to the nature of those goods. In this case the customer will be right and the customer's interest will be preserved by the licensing authorities. If this Bill means anything, it means that the customer will always be right. Admittedly we are asking the licensing authorities to do a difficult job, but we believe in their impartiality. I believe that over a very wide range of goods the decision will be comparatively easy.

The noble Lord, Lord St. Helens mentioned a number of substances. Let us take flour. If flour can be effectively carried only in road vehicles of specialised design, then subsection (5) of Clause 74 clearly will not force flour on to the railways. The same is true of fish, and, I imagine, of wine—and pilfering increases the cost of transporting from one place to another—and, finally, the same is true of china clay. My noble friend Lord Arwyn expressed concern that, in spite of the fact that specialised vehicles have been developed in order to carry china clay efficiently from the point of excavation to the port, just out of sheer doctrinaire desire to help the railways the licensing authorities will force the china clay industry to use other means.


How are the comparative costs going to be worked out if it is admitted that the figures being produced are largely hypothetical?


I should have thought that in the case of china clay the figures would be known with great precision. The china clay industry should, because it is a very efficient industry, know precisely what it costs per ton to move china clay to the ports of despatch, and it is that figure which will have to be met by the Railways Board if it is a simple matter of cost. But as I understood the noble Lord, it is not a simple question of cost; there are other factors as well, and they will be borne in mind by the licensing authorities.

I believe that this legislation will be sensibly applied. Nobody wants to create mayhem just for the sake of creating it. So I am in no way worried that this attempt to help the railways to minimise their losses is one that we should regard merely as a bureaucratic attempt to limit the liberty of choice of the individual. Unfortunately, in a complex society the choice of the individual is always being limited. I think all of us, on both sides, want to control that limitation of the individual's choice by the State. But from time to time the choice has to be limited in the national interest.

May I say this, as a sort of "side-kick" to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. Someone has forecast a Conservative victory at the next General Election. It is conceivable that there may be a Liberal victory—who am I to know? The noble Lord preached the doctrine of Manchester Liberalism—Adam Smith would have been proud of him—and accused us of creating an enormous bureaucracy. But would he, as one of the leaders of the Liberal Party, after a victory at the next Election sweep away all licensing procedures? Under this Bill we are sweeping away a very large proportion of existing licensing procedures. Would he sweep away the lot? Would he return to straightforward free trade and competition between individual companies and firms?


The noble Lord knows very well that the answer to that is, No, and that we believe as he does, and as noble Lords on the Conservative Benches do, in a mixed economy. But if this particular part went through we should certainly sweep that away.


Now we know. I do not know whether I have convinced your Lordships. But I know that the hour is late and, because of transport difficulties, we are unable to sit later to-night. But if I have not been able to convince your Lordships, I hope that at least I have caused you to believe that our case is stronger than many noble Lords opposite have made out.

9.58 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 202) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 110; Not-Contents, 34.

Ailwyn, L. Denham, L. [Teller.] Milverton, L.
Albemarle, E. Drumalbyn, L. Molson, L.
Allerton, L. Effingham, E. Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Alport, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Mottistone, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Erroll of Hale, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Amulree, L. Ferrier, L. Newton, L.
Ashbourne, L. Fisher, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Auckland, L. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Audley, Bs. Gage, V. Oakshott, L.
Balerno, L. Gisborough, L. Powis, E.
Bannerman of Kildonan, L. Goschen, V. Rankeillour, L.
Barnby, L. Greenway, L. Redmayne, L.
Barrington, V. Gridley, L. Rochdale, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Rockley, L.
Belstead, L. Harcourt, V. Sackville, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Hawke, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller]
Bledisloe, V. Headfort, M. St. Helens, L.
Bolton, L. Henley, L. St. Just, L.
Boston, L. Hindlip, L. St. Oswald, L.
Boyd of Merton, V. Horsbrugh, Bs. Salisbury, M.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Howe, E. Sandford, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Iddesleigh, E. Savile, L.
Buckton, L. Ilford, L. Sempill, Ly
Burnham, L. Jellicoe, E. Somers, L.
Burton, L. Kilmany, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Carrington, L. Lansdowne, M. Swinton, E.
Clitheroe, L. Latymer, L. Templemore, L.
Colgrain, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E Teviot, L.
Conesford, L. Long, V. Thurlow, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Lothian, M. Vivian, L.
Cottesloe, L. Lucan, E. Wade, L.
Craigavon, V. MacAndrew, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Craigmyle, L. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Windlesham, L.
Cranbrooke, E. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Worverton, L
Crathorne, L. Merrivale, L. Wrottesley, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Mersey, V. Wynford, L.
Daventry, V. Mills, V.
Archibald, L. Hill of Wivenhoe, L. Raglan, L.
Arwyn, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Rhodes, L.
Beswick, L. Hughes, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Bowles, L. [Teller.] Lindgren, L. Rowley, L.
Brockway, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Serota, Bs.
Carron, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Shackleton, L.
Champion, L. Maelor, L. Shepherd, L.
Collison, L. Peddie, L. Sorensen, L.
Crook, L. Phillips, Bs. Stonham, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Plummer, Bs. Strabolgi, L.
Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Popplewell, L. Winterbottom, L.
Henderson, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

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