§ 3.20 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House dc again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Stonham.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD JESSEL in the Chair.]
§ Clause 95 [Permitted driving time and periods of duty]:
The EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 234A:
Page 126, line 29, leave out ("or (c)") and insert ("(c) or (d)".)
§ The noble Earl said: This is an introductory Amendment to the main Amendment, No. 236A, which is an additional sub-paragraph to paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of Clause 95. I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has gone to Nigeria, though I am sure the Government are very fortunate to have him do so, because I should have been very glad to have his support on this Amendment on which he speaks with more cogency and experience than I do. My information on this subject comes from being the President of the National Ski Federation of Great Britain who are naturally concerned at the effects that this Bill, as drafted, will have or day excursions taken by young people. This applies particularly to young people, because many older people have their own cars and are not covered by this Bill.1087
This clause, like most of the Bill, is full of criminal offences, and a superficial reading of the Bill might leave the impression that the Government were wholly against transport. I do not think that that is so; I think it would be misconceiving the Government's intention, and I take my cue from a reading of the words of the White Paper on Transport which says:
One of the most precious achievements of modern civilisation is mobility. It enriches social life and widens experience".
In view of that, I hope I shall have some support for this Amendment from the Government, because I do not believe that they want the effects of the Bill as drafted to be such as they are.
§ The problem here lies in Clause 95 (3) (c), which lays down that the working day is limited to 14 hours. If your Lordships will look at the interpretation of "working day" in Clause 102, you will see that the working day includes any period of the day from the time a man starts work to the time he finishes, whether or not he is on duty during that time. May I give one or two examples, supplied to me largely by the Scottish Ski Federation. They have made a fairly close examination of what is happening. These figures are probably well known to the Government, but it is just as well to remind them now. It has been found that in the cases of day excursions—and I am talking particularly about holiday excursions for young children, university students and youth clubs—these young people leave their home town in the early morning and go to some mountain area for hiking, climbing, skiing, or whatever it is, spend the whole day there and go back in the evening. That is the type of enterprise that I am sure everyone in this House wants to encourage and not stop, but it is pretty nearly prevented from taking place by the terms of the Bill as at present drafted.
§ An examination of the present system shows that in the great majority of cases the total time between departure and return exceeds 14 hours, but in very few cases were the driving hours in excess of six. An examination has been made of 74 different routings; there are many different routings which take in different places. In only 12 cases did driving hours exceed eight, and never more than nine, and they averaged about six. The remainder of the time was taken up with 1088 breaks for breakfast or coffee, long hours in the car park at the bottom of the hill or ski lift, which may be six or eight hours, lying in the heather or enjoying the sun, the evening meal or refreshment on return, making in many cases a total exceeding 14 hours. If this provision is insisted on, activities of this character will be seriously curtailed.
I seek to make an Amendment on the lines I think the Government would like to proceed with this Bill; that is to say, through regulations. The subsection dealing with these regulations which I have put here—and of course the Government are free to make the regulations entirely as they like—reads as follows:
if during that day the vehicle or vehicles which he is driving is or are being used in connection with organised participation in a sporting activity the driving hours and working hours may be prescribed by the Minister.
§ There is, in fact, another way of doing it, and I suggest this only because the noble Lord may be interested in it. There is a curious conflict between the interpretation of the working day in Clause 102 and the interpretation of an interval for rest in subsection (4) of Clause 95. In subsection (4) a rest period counts although the driver may be liable to be called for duty, but the rest period as defined in the working day is counted in the working day, even though the driver is not required for duty during a specified time. The only difference is whether or not the period amounts to 11 hours. That is to say, in one case it is counted in the working day, although he may not be required for duty for quite a number of hours, and in the other case it is not counted as a period of duty although he may be on call. It seems to me a possibility that the definition of the working day might be changed to suit the particular circumstances which I have outlined to the noble Lord here.
§ I hope the Government will be able to meet this point. I do not believe they want to curtail this kind of activity I believe they would like to encourage it. I hope they will make suggestions which will mean that this type of activity can be carried on as now. It affects a large number of people, and I hope an increasing number of people—not only young people but people engaged in the business of driving, hotel-keepers and indeed the 1089 development of the whole area. I beg to move.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
I should like to support everything the noble Earl has said. I am President of the Ski Club of Great Britain, and many of our members, particularly young people, go out from the industrial North on these expeditions into Scotland to ski and to climb and to walk. There is among those who organise these parties for the young great anxiety about the effects that this Bill will have on all these excursions. The noble Earl has put in great detail, and very clearly, the problems and the difficulties which exist. I hope the Government will look very carefully at the position and try to see that these excursions are not prevented, as I fear they may well be if the Bill goes through in its present form.
There is another point. At that time of the year when a vehicle goes away for a day like that there can be delays, perhaps due to an accident on the ski slopes, possibly because of fog or mist or snow or icy roads. This delay might unwittingly produce contravention of the provisions in this Bill. I hope that the Government will look long and earnestly and try to put right what seems to be contrary to the general national interest.
§ LORD BANNERMAN OF KILDONAN
I listened to your Lordships' debate for several hours on Tuesday in the hope that I might have an opportunity of supporting this Amendment by the noble Earl. I came to two conclusions, after sitting here some time: that speeches should be at an inverse ratio to the length of the Bill and that your Lordships could be excused for rechristening this Bill the "Transport Flexibility Bill". Flexibility was the recurring refrain proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers to stave off Amendments from the Opposition Benches which to me, at any rate, had improving merit. Always, it seemed to me, noble Lords on the Front Benches opposite refused to write into the Bill the promise of flexibility, but hoped that the Minister (perhaps it was a pious hope; I do not know) would later make exemptions by order. These concessions, or exemptions, by order will require to be legion if hardship is to be avoided for many sections of the community with 1090 no obvious connection with transport at all. Not only do increased transport costs retard the initiative and the enterprise among those in industry, but the extra burdens seep through to affect adversely every facet of living of the ordinary people.
I thought it was laudable that the Government should try to lay down reasonable limits for the working day and week of the driver. But, as was pointed out by the noble Earl, the Government, in so doing, may in this case, among other things, destroy some of the good work they are doing for youth in trying to make them active participators in healthy outdoor activities, rather than have them remain inactive spectators of town football matches or coffee d-inkers in cafes. If flexibility of approach is needed anywhere in this Bill, it is where the Bill may affect adversely the interests of youth. As the noble Earl, and the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, have pointed out, there are long rests for the bus driver taking youth on excursions to the ski-slopes, or climbers to the mountains. This is known, and should be assessed and taken into account by the Minister in this Bill. Through the Sports Council the Government must be fully aware of the blockading effect their proposed legislation would have on the youth movements of this country. To reconcile the drivers' welfare with the needs of the youth of our country to have easy and cheap access to our glens and bens makes it necessary to amend this Bill as the noble Earl suggests, or in some way that will give effect to his intentions. It might be done by direct Government grant through their Sports Council, which would offset the increased costs to these youth excursions out to the country. I should be glad to know what is the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, on that possibility.
I do not underestimate how difficult it is to put into practice what the noble Earl, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt and myself want to do, and it is interesting that this difficulty did not become apparent until the Bill had almost finished going through another place. When it did become apparent, and we tried to see how it could be put right, it was immediately obvious to us that it opened up a great many other difficulties and anomalies. Nevertheless, 1091 we put down an Amendment. Indeed, we changed that Amendment and put down another—that which is before your Lordships. It may be that the Government cannot accept it in its present form, but I hope that they will look at it and see whether they can devise some means for doing what we want. If they do not devise some means for doing what we want, I fear that it will inhibit certain kinds of sporting activities which none of us want to inhibit, or it will lead to widespread disregard of the law in this respect. As I say, I know how difficult it is, but I believe that it can be done and that the Government may be able to tell us how it should be done.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
I have the greatest sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Bannerman. It happened to me many times in another place that I had prepared an excellent speech and at the end of the day was frustrated from delivering it. I congratulate the noble Lord on his excellent speech which was not wasted, and that he has now been able to get it off his chest. The only thing that I should have liked is that before delivering it he had read subsection (10), because I think he would have found that this would have given him all the flexibility that he is demanding.
Let me say at once that the Government have not the slightest intention of doing anything which would deprive young people of legitimate or proper opportunities for sporting activities of the kind described, or indeed of any sporting activities; nor do I accept for one moment that this is what the Bill does. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that he is quite wrong in thinking that it was not until the Bill was well advanced in another place that we considered this particular proposition. The organisation to which the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, referred and of which he is President and my noble friend Lord Hunt is President-elect, the Scottish National Ski Council, have made full representations to my Department, which have been most carefully considered and are still under consideration.
The noble Earl, indeed, recited the suggestions from the Ski Council, which are that a limit of 18 hours should be allowed for drivers of express or contract 1092 carriages used in connection with organised participation in a sporting activity, provided that the aggregate driving time does not exceed eight, or preferably eight and a half hours. They say, and we know it is true, that it is common for a party to be taken by a coach to the ski-ing slopes and after some hours there to be driven back, involving a working day of 14 to 18 hours for the driver. The noble Lord, Lord Wakefield, said that he feared there could possibly be contraventions of this provision. I would assure him that some of the situations we have had described to us as happening are contraventions of the present circumstances. There is no question about that.
I want now to consider just what the proposed changes involve. I would say at once to the noble Earl—I assure him firmly on this—that the provision for which he asks in his Amendment is quite unnecessary, because the Minister already has the power under subsection (10) of Clause 95 which will repay careful consideration.
§ LORD STONHAM
I said, and I mean, subsection (10), a subsection which, incidentally, we considered closely on Tuesday night when the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, raised a question about snow ploughs. It is the same subsection. It gives power to make regulations to create exemptions from the requirements of subsection (3) of Clause 95 to meet any special need, and if the new limits on drivers' hours can be shown to cause serious difficulties they can, and will, be tackled in that way. It would be necessary to be satisfied that any relaxations were justifiable in safety terms as well as in terms of assisting particular types of sporting operation; because in addition to wishing to do and doing all we possibly can to encourage participation in sports by young people, and indeed by older people as well, we must have consideration for the rest of the population in regard to safety, and indeed for the welfare and well being of the drivers of the vehicles concerned. But excursions for sporting activities cover an extremely wide field—for example, football matches—and in many cases there will be no difficulty about fitting the journey 1093 into the statutory requirements, taking into account the latitude already allowed for for express and contract work under subsection (3)(c) of Clause 95, to which I would also draw the noble Earl's attention.
As regards the particular case of ski or climbing excursions—and I apologise for my speech being rather long, but I want to satisfy noble Lords on this particular point—I venture first to say that an 18-hour-long day is even longer than permitted by the existing law. That is the point I was making to the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield. At present the working day is normally limited to 14 hours by the need for ten hours rest in each 24, counting from the beginning of any spell of driving. In the case of the driver of any express or contract carriage the rest period can be reduced from the normal 10 hours to eight hours once a week, if the driver has had four hours for rest and refreshment at a destination; but even in this case the working day cannot be spread over more than 16 hours. So, in so far as the noble Lord is asking for an overall day of 18 hours, and in so far as he is alleging that this happens now, then it is illegal, and I am sure he would not persist in any demand of that kind.
We have gone into this matter very carefully, I would assure the noble Lord, Lord Henley, arid I will prove it by giving details of a typical example of a day excursion for ski enthusiasts from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Aviemore, Glenshee or Glenmore. The journey time varies from five to six hours, including in the case of Glenshee and Glenmore a refreshment stop at Perth or somewhere in the neighbourhood of Perth. A day excursion would involve a driver leaving at, say, 8 o'clock in the morning and arriving at the ski centre at 1 p.m. if it were Aviemore, or about 2 p.m. if it were Glenshee or Glenmore. He would leave again about 6 p.m. in the evening so as to get back by 11 o'clock or 11.30 at night. This is a public excursion (express carriage) licensed by the traffic commissioners and would just fit into the 16-hour day. A similar excursion conveying a private party would not require a road service licence, but the same drivers' hours requirements apply under existing law and under this Bill.
1094 According to the Ski Council, over 80 per cent. of drivers of the day excursions have a 14 to 18-hour day, although an average of six hours and a maximum of eight to nine hours only is spent in driving. The Ski Council memorandum points out that many parties, especially from the North of England, travel up for the whole week-end, staying in an hotel, Friday and Saturday nights, and the drivers are likely to have a day exceeding 14 hours only on Sunday. That also means the possibility of two drivers. But under the Bill the use of two drivers will rarely be of advantage because, apart from cost, it does not help in meeting the new drivers' hours requirements. Under Section 73(4) of the 1960 Act, the time spent on a public service vehicle as a passenger is not reckoned as time spent in "driving", but no such dispensation is given in Clause 95 of this Bill. In other words, driving is driving time. As a result, a relief driver travelling with a vehicle always has the same limit to the working day as the driver who drives at the commencement of the journey. The bus industry have drawn our attention to this point in the context of long-distance coaches but without making any specific representations for the use of exemption powers.
We should certainly be unwilling, and I hope noble Lords including the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, would be unwilling, to consider a relaxation beyond the 16-hours specified in existing legislation. I am sure that nobody wants that. As regards the reduction of this limit to 14 hours under the Bill, we already have considered and we shall continue to consider very carefully the case put forward by the Ski Council and any representations made by the bus operators themselves whose responsibility it is to observe these statutory requirements. But this particular point has riot been made to date in any representations from the bus operators' national associations.
This is not the only one. The other evening my noble friend Lord Wigg raised a point about horse-boxes and hours worked in conveying horses; and of course there are greyhounds and other livestock where we have to consider whether the spreadover will meet particular requirements. But I assure the noble Earl that his Amendment is unnecessary, and that if the new limits on drivers' 1095 hours can be shown to cause serious difficulties, whether it be in connection with ski-ing or in the movement of horses or greyhounds or other livestock, then under regulations which can be made under subsection (10) of Clause 95, if the "special need" is shown, regulations will most certainly be considered by the Minister. We have this matter very much in mind. Our intentions are no less than those of the noble Earl, and the only point on which we insist is that we are certainly not prepared in any case to allow the hours to be longer than they are at present, and we certainly must at all times consider the safety of all who use the roads and the wellbeing of the drivers.
§ Lord WAKEFIELD of KENDAL
Could the noble Lord clarify the position of a driver who has perhaps driven a party to the ski-fields and is then not required for duty for 6 or 8 hours, so that he has plenty of time to have a rest? Everybody knows that the 'bus is not leaving until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, what is the position there? It seems to me that that is the kind of occasion that creates real difficulty. There is not very much driving time; there is plenty of time for the driver to sleep and rest. But, so far as I understand the position, those hours when he is not on duty and when he can sleep and rest count as duty. Am I wrong, or is that right?
§ Lord STONHAM
The noble Lord is perfectly right that the total hours spent on the job count as duty, and the Bill proposes, under normal conditions, a limit of 14 hours. Whether the time is spent driving or sleeping, if you like, until the journey back, it counts as part of the ordinary period of 14 hours. What I am saying in addition is that the Bill, as now drafted, allows the Minister, if the need can be shown, to make regulations which would meet the kind of situation which the noble Lord, the noble Earl, and my noble friend Lord Wigg, and others, have in mind.
§ Lord NUGENT of GUILDFORD
May I just add a word of support to my noble friend Lord Selkirk's plea for this exemption, which is really what is asked for here. We recognise that in Clause 95(10), the Minister has this power, and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has made the point that 18 hours would be in 1096 excess of the law as it stands to-day. I think it would be perhaps asking a little much to ask him to go beyond that, but obviously it would be very valuable if there were a prospect that the Minister would be sympathetic to continuing the present arrangement of a weekly journey, a once-a-week journey, at 16 hours. This would cover, I imagine, most of the excursions to which my noble friend is referring. These are special cases, and it was, I think, welcome to all of us to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that the Government have needs like this very much in mind. I felt sure they would have, and I am glad to hear it; and if the noble Lord were able to tell us that the Minister will consider sympathetically making an exemption that would allow the continuation of the 16-hour weekly excursion, as under the present law, I think that would go a long way to meeting this particular need. I am bound to say that the noble Lord has my sympathy when he says that he cannot extend it for an extra couple of hours, when one remembers that the Bill seeks to reduce the hours.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
There is another side to this story. Of course everybody wants to do everything possible to encourage young people to go on these sporting trips into the open air, but there is a genuine difficulty that the bus driver, who may have been driving for five or six hours, arrives at his destination and is asked to stand down possibly for five, six, seven, eight or nine hours. Where does he get his rest? He is in charge of the bus, and has to bring the young people back home from the sporting event. Several accidents have occurred, and questions have arisen as to whether the person in charge of the vehicle has been a little overtired at the time.
Because of the safety factor, I feel that we ought not to press my noble friend to go further than he has done. If a bus was taking a sporting party to a certain venue and would be travelling for five or six hours, or even longer, one way to get over the difficulty would be to provide a relief driver. The additonal cost involved would be negligible, or very small compared to the distance the bus would have to travel. I look at this matter from a practical point of view, since I know the great strain that is 1097 imposed by these split turns when a driver goes a long distance and then has nowhere to rest. It is no use saying that he can go to sleep in the bus. One knows what happens when these drivers get to their destination. They try to have a rest, or they just hang about and probably go for a drink or so. They are human beings, and if there is a pub open they probably go into it. My noble friend has gone a long way towards recognising the difficulties and in making the offer which he has made. Therefore I think that we should press him no further.
§ LORD KAHN
Noble Lords who have spoken in favor of the Amendment have been in favour of organised active participation in sporting activities. I am worried by the wider discretionary powers possessed by the Minister under subsection (10). I should like to express the hope that the Minister's sympathy will be mainly in the direction of organised active participation in sporting activities and very much less in favour of organised passive participation in sporting activity, even though it may be strongly supported by the enterprise which provide3 the transport.
§ LORD MITCHISON
If I may return to the Amendment, it appears to be rather limited. It does not propose an exemption, but provides that in certain widely defined cases the matter should be left to the Minister. The Bill itself contains another power for the Minister to make proper provision in cases of special need. I listened to all the instances which were given and I could not find one which did not fall within the words "special need". Under the terms of the Amendment, in the case of a sporting activity the Minister is not bound to do anything; he is required only to consider the matter. It is left to him. Under the Bill he is equally bound to consider the question in the rather wider context of special need.
I suggest that this is the wrong sort of Amendment, and that this matter ought to be left to the Minister. If one puts into the Bill a number of specific cases, one will leave out a number of others and so will be narrowing what the Minister will consider to be "special need". It is quite wrong to try to cover 1098 every case which might occur by writing it into the Bill. In cases of this kind there has to be a discretionary power. It is better to leave it in general terms.
Nobody, however ingenious, will be able to think of all the cases which the Minister will be able to consider in the Bill as it is. Another consideration is that transport and the requirements of transport change with the passage of time. If one thought of all the special cases which apply at present, they would not necessarily embrace all the special cases which would have to be met in future. It is therefore necessary to leave a discretionary power with the Minister to deal with the matter and to have the provision in general terms, rather than to narrow its effect by writing specific cases into the Bill.
I hope that the Amendment will not be pressed. I am not speaking on any particular Party line. I am speaking as a lawyer who both in this House and in another place over a long period of time, has had to deal with the language of Bills. I am sure that I am right in saying that it is a mistake to try to include all these cases. One must reconcile, on the one hand, the safety of the public and decent conditions of work for the driver with, on the other hand, the need in a number of cases to have exceptionally long hours. The noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, will be glad to hear that there is provision in the Bill for rest and also for refreshment, so that the driver will not have to starve—and will even be allowed to have a drink.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ LORD HANKEY
I should like to say a word in support of the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal. I would point out that in Scotland one does not know in advance whether or not the snow will be there. One does not know whether it is going to be a sunny weekend until on a Friday night one hears the B.B.C. say so in the weather news. These young people are going to want their trucks at short notice. If it is to be impossible to obtain a truck because reference has to be made to London or to the Minister, then this is the sort of situation that will land Scotland in a frenzy of despair. You cannot blame them. They have to refer to Whitehall matters which ought to be looked at locally.
1099 I know that there is provision, in the text to which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, referred, for reference to local licensing authorities, but I should like to invite the noble Lord to inform the Committee a little more closely. Is it possible for him to give us an assurance for instance, that to the greatest degree possible flexible arrangements will be laid on by which permission can be granted locally, and by which there will not have to be long-distance telephone calls to London and references to a Minister, which take three weeks to go through? Can a standing permission be given, in exceptional circumstances, to certain truck owners and drivers to carry young people when the weather is good, or when the snow happens to be there? I assure the Government that this is of very great importance to the young people.
§ LORD STONHAM
So far as Lord Hankey's question is concerned, about the young people not knowing until the Friday night whether the snow will be there, that has nothing to do with the matter, and it is really quite absurd to suggest that, if it was there on Friday night, they would then have to apply to the Minister for permission. The Minister will deal with a situation generally. There will be a class of exemptions, and if this one were agreed it would be one of a class. The provision in the subsection lower down, to which the noble Lord referred, for reference to a local commissioner (and, by the way, it could be a retrospective reference) is to cover a sudden emergency—not to enable people to ski on snow, but to shift it out of the way so that people can use the roads. It is for that kind of emergency. I hope the noble Lord is fully satisfied on that point.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Popplewell, because from his very great practical knowledge and experience he put the difficulties of the workers in this matter. I do not put this forward as a reproach, but it seems to me that in so many of the arguments from the Benches opposite the well-being of the workers in transport has been the very last consideration in noble Lords' minds. There should be a balance in this matter.
My noble friend Lord Mitchison mentioned a matter of which any noble Lord 1100 who has ever been a Minister must be aware: that the more examples of exceptions you put into a Bill, the less flexibility there is and the more you restrict the Minister's discretion. If you were to put in, for example, ski-ing and horseboxes, you would immediately imply that greyhounds did not count. Those noble Lords who are pressing for exemptions and exceptions to be written into the Bill are not pressing for flexibility; they are pressing for rigidity.
The noble Lord, Lord Kahn, asked me whether, in making regulations, the Minister would favour what I might call organised participation in sports, as opposed to spectator participation. I may not be quoting the noble Lord accurately, but I think that is what he had in mind. I can assure him that exemptions can be made according to the merits of the case being considered, and, quite obviously, the ski-ing case would have greater merit. Another factor is that in most cases that I can think of at the moment, if there is merely spectator participation, the people can probably be taken there and back well within a 14-hour day.
I should like to come to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford. He fully understands my position, because he has himself been in the same boat many times. I must say to the noble Lord—I hope he will accept this—that I am sure he would not expect me to give an open-ended assurance. Secondly, I must remind him that my right honourable friend the Minister has made it clear that there cannot be a mass of exemptions. If they were granted so readily, quite obviously it would destroy this clause of the Bill and there would be no purpose at all in having it. But, equally, I can assure the noble Lord that my right honourable friend will very carefully consider—and has already said so—making exemptions if a good case is made out.
As regards the question about 16 hours, of course I cannot say that the period would be 16 hours. What I can say, however, is that unless it was more than 14 hours there would be no purpose at all in regulation, because it would be in the Bill. I think we have had an extremely useful debate. I hope that the ski-ing associations, both in Scotland and in England, will feel that their case will be fully looked after by the Bill and by 1101 the Minister, and that other similar sporting organisations will feel the same way. I hope that this Amendment will be withdrawn.
§ LORD BALERNO
May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, whether he is aware that a great many of these trips to the ski-slopes, especially in winter, are made in mini-buses and mini-vans which are commercial vehicles but usually owned by a single individual? I presume that vehicles such as these, which have a commercial licence, will come under the regulation in this part of the Bill. Being individually owned, these vehicles can travel very cheaply for quite a long time, and the owners can start very early.
May I point out to the noble Lord, that it is not much good arriving at Avie-more to ski at 1 p.m. on a winter's afternoon? It is necessary to get there very early. It would still be dark, under standard, time, on arrival, but not by the time you have your skis on and get on to the ski-lift. You see the sun rise as you go up—which is the ideal thing to do if it is a fine morning on a winter's day. If it continues to be a fine day, you will not want to be off that slope until 6 o'clock standard time, and it will be 7 o'clock before you can possibly get back into your bus to go home. That means a start from Edinburgh, or Glasgow, at about 6 or 6.30 in the morning, and you will not be back much before 11 p.m. if you have a good meal on the way back. Therefore, I think that the hours which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, gave are not in accordance with the circumstances as they exist. I am saying this from experience, through having helped to organise ski parties of boys going up to the Cairngorms and other parts.
§ LORD STONHAM
I have no doubt that there are special arrangements which would get you from Edinburgh to Aviemore at 9 o'clock in the morning. But the skiers would not have to look out of the window, as the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, suggested, to see whether there was any snow, because it would be pitch dark then. But the times which I quoted, of leaving at 8 o'clock and getting there at I o'clock, allowing for refreshments, are actual times. I was quoting not imaginary times but actual times of 1102 buses and coaches. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, of that.
With regard to his question about individually owned vehicles, it does not matter whether they are mini-t uses or even private cars. If they are used for hire or reward, the drivers come under these regulations in the Bill, which means that if there were not regulations making special arrangements for these ski-journeys the total day for the driver would be 14 hours. If regulations were made allowing a longer overall working day, they would be the same for minibus or private car drivers as for coach or bus drivers. I think we are all agreed that that is so. It may well be—I do not know—that if special regulations are made, it might not be possible for somebody in Edinburgh to hire a minibus to leave at 4 o'clock in the morning and not get back until one o'clock the next morning. That might well be possible. He might enjoy one or two less runs or miss seeing the sunset; but if thereby, by that supreme deprivation, it saved one or two lives on the road, it would be worth while.
§ 4.10 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I am grateful for the trouble which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has taken in answering this Amendment. He has answered as fully as I know he is able, and I am very grateful to him. As a matter of fact, I never mentioned 18 hours the whole time I spoke, but I know that he was speaking from the brief which was given to him. I am afraid, however, that I must say that what the noble Lord said, when it is read elsewhere, will sound like the cold voice of London bureaucracy. The noble Lord really had no feeling of the sort of problem which exists in Scotland.
I should like to deal with de point which the noble Lord, Lord Popplewell, made. He said that drivers will arrive there and have nothing to do. Of course, when they are off duty at night time they may, for all I know, go to nightclubs. They may go anywhere: no one can say that they will sleep. Will the noble Lord consider 'whether proper rest facilities are available? In many cases the rest period is 8 hours. If it were 11 hours it would be perfectly all right; the operation would come in. But if it is only 8 hours it does not come in. I am not going to press the noble Lord for an 1103 answer now, but will he look again at the definition of "working day" in Clause 102, and again, in Clause 95(4), at what is called "an interval for rest"? There is really a conflict between those two. In one case, that of "an interval for rest", a man may be called for duty at any time, but that counts as time off, whereas during the period when the bus is waiting for the party to come back, although he is off duty and can do what he likes—he can sleep or do anything he likes—that counts towards his working day. I ask the noble Lord to look at that and tell us a little more about this at Report stage, because it really is important.
It is not good enough for the noble Lord to say that the Bill does not do what I have said it does. It does do what I have said it does. Not only that; the Minister has not made up his mind how to amend it. I think we are entitled to know that. It is all very well to say, "We will leave it all to the Minister". We have not yet quite abrogated the responsibility of Parliament. Parliament is supposed to discuss these issues, and not just hand them over to the Minister and say, "Please make up your mind". I really think that the noble Lord ought to say a little more about this if he can.
I am surprised, too, that there is no question of double-manning. I do not see the advantage of abolishing double-manning. Most of your Lordships must have changed seats with your wives at one time or another to rest each other. It is a perfectly normal thing to do, and there is no hardship in it. Two people can take turns to drive without difficulty. I really cannot understand this. I read the Bill and I was astonished to find no reference to double-manning. I was even more astonished to hear the noble Lord say that it was deliberate policy, to abolish double-manning. I ask the noble Lord to look at this again and to tell us a little more on Report stage. I do not want to press this Amendment now because I think the Government are with us in this principle, but I wish they would get a little way away from these rather rigid regulations.
§ LORD HURCOMB
I do not want to prolong this debate, but am I right in understanding that under regulations the Minister will be able to give the 1104 licensing authorities discretion to deal with individual or particular cases; that there will be no question of individual or particular cases being referred to the Minister, and that the regulations will empower the licensing authorities to deal with a class of case and apply their own discretion as to what particular applications they will grant? If that is so, it seems to me that the machinery ought to work quite smoothly subject to one point which I made in another connection a day or two ago; that is, that the operators themselves keep in close touch with the licensing authority and its clerk, and they get to know the nature of the business they have to deal with.
There is one other point which has not been referred to. The subsection empowers the Minister to make regulations which will enable dispensations to be granted retrospectively, and for a document purporting to be a certificate to be accepted in evidence without further proof. Surely that provision will enable these very short-term applications to be dealt with even on the telephone. The clerk to the commissioners will say, "That is all right and you will get the document next week." If I am wrong in those assumptions, I shall feel inclined to join with the noble Earl in pressing the point further. But having had some experience in these things I assume they are going to work in the way I have described.
§ LORD STONHAM
I know that my noble friend Lord Hurcomb has had very great experience in these matters, but I am not sure that they are going to work in the way he describes, although I am sure they are going to work very smoothly. If the noble Lord will look again at subsection (10) he will see that it says:…the Minister may by regulations—Under paragraph (a) the Minister will make regulations with regard to particular types of journey for particular causes or reasons, not with regard to individual journeys. He may deal by regulation with the problem of the ski journeys, the problem of the horse-boxes, the problem of carrying perishable produce and things 1105 of that kind. If he does make a regulation covering those classes, there will he no need for application to local commissioners or anyone else. So it is a general application.
- (a) create exemptions from all or any of the requirements of subsections (1) to (6) of this section in such cases and subject to such conditions as may be specified in the regulations; …"
With regard to the traffic commissioners or the licensing authority—paragraph (b)—and:in particular to the reference to applications being granted retrospectively, these would be certainly for local and individual cases. An example was mentioned on Tuesday night by the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, of the need to clear roads, and possibly the need to use a snowplough beyond the hours. That is the kind of situation which would be dealt with locally and individually, and could and indeed should be dealt with retrospectively, because you have to deal with the emergency when it arises and, as it were, get approval afterwards. I hope that I have covered the two points raised by my noble friend.
With regard to the final words of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, I must say that I found it extraordinary that he should say, "We must not leave everything to the Minister", when the very Amendment which we have discussed for an hour includes the words,in connection with organised participation in a sporting activity the driving hours and working hours may be prescribed by the Minister".In other words, he is now condemning the very thing which in his Amendment he asks your Lordships to accept. I know that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and I know that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, has not a little mind; but he is being a little too inconsistent here.
The only other thing (and I will look at what he says, although I have already looked at it very carefully; I do know subsection (10)) is this. If the noble Earl accepts, as indeed he must, that where a good case is shown the Minister may by regulation meet the situation, then his plea—although the noble Earl disowned the 18-hour reference—is for something beyond that. I am sure we do not want that. The noble Earl said that what I had said would he read as stern and stiff bureaucracy, and that I had been reading from a brief. I think I should tell him that it is half an hour since I dropped the brief—and I hope that I have been talking common sense ever since. I hope I have convinced the noble Earl 1106 that it is perfectly proper and safe for him to withdraw this Amendment.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
It may be perfectly proper; but I am not quite sure that it is perfectly safe. None the less, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.22 p.m.
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 235:
Page 126, line 34, leave out ("twelve") and insert ("thirteen").
§ The noble Lord said: At first sight, this Amendment seems to relate to a slightly different point on the spreadover of the working day, where, in this case, four hours' rest is not a possibility. Certainly this Amendment aims for flexibility; but there, I think, any similarity ends, because it opens up entirely new lines of thought. This Amendment seeks to raise the proposed spread-over of hours in a working day by one hour from 12½ hours to 13½. The time of only 2½ hours which, under the Bill, may lapse between the hours at the wheel and the end of the working day seem insufficient in that many lorry drivers spend so much of the time waiting to load and unload. I fear I only know of queueing at docks by hearsay, but anyone who, as I do, lives in East Anglia must know well of the delays which occur at such places as beet sugar factories and flour mills.
§ Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Part VI is that, at this, of all times, it must be dependent upon productivity agreements, a subject really first aired on Tuesday afternoon by my noble friend Lord St. Helens. I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, also made on Tuesday, that longer hours are not necessarily synonymous with productivity. He referred to other factors such as sickness, absenteeism, keeping to timetables and reorganising of services. But I am advised that, to give jug one example, the waiting time at a wholesale grocery warehouse can vary almost unpredictably for the driver from half an hour to 5 hours. Doubtless better scheduling could avoid this, but such warehouses could be taking in goods from up to as many as 300 suppliers. Reorganisation and the rebuilding of premises and marshalling areas, to quote the noble Lord's words, "to keep to the 1107 timetables and to reorganise the services" cannot take place in the twinkling of an eye. Yet the Minister has referred in another place to the spring as being the time when it is hoped this clause would be brought into effect. Columns 2903/4 of the Report of the Committee proceedings refer to this.
§ The reduced spread-over will also hit work which entails very little driving on the roads but, due to the nature of the job or to the weather, long hours. People putting up electric signs and furniture removers are examples that spring to mind; and there will be problems also for the construction industry where a driver transporting his fellow workers to and from a site will have to make the homeward journey within the driver's hours if he has been driving a vehicle around the site. This is something—and I bear in mind what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said about thinking of the welfare of the persons working—which may hit the construction industry during the long summer days.
§ This Amendment would also assist the passenger service vehicles; and here we touch for a moment on the last Amendment. It is true that coach tours either to the seaside or to the Highlands are to some extent provided for under subsection (3)(c) allowing a 14 hour day with 4 hours off. But many noble Lords will be familiar with the popular so-called scenic tours, which stop briefly at historic houses and beauty spots, and which will not qualify so easily for a 14-hour day. If that is so, then people will find that there will be greatly increased fares and, possibly a reduced calibre of drivers; for page 37 of the 50th Report of the Prices and Incomes Board shows the present shortage of drivers in company undertakings. On this side of the House I think it is true to say that we believe that the Government are expecting impossibly quickly a speed-up in the turn-round of heavy goods vehicles. If there is something in this argument, surely it should not be impossible to agree an Amendment to give a little flexibility to the spread-over rules. Surely the principle of this Amendment cannot endanger road safety, for nowhere would it involve extra driving time. I have submitted many examples, including work where the driving is only incidental. On the 1108 vital ground of continued productivity —and, I believe, in this Amendment, to road safety—I beg to move.
§ LORD ST. HELENS
I should like to support my noble friend on this Amendment. It is one which seems eminently sensible to noble Lords on this side of the House. We do not object to a limitation on the hours a driver spends behind the wheel. This is the whole point of the argument. My noble friend has said there are many occasions when drivers spend hours "hanging about" in their vehicles, in coffee houses, perhaps at livestock shows. There is another occasion he did not mention: when there is an abnormal load and the driver may have to wait a long time in a lay by for a police escort or until the peak traffic is off the roads. Surely there ought to be some flexibility from the Government on a point like this.
§ LORD STONHAM
I find it a novel argument that a longer working day is in the interest of road safety. It is an argument that I cannot accept. It seems to me extraordinary that noble Lords should advance this argument because, of all the workers who come immediately to mind, it is noble Lords more than anyone else who spend time "hanging about". You come in at 2.30 p.m. You may not leave again until 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock; and you have probably done a morning's work before that. But at 10 p.m. or a little later you may not have said a word; you may not have done anything more energetic than to walk from here to the Peer's Guest Room. But I notice that you all are very anxious to go home and you all appear to be quite tired at the end of the day. Therefore to suggest that the longer day does not fatigue you does not impress me at all.
My normal day starts at 7 or 7.30 and usually it is when I am not actually working that I seem to get most tired. I must hand it to noble Lords opposite. They do not give up easily. The Liberals in the other place "tried this on" at 14 hours; now noble Lords opposite have split the difference and asked for an extra hour. It seems that everything possible is to be tried in order to avoid reducing this over-long day in transport. But I do not think there is a single noble Lord opposite who does not agree that 1109 it is still, even with the provisions of this Bill, an over-long day.
The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said that people using coaches would be facing greatly increased fares and then: would be a shortage of drivers. My Lords, having regard to some of the fatal accidents on the Continent, I feel that even if that were the case—and I do not accept it for a moment, because, as the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, said, there are to be improvements as a result of productivity changes—in the interests of the people concerned, the people travelling and driving, we must stand firm on this.
The arguments which have been advanced and which are so continually advanced in every Amendment to which we listen, ignore, completely the public safety aims in this part of the Bill. And this is wholly contrary to the instincts of noble Lords who move these Amendments; they would not do this to their own people or to anyone for whom they were personally responsible. But here this seems to be reasonably remote and they feel that they can keep on moving Amendments so that these hours should be long. Those aims would not be served by allowing a man still to be driving who started work 13½ hours before. It would mean that you start at 8 o'clock and you are still driving after 9 o'clock at night up to 9.30; that is 13½ hours. If you have driven perhaps 150 miles there and 150 miles back, even though you have waited about for 4 or 5 hours in between, in our view it is too long.
The Minister would from the point of view of public safety have preferred to stick to the simple rule of a minimum 11-hour working day; but he has recognised that there would be substantial practical difficulties, as the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, pointed out, if some spread-over were not permitted. Accordingly, when the new restrictions on drivers' hours are first introduced, the 12½ hour spread-over will be permitted for drivers of all vehicles to which Part VI applies. This arrangement will cease at the later stage except in the special case of stage bus operation, where there is the particular problem of carrying peak traffic at both ends of the day.
1110 I would advise the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, that we consulted bus owners about this matter before the Bill was published. Frankly, they were troubled initially at the spread-over being restricted to l2½ hours, but that is not an aspect on which they have pressed us strongly since then. Scheduling adjustments will be necessary, of course, hut this change is not a revolution. The noble Lord said that it would be extremely difficult to get it done by the spring, but that is nine months hence, and of course it will not be difficult. Certainly the unions would be strongly opposed to any extension beyond 12½ hours. The temporary concessions in the Bill for the initial stages of the operation of this new limit on hours will, in our view, assist bus operators with their scheduling problems; for example the extension of driving time from nine to ten hours real driving time, the extension of the 12½ hours spread-over to non-stage services, and the fortnightly instead of the weekly rest day for stage bus drivers. We have leaned over backwards in this matter in order to help, and some might think that we have leaned too far. But now my back is straight and I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I find a good deal of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, persuasive, but I think he went far beyond anything that was justified in telling us on this side of the Chamber that we completely ignored the public safety aims of the Bill. That is simply not true. My noble friend Lord Belstead put a very reasonable case. As he rightly said, he did not argue that this would increase the road safety factor but that it would not detract from it. It would not increase the driving hours. I had not intended to speak on this Amendment but in the light of the charge made by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I feel that can do no less than add one or two points which I ask the noble Lord to consider. Let us take first of all the Government's policy to bring their driving hour regulations into line with the European Convention. The E.E.C. Convention is for a 13-hour spread-over, as the noble Lord knows. That is only a proposal the 1111 drivers are doing more now. Obviously, if it is the intention of the Government to come into line with that it would be necessary to raise the figure of 12½ hours to 13. I am sure the noble Lord would not say that it is the policy of E.E.C. to ignore public safety in proposing something a little longer than 12½ hours for the spread-over.
My noble friend Lord Belstead is perfectly right when he says that the success of the introduction of these new driving regulations will depend on a significant increase in productivity, and this point was stressed by Lord Stonham's right honourable colleague in another place. He stressed the necessity for that before the change was made, and this, of course, relates particularly to problems of turn-round and delays in loading and unloading with which we are all familiar. h would be ridiculous for the noble Lord to try to put us in the position of imposing on drivers an unreasonably long working day or week. It simply does not happen. The strength of the trade unions involved is such that they are more than capable of protecting the interests of their members.
In fact, as the noble Lord knows by looking at the Prices and Incomes Board's Report the position is that the average hours worked at present are 57. In practice, if a man wants to work very long hours, he does, and if he does not wish to do so he does not; and everyone knows that this is so. What we are here suggesting is that real flexibility will be needed. There will be all kinds of problems about shortening these hours. We are not saying that you should add to the driving time—we recognise the need to reduce that—but we are saying that we think that extra flexibility is needed in the overall time in order to allow for all the many unpredictable circumstances that will arise; and it would be quite wrong for the noble Lord to make any such assumption as that we are not aware of the public safety aims. We are, and that is why we support the general intention. We are trying to help the noble Lord to make the Bill practical as well.
§ LORD STONHAM
I will comment only on what the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, said about Europe. I accept what he said about the reasonable case put by his noble friend Lord 1112 Belstead, who always puts a reasonable case. My only feeling about these cases is that noble Lords are insistent on trying, by the creation of exceptions in particular parts of the industry, to keep the hours longer than I think they should safely be or should be in the interests of the staffs.
The noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, quoted in aid the European limits under the draft E.E.C. regulations. If you take the limits as proposed in the Bill for the "first stage" and as proposed in the draft regulations, I do not think that they help the noble Lord very much. The arrangements under the Bill which we are now considering, for example, contain our proposal for the hours of driving to be 10 at the wheel. In the European proposals we find 9 at the wheel or 10 twice a week. That is an example where we are substantially higher. Then, regarding the length of the working day, we are now proposing 12½ hours—that is what we are debating—or 14 hours for express contract bus drivers if including 4 hours continuous off duty. The European working day is 13 hours. I do not think there is anything in the argument to aid the noble Lord. It may well be that in some European countries they are working longer hours. But I think that we have this right. If anything, we have erred by trying to be too ready to meet those who are anxious not to see any change. I feel that this Amendment should not be pressed.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for his full reply and in particular for the details he has given us of the E.E.C. draft regulations. I thought it was perhaps a little sweeping of the noble Lord to say that the hours which we propose were longer than they should be, bearing in mind that this Amendment relates specifically to the overall working day and to nothing else, and bearing in mind the 13 hours which the noble Lord has generously given us across the Table and the fact that in Europe they can use sleeper berths. I do not say for one moment that I am in favour of that, but I certainly think that the noble Lord was rather sweeping.
It is interesting to notice that in the Bill the reduction of the spread-over is marginally greater than the reduction in 1113 drivers' hours. This is really a rhetorical statement, but it is something that interests many people who have read the Bill and I still wonder slightly why this was the balance. However we may talk round it, and whatever pleasantries we may indulge in, the matter comes back to productivity agreements. On Tuesday evening I was listening to the noble Lord when he was speaking about agreements with bus drivers. I do not want to misrepresent him and these are the words he used:So far in these discussions we have not yet taken account of improvements in productivity. We hope to get more productivity not only on the railways but also on the roads and in the buses."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9/7/68, col. 896.]But where is the productivity going to come from in the Amendment which we are discussing row—namely, in the turn-round of vehicles? I can only add a tailpiece to my Amendment. The old "C" licence holders—the people putting up electric signs, the furniture removers—and the "abnormal load" men of my noble friend Lord St. Helens, waiting for their police escorts, will regard the Government's reply with concern.
I will not conceal that I am greatly disappointed at the noble Lord's reply. I had hoped that in the last few words that I submitted to your Lordships in moving the Amendment I might have offered a chink by which the Government could agree to some form of Amendment, if not this one, that would give us at least some assurance along the lines of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, on another subject, and allow possibly a little longer than two days a week. The noble Lord is not willing to consider this, so we in our turn obviously will have to consider his words before the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.45 p.m.
LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 235A:
Page 126, line 36, leave out sub-paragraph (i).
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 235A. The purpose of this Amendment is to enable various industries which operate split shift systems to operate economically. One of 1114 the industries I have in mind is the newspaper industry, and perhaps I may clarify the position by giving an example of a publisher in the Provinces of morning and evening papers. This will show that spread-over is an essential part of distribution. Apart from staff on normal duties, five drivers work from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. and then from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and a further five drivers work from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. and again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
§ As the Bill is drafted, to carry out this split shift system it would be necessary to engage additional drivers, because those already employed will not be able to carry out the second portions of their shifts earlier because the evening papers to be delivered would not be available. I would add that the example I. am quoting is not a hypothetical, but an actual, case. The conditions to which I refer are similar to those affecting the bus industry, but while there are to he provisions to cater for the bus industry there is nothing for the requirements of the newspaper industry. I thins it is essential that we should allow such industries to operate economically.
§ LORD STONHAM
The Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, would enable all drivers to extend their working day to 14 hours if they are able to have a period of 4 hours in which to obtain rest and refreshment. At present we have this option for drivers who spend the whole day driving express or contract coaches. My right honourable friend would prefer to stick to the familiar rule of an 11-hour total working day. He recognises that in the bus and coach industry there would be a substantial practical difficulty if this wore enforced, and subsection (3)(c) is it tended to cater for the long day excursion or holiday run where a coach is driven to a seaside or other resort and stays there for some hours before returning. To make up for the longer working day a 4-hour break is required so that the driver is at work for only 10 hours.
We see no reason for extending this option to other classes of industrial operations, especially as, somewhat reluctantly, the Minister has agreed that during the "first stage" there should be a spread-over of 12½ hours for all drivers and not stage bus drivers only, Os was his first intention. As I listened to the 1115 noble Lord's case about the newspaper vans, it seemed to me that a 12½hour spread-over ought to meet this case, if a little adjustment were made to enable them to comply with the spread-over.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but, as I mentioned, it would be necessary to take on additional drivers because the evening papers would not be available to be delivered; therefore the second shift could not start earlier.
§ LORD STONHAM
I can only suggest that this case would have to be submitted for consideration. Certainly I cannot agree with the Amendment to leave out sub-paragraph (i), which would enable all drivers to work a 14-hour spread-over, subject to a 4-hour break. The noble Lord has based his demand for a very large change on one example. I should not have thought that it would occur generally in deliveries like that, except in cases where a firm had both a morning and an evening paper. We really cannot argue from one example that there should be, as it were, a general exemption. I will certainly look at what the noble Lord has said, but it is no case for the Amendment, as a whole, that he has put forward.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
Could not paragraph (c) have been entirely covered by subsection (10)(a), to which he referred earlier? In other words, is not the whole of paragraph (c) quite unnecessary? He has made a special exemption for seaside parties. If that is the case, why should he not make a special exemption for people going mountaineering?
§ LORD STONHAM
I thought I made it clear that if the Minister decided there was a strong case for a particular class of traffic, a regulation would be made for a particular whole class. But Lord Merivale's Amendment is not asking for a particular class of user. It is asking that for all drivers, whatever they drive and whatever they do, there should be a 14-hour spread-over, subject only to this 4 hours off for rest in the middle. This is what is unacceptable. We think that 12½, hours, in the first place, is the utmost limit for the ordinary working day, subject to any regulation which the Minister may make for a special class of traffic 1116 or occupation. From the one example the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, has quoted, it is impossible to say whether there is such a case here. If there is, it is for the industry concerned to make it. Indeed, the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, did not argue for his skiers that there must be an overall exemption for everybody. He was asking for it for a particular class of user.
§ LORD LINDGREN
I intervene in this debate only for one reason. It is the function of the Government to get their legislation through, and their supporters ought to keep quiet and let the Opposition argue, so long as they have full satisfaction in regard to the matters contained in the Bill and how they are dealt with by the Front Bench. That we have. The more one argues from the Government side, the more ammunition one gives to the Opposition to argue further. I rise only because of the difference between the "split turn" and the overall turn. There is far more method in the Amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, than in the other Amendments we have been discussing this afternoon.
There is a lot of difference between a "split turn", whether your overall hours of duty are 14 or 16 hours, if in the break between 6 o'clock in the morning and 4 o'clock in the afternoon you can go home, dig your garden, have a cup of tea and have a decent lunch, and then go back to work. That is a break which does not make the overall day so tiring for the worker. It is what takes away from social life, and everything else, that is not to be encouraged from a general trade union point of view, or from the point of view of the individual.
The noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, talked about the publishing business and newspapers. Of course, on their runs of delivery and distribution there are short runs and long runs. I should take a lot of convincing that a good roster clerk in the transport section of the publishing office could not provide a roster which would enable a driver to come within the limits of this Bill. The difference between this Amendment and those that we were talking about before—the long-haul driver who has been on from 6 o'clock in the morning, and is still on at 12 o'clock at night—is this. It has been argued opposite that he is free because 1117 he is not driving, but he is sometimes under a bigger strain. There is nothing more tiring for a man who has driven a lorry to arrive at the place for delivery only to find that it cannot be accepted. He has to hang about; he argues with all sorts of people to see whether he can deliver; he rings up his firm to say: "Shall I leave it here, or come back home?". Hanging about on a job, when one cannot leave the job, is often more tiring than doing the job. I do not support this Amendment, although I certainly think there is more merit in it than in the other Amendments put forward to-day. But even in regard to this Amendment, I think a good roster clerk could cover the regulations quite easily.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
I was sorry to hear the noble Lord say that he was not anxious to intervene from the Government side, because if he and other supporters of the Government intervened, this would mean that the discussion would go on and other matters would be raised. Surely the whole purpose of a Committee stage is to try to improve the Bill, whether the speakers are Government supporters or in Opposition. The noble Lord has just made an interesting arid useful contribution out of his great experience of these matters. I should hope that the philosophy he mentioned will not be followed, and that all noble Lords will contribute to make this a better Bill—and, gracious me! it needs to be made a better Bill.
I just want to make this comment. Earlier this week the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, took me to task for making certain references to productivity, when I said that it seemed to me that in many directions the only way you could get increased productivity was by going faster with a vehicle, and that might increase danger. Here is an example of these newspaper drivers, and, so far as I can see, if the Bill goes through as it is now, it must decrease productivity. So far as I am aware, the arrangements that have been in existence for quite a long time for the delivery of newspapers have not been questioned or considered to be a risk. Here seems to me to be another example of the difficulties that are being made for industry in this Bill. I hope that the Government will take a further look at this Amendment.
§ LORD FERRIER
Arising out of what my noble friend Lord Wakefield has just said, I rise to ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, a question. I was a little shocked by his reference to the suggestion that noble Lords on this side were inclined to disregard the problem of safety. As your Lordships are aware, I asked a Question the other day about the Road Research Laboratory's Report. We are led to believe that this has been completed, although it has not been printed. I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, whether he has access to that Report, and whether the statement that he and his right honourable friend have made about the effect of tiredness upon actual accidents is supported by the figures in the Report, which now extends over a matter of a couple years. I say this in sup loft of what my noble friend Lord Wakefield said. Productivity is essential, but safety must not be sacrificed to it, and it seems proper that we should refer to the scientific examination of road accidents to see what effect this has had in recent years, with the new roads and new regulations, on the incidence of accidents.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
I am grateful to my noble friends Lord Wakefield and Lord Ferrier for their support, and to the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, fir his limited support. If I may answer one point made by the noble Lord Lord Lindgren, he referred to hours of work being catered for by a roster clerk. A roster clerk has been at work, if I may put it that way, because in effect some drivers start at 3 o'clock, some at 4 o'clock; but in the second shift they all have to start at 2 o'clock and some finish at 5 o'clock and some at 6 o'clock. So what has been suggested is not always possible even by using a roster clerk, because there is the question of the availability of newspapers. So it cannot always be adjusted as one wishes.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, very kindly said that he would look at this matter again. I trust that he will not consider simply the words of my Amendment hut the intention behind it. I hope he will consider the various industries that operate split-shift systems and which carry goods in their own vehicles.
§ LORD STONHAM
If the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt, I do not want there to be any misunderstanding at all. 1119 I made it clear—at least I hope I did—that I completely reject any suggestion, for which the Amendment asks, that there should be an increase in the overall working day to 14 hours subject to a 4-hour period for recreation. That I reject completely. What I did say was that I would look at the particular case cited by the noble Lord.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he will look at the particular case. Will he also consider that there may be other particular cases? I do not want to give a whole list of examples. I referred to one industry. There may be other industries concerned, and I presume that they would have to make out a case under subsection (10). What I should also like the noble Lord to look at is this. Subsection (4) says:Subject to the provisions of this section, there shall be, between any two successive working days of a driver, an interval for rest which—Paragraph (b) refers only to the bus and coach industry. So could the noble Lord also see, when he is considering this, whether this subsection could possibly be adjusted so to suit not only the convenience of the bus and coach industry but also that of such industries as I have mentioned, like the newspaper industry, which operate a "split-shift" system? On that condition, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
- (a) subject to paragraph (b) of this subsection, shall not be of less than eleven hours".
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 236A:
Page 126, line 42, insert—
("() if during that day the vehicle or vehicles which he is driving is or are being used in connection with organised participation in a sporting activity the driving hours and working hours may be prescribed by the Minister.")
§ The noble Earl said: In view of previous discussion, I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.3 p.m.
LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 237:
Page 127, line 18, leave out ("sixty") and insert ("sixty-six").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move. In subsection (5) the limitation is 60 hours on duty during the week, and our Amendment would have the effect of raising this figure to 66; in other words, six times the 11 hours a day which is permitted under the Bill. This is a further attempt to get additional flexibility into the Bill. I thought my noble friend Lord Merrivale made out a cogent case of certain problems over split-shift working, the split turn, which will affect some industries. It is impossible to predict all the different circumstances that exist in all the industries which are going to be affected by this Bill, but one thing is quite sure: the more flexibility there is, the better.
§ I do not believe that the problem will be in the length of time spent at the wheel; it is going to be much more in the waiting, the turning round, the loading and unloading, et cetera. It is this kind of flexibility that we believe will be needed when the Bill comes to be put into practice. It occurred to me when the noble Lord was speaking about the E.E.C. regulations, and when he was giving us some details, that there was one rather important feature of the proposals which he did not mention. That is that on two days a week a 15-hour spread-over is included in the schedule. While the normal schedule will be 13 hours a day, on two days a week a 15-hour spread-over would be allowed.
§ I believe this will be necessary, because if we enter the Common Market, as is indeed the Government's intention when possible, then we shall want to move our regulations so far as we can in step with theirs; but also in order to give additional flexibility in the practical working of these regulations. My Amendment on the Order Paper refers to the figure of 66, but if the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, does not like that—and I rather imagine that he probably will not—I shall be very happy at the Report stage to put down an alternative to this of an extended spread-over day on two days a week, similar to the provision in the E.E.C. system. I am sure that this kind of flexibility is going to be needed, and it is in that spirit that I beg to move the Amendment.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am gratified that in moving this Amendment the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, has 1121 already indicated that he has some misgivings about it. I do not wonder at it. Noble Lords opposite continually talk about flexibility. When I point out that there is all the flexibility in the world in subsection (10) of this clause, it is apparent that all their contentions boil down to the fact that to them there is only one interpretation of "flexibility", and that is that the chaps must be flexible enough to work longer hours—more hours all the time. Every Amendment I have considered for the last three days has been a demand that the chaps should work longer, and I am constantly exhorted to regard this as making for greater flexibility.
Now the particular proposal is that it should be for 66 hours a week instead of 60. No doubt it is argued that it will provide greater flexibility in working out stage drivers' schedules so that full advantage may be taken of the permitted 10 hours a day. It is looking at the matter the wrong way round. The weekly duty limit has been fixed in the Bill at 60 hours as a reasonable figure in its own right. Surely noble Lords do not want everyone to be like Ministers and work about a hundred hours a week. Sixty hours is enough for any normal individual to work. It gives an average of 10 hours a day for a six-day week. We put the daily limit at 11 hours for the very purpose of allowing some flexibility in hours of duly in any given day, but with an overall total of 60 hours a week.
The noble Lord, Lord Nugent, quoted in aid the E.E.C. proposals on drivers' hours. Not for the first time I got out my sheet, and I see that the proposals under the E.E.C. draft regulations for the week are 54 hours' driving; not 60, certainly not 66, but 54. We have had to discuss this matter, of course, with the unions and with the bus operators. If the noble Lord wants to put down an Amendment on Report to make the total working week 54 hours, then of course I will promise to look at it, but really I cannot be favourably disposed towards any suggestion that there might be a way of permitting the total working week to be more than 60 hours. Really, I do not think that noble Lords should ask for it. I think that in fixing the figure at 60 hours we have taken the only possible step and we have made all the 1122 concessions that should be made in this respect.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I wonder if the noble Lord can help us. He apparently has the figures, from which he read, showing that the Continental draft regulations were 54 hours' driving, but I believe that what the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, is talking about is hours of duty, which is not the same as hours of driving. Are we comparing like with like?
§ LORD STONHAM
The E.E.C. proposals do not propose to regulate the total working time. This is the driving time.
§ LORD TEVIOT
I earnestly support the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, for 66 hours, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I am a little outspoken on this matter, because I speak from personal experience. I do not think it is fair of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to say that on this side of the Committee we are remote and that we are not considering safety. In my view we are all considering safety; and I, for one, am speaking for Drivers. Drivers are extremely worried about the possibility of the hours being cut, because it cuts their earning capacity. The 66-hour maximum working week would in fact cut down the present maximum by 14 per cent. Personally I should like to see it even higher, but I am prepared to concede 66. If the maximum proposed in this Bill were to stand, there would be a cut of 22 per cent. I did my sums in the train and perhaps the noble Lord would care to check them.
§ LORD STONHAM
Before I start checking the noble Lord's arithmetic, surely he is aware that at present it is legally possible to work 77 hours a week?
§ LORD STONHAM
Or, of course, allowing for standby time, it could be 98 hours. Which figure did the noble Lord take?
§ LORD TEVIOT
I took 17 over 77 times 100. There was a schoolmaster sitting opposite me, and he worked it out at 22 per cent. As I was saying, many more scheduled public services would be cut, and already there are many 1123 scheduled services all over the country which are unable to run owing to lack of staff. Also there are many goods which are not delivered, for the same reason, because the drivers simply will not drive if their earnings are so low. They will do something else.
There is another point that I wish to make, quite forcibly: I suppose this is another hidden purpose of the Government: to put more passengers and goods on to the railways. I notice that they do not consider cutting the hours there. One can well imagine why. Only last week we had the railway "go-slow." That was a complete misnomer, because in fact it was merely a ban on overtime and a work-to-rule. I even heard one noble Lord on the Government Front Bench refer to it as a "strike", but what in fact caused the trouble was the ban on overtime. Also, under the new powers of the Prices and Incomes Act, I think I am right in saying that within three-quarters of an hour yesterday of the Act being placed on the Statute Book the Minister of Employment and Productivity froze an increase of £1 for the busmen. Therefore these drivers are being attacked both ways: first, by withholding their pay increase, and secondly by cutting their earning capacity.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I should like to make a slightly different point, but on the same subject. There are various people (to some of whom the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, referred) working in agriculture who from time to time need to work an inordinately long week. In all fairness, it must be said that we on this side of the Committee are not trying to suggest that we should approve of everybody working a 66-hour week, and I feel sure the Minister, when he makes his regulations, will have due regard to animal welfare, the maintenance of services and the risk of accidents. But the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, puts us in a very difficult position. He has said to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, that it is pointless to bring up individual examples because subsection (10) will deal with them. Unfortunately for anyone who has read the Bill and the proceedings on it, the Minister said (I quote from column 2828 of the Report):I do not think that anyone could seriously suggest that in regulations intended to maintain safety on the roads one could draw a 1124 distinction between passenger vehicles and goods vehicles.Our difficulty in speaking from this side of the Committee is to determine what are the criteria for subsection (10). We are really being asked to accept a pig in a poke.
I should like to put to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, what I regret is an example that has been submitted to me, but it puts in a nutshell what I am trying to say. We all know that road and rail in this country play a vital part in the distribution of milk, yet last year 750 million gallons were distributed by road, as opposed to 104½ million gallons by rail. Of course the distribution to and from the retailers is done entirely by road. As milk collection occurs in rural areas, where the recruitment of drivers is not easy, the distributors try to cover annual holidays and periods of sickness by sometimes requiring their drivers to work what I agree are inordinately long hours. It should be borne in mind, however, that they are driving along roads of low-traffic density and that milk is the only food the cost of which is determined by law and the price of which affects every household in the country. Will this case be considered in regard to subsection (10); and, if so, why?
§ LORD FERRIER
I should like to make a contribution to what my noble friend Lord Teviot has said. Referring to the question of safety and of hours worked, I have in my hand a letter from a manufacturing organisation in Scotland which says that the restrictions on drivers' hours will make it extremely difficult for them to carry out their runs from Edinburgh to London and back within the week. They add that the reduction in drivers' hours will necessitate a complete reorganisation which would appear to benefit nobody.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, made some remarks with regard to the views on safety of the noble Lords on this side of the Committee. This manufacturing organisation manufactures products to which I have already referred in this debate. They reckon that they cannot possibly send those products by rail because of the delicacy of the heavy wire gauze they manufacture. There is no question of a risk to safety, but one of their problems is that they have to go so slowly 1125 in order to ensure that the loads are carried with the greatest security. Therefore it is reasonable to say that the reduction in hours without some flexibility—and I almost hesitate to mention the word—is bound to affect productivity.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
I should like to follow up with a further question on what my noble friends have already said. What is the magic about the figure 60? Why should it not be 56 or 64? Is there some reason for the figure 60? A short while ago my noble friend Lord Ferrier asked whether scientific information was available from research organisations or other sources which would give us scientific and realistic information about hours of driving and safety. Surely we ought to know this? On this side of the Committee we are as much concerned with safety as anybody else; but equally we are concerned with productivity.
The Government again and again have urged productivity in the country. That is quite right. But so far as I can see this Bill will hit productivity very badly. I want to see a combination of safety and productivity, and I do not want to see productivity jeopardised and thrown overboard for some hypothetical idea that if you work so many hours it is excessive. when perhaps it is not so at all. I think we ought to have far more information than we have now as to why these hours ought to be shortened, reducing productivity, and also some proper scientific basis to justify the Government's arguments to this House. Is the noble Lord able to give the House some further information, more information than we have had, as to the basis for the number of hours inserted in the Bill for driving, whether by the day or the week or any other period?
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
May I ask the noble Lord two specific questions? He keeps on referring to the E.E.C. proposals. Have any of the E.E.C. countries ratified these proposals or indicated that they are about to do so? Secondly, I gather that the 54 hours mentioned by the noble Lord was driving time. Would he confirm that this is actually when the vehicle's engine is running or it is in motion? If so, would he not agree that probably in 95 per cent. of cases 60 hours 1126 on duty, or even 66, would be far more limiting than 54 hours driving time?
§ LORD STONHAM
I would remind your Lordships that what we are discussing is whether or not the total driving working week should be 66 hours or 60; that is all we are discussing in this Amendment. It has been a very wide ranging debate, and I want to bring it back to the point we are discussing. We are not arguing about cutting the working driving day or extending the working driving day. The working driving day is 11 hours; that is still what it is in the Bill. All we say in addition is that the total working driving week should not exceed 60 hours. The first reason for that is because, frankly, from every point of view, we think that 60 hours driving is quite long enough. Limiting the total driving week to 60 hours adds flexibility, which noble Lords are so concerned about, because it means that if it suits the proprietor a man could work 11 hours a day for five days and perhaps half a day for the rest, which we think is an advantage.
The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, referred to the fact that 750 million gallons of milk are delivered by road, and he said: "I know a lot of these chaps are working over-long hours, but how is the milk to be delivered if they do not work over-long hours?" The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, spoke about percentages of reduction. He called in aid a school-master to work out the percentages. I am talking now about delivering milk. The noble Lord said that cutting down from the 77 hours which they can now work to 60 was a 22 per cent. cut. That is about right; it is a 22½ per cent. cut; I have checked. But even at 66 hours, at which noble Lords would settle, there is a 14.3 per cent. cut. I could ask the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, how is the milk to be delivered if one man in seven is not there?
§ LORD BELSTEAD
With great respect to the noble Lord, he is not asking me. This is a question I have asked him.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am much too old to be caught by that one. What the noble Lord is saying is that it is going to be utterly impossible. And yet, presumably, if we make the working week, not the working day but the working 1127 week, six hours longer, all these problems would, he thinks, be solved. Of course they would not be. They are going to be solved by increased productivity. They are going to be solved by making better use of a man's working day. They are going to be solved by sensible re-arrangements where they are necessary. But the one thing that we are quite adamant about is that we are not going to have a working week longer than 60 hours.
The noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, asked by what scientific means we arrive at the figure. By the same scientific means that we assess the fact that most people now work a 40 hour five day week. There has been the report to which the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, referred. There is the possibility of scientific assessment, and certainly there are facts that prove that longer hours mean slower reactions in the event of emergency, and slower reactions lead to accidents.
I was rather astonished by the noble Lord's remark that most people work a 40 hour five day week. All statistics that I have read lead me to suggest that the working week is much nearer to 47 hours on average.
§ LORD STONHAM
Certainly with overtime the average week may be several hours longer, though not as much as 47, and certainly nothing like 60 hours in the exacting job of driving in heavy traffic. The noble Lord has helped to prove my point.
The noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, said that I kept on referring to the E.E.C. proposals and asked me whether any had been ratified. I understand that the E.E.C. countries are still discussing these proposals, and I am sure he will be aware that there are a number of European countries where in the main the proposals which it is hoped will be ratified are in fact in actual practice now, and are the actual working day or working week. I am afraid I did not take a note of his second question before he sat down, but I think I know what it is. I think he said that 60 hours of total duty would be far less exacting than so many hours driving, but I did not catch how many hours.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
The noble Lord is quite right; that was the drift of my question. I should like to make it clear that there are obviously exceptions to this. But in most cases of 60 hours duty I should have thought—I have not been able to get hold of the figures—that 20 per cent. of that time was spent not driving but sitting round and waiting for goods to be loaded or unloaded or for various other reasons. In the industry that I know I think this is certainly the case, and I think the figure is higher than 20 per cent., but I have not been able to get the precise figure.
§ LORD STONHAM
I think there is a great deal in what the noble Duke says. With regard to the hours permitted now—I am not talking about under this Bill, but in operation now—they include all the work spent connected with the vehicle or its load—booking in the vehicle, washing, repairs, loading, unloading, documentation of the load or the vehicle, booking them out and, of course, ordinary waiting time. I think this is another reason for what we have in the Bill and not for what noble Lords are proposing, because in the Bill we allow for 10 hours actual driving time in the first stage, and even when you get to the second stage 9 hours actual driving time. There is, therefore, a great deal of scope for organisation in business, so that you use your drivers for the maximum time, and not in washing cars, repairs, maintenance and so on. But this is an important departure.
Our present proposals are as the result not only of our own judgment, but of our discussions with both sides of industry; and certainly the unions would not agree to any relaxation of the proposals in the Bill in this particular regard. But with regard to the length of the working week, the only proposition that has come during this debate is that from the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, who said that between now and Report I might look at the possibility of something on the lines proposed by his noble friend Lord Merrivale last Tuesday. I think that was what the noble Lord intended. Of course I am prepared to consider these matters, but I cannot hold out any hope of the Government agreeing to an extension of the total working week beyond 60 hours.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
During the course of his remarks the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, referred to increased productivity, and he said that 60 hours in a week would be perfectly adequate on account of the increased productivity which is to be achieved by the provisions of the Bill. But if one considers paragraph 5 of Appendix 2 of the White Paper The Transport of Freight, it reads as follows:Reforms on this scale"—that is, on the scale of goods vehicle drivers' hours—will call for a big effort from management and unions within the industry to ensure that they can be carried through without major increases in operating costs and without undue hardship to drivers. Increased productivity will be the key factor and evidence of real progress towards this objective by both sides of the industry will be essential before the enabling powers are used to bring the new law into effect.Does that mean that until this increased productivity has been achieved by industry, with the co-operation of the unions and the Government, these new laws will not come into effect?
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
We have again traversed some of the same field, but not by any means all of it, and I think again this has been a debate in regard to which I am sure the noble Lord will not underestimate the strength of feeling on these Benches about how this increased productivity is to be achieved. How is industry to be kept going without serious upset when these new regulations are brought in? Of course the purpose of this Amendment was primarily to introduce an additional flexibility, and the noble Lord's answer that subsection (10) gives all the necessary flexibility does not really give the answer that we want. This will deal with special cases, and I do not doubt that the Minister will deal fairly with them.
I feel much more concerned with the general position which industry will have to cope with when these hours are reduced, and while they are still struggling, as undoubtedly they will be next spring, to get the extra productivity that the noble Lord wants. My noble friend Lord Merrivale was quite correct when he quoted the White Paper. I think that 1130 both the White Paper and the Minister postulate that extra productivity is needed before the hours are reduced. Any additional flexibility would help industry to achieve just that.
The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, was quite right in saying that the suggestion I made was not with regard to hours of driving, but hours of spread-over. I quoted the proposition in the E.E.C. regulations which will allow two days a week for a 15 hour spread-over. As the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, the E.E.C. proposition does not provide for hours on duty. It provides for hours of driving and total hours of the spread-over. But it struck me that a proposition on those lines, and perhaps two days a week where additional hours of duty were allowed, might have given additional flexibility which would have helped industry to adapt to what they will have to adapt to. I still think there is something in this. For myself, as I have said before, I accept the general proposition about driving hours, that they should be shortened, that there is sufficient medical evidence—
§ LORD STONHAM
May I interrupt the noble Lord to ask whether he means a facility for extra driving hours on two days a week within the same total work-Mg week, or does he want to extend the working week: as well?
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I think my proposition would inevitably extend the working week, because I think that 60 hours is rather tight. Where you allow 11 hours a day on duty it means in fact that only 5½ full days can be worked in a week. The noble Lord tried to wring our withers on this side by saying that we were simply concerned to make the drivers work longer hours. But my reply is fact and not theory. The drivers will work the hours that they want to work. In fact, we know from the Prices and Incomes Report that the average hours worked now, when they could drive for 77 hours a week, is 57 hours. It is true that some drivers work more than that if they want to do a lot of overtime. But the average driver does not want to work all that time, and therefore he does not do overtime. This will continue to be the position in the future. But there will be problems arising. Some men will wish to drive for longer, 1131 and where they do and industries have problems, no doubt the drivers will be willing to help the industry out with the transport problem.
I do not think that it makes sense, in terms of modern conditions, to suggest that what we are talking about here, which is the legal structure within which these men work—in extending that or asking for it not to be reduced so much—means that we are exploiting the men who are driving. They are well able to look after themselves, and they do. My noble friend Lord Teviot, who speaks with some experience of this, has added a good deal of weight to the debate.
Leaving aside these rather contentious matters, I accept, as I was saying when the noble Lord intervened, the general proposition that there is medical evidence that fatigue makes for slower reactions, and therefore the general trend of the Government's policy. I also accept that in most, though not all, European countries, the driving hours are shorter than they are here, and that therefore the Government's case is, I think, soundly based. Therefore I am supporting it.
My noble friends and I are, I am sure, right to say that there is a massive problem here in adapting to the change if we are to maintain, which we must do, the productivity of our economy. This is what we are continuously concerned with, to try to find the best solution to that problem. We have talked for quite a long time about this, I think not without value. With the permission of the Committee I will now withdraw this Amendment, but I shall consider putting down another Amendment which may give some additional flexibility here but in the more limited field of two days a week. Perhaps this might be an Amendment upon which the Government will look more favourably. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.39 p.m.
LORD TEVIOT moved Amendment No. 237Z:
Page 127, line 19, leave out subsection (6).
§ The noble Lord said: I was a little disappointed that the last Amendment was not pressed, but I am glad to hear that there might be a further Amendment on the Report stage. I do not wish 1132 to detain your Lordships long on this Amendment, but I feel that people should be allowed to work seven days a week if they want to. I cannot see that having a day off enhances the degree of safety. It does not matter so much now; as the law stands it is going to be 60 hours. Six into 60 is 10 hours a day. If it was 7 hours it is not quite so bad. But I believe it should be flexible. It could be argued that a man should have a day off but not on social grounds. That is not what we are concerned with in this Bill.
§ I am dealing here solely with the drivers' point of view. There are many noble Lords who are more intimate with the operators' point of view, and I am sure we all look forward to hearing from them. There are times in all our lives when it is necesary to earn more money. It may be a young man who is buying a house while raising a family, or a man who enjoys Continental holidays, or somebody who, through no fault of his own, finds himself having to work to pay for something. I was told when I first came into your Lordships' House that all these Bills were about people and persons. We have heard this afternoon mostly about technicalities. I should like your Lordships to realise that this is essentially about people. There is another very important factor. If you do have seven days, it makes the amount of hours more flexible, so that you can spread out the number of working hours in seven days instead of six. I beg to move.
§ LORD McLEAVY
I was rather surprised that the noble Lord should move this Amendment. While I appreciate that he has spent some little time associated with bus driving, I think I can claim to have spent a lifetime in association with the bus industry. All the discussion this afternoon has paid no regard whatsoever to the human aspect of this problem. Many of your Lordships do not realise that bus drivers are under exceptional strain, with the volume of traffic and the difficulty of keeping up to their schedules. There is a very serious danger that as these bus drivers get to the age of 60 they may not be able to carry on with their job. It has been within my own personal knowledge that bus drivers, when they have reached round about 60 years of age, have had 1133 to ask to be taken off on to either conducting or going into the shed, because they were no longer able to stand the strain of the work.
Your Lordships appear to pay no regard whatsoever to the human aspect of this problem. In the bus industry to-day, the undertakings are experiencing extreme difficulty in finding drivers and conductors, for the simple reason that the conditions and the wages are not in any way comparable with those which prevail in other sections of industry. We are finding that even the London Transport Board have for a number of years had to go abroad to recruit staff from Jamaica and other places, because the simple fact is that very few of our people will accept this type of work.
I think it is absurd for your Lordships to suggest that the question whether the fatigue is too great does not really matter. There is another aspect of the problem which I think noble Lords have completely forgotten. If a bus driver, because he has been driving too long, is involved in an accident, maybe a fatal accident, he is in danger not only of prosecution but of losing his livelihood, because he could have his licence taken away as a result.
The people engaged in the bus undertakings, the drivers and the conductors, are doing, and have done over the years, a magnificent job. They are serving the public at most inconvenient times. The general public normally go to work on a Monday morning and finish at five or half-past five in the evening. They have their Sundays and Saturdays off, work five days a week, and enjoy the company of their families on Bank Holidays. I think it is not fully appreciated by your Lordships that drivers and conductors have conditions of employment which mean that they have to work Bank Holidays, Sundays, split turns and late duties, and they are in many cases denied much of the social entertainment and companionship that other sections of industry enjoy.
I ask your Lordships, in considering all these questions, to consider first of all the human element. I pay tribute here in the House of Lords to the men and the women who are working on our bus services for the magnificent job they are doing. Do not talk about their working longer hours; talk about reducing their 1134 hours and increasing their wages, so that they may enjoy some of the benefits which are enjoyed by other sections of the community.
§ LORD SOMERS
I think the noble Lord has been a little misleading. He is talking about bus drivers having to work extra hours as though there was some element of compulsion in it, but there was nothing of that in my noble friend's Amendment. He merely said that they should be allowed to if they wanted to. There are, as he pointed out, times, particularly when one is young, when one wants to earn a little extra money. I have known that myself. Like the noble Lord opposite, I have the greatest respect for bus drivers; they do a splendid job. But if they want the opportunity to earn a little extra money, I cannot see why they should not be allowed to. Certainly I do not think the noble Lord would Lind a single Member on this side of the House who would agree that they should be forced to.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
Her Majesty's Government are very anxious indeed, quite rightly, to encourage tourism. They want to see more visitors from overseas coming into this country. One of the most popular reasons for people visiting this country is the seven-day and ten-day tours. The drivers of these tours continue throughout the tour. Not only do they drive the coach but they also give a great deal of information to the passengers they carry on the coaches throughout the tour. If I understand this Bill aright, it means that no longer can the same driver accompany his passengers if the tour is beyond six days. If it is a seven-day tour or a ten-day tour, then he cannot carry on. I have heard that this would be a great mistake. During these tours, there is a great deal of companionship and a great deal of respect by the passengers for their driver. A great friendship undoubtedly arises with tour drivers who carry out these tours, with their great knowledge of the countryside and of the places they visit.
I should like to know from the noble Lord, who is to reply for the Government, whether it is intended that these seven-day and ten-day tours should be compelled to have a change of driver during the tour? If so, this would be most unfortunate. These drivers are not driving overlong hours or anything of 1135 the kind. In fact, all the social amenities and advantages to which reference has been made are enjoyed by these drivers, who can add so much to the pleasure of overseas visitors on these six-, seven- and ten-day tours. Could we have some information which has a bearing on the opportunities and advantages for visitors from overseas to enjoy tours in this country?
§ VISCOUNT ECCLES
It may well have been true 20, 30 or 40 years ago that there were employers who said to their men, "It is not very easy to get a job. If you come and drive for us, you must be prepared to work very long hours"; that is to say, hours which did damage to the man's family life or his health. One admits that there used to be employers like that. But is this so now? The Government must bring evidence to show that there are now bus owners who make drivers work longer hours than is good for them. One does not say to a doctor, "You must not see a patient except on six days in the week." Nor would you say the same sort of thing to people who lead an intellectual life. The noble Lord opposite must have had the same sort of experience that I had when I was a Minister. There was no day's rest if one was a Minister. One thought one had to do it, but it was voluntary.
What worries me is that there may be still employers who say to men, "You have got to work longer hours than can possibly be good for you". But is there any evidence of this? We have surely improved in the last 25 years. We have had a fairly long stretch of pretty high employment, and in modern times it does not pay employers to force men to work if they do not want to. I should like to know if there is any evidence to the contrary.
§ LORD FERRIER
I asked the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, a question which he has not answered. I have the feeling that noble Lords opposite are being a little patronising about this matter of safety and also about this subject being a human one. I resent the suggestion that we on this side are not concerned with the human element. As for the point which was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, as to whether we had any 1136 evidence in this matter, has the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, had any access to the latest report of the Road Research Laboratory, which we know was in Government hands at the beginning of May? If so, is it possible for him to let us know whether that report points to the stage at which the working of long hours has a bearing on the incidence of accidents?
The noble Lord pointed to me and indicated that I did not seem to know that long hours cause accidents. Of course I know it; everybody knows it. Many ghastly accidents have been caused by excessively long hours, and of course everything must be done, and has been done, to stop it. But what is the scientific analysis as to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield, about hours of work in relation to a ten-day tour? The noble Lord, Lord McLeavy, asked, "What about the men?" But we must remember the productivity of the men, for without productivity we shall all "go bust". One knows that many young, busy people are leaving this country to go to other countries where they can work long hours without being interfered with. This matter is of great concern to us all, and I hope that noble Lords opposite will not talk down to us as they have been doing.
When a bus driver drives a coach for some other employer on his rest day, who goes to gaol—the coach owner or the driver?
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will not be surprised when I say that I shall oppose his Amendment. We are back on the same ground that we covered for a few hours on Tuesday evening. When the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, moved his Amendment he said that he felt very lonely on that side because he was not getting much support for his Amendment.
§ LORD TEVIOT
I do not feel lonely now, since I have had considerable support on this side of the Committee.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
I was just going to say that I hope the noble Lord is now a bit more cheerful because he has had a good deal of support: so much so that I doubt very much whether 1137 I can answer all the questions which have been asked. But I will answer one or two of them.
The noble Lord, Lord Wakefield, made a point about the tourist industry, which we all agree is an important industry in this country, especially the coaches, some of which tour for more than a week at a time. The point is that under this Bill one of these coaches on a long tour of say 10 or more days could not carry on without the one-day rest.
The Amendment, of course, seeks to leave out subsection (6), which says:… there shall be, in the case of each working week of a driver, a period of not less than twenty-four hours for which he is off duty, being a period either falling wholly in that week or beginning in that week and ending in the next week ….That is what the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, seeks to eliminate from the Bill. The effect would be that a driver would not be required to have a continuous period of 24 hours off duty each week, or fortnight in the case of a stage bus driver. Subsection (6) is quite new, as is subsection (5). One day off a week will help protect drivers and the public from dangers arising from the cumulative effects of fatigue. This safety aspect, and the welfare of the drivers, is something which has run through the discussion on both sides. I am sure that both sides are interested in seeing that drivers have decent working conditions so that they shall be in a fit condition.
The other two matters which nave cropped up many times in this discussion have been the words "flexibility" and "productivity" Speaker after speaker has mentioned these two words. But it is strange that on this series of Amendments, where it has been said that the Government should be more flexible in these matters, nearly every point which has been made has been in the same direction—namely, longer hours for the driver and a longer working week. The matter of productivity we discussed at length on Tuesday, and I thought that my noble friend Lord Stonham made quite clearly the point that longer hours do not in every case guarantee more productivity. Very often they have the opposite effect.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
On the specific point of these tours, which the 1138 noble Lord agrees are of enormous importance, what evidence, if any, has he that excessive hours have been worked by any of those drivers?
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
I have no evidence with me. But this subsection will try to guarantee that the driver has decent working conditions in future and that he will have a day off, which will prevent him getting into the condition which the noble Earl is so worried about. In view of the shortage of bus drivers and the prevalence of rest day working in the bus industry, the Government recognise that serious difficulty might be caused, and that the service which can be given to the public might suffer unduly if a weekly rest day requirement were brought in at once. Therefore, during the "first stage" paragraph (b) will permit a stage bus driver to have a clay off once in each fortnight. In other cases it should generally be possible to meet the requirement. But there may be a few special cases where it will genuinely be impossible to stick to the rules in full, or where some time will be needed to adjust certain of them. Subsections (10) and (12) give the Minister ample powers to deal with such cases by regulation. Those concerned will, however, have to make out a strong case. I hope noble Lords will listen to the Minister's words on this matter during the Report stage in the Commons. He said:In all fairness I do not see these exceptions being used on a massive scale because there would be no purpose in having the regulations on the hours at all; but certainly there is provision, in the light of experience, for us to see where defined classes could if necessary be exempted.The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, talked about conditions of driving forty years ago. I think he will agree that conditions have changed vastly in those years. To make a comparison would take quite a long time, and we do not have so much time available to-night. I do not think there are any other specific points to which I want to refer now, but in view of what I have said I hope the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will decide to withdraw his Amendment.
Will the noble Lord answer my question? If a bus driver drives for another employer on his rest day, who commits the offence— the driver or the person who employs him?
§ LORD LINDGREN
Would the noble Lord agree that, before an employer takes on a workman he should see that he has a driving licence, and should also see that he comes within the regulations for doing the work required? They would both be committing an offence.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
Here, again, if I have understood the noble Lord aright, we have an example of the Government's advocating one thing and, by legislation, preventing it from happening. Here is this example of the great need to encourage overseas visitors to come here. There are the very popular seven and ten-day tours, and one of the most important and vital needs is a first-class driver who is a character, who can make himself most agreeable to his passengers. We have had no evidence that these seven and ten-day tours are in any way unsafe because of the hours of work and the very detailed schedule which they operate.
I should like to know, quite clearly, whether there is provision in the Bill for the operators of those tours to be allowed to have the same driver carrying on throughout the whole seven or ten days. Is provision made for the Minister to give exemption to the drivers concerned, so that they can drive these special tours continuously for the seven or ten days? At present it is not allowed, and the Government will be playing "old havoc" with these seven and ten-day tours, which is quite contrary to Government policy, that of the encouragement of tourism here. So again we have this contradiction with the Government saying one thing and legislating to create precisely the opposite effect.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
The answer to that is definitely, No. We want to encourage these people to see our countryside and to enjoy their stay at an hotel here, but we want to do more than that. We also want to point out that we are prepared to treat our bus drivers and other workers decently, and this is one of the ways by which we are going to do that.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
May I just say to my noble friend Lord Wakefield 1140 of Kendal, that if my drafting is correct my next Amendment covers this point. I have a certain sympathy with the Government over their general thesis. I think this is a marginal point, but I feel that it makes a big difference if people are away from home. Therefore, in some ways I may be disappointed if my noble friend presses this Amendment to a Division, because it would also mean that lorry drivers would not have to have a day's rest. There are definite dangers in lorry drivers working seven days a week, which do not arise in the case of drivers of public service vehicles.
§ BARONESS PLUMMER
May I ask noble Lords opposite what evidence they want in connection with this Amendment? Do they need more than the figures of accidents on the roads, due to tiredness on the part of drivers? May we know what they want?
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
Perhaps this is rather a facetious question, but how can the noble Lord be sure that during rest periods drivers do, in fact, rest? What is to stop them going to a dance hall or driving their own car a long way? There is no guarantee against that.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
We have been talking mainly about bus drivers, and we know that the modern bus can travel at 60 or 70 m.p.h. and not infrequently does, which must involve a considerable amount of fatigue for the driver. But, surely, fatigue is a matter of speed. Many noble Lords have no doubt bought a new car during the last few years which is limited to 40 m.p.h. and which is extremely irksome when one is in a hurry. Two years ago I bought a Mini, which I had to run in at 40 m.p.h. for 500 miles, so the first thing I did was to visit a friend in Cumberland. Most of the way up I was on a motorway, and I was going along very comfortably at 40 m.p.h. with the lorries which were also going along very comfortably at 40 m.p.h. I arrived at the other end without any sign whatever of fatigue. But on the way back I drove somebody else's car, and although I came back in about half the time I felt fatigued.
It is all a matter of speed, and in this connection I should like to remind your 1141 Lordships of an old friend of mine who used to drive a steamroller. He told me of one occasion when his boss, who I think was in Hertfordshire, sold the steamroller to some other organisation down in the West Country and he was given a week to take it down there. He said, "It was an absolute gift". He went eight miles an hour for 16 hours and did whatever it was—over 200, nearer 300 miles. He did not feel any fatigue; and he had the rest of the week for a holiday. Fatigue is all a matter of speed, and it is no good trying to lay down for everybody the maximum, which is only a permissive and not a compulsory maximum, which we have been talking about for bus drivers.
§ LORD STONHAM
I do not want to steamroller the discussion, but I would remind your Lordships that we have been over three hours on five Amendments. I do not think this is worthy of your Lordships' Committee. This is not a question of speed: it is a question of whether we are willing to permit lorry drivers, stage-carriage drivers and coach drivers to work for 365 days of the year. That is what this Amendment is about. The Government say that some of them ought to have one day off in seven, and bus drivers one day off in 14; that is all. That is what the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, wants to destroy, so that they could work for 365 days of the year. I do not think this is worth talking about. I do not think this is worthy of your Lordships' Committee, and I think we ought to be allowed to get on with the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
Could the Minister answer the question which has been put by my noble friends Lord Eccles and Lord Wakefield of Kendal, by myself and by many others? It is a perfectly simple, straightforward question: is there or is them not power under this Bill to make a regulation exempting these 14-day and 10-day tours from this watertight provision?
§ LORD STONHAM
There is power under the Bill, under subsection (10), for the Minister, by regulation, to make special arrangements for certain classes of traffic, but I do not want that to be taken as an undertaking that he would necessarily make such a regulation with regard to the class of traffic we are 1142 talking about. But there is power if the Minister decided there was a good case for using it.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I must apologise for leaving the Chamber for a minute to confer with one of my noble colleagues, although I heard most of the debate, but I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that there is a good deal of genuine concern among my noble friends, and he is not going to make progress by trying to knock us about like this. We have a responsibility here to try to get the right answer. Some of us—probably most of us—accept the Government's general case for shortening the hours of driving, but some of my noble friends are not convinced, and I am bound to say that the answers from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, have not been clear on this issue. I suggest that, at any rate when we come to Report stage, the noble Lord would help his case if he were to give the medical evidence, which I believe is there, which shows that fatigue does lead to slower reaction and is therefore a road safety factor. But I assure the noble Lord that my noble friends are really in earnest on this matter. They want to see the right answer here, and the practical answer.
I would advise my noble friend Lord Teviot not to press this Amendment; but, on the other hand, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, will look a little less uncompromisingly at the possibility of the Minister regarding these tours as an exception to be dealt with under his powers in subsection (10). They are a special case, and it may be that satisfactory conditions can be defined which would enable the same driver to continue throughout the tour. If that can be done, it would be something which would please us all. So if the noble Lord would be good enough to look at it in that light, I would advise my noble friend to withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD TEVIOT
Is the Minister replying? I gather he is not. I am going to accept the advice of my noble friend Lord Nugent and withdraw this Amendment, but before I do so I should like to state that the reason why I put it forward was not to make these drivers work 365 days of the year necessarily, but to allow them to do so if they want to; that is all. We have had a very full 1143 debate, and I am thankful to noble Lords for all the points they have raised. We are now passing on to the Duke of Atholl's Amendment, which I think the Government could well consider. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.16 p.m.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL moved Amendment No. 237ZA:
Page 127, line 34, leave out ("stage carriages") and insert ("public service vehicles").
§ The noble Duke said: In moving this Amendment I ought to declare a very small interest, in that, as some of your Lordships may know, my house is open to the public and a certain number of people who come to look round come in what my noble friend Lord Wakefield of Kendal has so graphically described as "7 and 14-day tours". As the clause stands at the moment, these tours, as my noble friend has pointed out, would have to be altered. There are several reasons why this Amendment should be very carefully considered. First, it would still mean that the drivers of these vehicles would have to have one day in 14 as a rest day; therefore, even if they wanted to, they would not be able to work 365 days a year. Theoretically, they would be able to work only 339, if my arithmetic is right. Secondly, these tours are largely seasonal—I do not say entirely, but largely—and the drivers who work on them work, I agree, for long hours during the summer, and their week is a seven-day week; but during the winter they normally have a much easier time, so during the course of the year the number of rest days they have probably levels itself out.
§ Thirdly, these drivers would not be at home when their rest day would fall due. If you are on a 12-day tour of the Highlands and the Lake District and you have started from Birmingham, it is little help to you as driver of that tour if your rest day falls when you are at John o' Groats. A more ghastly place to have to spend the day, sitting in an hotel with a bus load of infuriated trippers who wish to go to see Dounrae, for instance, but who cannot do so because the driver is not allowed to drive the bus under the provisions of this subsection of the Bill, I cannot imagine. Fourthly, with the exception of one or two stages these 1144 drivers do not normally have great distances to cover. They start from one place and may go 20 miles to their first port of call, where they may wait for a couple of hours. They may then go another 20 miles to somewhere else, where they may wait for another two hours. On the whole, once they reach the Highlands of Scotland they do not go great distances in any one day.
§ I should have thought that in the interests of the tourist trade, which we know the Government want to encourage, and in the interests of the drivers themselves, this would have been an easy and simple Amendment. If the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom (if it is he who is to reply), says that I have drawn my Amendment too widely because I would also let in such things as express coaches, I would agree that that is probably true and I should be quite prepared to try to re-draft it at another stage of the Bill so that it covered only these 12-day tours.
§ Finally, as to the 14-day tours, I do not think it would be a disaster if they had to be cut down to 13 days. I think that is perfectly reasonable; for the driver will go back home and will be able to enjoy his day of rest and leisure with his family. As far as the 10-day tour and the 12-day tour are concerned, it is going to be impracticable for drivers to have a day when no one can move because it is the driver's rest day. With regard to the 7-day tour, I think it is a bit hard when from a mere week on tour, one day is lopped off. It is 14 per cent. of the holiday. I should have thought that provision might be made for the driver to take his rest day on the eighth day rather than the seventh.
§ This Amendment has every advantage and, so far as I can see, no disadvantages. The stage carriage drivers are exempt already from having a rest day every seventh day; they have one every fourteenth day. I think both the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the noble Lord, Lord McLeavy, implied, though they did not say it, that they consider that driving a stage coach in a town is a more fatiguing job than driving a long-distance coach on less crowded roads in rural areas. I beg to move.
§ LORD STONHAM
It was a pleasure to listen to the noble Duke moving his 1145 Amendment. He is quite right; he has drawn it too widely. His Amendment would mean that the drivers of public service vehicles of every kind, and not merely the drivers of stage carriages, would have to take one day a fortnight instead of one day a week. Paragraph (b) was inserted at the Report stage in the Commons and was a concession so that stage bus drivers need be obliged to have only one day off in a fortnight. That was a temporary measure by reason of the fact that there is a shortage and that many of these drivers are already working their seventh day. Therefore the Minister accepted the case so that we should not immediately create acute difficulties.
But so far as the express and contract side of the bus industry is concerned—the excursions and private party coaches —the case for retaining in the Bill the ruling about one day off in seven is a strong one. The noble Duke spoke about looking at his Amendment again and possibly drawing it narrower. I should be interested to see that; for one or two thing; that he has said, such as when rest days might be taken, seemed to me to be reasonable possibilities. Without any kind of commitment I should like my right honourable friend to look at some of the suggestions he made. But in drawing his Amendment narrowly I hope he will not say that every coach driver must take one day off in seven except during the period when he is calling at Blair Atholl. That would be rather too narrow.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I can assure the noble Lord that that particular thought had not struck me until he mentioned it; but I think it is a very good idea.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am always willing to be helpful; but I prefaced that suggestion with the remark that it would scarcely be acceptable. The noble Duke recognises that his Amendment is too wide and is unacceptable. I should like him to look at it again meanwhile I will look at some of the suggestions he has made.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I should like to thank the noble Lord very much for that reply. My intention is to limit it to touring coaches and to put down an 1146 Amendment on those lines at Report stage. If the Minister decides that he can accept it, I shall be grateful if he can give me some assistance in drafting it or if, perhaps, he himself would put down an Amendment. As he ha3 said, we do not have the assistance of Parliamentary draftsmen. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.28 p.m.
LORD STONHAM moved Amendment No. 237A:
Page 127. line 34, leave out from ("if") to end of line 38 and insert ("that week is immediately preceded by a week in the case of which those requirements have been satisfied as respects that driver or during which he has not at any time been on duty.")
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment is intended merely to correct and simplify subsection (6)(b) which ha.5 been the subject of so much debate in the last two or three Amendments. I should be grateful if the Committee would bear with me while I explain why these improvements are necessary. When the Bill was introduced in the Commons it imposed a requirement of one 24-hour period off-duty in each working week for all drivers. When the Minister announced in Committee in the Commons that the introduction of Part VI would be partly phased, one of the concessions h: decided to make for the "first stage" was that, since "rest day" (seventh day) working is prevalent in the bus industry, the 24-hour period off duty would be compulsory only once a fortnight for stage bus drivers. Paragraph (b) was intended to effect this, and was added as part of a new subsection, now subsection (6), which was introduced at Report stage. On looking at the wording subsequently it seemed that it is unnecessarily complicated; it unnecessarily adds to the difficulties in planning driving rotas; and it can be read as allowing a sequence of working weeks in which a day off is taken only every third week instead of at the most every fortnight. The Amendment makes the requirements applicable to stage bus drivers much simpler to understand and much simpler to operate and enforce; and it avoid; the unintended effect of creating uncertainty.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I thank the noble Lord for explaining this Amendment. I think we must take him 1147 at his word. The draftsmen's efforts to simplify are seldom helpful to the layman and it may well become more complicated. His intention is obviously right and we are happy to accept it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 237AZ:
Page 127, line 44, leave out ("four") and insert ("five and a half").
The noble Lord said: I hope our business may be speeded up somewhat by my moving an Amendment which the Government may accept. In considering this Amendment I would ask the Cornmitee to have regard to Clause 95(2)(a) and (b), where it is clearly stated that whoever the driver is and whatever the vehicle he is driving, a period of 5½ hours may go by before the rules of drivers' hours take effect. Clause 95(7) lays down that if a driver in each period of 24 hours during a week does not drive for more than a total of 4 hours each day, the drivers' rules shall not apply. This is based on the thinking of Appendix 2 subsection (3) of the White Paper (Command 3470) which referred to exemptions for those driving
as an ancillary activity to some other main occupation.
If this exemption were to be raised to 5½ hours which, after all, is the first period of time in which any restriction under this Part of the Bill occurs, many anomalies and cases which have no connection at all with road safety could be avoided. That is the aim of the Amendment.
§ May I weary your Lordships for one minute with an example? I do not think that this line of thought has been put forward either here or in another place. Let us suppose that a farm foreman makes a trip into town to take, and afterwards to collect, some machinery which is in need of repair, and his total driving time exceeds four hours. May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, if the spread-over provisions in the total working week apply to all this man's work? It may be that the man will want to go off and earn good money sugar beet hoeing, for instance, on piece work. If he works in excess of four hours at the wheel and that makes him liable to the drivers' hours provisions for his general work, he would be hampered, though his other 1148 work might have no connection with the road at all.
§ The spread-over and total working week provisions will seriously affect such people as farm managers and vets, and particularly the agricultural fitters, who were referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, on Tuesday evening, although—and this is the vital point —comparatively little of their time, on some occasions anyway, is spent actually driving. I assume that once again the noble Lord will say that some cases may be dealt with by regulations under the well-worn subject of subsection (10), cases of emergency and special need. I do not think that need come in, and it might clear our minds if we kept that provision out of the discussion on this Amendment.
§ I regret that the examples I have given are mainly connected with agriculture. Many noble Lords with experience in industry could probably give other examples, and perhaps in particular regarding the movement of mobile construction equipment. In this connection I would refer specifically to equipment which proceeds to and from the site of its operations, and probably never forsakes the building site as its base, but whose driver will be subject to all the provisions of drivers' hours if once he exceeds four hours at the wheel. If 5+ hours continuous driving may be completed before there is any check to the hours at the wheel, as is in the Bill, I cannot see why only four hours may be covered before the Clause 95 provisions generally are to be complied with. This subsection (7) is a new form of exemption. I do not believe that it was embodied in the 1960 Act. It may be that the Government have an open mind on this matter; at any rate let us hope that the noble Lord is open to persuasion.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
As die noble Lord, Lord Belstead, made clear, the effect of this Amendment would be virtually to exclude from all the driving hours restrictions in the Bill any driver who did not drive for periods amounting to more than 51 hours in any day of his working week, instead of exempting only those who do not drive for more than four hours a day, as the Bill proposes. At present the limit is set at four hours and 1149 the concession is provided to enable a person who, on his working day, regularly does less driving than other work—I would emphasise that "driving" means actually at the controls of the vehicle—to escape the restrictions in Clause 95 on the length of that day and his working week.
On Tuesday we had a discussion about this actual driving time and the question of delivery people was raised—milkmen, for example. I must emphasise the importance of this for tradesmen who have to make local deliveries but spend more time in their trade or on foot making deliveries than in control of a vehicle. A plumber or electrician, who has to take tools and equipment to and from each assignment, would not be subject to the hours' rule if on no day in any given week did his actual driving exceed four hours. I have never, for example, timed a milk roundsman to ascertain the proportion of his time that he spends driving. Certainly I would say that one who makes frequent deliveries in a road spends less than one-third of his working day actually driving, and would be right outwith these restrictions. A plumber or electrician who takes tools to a job would be outside these regulations. The four hours working time out of a normal working day (I am not talking about a 10-hour or a 9-hour working day at the moment, but four hours out of a normal working day) have to be spent actually at the wheel driving, and those people who, on any given day in the working week, do not work more than that four hours, are thereby outside the controls. This is quite a wide provision.
The noble Lord asked a question about the farm foreman and envisaged his going into a town with a machine, or something of that kind, and spending more than four hours at the wheel. He asked whether that would make the man liable to the restrictions on the total working hours. The answer is, "Yes". If he spent more than four hours driving in any one day of the week he would be caught by the hours' provisions. I know that this is a hypothetical case, but most farm workers driving to town with a machine would be driving from the farm to the nearest large town. I would assume that that would be so, they would not want to go on an unnecessarily long journey. They would go to the nearest town 1150 where the machine could be serviced, or whatever had to be done to it. It is a bit far-fetched to assume that such men would be driving for more than four hours in a particular day which would mean they would be driving for something over 60 miles each way. There are few farms which have not service arrangements within a shorter radius tan 60 miles.
If we extended it, as the noble Lord proposes, to persons who drive up to 5½ hours in any day, it would more than halve the proposed new daily maximum of 10 hours, and certainly it would be considerably more when we come to the later maximum of 9 hours driving. It would be exactly half of the total permitted hours on duty on any work including non-driving time. It would, as it were, reverse the present emphasis and it would exempt from the hours rule many persons who spend more time actually driving than doing other work. I think that is indisputable. In fact, to raise the figure to 5½ hours would, in my view, exclude the great majority of people who normally drive for a substantial part of their working life.
I am talking now only about time at the wheel. If you imagine all the other jobs which even a driver does and which is not work at the wheel, you will realise how soon the hours are reduced and how much it reduces the hours spent driving. So far as the workers themselves ate concerned, the unions think that we have gone much too far and have been much too flexibile in giving the 4 hours exemption. They make the objection that the concession will allow part-time drivers to take out vehicles on short coach excursions in the evenings, after a normal day's work in some other occupation Although it will be another occupation, there will be no safeguard against them suffering from fatigue and thereby adding to the dangers to public safety. To increase this to 51 hours would exacerbate the situation. For these reasons I am afraid that I cannot fulfil the noble Lord's hope that I might accept this Amendment.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I wonder if I could put this point to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, before my noble friend replies to him. This is another attempt to deal with the problem of 1151 mixed work, where a man is employed partly for driving and partly on some other job. We discussed this at length last Tuesday, when the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, answered the debate. The terms of our Amendment then were to exclude the 30-cwt. vehicle, which so often plays a dual purpose role, and at the end of the debate the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, acknowledged that there was a point worth looking at and that we would have consultations about it before Report stage.
The 4 hours granted here do help the situation but we think it does not go far enough. The noble Lord said that it would be unusual if a farm foreman had to do more than a 60-mile journey; and that is right. But occasionally he does have a longer journey. He might have to take cattle to another farm which is more than two hours' journey away and cattle trucks go slowly. Then for the rest of the day he would be caught by the regulations. I can think of many cases where 4 hours would not be enough to meet the problem of mixed work.
I must recognise that the noble Lord made a strong point when he said that 51 hours is as much as many professional drivers do. Maybe this Amendment goes too far. Maybe we have not the right balance here. I was going to suggest that when the noble Lords, Lord Stonham and Lord Beswick, are looking at this problem of mixed work, perhaps they could also look at this, because one of the ways of meeting this problem might be by extending this a little further. Maybe this will do or maybe not, but there is a problem here that needs looking at. I hope that my noble friend Lord Belstead will feel that this is the way we should leave it.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I can see both sides of this argument only too easily. May I suggest that perhaps there could be some geographical exemption? Although the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is right that it is unlikely one would need to drive more than 4 hours in England, we must not forget that in the North of Scotland there are many places more than two hours' driving from Inverness. I can assure the noble Lord of that. If 1152 there could be an exemption for the North of Scotland, I think that it would be very useful.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for his full reply to what seems to be a small point but which is in fact a point of some importance. The noble Lord referred to the unions and to the fact that under this exemption a man, after a hard day's work, can go driving up to 4 hours and be entirely exempt It would be extremely churlish of me not to concede immediately that the noble Lord, out of his experience, has touched on a very serious point, which was debated at length in another place, a point which was referred to by one honourable gentleman as "moonlighting" when it takes place to a considerable extent at night. This is something which must exercise everybody's mind.
Having said that, I must say that I am disappointed that the noble Lord could not come some way to meet us. I wonder where the 4 hours come from? Were they plucked out of the air by the Government? I would put this point to the noble Lord. As soon as a driver goes over the line, whether it be 4 hours or 51, then he will become subject to drivers' hours. I have already conceded the noble Lord's point about somebody who goes off driving illegally for 4 hours and if by some magic a person who is to be exempted for 5½ hours can go off and drive illegal hours over the whole week, then this Amendment would not have been moved.
The noble Lord referred to the farm foreman whom I used as an example. A certain amount of trouble is being stored up over this and it is something that is going to come up again. But I think that we have given this a good airing and with your Lordships' permission, I would withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.47 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 237AA:
Page 128, line 15, leave out ("elsewhere than on a road if the vehicle is being so driven").
The noble Earl said: This Amendment refers to subsection (9), which provides that the regulations in subsections
(1) to (7) shall not be taken into account in the course of operations of agriculture
elsewhere than on a road if the vehicle is being so driven.
I am moving that these words be taken out as I do not see the point of them. By definition the driver of the vehicle is engaged in an agricultural operation. He cannot do that on the road. He has to go off the road to do it, and his use of the road is merely essential for getting from one point to another. How is it intended to work this provision? Is the farmer supposed to have a stop watch and time exactly the minutes spent in going from one field to another on the road? Does it mean that when he is in a field none of tie regulations apply, but when he goes on the road he has to have a complete note because all the rules about days worked, time off and days off during the week and so on then apply? Does this not cause more trouble than it is really worth, and would it not be better to take these words out of the Bill? I beg to move.
§ LORD STONHAM
As the noble Earl is aware, we are anxious to be helpful to agriculture wherever possible, but I feel that the noble Earl's Amendment is not helpful. Its effect would be to free completely persons who drive in the course of an operation of agriculture from any restrictions on driving imposed by subsection (1). If this Amendment were made, no account would be taken of the time during which a vehicle is driven whether on or off the road. It would also free persons driving in the course of an operation of agriculture from the provisions of subsections (2) to (6) relating to hours of work in the day and week, rest periods and days off, if they do not drive vehicles otherwise than in the course of the operations of agriculture for periods not exceeding 4 hours in any one day.
I am sure that the noble Earl has not considered the implications of this Amendment. At least, I hope he has not, because I hope that that is not his intention. It is our policy in this Bill to help the agricultural industry, but this would go far beyond the concessions we propose in subsection (9) and the concessions that exist under the present law —that is, Section 73 of the Road Traffic Act 1960, where driving otherwise than 1154 on the road is not deemed as driving for the purposes of the limits on hours imposed by that section. That is the existing law, and here we are not doing much more than to re-enact it. Sub section (9) of Clause 95 maintains the present concession in more or less the sane form for agricultural drivers. We cannot agree to extend it so that driving in the course of operations of agriculture on roads—that is, on highways and other roads to which the public have access—may also be ignored. Many of the vehicles so driven will be large goods vehicle s, and their drivers will be subject to fatigue in just the same way as drivers of other large goods vehicles. The general restrictions on driving must therefore be applied.
The noble Earl made the point: How will anyone know? That is a fair point, which can be answered: How do we know now?—because, as I say, we are really re-enacting the present law and not imposing any new restrictions. I am sure that in this respect the noble Earl is satisfied with the present law which was passed in 1960. In those circumstances, I hope that he will see his way to withdraw his Amendment.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I will not press the noble Lord. I will only say that I hope he will show his desire to benefit agriculture in a very positive: way on some of the future Amendments. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL moved Amendment No. 237C:
Page 128, line 16, leave out ("operaticns of agriculture") and insert ("agricultural, horticultural or forestry operations").
§ The noble Duke said: I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if I move [...] and then my [...] next Amend [...] noble Lord, [...] that "agric[...] ture", so fa[...] concerned, [...] the word "[...] LORD ST[...] THE DU[...] circumstanc[...]1155
§ Amendment, and we can have a debate on Amendment No. 238.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.53 p.m.
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 238:
Page 128, line 16, at end insert (", forestry or construction")
§ The noble Lord said: There is general appreciation that the exemption contained in subsection (9), to which my noble friend the Duke of Atholl has referred, and which involves agriculture, is, under the Agriculture Act 1947, an inclusion of horticulture and livestock breeding. I am a little puzzled that the exemption of this subsection is from subsections (1) and (7) of Clause 95. I wonder whether the noble Lord opposite could confirm whether this is a cross reference giving agricultural vehicles off the road complete exemption from drivers' hours.
§ Assuming for the moment that it is so, this exemption in subsection (9) was referred to in general debate in another place where it would seem that the thinking behind the exemption was two-fold. First, the effect of weather conditions on agriculture sometimes calls for very long hours; secondly, although driving a machine off the road is tiring it does not have quite the same dangerous effect as driving for a similar time on the road. I think it is fair to say that we on this side of the Committee believe that forestry and construction work satisfies these two criteria, and this Amendment seeks to include them in subsection (9). My noble friend the Duke of Atholl will, I hope, rise again in a moment to deal with the claims of forestry, which he can do far better than I can.
§ Apart from the two criteria mentioned, I should have thought that an important factor here was that many people engaged in forestry must have longish journeys over deserted roads to and from their work sites, and inclusion of hours spent in the depths of a forest from time to time would put such people in a difficult position. Driving off the road on a construction site is not, I submit, tiring [...] the same way as driving on a road. [...] sort of operations that this Amend[...] would cover would be lorries [...]hovelling of earth, and simply [...] from one point to another [...] rather than driving, a. 1156 man really is operating a machine which involves very little movement. I think it is fair to say that here again we on this side of the Committee (perhaps it cannot be said too many times) are not by this Amendment going to try to involve people engaged in forestry and construction in immensely long hours, but we do bear in mind that somebody can come walking out of a factory at the end of a long day, get into his car and, if he wants to, drive all night.
§ Unless the proposed tachographs, when introduced, are to record only engine revs., not connected to any ancillary equipment, such as a mobile crane or a cement-mixer, there will be a grave problem here on construction sites—and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, has an Amendment down on this quite shortly. If this situation is an uncertain one at the moment, surely that is another factor supporting the need to exempt the construction industry, which widely uses equipment built on to carrying tackle, provided, of course, that the Amendment relates only to operations off the road. I hope that the Government will be able to give this Amendment serious consideration. It would be important for productivity, and it only seeks to follow the Government's thinking as set out in subsection (9).
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I should like to support my noble friend, particularly with regard to forestry. I am afraid that I know little about the construction industry and their problems, and I fully accept his statement that that industry would be greatly hampered by the provisions of the Bill as it stands at the moment. I think it is obvious that in forestry the drivers' hours provisions will be extremely difficult to obey unless some form of exemption is given to the forestry industry.
The planting season is a very short one anywhere, and it is often made shorter by the weather. For instance, you cannot plant when there is frost; so during the planting season you want to make use of every available hour of daylight. I might say, too, that you have to stop planting once the sap starts rising. Nor can planting take place in the height of the summer: it can be done only when the hours of daylight are not too long. When you are planting, there 1157 is normally someone driving a tractor, which goes rather slowly alongside, with all the plants on the trailer of the tractor. I do not think this is in any way a fatiguing job. He does not cover much ground during the course of a day. He hardly drives at all on a public road. Maybe he drives on the public road getting to his place of work and going home in the evening, although in many cases this does not happen, because he leaves the tractor ready for himself to come to the next day and gets there and back by bicycle or in a car driven by the foreman.
It is going to make it very difficult for the forestry industry if these sort of operations are curtailed to ten hours a day when we get a suitable day and suitable weather for doing them. Further (I am not sure whether this is covered or not) in felling operations, in most cases you obviously want to use your winch gear throughout a fairly long day. I cannot see that this gives rise to any great danger or fatigue, because in fact the tractor doing the winching is probably stationary for much of the day—not for all the day, for it obviously moves from place to place to do its winching, but for much of the day. I should have thought that this was another case where forestry could easily be exempted from these provisions without adding any danger to anyone.
I support my noble friend very strongly in saying that forestry should be included in this exemption. I personally feel that legislation would be much easier if forestry were always treated as being part of agriculture. They are related. A man is used to growing crops on a yearly cycle in agriculture, and is used to growing crops on a 30-yearly to 80-yearly cycle in forestry, but the idea is basically the same, and I feel that any difference between forestry and agriculture ought to be carefully analysed and the reasons for it given with great care. So I support my noble friend strongly so far as forestry is concerned.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
Having satisfied noble Lords opposite that the concession so far as agriculture is concerned also applies to horticulture, I am afraid that I cannot go any further to meet them to-night. Forestry, as we all know, has hitherto enjoyed the same 1158 concessions as agriculture has under the 1960 Act, but is not now give n any concession. This is because it is less subject than agriculture is to the restraints of weather at harvest. In such circumstances the safety advantages of shorter hours should prevail—
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
Could the noble Lord please explain why forestry is less subject to weather conditions than is agriculture? I tried to point out that in many ways it is just as subject to weather conditions. It seems to me that this is very much a fallacious argument.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
Briefly, what I am trying to say is that forestry is not subject to the same sort of conditions as is harvesting corn in the fields. I agree that the trees in the forest have to be harvested at times, but there is not the same hurry to harvest them as there is to harvest, for example, corn from the farms. That is what I am briefly trying to say.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I must disagree with the noble Lord here. I agree that harvesting operations can sometimes be spread, although when you have a windblow such as we have had in Scotland recently they cannot be spread over more than 18 months, and this gives rise to great problems if you cannot work for long hours during that 18 months. Wind-blows are always occurring. They are not usually as bad as the one we had on January 15 this year, but there are always windblows. So I cannot se e that that is really a good case for an emergency exception under subsection (10). The planting season is short enough anyway. The Government's policy, they say, is that we should plant more and more forests in Scotland. The Prime Minister announced not so long ago that he hoped we should plan (I think I am right in saying this; I am speaking from memory) 50,000 acres a year. If we are going to do that, it is a short season. We must be able to make use of all the suitable weather—and planting is very dependent on the weather. I d3 not know whether the noble Lord would like to go planting trees on a frosty day, but I can assure him that it is almost impossible to do it.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
I agree with the noble Duke that one can always find anomalies. I would not claim to 1159 have nearly as much forestry experience as the noble Duke has, but I live in a forestry area in East Anglia; for a good long time I was a member of the English National Forestry Committee, and I have some experience of it. I am not saying that I should like to go felling trees or, what is worse, lugging them out of the forest, but, generally speaking, I think the noble Duke will agree with me that forestry and agriculture and horticulture are not always comparable.
So far as building site and other construction work is concerned, this, like agriculture, is subject to some extent to the vagaries of the weather. But there is no concession in the 1960 Act and the Government see no substantial reason for giving a concession now. If, however, overwhelming reasons are brought forward in support of concessions for either or both of these industries, it would be possible to bring these about either by an order under Clause 95(12), which would probably take the form of adding the industry concerned to agriculture in subsection (9), as proposed in this Amendment, or by regulations under subsection (10) of the clause, which enables specific concessions to be made to meet any special need. It is therefore unnecessary for a concession to be made in the Bill itself, and I must inform the noble Duke and the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, who moved this Amendment, that I must ask the Committee to reject it.
§ LORD BALERNO
I should like to support my noble friend the Duke of Atholl. I think it is a most preposterous suggestion that there is any fundamental difference between agriculture and forestry. There is a much wider difference between different sections of agriculture than there is between growing crops in farming and growing crops which are called forestry. The only fundamental difference, if you can call it a fundamental difference, between the growing of crops in agriculture and in forestry is a time difference. You normally get an agricultural crop a year or 18 months after sowing, whereas in forestry the period is measured in years, but that is the only fundamental difference between the two. It is utterly absurd to try to make a legal difference or to suggest that there is any other fundamental difference. There is a much greater dif 1160 ference between livestock husbandry and other branches of agriculture than there is between agriculture and forestry. To try to draw a line in respect of the implements—which can be the same, and often are the same—used in agriculture and in forestry is utterly and palpably absurd.
§ LORD FORBES
I do not think the Government realise that in the North of Scotland you try to plant trees in the time between when the frost goes out of the ground and when the sap begins to come into the trees. You cannot plant before the frost goes out of the ground; you cannot plant once the sap goes up into the young trees. That is a very, very short time, and if planting cannot go on as it does at present, if there is any restriction, the Government's planting programme cannot possibly be carried out.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
Perhaps I can help the noble Duke in this. There have been a few fresh points made, and I said earlier that I agree with a good deal of what the noble Duke said. In view of the fresh points that have been made, I will give an assurance that I will look into the question of forestry, especially the planting side.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
May I just make a point of logic? The whole basis of Part VI is safety, and this is off the road. We see this in Clause 94. These are all operations off the road.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, has given us the benefit of his considerable time on this Amendment and has said that he will look at forestry. Now all we have to do is to ask him to look at the construction industry. Let me put a point to the noble Lord. Suppose one has an hour to drive to a construction site, which I think is possibly not unusual. I am advised—and the figures have been worked out—that a man who has to do this will now be reduced to 45 hours per week. May I quickly say, not hours per week, which I should like to see somebody working week in week out, but hours which I think many noble Lords on both sides of the Committee will agree may be very necessary in a particular emergency. The hours which have been worked out would be 45 hours of work, 12 hours for the journeys and three 1161 hours statutory meal breaks, which equals 60 hours.
I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, a second question. Will vehicles on construction sites be fitted with tachographs? If they are not fitted with tachographs, how on earth are construction sites and people working on them going to be brought into the scope of this Bill? Let us assume that somebody does what I suggested when I moved this Amendment—drives to a construction site and then spends time on the construction site, involving himself in drivers' hours, even though he is only tipping and shovelling. If he does not have a tachograph on his vehicle he can come (if I may use the expression) sailing off the construction site without anybody being the wiser and go off and drive to his heart's content.
Finally, I have some figures which I think make sobering reading. A pipeline contract was locked at, and it was worked out that the bill would increase by 31 to 3 per cent., and in the memorandum it was pointed out by the people putting in the pipeline that the actual increase in labour costs would be a great deal higher than that. The people concerned worked it out that they could get the figures down to this level. We are not talking about something academic. We are not moving this Amendment for fun, and I do not accept the assurance from the noble Lord, Lord Hilton, that he will look into the question of forestry because it is something in which Members of this House are deeply interested, and then we can get on with the next business. I do not accept that, and I ask the noble Lord to give me an assurance in regard to the construction industry as well.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
I was pleased to give the noble Duke an assurance in regard to forestry, because there is a very real connection. But I do not think anybody in this Committee, other than the noble Lord, Lord Beistead, can believe that there is any sort of connection between agriculture and the construction industry.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I thank the noble Lord for his reply. I find it entirely unacceptable, and I think we shall have to look at this matter again. In the meantime, with your Lordships' permis 1162 sion I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.12 p.m.
LORD STONHAM moved Amendment No. 239:
Page 128, line 17, leave out from ("enabling") to ("cases") in line 18 and insert "drivers to deal with".
§ The noble Lord said: This is largely a drafting Amendment, which is necessary to ensure that the scope of the Minister's exempting powers is not unintentionally restricted. It will enable the Minister to make regulations creating exemptions from all or any of the requirements of subsections (1) to (6) of Clause 95 or for empowering the traffic commissioners or licensing authority for any traffic area to dispense with the observance of any or all of those requirements.
§ As at present worded in the Bill, the Minister's powers to make regulations are inadvertently too restrictive, being limited to the purpose of enabling vehicles to which Part VI applies to be used otherwise than as prescribed in subsections (1) to (6) of the clause, in cases of emergency or otherwise to meet a special need. Some of the provisions 3f subsections (1) to (6) relate, however, to matters other than the use of vehicles. For example, subsection (3) prescribes the maximum permissible length of a driver's working day. The working day will embrace all work other than driving which a driver may do for his err, ployer, even work unconnected with a vehicle or its load.
§ In particular circumstances it may be necessary to grant a dispensation, retrospectively if need be, under subsection (10)(b) to allow a driver to d3 work of this kind in an emergency, or to meet a special need, after the expiry of his permitted hours of work. For e) ample, a farmer, after having driven for the maximum number of hours permitted under subsection (3), might on return to his farm find that he must work beyond the permitted limit to attend to the needs of a sick animal. Because of the limit on his working day, and because as at present drafted subsection (10) of the clause enables the licensing authority to dispense with the observance of the normal requirements under regulations 1163 only for the purpose of enabling vehicles to be used in cases of emergency or otherwise to meet a special need, an offence would inevitably be committed if the driver did what any normal person would do and attended to the needs of the sick animal. Since, whatever the law says, no one is going to stop work in such circumstances, this must be recognised in legislation or the law will be brought into disrepute. This Amendment, belated but very necessary, avoids that disaster. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 7.16 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 239Z:
Page 128, line 18, after ("emergency") insert ("severe weather conditions").
§ The noble Earl said: I put this Amendment down in order to try to ascertain from the Government what is intended by this subsection. From what has already been said I gather it means anything that the Minister wishes it to mean. If that is the correct interpretation I shall be happy to withdraw the Amendment. I beg to move.
§ LORD STONHAM
The noble Earl is quite right, his Amendment is unnecessary. I assume that he is taking with it Amendment No. 239A. I beg the noble Earl's pardon, I see that is by the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, which is on the same point but is equally unnecessary. I hope I may be allowed to speak to both Amendments, which will save quite five minutes.
Whether or not the Minister will be prepared to use his powers under this subsection, or under subsection (12) which in some cases may be more appropriate, will depend on the merits of each case. Perhaps I may quote the words of my right honourable friend in another place. He said:We have a degree of flexibility in the,power to make exemptions. One would assume that those exemptions would be made in the light of experience, but there is no point in using those exemption procedures to an extent which would make nonsense of the whole legislation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 29/5/68, col. 1952.]This is the theme which I have been following all the afternoon, and it was really exemplified by the last Amendment. Certainly we shall move sensibly 1164 with regard to the requirements of certain industries and seasonal conditions, and that will include severe weather conditions.
I gave part of the answer on Tuesday night, when I was replying to the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, and I can assure the noble Earl that the Minister could make exceptions to the normal limits of driving time and drivers' hours on duty during periods when weather conditions are such that journeys consistently take much longer than usual. For example, as the noble Duke will be aware, in Scotland in winter, when the roads are snowbound for months on end, fatigue among drivers in such conditions must be expected to be greater than normal. This might be an argument against allowing longer driving and working periods when the weather is bad.
In certain conditions, and particularly bad weather conditions, Clause 95(10) as it stands is drafted in sufficiently wide terms to enable this to be done. I would also mention—because I cannot remember that it has been mentioned at all in any of the many debates—that it is an important part of this clause that subsection (11) provides a defence against contravention of the rules in cases where it can be shown that such contravention was due to unavoidable delay in the completion of a journey, arising out of circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen. In such circumstances no one will be daft enough to take any notice of it at all. The job will have to be done. But in general in answer to the noble Earl's point, and I hope also to Lord Merrivale's point, I can give them the assurance that the Bill provides for everything that they require.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.20 p.m.
LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 239A:
Page 128, line 19, after ("need") insert ("including the requirements of certain industries and seasonal conditions").
The noble Lord said: May I briefly ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, one point? He said that the Bill as drafted gives everything that I seek to achieve by my Amendment. But paragraph 4 of
Appendix 2 of the White Paper, The Transport of Freight, says:
A new and much-needed flexibility will be built in to the law by allowing the Minister of Transport to make suitable arrangements for those drivers whose job involves emergency work "—
which the noble Lord was talking about—
to be excused from those parts of the rules which might otherwise make it impossible for such services to be provided.
But it does not say that this applies to industries with particular needs or requirements or affected by seasonal matters.
§ LORD STONHAM
If the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, will carefully read certainly the first part of subsection (10), I think he will be satisfied that it does give the Minister power to make regulations providing exceptions for industries.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 239B:
Page 129, line 26. after ("of") insert ("the users of transport,").
§ The noble Earl said: This Amendment deals with subsection (12) which can have quite considerable effects on subsections (1) to (9) of Clause 95. Before making these regulations the Minister is bound to consult with representatives of employees and employers. I am suggesting that he should also consult with representatives of the users of transport, who are more important than employees or employers. I brought this in because it occurred to me in the Amendment which I moved earlier that before this Bill was drawn up there had been no consultation with the people for whom I was speaking. I think it is right to provide that users of transport should be consulted wherever possible. If the Amendment does not find favour in the eyes of the Government they can negative it, but I am not going to withdraw it.
§ LORD STONHAM
I think it was a little premature for the noble Earl, even before hearing my reply, to say that he was not going to withdraw the Amendment, because I assure him at once that I agree with this. The Amendment raises an important principle with which the Government are in entire agreement. 1166 We are absolutely convinced that before changes are made in such important matters as the limiting of drivers' hours and means of enforcement there must be proper consultation with the interests concerned, both on the side of tie providers of transport, and their employees, and on the side of the users of transport, which is exactly the word used by the noble Earl. I should like to think this has always been the practice. It will certainly be the practice white we have anything to do with it.
Under Section 260(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1960 the Minister is required, before making any regulations, toconsult with such representative organisations as he…thinks fit".The Minister believes that this hind of requirement to consult is more appropriate than the present requirement in subsection (12) of the Bill, either as it is, or as amended by Lord Selkirk's Amendment, and that the new requirement should be applied to the whole of Part VI. It is an unintended omission from this Part of the Bill, that the Minister could, by regulation, make extensive alterations to the drivers hours rules under Clause 95(10) and introduce measures concerning tachographs (Clause 95) and written records (Clause 97) without at any obligation to consult. Not that he ever intended to take such a tours,—but there is at present no statutory requirement in this Part of the Bill.
The purpose of consultation is to enable the Minister to find out whether any proposals he may make are likely to be workable in practice; whethe.7 they are sufficient to achieve whatever aims he might have in mind and whether they create particular problems for any group of persons affected by them. This does not mean he must consult everybody on every occasion. For practical reasons, detailed consultations must generally be limited to the "top hamper" of al sociations—the "associations of associations" such as the C.B.I., the T.U.C., the R.H.A., the Transport Users' Joint Committee and the Traders' Road Transport Association. Many other representative bodies may be affected by the proposed changes. Sometimes it will be right to invite them to discuss the changes in detail; sometimes they will just be informed about what is afoot and left to comment if they wish; on other occasions it will be 1167 reasonable to leave it to the major national associations already mentioned, to obtain the views of their affiliated members.
To give a concrete example if the Minister wished to make an order under Clause 95(12) reducing the hours of driving per day from 10 to 9, it would obviously affect everyone in the country to some degree, but detailed consultation would probably be limited to the major associations—though many others would be notified and would be free to express a view. If, on the other hand, the Minister proposed to alter the hours only for, say, drivers carrying timber it would be right for him to consult forestry and timber interests directly as well as the national associations already mentioned.
The Minister believes, therefore, that the public interest is best served by imposing a requirement to consult, but leaving him discretion to consult such representative organisations (including user organisations) as he thinks fit. This arrangement has worked well in the past and there is no reason, as the noble Earl as a former Minister is well aware, to suspect that it will not do so in the future. Where failures have occurred, they have always been failures in administration. It would not have made a ha'p'orth of difference whatever had been laid down in the Bill.
I suggest therefore that the noble Earl might suspend his first intention and withdraw his Amendment on the undertaking that I give him, that the Government will themselves table Amendments on Report which will, first, remove any reference to an obligation to consult in Clause 95(12) but, second, include in Clause 100 an obligation on the Minister to consult "such representative organisations as he thinks fit" before making any order or regulations under Part VI of the Bill. I was quoting the actual words we would propose to insert in Clause 100. I hope that on that understanding, since he has achieved his purpose, but perhaps in a better way because it is more embracing than his present Amendment, the noble Earl will feel it right to withdraw his Amendment.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I am sure he will appreciate that he has had to 1168 say "No" to your Lordships fairly often, and sometimes his "Noes" are not wholly convincing. I am most grateful to him for what he has said to-day. I think it is of help that users' organisations —and I should like him to put in the word "users" if he can—should have a right of channel to the Minister, perhaps through their senior organisation. I think this is of great value. In those circumstances, I am glad to go back on what I said, and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD moved Amendment No. 241:
Page 129, line 45, at end insert—
("Provided that the appointed day for the purposes of section 95 of this Act shall not precede the appointed day of section 96 of this Act.")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment, and after the notable success of my noble friend Lord Selkirk with his last Amendment I am encouraged to think that I shall meet with an equally reasonable response by Lord Stonham. This is a small and simple point. The effect of the Amendment would be to require the Minister under the next clause, Clause 96, which deals with recording machines—tachographs, as they are called—to make regulations requiring the fitting of tachographs before he makes the regulations reducing drivers' hours.
§ Doubts have been expressed, I know, about the efficiency and reliability of these recording machines, but I observe that in another place the junior Minister explained in some detail how they work, that the Government believe that 95 per cent. accuracy is possible, and that in any event where regulations are made they will be made within the limits of accuracy of the machine. This is consistent with the line which the Minister has taken during the consultations with industry over the past year, that the fitting of tachographs was essential in order to ensure that the new and stricter regulations for drivers' hours were properly kept.
§ This was a point which was made several times in another place, and particularly by the Labour Members of Parliament who were experienced in transport. It is essential that these new regulations shall be observed by all, and not 1169 be made the opportunity for the "smart guys" to benefit at the expense of the law-abiding. The Government have already said in the White Paper The Transport of Freight that it is their intention that tachographs should be fitted, and I think it should be laid down in the Bill, in order to remove all doubt, that the Minister will make this order before he makes an order with regard to the shortening of hours. I beg to move.
§ LORD STONHAM
This Amendment, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, with sweet reason and all his guileless charm, is, nevertheless, powerful stuff. It is nothing less than saying to your Lordships that we cannot have Clause 95 effective, with the regulations on hours, until Clause 96 with the regulations on the fitting of tachographs becomes effective; and, of course, we cannot have them until there are enough tachographs, and that might be 18 months after the passing of the Bill. That is why I say this is powerful stuff. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, agrees with me because his Amendment is precisely similar, and his smile is as wide as a barn door. Nevertheless, I have to answer the Amendment on its merits; but I thought it just as well to point out the underlying factors here, and how important this Amendment is.
My right honourable friend the Minister has said that it is his intention, when this Bill becomes an Act, that Clause 95, the hours clause, will become operative so that the stage of reducing drivers' hours can operate from the spring of next year, some nine months or so hence; and we regard it as most important. The noble Lord, Lord Nugent, quite properly urged the importance of these tachographs. Of course they are only part of the job of controlling drivers' hours. I do not accept the implication that it is pointless to reduce the hours if tachographs are not first fitted to make sure that drivers' hours are reduced in Practice. It might be argued, it might even be thought, if we accept that view, that the operators would be glad of this delay, because they could benefit from the tachographs in the way of better control over their drivers and in the management of their fleets, before being faced with any possible increased costs arising from the reduction of hours for their men. That, of course, would be a most unhappy arrangement, and one to 1170 which the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, would be the last to subscribe. We do not accept that the law cannot be enforced without tachographs. This is the important point. In any event, these tachographs only measure driving time. That is a most important point. It is time at the wheel.
Apart from limiting driving time, the rules that we have spent so long discussing impose new limits on the length of the working day, the length of the working week, hours and periods of days off. These will be controlled, as the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, is aware, through drivers' written records, just as are the present rules which he himself helped to draft and push through Parliament. Clause 97 makes detailed provision for the keeping of the written records which are required for the purpose of enforcing the rules. For the reason that tachographs are merely an aid to enforcement, and not an indispensable one, the Amendment to defer the implementation of the clauses on drivers' hours until after all the vehicles are fitted with tachographs is surely quite untenable.
I would again remind your Lordships that the regulations relating to hours and to the working week and the working day which will be introduced by Clause 95, and which the Minister wants to be in operation by next spring, are reductions in hours for the purpose of improving public safety. Surely it would be unthinkable to delay such a safety measure until the tachographs are available to help in enforcement cases.
We have been enforcing the present rules—the driving hours, the driving week, the days off and so on—for nearly forty years without tachographs. Therefore, although tachographs would have been a useful aid in enforcing them in the last forty years, I cannot accept that because they are not now available in sufficient quantities for fitting to every vehicle that would need them, we must therefore postpone this vitally important matter of the reduction in hours until they are so ready. We hope that they will be ready in about 18 months, If they were ready now, this Amendment would be unnecessary and could not be moved, because the two would go forward together.
1171 Unfortunately, that is not so, but I hope that the noble Lord will agree—I feel he must agree himself; it must be his personal conviction—that these reductions in the number of hours, the length of the working week, the provision for days off and so on, are in the public interest as a whole, public safety in particular, and in the interests of the men also in particular, and should be brought into operation as soon as new schedules can be worked out and new arrangements made, which ought to be as early as possible next year. I hope the noble Lord will agree with that, and will agree to withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD TEVIOT
I should like to ask the Minister one question, that is, how has the industry, in respect of the unions and the operators, taken to the idea of tachographs? It seems to me—and I say this quite nicely—intolerable for a driver to have a snooper sitting alongside him and quite contrary to the British Constitution. I should like to know whether the rest of the world has such instruments.
§ LORD STONHAM
I would only say that many of these instruments are in use in many cases. This is not any revolution. Of course they are in use now, in firms which wish to be as efficient as possible and wish to use their labour as efficiently as they can. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, that these matters have been discussed with the organisations on both sides, and certainly there is no objection from either side to Clause 96 which provides for tachographs.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for his very careful and conciliatory answer. Although I am naturally not at all anxious to suggest that there should be a delay of 18 months before the new regulations should come into operation, I must press him on this. He will know that all consultations that took place with industry last year were on the basis that tachographs would be fitted before the new regulations were introduced, and the line that he is taking now, that tachographs will not be ready by next spring and therefore there must be a delay and the new regulations must be introduced without requiring the 1172 fitting of tachographs, is something quite new.
As we all well know, the extra productivity which it is so vital to get—and the Minister has stressed this again and again; and indeed the noble Lord has stressed it—and the shorter hours which the noble Lord wants, and indeed I want, will only be acceptable and successful if greater productivity can be achieved in regard to all the vehicles that this clause affects, particularly the freight vehicles. There is scope to get this productivity. However, we have the very cogent advice of the Prices and Incomes Board that the fitting of tachographs is one of the essential factors in order to get this extra productivity. In the light of that, it seems inconsistent for the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to recommend—and indeed to ask the House now to agree—this very important measure of reducing hours without doing something which we are told on the highest authority is essential if we are to achieve the extra productivity which is so essential.
I do not want to repeat arguments that we have had before about productivity, but the object is to maintain the earnings of the men engaged in this work, at the same time avoiding an increase of costs and also maintaining the efficiency of the transport operations. This is quite an undertaking, and the cogent advice here is that a tachograph is necessary. In the light of that, I really must press the noble Lord that, first of all, the line that is now being taken by the Government is not consistent with the line that was followed last year in consultations with industry; and, secondly, that this most cogent advice that the tachograph is an essential factor if we are to get the extra productivity on which the whole of this operation is based, as the Minister tells us, must be taken. I really must press the noble Lord that he should accept this Amendment.
§ LORD STONHAM
I assure the noble Lord that the Ministry of Transport have never discussed drivers' hours with the industry on the basis that tachographs would be introduced first. The only basis on which there has been discussion is that there would be provision for both in the Bill. Therefore, there has been no change at all. I must repeat, first 1173 of all, that the need to have tachographs is appreciated and fully understood, and that the Government are doing all they can to press ahead with the necessary arrangements. These are manufacturing problems; they are not political problems. Meanwhile, as the noble Lord knows, tachographs are already commercially available, and I believe there is no reason why many vehicles should not be equipped in advance of the dates that I mentioned. No doubt many of them will be equipped by next spring, in addition to those already so equipped.
The noble Lord has said that he really must press me on this Amendment. If he means he presses for acceptance of it, then I must tell him that it is quite impossible. I must impress on him the view, and I must ask him to acknowledge, that everything except tachographs with regard to hours is in operation now. The whole machinery of control is in operation now, and the only change under the Bill will he, with regard to drivers hours, a reduction in the permissible total working week, the permissible total working day, and the permissible total number of hours spent driving, although that meals actual driving all the time and not including other work as the case is now.
There is, therefore, no practical reason, any more than there has been any time in the last forty years when tachographs have not been fitted, why these regulations cannot be implemented as soon as there has been time—and I say it is about nine months—to make the different arrangements and draw up the necessary schedules. What the noble Lord says is that these are dependent on the economies that can be made through the
§ fitting of tachographs and, therefore, until those economies can be made it is not right to proceed with the changes in the hours. I cannot possibly accept this Amendment, with the best will in the world. I do no think he should ask this. I think the case has been clearly established that Clause 95 should be implemented so that these reductions in hours should take place next spring, and that Clause 96 should be implemented as soon as possible thereafter. That means as soon as these machines are ready, and I hope the noble Lord will accept that view.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I thank the noble Lord for trying again to persuade me; but I am afraid that he has not in fact persuaded me. The two basic points are that enforcement of the law as it now stands is well known to be virtually impossible. This was said again and again in another place, and has been said most cogently from the noble Lord's own side of the House. Therefore, if the drivers' hours are further shortened enforcement will become even more impossible. It is quite obvious that many firms will dodge the shorter hours at the expense of the firms which observe them. Secondly, on productivity there is no doubt at all that there is a direct link between the fitting of these instruments and the greater productivity which is essential. The noble Lord has failed to answer these points, and therefore I am afraid that I must press my Amendment to a Division.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 241) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 59; Not-Contents, 42.1175
|Aberdare, L.||Crathorne, L.||Howe, E.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Cromartie, E.||Jellicoe, E.|
|Atholl, D.||Daventry, V.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Audley, Bs.||Denham, L. [Teller]||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Balerno, L.||Digby, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Barnard, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Emmet of Amberley, B.||Mottistone, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Falkland, V.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Ferrier, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Glentanar, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Goschen, V. [Teller]||Rankeillour, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Gray, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Grenfell, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Sanderson of Ayot, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Horsbrugh, Bs.||Sandford, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Swinton, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Sempill, Ly.||Teviot, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Somers, L.||Thorneycroft, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Strange of Knokin, Bs.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Addison, V.||Granville of Eye, L.||Rhodes, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Headford, M.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Hill of Wivenhoe, L.||Royle, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Hilton of Upton, L.||Serota, Bs. [Teller]|
|Bowles, L.||Hughes, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Shepherd, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Leatherland, L.||Simon, V.|
|Burden, L.||Lindgren, L.||Sorensen, L.|
|Carron, L.||McLeavy, L.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Champion, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.||Stonham. L.|
|Crook, L.||Mitchison, L.||Strabolgi. L.|
|Delacourt-Smith, L.||Phillips, Bs. [Teller]||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Gaitskell, Bs.||Plummer, Bs.||Walston, L.|
|Garnsworthy, L.||Popplewell, L.||Wootton of Abinger, Bs.|
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 95, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed.