§ 2.47 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered the adverse effects on road safety caused by restriction of highway authorities' expenditure on necessary road maintenance, which is preventing action to cut hedges and grass verges limiting drivers' vision.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF PUBLIC BUILDING AND WORKS (LORD WINTERBOTTOM)
My Lords, the restriction applies to local authorities' total expenditure on highways, other than grant-aided expenditure on principal road improvements, and it is the responsibility of highway authorities to decide on what items of expenditure the necessary savings should be made. There is no evidence that the restriction is having any generally adverse effect on road safety.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his Answer, but it does not give me much confidence, nor, I think will it give much confidence to motorists. Is he aware that some local highway authorities are not heeding Government advice on aspects of maintenance to which he has just referred? Further, is the noble Lord aware that there is ample evidence to show that accidents are being caused through the vision of drivers being limited for the reason I have just stated? In the interests of road safety, and rather than waiting for the horse to bolt before closing the door, will the noble Lord convey to the Minister the serious 663 aspect of this matter and the need for some action to be taken on a national scale?
LORD WINTER BOTTOM
My Lords, I have no evidence at all that local authorities are ignoring the regulations. The noble Earl may be influenced by a certain accident that occurred, but in the view of Her Majesty's Government there is no particular evidence that this accident was caused by absence of roadside maintenance. There were many other factors in this particular case.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, so far as is known, a single jury has expressed an opinion that a life was lost as the result of inadequate roadside maintenance in front of signs. That was an expression of opinion. The accident took place at 2.45 o'clock in the morning after the individual concerned, who tragically died, had driven 200 miles. It may be that the accident was caused by his failing to see a certain element of a certain road sign but there may have been other causes as well.