HL Deb 13 May 1971 vol 318 cc1193-5

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will encourage the police and/or traffic wardens to watch two or three crossings in London from time to time, without notice, and note whether vehicles are driving on to the crossings when the exit is not clear, because this practice could create a complete traffic block; and whether, if vehicles are found to be offending in this way, the drivers could be warned or even prosecuted as an example to others.]


My Lords, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis appreciates the effect this form of driving behaviour can have on the flow of traffic. The local police soon discover any tendency for traffic to jam at a particular junction and take steps to keep it moving; and on present information the Commissioner doubts whether it is necessary to watch road junctions selected at random. At important intersections, box junctions have been prescribed by order by the Greater London Council and the police enforce these orders in the same way as other traffic regulations.


My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, may I ask whether he is aware that the police do not enforce them and that frequently an adventurous or selfish motorist or bus driver will edge his way into the cross-roads and cause a jam of 200 or 300 yards? It is happening week after week here in London. Is it not desirable to make an example of just one or two of these people in order to cure this practice?


My Lords, it is important to distinguish between the normal road junction and the intersection which has been designated as a box junction. Where there is a box junction it is a statutory offence to enter the box if the exit is not free. The police have prosecuted quite a number of motorists and secured convictions—I have the figures here—in cases where obstruction has occurred on box junctions. Where there is no box junction the situation is different: the police have no powers in this respect.


My Lords, have the Government considered whether an additional deterrent could be provided by the abolition of the amber light, at least for a restricted experimental area?


That is another question, my Lords. If the noble Lord cares to take it up with me, I can discuss it with him and give him the results of the experience the police have in this connection.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that there is great force in the Question that has been put to him? Furthermore, is he aware that the implication is that a greater degree of enforcement is required at road junctions—with possibly more of these box junctions marked out—in order to prevent tailing back traffic at peak times, which causes complete blockage at these intersections? Is my noble friend aware that it really is necessary to have stricter enforcement?


My Lords, I entirely accept the spirit of that question. But with all respect to my noble friend, I do not think that it is a question of stricter enforcement, because enforcement of the box junction procedure is very strict indeed. As to intersections where traffic blocks are occurring at the moment, if any noble Lord would like to get in touch with me about them we will pass the facts on to the police. The police do make applications to the Greater London Council in respect of any intersections where they believe that serious and continuing congestion is taking place. The Greater London Council then decide whether or not they should be designated for a box junction.