HL Deb 05 December 1973 vol 347 cc746-50

10.3 p.m.


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

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Power to relax statutory and contractual obligations, etc.]:

LORD HOY had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 1:

Page 3, line 37, at end insert— ("() Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3) above and notwithstanding any provision in any other enactment, Her Majesty may, for the purposes of section 2 of this Act, by Order in Council provide that—

  1. (a) no person shall drive a motor vehicle on any road at a speed greater than 50 miles per hour; and
  2. (b) the driving of any class of motor vehicle on any road shall be restricted to a speed less than 50 miles per hour:
Provided that such Order in Council shall not apply to the driving of a motor vehicle on a road on which there is for the time being a restriction imposed on the driving of that vehicle in excess of a maximum speed which is less than 50 miles per hour.")

The noble Lord said: I will not detain the Committee for very long. The Government announcement this afternoon about the 50 m.p.h limit has overtaken this Amendment which I put down some considerable time ago. The only consolation I have is to think that anything that we suggest and put into the ear of the Government on the right-hand side comes out as their considered opinion on the left-hand side about 10 days later. We are grateful to the Minister for accepting this Amendment before we had an opportunity to discuss it. As a consequence of the action he has taken, I do not move the Amendment.

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?


I understand that this is the time at which it is appropriate to ask a question which would arise under the regulations made under this Bill. From an announcement in the public Press it would appear that when, or if, petrol rationing comes in it would be illegal to use one's coupons if one were a passenger travelling in a car which was not one's own car and the vehicle for which the coupons originally were issued. If this is true, legal life in the rural areas will become impossible. Those of us who live part of the time in the country know that we could not get around without sharing transport on various occasions, including journeys connected with public business. I should like to know the Government's intentions in this matter. One does not wish to break the law but one wishes to be practical.


I am entirely in sympathy with the noble Baroness. She may know that in another place to-day the Secretary of State made the position quite plain; in fact he went so far as to say that car sharing will have to be the accepted practice for the bulk of motoring, especially for journeys to work. That being the case, no doubt the Orders, when they are made, will reflect that intention.

I think I should say also that the Secretary of State went on to say that all motor insurance policies now cover owners and drivers against liability for the death of, or bodily injury to, passengers, so that drivers need not therefore hesitate to offer lifts. I know that this is a different point but it is a way of sharing. The Minister went on to say that the Government are examining the possibility of exercising powers to allow motorists to accept contributions from regular passengers towards the cost of a lift without the need to comply with public service vehicle licensing requirements. I quite understand the point made by the noble Baroness. It is the simple point that you have two cars and you want to pool petrol for those two cars. I should like to look into that a little further to see how that could be not only practical but also legal.


I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said. I had a word with him earlier. There is a great deal of difference between sharing payment and sharing petrol coupons. That is the point at issue. If you are to have a petrol supply you have to produce coupons for the car, and the car has to be registered before the coupons become legal tender. All my noble friend was asking was that when the Government come to discuss these regulations they may try to meet this situation, because cash is no compensation for petrol if petrol is getting short. Petrol would be more valuable than money. All we are trying to do is to ask the Government to consider the matter before they introduce the regulations. As I understand it, what the noble Lord has said is that they will give some thought to this question and we are prepared to let it go at that; but at the same time we say to the noble Lord that we shall have to look at the regulations closely to see whether the point has been covered.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hoy, for leaving the matter in that way. The technical position at the moment is that in order to draw petrol with your coupons you must have it put into that particular car. I do not see any great difficulty about this because people could use their cars turn and turn about.


No, they cannot.


Plainly, the petrol rationing scheme is based on the concept that petrol must go into the car for which you hold the coupons. If the noble Baroness is suggesting that you not only pool the petrol but also that you try to get it into another car, that is another matter.


That is the whole point. I have just had to cancel a conference in mid-Wales because of transport difficulties, including possible trouble on the railways as well as the shortage of petrol. In order to travel from various universities and colleges in Wales to a central point, as we originally intended, it would be stupid for me, as an individual, to use a car. I should want to join with someone else for that occasion; but I have no guarantee that I should ever want to drive with that man or woman again. Therefore, I cannot do it on a sort of sharing-a-car basis. I need to be able to contribute my share of petrol in order to go in that car. I want to be able to do it legally, and it would be quite stupid to do it in any other way. That is the whole point.


I see the noble Baroness's point; she wants not only money to be transferred, but money's worth in the form of petrol. I shall have to take further advice on that point, I am afraid.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment; Report received.

House adjourned at thirteen minutes past ten o'clock.