HL Deb 31 July 1974 vol 353 cc2317-27

[Page and line references are to Bill 79 as first printed for the Commons].

[Nos. 1 to 34]

Clause 5, page 9, line 39, leave out ' and used '.

Clause 5, page 9, line 43, leave out from ' person to end of line 45 and insert ' in whose name the vehicle was at that time registered under the Vehicles (Excise) Act 1971.

Page 10, line 3, leave out from 'person' to end of line and insert ' in whose name a vehicle was so registered '.

Page 10, line 5, leave out ' and used '.

Page 10, line 6, leave out ' and used '.

Clause 6, page 11, line 7, at end insert—

' (4) The power to give a traffic direction for the purposes of a traffic survey shall be to exercised as not to cause any unreasonable delay to a person who indicates that he is unwilling to furnish any information for the purposes of the survey.'

Clause 7, line 15, leave out 'highway, or' and insert ' road, or (aa) on any land which is situated between two carriageways of an urban road and which is not a footway, or '.

Clause 7, line 16, leave out 'highway' and insert ' road '.

Page 12, leave out line 7 and insert 'road may by order specifying that road '.

Page 12, line 9, leave out from 'it' to end of line 13, and insert ' or to any part of it specified in the order, either at ail times or during periods so specified. (5A) In England and Wales a local authority within the meaning of section 36A of this Act, may institute procedings for an offence under this section committed with respect to a road in their area '.

Page 12, line 37, leave out 'highway' "means a highway' and insert' road" mean a road'.

Clause 10, leave out Clause 10.

After Clause 12 insert new clause:

Fitting and sale of defective or unsuitable vehicle parts

'(1) After section 60 of the 1972 Act there shall be inserted the following section—

60A.—(1) If any person—

  1. (a) fits a vehicle part to a vehicle, or
  2. (b) causes or permits a vehicle part to be fitted to a vehicle, in such circumstances that, by reason of that part being fitted to the vehicle, the use of the vehicle on a road would constitute a contravention of or failure to comply with any of the construction and use requirements, he shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) A person shall not be convicted of an offence under subsection (1) above if he proves—

  1. (a) that the vehicle to which the part was to be exported from Great Britain; or
  2. (b) that he had reasonable cause to believe that that vehicle would not be 2319 used on a road in Great Britain or would not be so used until it had been put into a condition in which its use would not constitute a contravention of or failure to comply with any of the construction and use requirements.

(3) If any person who—

  1. (a) sells or supplies or offers to sell or supply a vehicle part, or
  2. (b) causes or permits a vehicle part to be sold, supplied, or offered for sale or supply, has reasonable cause to believe that the part is to be fitted to a motor vehicle, or to a vehicle of a particular class, or to a particular vehicle, he shall be guilty of an offence if that part could not be fitted to a motor vehicle or, as the case may require, to a vehicle of that class or, of a class to which the particular vehicle belongs, except in such circumstances as are mentioned in subsection (1) above.

(4) A person shall not be convicted of an offence under subsection (3) above in respect of the sale, supply or offer of a vehicle part if he proves—

  1. (a) that the part was sold, supplied or offered, as the case may be, for export from Great Britain; or
  2. (b) that he had reasonable cause to believe that it would not be fitted to a vehicle used on a road in Great Britain or would not be so fitted until it had been put into such a condition that it could be fitted otherwise than in such circumstances as are mentioned in subsection (1) above.

"60A(1) Fitting of defective or unsuitable vehicle parts Summarily £200.
60A(3) Selling defective or unsuitable vehicle parts Summarily £200.
60A(6) Obstructing examiner testing vehicles to ascertain whether defective or unsuitable part has been fitted, etc Summarily £100."

Clause 14, page 21, line 35, after 'evidence' insert ' or, in Scotland, sufficient evidence '.

Clause 16, leave out Clause 16.

Clause 17, leave out Clause 17.

Clause 18, leave out Clause 18.

Clause 19, leave out Clause 19.

Clause 21, leave out Clause 21.

Clause 22, page 30, line 10, at end insert— ' (4A) A road hump constructed in a highway in accordance with this section shall be removed not later than the expiry of the period of one year beginning with the day on which its construction began '.

Page 31, line 5, leave out ' Where a road hump is constructed ' and insert ' If and so long as a road hump is constructed and maintained '.

Clause 28, page 33, line 27, leave out subsection (2).

Clause 29, page 34, line 14, leave out subsection (6).

Schedule 3, page 47, line 5, at end insert— ' (4) At the end of the said section 101 there shall be added the following subsection—

(5) An authorised examiner may at any reasonable hour enter premises where, in the course of a business, vehicle parts are fitted to vehicles or sold, supplied or offered for sale and test and inspect any vehicle or vehicle part found on those premises for the purpose of ascertaining whether—

  1. (a) a vehicle part has been fitted to the vehicle in such circumstances as are mentioned in subsection (1) above, or
  2. (b) the vehicle part could not be sold or supplied for fitting to a vehicle used on roads in Great Britain without the commission of an offence under subsection (3) above, and for the purpose of testing a motor vehicle and any trailer drawn by it the authorised examiner may drive it and for the purpose of testing a trailer may draw it with a motor vehicle.

(6) Any person who obstructs an authorised examiner acting under subsection (5) above shall be guilty of an offence.

(7) In subsections (5) and (6) above ' authorised examiner ' means a person who may act as an authorised examiner for the purposes of section 53 of this Act; and any such person, other than a constable in uniform, shall produce his authority to act for the purpose of subsection (5) above if required to do so.

(8) Nothing in this section shall affect the validity of a contract or of any rights arising under a contract. (2) In Part I of Schedule 4 to the 1972 Act (prosecution and punishment of offences) after the entry relating to section 60(3) there shall be inserted the following entries:—

"(8) Nothing in the provisions of sections 15(5) and 31(1) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act 1954 (complaint and previous complaint and previous convictions) shall affect the power of the court under subsection (4A) of this section to take into consideration a previous conviction or disqualification endorsed on the licence of the accused." '.

Schedule 5, page 51, line 16, column 4, leave out ' £50 ' and insert ' £20 '.

Schedule 5, page 51, line 18, column 5, leave out ' £50 ' and insert ' £20 '.

page 52, line 4, column 4, leave out '£100' and insert '£50'.

page 52, line 6, column 5, leave out '£100" and insert '£50'.

page 70, line 20, at end insert ' or 4 months imprisonment '.

Schedule 6, page 72, line 4, at end insert—

The Airports Authority Act 1965

2A. In section 12 of the Airports Authority Act 1965 (control of road traffic within British Airports Authority aerodromes) in subsection (3) (order may exempt particular roads from application of road traffic enactments) for the words from "particular roads" to the end of the subsection there shall be substituted the words "such roads or lengths of roads to which the public does not have access as the Authority may for the time being identify as being so exempted by means of a sign of a type or character specified in the order".'.

page 73, line 25, at end insert— '11A. In section 36 A of that Act the following subsections shall be inserted after subsection (3):— (3A) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that, in relation to vehicles of such classes as may be specified in the regulations, subsection (1) above shall not apply subject to such conditions as may be so specified. (3B) In England and Wales a local authority may institute proceedings for an offence under this section committed with respect to the verge of a road, land or a footway in their area; and in this section "local authority" means the council of a county, district or London borough, the Greater London Council or the Common Council of the City of London." '

page 73, line 26, leave out from beginning to first ' the ' in line 27 and insert— '(I) In section 53 of that Act (testing of condition of vehicles on roads) in subsection (1) (authorised examiners may test motor vehicles to ascertain whether certain requirements are complied with) in paragraph (b) after the word "of" there shall be inserted the word "noise". (2) In subsection (2) of that section (persons who may act as authorised examiners) '.

page 74, line 24, at end insert— '18A. In section 168(2) of the Act (information to be given as to identity of driver, etc.) in paragraph (a) after the word "police" there shall be inserted the words "or, in the case of an offence under section 36A or section 36B of this Act, by or on behalf of a local authority within the meaning of the said section 36A".'

In the Title, line 2, leave out ' operators' licences and drivers' hours ' and insert ' and operators' licences '.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 34. It may be for the convenience of the House if I explain the effect of the Amendments as a whole which have been made to the Bill in another place, and then if any of your Lordships has any question on any particular Amendment I will endeavour to deal with it. Perhaps then at the end we can take the Amendments, if it be the wish of your Lordships, en bloc.

At the conclusion of the Report stage, before this Bill went to another place, the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stour- ton, expressed the not too confident hope that it would not have to be launched yet a third time. As a result of some hard work, and not a little give and take, last Friday, the Bill is before us again after an interval of little over a month. There are a number of changes, which have the general result of limiting the present measures to those matters on which there is a consensus. Many clauses which have been deleted will be regretted in one quarter or another. But their inclusion would have meant subjecting the Bill to more extended consideration in another place—with the real risk that it would not have completed its passage in the present Session.

There have been sacrifices, but there have also been gains. I doubt whether your Lordships would have wished to consider again the proposal to introduce owner-liability, and this, like other measures in the Bill, is something which those responsible for tackling road traffic and attendant problems are now awaiting with some impatience. Nor should the sacrifices be exaggerated. The important matters which we shall be leaving aside will be candidates for legislation in the next Session, subject in some cases to the progress of discussions with the interests concerned. And, if I may say so, it may be possible to tackle them in a clearer cut Parliamentary situation than we have at the present time.

In view of the limited timetable, the Government and the Opposition were in agreement that there should not in this Bill be the provision on wearing of seat belts. Although this was debated at length in this House, culminating in a very close vote to delete it, and the Government had been anxious to provide an opportunity for debating it also in another place during the passage of this Bill, it was the view of the majority when this stage was reached last Friday that this subject must be left until it could be fully debated there. This does not represent any change in the Government's view that this is a highly desirable road safety measure.

There was not the same unanimity about Clauses 17, 18 and 19, which dealt with bus licensing. The Government fully accept that a serious transport problem faces many rural communities, with real hardship to many. But the clauses which were inserted in this Bill, and which the Government have considered very carefully, met with some degree of objection from both sides of the industry; nor were they wholly acceptable to at least one local authority association, and the Government feel that it is essential to give the new local authorities so recently formed, time to concert their views.

Meanwhile, there was no very solid basis of agreement on which to legislate about this very complex subject. I can assure your Lordships that the Government will press forward with their consultations, and will introduce any necessary legislative changes at the earliest opportunity. Clauses 16 and 21 were deleted from the Bill without opposition. There is no immediate prospect of a scheme for training young people under 21 to drive buses, so this enabling provision seemed premature. The corresponding provision for heavy goods vehicle drivers remains in the Bill, however. As regards tachographs, we have again a provision which was bound to be controversial, and which could not at this stage be regarded as urgent.

The other deletion was Clause 10. I think the noble Lord, Lord Elton, recognised that this was not, as it stood, a workable piece of law; he was concerned to secure real progress in dealing with noisy vehicles, an aim which we would all endorse. His Amendment has caused the Government to review the means of enforcing vehicle noise limits. We have confirmed our earlier conclusion that periodic testing is of limited value, but that more spot checks of vehicles on the road would improve the present situation. A new paragraph in Schedule 6 extends the power for spot checks to all vehicles, and makes it available to the police as well as Government vehicle examiners. There is not yet a suitable method for testing petrol-engined vehicles, but when this is developed the power to use it in spot checks will be there. Although this is not what the noble Lord, Lord Elton, was proposing, I hope the House will welcome it as a definite advance.

At Second Reading, my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich promised a provision to ban the fitting and sale of unsuitable parts. This was prompted by the "killer tyres" scandal last year; that is to say, the sale to car owners of tyres suitable only for farm carts. The clause was not drafted in time for the earlier proceedings in this House, but was accepted during the Committee stage in another place. Most of the remaining Amendments are improvements, corrections and clarifications of a minor nature. They include a series of Amendments to Clause 7 and Schedule 6 as a result of consultations with the Greater London Council about the ban on parking on pavements. New subsections have been inserted to confirm the intention of the traffic survey clause—that is to say Clause 6—and to limit to one year the duration of each road hump experiment, which is covered in Clause 22.

I should like to draw attention to an Amendment to Schedule 5 which I think will go some way to meet the arguments so persuasively put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Janner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, in relation to the power of magistrates' courts to imprison for serious road traffic offences. In Committee in another place, the Government accepted an Amendment to preserve the power of magistrates' courts to imprison, for up to four months, for dangerous driving, driving while drunk, and driving with excess blood alcohol. As a consequence, the accused also retains the right to elect jury trial in the Crown Court for these offences. Magistrates' courts will retain, for these offences, the various powers depending on the availability of imprisonment, such as detention centre and attendance centre orders, community service, and the power to issue arrest warrants to secure the attendance of the accused at his trial.

My honourable friend Mr. Lyon said in the other place that the Government regarded the retention of imprisonment on summary conviction for the three offences in question as an interim measure, and that he hoped that it could finally be removed when non-custodial alternatives—and especially community service—became more generally available. But in the meantime he accepted the argument that for these offences—the most serious road traffic offences with which magistrates' courts had to deal—there was a case for retaining the power to imprison on summary conviction, together with the consequential powers which went with it. I trust that that survey of what these Amendments amount to will satisfy your Lordships. My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 34.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

12.2 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for having explained the effect of these Amendments, and it certainly saves much time for the House if we deal with them en bloc. So far as the Amendments are concerned, we have to be grateful for small mercies, and at least Clause 15 has been allowed to remain in the Bill. I welcome Clause 15, because this is a very valuable training scheme for drivers of heavy goods vehicles. It is a scheme that was worked out in great detail with the union concerned, and I could never understand why it was omitted from the Bill when it was reintroduced by this Government. I am sorry to see the wholesale slaughter of Clauses 16 to 22 that has taken place. Clause 16 was only a permissive clause which allowed the introduction at a later date of a similar scheme for training public service vehicle drivers. I really thought it would have been advantageous to leave that in, knowing how difficult it is to get legislation when one wants it.

I deeply regret the omission of Clauses 17, 18, and 19, which helped the rural bus service problem. It is a matter to which we gave a great deal of thought when we were in Government and we tried to improve it, because it is an urgent and important one. The proposals that we put forward when the Bill was in Committee in this House were very much more modest than anything we had in our original Bill. They seemed to fall in line very closely with what the Labour Party had advocated when they were in Opposition, and we were hopeful that this might have gone some way to help solve the problem of rural bus services. We now have to wait for another occasion, and another Bill will have to be launced—the third, as the noble Lord put it. I hope that it will be we who launch it from the other side of the House very shortly.

12.7 p.m.


My Lords, I first want to apologise to your Lordships for having attempted to intervene before. That was due to my lack of knowledge of the exact procedure in your Lordships' House. I hope you will regard that as being a satisfactory explanation. I want to make only a few comments and—what is perhaps sometimes unusual in this House—to thank the Government for having taken into consideration the proposals and suggestions that have been made in respect of the rights of magistrates in the course of the performance of their duties. While some of us would have wanted the Government to go further than they have done, it would be entirely wrong if we were not to state quite definitely, on behalf of ourselves, the magistrates, and the justices clerks, that we are grateful to the Government for having conceded the point in Amendment No. 29, which retains a certain amount of rights for the magistrates to enable them to carry out their duties.

I am sure your Lordships will appreciate that this body, which gives very great voluntary service to the community, with dedication, has to retain certain powers to enable magistrates to carry their duties into proper effect. It would have been very tragic indeed if this Amendment had not been made. The Government in their wisdom decided that magistrates should be supported, in the sense that when they sentenced somebody there should be some effective way of doing so, so that their duties might be properly performed. As I said before, I wish to thank the Government on behalf of the magistrates, the justices of the peace, and the Members of both Houses, for having conceded this point.


My Lords, I should like to add a few words of thanks to what my noble friend Lord Aberdare has said. The Parts of the Bill in which I was particularly interested have been dealt with more kindly by the Government in the other place than my noble friend's Parts. I do not unduly worry about the removal of Clause 21, because it was an optional clause anyhow, and people who wish to set this practice and gain experience will still be able to do so. I think that the atmosphere from not having it in an Act may make it easier for operators and unions to persuade people that this is not such an evil thing. As regards the other Amendments that the noble Lord moved, dealing with Parts in which I was interested, I think that they are all technical, and in many cases are improvements. I give my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy.

12.9 p.m.


My Lords, I greatly regret the omission of the rural bus service clauses from this Bill, because they gave an opportunity of a new breakthrough in that field. I presume that the died in the wool conservatives in the trade unions have prompted turning them down. I was hoping that there would be a possibility for the part-time mini-bus owner, who does a few trips as a sideline to market gardening or something else, or even the housewife who turns out as a part-time driver of these buses, where there would be no question of the very high full-time wages of a driver, which I think is one of the reasons why this suggestion was turned down in another place. The lady drivers are very good. In my part of the world, a private bus company has folded up on the lady driver attaining the age of 80 and, I believe, not getting her licence renewed. If she can do that sort of thing, there are hundreds of thousands of other women in the country who can also do it, and they might eventually have provided a very good service if this proposal had not been killed by another place.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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