HL Deb 14 April 1976 vol 369 cc2144-6

11.15 a.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 how much longer they intend to continue trying to enforce the general speed limits on previously de-restricted roads.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, the enforcement of speed limits, whether general or local, is a matter for chief officers of police and I am sure they will continue to devote to it whatever resources they can. If the noble Lord has in mind the duration of the fuel-saving limits of 60 and 50 miles per hour, he may like to know that the present Temporary Speed Limit Order will expire on 30th November next and that during the autumn the question of extending the limits will be considered by my honourable friend the Minister for Transport, my right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Wales and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.


My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. May I ask whether or not she agrees that the general speed limit is an irrational way of trying to save fuel, in view of the fact that I should use more fuel by taking my 4½ litre Bentley up to 50 mph in second gear than I would by cruising a car of small capacity at 80 mph in overdrive? Would the noble Baroness further agree that, being generally unenforceable, these speed limits are generally unenforced and therefore bring the law into disrepute? Would the noble Baroness further agree that—

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)

My Lords, I hesitate to intervene, but the noble Lord is reading his supplementary question, which I know is of great importance and interest to him; but he is going on a little too long.


My Lords, I beg your Lordships' pardon.

Baroness STEDMAN:

My Lords, the fact remains that the Minister of Transport has stated that last autumn about 80 per cent. of the motorists surveyed in the summer of 1975 were observing the fuel saving speed limits. I am sure that the points raised by the noble Lord will be taken into account when my right honourable and honourable friends consider the amendment to the order.

Lord O'NEILL of the MAINE

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that in America the speed limit on motorways is 60 miles per hour?

Baroness STEDMAN

Yes, my Lords.


My Lords, would the noble Baroness agree that unenforceable laws are bad laws and tend to bring the law into disrepute? Would the noble Baroness also agree that an unenforceable law merely starts to bring degrees of enforcement into the law, which is bad, and would she further agree that when it is merely considered bad luck if you are caught disobeying a law the time has come to do something about it?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, as I said earlier, the enforcement of the speed limit is a matter for chief officers of police. I am sure that they are devoting their efforts to it and that they will continue to devote whatever efforts and resources are necessary to ensure that the law of the land is abided by.