HC Deb 04 February 1941 vol 368 cc807-9W
Sir R. Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for War how many cases have been brought to the courts in which drivers of Army vehicles have been implicated during the months of October, November and December; whether he will undertake that all military drivers under instruction shall conform to the rules applicable on public highways to civil drivers; and that, in the case of a car being driven by a person under instruction, the letter L shall be prominently displayed both in front and at the back of the vehicle?

Captain Margesson

During the months of October, November and December, 1940, thirty drivers of Army vehicles were prosecuted by the police. Orders exist to the effect that all military drivers, both while under instruction and afterwards, shall comply with the speed limits applicable on public highways to civil drivers. There is only one exception to this, namely, when military necessity requires that a driver of a heavy vehicle should exceed the speed limit laid down by the Minister of Transport in respect of such a vehicle. In such a case, an officer not below the rank of lieutenant-colonel is empowered to give a driver an authority in writing to exceed this speed limit. In that event, the driver must carry such an authority on him and produce it to the civil or military police on demand, as well as to any other person entitled to call for it. Since the promulgation of the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Provisional Regulations, 1940, on 20th May, 1940, the display of the letter "L" on a vehicle by a civilian driver is no longer necessary. Whether it should be displayed on military vehicles being driven by a person under instruction is under consideration.

Sir R. Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for War whether there are any exceptions to the rule that service vehicles and drivers should in every respect conform to the police and Ministry of Transport regulations?

Captain Margesson

It is the aim of the War Department that service vehicles and drivers shall conform as far as possible in every respect to police and Ministry of Transport regulations. The Department is, however, authorised, under various Orders and Defence Regulations, to avail itself of certain exemptions to police and Ministry of Transport regulations in particular circumstances.

These exemptions are as follow:

(i) Construction and use of motor vehicles.

Certain military vehicles, mainly those for combatant purposes, are exempt from the regulations governing weight and dimensions.

(ii) Speed Limits.

Military vehicles are subject to the speed limit in built up areas of 30 m.p.h. in the day time and 20 m.p.h. at night. They are, however, exempt from the special speed limits which are imposed on certain goods vehicles by reason of their weight. War Office Orders provide that the latter limits shall be exceeded only for urgent military reasons, and that permission to do so shall be given in writing by the military authority concerned.

(iii) Vehicle Lighting.

Vehicles used for the purposes of the military forces may display any lights authorised to be displayed under instructions issued by the Army Council. In normal circumstances, however, the amount of light displayed should not exceed the amount permitted by the Lighting (Restrictions) Order, 1940. Such vehicles are, however, exempt from the provision requiring white paint on certain parts of the vehicles, as this would nullify the effect of camouflage.

(iv) Licensing of goods vehicles.

The licensing system does not apply to War Department vehicles.

(v) Insurance.

War Department vehicles and drivers are exempt from the provisions governing insurance.

(vi) Drivers' hours.

The War Department is exempt from the regulations restricting the hours during which personnel may drive continuously.