HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc59-61W
Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has yet concluded his discussions with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders about the provision of adequate anchorages for safety harness in new cars.

Mr. Marples

Yes, I am glad to say that the Society have agreed that motor manufacturers will recommend types of safety harness which can safely be fitted to specified anchorage points in each vehicle, and to supply purchasers with complete anchorage kits and fitting instructions. This agreement has been confirmed by an exchange of letters in the following terms:

My dear Minister,


I would confirm our recent conversation when I explained to you the views of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on this matter. You will remember I said that the Motor Industry is most anxious to co- operate on this question, but that we did not consider it practicable at this juncture for vehicle manufacturers to equip their vehicles during production with anchorage points for safety belts. The reasons for this are as follows:—

  1. (a) There are several types of safety belts and harness on sale which comply with the British Standard and require different fixing points in the vehicle according to the design. It is not considered desirable at this juncture to decide finally on any one particular type of safety belt or harness until further research has been undertaken, and in the meantime we feel that manufacturers should offer one or more types which comply with the British Standard, and should leave the choice between the types to the customer. It would not, therefore, be practicable to fit a number of different fixing points to the vehicle as part of the original specification, since this would be complicated and excessively costly.
  2. (b) We also think it desirable that some international standards should be established in regard to belts and harness before they are fitted as standard on new cars. If British manufacturers establish prematurely standards for anchorage points these may then be at variance with subsequent international requirements.

We do however, intend to take positive action in this matter and it is, therefore, being arranged for motor car manufacturers to recommend types of safety belts and harness which comply with the British Standard, and to specify anchorage points on the vehicle together with any necessary reinforcements. They will then supply through their Agents complete kits and fitting instructions to purchasers of safety belts and harness. These kits will be so designed that they also will comply with the requirements of the British Standard Institution.

The question of safety belts and harness is under consideration by the Economic Commission for Europe Working Party on the construction of vehicles, on which your Ministry represents the United Kingdom, and you kindly offered to assist us in the matter of the establishment of international standards, to which I refer earlier.

Yours sincerely,

Geoffrey Rootes,


Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

25th April, 1961.

Dear Mr. Rootes,

Thank you for your letter of March about safety harness.

As you know, I am most anxious that safety belts should be used as widely as possible and that every encouragement should be given to the fitting of them. I therefore welcome the willingness of the motor manufacturers both to recommend types of harness complying with the British Standard which is suited to their cars and to supply complete kits and fitting instructions (including any necessary reinforcements for the anchorage points) to purchasers of safety harness. I am grateful to the Society and to you personally for helping in this way.

The Working Party on the Construction of Vehicles of the Economic Commission for Europe at its last meeting, asked the representatives of Sweden, Federal Germany and the United Kingdom to compare the existing standards for safety harness and make proposals on the basis of which the possibility of setting international standards might be considered. I hope that this question will be taken further at their forthcoming meeting and I will do everything I can to encourage progress.


The Hon. Geoffrey Rootes.

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