HC Deb 04 December 1963 vol 685 cc184-5W
87. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Transport what progress has been made during each of the last five years, under Government auspices, in England and Scotland, respectively, in the making, use, and standardisation of safety belts for motorists.

Mr. Galbraith

During the last five years my Department has taken a leading part in a series of measures aimed at implementing our policy of developing the use of safety belts. The progress of this work cannot be particularised so far as England and Scotland are concerned or allocated conveniently to particular years, but successive developments have been as follows:

The collection of information started in 1958 and led to the study of a specification for safety belts. Such a specification was published by the British Standards Institution in 1960 and has subsequently been amended from time to time. The next steps were to arrange for the provision of anchorage points for safety belts in new cars produced by the leading car manufacturers, and for the installation of belts in all Government owned passenger cars. In August, 1962, we circulated to appropriate organisations proposals for making the fitting of belts compulsory in certain motor vehicles. Discussion of these proposals brought out the need for a specification for anchorage points applicable to the widest possible range of cars. Work on this is now in progress.

These developments have meanwhile encouraged manufacturers of belts to expand their production and to undertake extensive advertising campaigns aimed at selling their equipment. Their success is shown by the fact that the number of belts manufactured in accordance with the British Standard increased from 41,000 during the second half of 1960 to over 400,000 in a similar period in 1962.

Unfortunately, a recent investigation showed that nearly one-third of the drivers of cars fitted with belts were not wearing them. Nevertheless, we do not think it would be right at present to make it compulsory for anyone to wear a belt if they do not choose to do so. We would prefer to urge drivers and passengers, and rely on their good sense, to use belts as widely as possible.