§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what information he has concerning the safety implication of fitting air brake silencer kits to heavy goods vehicles;
(2) what recent representations he has received concerning the requirement that in order to qualify for a permit under the London area lorry scheme vehicles must be fitted with air brake silencer kits;
(3) when he last met the London boroughs transport scheme to discuss the issue of air brake silencer kits; and if he will make a statement;
(4) whether he has had any consultations with representatives of the insurance industry concerning the invalidation of policies by the fitting of air brake silencer kits.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
The Secretary of State has not met the London boroughs transport scheme to discuss the issue of air brake silencer kits. A vehicle's braking system needs to ensure efficient responsive braking. It is for vehicle manufacturers to ensure that this is done. The possible use of air brake silencers should therefore be considered at design stage. If air brake silencers are fitted retrospectively, then as with any other modification, care must be taken. The air brake silencer must be carefully positioned and the manufacturer of the vehicle should be consulted before it is fitted. Good maintenance is essential.
We have not consulted the insurance industry. It is for vehicle operators to ensure that their insurance policies are not invalidated by any modifications they make to their vehicles.
Representations have been received on the issue of air brake silencers from the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. We have also received a number of individual representations. The Freight Transport Association has challenged in the courts the requirements by the London boroughs transport scheme to fit brake silencer kits. The matter is currently the subject of a judicial review.