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Orders of the Day — ROAD TRAFFIC BILL [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th April 1955.

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Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East 12:00 am, 5th April 1955

None of us will disagree with the objects of the Bill, which are to save life and to promote the free flow of traffic. Nor will many people disagree with the penultimate part of the Minister's peroration, in which he referred to the necessity for interfering, if necessary, in the private arrangements of persons in order to secure greater safety and greater public convenience. Those are sentiments which we ought to accept and which, I think, nearly all of us applauded.

My complaint about the Bill is that it does not achieve the object of promoting greater road safety—at any rate, it will not save many lives. Nor can I say that the Minister has given us any clear indication of where the Government stand in the major machinery proposals by which the right hon. Gentleman intends to carry out these measures. I think the House has a legitimate complaint against the Minister and the Government on this score.

It is many years since the Committee on Road Safety made its Report, the Report from which this legislation stems. That Report contained scores of pro- posals—50 or 60—numerous recommendations, many suggestions for research, most of which have been dealt with by the Road Safety Committee, of which the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Sir G. Braithwaite), whom I see here, was formerly chairman; and, of course, the present Joint Parliamentary Secretary is now the chairman. However, there were matters left which could be dealt with only by legislation, and it is really unworthy of the Government, some seven years after the Road Safety Committee reported, to come to the House and say, "We are in your hands. We still do not know what our views are about a number of the proposals, such as the testing of vehicles. We want to know what you think about parking meters. We have been dealt with very harshly in another place, and we have no final proposals to put before you or final views of our own." I do not think that that is an unfair way of summing up the Minister's speech.