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 Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury 12:00 am, 5th April 1955

Having regard to the toll of the roads and the undoubted congestion, no one could do other than welcome an attempt to deal with these problems, as this Bill seeks to do, but I confess that I am surprised that a Measure should emanate from the Ministry of Transport which involves such far-reaching delegated legislation in the setting up of the machinery and the rules and regulations affecting road safety. I am surprised because the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation was most critical, when in Opposition, in dealing with any Bill in which delegated legislation played a prominent part.

One might ask why there are so many omissions, and why the element of the Order in Council is such an important one in this situation, in view of my right hon. Friend's approach to this subject. One cannot escape the conclusion that because practical experiments, especially in the testing of cars, have not yet been held to a sufficient extent to enable the Government to form a judgment on the matter, there are serious gaps in that aspect of the Bill.

I want to come back to that point, but before I do I want to allude to two or three other aspects of the Bill. When the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) urged the Government to increase the number of instances in which disqualification of the licence holder would apply, one of my hon. Friends drew attention to the number of people dependent for their livelihood upon the right to drive and who in those circumstances might well find a disqualification more onerous than a substantial fine. There is substance in that point, and I want to ask the Minister to bear in mind that there ought not to be only a choice between disqualification, with or without fine, and no disqualification.

There would be some merit—bearing in mind the old game of snakes and ladders—in sending people back to the start and making them, for a period of time, hold an L licence. It would be a reminder that they had blotted their copy book and it would force them to carry a passenger with them, which would thereby provide a form of deterrent without the exacting penalty which disqualification entails.