Motor Cyclists (Crash Helmets)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st March 1956.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud 12:00 am, 21st March 1956

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether in view of the continued high rate of fatal accidents involving motor cyclists, he will now make obligatory the wearing of suitable crash helmets by motor cyclists.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

While I agree that suitable crash helmets afford useful protection, we prefer to rely on education and propaganda to persuade motor cyclists to wear them.

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

Is my hon. Friend aware that a situation in which there are 18,000 accidents a year, killing 1,300 people, at a cost of, perhaps, £4 million to £5 million in hospital expenses, cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely? Will he not look at it again to see whether, for the protection of other people as well of these young men, the wearing of crash helmets should not be made compulsory?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

There are very great difficulties in enforcing any regulation of that kind. At the present time there is a most satisfactory increase in the proportion of motor cyclists who are wearing these helmets. Four years ago practically no civilian motor cyclists were wearing crash helmets, but now about one-third are doing so.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

If the Joint Parliamentary Secretary is loath to enforce the wearing of these helmets, will he encourage their use by requesting his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remove the Purchase Tax from them?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I do not think that the small amount of Purchase Tax has any real effect upon the number of helmets worn.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

In connection with this increased rate of motor cycle accidents, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he has yet received the report of the Departmental Committee to which he referred this question? If he has, will he make the report public?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I have not yet received the report on this particular question.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Does not the Minister think that the best way to get more crash helmets worn would be to encourage insurance companies to put up the premiums of those who do not wear the helmets?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

It would be extremely difficult for the insurance companies to do that. I have already indicated that the police would find it difficult to enforce any regulation of that kind.