Transport Bill (Allocation of Time)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1968.

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Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe 12:00 am, 14th March 1968

I have been in my place 12 hours and this is the first time I have been able to catch your eye, Sir. That, in normal circumstances, is a day and a half. We are discussing whether three days is enough for Report stage. I have not been fortunate enough to be on the Standing Committee but I have my constituency points to put. I have a plastics factory in my constituency which makes medical appliances, many of which are used for heart transplantations. I have had approaches from the managing director, the transport manager and from drivers who say that, if the Bill is unamended, there will be risk of lives being lost because of the proposed restrictions on drivers' time.

I appeal to you, Sir, as guardian of back benchers' rights. If it takes me a day and a half to catch your eye on this Motion, what hope have I on Report? There are other aspects which, if the Bill goes through, will have serious repercussions on the building and civil engineering industry. It will put up the cost of building much more than anyone realises.

It is a scandal that this should happen at present. It is important from the back bench point of view not to debate this matter at this hour but to be assured by the Government they will be moved by the arguments and will give a respecable time on Report so that hon. Members will not have to sit for twelve hours before catching your eye. There is a genuine attempt by back benchers to put the Bill to rights. I appeal to you and the Government to put the matter right.

This is a disgraceful night. We have been fiddling with procedure while the world is inflamed by a financial crisis. Nero would be ashamed of doing a thing like this. This is a night to make proper concessions.