Permitted Driving Time and Periods of Duty

Clause 91 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21 October 1968.

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Lords Amendment No. 102: In page 126, line 15, at end insert: Provided that he may drive an extra hour on not more than two days in a working week.

Read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Perhaps it would be convenient, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to deal with my Amendment in lieu of the Lords Amendment, in page 129, line 30, at end insert: 'either generally or with such exceptions as may be specified in the order'.

Photo of Mr Sydney Irving Mr Sydney Irving , Dartford

That would be in order.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

It is an easy thing to happen, but I believe that there was probably some misunderstanding of the effect of their Amendment among their Lordships. The effect of the Lords Amendment would be to allow a driver to be at the wheel for 11 hours a day when the first regulations came into operation to make the standard driving time 10 hours and when, with the introduction of the second set of regulations, the period would be reduced to nine hours, allowing 10 hours on two days a week.

I do not think that this could have been the intention of the Lords, because, under the first regulations, the Lords Amendment would actually increase the permissible driving time allowed under the 1960 Act, because most drivers have a certain amount of work to do in addition to their driving time.

Another factor is that we have not as yet even got a target date for the introduction of the second set of regulations. It seems undesirable to commit ourselves

now in relation to changes on an unspecified date in future before we have had a chance to see how the first reductions have worked out and before we have had a chance to consult management and men on the second set of regulations.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I heard the debate on this point in another place, and the right hon. Gentleman is echoing the reply given there by his noble Friend. But I have never understood their argument and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear. If the present regulation is for 11 hours and this is to be reduced to 10, and the Lords state that they would wish it to be 11 hours on two days a week only, I do not see how this can be increasing the present number of permitted hours. If the right hon. Gentleman would explain, I would be grateful.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

Under the 1960 Act, the total amount of time which can be spent on any day in driving and on other work in connection with the vehicle or its load shall not exceed 11 hours. In practice, a driver always has some other work to do on the vehicle, even if it be only to check it before a journey to ensure that it is safe.

This means that even a long-distance trunk driver not concerned with loading or unloading can seldom achieve 11 hours driving at present because the total limit of 11 hours also includes work in connection with the vehicle. Allowing for the fact that in many cases the men have to do something in addition to driving, the cumulative effect of the Amendment would be to produce a situation where the total amount of time would be higher than what is legal at present.

I make no criticism of their Lordships. As I myself have learnt, it is difficult for an Opposition to produce Amendments. But if we accept this Amendment, which is quite clear, we shall have a situation where the total amount of time allowed is higher than the permitted time at present.

5.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Robert Cary Sir Robert Cary , Manchester, Withington

Is that important? The Lords Amendment seeks to provide a little more flexibility. It does not seek to extract additional work from the driver. It is designed to make his life a little easier and a little more flexible on two days a week.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I appreciate the point and I shall come to it in a moment. That is why I thought that it would be to the advantage of the House to take the two Amendments together.

I do not think that it was intended to produce a situation in which the amount of time permitted in this work might be greater than under the present law. It seems undesirable to commit ourselves at this stage to a particular course of action before we have had an opportunity to see how the first stage works and to have consultations for the second stage with the men and management in the industry.

Having said that, given that it is desirable to see how things work out and to be able to discuss them in the light of experience, I think that the Bill is too inflexible to enable us to have meaningful discussions. That is why the Government Amendment offers an alternative. It would permit the Minister to allow, if necessary, an additional one hour's driving on two days a week when the limit is reduced to nine hours. There would have to be full consultations on both sides before that occurs and before any Order is laid, and the Order itself would be subject to the affirmative Resolution.

We are moving into a new situation, but in many respects it is a situation in which the rules are applied much more vigorously on the Continent than in this country. As we are moving into this unknown area, it makes sense not to commit ourselves at this stage, but to ensure that provision exists, when we know more about it and when we have had an opportunity to discuss it, to produce the change in the situation which is felt necessary at the time. The safeguards are the right to consult before any Order is laid and the affirmative procedure which would give the House a further opportunity for discussion.

For those reasons I ask the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment, and I shall subsequently ask hon. Members to agree to the Government Amendment.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

The Minister has spoken with his usual sweet reasonableness, but his argument has not immediately satisfied us. He said that because we were to have a two-stage operation, he had a degree of flexibility, but it is fair to point out that these new rules were achieved only after the most fearless probing and argument by my hon. Friends. In Committee, we hammered hard day and night in the face of the fiercest opposition from the Minister who said that it was impracticable to have two stages, that it was not sense and that we were not living in reality. However, we managed to persuade him to make these reductions in drivers' hours in two stages and now he says that because it is a two-stage operation, he is making a minor concession.

We were proved correct in Committee when we pressed for the introduction of a two-stage operation. The Minister has now learned the sense of that, and I hope that in the circumstances he will listen with care and attention to our arguments as we try to persuade him to agree with their Lordships.

Reports of committees on carrier licensing, which the Minister will have carefully studied and which will have been noted by every Member interested in road haulage affairs, show that, unfortunately, there was widespread evasion of the present rules. The Minister and every hon. Member knows that wayward and unscrupulous drivers and employers evaded the present limits. But, with the introduction of the tachograph, there has been a change in the situation which will make it much easier to enforce the existing regulations. In those circumstances, we do not compare like with like when we compare 11 hours under the old regulations with 11 hours which their Lordships propose for two days in the week.

I am sorry to take this attitude when the Minister has made some concession to us, but it must not be forgotten that we are simply asking for a little flexibility in circumstances which have been- brought about by the changes in the Bill which will impose a substantial burden on employers, on the industry generally and on other important industries like agriculture.

We have made progress with the Bill. We are not in any way seeking to add to the total number of driving hours. That is not our intention. All we are suggesting is that for two days a week drivers should be able to drive a little more than the limit and, therefore, drive less in consequence for the rest of the week within the total of 60 hours in the week.

This is a view which is held not only by their Lordships or my hon. Friends. It has been supported by the T.R.T.A. and, I understand, by the C.B.I. In another place the Government were asked what was the attitude of the Minister's Transport Consultative Committee, but that question was never answered and I hope that today the Minister will tell us what that Committee's attitude is.

I remind the Minister that the Bill is a major step in reduction of hours. The introduction of a 60-hour week will mean a substantial increase in costs for a number of employers. The Bill also introduces a compulsory day off for the drivers of public service vehicles—and I have several hon. Friends with wide experience of operating public service companies—and we are reducing daily hours from 11 to 10. More important, we have the new factor of additional enforcement. In these circumstances, it is very important that there should be some justification of the Minister's attitude.

In Committee, the Minister himself explained how significant the general reduction in hours would be. He said: If one were to introduce the Bill as it stands without any quid pro quo in terms of productivity, the cost could be as high as £25 million, or possibly even more, per year ". —[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 30th April, 1968; c. 2911.] I think that that was an under-estimate, but it gives some idea of how much cash and additional manpower will be involved. There have been many other estimates. The Association of Chambers of Commerce said that municipal transport undertakings would have to find an additional 15 per cent, staff.

What we are saying is that we are taking a big step which will have a signifi- cant effect on transport, on traders and on agriculture and all other industries, and that in those circumstances it is vital to have as much flexibility as possible. We ask for only unlimited flexibility.

One argument about which we have not heard a great deal, but which supports our case, relates to the Common Market, in which I have a special interest. The Common Market Commission is considering rules to reduce drivers' hours. Although nothing is definite, it is proposing to bring in new arrangements. One of the proposals is that on two days a week drivers will be allowed to work a longer day, not longer by one hour but by two. I understand that the Commission is thinking in terms of a 13 hour day per week, but with 15 hours on two days a week.

Although this has not been approved, the important thing is that it will probably be, and that there will be this flexibility on the Continent. It is worth bearing in mind that we shall probably be having a greater trade relationship with the Continent, and we should not be at any trading disadvantage through flexibility of hours.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I wish that the hon. Gentleman would not be so partial in choosing his facts. Would he also accept that the E.E.C. regulations are aiming at cutting driving hours down to eight a day?

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

I was coming to that. I hope that the Minister will try to keep this debate a serious one, instead of scoring silly points. He should realise that this, and other provisions will cause a great deal of inconvenience and hardship to business, commerce and agriculture.

People are working very hard, and suffering, as a result of the activities of the Government. I hope that he will look at this seriously and appreciate the real problems. I and my hon. Friends are constantly being approached by constituents and firms, telling us about their problems as a result of this Bill. We should stop trying to score silly little points and face up to the real problems.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I am making a perfectly serious point, following what the hon. Member has been saying. He has quoted what the European Economic Community intends to do. One of the things that it intends, as part of that package, is a reduction in driving hours, which I would not think would be acceptable to hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

What the Minister has not mentioned, also, is that these are only proposals, and we have no guarantee that they will come into effect in this particular form. One of the basic points is that there must be this degree of flexibility. It may never happen, but the point is that sensible people in Europe are sitting round a table and talking about this, saying that one of the fundamental points in any package must be this degree of flexibility.

I would like to put to the Minister the kind of things which might happen without this flexibility. If a driver finds, on one or two days a week, that he cannot do a job, at normal speeds, in less than 11 hours, what is he to do? The danger is that rather than stop short of his destination, and stay overnight, then do the extra bit the next day, he might simply speed up journey times. If we are concerned with road safety, and with reducing the hours for safety reasons, I suggest that to avoid flexibility with the result that a man drives a bit faster is wrong.

What will be the result of not making provision for the longer journey? It will be that to carry the same volume of work, employers will be forced to employ additional staff. One estimate of the results of the Bill is 15 per cent. I am not saying that this degree of flexibility will make anything like this difference. If one deprives employers of the flexibility they need to take on the extra job, the longer journey in the week, there is a danger of them recruiting less skilled men to fill the gap.

If we are to have more drivers, these men will be less skilled. There is already a shortage of staff—one has only to look at the frightening figures on pages 36 and 37 of the Prices and Incomes Board's Report on productivity in the bus industry about operators working with over 10 per cent. staff shortage. Without this degree of flexibility, their problems will be greatly increased. Operating municipal transport undertakings, or passenger service vehicles of any kind, at this time is a nightmare because of staff shortages. The Government will not help if they in- sist on going ahead with regulations which which do not allow this degree of flexibility.

5.15 p.m.

In another place it was said that driving 11 hours at the wheel was a very long time indeed—the Minister also said so in Committee. He said that he would bear the fatigue factor in mind. We were not suggesting that it was a reasonable thing to ask anyone to drive 11 hours in a day. I was interested to read the White Paper, Road Safety—A Fresh Approach, published two or three years ago. It was an interesting document, and one of the first things that the Minister will have done in coming to his Ministry is to have read this significant and important document. It opened by saying that in planning road safety measures, one must start from the facts and it says, rather optimistically, that the Government will be as clear-headed and scientific in their approach as they can be.

I do not think at this stage that we can come to any decision as to precisely how clear-headed the Government can be in their approach. I hope that they will approach this point scientifically. Where is the research to justify the Minister in saying that the Government can judge safety on the basis of 11 hours as opposed to 10 hours? In Committee on 30th April, the Minister said: There has been a great deal of research.…"— this was when we were discussing the question of drivers hours— The Road Research Laboratory has done a great deal of work."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 30th April, 1968; c. 2902.] There were questions in another place about this. Lord Teviot, who has done a great deal of work on this particular matter, who spent seven weeks driving during the Recess and covered 7,000 miles, challenged this and asked where was all this work, all the evidence about fatigue? He quoted from the 1967 Report of the Road Research Laboratory, which said: Driving fatigue also needs attention. My own inquiries and those made by their Lordships have shown that on this subject of the relationship between fatigue and road accidents, there does not appear to have been a great deal of original work done by the Road Research Laboratory. I have looked carefully through all available publications to find evidence. There was an article in Ergonomics, in 1961, which said that there was no real evidence on the subject. A good bit of research has been done by the Medical Research Council, and this was referred to in another place.

Dr. Brown, of the Applied Psychology Unit at Cambridge, did some real investigation into this aspect of the problem. Bearing in mind the question of 11 hours as opposed to 10, and how this can be related to fatigue and road safety, he said that in his opinion reserve mental capacity was greater and the responding time shorter after a prolonged period of driving than at the beginning. Therefore, when considering the question whether it should be 11 hours or 10 hours we have this carefully documented evidence.

Photo of Mr Peter Mahon Mr Peter Mahon , Preston South

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether this doctor is a long or short distance driver, as well as a university professor?

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

We had this kind of interruption throughout the Committee stage from the hon. Gentleman. This is a very serious subject and I wish that I could impress him with it. If he had to face the kind of problems which face transport undertakers and lorry drivers and others he would appreciate this. [Interruption.] This man is accepted in his profession and generally, I think even by the Government, as being someone with real knowledge and experience of these matters, someone who has done a great deal of original research, who has checked up on many accidents and collected a great deal of statistics. His evidence on accidents is that the reserve mental capacity is greater and the responding time shorter after a prolonged period of driving than is the case at the beginning.

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

I should like to try to take the emotional content out of the serious proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor). To say that the evidence and opinion of the gentleman whom he has mentioned is such that he draws a conclusion which supports his case is not adequate. What we require when discussing the hours which men work and fatigue is the nature of the evidence and the research to see whether it is authentic evidence on which we can base a conclusion.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He approaches this question seriously, as he always did in Committee. I hope that some of his hon. Friends will learn a lesson from his courtesy and attention. I can refer the hon. Gentleman to the report. He will find that it is a carefully documented work. What I am saying to the Government is that if they have evidence which shows the reverse, let us have it. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we asked for this in Committee and we did not get it. It was asked for on Report in another place, and it was not given. Here is a detailed report which has been made by Dr. Brown, and copies of it are available through the Medical Research Council.

However, that is not the only study. Dr. Hunt of the Department of Human Physiology studied this subject. He said that the figures which he had indicated that the inexperienced driver was the least safe and that in, I believe, 900 accidents which he investigated the casual driver, the person who drove part-time, was responsible for about 50 per cent. of them. I have no wish to prove any great point or to say that I am right and everyone else is wrong, but serious medical opinion has given us certain facts and if the Minister has any other evidence, let us hear it.

It is obvious that if someone drives for 20 hours and is generally shattered, he will not be fit to drive any further. This is something which everyone would accept. But what we are considering is whether 10 hours or 11 hours is the maximum amount of driving which any person should be permitted to do. On the evidence available, there seems to be no case for saying that to provide for 11 hours' driving on only two days a week would reduce road safety standards. The evidence which is available shows that the danger of accidents arises at the beginning of a driving period, and that a much greater danger is having a large number of inexperienced drivers on the road. My fear is that if we do not allow for flexibility there will be a need, in the absence of major productivity steps forward, for more drivers and the worst possible service we could do to the cause of road safety would be to allow on the roads extra drivers who do not have the experience of many long-distance drivers.

Although sometimes we complain about long-distance lorry drivers when they delay us on narrow roads, it is generally accepted that they are some of the finest men in the country, are very safe drivers, approach their jobs responsibly and have a wealth of experience. By introducing inflexible rules there is a danger that we might cause to be brought on the roads more drivers who do not have this experience and the same vision.

The Minister said that he has moved towards us. What he has done is to provide that when the second reduction from 10 to nine hours takes place there will be the possibility of flexibility. Therefore, what the Minister is saying is that, while there is a case for flexibility when there is a reduction from 10 to nine hours, there is no case for flexibility when making a reduction from 11 to 10 hours. He is saying that in his opinion it is dangerous, wrong and against the national interest for any person to drive more than 10 hours in any day.

Where is the evidence for that? Where is all the research to which the Minister referred in Committee by the Road Research Laboratory which proves this narrow point? I believe that there is none. Time and again in Committee we put forward solid arguments which were turned down in a very offhand way by the Minister. So often, after consultation, he said, "I am sorry; I was wrong and you were right", and therefore Amendments were put forward. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we do not have the same opportunity. There is no time for the Minister to consult his colleagues and to think again. Unfortunately, this is the end of the road.

I appeal to the Minister to have second thoughts. If he wants this provision, let him at least allow for flexibility. He should consult those who are responsible for running our great industries. He should consult those who are employed in agriculture, engineering, and so on. If he does, he will find that the unanimous opinion is that flexibility is desirable. Jobs can arise which call for an extra bit of driving and more flexibility. The Minister will be doing a great disservice if he does not make this concession.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

Would the hon. Gentleman admit that, rightly or wrongly, what he is arguing for is longer hours? He considers that 60 hours driving a week is not sufficient. Such hours are unknown in any other industry.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

I am very upset when, after doing my best to explain a point in detail, I find that hon. Members opposite do not appreciate it. I would waste the time of the House if I were to go over the argument again. The hon. Gentleman says that the Bill allows for 60 hours driving and that I am suggesting that drivers should drive for a longer period. I have explained at least twice that that is not what we are suggesting at all; far from it. Perhaps, instead of continuously interrupting hon. Members on this side who put forward serious points, the hon. Gentleman would listen and try to comprehend.

We are not saying that we want to increase drivers' hours to 61, 62, 63, 64 or 65 hours a week. We say, "You can keep your 60." What we say is that the Government should allow a little flexibility. Provide for eleven hours on two days a week which would have the result of fewer hours on other days. I assure the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) that we do not wish to increase the figure of 60 hours. We accept that figure, and all we ask for is flexibility. I am aware that when we appeal for flexibility the last person we should look to for support and encouragement is the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, because he has not shown a great deal of flexibility in our discussions.

I have been led astray by the helpful and constructive intervention of the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) and by the less helpful interventions of hon. Members who consistently cause trouble and difficulty in Committee. I appeal to the Minister to think again. This is a good case. If the Minister studies this question more carefully and consults the interests who are aware of these problems and who have to live with them, he may think again, and I appeal to him to do so.

5.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

It is unusual for the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), in a speech in which there was not a comma or full stop, to say a few nice words about the hon. Member for The Hartlepools. He indulged in a piece of wishful thinking that, since his argument was not very convincing, he might appeal to my better nature.

The answer to this problem ought to be simple; it should be concerned with one thing only and that is the working conditions of the men in the industry. If the working conditions are right then a large contribution is made to the efficiency of the industry, which is what the hon. Member for Cathcart is concerned with, and I do not disagree with him on this score.

It is a weak argument to introduce so belatedly that what is required is not an increase in the hours but something which sounds highly democratic—flexibility. This sounds rather like the word "principle". When an hon. Member on either side of the House says, "I want to be quite frank", the word "principle" comes into question. There are certain abstract words which are highly dangerous, since there are innocent people who are highly receptive to the sounds of words, and the word "flexibility" is a nice sounding word.

Let me tell the House what was said to me by one employer at the beginning of the discussions on workers' hours. It is time it was said, since it is right, if the men and the conditions of the men are uppermost in our minds, that the truth shall come out about some thinking which is not healthy. What I am about to say does not affect the feeling among the majority of the good employers I have met; certainly it does not meet with the general thinking in the House, but it is a state of mind of which we must be wary.

This employer, representing a large undertaking, urged on me the need not to interfere with the present driving hours. I said to him, "After 30 years when the conditions of these men have not been altered, is it not right that the Government, not only in the interests of the men but in the interests of safety and of the industry, shall seek to bring those conditions into line with those enjoyed by other sections of the working population for the last three decades? "The answer from that employer was," If the hours of a long-distance lorry driver are reduced, what will he do when he is away from home? He will just spend his time on beer and women." My answer to that was, "And what do you do with your time after nine hours?"

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

We must have, as the hon. Member has just mentioned, a differential here, and possibly whisky and women is a reasonable differential.

How sad that a responsible employer had to mouth that horrible thought to me. The vast majority of people, whatever their so-called station in life, are honest, decent-living people, and no one with a state of mind such as I have described can initiate conditions of work, business or commerce.

The hon. Member for Cathcart spoke of the research work which led him to believe quite sincerely that after long hours of working a man is better able to deal with safety margins than at the beginning of his working day. I am afraid that the academic gentleman who did his homework for him would not apply the same rule to himself. It is accepted in the academic field that after a period the brain loses its power, and that there is a norm beyond which in terms of effort put into research work, thinking or study such an exercise is not economic. In other words, the longer one works the more tired one gets, and that applies to everybody. The longer one works in bad conditions so much the more tired one gets.

The hon. Member for Cathcart and myself have in common the need to consider completely and irrefutably the safety of people who are not on vehicles, the pedestrians who are going about their normal daily lives, shopping and taking their families out. I put it to the hon. Member that it is more than likely that in congested towns, or where the traffic is heavy, if a man has been behind the wheel of a large articulated vehicle for a long period, his reflex actions will be that little bit slower, and that a serious accident is more likely to take place in those conditions than if the driver were working only the number of hours which are nowadays accepted as reasonable. The hon. Member can draw his own conclusions from that.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Did the hon. Gentleman not take my hon. Friend's point that there might be even greater danger if that driver towards the end of the day realises that he is nearing the end of his hours and starts to speed-thereby putting pedestrians in far greater danger?

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

The hon. Member for Cathcart spoke in terms of the importance of the experienced driver. It is not an argument to apply to an experienced driver that he will so misuse his position as to break the law. The law about speeding is there for everyone. I accept far more the argument that an experienced driver who knows what he is in control of in terms of weight, size and speed, will not be inclined to break the law in any way.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

Would not the hon. Gentleman accept that there is a danger that, if we do not accept the flexibilities of this Amendment, employers may be forced to employ more drivers who are less experienced? Would it not be better to allow this flexibility and allow the experienced men to finish the job?

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

No. Unfortunately the hon. Member for Cathcart has addressed himself to the Clause to which the Lords Amendment refers. If he will turn to subsection (10) of Clause 95 he will find that in certain conditions, which are outlined quite clearly, under the Clause which he seeks to amend the vehicles will be exempt. In other words, Regulations can be made either by the Traffic Commissioners or by the Minister in order to meet difficulties of the kind that the hon. Member has described, and in special circumstances the provisions of Clause 95(1) can be modified to meet that point.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson:

What does the hon. Gentleman the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) suppose that the experienced driver will do when he is within 30 miles of his home and his time is running out? Will he speed up, will he exceed his time in getting home or will he stay 30 miles from home?

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

I cannot understand a question like that. The hon. Member knows that he is putting a hypothetical problem. What does he think a driver does now when he is 30 miles from home?

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Even if 11 hours were the period, as the Opposition suggest, he could still be over his time. What would he do then?

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

The hon. Member for Cathcart, in trying to make the case for exemptions, tried to underpin the main problems which can arise in a complex transport industry, in which it is admitted that some flexibility is needed —[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] I have not finished. I refer to flexibility that can be controlled by Regulations. This is done in Clause 95(10). It is not unreasonable at this late stage to quote the exact wording: For the purpose of enabling vehicles to which this Part of this Act applies to be used in cases of emergency or otherwise to meet a special need, the Minister may by regulatins—'(a) create exemptions from all or any of the requirements of subsections (1) to (6)…", and we are dealing with subsection (1).

It is clear not only that the Minister has the power but that the Traffic Commissioners or the licensing authority will have power to provide the kind of flexibility needed in the special cases which the hon. Member described. That is the right way to deal with flexibility, and not by means of an open-ended agreement under which people could do what they liked, when they liked and for whatever purpose they liked.

It is a pity that we have spent so much time on this argument when we knew what the Minister was trying to do. We knew that he had broken down the rigidity of the original proposals to meet the point which has been made by the hon. Member. More than that, he gave us an undertaking that consultations would take place so that these special needs would be be taken into account. I should have thought that that was understood. Whatever else is said, the "safety lock" in subsection (10) is a better way to deal with the required flexibility than having no Regulations at all so that the only way to help the industry would be to increase the number of hours which a man might work on any two days.

It is a little presumptuous for any hon. Member to try to write into legislation the exact hours which might be needed for flexibility, when it is impossible, in all these thousands of undertakings, for one individual to understand individual needs. The only way that it can be done is by Regulations of this kind.

Hon. Members opposite time and again display a presumption of monopoly of business thought—

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

We are not far apart on this. But the hon. Member's argument is, surely, leading irresistibly to the situation that there will be so many of these instances of unusual needs—

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

But the hon. Gentleman just said that this is the sort of industry in which there will be many instances of unusual need, and he suggested that all these varied instances should be met by some special application to the Traffic Commissions. How long would that take? It would create an enormous amount of work.

5.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

The hon. Member may have felt that he had a point, but if I were the manager of a transport undertaking, I would rather apply to the Traffic Commissioners or the licensing authority for an exemption on premises which could be clearly understood between us than have someone in this House say that my problems could be solved by allowing an extra hour's driving on two days a week. I would not want that kind of Amendment by an M.P., whoever was silly enough to do it, telling me how to "suck eggs". The hon. Member cannot do it.

If he thought that we had chewed this up enough now and agreed that putting on one hour for two days in any week would not solve the problem, if he accepted that a transport manager would rather have the alternative which I described, he would say to his hon. Friends, "Let us not divide on this. We have been caught out. Our argument was very silly". At least we on this side have put forward a common sense case for the men, for the industry—although it has spent a good deal of money fighting us—and, in the end, for what is more important, the transport efficiency of the country, not only economically but socially and on the basis of environmental factors which involve safety.

If the argument is accepted, the answer should be, "Let us shut up, not divide and get on with the next Amendment".

Photo of Sir Robert Cary Sir Robert Cary , Manchester, Withington

In a vigorous speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) quoted from a number of statistical tables on fatigue, which were later commented on by the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter). One of my disadvantages in not being a member of the hardworking and overworked Committee which considered the Bill is that these statistical tables are not available to me, and I have little refined knowledge in that direction. My own responsibility towards drivers, as hon. Members will understand, concerns drivers of public service passenger vehicles. The Regulations concerning them are so strict and so closely denned that they are not relevant to our discussion now except in the general realm of public safety. For years, I have had the privilege to preside over many functions concerned with safe driving awards and giving awards to public service drivers.

But, in the dimension of long-distance vehicles, which is in the centre of our thoughts today, as I tried to point out in an interruption in the Minister's speech, we are not far apart. It is a matter of procedures and legislation. In a reasonable Amendment, their Lordships propose to write in something additional. That is the orthodox Parliamentary procedure. The Minister, in his wisdom, thinks that there is a better way. The Minister does not want to tamper with the structure of the Bill. Instead, he offers an Amendment. We wish to change the structure of the Bill to make it certain, in writing, that we have the flexibility which we seek. The Minister wishes to take discretionary powers to himself to make an Order. I ask him to reflect. Discretionary powers conferred on a Minister are not a protection for Parliament because if they fall into the wrong hands, they can frustrate our intentions. If I were to be completely impartial, uninfluenced by party considerations, I should prefer the method of changing the Bill and not that of giving the Minister discretionary powers. Under the latter proposal, the Minister would be free to decide whether he should lay an Order, and if he were not prepared to do so, there would be no such Order.

Photo of Mr Peter Mahon Mr Peter Mahon , Preston South

The only generous and sensible comment by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) was that the Minister had presented his case with sweet reasonableness. Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Cathcart did not emulate him, and the House had to listen to a long-winded platitudinous speech which reminded me of the remark of an eminent man that empty barrels make the most sound.

The hon. Member claimed all the laurels for a great stand made by the Opposition in Committee. I attended that Committee assiduously, but I remember no great stand being made. With great gusto he quoted T.R.T.A. and C.B.I., as well as the opinion of a professor who was said to have great knowledge of the working of transport. But he did not quote the opinion of my union, the Transport and General Workers' Union, who, unlike his university professor, who has never driven a commercial vehicle in his life—as is the case with many other people who are always on the outside looking in at other people working, and drawing the rake off—know what makes these men tick.

The union which I represent in the House knows how arduous is the job of managing transport in this country. A period of 60 hours and much less than 60 hours will induce fatigue, inefficiency and even accidents involving loss of life. Hon. Members opposite make a mistake, because they do not understand these things. Men grow tired not at the beginning of a driving period but at the end of the day.

I have been living among these people for almost 60 years. I have had the same kind of experience with local authorities as that of the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary). I, too, have had the honour of presenting certificates to ambulance drivers, civil defence workers and corporation workers for devotion to duty. These honours are not accorded lightly. They are accorded because people have devoted themselves to duty and have been mindful of their responsibilities. I have known men who have had the misfortune to kill children in accidents. They have never again been a shadow of their former selves. The men who undertake these responsibilities day in and day out throughout their lives are legion. We have heard a thoroughly irresponsible speech from the hon. Member showing no understanding of the human problems involved.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

That is not the argument. We have been told that we can do these things, provided that it is done by the Minister, by Order, or by powers given by the Minister to a licensing authority. This is not an argument of principle.

Photo of Mr Peter Mahon Mr Peter Mahon , Preston South

I always try to be tolerant to the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) because he is receptive, but he must allow me to decide what is my argument. I seem to be getting along very pleasantly without interruption from the Chair, which is quite a change, and I shall do my best to continue in that manner.

We are trying to end an iniquitous and evil system. Anyone listening to hon. Members opposite would not realise that we had a great statesman as Minister of Transport. They would think that we had a nincompoop, who did not know what he was doing or saying, instead of a very eminent man as Minister of Transport. Under his stewardship transport in this country will go from strength to strength.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I hope that my hon. Friend does not propose to end this fascinating part of his speech.

Photo of Mr Peter Mahon Mr Peter Mahon , Preston South

Perhaps that was the best part of it.

Slowly and surely, with the best intentions, we are trying to end this system. But to ask a man to work 11 hours a day on two days a week and to work up to 60 hours a week is not a great step forward. I have been a working man all my life and I know what is involved in working 60 hours a week. It involves great sacrifice by the man who has to work for 60 hours and great sacrifice by the woman who is waiting at home to receive his wages at the week-end and sacrifice by the children. The hon. Member for Cathcart has a great deal to learn. He is eloquent but futile.

We are considering not only a period of 11 hours. It might involve stopping for a meal or for a cigarette or sometimes stopping at the docks, or at the great commercial undertakings of the country. There are bound to be unavoidable delays and these could result in a 11-hour day becoming a 14-hour day.

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's argument, but he is wrong. Under the 1960 Act, to which the Minister referred, the maximum number of hours a driver may be on duty, including driving and waiting at the docks and elsewhere, is 11. The number cannot be stretched beyond that figure.

Photo of Mr Peter Mahon Mr Peter Mahon , Preston South

I am not certain about that. Transport drivers seek accommodation from some of my constituents at all hours of the night and day. They work extremely long hours. The hon. Gentleman was one of the few members of the Standing Committee who did a great deal of genuine research into this matter and he appreciates the difficulties. He will accept that on many occasions extremely long hours are worked.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I accept the principle of the hon. Gentleman's argument and I agree that there may be times when the limit is stretched, but the legal limit is 11 hours. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not, even unintentionally, wish to mislead the House.

Photo of Mr Peter Mahon Mr Peter Mahon , Preston South

I am not a lawyer and I am not speaking of legal limits. I know how long and hard these men work and that is why the Lords Amendments should be rejected.

Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East

I support the flexibility which the Lords Amendment would give. Its incorporation in the Bill would be particularly helpful for country and rural areas. Hon. Members have overlooked many of the eventualities for which transport operators must cater. Much is often said about drivers being only an hour or two from home and belting the last few miles at high speed. My experience has been that transport operators fix the proper rate for transporting whatever the goods may be. A contractor will ask the type of goods, the loading time and the dis- tance involved. It is essential that transport operators have flexibility in rural areas. An extra hour's driving on one day a week, in return for which drivers would drive an hour less on another day, would give this flexibility. There may be unscrupulous employers and drivers, but we must cater for the general run of operators.

The hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Peter Mahon) spoke of the effect of working long hours. One of the great advantages of the flexibility which the Amendment would give would be that drivers might not have to spend so many nights away from home. It should be possible on two days a week for a driver to work a little longer and so complete his journey, this being safeguarded by the rate which the haulage contractor has quoted to the customer.

Since the gales in Scotland large quantities of timber have had to be moved from central Scotland, some to the Highlands, to Fort William, some under 100 miles and some over that distance. Haulage contractors work out their schedules to keep them within the rules and regulations under current transport legislation. Regularly a contractor will say, "I can run two loads to such and such a terminal but I cannot do more without my drivers going beyond their permitted number of working hours." There are many occasions in the Highlands—lamb sales, store stock sales and so on—when flexibility is an essential part of running a successful transport industry. This flexibility helps to reduce costs to the user and at the same time look after the interests of the men. Flexibility is essential and for that reason we should agree to the Lords Amendment.

Photo of Mr Charles Mapp Mr Charles Mapp , Oldham East

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) did his best to argue the case for the Amendment towards the end of his speech. I accept that a problem is involved here, as the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) pointed out, and the House has really been arguing whether the problem should be tackled legislatively across the board, so that the rules and regulations apply to all facets of the industry, or whether we should proceed along the flexible lines postulated by the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour).

Having had some experience of this matter, I appreciate the argument of flexibility. In recent years there has been considerable abuse of the rules applying to drivers' hours. The law has not been applied generally and it is to be hoped that it will be applied generally as a result of the Bill. By this Measure we are saying that a driver's day shall be comprised of 10 hours, with a total of 60 a week. That is, by any standards, a heavy week's work, and even allowing for a reduction on Saturdays, it will be 50 hours a week. It is now being argued that drivers should work 62 hours a week. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] So many hon. Members commented "No" that I must stand corrected.

A weakness of this legislation is that it will apply throughout the industry, to both commercial and public service vehicles. There are certain exceptions, but it is fair to say that the Bill will apply across the board. Is this the right way to proceed? After all, there is a difference between driving a three-ton lorry down a motorway and driving a heavy lorry pulling a trailer with a total weight of perhaps 20 tons. Although I have not driven a commercial vehicle, it is obvious that the strain on the driver of a three-tonner is considerably different from that on the driver of a heavy lorry with four or five axles with five tons above each axle. If I were operating a fleet of lorries I would wish to stay within the law. However, there would be times when, in fairness to my customers, I would wish to have some flexibility. I would also want to do the right thing by my drivers.

The Lords Amendment would give overall coverage to the good man and the bad man, and it is the bad man we want to control. As I see the intention of my right hon. Friend's Amendment it is not to rely for flexibility on subsection (10), as my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) did—the the intention of that subsection is possibly to meet national emergencies, industrial difficulties and various things of that kind which a wise legislative body would wish to write in—but on subsection (12).

In subsection (12) the Minister frankly recognises that with the passing of time and, above all, after consultation with the appropriate bodies—and we are now entering into the field of detailed discussions with fleet operators of different types, sizes and requirements—the Minister can make such Orders as will meet the then circumstances in the light of some experience of the law on driving hours generally and make that law respected, as it has not been respected for so long.

First, let us get the law respected, and then adapt it to the normality of what we consider to be right in a business sense while, at the same time, within reason, making provision, not for industrial emergency, but for the sort of things that happen in the commercial world when one sometimes finds it necessary to be able to pull something out of the bag.

I see the Minister's Amendment as the way out. My only doubt is whether, by inserting the words 'either generally or with such exceptions as may be specified in the order', he could, assuming that 10 hours is written in, make an Order covering the kind of flexible conditions about which we have been talking, or whether he would be confined by the legal meaning of the words to giving that flexibility only when he was thinking of reducing a stage further from 10 hours to 9 hours. If the Minister were to be trammelled by that limited definition, I would regret it.

I would be the last to throw any sand or grit in the wheels of the machinery of a movement forward to a generally respected code of hours and terms for driving vehicles on the road. That code should be seen to be fair and reasonable as, in principle, I believe that it is so seen by this wording, but there can be cases where flexibility is involved. It is on that point that I have a little uneasiness, although in principle I am with the Minister.

6.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

Speaking as an agriculturist and as the director of a firm of agricultural merchants I am, as it were, on both ends of the stick—I receive the goods, and I help to deliver them. Speaking also as someone who, until I came to the House, drove a lorry for many years, I believe that there is a real case for flexibility. The Bill will be expensive. It will cost agriculture and the merchants a considerable amount of money. I should have thought it not unreasonable to ask for a certain amount of flexibility.

I see no reason why a lorry driver should not work up to 11 hours on one day and then have a reduction in his hours the next. From my experience of lorry driving, and from talking to lorry drivers, I think that most of these men would like that. That would mean that they get home at certain times, but could deliver these loads if they had been delayed, perhaps at the docks.

As one coming from the South-West, I can say that our usual trips is to Bristol. There are sometimes delays at the docks there, and that means difficulty in getting one's load delivered within the legally permitted hours. This is important to agriculture, because the loads involved may be of cattle food or pig meal urgently required for feed on the farms. I see no reason why the drivers should not continue for another hour to deliver such important loads and so fulfil the purpose for which the lorry was designed, and the drivers, we know, want to give good service. We certainly do not want drivers to work such long hours that they get tired—

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that this Amendment does not propose the kind of flexibility that he is suggesting? It is not a question of working 11 hours on one day and nine the next. The Amendment is directed to line 15 in page 126. In order to get the kind of flexibility the hon. Gentleman wants, the Amendment would have to be to line 18 in page 127.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

I may be wrong here, but I think that it does give the flexibility we seek. Let me give a practical illustration from the farming world—the delivery of stock—

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

In case my hon. Friend might be misled—

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

No, I am not misled.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

Line 18 in page 127 refers to the 60 hours total, and the point we on this side have consistently made is that we are not interfering with the 60 house. My hon. Friend is absolutely right in his point.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

I was not being misled. I fully understand that we do not want these drivers to work more than 60 hours. It is purely a question of flexibility on two days a week.

The practical point I was about to make relates to the delivery of stock. If a lorry driver has a wagon load of sheep or cattle and is making several drops he may be slightly delayed. It would be very wrong if those animals were not delivered on that day. It would not only be wrong but, to say the least, it would be unhelpful to the animals. We in agriculture look upon this as a very costly Bill. It will add to costs in every way. All we ask is that there should be a certain amount of flexibility so that the industry may cater for the difficulties which I have mentioned.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

The hon. Member is making quite a point but probably he has dealt with the Bill with less than his usual assiduity. If he looks at subsection (11) (i) he will see that the point he is raising is dealt with in the words: that the contravention was due to unavoidable delay in the completion of a journey arising out of circumstances which he could not reasonably have foreseen".

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

I am grateful to the Minister for pointing that out. If he was listening he would have heard me say that I may be wrong on this point. He has put me right, but if he desires, I could give many instances, of the need for flexibility. I ask him to think again carefully about flexibility as it affects agriculture. It is necessary that he should do so. I warmly support my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor). I am sure he was right in all that he said.

Photo of Mr James Bennett Mr James Bennett , Glasgow Bridgeton

We have heard a great deal about additional hours of driving on two days a week. While accepting a reduction in the working week, this Amendment seeks to say that one-third of the week will be worked on the old basis of 11 hours of driving. When the Government introduced the reduction it was based on the fact that traffic conditions are now so arduous and strenuous that a reduction in the driving hours was necessary. I cannot find it reasonable to say that on any day of a week such driving would be less arduous or strenuous.

Much has been said about flexibility, but this could be confused with inefficiency. My union, the Transport and General Workers' Union, has made some of its best agreements with firms based on a 10 hour working day with no additional hours. Having listened to what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) said, I am not in any way convinced that the Amendment would improve the Bill.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

I add support to those who have expressed concern about the effect of this Bill on the agricultural haulage industry. Doubt has been expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House about whether the Minister may or may not lay Regulations and whether the amount of time is to be 10 hours downward or 10 hours upward. It is important that the Minister should say a little more about how this will affect the agricultural haulage industry and whether he will make Regulation affecting this branch of haulage. Of course I accept that drivers should not exceed 60 hours driving, but I want there to be the greatest flexibility in relation to the number of hours below 60.

The irregular hours for drivers in the agricultural haulage industry has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills). The hours vary tremendously: sometimes six hours on one day and 11 hours on another. In the short period of August and September in Scotland there is the difficulty of the hill lamb sales. On one or two days 10,000 or 15,000 lambs have to be moved to a market for sale. It is not possible to move them from distant hill farms, load, unload and check en route and later in the afternoon return them to new pastures all within 10 hours. During the short period of the store lamb sales in the autumn the Minister must provide flexibility for longer hours to be worked on perhaps two days a week.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I have some knowledge of Highland sheep sales. If a driver could not do this driving in 10 hours, 11 hours would not make much difference. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) will know of the provision for 100-mile licences, which does not apply to livestock.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

I have not mentioned 100-mile licences. I am speaking of journeys of 20 or 30 miles involving bringing the lambs to the mart and taking them to other pastures. Such a provision would be a great advantage in the short periods of August and September when these sales take place. I hope the Minister appreciates that when the drivers have taken a large number of hours to bring the lambs in, they still must move them from the market because the lambs cannot be left in concrete pens overnight. If the Minister adheres strictly to the Bill as it stands this will mean double-shift working and an enormous increase in costs, in addition to having to employ inexperienced drivers. He must understand that movement of livestock is a special case. I hope that he will say he will make special Regulations to give greater flexibility.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson:

I think that under the Bill the Minister has power to make Regulations for special cases and special industries, but so far no one has mentioned Regulations for special areas. In Cornwall we are in the unfortunate position of being too far from any market which can be reached to enable deliveries to be made in a day. Hauliers in my constituency say that under the Bill they will be able to deliver nowhere in a day except to Bristol or Southampton. Their range of delivery will be very much limited unless there can be some degree of flexibility, not only for a particular industry or on a particular occasion, but perhaps on two days a week for a greater distance. Otherwise, they will have to employ more drivers and will not be able to compete with hauliers nearer to the markets.

This would affect the fish trade, horticulture and a number of industries in which deliveries are made to central areas in the Midlands or London from areas near to them. If hauliers in the West Country have to employ extra drivers they will not be able to compete with firms nearer to the markets. I do not know whether the Minister could exempt some areas, but, if not, such a provision as is suggested by this Amendment would be very useful. This matter is of great concern to hauliers in Cornwall, particularly those engaged in the fish trade and horticulture.

6.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I have much sympathy with the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Geoffrey Wilson). The problem to which he referred is common to us both, and I understand the difficulty which confronts many people who use road haulage in Cornwall. But in spite of that argument, I do not feel able to support the Amendment of another place.

When the Bill was first presented, the original wording of the relevant Clause, which was then Clause 115, was: Subject to the provisions of this section, a driver shall not on any working day drive a vehicle or vehicles to which this Part of this Act applies for periods amounting in the aggregate to more than nine hours. In Standing Committee I suggested an Amendment to alter nine hours to 10 hours. When the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor was in office, there seemed to be not the remotest chance that that Amendment would be accepted, but when the right hon. Gentleman took his place as Minister of Transport one of the first things he did in Standing Committee was to present a statement to us in which he said that he had accepted the 10-hour principle, at least on a temporary basis. In an interruption I asked whether that meant that he would accept my Amendment. At the time, he said that it did not, but on Report he introduced precisely my Amendment.

I have always believed that the Minister made a great concession, because an immediate reduction from 11 to nine hours would have made a considerable difference to the industry. It would have caused complete disorganisation. But I have always believed that there was a strong argument for a general overall reduction in drivers' hours, and I was satisfied when the Minister did precisely what I had asked.

When this matter was discussed in Committee in another place, their Lordships did not press their Amendment to a Division, but apparently accepted the arguments put forward by the Government. It was only when they discussed the Bill on Report that they introduced this Amendment. From that I am inclined to think that their Lordships had doubts similar to those which I feel about an increase even in this form.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

I do not want to make life difficult, but the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee shows the hon. Gentleman as saying: I beg to move Amendment No. 1994, in page 132, line 9, at end insert:'except that on not more than two days in a working week he may drive for ten hours'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 30th April, 1968; c. 2915.] Can the hon. Gentleman help us?

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I remember this very well, but at the time we were discussing a nine-hour day and I was proposing an increase to 10 hours on two days. We are not now discussing the same thing. We have the concession to 10 hours throughout. That Amendment obviously now ceases to be applicable.

I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), whose speeches I enjoy at all times, who presented his case with his usual vigour and clarity. But he was working on a slightly mistaken assumption. He said that the purpose of the Amendment was to provide greater flexibility, but also that he regarded the 60-hour week as sacrosanct—those were his words. However, the effect of the Amendment would be to permit a driver to work 62 and not 60 hours a week, because the Amendment is related to Clause 95(1) which reads: Subject to the provisions of this section, a driver shall not on any working day drive a vehicle or vehicles to which this Part of this Act applies for periods amounting in the aggregate to more than ten hours. The Amendment proposes to add: Provided that he may drive an extra hour on not more than two days in a working week. That means that he can drive a total of 62 hours. If their Lordships intended to provide greater flexibility, the Amendment should clearly have been introduced in a different form under subsection (5).

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

There is nothing in the Amendment to amend subsection (5) which says: Subject to the provisions of this section a driver shall not be on duty in any working week for periods amounting in the aggregate to more than sixty hours.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

In that case, we have complete confusion, making the Amendment even more unacceptable, because it is quite clear that with the addition of the Amendment the driver could drive for 62 hours under subsection (1) while under subsection (5) he would be restricted to 60 hours. There is thus conflict and contradiction. It would be necessary to amend subsection (5) as well as subsection (1).

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The alteration would be subject to the overall statement that it should not be more than 60 hours.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

The hon. Gentleman may be right and we could obviously argue about this at great length, but, as we are not in Committee. I do not propose to do so. Nevertheless, it would create a curious conflict within the terms of the Bill.

It has been suggested that agriculture will be considerably affected, and I agree with the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) that special difficulty may be caused in special cases, such as the lamb sales in the Highlands and other parts of Scotland. However, the industry would not be directly affected, because we are here dealing with drivers on the highway and not about how long a person may drive a tractor in a field, which is a totally different issue. There cannot be many occasions when an agricultural worker or farmer would be likely to find it necessary to drive a vehicle in excess of 10 hours in a day, and certainly an increase to 11 hours would not make much difference on the two days a week.

But, having said all that and having put all those arguments aside, I still feel that we have to accept that there must be a reduction in the number of hours when a driver may be at the wheel. There is no doubt that in modern road conditions, with the ever-increasing amount of traffic, even to permit a driver to be at the wheel for 60 hours a week is wrong. We have generally accepted the principle of a 40-hour working week in most industries, and yet we are discussing whether we should allow something in excess of 60 hours a week driving. I do not believe that the case for it has been made.

The Minister's concession is important, not in the context of the Amendment, but in the context of the time when the nine-hour order is introduced. But, as the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) pointed out, in exceptional conditions the Minister may make exceptions, and that, I think, covers the main point of the discussion.

I turn now to the argument about whether a driver is more fatigued at the end of his journey than at the beginning. I have no doubt about it. I frequently drive from my constituency to London, a matter of 220 miles, and back again. No one can tell me that I am more fatigued when I start my driving at the Palace of Westminster than I am when I arrive in Liskeard, or vice versa. It is just not so. These are matters of common knowledge. We put severe limits on, for example, the number of hours for which a pilot may be at the controls of an aircraft, and we do it because of the danger of fatigue at the end of the journey.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

The hon. Gentleman is not on the point. I do not dispute that he is more fatigued at the end of a journey. The point concerns the simple psychology of a man who is undertaking a long journey, a journey which calls for a great deal more care than the short-haul journey. This is often proven by tragic statistics.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I accept that. Undoubtedly, a man doing a long journey is more alert and takes a great deal more care, for one obvious reason if for no other, that he generally does not have to cope with such heavy traffic conditions. Nevertheless, at the end of a journey a driver is more fatigued. There can be no doubt about that.

In my view, we must make a start somewhere. The Minister went a long way to meet the case by agreeing to reduce the number of working hours in stages. That being so, in spite of the important arguments which have been advanced from this side—I do not question the force of some of the special cases which have been cited—I still feel that we should accept the position as it is now and, for my part, I shall not advise my hon. Friends to vote for the Lords Amendment.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

Unlike the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), I hope that the House will accept the Lords Amendment. It will have a considerable effect for agriculture. I am sorry to keep mentioning agriculture—no doubt, my hon. Friends are, too—but the Bill is designed mainly for the road haulage industry, and it is to that industry and its undoubted needs that the arguments of hon. Members opposite are chiefly directed. However, as the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) pointed out, there is great need for flexibility in conditions which are not those of the road haulage industry generally.

As I read it, the Amendment would enable drivers to have a marginally longer day on two days a week, and I take it that this would be balanced by a shorter day on other days, taking into account circumstances in which there is considerable variation in the work to be done. I shall cite examples from agriculture, but they are not confined to agriculture. I am thinking particularly of the transport of livestock. A journey carrying heifers from, say, a farm in the north to a farm in the south may well take 11 hours. That is a fairly common case. The livestock now will usually go by road. Where the rail facilities are no longer available as in most cases, livestock has to go by road.

The logic of such a journey is that if 11 hours of driving are necessary to complete it, the driver will stay overnight and then return with another load, probably, the next day. Thus, there are two 11-hour days with a night's rest in between, giving optimum use of both driver and vehicle. The same argument applies to the round trip, leaving home and doing a journey of roughly 5½ or 5 hours driving and then come back in the same day.

Flexibility of that kind is desirable. These journeys cannot be refused because the goods have to be moved. The consequence of removing such flexibility will be either that one has to send two drivers to do the job or one driver only will be sent but less use will be made of the vehicle. Vehicles can be worked hard, but—

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman's argument is that it is essential to be able to have two days in a week with 11 hours of driving time.

I take it that he realises that the Lords Amendment, which he supports, does not allow that.

6.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

My impression is that the Lords Amendment does allow 11 hours driving. Is that not so?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

With the second reduction down to nine hours, the one hour then, presumably, would make 10.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

It does not increase the 60 hours.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

It does not affect the 60 hours. It seems to me that on two days there can be driving for 11 hours. I am simple enough to think that "driving" means driving.

That is one aspect of the need for flexibility. There are other ways in which agriculture and allied industries such as forestry and horticulture need further flexibility. There is a dilemma facing agriculture in this connection. It could easily happen that certain people who are not primarily employed as drivers will qualify as drivers because they have driven a vehicle for more than four hours in one day, under the terms of Clause 95(7). I think, for example, of an agricultural engineer's service fitter whose job it is to go from the dealer's depot and visit broken-down machinery in the fields. The jobs may be scattered over one or more counties, and he has to take spare parts and mend the machinery or vehicles. At harvest time, it is vital that machinery such as combine harvesters shall be kept running, and it is easy for such an engineer to drive more than four hours in one day. He may well do four or more round trips averaging half an hour each way from his factory during the day, thus qualifying him as a driver.

Another example is the veterinary surgeon's assistant who travels in what looks like a private car but which, if it carries a lot of medical and veterinary supplies, may be caught—I am not sure about this —particularly if it be constructed or adapted to carry goods other than the effects of passengers", as a shooting brake or pick-up type of vehicle may be.

Another category—these are all common categories in agriculture—is the farm employee or manager who takes a pick-up type of vehicle on a journey of four hours. A likely example would be to go to a factory for a spare part which is not otherwise immediately obtainable through the usual distributor's channels. At harvest time, it may well be vital for a farm vehicle to go on a journey of 200 miles or more to obtain an essential spare part. Such a person would qualify as a driver, and it seems to me that he would then be caught within the provisions of the Clause, although in the ordinary sense of the word he is not a professional transport driver. It would seem that not only this subsection but other subsections would catch him, notably subsection (5), limiting his working week to 60 hours.

I must differ with earlier speakers. Although I agree that 60 hours is the maximum number of hours which should be driven on the roads in a week, it is certainly not the maximum number of hours which should be worked by people during harvest time, nor is it the maximum to which they would wish to be limited. Their work is dictated by nature. It is not uncommon for men to be frustrated by being able to do nothing for several days, and then, when the weather improves, they want to work all the hours of daylight and dryness.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Gentleman must come to the Amendment, which deals with extra hours.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I am welcoming the Amendment, because it would appear to allow the people to whom I am referring to work marginally longer days.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

There must be some limit to this. If the hon. Gentleman reads subsection (9), he will see that it provides: For the purpose of subsections (1) and (7) of this section no account shall be taken of any time spent driving a vehicle elsewhere than on a road if the vehicle is being so driven in the course of operations of agriculture.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

I entirely agree. But it says: For the purposes of subsections (1) and (7) … I am worried about the effect of subsection (5), which limits the working week to 60 hours. This is my real worry; it is not an imaginary worry. It would seem that many people might be trapped by the Bill, in having their maximum working week limited to 60 hours even if they are not driving on the roads but for example harvesting in the fields. I am sure that the Minister does not want that to happen. The defence which he put forward earlier concerning subsection (11)(i) is not open to him here. We know that this will happen. It is part of the ordinary pattern.

An hon. Member said he thought that the subsection would apply in times of natural emergency. I hope that "special need" will allow an exception to be made. It is clear that some very unfortunate effects will flow from the Bill. The Minister could make exceptions, but he has not indicated that he will do so. Will he give an assurance that the categories of people to whom I have referred will be exempted, in the same way as we had at a very late hour last Thursday an assurance that a transport operator's licence would not be required for agricultural vehicles? That was a very helpful concession.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

If the hon. Gentleman reads subsection (10) carefully, he will see that it goes rather wider than national emergencies. It provides: For the purpose of enabling vehicles to which this Part of this Act applies to be used in cases of emergency or otherwise to meet a special need … the Minister may by regulation make the exemption for which the hon. Member asks.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

The hon. Gentleman is quoting in my favour. I cannot claim these cases to be emergencies. They are predictable certainties which will occur in any farming area. Whether they amount to "special need" is open to interpretation. I hope that "special need" gives the Minister power to make exceptions which will have to be made if a whole industry is not to be put in difficulty. I hope that the Minister will say, "I have this power and, furthermore, I give an assurance that I will use it".

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) is not entirely accurate in suggesting that the Amendment has anything to do with 60 hours a week. The Amendment has no relation to that at all. It deals solely with the provision about working 10 hours in one day. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) that nothing that we have said today has anything to do with the period of 60 hours a week.

One cannot be sure about anything in this world, but I am fairly certain that any alteration of the figure of 10 hours per day will not have the slightest effect on the period of 60 hours a week. If it would have the slightest effect, the Minister would have come here armed with the advice of the Attorney-General and would have raised an objection at the earliest possible moment.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I believe that the hon. Gentleman is right. I have looked at the matter in that connection. However, I think that he will agree that the Amendment's effect would be to create a curious ambiguity.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I do not see any ambiguity at all. Under the Bill, if it were not amended, any employer who permitted his driver to work the extra hour on one day a week would have to concede that hour on another day.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

It is clear from the Bill. The Bill refers to the period of not more than 60 hours. If the employer and driver did not sacrifice an hour to compensate for the extra hour, they would be infringing the requirement concerning the period of 60 hours a week. The Minister nods in agreement. I think that the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) must agree, too.

The understandable speeches which have been made, such as that of the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Peter Mahon), who expressed his conviction that drivers' hours are often too long, have little relevance to this debate. It is agreed on both sides of the House that in the past drivers have been working excessive hours. It is conceivable that fewer hours might be objectionable in certain weather conditions. It might be easier to drive for 11 hours on a pleasant summer day than to drive for five hours on a bitterly cold, icy, winter day. The load which is carried might have an effect.

We agree as firmly as the Minister and his colleagues with the maximum requirement of 60 hours, but we plead for a little tolerance and flexibility within that maximum. In pleading for tolerance and flexibility, we have the Minister's agreement that it is necessary. He does not say, "You are asking for the wrong thing". He says, "I agree that what you are asking for is reasonable, but I will give it to you in a different way. I will give it to you by regulation. I do not want it put in the Bill. But this regulation will not be mandatory on me. It will merely provide that I may make an order in which I may prescribe certain things and dispense with certain things, and I may even empower licensing authorities to dispense with certain things".

That is a roundabout way of dealing with the matter. It does not hind the Minister to do what we think it is necessary for him to do. It leaves him with a free hand. If hon. Members agree that what is suggested in the Amendment is desirable, it should be put in the Bill. It should not be left to the Minister to choose whether or not he should make an order.

7.0 p.m.

In reply to the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter), it would be inconceivable that all the infinite variety of cases which might arise should be subject to a precise and special grant of licence by different licensing authorities. It would create an enormous amount of work and clog up their important work in other respects.

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

Yes; I agree, up to a point, with what the hon. Gentleman says, but the intention of the Act is to minimise that. Clause 95(1) shows that we are talking about 10 hours of driving time, actual time behind the wheel—not the working day, which can be longer.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I thought I had dealt with that earlier. We are merely asking for this tolerance within the requirement of 60 hours a week. We are not asking for a single minute more. We have asked for tolerance and flexibility, and the Minister agrees that this is desirable and recognises the need for it. He says that he will create it by order or regulation, but we say that it is better to have it set out in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Donald Williams Mr Donald Williams , Dudley

I have great sympathy with many of my hon. Friends who have spoken in support of flexibility for agriculture, but there has been little mention of the necessity for flexibility for industry. I represent part of the West Midlands. We have a time factor in the delivery of goods which must come to the London area. It is extremely difficult to deliver in exactly or less than 10 hours. Everybody on both sides of the House wants to see industry progressing, and for this to happen we must have the goods flowing.

In Dudley and Stourbridge we make components for the motor industry, the shipbuilding industry and many other industries, and it is essential for those industries that the components should get to the further manufacturing stage in good time and at the right time. The men concerned are faced, by geographical reasons, with almost exactly a 10-hour drive. Is it not reasonable to have a small amount of flexibility for the drivers for two days of the week to make this a possibility? The Minister himself has agreed that flexibility is wanted, and I hope that he will give this flexibility to help the industrialist as well as the agriculturalist.

There is another point with regard to the question of fatigue and men driving for a certain number of hours. What does not seem to be recognised at the moment is the tremendous improvement in driving conditions coming along with the improved models of vehicles which the men will drive. I believe that a man who has for years been able to drive, when necessary, successfully and safely for a period of 11 hours will certainly, on the rare occasions when he is asked to do it, be able to drive for up to 11 hours in one day with the better equipment which is now at his disposal.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

I apologise in advance for what might appear to be a great discourtesy, intervening in the debate when I have just come into the Chamber and the debate has been going on for two and a half hours. But I have been on Parliamentary business, and there is a point that I should like the Minister to keep in mind.

I refer to the problems facing coach drivers on long-distance package tours in this country. An instance is people on a package holiday from Scotland to the South of England. If the Bill stays as it is it will mean an addition to the costs of operators of these tours which may take the tours out of the range of many hundreds of thousands of people who recognising the general desire, take their holidays at home and keep their money here instead of spending sterling abroad. They may not be able to afford to do it or at any rate they will not be getting the same value for money.

I wonder whether the Bill can be amended so that a relief driver can be taken on the coach. There will then not be the terrific hours of driving to affect the efficiency and general health of the drivers. However, I understand that even if a relief driver travels with the coach that is not deemed to cover the need for the four-hour break. It may be that if some means is found of having a relief driver the extra costs will not have to be passed on to the customer. If the Minister could do that I am sure that he would be doing what he wants to do in his heart, and it would make the Bill, bad though it is, more amenable.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

We have had a long discussion. Looking at my notes, it seems that we have about 150 more Amendments to get through before breakfast, and I thought that this was a reasonable point at which to intervene with the leave of the House.

The arguments against the Government's Amendment have largely come down to two. On one hand it is said that flexibility is essential because of the problems of agriculture, industry and the British economy in general. I think the argument has been rather exaggerated. The hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) told us from his knowledge of agriculture how terribly important it was to have the magic figure of 11 hours on call—not necessarily all the time, but on call. I then made the point that if the figure of 11 hours is essential the Lords Amendment does not provide that. Subsection (12) states: The Minister may, after consultation with such bodies as appear to him to be representative of the employers and employees concerned, by order … direct that subsection (1) of this section shall have effect with the substitution for the reference to ten hours of a reference to nine hours ". So if one substituted in subsection (1) nine hours and gave authority to drive an extra hour, my calculations lead me to the conclusion that that approaches a driving day of 10 hours, not 11 hours. I do not want to get involved in a mathematical argument, but there has been an overstatement of the argument. This has weakened the case.

I was grateful when the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said that the argument about the working week was not in dispute. There are very few people who would reopen the argument about the working week. I accept that the hon. Member for Norfolk, South does not agree with that, but I think that on the whole the Opposition accept the 60-hour week.

Photo of Mr John Hill Mr John Hill , South Norfolk

What I pointed out was that the Bill traps agricultural workers who by chance have qualified as drivers for a particular week. That is my point, which the Minister has not met. There is a flaw in the Clause.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

The problem is that the Amendment does not deal with subsection (5). I am prepared to discuss it, but we should be going again over an argument which is not concerned with this point. The point relates purely to the hours being reduced in the first instance from 11 to 10 and subsequently from 10 to nine. Is it reasonable that we should refuse an Amendment which would allow the Government at the second stage of the reduction to provide the degree of flexibility by, if necessary, laying orders to achieve the effect of an extra hour on certain days, as suggested by their lordships? We really must see this against the background of the situation.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) has a capacity to sacrifice fact in the cause of volume which staggers all of us. He based his argument trenchantly on the need to stay on a par with our friends in the E.E.C. He developed the argument at length and with vigour. We on this side could hardly mishear it. Nor could anyone else within reasonable walking distance.

The hon. Gentleman said that this would hamper British industry in competition with continental industry because the Community's proposals allow for extension of driving time on certain days. He did not go on to tell us that, from October next year, the Community is to reduce the driving time down to nine hours—not ten—and for lorries over 20 tons gross laden weight the reduction will be to eight hours. We are thus told that British industry cannot conceivably cope with a reduction in driving time to ten hours whereas the continentals are discussing a reduction to eight hours.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

Be that as it may, is it not a fact that, under the Community regulations, which are to be introduced, a "mate" could be in the van and could be completely resting, whereas here, while he might stay in the van, he would be considered as working all the time, although if he rode a motor cycle behind the lorry he could take over.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

The hon. Gentleman should think carefully before he goes any further. If my memory serves me right, in some of the Community's recommendations a deputy driver is a legal requirement. I do not think that British industry would be wildly enthusiastic about that. He might be wise to consult some of his friends on that aspect.

The point is that most countries are now recognising that the driving of very heavy lorries in modern traffic conditions causes us, once in 30 years, to look again at the length of the driving day. They recognise that the man who is driving a very heavy vehicle for 10 hours has probably done a very solid day's driving from his own point of view and from the point of view of the public—and that is no criticism of anyone.

The argument is whether, given this situation, we have paid due regard to the various problems which might arise from time to time, and which I fully accept, in particular sections of industry. This is precisely why I put down the Government Amendment, which would mean that we could look at the situation, have consultations and see what effects there had been. I am sure that the effects will not be as serious as some hon. Members suggest. They know more about farming than I shall ever know, since it is not my field. But I cannot believe that French, German, Italian and Dutch sheep are basically different from ours and if French, German, Italian and Dutch farmers can manage on hours shorter than is suggested here, it seems at least possible to say that what is proposed here can be coped with by British farmers.

Perhaps the problems will be bigger than I think now. The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir Robert Cary) always makes a perfectly reasonable speech on these matters. His argument tonight is that he is not at odds with what we are seeking to achieve but that, if this proviso is written into the Bill now, Parliament knows that it is there whereas, if it is left to Ministerial Order, the Minister may or may not lay an Order. It is a fair point.

My reason for preferring to do the thing in this way is that my scheme will enable us to have more knowledge. We will have seen how the thing works. The Government Amendment contains more flexibility than does the Lords Amendment. We have heard passionate pleas to us to look especially at this or that exclusion but the Lords Amendment says: Provided that he may drive an extra hour on not more than two days in a working week. On the other hand, the Government Amendment says that the Minister may act either generally or with such exceptions as may be specified in the order. This gives an opportunity to the Minister to look at the whole system to see how it has worked in practice and to the House to debate what we want to do on an affirmative resolution.

7.15 p.m

I believe that the arguments have been exaggerated by the Opposition. Hon. Members opposite—and this is particularly true of certain hon. Members representing agricultural constituencies—fear for the sanctity of the ability to drive for eleven hours. But neither the Lords Amendment nor the Government Amendment would give them that. They have lost that one. No one is on their side. The Lords Amendment would produce a maximum of ten hours on the second reduction. On the other hand, if we were to take that proposal on the first reduction and allow an extra hour's driving time, this would, for the reasons I gave to the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) produce a working day under this Bill longer than the working day under the existing Act. That cannot be the intention of the Opposition or of the Lords.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

What about coach drivers?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I do not want to go into that matter. This is a fairly narrow Lords Amendment concerning an hour's extension. I do not think that the difficulties generally will be as big as suggested. The Government Amendment will enable us to meet difficulties which will arise when we know what those difficulties are, and I therefore ask the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

I hope that the House will agree with the Lords Amendment. As usual, the Minister makes himself out to be a reasonable chap. Indeed, compared with his predecessor, he is. We welcome that.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the second stage. I remember the first time he sat in the Standing Committee on this Bill and his bewilderment and horror when he realised the consequences of many of the things contained in the Bill and which the Minister of State—who should be very good at the new Department of Social Services—was proposing. After a week of seeing the fury of the Opposition, the two-stage announcement was made and we welcomed that as a reasonable step.

The Lords Amendment is the result of sharp and severe pressure by the Opposition in both Houses. The right hon. Gentleman would be more reasonable if he were to produce the report which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) was asking for by the Ministry of Transport's Transport Consultative Committee. It is important that he should do so. The Committee considered the subject but we have had no report from it divulged to an expectant public. That Committee should be particularly sensitive on the subject since the Estimates Committee criticised the fact that the Road Research Laboratory had been suborned by the Ministry of Transport and there is a doubt as to the independence of reports by that body. It would be excellent if the right hon. Gentleman would publish the Committee's report on the subject, which would let us get down to the facts of the case.

I hope that I can persuade the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) to vote with us. In Committee, he trenchantly moved that we should allow an extra hour on the driving day. I appreciate that, at that stage, it concerned a driving day of nine hours but the principle remains the same. I will quote his wise words: … I have in mind emergency journeys—goods which are going to the docks for export, unforeseen traffic conditions which might arise at any time and make it necessary for latitude to exist which could be used within the discretion of the driver and the employer or manufacturer".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 30th April, 1968; c. 2916.] I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on those words and I hope that he will use them to guide his footsteps into the Lobby with us.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we were then discussing an increase from 9 to 10 hours. The effect of the Lords Amendment would be an increase from 10 to 11 hours and that is a different matter.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

I appreciate that, but the principle is the same. I hope that the argument of flexibility which the hon. Gentleman then used will convince him that he should come into the Lobby with us now. This is a valuable Amendment. It would still keep the driving week within 60 hours. There is no intention to do anything other than that.

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart in a tribute to the long-distance commercial driver in Britain. It is proven that he has no peer in the driving fraternity. He has a first-rate record of safety and conscientiousness. The statistics show that the danger does not necessarily arise at the beginning of a long haul. It is the short haul—the M4 motorway proves this. Also—commercial usage proves this—it is the small tipper vehicle, often ill maintained, that causes danger. These are the people we should be getting at.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Donald Williams) made a cogent plea. I see his point. He is right on the 10-hour radius from London. This would make a great deal of difference to an area which needs all the industrial assistance it can get.

The Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart, who has had a sudden bout of enthusiasm for the Common Market, have been bandying statistics across the table. My understanding of drivers' hours in Common Market countries is that if there is a mate he can take over the wheel at the end of eight hours and the vehicle can continue. Nothing like that can happen in Britain; the mate cannot do anything at the end of the period of 10 hours, though if he had driven a motor car behind the lorry for the 10 hours he could then take over. This shows some of the absurdities which arise. The fact that the Secretariat has proposed to the Commission that a mate should be obligatory does not mean that it will be approved.

I have been asked to say to the Minister that the Common Market regulations on driving hours for goods vehicles are likely to be a 13-hour working day, with 15 hours permitted twice a week. The driving day will be 9 hours, but twice a week it will be 10 hours. I am sure that the Minister, knowing the devotion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart to the Common Market, will accept those words from him.

Yet again we are trying to prevent an excess of rigidity. The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) made a very wise speech. Small emergencies crop up all the time. Allowance must be made for these, both in an agricultural day and in an ordinary business day, and the greatest of flexibility must be given within the maximum of 60 hours. The Minister is to take powers by Order, but these powers will not come into effect until the second stage. We want to ensure that at the beginning the arrangements are flexible and that there is not excessive rigidity at the beginning, because this will destroy good will for operating; and, if good will for operating is destroyed, there is connivance and breaches of the law.

This Lords Amendment also is an improvement on the Bill as it stood when it went to the other House. I ask my hon. Friends and members of the Liberal Party to vote in favour of the proposition that this House supports the Lords.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 256. Noes 201.

Division No. 303.]AYES7.24 p.m.
Abse, LeoFitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)McNamara, J. Kevin
Alldritt, WalterFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)MacPherson, Malcolm
Allen, ScholefieldFoot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Anderson, DonaldFoot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Archer, PeterFord, BenMallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Armstrong, ErnestForrester, JohnMallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Fowler, GerryManuel, Archie
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)Fraser, John (Norwood)Mapp, Charles
Bacon, Rt Hn. AliceFreeson, ReginaldMarks, Kenneth
Barnes, MichaelGardner, TonyMarsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Barnett, JoelGinsburg, DavidMason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Baxter, WilliamGourlay, HarryMayhew, Christopher
Beaney, AlanGray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)Mendelson, J. J.
Bence, CyrilGreenwood, Rt. Hn. AnthonyMillan, Bruce
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodGregory, ArnoldMiller, Dr. M. S.
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)Grey, Charles (Durham)Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Bessell, PeterGriffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Bidwell, SydneyGriffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Molloy, William
Blackburn, F.Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Blenkinsop, ArthurGriffiths, Will (Exchange)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Moyle, Roland
Booth, AlbertHamilton, William (Fife, W.)Neal, Harold
Boston, TerenceHamling, WilliamNewens, Stan
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurHarper, JosephNorwood, Christopher
Boyden, JamesHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Oakes, Gordon
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Hart, Rt. Hn. JudithOgden, Eric
Bradley, TomHaseldine, NormanO'Malley, Brian
Bray, Dr. JeremyHazell, BertOrbach, Maurice
Brooks, EdwinHealey, Rt. Hn. DenisOrme, Stanley
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Heffer, Eric S.Oswald, Thomas
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)Herbison, Rt. Hn. MargaretOwen, Will (Morpeth)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Hilton, W. S.Padley, Walter
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Buchan, NormanHorner, JohnPaget, R. T.
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)Palmer, Arthur
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Howie, W.Pardoe, John
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Park, Trevor
Cant, R. B.Hughes, Roy (Newport)Parker, John (Dagenham)
Carmichael, NeilHunter, AdamParkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraHynd, JohnPavitt, Laurence
Chapman, DonaldIrvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Coe, DenisJackson, Peter M. (High Peak)Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Coleman, DonaldJanner, Sir BarnettPentland, Norman
Corbet, Mrs. FredaJay, Rt. Hn. DouglasPerry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Jeger, George (Goole)Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Crawshaw, RichardJeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Cronin, JohnJenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Price, William (Rugby)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Probert, Arthur
Cullen, Mrs. AliceJohnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Rankin, John
Darling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeJones, Dan (Burnley)Rees, Merlyn
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Kelley, RichardRobinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Kenyon, CliffordRoebuck, Roy
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir GeoffreyKerr, Russell (Feltham)Rose, Paul
Delargy, HughLawson, GeorgeRoss, Rt. Hn. William
Dell, EdmundLeadbitter, TedShaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Dempsey, JamesLee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)Sheldon, Robert
Dewar, RonaldLestor, Miss JoanShinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Diamond, Rt. Hn. JohnLever, L. M. (Ardwick)Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Dobson, RayLewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)Short,P.t.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Doig, PeterLomas, KennethShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)Lubbock, EricSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)Lyon, Alexander W. (York)Silverman, Julius
Eadie, AlexLyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Skeffington, Arthur
Edwards, William (Merioneth)Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonSlater, Joseph
Ellis, JohnMcBride, NeilSmall, William
English, MichaelMcCann, JohnSpriggs, Leslie
Ensor, DavidMacDermot, NiallSteel, David (Roxburgh)
Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)Macdonald, A. H.Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)McKay, Mrs. MargaretSummerskill, Hn Dr. Shirley
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Swingler, Stephen
Faulds, AndrewMackie, JohnSymonds, J. B.
Fernyhough, E.Maclennan, RobertThornton, Ernest
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Tinn, James
Urwin, T. W.Wilkins, W. A.Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)Willey, Rt. Hn. FrederickWoof, Robert
Walker, Harold (Doncaster)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)Wyatt, Woodrow
Wallace, GeorgeWilliams, Clifford (Abertillery)Yates, Victor
Watkins, David (Consett)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)Willis, Rt. Hn. GeorgeTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Weitzman, DavidWilson, William (Coventry, S.)Mr. Ernest G. Perry and
Wellbeloved, JamesWinnick, DavidMr. J. D. Concannon.
Wells, William (Walsall, N.)Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Glyn, Sir RichardNicholls, Sir Harmar
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Goodhart, PhilipNoble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Astor, JohnGoodhew, VictorNott, John
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)Gower, RaymondOnslow, Cranley
Awdry, DanielGrant-Ferris, R.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Baker, Kenneth (Acton)Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)Gurden, HaroldOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Barber, Rt. Hn. AnthonyHall, John (Wycombe)Page, Graham (Crosby)
Batsford, BrianHall-Davis, A. G. F.Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonHamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)Percival, Ian
Bell, RonaldHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Peyton, John
Berry, Hn. AnthonyHarris, Frederic (Croydon, N W Pounder, Rafton
Biffen, JohnHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Biggs-Davison, JohnHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Prior, J. M. L.
Birch, Rt. Hn. NigelHarvey, Sir Arthur VerePym, Francis
Black, Sir CyrilHarvie Anderson, MissQuennell, Miss J. M.
Blaker, PeterHawkins, PaulRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Bossom, Sir CliveHay, JohnRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnHeald, Rt. Hn. Sir LlonelRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Braine, BernardHeseltine, MichaelRippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Brewis, JohnHiggins, Terence L.Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Brinton, Sir TattonHill, J. E. B.Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalterHirst, GeoffreyRoyle, Anthony
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Holland, PhilipRussell, Sir Ronald
Bryan, PaulHordern, PeterScott-Hopkins, James
Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M)Hunt, JohnSharples, Richard
Buck, Antony (Colchester)Hutchison, Michael ClarkShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Bullus, Sir EricIremonger, T. L.Silvester, Frederick
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Sinclair, Sir George
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Carlisle, MarkJohnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Cary, Sir RobertJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Speed, Keith
Chichester-Clark, R.Jopling, MichaelStainton, Keith
Clark, HenryJoseph, Rt. Hn. Sir KeithStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Clegg, WalterKerby, Capt. HenrySummers, Sir Spencer
Cooke, RobertKershaw, AnthonyTapsell, Peter
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillKing, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Cordle, JohnKitson, TimothyTaylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Costain, A. P.Knight, Mrs. JillTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)Lambton, ViscountTeeling, Sir William
Crouch, DavidLancaster, Col. C. G.Temple, John M.
Crowder, F. P.Langford-Holt, Sir JohnThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Currie, G. B. H.Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Tilney, John
Dalkeith, Earl ofLongden, GilbertTurton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Dance, JamesLoveys, W. H.van Straubenzee, W. R.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryMcAdden, Sir StephenVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)MacArthur, IanVickers, Dame Joan
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Maclean, Sir FitzroyWaddington, David
Digby, Simon WingfieldMcMaster, StanleyWalker, Peter (Worcester)
Dodds-Parker, DouglasMaddan, MartinWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Doughty, CharlesMaginnis, John E.Walters, Dennis
Drayson, G. B.Marples, Rt. Hn. ErnestWard, Dame Irene
du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardMarten, NeilWeatherill, Bernard
Eden, Sir JohnMaude, AngusWebster, David
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Mawby, RayWells, John (Maidstone)
Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Emery, PeterMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Eyre, ReginaldMills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Farr, JohnMiscampbell, NormanWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fisher, NigelMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMontgomery, FergusWoodnutt, Mark
Fortescue, TimMore, JasperWorsley, Marcus
Foster, Sir JohnMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Wylie, N. R.
Galbraith, Hn. T. G.Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesYounger, Hn. George
Gibson-Watt, DavidMunro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Giles, Rear-Adm. MorganMurton, OscarTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Nabarro, Sir GeraldMr. Anthony Grant and
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Neave, AireyMr. Hector Monro

Amendment made in lieu of the Lords Amendment last disagreed to: In page 129, line 30, at end insert 'either gener-

ally or with such exceptions as may be specified in the order'.—[Mr. Bob Brown.]

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 106: In page 128, line 16, at end insert "or forestry".

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Woodside

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

It would be wrong to let this Amendment go without a brief comment. This is a very important Amendment, which we on this side of the House fully accept, because it gives to forestry the same exemptions which we provided for agriculture. We are very much aware of the importance of forestry to Great Britain, and particularly to Scotland. It is an Amendment which we have presesd throughout the proceedings, and we are glad to see it now accepted.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 109: In page 129, line 45, at end insert: Provided that the appointed day for the purpose; of section 95 of this Act shall not precede the appointed day of section 96 of this Act.

Read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The main argument on this is that the proposal is unnecessarily restrictive. There is a lot of misunderstanding, and no decisions have been taken on the timing, or information which may or may not be needed. Before we come to discuss the Regulations there will be consultation with both sides of industry on the whole question.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I note the remarks of the Minister and I would urge that we on this side of the House do not debate this Amendment at any length, as the Minister has agreed to have talks with the trade unions. Certain interests throughout the country have expressed their fears of this sort of instrument, and the Minister has quite rightly agreed to negotiations. With the talk of the possibility of strikes, I am sure that hon. Members would not wish to aggravate the position. We hope that these consultations are carried out speedily, so that doubt can be removed at the earliest opportunity, and that no industrial unrest takes place as a result of this move. In those circumstances, I urge my hon. Friends not to divide the House but instead to pass on to further Amendments.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.