Goods Vehicles (Motorway Speed Limit)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th March 1974.

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Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park 12:00 am, 28th March 1974

I understand the House's anxiety about fuel supplies. I cannot go into details, for reasons that you have explained, Mr. Speaker. I can assure the House, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has already done, that restrictions on derv have been lifted. These regulations, which seek to raise the speed limit for commercial vehicles, should not create any supply problems. Individual garages will be able to make the normal arrangements to obtain supplies.

The situation is not the same with petrol, which is still on allocation, and it would, therefore, be wrong for the general 50 mph speed limit to be lifted. It is for this reason that we have confined the regulations to motorways.

The hon. and learned Member for Dover and Deal (Mr. Peter Rees) asked about the possibility of having differential speed limits for different vehicles. As a general principle, I think it would be wrong to use a by-product of the fuel crisis as a means of imposing a new set of speed limits on road safety and other criteria. I appreciate the tremendous response by drivers of both private and commercial vehicles, and that is why the regulations are before the House.

I shall examine the hon. and learned Gentleman's point, but the House should understand that, in considering speed limits, there are two other factors to be borne in mind: first, the practicability of enforceability; secondly, the danger of bunching on the motorways if the speed of lorries is too low. I am advised that that could be almost as dangerous as extending the speed limit.

I am sorry that I cannot give the House the necessary information. It is very sketchy at the moment and full details are available only for December, but when the information is available I shall seek an opportunity to make it known.