Consequential and Other Amendments

Part of ROAD TRAFFIC (DRIVERS' AGES AND HOURS OF WORK) BILL [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1976.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Marks Mr Kenneth Marks , Manchester, Gorton 12:00 am, 8th March 1976

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I had hoped that this last stage of the Bill in this House would be purely formal. The Bill had general support on Second Reading and in Committee. At both stages, it was generally recognised that the sooner it reached the statute book the better. I hope that the House will not take literally the Opposition motion on the Order Paper.

The change in the threshold of the licensing scheme for heavy goods vehicle drivers provided for in the Bill has been anticipated by manufacturers and operators who, respectively, have made and bought vehicles which, following regulations after enactment, will cease to be heavy goods vehicles. Some at least of these vehicles—we are told—are standing idle until they can be driven by drivers who do not hold vocational drivers' licenses. Labour Members have expressed concern at this situation during both of the earlier stages of consideration. I have explained that the matter can only be resolved by early enactment.

I was, therefore, surprised to learn that hon. Members wanted to avail themselves of this further opportunity for debate. They may want to draw attention again to the practical difficulties inherent in the drivers' hours provisions of EEC Regulation 543/69—in particular those associated with the 450 kilometre limit and the daily driving limit. I have already acknowledged the problems and referred to my hon. Friend's efforts to secure changes but I shall be glad to hear what further points hon. Members may wish to raise. If they speak on these matters, however, I would ask them to bear in mind that this Bill—in so far as it relates to drivers' hours—merely provides enabling powers to allow us to harmonise our domestic law on drivers' hours with that in the EEC regulation when, eventu ally, the drivers' hours provisions of the regulations come into force. The Bill will have no effect on when that will be or on the provisions of the Regulation at that time.