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 am grateful to hon. Members for the useful service they have performed in drawing attention to practical difficulties inherent in EEC Regulation 543/69 and in particular those associated with the 450-kilometre limit and the daily driving limit. Their message in effect is that the Regulation must be made more flexible, that there must be more provision for national derogations to take account of local or regional difficulties, and that the United Kingdom needs a further deferment as well as amendment of the regulation.

My hon. Friend will be glad to have this support for the representations he has already made to the Commission and to our partners in the Community. These representations, made by this Government and not by any previous Government, have already resulted in the Commission granting six months' deferment to the end of June. No doubt our friends in the Community will take due note of what has been said here tonight, as indeed will my hon. Friend and I. We shall make further representations after consultation with both sides of the industry, and with the House.

The Commission has just announced proposals for amendment of the regulation. However, I point out that the Commission did it in the form of a Press release and the Government have not yet received the full details.

The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), who has suddenly begun to take an interest in the Bill, will, I am sure, be only too glad to hear that we shall recognise all the possibilities for debate, including the Third Reading debate and the way in which the House deals with Community business. We must consider the regulations as they go before the Scrutiny Committee. This will certainly be done in this case.

The Government are not responsible for the Commission's proposals. The Bill cannot affect the Commission's proposals. I notice that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) is nodding, and understandably so. He resigned from the previous Conservative Government because the Government of the day accepted and brought in a European Communities Act which accepted all these regulations. Certain hon. Members who have not spoken tonight supported the then Government in that action. I accept that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart took a strong line in that respect. That is the fact about these regulations. They are not something which we should bring before the House. They are already the law for this country. There is no question, therefore, of statutory instruments and amendments. It is the law.

If the Community as a whole decides to make changes in those regulations, we can then come before the House with the regulations to discuss. But it must be done under the European Communities Act, by a decision of the Community as a whole, and I remind the House again that that Act was passed by the previous Conservative Government.