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My Lords, I have listened carefully to what my noble friend has said. Frankly, some of his comments have surprised me. My noble friend said that this is not a problem of safety. If a lorry is above its design weight, it stands to reason that it will be less safe than if it is below its design weight. Of course, I do not deny that many lorries are operated safely--and, indeed, many lorries are piled up with cornflakes. However, a great many other lorries operate above their design weight, whether their limit is 41 tonnes or 44 tonnes. That can damage roads and bridges.
My noble friend did not have anything to say about unfair competition and the fact that, while only a small proportion of the total fleet operates illegally, those who do undercut those who obey the law. Indeed, I suggest this may be in part one of the causes of the fuel crisis because a minority of the smaller operators do break the law and thus undercut other small operators. That may be why the industry is facing so many financial problems. I accept that there are reputable operators, but there are also those who are not reputable. I do not accept that the dodgy operators form only a small proportion of the total fleet. Perhaps my noble friend would write to me and tell me what is the proportion of illegal operators and how that proportion is derived from the available statistics.