Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill [HL] - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Earl Attlee Earl Attlee Conservative 5:15 pm, 17th April 2018

My Lords, I have realised to my horror that I have not repeated the declaration of interest that I made at the earlier proceedings: I own or operate two very large trailers, one of which weighs 27,000 kilograms and the other 17,000 kilograms empty.

I am very concerned about light trailer safety, about which I spoke at greater length in Committee. I had discussions on the matter with my noble friend the Minister in private and was able to go a lot further than I went in public in frightening her a bit—I hope. It is a remaining weakness in our road safety regime and the condition of our vehicles, as the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, alluded to. It is not necessary to have a universal light trailer registration scheme to achieve testing of trailers, but the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, spoke about theft of trailers. She is absolutely on the money: this is a big problem. I suspect that it would be alleviated by general registration of trailers, because, to sell a stolen trailer, one needs an identity. Due to changes made to the write-off provisions for cars, for instance, it is much more difficult to acquire an identity of a written-off vehicle—for reasons with which I shall not bore the House. There may therefore be an argument for registering small trailers for reasons of deterring theft, but it would not be necessary if one wanted a testing regime.

I mentioned that I have had a private discussion with my noble friend the Minister. I have also secured a meeting, planned for 2 May, with my honourable friend the Minister for Transport, Jesse Norman. Other noble Lords are welcome to join me for this meeting: I think a meeting with the Minister, with the benefit of having the officials in front of us, where we can put these points and look at this in detail has much to commend it in the short term. I think we would have a greater chance of convincing the Minister that we need to make some changes by that procedure than by agreeing an amendment to the Bill now that we know perfectly well will be overturned in the House of Commons. That will still not get us the objective we desire, whereas I suggest that at a meeting with the Minister, with officials, we will be able to drill down and ask rather more searching questions. I can be rather more frightening to the Minister on the issue in private than I can be in public.