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Volume 245: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1930

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Road Surfaces (Experiments)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he can give any information to the House in connection with experiments recently conducted on the resistance to skidding exerted by various road surfaces?

The trial sections to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member's question on 18th June last have since been laid along the course of the Kingston by-pass in Surrey, and the nonskid qualities of the various materials are now being tested. These trials will, however, have to proceed for a long period under varying weather conditions before reliable deductions can be drawn.

Police Motor-Cycle Service


asked the Minister of Transport whether he can give any information about the proposed regulations with regard to the formation of a new motor-cycle department of the police service under the Road Traffic Act?

Arrangements are in train for the organisation of these units in the various police forces with a view to the better control of road traffic and the proper enforcement of the provisions of the Road Traffic Act. No regulations under the Act are required in connection with these special units.

When will the part of the Act dealing with this force come into operation?

It will be substantially in operation—perhaps not completely—by the beginning of next year, but the responsibility in that matter, as far as the Government are concerned, rests with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Probably the number of motor units will he in the neigh bourhood of 1,000 for the whole country.

Yes, in accordance with the Act, there will be an annual contribution, not towards the police fund as such, but towards the motor vehicles, out of the Road Fund.

Will this force be recruited from the existing police force or will there be any special enlistment?

I think that that is a matter for the local authorities, but I understand that, in the main, they will be recruited from the existing force.

I understand that in any case nobody can be stopped upon the road unless by a policeman in uniform. Perhaps the hon. Member will consult the Act to verify that, but I think it is so.

Motor Licences (Reminders)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will issue instructions that those licensing authorities which are accustomed to issue reminders to drivers that their licences have expired shall be entitled to continue this practice under the new Road Traffic Act regulations?

I am satisfied that it is necessary that there should be uniformity of practice in this matter, as difficulties have arisen in cases where a person has moved from an area in which reminders are issued to another in which they are not. After careful consideration I have reached the conclusion that the expense entailed by the adoption universally of the practice of issuing reminders would not be justified. It would be necessary for all licensing authorities to maintain special card indexes for the purpose and in the aggregate to address and send through the post between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 forms. I have therefore notified licensing authorities that as from 1st December the cost of issuing these reminders cannot be accepted as a charge against the Road Fund.

Is it not the fact that the licensing authorities which adopt this practice do so now in the interests of economy; and cannot the Department adopt the business principle that courtesy and consideration for the convenience of customers will in the long run lead to efficiency?

I do not think that the licensing authorities do it in the interests of economy. It may be so, in one or two cases, but I think it just an instance of the normal desire of the official machine to be very courteous to everybody. That is probably the reason, but I really cannot see that the step is justified. Licences are carried by drivers. The driver always has his licence with him, and one has a right to assume that people who have the responsibility of driving cars are aware of their obligations in this respect.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many people completely support him in this sensible action in the interests of economy? Why should people have to be reminded of these obligations?

Woolwich-Bexley Road


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the dangerous state of the main road from Woolwich to Bexley, known as Wickham Hill, which is still without a footpath on its most dangerous bend; and if, in view of recurring damage to tramcars and other vehicles, he will order a local inquiry?

My attention has not been called to the condition of this road. I am, however, informed that there is a footpath on one side of the road throughout its length and that a footpath on the other side is being provided as the frontages are developed. I do not consider that a local inquiry is necessary, but I will bring my hon. Friend's question to the attention of the responsible highway authority.

Motor Traffic (Learners)


asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to an inquest held in the coroner's court at Hammersmith, on Saturday, 15th November, on a fatal accident to a man of 81 years of age, who was knocked down and killed in Chelsea by a woman learning to drive a motor car; and if he will consider the advisability of securing the construction of driving parkways in the neighbourhood of large towns where people can learn to drive without being a danger to the public?

My attention has not been drawn to the particular accident referred to by the hon. Member. As regards the second part of the question, I do not think that, apart from other considerations, the expense of providing special roads for the use of persons learning to drive motor vehicles would be justified.

Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that this murder in the streets by incompetent drivers has gone on long enough?


asked the First Commissioner of Works whether, in view of the increasing number of fatal accidents caused by people learning to drive motor cars in the streets, he will consider allocating a certain portion of the parks where people could learn to drive without being a danger to the public?

Having regard to the interests of other users of the Royal parks, I do not consider that it would be desirable to set apart any of the roads in these parks for this purpose.

Now that the horse is not as popular as it was before the War, could not a part of the roads be adapted for the purpose?

No. I am sure I should be very sorry indeed that the user of the roads should be changed in that fashion. It is rather nice to see horses there.

Railway Passenger Accommodation (Fish Workers)


asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the dangerous conditions of overcrowding in which women and other fish-workers returning from Yarmouth and Lowestoft to Scotland have in former years been compelled to travel, he will take steps, either by representation to the railway authorities or otherwise, to see that adequate railway-carriage accommodation is provided at the approaching termination of the East Anglian fishing season?

I will bring the hon. and gallant Member's representations to the notice of the railway companies concerned.

London Omnibuses (Standing Passengers)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the breaking of regulations concerning standing passengers in omnibuses; and how many prosecutions for this offence in the Metropolitan Police area have taken place during the last 12 months?

As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, it is the considered policy to allow some latitude in the matter of standing passengers during the rush hours, provided the number of standing passengers does not exceed five. Where this number is exceeded or standing passengers are carried at other times of day, action is taken by the police and in the 12 months ended 31st October last proceedings were instituted in 110 cases. In addition proceedings were instituted against conductors of motor coaches in 70 eases.

Will the Home Secretary try to see that better omnibuses are allowed to ply for hire along those overcrowded routes in the future, so as to prevent straphanging?