asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport on what grounds it was decided to issue Statutory Rule and Order No. 2533 of 1942 under the Defence Regulations, having regard to the fact that there is statutory provision for such an Order, in precisely similar terms, under the Road Traffic Act, 1930, Section 30 (1) (a).
The purpose of Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act is to regulate traffic in peace-time with a view to promoting the public safety, and to preventing damage to the roads The sole purpose of the Statutory Rule and Order is to meet a war-time emergency and to save rubber for the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the war effort and to the life of the community. It was, accordingly, considered more appropriate to make the Order under the Defence Regulations.
Is the hon. Member aware that there is nothing in Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act which makes the limitation that he has indicated? Is it generally accepted in his Department that Orders should not be made under Defence Regulations where they can be made under the general law? Can he give an assurance that where it is necessary to make an exception that will be indicated by a memorandum?
We should never have dreamed of making this an offence in time of peace. It was precisely in order to enable us to take such measures as this that Parliament gave power to act under the Defence Regulations.
What is it that the hon. Member would never have dreamed of making an offence in time of peace which is being made an offence under the Regulation?
To drive on tyres until they are so worn that the canvas material is showing.
Did not the Act of 1930 contemplate precisely that? Is not that the only thing which has been done to double the penalties which Parliament decided upon in 1930?
No, not at all. We gave very careful consideration to whether the Act did contemplate that, and we decided that it did not.
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that Statutory Rule and Order No. 2533 of 1942 is made under the Defence Regulations, when precisely similar powers are provided for such an Order under the Road Traffic Act, 1930, Section 30 (1) (a); and will he give an assurance that Orders made under the Defence Regulations will not in future be used for the purpose of indirectly increasing penalties in cases where the law is not otherwise changed?
While it is possible that a Regulation in similar terms might have been made under Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, that provision was designed for the regulation of traffic in peace-time in the interests of public safety and the prevention of damage to road surfaces, and it would have been inappropriate to use it to meet a war-time need for which it was never intended. The sole purpose of the Order to which my hon. friend refers is to conserve rubber as a measure of war economy and as such it is appropriate that it should be made under the Defence Regulations. The suggestion in the second part of the Question does not therefore arise.