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Motor Vehicles, Metropolitan Area (Speed Controls)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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asked the Home Secretary what considerations are taken into account by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in the selection of certain 220 yards stretches of road on which to operate traps by timing vehicles by stop-watch in war-time; and whether he will see that in future such roads are selected because accidents due to a speed over 30 miles per hour have occurred upon them in the recent past?

Speed controls in the Metropolitan Police District are operated on roads where it is apparent that speed limits are being habitually exceeded, and in selecting a stretch of road for the purpose account is taken of various features such as cross and converging roads, pedestrian crossing places, bus and tram stops, refuges, schools, and so forth. The suggestion in the second part of the Question that the police should not take preventive measures until after an accident has occurred is not one which I could accept.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the real reason why certain stretches of road are selected is because they are open stretches, perfectly safe on which to exceed 30 miles an hour, and in order to obtain a large number of convictions; and will he come with me to some of these roads and let me show him what they are like, and then he can judge for himself?

With great respect, I do not wish to go with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. His argument is based on the assumption that it is not the duty of the police to enforce the law. I am awfully sorry, but it is the duty of the police to enforce the law, whether the law is right or wrong.

Is the Home Secretary aware that this Question has been put to him by an unrepentent sinner?

Has the hon. Member any right to call another hon. Member a sinner?


asked the Home Secretary how many drivers, timed by plain-clothes officers with stop-watches over stretches of 220 yards in the Metropolitan police area, during the last six months of 1942, have been proceeded against for dangerous or reckless driving in addition to, or in substitution for, the technical offence of exceeding 30 miles per hour in a built-up area?

I regret that the particulars for which my hon. and gallant Friend asks are not available.

Is it not a fact that no one has been prosecuted except for exceeding the limit of these traps, which illustrates the point I made in the previous Question I asked?

I am sorry. As the facts are not available, I am unable to answer the hon. and gallant Member.

If the police on the roads can waste their time doing this, surely they could look up a few figures?

The police do catch an offender now and again, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows.


asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the acute shortage of male labour in the London area, he will instruct the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police area that the large number of officers ordinarily allocated to setting police traps in that area should be found work more closely connected with the war effort?

No, Sir. The law imposes speed limits, and it is the duty of the police to enforce the law. Road accidents, apart from the suffering entailed, involve a serious loss of man-power and it is therefore of importance to the national effort to prevent them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is an acute shortage of labour in the London area, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour told me a few days ago, and could he not use the police for that purpose; and also that this sort of trapping is only done in the Metropolitan area and not in any other part of the whole of this country?

I am, of course, aware of the shortage of labour in the London area, and I have released as many policemen as I can. I do not think I can release any more, otherwise we shall never catch anybody who does anything wrong.