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Volume 465: debated on Monday 30 May 1949

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Port Facilities, River Tees


asked the Minister of Transport when he expects that the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive will report to him on the priority that should be given to steel allocation for the new deep-water quay in the River Tees; and if he will make a statement.


asked the Minister of Transport if he has yet received the report of the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive on the allocation of steel for the construction of the deep-water quay at Middlesbrough; and if he will make a statement.

As the result of a recommendation by the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive, dealing with port facilities in the Tees area, the British Transport Commission have asked them to proceed with the preparation of a scheme under Section 66 of the Transport Act. The purpose of the scheme will be to ensure, by unified control, the best possible use of existing facilities, and to enable the problem of future development to be considered against the wider background of the port as a whole, without the complications attendant on divided ownership and responsibility.

In these circumstances and having regard to the continuing need to limit capital investment, the proposal to provide new berths in the River Tees has been considered in relation to other projects and, in accordance with the Executive's recommendation, I am not prepared to authorise the commencement of this work at present.

In view of the deep anxiety which exists on Teesside about the lack of progress of this scheme and of the fact that there is something like £40 million or £50 million worth of development in this area, will my right hon. Friend look at this matter again in a more favourable light?

As my hon. Friend knows: this has occupied a good deal of my attention and I have considered it very fully, but, as I have indicated in my reply, in relation to other projects, especially port projects, throughout the country, I regret that I cannot reconsider the decision.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what projects can possibly be more important than this one to Middlesbrough?

Railway Thefts


asked the Minister of Transport what was the amount of pilferage on the railways in 1938, 1946 and 1947, respectively.

Separate figures for pilferage are not available, but the amounts paid by the railway companies in respect of claims for articles lost or stolen in 1938, 1946 and 1947, were, respectively. £180,462, £2,441,023 and £2,671,383.

Is the Minister able to confirm that the figure for last year is even more disastrous than for 1947, and will he say what the Railway Executive are doing to save this wholesale loss?

As the hon. Member knows, last year is a matter for the British Transport Commission, but figures have been got out and I have arranged for them to be forwarded to the hon. Member.

Pedestrian Crossings (Regulations)


asked the Minister of Transport when he proposes to lay before Parliament the new regulations which will finally clarify the rights and duties of motor traffic and pedestrians in the use of authorised road crossings.

New regulations relating to pedestrian crossing places have been drafted and I am about to consult interested organisations on them. I hope to lay the regulations as soon as this consultation has been completed.

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that conditions are still chaotic, and that with the increased number of summer visitors to London the more speedily these regulations can be made operative the better for the prevention of deaths on the roads?

The hon. and gallant Member is aware that there is a statutory obligation upon the Minister to consult various organisations. I find that that takes a little time.

Road Accidents


asked the Minister of Transport whether he has any information as to the effects of the special pedestrian traffic week from 3rd to 9th April last; and whether there has been any substantial fall in the number of road accidents as a result.

I cannot at present add much to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Glasgow, Central (Colonel Hutchison) on 11th April. The improvement in the behaviour of road users noted during the week will, I hope, be maintained. I cannot yet answer the last part of the Question, since detailed analysis of the accident figures for April has not yet been completed.


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will state the number of accidents during the three years. 1946, 1947 and 1948, caused by the colliding of motor vehicles with cattle straying on to the highway; and whether, in view of the increase in fast moving road traffic, he will consider legislation placing a legal obligation on the owner of land abutting on to the highway to maintain hedges or fences so as to prevent his animals from straying on to the highway.

I regret that this information is not available. A system of detailed road accident statistics was started on 1st January last which will enable such particulars to be extracted and examined. On the present evidence I do not feel justified in considering so far-reaching a measure as that suggested by my hon. Friend.

Will my right hon. Friend consult the Attorney-General to see whether something cannot be done in this direction to remove this anachronism, which entitles owners of land abutting the highway to be negligent and cause injury to other people through their animals straying, particularly at night?

I have no objection to consulting my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, but this is a very far-reaching proposal.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that if he consults the Attorney-General on the matter he may discover that the proposed change in the law, so far from being a far-reaching matter of policy, is a very simple and long overdue reform, and that he may then be able to answer the Question a little more favourably?

Highway Code (Pedestrians)


asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the fact that it was usual before the introduction of the Highway Code for the public to walk on the right side of the pavement and that the recommendation in the Highway Code was that the left side should be used, he will publicise the wishes of the authorities as expressed in the Highway Code, which is not generally read by pedestrians.

The Highway Code does not go quite so far as suggested by my hon. Friend, but advises against walking alongside the kerb in the same direction as the nearer stream of traffic. I will consider whether anything can usefully be done to make this advice more generally known.

Will the Minister agree that the best advice which he can give to the people will be to keep well to the left during the next 12 or 13 months?