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New Clause—(Premises Adjoining Special Roads)

Volume 641: debated on Friday 5 May 1961

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No intoxicating liquor shall be sold or supplied in any premises abutting on or adjoining a special road.—[ Mr. Farr.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

It would be convenient to discuss the new Clause with the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), in Clause 1, page 4, line 27, at the end, to insert:

(13) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in this Act or in any enactment no licence of a description referred to in subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this section shall be granted to premises abutting on or adjoining any special road or motorway;
and the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) in page 4, line 27, at the end, to insert:
(13) The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation shall have power to specify by order roads which in his opinion are specially adapted for fast moving traffic or are likely to be used to a large extent for fast moving traffic and notwithstanding anything in this Act contained no licence of a description referred to in subsections (1), (2), (3), or (4) of this section shall be granted in relation to any premises situate within such a distance of any such road as the Minister may in such order prescribe.

The main purpose of this new Clause is connected with the supply of alcohol on motorways. During our discussion a few months ago in Committee, an Amendment was put down by some hon. Gentlemen opposite relating to the supply of liquor on trunk roads, as defined in the Trunk Roads Act, 1936. We included in our discussion of that Amendment the provision and supply of liquor on motorways, and, in particular, on M.1, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General was good enough to say in one of his replies that the case for the abolition, control or elimination of the supply of alcohol on motorways was far stronger than was the case for control or elimination of liquor, as proposed in the original Amendment.

There are quite a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House who feel that alcohol should not be supplied on motorways at all. There are also quite a number of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, probably even more, who think that if we are to have alcohol supplied on motorways, motorways must be subjected to a speed limit. One of the best illustrations that I can give is by means of the following example.

Today, if one goes to a public house or hotel on a road in this country other than a motorway, one can have a very good meal, and, before it, during it and after it one can have a drink or two. One can emerge from that hotel at 10 or 10.30 p.m. and get into an enormous stream of traffic wending its way, with all due respect to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, through our hopelessly choked and narrow roads, at an average speed, if one is lucky, of perhaps 40 m.p.h. The roads will be congested. They will generally be narrow and inconvenient, and one will find it impossible to get along much faster, even if one wanted to.

5.30 p.m.

When one emerges from having a very good dinner in a restaurant on a motorway with a drink before, a drink during and a drink after dinner, one comes out to a highway which is not narrow or poky or inconvenient but a massive highway on which vehicles speed at an average of up to 100 miles per hour, and where the very slightest mis-judgment can mean sudden disaster.

Travelling at 40 miles an hour along a poky road one can have an accident which may be very serious, but for the car driver and any other occupant of his car an accident will be especially serious if it occurs when the car is travelling along the M.1 at 80 or 90 miles an hour, a speed which can be attained at any time of the day or night. The effects on the driver and his passengers in an accident at that speed will probably be fatal, but, as has been shown by statistics about M.1 travel so far, he is very likely to cause fatal effects to other people who are in no way concerned with his affairs. It has been proved by statistics that in an accident in those circumstances it is far more likely that innocent people will be involved, far more likely than that they would be on an ordinary road such as A.5, as it was.

In Committee the Solicitor-General had, I felt, a certain amount of sympathy for the case which was put forward for eliminating liquor on M.1, an argument put forward by hon. Members on both sides. Indeed, he was good enough to indicate that he had, but he also went on to say that in his opinion such a matter was far better dealt with by—to use his own words—"the road safety Bill which the Government propose to introduce this Session." I personally have seen no such road safety Bill. I have heard of a Road Traffic Bill originating in another place, a copy of which I have here, and which, I understand may or may not reach us this Session. In the Road Traffic Bill I can find no reference at all to the elimination of alcohol from our motorways.

One criticism which I met when I went around to ask one or two hon. Members to sign this new Clause was that they felt that even if a person, a driver or passenger, could not get a drink on the motorway, it was easy for him to go off the motorway to get a drink whenever he wanted to, and that the new Clause, even if it were made into legislation, would not affect the matter very much—that if a man really wanted a drink he could get it easily enough off the motorway. Of course he can, but we think that by making a law like the new Clause we shall make it less likely that drunken drivers, or even a driver who has had only one drink, will be at large on the motorways. Even if the new Clause saves only one life, it is well worth while.

To sum up, I would emphasise to my right hon. Friend what has been emphasised to me by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport before now, that motorway travel is an entirely new concept of travel. We are not living in 1860 when it was necessary to go by stage coach and to have posting houses every ten or fifteen miles for a change of horses or so that people could have a drink. Today we can go from one end to the other of the M.1 in just about an hour. I would ask my right hon. Friend to move with the times and make an effort and say that road safety really means a ban on alcohol on our motorways.

I greatly hope that the House will support the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) in the new Clause which he has moved. It is, if I may say so, almost an impertinence to repeat his arguments because he put them so well, so that it is really supererogatory to go over the same ground, but if I may trespass in that direction just a little, surely the Minister does accept that motoring today is something absolutely different from motoring only ten years ago let alone twenty years ago. We now have these light, fast cars with their very powerful acceleration which would have astonished a motorist driving in 1930 or 1920, and surely we must all be agreed that we should accept the maximum degree of precaution to try to avoid loss of life which, we know, is far too frequent in present-day conditions.

It is, perhaps, rather useful just to recapitulate what took place on this matter at earlier discussions. An Amendment was put down and supported by many hon. and right hon. Members of the Committee, an Amendment saying in effect that no licences should be granted in respect of premises abutting on trunk roads. The Solicitor-General replied that that was a definition of roadways which was far too wide.

Well, so be it. The hon. Member for Harborough now has chosen a definition which is more restricted. He has tried to meet that point. I would respectfully point out that I also have sought to encompass the same thing in an Amendment suggesting that it should be left to the Minister to designate
"roads which in his opinion are specially adapted for fast moving traffic".
The definition as the hon. Member has put it may be better than mine, or mine may be better than the hon. Member's. I do not know. At any rate, I am supporting the hon. Member's Amendment.

Therefore, so far as definition goes, there surely cannot really be a problem. One can select words—the hon. Member's may be the right words—which will limit the roads to the ones we are talking about, the roads which are in fact used by fast moving traffic. So that cannot be a difficulty.

Ministers who answered in Committee said that there was the road safety Bill. The hon. Member has already dealt with that and I need not repeat what he said.

The argument was used, as the hon. Member has said, that in any event the person who wanted to have a drink and who could not find a licensed restaurant abutting on one of these roads would go off the road till he found one. The answer to that seems to me absolutely simple and obvious. The alcoholic, the sort of person who must have a drink, will drive fifty miles to get a drink—if he must have it; but what we who support what the hon. Member has said have in mind is not the alcoholic, not the kind of person who must have a drink at any cost. He is past praying for—

His victims are, perhaps, past praying for. At any rate, I am not concerned with that sort of person. He will go through fire and water to get his drink. We cannot stop him. He is a subject of the criminal law and should be severely punished.

The sort of person I am concerned with, and, I believe, the sort of person other hon. Members are concerned with in supporting this Amendment, is the ordinary, reasonable person driving out with his family, perhaps going to the seaside. It is essential that his reactions to any situation which he has to confront, in ordinary, everyday motoring, must be as acute as they possibly can be. I am not suggesting that one drink of beer greatly deadens his reactions. Obviously, it does not. That would be a ridiculous exaggeration. But it does slightly slow them down. It may make all the difference between taking the right decision in a moment in which an immediate and accurate decision has to be taken, and taking the decision either too late or taking the wrong decision. It may make all the difference between a catastrophe and the avoidance of a catastrophe if, perhaps because of one or two glasses of beer on a hot day, the driver's reactions have been ever so slightly dulled.

A large number of ordinary respectable people who drive private cars or drive public vehicles may have a drink if they go to a restaurant immediately abutting one of these roads built for fast-moving traffic and drink is available. It never occurs to them that it will matter very much. They may have more than one drink. But, if drink were not available, they would not bother. It is unrealistic to think that people like that will go searching side-streets until they find a public house or a licensed restaurant. People's minds do not work like that. If they find a licensed restaurant, they may have a drink, or possibly two drinks, and those drinks may make all the difference in the world. If the premises are not licensed they will not bother to look for somewhere else to get a drink.

I believe that if we take steps to prevent people like that from having drinks when out driving in the ordinary way we may save many lives. Far too many lives are lost on the roads, and we ought to do everything we can to prevent this loss of life. I believe that this is one of the simple measures we could adopt to stop it.

I put it to the Minister that all the answers that we were given when we previously discussed this matter have been completely disposed of. There is no difficulty about definition of the road. That must be a matter of simple language. The idea that people will anyway go and get drinks does not apply to the great majority of ordinary drivers. If they have one or two drinks, after they have been driving for a long time, and their attention is perhaps distracted by the members of their families talking to them, those one or two drinks may make all the difference between safety and disaster. We can take away a substantial source of danger by enacting, as the hon. Member for Harborough would do in the new Clause, that there shall be no licensed restaurants and no residential licensed premises abutting on these particular roads.

If the Minister asks what "abutting on" means, if he looks at the Amendment that I have suggested in Clause 1, page 4, line 27, he will see that by that Amendment the Minister is enabled to prescribe the distance from the main road within which a licence shall not be given. It is a matter of easy definition, and if there is ambiguity about the word "abutting", it can be resolved by the Minister prescribing the necessary distance.

I ask the Minister not to repeat the arguments which he used in Committee upstairs, which have already been more than amply answered by the hon. Member from Harborough. I hope that the Minister will consider the new Clause and not—I do not mean the term offensively—try to fob off the House by saying that it will be dealt with in another Bill which we have not seen. We are concerned with this Bill, and we are under an obligation to see that in this Bill we take some steps to do something to limit the appalling carnage that goes on daily on our roads.

The House has a real opportunity to do something in what are the very early days of motorways. The motorways are only just beginning in a big way, and what we decide tonight will have a great influence on the future.

After this matter was discussed in Committee upstairs. I tabled a Question to the Minister of Transport. It appears that the Minister, who is the only person who can give a licence on a road like the M.1, has already given a concession, including a licence, in two cases. I do not think that it is too late to reverse that decision, and the Minister of Transport indicated that he was willing to be influenced by the opinion of the Committee. There were many issues which divided us in Committee upstairs, but there were few issues which broke down the general line of division more than this one. There was broad agreement on both sides of the Committee upstairs that this was a sensible step.

5.45 p.m.

Motorways are different from other roads in that they are fast throughways. They are well constructed for fast traffic, and it follows from that that there is need for greater concentration on the part of the driver. High speeds are safe, provided the concentration is there. There must be speed of reaction, and everybody knows that after a few drinks the speed of reaction tends to slow down, and that is a source of danger.

Furthermore, I cannot see the need to stop for a drink on these motorways. As has been mentioned, the M.1 is comparatively short. It is about 67 miles long, and can be covered in about an hour in a fairly fast car. It is not necessary to stop to fill up with petrol, and I do not think that it is necessary to stop for other reasons. If people need a drink, they can have one after arriving at their destinations. In the early days of the motorways it would be beneficial to road safety if we adopted the new Clause and prohibited the granting of licences to premises abutting on the motorways, because I believe that that would reduce the temptation to drivers. Anyone who has been on the M.I knows that it is comparatively difficult to get off it, and few people would bother to get off it to have a drink and then return. I, therefore, strongly support the new Clause, and hope that my right hon. Friend will view it sympathetically.

When the Bill was in Committee upstairs the Minister was in some difficulty because the hon. Members who supported this proposal were not all teetotallers. This is not a question of drink, or an attempt to restrict drinking because of drink. We took the line that we did because we thought that with a road on which speed was of great importance it would be a mistake to establish licensed restaurants or licensed residential premises abutting that road. Motorways are in their infancy, and we should now do something to set the pattern of others which will be built and developed.

I may be wrong, but I think that in Committee upstairs the Minister was saved from defeat on this question only by saying what he did in respect of the road safety Bill. He said that the Bill under discussion was not the appropriate Bill to contain provisions such as this, and that a Bill was being prepared which would be more appropriate to deal with a road safety measure.

We have taken some trouble to ascertain whether such a Bill is in existence, or whether any provision is being made in respect of this issue in the Road Traffic Bill. So far I have not been able to trace anything relevant to the point made by the Minister. If we misunderstood him, perhaps he will tell us precisely what he meant, and what the position is today.

In putting forward this new Clause, those of us who take a drink—I had better put it that way—realise that speed is a factor. Here we come back again to the M.1. The point raised in the Standing Committee was that a driver's judgment could be impaired by a small amount of alcohol. We make this proposal because we feel that nothing should be done to encourage the slaughter and the tragedies which occur on our roads today.

I am sure that a great majority of people would be in favour of this Clause. They would welcome an indication that at last Parliament was prepared to do something to signalise its desire that nothing enacted by the legislature should encourage people to take drink on a motorway. The general point has been extensively covered and now we are talking more particularly about the ordinary man, not the man who will get a drink when he wants it in any case. We are discussing the ordinary citizen.

I wish to oppose this Clause, or at any rate to advise the House to receive it in its present form with great caution. Hon. Members who have taken part in the discussion have referred to motorways as something new. That is not so. The world has been familiar with motorways for at least 30 years. If in this country we have come to this form of road building late, that is our own fault. There is nothing new about it. The Germans have had their autobahnen since before the war, and the rest houses on the autobahnen cater for people travelling on the motorways and serve drinks to them.

The proposed new Clause refers to "premises abutting or adjoining a special road." With respect, that phrasing cannot be right. A motorist cannot get off the motorway to any building except a rest house. Nothing else can be reached from the road. A motorist can only stop on the hard shoulder of the road or at the special premises provided for rest and refreshment. The M.1 has been referred to as a short road, but we hope that we shall have many more motorways. We have planned for about 800 miles of special roads and we hope that we shall see them completed within a reasonable time. This Bill must have some application to many motorways other than the M.1. Already some are under construction and have been seen by hon. Members, including the road from Birmingham in the direction of Bristol which is well on the way to completion.

In my opinion, we should regard the provision in this Clause with great caution. It has been presumed that the person served with drink must be the driver of a vehicle. Already there is growing a form of transport which is new to this country, the specially designed long-distance bus. Another new Clause on the Notice Paper which is not likely to be selected refers to the serving of drinks with meals on such long-distance buses. These vehicles are something like aircraft. They have a hostess and refreshment and toilet facilities. But for those long-distance vehicles without such facilities there should be somewhere where they can turn off the road and where their passengers can be provided with meals, as happens on the Continental roads. It is only the drivers about whom care must be taken and in all circumstances we should make sure that drink is not available to them in any quantity.

I agree that even small quantities of alcohol consumed by a driver may create danger. I am against drunken driving or driving under the influence of liquor. At the same time, to try to ban liquor from any premises which happen to adjoin a special road seems to me to be going much too far, and an inconvenience to other than drivers, and to assume that special roads will always be short is to assume too much.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) was not a member of the Standing Committee which dealt with this Bill. I may be wrong, but I think that had he taken part in the discussions in that Committee he would not have made the speech which he has just delivered. The hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) and the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) came closer to the mood of the Committee than did the hon. Member for Truro. They speak, in my opinion, for the majority of the House, and I hope that the Minister of State will agree to accept the Clause.

This was not a party matter when it was discussed in the Standing Committee. Hon. Members on both sides regarded it in the light of existing circumstances and the situation in the future, so far as we could visualise it, when there would be a proliferation of motorways and cars would be travelling at greater speeds than now. It was felt that in a Bill of this kind we should, if possible, take steps to mitigate the risk which undoubtedly arises when some people take drink. It is not a question of whether a man is entitled to a drink. As the Minister of Transport has told us so often, his motto is, "If you drink, don't drive; if you drive, don't drink". That is a very sound policy.

There is a general feeling that if one eats with a drink, in some way it lessens the effect of the alcohol consumed. People vary in their tolerance to alcohol. Some can drink more than others without showing any effect. But the Medical Research Council Committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. Drew, has proved beyond doubt that even small quantities of alcohol affect one's judgment. If a person does eat, the effect may be delayed, but it is still there, and that is something to be remembered. A person may have a drink and feel all right when he gets back to his car. He has had a meal and feels, in accordance with the accepted view on the subject, that because he has eaten something, the drink has not done him any harm. It is later, when a split-second decision has to be taken, that he finds his judgment is lacking. We are dealing with something which may often affect the lives of innocent people. If a man is foolish enough to let his control go because he cannot wait to have a drink and he damages only himself, most of us would say, "Serve him right", but more often than not he may kill innocent young children who have a right to life.

6.0 p.m.

In resisting the Amendment in Committee, the Minister of State said in particular that there was a Road Traffic Bill coming along. He said that was a Measure which could more properly deal with a matter of this kind than this Bill. There was something in that argument, although on Second Reading some of us said that we should have had the Road Traffic Bill before the Licensing Bill because the Licensing Bill will increase facilities for drinking. When people drink it deadens their sense. That is what drinking is supposed to do, to make one feel more confident and happy. To a certain extent it reduces one's reactions to the hard facts of life.

Many of us believed that these two Bills should have been introduced in the reverse order. Although the Road Traffic Bill which the right hon. Gentleman promised has been introduced, we are not likely to see it enacted this Session. I understand that probably another year will pass before that Bill is made law. As that was the main argument adduced by the right hon. Gentleman in opposing the Amendment in Committee, this Bill seems to be the right place to make this provision because the other leg of his argument has fallen by the way.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) said that motorways have been with us for about thirty years. They have been on the Continent but not in this country for that time. Although motorways and trunk roads have been with us for some time, this Bill is new. It introduces a number of new types of licence. The number of licences and places where one can get intoxicating liquor will be increased.

Perhaps the right hon. Member misunderstood my remarks about thirty years. I meant that motorways have been on the Continent for thirty years. Drink has been sold in the rest houses on those motorways. So far as I know, there has been no complaint about that.

Another argument used by the right hon. Gentleman was that it was very difficult to define a motorway. He said that an Amendment in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) and other hon. Friends was drawn too widely. A trunk road more often than not runs through a built-up area and public houses and restaurants are already on such a road. I think this new Clause meets the situation as many of us visualise it in the light of that discussion. It would obviously be possible to define what kind of motorway, speed way, or special road we have in mind. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not use the argument he used in that direction again this afternoon.

He may say, as I think he has said before, that it is possible for an individual to drink before he gets on to a motorway and the effect of not being able to get a drink while on the motorway would be largely nullified. That, of course, is true and we cannot avoid it. If a man or a woman wishes to drink before going on a motorway, this is a free country and they are entitled to do so. What we can do—as has been pointed out in the Committee and this afternoon with great cogency and effect—is to lessen the temptation for people to stop at restaurants on a speedway of this kind and to drink, knowing the effect which such drink will have.

Having listened to the debate, knowing that this matter cuts clean across party and that in Committee there was a large consensus of view in favour of something of this kind, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept either this new Clause, the Amendment in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport, or the one in my name.

The Clause we are discussing deals solely with special roads or, as they are commonly known, motorways. We should be quite clear about the present position. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has complete control over these roads. So far he has granted two concessions on the M.1, in each of which cases he made it possible for the person holding a concession to apply for a licence limited to the serving of drinks with meals, but not the serving of drinks apart from meals. In one case no application has been made and in the other it was refused by the licensing justices. It has been and remains the policy of my right hon. Friend that concessions should be granted and he would place no obstacle in the way of a person who holds a concession applying for a "table" licence for a restaurant.

We are discussing a very different proposal from the one which was made in Committee. In Committee we were discussing a wider question related to trunk roads. I made it clear that while it was possible to define trunk roads, the difference between trunk roads and classified roads was small. That Amendment excluded the parts of trunk roads which passed through towns and urban areas and, therefore, it was not a very effective Amendment. On trunk roads, as well as on classified roads, public houses, apart from restaurants, are already in location.

I also pointed out that a Road Traffic Bill was about to come before the House. I want to make this quite clear. I knew perfectly well what would be in that Bill. I did not suggest that in that Bill there would be a provision limiting the establishment of restaurants on motorways. It is, however, the policy of the Minister of Transport to tackle the question of drink and the driver by means of the Bill which is at present before another place rather than to try to control the premises, as suggested in the original Amendment. I say that particularly to the hon. and learned Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Oliver).

The Amendment proposed by this new Clause is much more simple. Although the drafting is not clear, the definition of a special road is quite understood and easy to implement in the sense that there are no licensed premises on motorways at present. It is only right that I should point out that the new Clause suffers from certain defects which were also apparent in the original proposal.

It is now proposed to impose this restriction on what are alleged to be the safest high speed roads in the country, motorways being safer than classified and trunk roads. Secondly, we are concerned—and I am not certain that it is clear to all hon. Members—only with licences which will enable drinks to be served with meals. In Part I of the Bill we are concerned with licences for the sale of drink with meals, as opposed to what in Committee was described as "perpendicular drinking." It is the lesser of two evils, if I may put it that way.

Thirdly, as my hon. Friend the Member for Truro said, we should prevent the passengers in the vehicles from obtaining refreshment if we accepted the new Clause. Fourthly, nothing in any Amendment on these lines can prevent drivers from consuming alcohol before they go on to the motorway. Last night I drove down M.1, and I saw motorists in their dozens stopping at the northern end, presumably to have a drink, before they embarked on M.1. Whether they would have gone straight on and taken a meal on the M.1 if there had been a restaurant there is something which I cannot say. But this proposal suffers from the weakness that nothing in it would prevent a person from having a drink before he embarked on this journey.

In logic, therefore, not everything is in favour of the new Clause of my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough, but it is clear and simple. In his Amendment the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) seeks to impose a rather complicated definition. I have discussed that with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, and he tells me that it would be impossible to accept a definition on those terms. A definition of a high-speed motorway as a road which exists day in and day out throughout the year does not exist, as far as he understands it, and therefore he could not operate a proposal on those lines. Under such a proposal, varying parts of a trunk road would be subject to different forms of restriction.

If the House wishes to impose some restriction in the sense of these three proposals, it should be along the lines of that proposed in the new Clause of my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough. As I have said, the wording is far from perfect, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who has heard all the debate so far and will listen to any subsequent contribution, is at the moment disposed to introduce some provision along the lines of that new Clause, although not in these words.

In his closing sentence the right hon. Gentleman did not make quite clear what he had in mind. Are the Government prepared to accept the new Clause or is he challenging the House to take a Division in order to help the Government make up their mind? If I may say so with respect, every argument which he has used in opposition to the proposal in the new Clause has been anticipated by its supporters and adequately answered. He should make it clear to us whether he is prepared to take action along the lines of the new Clause. I will give way in order that he may do so.

I said that subject to what is said in the debate my right hon. Friend proposes to accept some provision on the lines of the new Clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr).

In that event, I wish to add no more. That is very fair, indeed. I was not a member of the Standing Committee, but I feel strongly on this issue. Like the right hon. Member, I travelled down M.1 yesterday. I had occasion to pull up at one of the rest houses for patrol. Very many people indeed are using the rest houses, and I dread to think what the situation would be if many of the people in the rest houses were indulging in intoxicating liquor. It would be very dangerous. I make my plea, together with those made by other hon. Members, that the Government should accept the principle of the new Clause and introduce the appropriate words. If we have that assurance I am very happy.

6.15 p.m.

If what is said subsequently in the debate will determine whether my right hon. Friend introduces in another place an Amendment roughly in the terms of the new Clause of my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), I will intervene to explain why I support the new Clause.

We have two types of road in this country—the social road, which is the old type, and the non-social road. The M.1 is a utility road to enable people to go from A to B. It has a magnificent setting and it is an ideal place for a road-house, but I shudder to think what M.1 would be like if we had road-houses throughout its length. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport envisages increasing the network of motorways throughout the country, and I take the view that he should not have the responsibility always of saying that there shall be no drinking on the motorways. Parliament should put into an Act of Parliament a provision that drink should not be allowed on the motorways. We still have the social roads, in my connotation, where people can drink and eat.

My hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) produced the red herring of the autobahn. The difference between the M.1 and the autobahn, I understand, is that pedestrians have been excluded from the M.1 since it was opened and that is not the case on the autobahn. In view of the fact that pedestrians are not allowed on the M.1, the only possible customers of licensed premises there would be the drivers.

That is the first reason that I supported the new Clause. I will explain my second reason. We should bear in mind that there are to be between 600 and 800 miles of motorways throughout the country in the next 10 to 30 years. We should also bear in mind that long-distance coach travel is extremely convenient. The coaches are so fitted that passengers can eat and can drink tea and coffee and soft drinks, but not hard drinks. We should remember that travelling by coach is in some cases 40 per cent. cheaper than travelling by rail, and it is clear that more and more husbands will take their families on holiday by coach.

I regret that the new Clause "Public service vehicle licences" has not been selected, but I must refer to it in giving the second reason why I support my hon. Friend's new Clause. If we exclude licensed premises from motorways, if we accept that there will be an increase in the number of motorways and if we accept that more and more people will travel by coach on them, then in order that these people should not be deprived of drink, facilities should be provided for licensed drinking on long-distance coaches. This may not be a sufficiently logical reason for those who do not drink. I admit that I am not one of them. But if we exclude licensed premises from the M.1, it is essential, in my opinion, that we provide facilities for licensed drinking on long-distance coaches. I hope that, having listened to the debate, my right hon. Friend will introduce an Amendment in another place to meet the spirit of my hon. Friend's new Clause.

I strongly support the new Clause of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr). I interpret the Minister's words as a clear statement that he accepts the principle of the new Clause and undertakes to implement it and that he is exercised merely with the mechanics of the matter and in finding more appropriate words to meet the clear objective which the hon. Member for Harborough has in mind. On that basis the Minister's statement was of great satisfaction to me.

The Minister of State described the new motorways as our safest roads. Is the new Clause likely to contribute to the safety of our new roads? I do not think that anyone in the House could contend that it would do other than contribute to their safety. It is possible to argue about how far any restrictions could be circumvented, but I do not think that anyone will doubt that the new Clause would be a real contribution towards safety on the roads.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the new Road Traffic Bill. Anything concerning drink and the driver contained in a Road Traffic Bill is almost certain to be confined to the question of unfitness: to drive by reason of drink. I do no: believe that we are dealing so much with that aspect, because that will have to be provided for in other legislation. We are concerned with the person who, although he has had some drink, certainly cannot be regarded as being unfit to drive. We are concerned with someone who has not had sufficient drink to render him unfit in the normal sense, but has certainly had sufficient drink to affect his reaction on a motorway. We cannot be satisfied with the argument that there will be stronger provisions dealing with drink and driving in the new Road Traffic Bill.

If the Minister does what he has said he intends to do, we shall set a very valuable pattern for the new type of road. If such a pattern is to be set, now is the time to do it. I do not say this in any offensive sense, but as these new roads develop a number of vested interests will come into existence and in five or ten years' time it will be very difficult to take the type of action which we now envisage. I hope that the Minister will implement what he has said in such a way as to carry out the principle behind the new Clause.

I share the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson). This is perhaps not surprising, because for many years he and I have had to consider transport matters and special roads.

I say this with the utmost respect, but I do not think that most hon. Members have twigged the real point here. The new Clause applies only to Part I, that is restaurants. It does not deal with public houses. It does not deal with alcohol on or near the new roads. It is concerned merely with whether someone can have a drink with a meal.

My hon. Friend's interpretation is incorrect. The intention is, as I think is clearly stated, to ban the supply or sale of alcohol

"in any premises abutting on or adjoining a special road."

That is not what I said. The undoubted purpose of my hon. Friend is one thing, but in the way in which it is done it comes under Part I and applies only to restaurants which are on the road. This was confirmed by my right hon. Friend. He nods his head in agreement. It is important that hon. Members should understand this.

I entirely dissent from the view that we are now entering a new era. Some people may think so, but if this was to be done it should have been done in 1930 when the special roads of this country and of Europe were being created. Many of us have had the pleasure of driving on German, Italian and American roads. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport will have evidence from America, France, Italy and other European countries to indicate whether there has been any appreciable danger on their special roads arising from alcohol. In most cases their roads have been in existence for twenty years or more. I do not believe that there will be any evidence to this effect.

In any event, we in the United Kingdom are required to legislate in respect of 800 or 1,000 miles of these new roads, as there will be in the future. The new Clause deals only with special roads. There will be no public houses upon them. However, provision will have to be made for certain rest establishments—restaurants and possibly sleeping accommodation, such as motels. The provision to be made in this country will probably be nothing like as great as that made in other countries.

There will be town planning control, which will prevent restaurants, hotels, etc. being built except in accordance with certain conditions. I am delighted that the Minister of Transport is present now. I hope that he will agree with me. He will have the assistance of the Minister of Housing and Local Government. He will have to consider to what extent rest centres—motels, restaurants, or other accommodation—are necessary. They will be provided for no doubt after discussions have taken place. It is interesting to remember that these centres must be provided for when the road is built. When a designer starts to design a new road and lays out his plans, he must incorporate into them provision for hotels, motels, restaurants, etc.

We know that a very large number of people will use the new roads, but not more than 10 per cent. of the road users will be drivers. Of the 10 per cent. who are drivers, about half are professional drivers. They may be lorry drivers, and hon. Members are familiar with their position. I have been closely associated with long distance lorry drivers, whom I represent in my conference. The 1,200 or 1,500 long-distance lorry drivers with whom I am concerned do not need to be told that they must not have a drink when they are driving. They would not dream of doing so on a long journey.

Then there are coach and bus operators. There is another new Clause relating to them. They do not need to be told that they must not drink when driving. Then there are the drivers for the tycoons, the businessmen who are fortunate enough to have chauffeurs. They do not need to be told that they must not drink when in charge of a motor vehicle. Then there are passengers—passengers in coaches, buses, lorries, etc. We do not have to stop the passengers from drinking alcohol.

As the drinks with which we are dealing are only those to be served at rest houses—that is to say, at places where meals are being served—we are concerned with a very much smaller problem than that which has been presented to the House. The problem is whether a small number of people can have drinks with their meals at places provided on special roads.

At present there is a large number of existing licences up and down the country. We shall certainly not build roads to try to avoid existing licences. They will continue. They are in the main publicans' licences. The Bill creates a new class of licence under Part I, namely the restaurant licence. This is where I come back to the point that it is in respect of that licence and that licence alone that this suggested provision arises.

6.30 p.m.

I am against the new Clause. My right hon. Friend, as has been his wont throughout the Committee stage, has, like everyone at the Home Office, preserved an open and fair mind upon this and a great many other issues. I think he is right, if I may say so, in saying he will be influenced by the view of the Committee and the House. Now that we have left the Committee stage, the views of the Committee, I suggest, are of smaller importance. What matters now are the views of the House here, and the mere fact that some of us may upstairs have had views of one sort or another is not of any use here in the House save in so far as the views we expressed in Committee may be an indication of experience of the problem. I say no more about that; I am undecided.

I am not at all happy about what is now suggested, for this paramount reason. If the countries which have had 30 years' experience of these roads have not suggested that it would be a good idea to go "dry" on them completely—and so far as I know they have not done so—then my hon. Friends must prove their case. They must establish that what they propose is worthwhile. Four-fifths of the people who will be on these roads will not be drivers at all, and two-thirds of the remaining one-fifth will be professional drivers who will not be likely to be influenced by drink.

One, therefore, comes down to this point. One hon. Member said that, if we saved but one or two lives, we should have done something. I do not share that view. If that be the correct view, we can all pack up and say that nobody in the future must ever have a single drink when driving a motorcar. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am quite sure that the shade of the former Member for Ealing, North, whose spirit still hangs over this assembly and speaks to us sometimes through the mouth of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and one or two others, would be delighted to shackle the rest of us in that way, prohibiting anyone from having any drink at all when going on the road. Surely, the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, whose logic is often better than his reasoning, if I may say so, will agree with me in this: it is a little illogical to suggest that we should impose these restrictions on the safest roads we have, the roads which are or will be designed for the greatest safety, while upon the most unsafe roads, roads upon which I should almost need a drink in order to drive at all, no restriction at all is placed.

Are we not apt to allow our consideration of these matters to be a little tinged with emotion which, while it can be a good thing, is apt to lead us astray when we think about drink and safety? I venture to suggest that this is a smallish problem. It could be overcome in this way. The Minister of Transport has to take to himself very substantial powers, if he has not already got them—I think he has—to ensure that he decides how many restaurant, rest houses and so forth are required on special roads. I should have thought that we could trust him to permit a small number of licences where they are absolutely necessary in respect of hotels, motels, and a few special restaurants on these roads where their siting is suitable, the number being very limited, as indeed it will be. If that were done, no damage would be likely to result.

If the view of the House were to the contrary, that the sale of alcoholic liquor ought to be stopped altogether, I myself should vote against it. I should be delighted if the House expressed a completely free view on this issue. I hope that my right hon. Friend, if it came to a Division, would be prepared to sit tight and have the pleasure of seeing the House express its independent view on a matter which has cut across not only party lines but more widely than that, if I may say so. Some of my own colleagues who have supported many of my own Amendments, and whose proposals I in my turn have supported, are not with me on this matter. It has cut straight through the middle, and it shows what a clear dividing line there can be on certain issues.

Will my hon. Friend comment on the words

"abutting on or adjoining a special road"?
I assume that that would apply to premises which one could not reach from the road. Is that so?

It is quite clear that the phraseology "abutting on and adjoining" is not correct and, indeed, is not appropriate to the building of a special road anyway. My right hon. Friend said that he accepted the spirit of what was proposed, but not this particular Amendment. I should not want to take any point which went to the Amendment rather than to the spirit of it.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) and the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) have raised some very important questions this afternoon. Having regard to the 80 per cent. increase in convictions for road drunkenness since 1955, I should not have expected the hon. Member to regard as an unimportant issue the taking of drink by drivers. Apparently we cannot prevent people drinking before they drive. While we satisfy ourselves, and the Minister of Transport, apparently satisfies himself, by appealing to the common sense and good citizenship of good drivers in asking them to desist from drinking before driving, we are able to deal with this matter of special roads at this stage.

No one who has ever seen a road accident caused as a result of a selfish man insisting on having his drink before driving his car will ever regard this as an unimportant question, as the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet would have us regard it. I believe that the hon. Gentleman has his priorities all mixed up. With the liberty of the driver goes the liberty of other citizens also. I should expect any man with decent instincts, in a country crowded as ours is with a growing number of motor cars on the roads, would in any case think twice before drinking and going on to the ordinary conventional roads to which we are accustomed. We have seen enough disasters on those roads to make people who usually enjoy a drink with their meals resolve that they will never drink and drive. We are dealing now with something so new in the life of these islands that the Minister of Transport himself, who is not "T.T.", as I think he told us on one occasion, has expressed concern about it.

I remember reading with particular interest the words of the Minister of Transport after the M.1 was opened. He was appalled at the standard of driving then. People were not used to the fast driving and were not showing proper care in moving from lane to lane. I do not underestimate the effect of one drink on a driver using one of these fast roads. Any man who, knowing he is about to drive along a special road, takes one drink is a bad citizen. He is a danger. We should control him if we can.

The Minister of State gave us an appalling illustration. He told us that last night he saw a lot of cars crowded about a public house at the beginning of one of the motorways. We are all accustomed to seeing cars around every village public house outside our big cities. It is a common feature nowadays. People go out from Cardiff and the other cities, and it has become a national habit to visit the public houses in the small communities outside. I always hope to be home so that I am not menaced by people who have taken too much drink or that those who want to indulge in that luxury have had the common sense to take someone who is a soft drinker with them. Surely, in an age when so many homes are being blasted by the misery of sudden death to one of the family, it is not too much to ask people to regard this as a matter of honour and social concern.

I realise that the Minister cannot impose a restriction—it just would not be accepted; I accept that—that people travelling on fast roads should not take drink before so doing. But it would be diabolical if we ran away from our responsibilities, as the hon. Member for Truro would have us do. To invite people who stop for a meal on the M.1 to have a drink is asking for trouble.

The Home Office has shown a realistic attitude in this matter. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) and his hon. Friends who tabled the new Clause and to the Minister of State and the Home Secretary for the spirit in which they have dealt with this question.

I know that the House has grown accustomed to the fact that I am not without bias on this question, any more than the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet is without bias. We are biased in different ways, but we both have a bias which springs from our convictions. I have my convictions, he has his, but people outside this House who would not respond to my convictions nor to his are appalled at the way in which we are slithering on with regard to deaths on the road. When we have a chance only to put the brake on and to save one or two lives, I believe that we would be failing in our responsibility to the nation if we did not take it. We have had a good lead from the hon. Member for Harborough. If a Division is forced, I hope that hon. Members will crowd into the Lobbies to ensure that the new motorways shall at least not encourage people in the foolishness of drinking and driving.

I am sorry to have to oppose the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), whose sincerity and conviction are matched only by the charm with which he presents his case to the House. It seems to me, however, that the new Clause is wrong because it sets out to legislate to eradicate irresponsible or anti-social behaviour on the part of a very small minority at the expense of the majority. It has been said that many people who travel on the roads with which we are concerned are passengers and would like to have a drink with their meals. There is no reason why those passengers should not have a drink if they want one.

What has been forgotten is that the modern motor car, in the hands of the irresponsible motorist, whether he has had a drink or is completely sober, is the real menace. We have only to think of the powerful motor cars which are being made today and the acceleration with which they can get away from traffic lights. Probably some cars are travelling at almost 30 m.p.h. before they have gone from the green light to the other side of the crossing. A car in the hands of an irresponsible person is a danger in the middle of a city or village, or anywhere else. There are safe roads and there are unsafe roads.

The motorway has been designed specially for the powerful car. Are we saying that we should make it a rule that, while people may have a drink with a meal and probably without a meal on some of the unsafe roads, they should not be able to do so when they stop for a meal on the really safe roads? We are trying to encourage traffic on these roads. Tourists from abroad are in the habit of being able to stop, whether on the autobahn or any other road, and to have a drink with their meal. This applies particularly to passengers. Are we to say to them when they come to this country, "We want you on the safe roads, because you have high speed motor cars", or are we going to drive them on to other roads which are not so safe?

If a man has a drink with his meal, surely he will be much more dangerous on a winding narrow lane than on the M.1.

The purpose of my intervention was to ascertain why we have to amend our laws in order to encourage more people to visit our country.

6.45 p.m.

There are tourists from our own country who travel abroad and want their passengers to have a drink with their meal. We are saying to people, "If you want to drink with your meal you must go on to the lesser roads which were not built for the fast cars of today and which have much worse accident records than the M.1".

That applies not only to the minor roads. The alternative to the M.1 is the A.5 on which anyone can get a drink at any stage of the journey.

That is one of the things which is so illogical about trying to pass a new Clause of this sort. If, as I hope, we are thinking in terms of having a whole network of motorways, it seems to me that it is quite absurd to make them a class apart, roads designed especially for modern traffic and for modern fast vehicles, and to drive people off of them.

We have heard a great deal of talk about the M.1, particularly since it is our first motorway. A person travelling to Birmingham can stop at any one of a number of good hostelries in St. Albans and have a meal and a drink with it. If we drive him to do that, we will please the landlords of St. Albans, but we are not making a contribution to road safety. It would be wrong for the house to imagine that by passing this new Clause it is contributing to road safety. It will only result in more people going on to the smaller and older roads which were not designed for fast traffic. If we as a House wish to deal with irresponsible behaviour on the part of people, we must make sure that they are punished when they are irresponsible. But for goodness sake do not let us punish the vast majority of people who behave in a responsible manner.

In view of the assurances which have been given by my right hon. Friend, in the name of my hon. Friends and myself I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

On a point of order. The Minister of State gave a certain assurance about what his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary intended to do. He also said that he would listen to the speeches that were made in the debate. I hope, therefore, that we shall have an opportunity of contributing to the debate so that the Home Secretary may be informed of what right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House feel on this important matter.

That is not strictly a point of order. However, there were noises which appeared to be the noise "No", and that is sufficient for this purpose at the moment.

In response to the Home Secretary's invitation, I should like to say a word or two. I am one of those who support the new Clause without in any sense being a teetotaller. If I understood the right hon. Gentleman aright that he accepts the principle of this proposal, I contemplate going to celebrate in a modest way, because this is a very important proposal.

I should like to try to deal briefly with the most cogent arguments which have been advanced. The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) asked why passengers on long-distance coaches should not have a drink. The answer to that is that we cannot distinguish between the driver and the passenger. I do not believe that every professional driver—chauffeurs, and so on—drinks. This seems to me a grotesque suggestion. But if facilities for drinking are provided, we must assume that drivers as well as passengers will drink. If we really work this point out, the hon. Gentleman's argument goes the other way. If the driver who has the lives of many people at stake drinks and makes a slight miscalculation, it will have, because it is a long-distance coach full of people, very grave consequences. I would have thought the fact that there are these long-distance coaches is an argument in favour of the Amendment and not against it.

I would have thought that the professional driver would take up the same position as the professional air pilot who does not drink at all.

He may and he may not. Those who did not would be running very grave risks concerning the people they are carrying.

Is it not a fact that the long-distance drivers of coaches and other long-distance drivers drive on great stretches of road in the south and other parts of England where there are not likely to be motorways, with the same problems, and where they can drink at almost any time, without any record of irresponsible driving?

I will come to that argument, which I regard as an important argument, that it is illogical to distinguish between one road and another. The Minister of State and other hon. Members asked, "Why apply this to the safest roads, when you are not applying it to others?" One could say that the safest roads are the only roads without licensed premises at the moment, but I do not make a great deal of that. People say that in foreign countries on the autobahnen and so forth, they can have drink. I was in Germany a few months ago when there was talk about the rapid increase of accidents on the autobahnen which was causing a great deal of concern. I do not say that there is a relation between the two, but there may be. One cannot argue that because other countries have possibly made a mistake about this we should make the same one. The fast roads are designed not only to be the safest roads but to attract the maximum amount of fast traffic. As the years go by we shall get more and more fast traffic—much faster than it is now—pouring down these roads. These are the safest roads only in the sense that they will attract more fast traffic, with the danger that the slightest error on these roads will be more catastrophic as the decades and years go by. I do not think that the argument about the fast road is a very good one. There will be more roads with fast traffic when we get the network of 800 or 1,000 miles of fast traffic roads.

As to the argument about applying this to some roads and not to others, there are many roads where one can get a drink. No one can find a logical solution to this problem. The only logical way would be to allow everyone to drink everywhere or to stop everyone from drinking everywhere. We cannot achieve that because vested interest will have been built up which it will be very difficult to destroy.

At the moment we can do something which is not wholly logical but which will be of great use—we can stop drinking on these extremely fast roads. If I could stop it on the A.5 or the M.1 I would do so, but I cannot. I do not, because of that, want to be driven away from doing something which could be a very great contribution and, I am sure as the years go by, an even greater contribution to the preservation of life on these roads where more fast traffic will be concentrated.

Will this not have the opposite effect to the one which the right hon. Gentleman intends? Will not it have the same effect as restricted licensing hours and persuade many people to take more drink before they get on to the road than they might otherwise do? It may persuade them to take a hip flask with them or go off the road in search of a drink. When there are restrictions on drinking, people tend to drink much more in the time available to them.

This is not a good argument in this case. It is a good argument against total prohibition. If we wore to stop drinking in this country it would impose great inconvenience, namely, the capacity to get from one place to another under pleasant conditions and very fast. I do not believe that people will wander off these roads, losing a lot of time, in order to get a drink or that they will stop to tank up themselves as well as their motor cars. I want to get as few people taking drink on these roads as I possibly can.

One point of great importance which has nothing to do with the merits of this matter is procedure. I want the right hon. Gentleman to put these words in the Bill because the mere assurance that maybe the Government will try to put them in in another place is not enough. If the Government do not succeed in putting them in in another place, we shall never get hold of this problem again in this House, because there will not be a Lords' Amendment to debate. The only possible way in which we can assure that this matter comes back to us is to have these words in the Bill so that even if they are not perfect, a new version can be put in in another place. We want to be assured that this matter will come before us again and the only way of securing that is to put these words in the Bill at the moment.

I hope that the hon. Member who believes so strongly in this Clause and who has argued so ably for it, will not press to have it withdrawn. It would not be wise. This matter might then not come before us again. We do not know what another place will do about this, and we must ensure that some Amendment is made so that this matter will come back to us for debate. I urge the hon. Member, whom I congratulate very much on his speech, not to fall for this trick, unintentional though it may be, of trying to get this Clause withdrawn.

I hope that the House will be able to come to a decision on this matter. I have listened to the whole of the debate, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said the Government would listen to the debate, and I have been struck by the general sense of the House that something on the lines of this new Clause is desirable. I am, of course, aware of quite a body of opinion, which is not in favour of banning drink in the proximity of a motorway, but on the whole, my opinion is that there is sufficient sense of opinion in this House today to make it justifiable for the Government to include in the Bill, as finally passed into an Act, something on the lines of this Clause.

I will discuss the question of procedure in a few minutes. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) was most reasonable in his speech; he clearly disagreed with this new Clause, but at the same time he referred to the sense of the House. I am not going necessarily by the sense of the Standing Committee, but by the sense of my discussions with hon. Members over the past few weeks, that this would be one of the major subjects for debate in the Bill.

The new Clause, as drafted, is for a variety of reasons unsatisfactory. I do not think that the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) was right—he did not say it offensively in referring to the Government's having adopted a trick. There was no intention of a trick. The later Amendments, in page 4, line 27, to be moved by his own right hon. Friends are must more difficult than this one. The right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) was kind enough to say that he would back this Clause instead of his Amendment.

7.0 p.m.

The Clause has considerable demerits and I am informed by the draftsmen that the Clause would not stand up in a Statute. It has, for example, no penalty attached to it and, therefore, my advisers do not think that it would make good sense in the Bill. The words "sold or supplied" need further definition, because we are not quite sure what they mean. The words "adjoining or abutting", referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) and other hon. Members, are not satisfactory in their definition. Therefore, for these three reasons alone, it would be impossible to accept the Clause as it stands. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Member for Smethwick, in his anxiety, does not make us accept a Clause which is quite unsatisfactory, because, for the reasons I have given, the Government could not accept a Clause on these lines.

The only device, therefore, which we are left to adopt in relation to the new Clause is to accept, not a trick, but the perfectly honourable statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State that the Government would look at the matter and try to attempt to meet the situation in another place by a constructive Amendment which is satisfactory. That is usual on these occasions. In the circumstances, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that, which, after listening to the further part of the debate, I honestly consider better than putting a wrongly drafted Clause into the Bill. If that is agreeable, we might agree to do that. Whether my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) is permitted to withdraw the Amendment or whether we have a vote on the matter, I hope that we can come to a decision.

I must make two other general observations. I am sympathetic with the practical arguments raised by certain hon. Members in the course of the debate in opposing the new Clause. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) pointed out that a person can stop in the estimable place which he represents in Parliament, attend a first-class hostelry and fortify himself for the nearby road. That is perfectly obvious. One of the reasons for accepting something on these lines is that there are indefinite opportunities of obtaining drink already. If a person is determined to obtain drink and then proceed on the M.1, nobody in this free country can stop him.

What the Government attach importance to—my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport came in just now to show his general understanding and support for the mood of the House and had a conversation with me on this subject—is that we are at the beginning of a series of motorways like M.1. The most important argument used in this debate was used in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) and others, that now is the time to start dealing with this problem. The Clause would not stop people bona fide obtaining the drinks they want wherever they want.

It would discourage them stopping in the midst of a road which is designed for transit and not for drinking.

The object of the motorways is to obtain swift and sure transit. Whether they are the safest roads in the world, the right hon. Member for Smethwick was perfectly right in saying that they are the fastest. I cannot see that it is any great trouble for the future of British democracy if a driver has to obtain his drink at some other place than on the edge of a fast motor road, intended to get him quickly to another place.

On the whole, although there is obvious controversy, and for sheer logic the critics of the Clause have it—I do not deny that—I think that the view of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet should prevail that as there is a general sense in this House, we should respect it and come to a decision now.

I am glad that the Home Secretary has intervened and said what he has just said. I think we all agree that we should now bring this debate to a conclusion. I hope, however, that in view of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said and the way in which he has enlarged the assurances previously given by the Secretary of State, my hon. Friends will now allow the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) to withdraw the new Clause.

As I understand it, the Home Secretary has given us an assurance that when the Bill goes to another place, the Government will introduce a new Clause on the lines either of the Clause that we have been discussing or on the lines of the Amendment in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice). We all appreciate that we cannot achieve perfect logic in this respect. The Home Secretary is to be commended in having accepted the sense of the Committee and the sense of the House, and, I believe, the sense of the country on this subject, that there is deep and genuine feeling that these motorways should be treated as something different from ordinary roads on which drink is allowed and that they should be treated as motorways designed for the primary purpose of enabling people to get from one place to another in the quickest possible time. My experience is that motorists tend to treat motorways as such and exercise a special degree of skill and responsibility when using them. I hope that if we in Parliament lay down as a principle, whether it is logical or not, that it is not desired by Parliament that licensed premises should be sanctioned on motorways, we shall be making a real contribution to avoiding carnage on the roads.

It is important to make this observation following the remarks of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). It is not yet quite clear to me whether the new Clause which will be introduced in another place will, as I would hope, prohibit the sale or supply of liquor in any premises, not merely the kind of licensed premises with which Part I of the Bill deals, but licensed public houses—"pubs" as we know them. That would be the ideal. Whatever may be the technical procedure under the scope of the Bill, however, I hope that it will be an absolute prohibition. To deal with the argument of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet, even if the prohibition is merely in respect of restaurants, it seems to me that if Parliament makes that provision in Part I of the Bill, it would then be unthinkable that any licensing bench would grant a licence for a public house to be opened on a motorway. Therefore, in either event, we should achieve the result at which we are all aiming.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.