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Volume 972: debated on Friday 2 November 1979

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asked the Minister of Transport whether it is intended that his officials and/or police will have the right to stop drivers with the primary purpose of checking (a) whether a tachograph is fitted; and (b) what is recorded on the chart.

Unlike the police, the enforcement staff of my Department do not have the right to stop moving vehicles and it is not proposed that they should. The draft regulations which I shall shortly be laying before Parliament would confer powers similar to those already available with respect to written records. Enforcement officers would have the power to enter vehicles, to inspect the vehicle and the tachograph, to inspect and copy the charts, and to seize charts if falsification is suspected; and to detain the vehicle for as long as is necessary to exercise these powers. The draft regulations provide that the proposed powers may also be exercised by the police.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will confirm that a tachograph chart will not be used as primary evidence for speeding charges.

Implementation of the EEC tachograph regulation will not have the effect of making tachograph records acceptable as the sole evidence in prosecutions for speeding. The draft regulations which I shall shortly be laying before Parliament do not alter the present law in this respect. Although the tachograph chart contains information about the vehicle's speed at any particular time, it does not indicate where the vehicle was at that time, and some evidence of this would be needed to establish whether an offence had been committed. The courts could, in addition, require proof of the accuracy of the tachograph. Drivers' fears of convictions for speeding solely on the basis of tachograph records are, therefore, groundless.

asked the Minister of Transport for what driving offences tachograph charts will be admissible as evidence.

The draft statutory instrument, which I shall be laying before Parliament later in this Session, provides that where a tachograph is installed in accordance with the requirements of EEC regulation 1463/70, and is calibrated and sealed as the regulation requires, tachograph records are to be accepted in evidence in proceedings under part VI of the Transport Act 1968, which concerns drivers' hours. In relation to any other driving offence the tachograph record on its own would not normally provide enough information to establish that an offence had been committed.

asked the Minister of Transport how his officials will be able to confirm that an individual tachograph chart actually belongs to the driver of a particular lorry; and whether identity cards will be necessary as confirmation.

Article 17.3 of EEC regulation 1463/70 requires that a driver should enter on each tachograph chart his name, the date and place where use of the chart begins and the date and place where it ends, the registration number of all vehicles driven, and the odometer readings at the start of the first journey and end of the last journey recorded on that chart. If he changes vehicles he must record the time of the change and the odometer readings on each vehicle. Where appropriate, the entries must be made before the chart is put into the tachograph. I am proposing that failure to fill in this information will be an offence, carrying a penalty on summary conviction of a fine not exceeding £200. The details on the chart can be compared with actual odometer readings on the vehicle, and checked with the operator. There is no question of requiring identity cards, which would not in any case give the confirmation required.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will list the offences and penalties for which drivers will become liable for failing to fit or use, or for abuse of, the tachograph,

I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the draft statutory instrument which I published for consultation on 27 September.Briefly, these draft regulations would make it an offence to use a vehicle, after the prescribed dates, in a way which breaches any of the requirements of EEC regulation 1463/70 on the installation or use of tachographs. The regulations provide that an offender shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £200.