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Factory Tractors (Road Speeds)

Volume 981: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1980

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15.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will bring forward proposals for speeds limits of less than 30 kilometres per hour on factory tractors when using public highways, thus avoiding them being subject to tachographs; and if he will make a statement.

I shall consult those directly concerned about this suggestion, for which I am very grateful.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is vital to solve this problem? If British industry has to introduce tachographs into these tractors, it will involve a cost of many hundreds of thousands of pounds.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for pointing out that present EEC regulations would allow us to exempt tractors with a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 30 kilometres an hour. That would seem to comprise most industrial tractors. We shall follow up this helpful suggestion. We shall probably have to consult about it, and, eventually, produce regulations to be approved by the House.

Will my hon. Friend make sure, in the process, that the importance and value of the contribution that the tachograph can make to safer driving is emphasised? We are constantly attacking some things that happen as a result of membership of the Common Market. This is a good thing that should be said to be a good thing.

I believe that the tachograph was attacked by many people simply because it came from the EEC, although its first proponent was Mrs. Barbara Castle, as Minister of Transport. It is astonishing that, now this Government have had the courage to get on with complying with the law, how little fuss is being made about its introduction in the road haulage industry.

Will the hon. Gentleman recognise that when Barbara Castle introduced the proposal it was a voluntary measure? When this matter was debated in the House the estimate was that the cost of implementation would be £150 million. Industry now says that it will cost over £300 million. What is the Government estimate?

I have no reason to revise the estimate that we gave in the debate. It seems that there is little objection or complaint, in practice, to the steady introduction of the tachograph into the country.