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Highway Code

Volume 87: debated on Tuesday 26 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department gives advice to visiting forces about adherence to the " Highway Code" during military exercises in the United Kingdom.

No. We expect visiting forces to see that their drivers are made familiar with the provisions of the "Highway Code".

Does the Minister recognise that sufficient incidents have now occurred to suggest that United States forces personnel are either unaware of the provisions of the "Highway Code" or are deliberately flouting them? Is not that particularly serious when they are driving large vehicles in large convoys, often carrying nuclear weapons? Does he approve of the practice of United States cruise carriers driving round with stickers in their windscreens proclaiming:

"We don't brake for CND"?

The hon. Gentleman should be aware that I do not believe that there is any evidence that United States service drivers commit more road traffic offences than anybody else. I can assure him that all United States service drivers have to pass a test, which is prescribed by all United States service authorities, before they are allowed to drive in the United Kingdom, and that includes a test of knowledge on the "Highway Code".

I recognise the driving skills of the United States Army in Britain. Surely the people who should be blamed are those members of the CND, especially Leicester CND, who deliberately get in the way of cruise convoy carriers as they are going from A to B. It is no good trying to pass the buck back to the United States Army.

My hon. Friend is entirely right. Those who obstruct the public highway and vehicles that are on it are not merely endangering themselves but can be endangering others.

How many launchers and missiles are now deployed in the United Kingdom, and have there been any new deployments in the past months?

We have made clear the present situation in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates" and we have also made clear the long-term deployment numbers. It is not my right hon. Friend's policy to give detailed arrival times, for obvious security reasons.