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Motor-Cycles: Noise And Pollution

Volume 413: debated on Wednesday 15 October 1980

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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will bring forward implementation of announced intended legislation to mitigate the noise and environmental pollution currently generated by exhausts from unwisely permitted excessively powered motor-cycles.

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport made regulations on 6th August which reduce the maximum noise levels permitted for new motor-cycles from 1982. He is considering still more stringent limits for longer term.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that his Answer is disappointing? May I ask him to consider a review of what he said in his Answer, as regards the time when further action will be taken? In view of the monstrous power of these large motor-cycles, which is inimical to public safety, can he amplify his reply by saying how many prosecutions of motor-cyclists have occurred in the last period for which statistics are available? Can he also say how many motor-cyclists have been killed and how many members of the public also have been killed in motor-cycle accidents?

My Lords, in amplification of my first point, it is hard to make regulations to be enforced any earlier than 1982, because manufacturers themselves have to plan how to make motor-cycles in the future. So far as statistics are concerned, in recent years there have been 11,000 successful prosecutions a year for all types of vehicles for offences concerning noise. During the year 1978, which is the last year for which we have figures available, 1,006 motor-cyclists were killed; in 1977,223 pedestrians were killed in motor-cycle accidents and 2,122 were killed by all types of vehicles.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that a loud noise from a motor-cycle does not always mean that that motor-cycle is travelling at an excessive speed?

Yes, my Lords; indeed, that is true. Perhaps here one can voice concern about the fact that one of the major difficulties about noise from motor-cycles concerns those who tamper with their silencers.

My Lords, is the noble Earl able to say whether there is a survey which shows whether or not this nuisance is due to the power of the vehicle? Also, is it not true that there are many high-powered machines which do not cause nuisance, because they are owned by experienced riders who do not tamper with their machines? Is not the problem in many residential areas due to the lesser-powered machines, whose exhaust systems have been deliberately tampered with and which create a considerable nuisance, in the belief by youthful people that more noise is exciting?

My Lords, I can only agree with the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. As I said in my previous reply, it is the tampering with silencers that really causes concern.