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Tyres (Buses and Coaches)

Volume 630: debated on Tuesday 31 October 2017

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to introduce limits on the age of tyres on buses and coaches; and for connected purposes.

I heard your homily, Mr Speaker, about the benefits of persistence, and I hope that the coach and bus industry has heard it too.

This Bill would make it unlawful to operate a public service vehicle with tyres that exceed the age of 10 years, require the annual MOT to check and record the age of the tyres, and give traffic commissioners powers of enforcement to sanction any public service vehicle operators found to be using tyres more than 10 years old.

Late on 10 September 2012, just over five years ago, my constituent Frances Molloy lost her 18-year-old son, Michael. He was killed when he was returning home as a passenger on a coach from Bestival, an annual music festival on the Isle of Wight. Two other people, Kerry Ogden, who was 23, and the coach driver Colin Daulby, who was 63, also lost their lives. Others were seriously injured, some in life-changing ways. The crash was caused when the front nearside tyre of the coach burst on the northbound A3, causing the vehicle to swerve out of control, mount an embankment and strike a tree.

The Surrey coroner, Richard Travers, found on 16 July 2013 that the crash was caused by a 19 and a half-year-old tyre that had recently been fitted to the coach. It had 40% of its tread intact and was thus being used entirely lawfully. The coroner found, on the basis of the evidence before him, that it had burst catastrophically because it had perished by reason of its age. I say again that this tyre was being lawfully used. It had no outward sign to show the perilous condition that it was in fact in. It was older than my 18-year-old constituent, Michael Molloy.

The Surrey coroner was so concerned about the facts as he found them that he wrote to the then Secretary of State for Transport under rule 43 of the coroners’ rules to raise:

“A concern by which, in his opinion, there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken.”

He went on to express his concern that:

“Public Service Vehicles carrying passengers are able perfectly legally to drive on tyres that have no restriction as to their age and which, by reason of their age may be in a perilously dangerous condition which there is no realistic means of detecting”.

This was not the first such rule 43 letter received by the Secretary of State for Transport concerning the dangers of ageing tyres. The Gloucester coroner had written, following an inquest he conducted in July 2010, concerning the dangers of ageing tyres causing death.

When I discussed all this with Michael’s mother, Frances Molloy, following the inquest verdicts at that time, I found it hard to believe that the use of such a potentially dangerous old tyre was in fact lawful. The fact that it was lawful represents a lacuna in our road safety legislation. I quickly became convinced that this gap can and should be closed. I took Frances Molloy and David Price, an expert forensic accident investigator who had given evidence at Michael’s inquest, to see the right hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin), who was then the Transport Secretary, to ask him to ban such potentially dangerous old tyres from our roads.

Banning such tyres would cost the Government nothing, because the date of manufacture is printed on the side of each tyre and can be easily checked at an MOT or whenever a vehicle is stopped by the authorities. It is not as though one would have to take a sample from the tyre and test it in a laboratory. The date is printed on the side of the tyre. Such a measure would save lives, because it would remove dangerous old tyres from our roads. I believe that had such a measure been in place before the Bestival crash, the deaths that resulted from it could have been prevented.

I thought then, and I think now, that the case for doing this is compelling. It was disappointing, then, that the Government at the time simply produced guidance that

“strongly recommends that tyres over 10 years old should not be fitted to the front axles of buses and coaches.”

The guidance goes on to state:

“Such tyres should be fitted only to the rear axles of vehicles as part of a twin tyre combination.”

Although doing so would certainly improve safety and perhaps stop accidents of the catastrophic nature of the Bestival crash, the guidance does not exactly send a clear signal. I had hoped that, following my representations, the signal that the Government sent would be much clearer. I believe that my constituent Frances Molloy, and the campaign that she fronts, also expects more to be done. Making the use of such dangerous old tyres unlawful is the only clear signal that will have the desired effect.

New Ministers are now in post, so I say to the Government: can we just get on and do this? The Government will find widespread support if they back this measure. My constituent Frances Molloy has campaigned for improved tyre safety non-stop since her son Michael’s death. This summer, she launched the Tyred campaign to ban the fitting of tyres that are more than 10 years old to public service vehicles. Merseyside is clearly behind the campaign. Liverpool City Council and Mayor Anderson, Liverpool city region and Mayor Rotheram, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council have all passed motions backing the campaign. In September, Mayor Rotheram and Merseytravel announced that they had secured agreement from all their operators to ban old tyres from all public service vehicles operating on their network across Merseyside.

Across our nation, bus and coach operators such as National Express and Big Green Coach are signed up. Smaller regional operators such as Liverpool City Sights have come on board, and more councils and companies will back this effort. The change will be made area by area and company by company, but it would be so much better if the Government would simply accept that these old tyres kill and agree to ban them by supporting the proposed legislation.

Michael Molloy was a talented and creative young writer and musician, who was just making his way in that exciting world. His life was full of enjoyment, love, hope and promise, but it was needlessly cut short, tragically, in a totally avoidable crash. His mother Frances is heartbroken. She thought that coach travel was a safe form of public transport, but the coach to which she entrusted her son turned out to be a death trap because of a 19 and a half-year-old tyre that no one could see was going to burst as a result of the deterioration caused by its age. Let those of us who are now in this House take steps to ensure that no other family has to endure what Frances has endured. Old tyres kill, so let us get them off our coaches and buses, and let us get them off our roads. I commend the motion to the House.

Question put and agreed to.


That Maria Eagle, Mr George Howarth, Mrs Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger, Stephen Twigg, Ms Angela Eagle, Alison McGovern, Dan Carden, Bill Esterson, Ms Marie Rimmer, Jack Dromey and Naz Shah present the Bill.

Maria Eagle accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 1 December, and to be printed (Bill 119).

Finance Bill (Programme ) (No. 2)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the Order of 12 September 2017 (Finance Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:

(1) Paragraphs (10) and (11) of the Order shall be omitted.

(2) Proceedings on Consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.

(3) Each part of the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.



Time for conclusion of proceedings

New Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to deeming individuals to be domiciled in the United Kingdom or to settlements with a settlor domiciled outside the United Kingdom at any time

3.00 p.m. on the day on which the proceedings are commenced

New Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the tax treatment of payments or benefits received in connection with the termination of an employment or a change in the duties in, or earnings from, an employment

4.30 p.m. on that day

New Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to digital reporting and record-keeping; remaining new Clauses, new Schedules and amendments to Clauses and Schedules; remaining proceedings on Consideration

6.00 p.m. on that day

(4) Any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 6.00 p.m. on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 p.m. on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.—(Graham Stuart.)

Question agreed to.