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Traffic Bill: Long Process Begins

22nd July 1955, Page 35
22nd July 1955
Page 35
Page 35, 22nd July 1955 — Traffic Bill: Long Process Begins
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Clauses on Speed Limit and Removal of Vehicles Passed in Opening. Stage BY OUR PARLIAMENTARY CORRESPONDENT

TALK at the beginning of the committee stage of the Road Traffic i Bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday turned mainly on speed limits. • There is every indication that the consideration of the Bill in standing committee will be !Ong and detailed.. Immense interest ls being shown in the Bill and the opening stages were crowded. Present plans arc for the committee to meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the mornings. Study of the Bill in committee will last well into the autumn.

it was Mr. Strauss, leading for the Opposition on transport matters under the Labour Party's new allocation of "shadow Ministers," who asked whether Clause 1, which makes the speed limit permanent, diminished the Minister's powers at all, or whether he would be able to have stretches where there were no speed limits, or whether he would be able to reduce the limit where necessary.

Mr. Graham Page (C.. Crosby) asked whether the Minister had any plan, now that the limit was becoming permanent, for improving its enforcement? The clause, he said, also gave the Minister power -by order to impose different speed limits. Was Mr. Boyd-Carpenter satisfied that he had enough power to reduce the limit for any particular area? In Rhode Island, in the U.S,A., accidents had been cut by three-quarters through a reduction' in the speed limit.

said Mr. Page. • _ . • Is 1934 Basis Correct? .

Mr., David Renton (N.L.U.. Huntingdon) said it would be :helpful if the Minister the points on the variation of the sPeed.limit. The time had come to cansider whether as a foundation for the limit the position in the 1934 Act about : 'Street lighting was correct. Housing development preceded street lighting sometimes by several years. There would he' extensions of village streets with new housing estates on each side—and no street lighting, but with children running about.

On the question of variation of the speed limit, be said the Miriister had taken some power to make. a speed limit lower than 30 m.p.h,in the case of one stretchof road. What powers had he for differentiation Of the speed limit?

There seemed to be something in favour of a limit of 40-45 m.p.h. for some of the main approach toads. There was a case for considering whether or not the Minister should have powers to impose other limits, either lower or higher than 30 m.p.h.--up to, say, 50 m.p.h.—on some of those main approach roads.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter said the clause made permanent the legal basis for the 30 'm.p.h. limit. Replying to Mr. Renton, he said there was power to impose different limits above or below 30 m.p.h. and that was the power exer cised now in particular eases.

Mr. Graham Page asked: " Have you power to make an experiment in a particular town ? "

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter replied that he 'understood that the Order would have to relate to a particular road, and, consequently, if an experiment were tried for a town, he would have to make orders relating to the roads of that town. He thought the clause gave adequate flexibility.

London Report Soon

On varying speed limits, he said the review of the speed limit in London by the London Traffic Advisory Committee was in progress and he hoped to have the report before long. So far. as he could sec, there were adequate powers .under the clause to enablehim,to adopt any proposal that was recommended. but the matter was in an experimental stage. . . The dame was approved:. .. Assurances were sought and obtained from the Government the way that Clause 3 (parking of vehicles) would be operated by the police. Powers are extended in the • clause to permit the police to remove vehicles if they are causing obstruction. At present this is limited to vehicles which have brerken down or are likely to cause danger.

Mr. Ernest Davies (Lab., Enfield) pointed out that at present there was a -considerable protection for the public and drivers deemed by the, police to have left their vehicles in streets where they were causing obstruction. But the police had to seek out drivers and decide whether to proceed with a prosecution.

Under the clause it would now appear that they could themselves remove the vehicle if it caused an obstruction. There was some little concern about how obstruction would be interpreted. He was particularly concerned about drivers of commercial vehicles who were collecting and delivering goods or parking their lurries for rest periods. Whilst' everyone wished to assist in relieving traffic congestion he wanted an assurance that the rights of transport workers would be protected. • Dangerous Parking

On the other hand, Mr. Gresham Cooke-IC., Twickenham) hoped that the clause would.tiot be Used too .narrowly. He appreciated' the 'NMI about. cOrnmercial -drivers who had tri leave:their vehicles on busy streets. -They obviously required every consideration. But there wag a growing and dangerous praitiec of parking at cornet's wherethere was.a white line. •

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth, Under.Secre'tory' for'Heime Affairs, said the clause -.Would enable the police to move a .vehicle from one point to another. It did not necessarily follow that the obstruction caused would be of such a kind that prosecution would auto matically result. The . Police were :anxious to have, this power in order to deal with the case where a vehicle parked in an awkward position lnight be moved to a place where it would not interfere with the .flow of traffic.

It was not the intention of the Government that the powers given by the clause should be used punitively and a vehicle would not be moved farther than was necessary.

Mr. Davies asked for an assurance that the police, before moving a vehicle, would make, some effort to locate the driver_ Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth replied that .obviously if it was possible to find the driver, it was in everyone's interest that he should be asked to move the vehicle.

The clause was approved.

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