ROAD TRANSPORT MATTERS IN PARLIAMENT.
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Imports and the McKenna Duties. The Great West Road Prosecutions. Pedestrians in Roundabout Traffic Areas. Compulsory Motor Insurance.
By Our Special Parliamentary Correspondent.
FIGURES requested for the purpose of a comparison between the first half of 1925, when the McKenna duties were in abeyance as the result of Mr. Snowden's 1924 Budget, and the corresponding six months of this year, when those duties were again in operation along with other new Customs duties, show the following interesting facts relating to motorcars, etc., parts and accessories thereof. In 1925 the imports were £7,606,954 and exports 16,499.334; in 1526 the imports were £3,444,443 and the exports 16,072,393. A similar striking fall in imports is observed in most of the,other groups coming under the Customs duties imposed by the Finance Act of 1925. The exports in general include re-exports, and to obtain comparability it is noted that the figures for motorcars, etc., include non-dutiable ears and parts, as sena rate figures for the latter are not available for 1925. Imports were, in most cases, increased by forestalments.in the first half of 1925, which might still be having some effect in diminishing imports in the first half of 1926. . The factors 'operating in the results shown will no doubt be set out in future discussions and explained according to the fiscal creed of the individual.
An Unfounded Suggestion.
CI OLONEL DAY has Suggested that the number of ./ accidents to motor chars-lt-bancs, and lorries, conveying large numbers of peeple, due -to failure of brakes and other defective components is increasing and that legislation should be introduced for the cornpulsory, examination of vehicles utilized for road passenger traffic. As might be expected, the Minister of Transport declared that the information he had received did not furnish any evidence that the number of accidents due to defective equipment on public passenger-carrying vehicles was increasing. He reminded Colonel Day that the regulation and inspection of public-service vehicles would be dealt with in the forthcomirg Bill.
Q OME indication of the progress on the new KJ Edinburgh-Glasgow road has been furnished by the Minister of Transport.This route, which is 40 miles in length, comprises 24 miles of new construction and 16 miles of roA widening. It is divided for purposes of execution into nine sections, for eight of which contracts have been let covering 31 miles in all. Work is proceeding steadily on these sections. Final details as regards railway bridges have not yet been settled with the various companies concerned, and until the cost of these eight sections and the bridges thereon can he more closely determined no contract is being let for the remaining section, which includes work in the neighbourhood of Harthill. No decision has been reached as to the course to be followed by the road near this village. Sir Alexander Sprot mentioned that the inhabitants of Harthill had expressed a wish that the new road should not pass through the village.
Relations Between Police and A.A.
THE "unsuccessful prosecution by the police of an Automobile Association scout who. had warned motorists to drive carefully over a certain stretch of the Great West Road" was the subject of an inquiry addressed to the Home Secretary by Capt. Brass, who suggested that, in view of the large number of accidents on that road, the Department should consider
more friendly co-operation between the Metropolitan Police and the A.A. in future with the object of preventing an far as possible dangerous driving instead of setting traps to prosecute motorists after the alleged offence had been committeed.
Sir William Joynson-Hicks, referring to the case, said he understood that it was stated in court on behalf of the Automobile Association that the action of their scout was contrary to instructions. He was happy to say that the relations between the Association and the Metropolitan Police were on both sides those of mutual admiration and respect, and the Commissioner would always welcome their co-operation in furthering the safety of the general public. Capt. Brass said he desired to know whether it was the policy of the police to prevent dangerous driving or to allow it so as to catch people after committing the offence. Sir William remarked that the duty of the police was to carry out the law in the first place and, in the second place, to do everything possible to secure the safety of the public. Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy observed that the general public had a high opinion of the way in which the police carried out their duties in this respect and resented the suggestion that they encouraged crime.
Asked to explain the co-operation between the Metropolitan Police and the Automobile Association, the Home Secretary said the headquarters of the two associations (R.A.C. and A.A.) were consulted from time to time with advantage on traffic matters, especially with regard to routeing and parking of vehicles off the roads. On the roads the police fully appreciated the assistance which the patrols of the two associations were able to give in traffic control.
Children in Traffic.
Q IR W. SUGDEN makes the original, if somewhat L./superfluous, suggestion that the Minister of Transport should consult the National Union of Teachers as well as the National Association of Chief Constables before introducing his Road Vehicles Bill, in order to ensure that children and civilians are properly protected. It is to be feared that neither the teachers nor the chief constables have anything to say about the dangers of the road that has not been said a hundred times already. Representatives of the police forces a year ago submitted a series of practical recommendations covering a wide ground, many of which will be adopted in forthcoming legislation. Teachers are not traffic experts and probably they would be the first to admit the fact and acknowledge the solicitude of the policemen on point duty—certainly in London—for the safety of school children crossing the streets. The stalwart man in blue shepherding a string of young children from one pavement to the other presents a very human picture, to which even held-up drivers are not insensible.
The Great West Road Prosecutions.
AGOOD deal has been heard in the House about the wholesale summonses against motor drivers on the Great West Road. Capt. Brass called attention to the fact that, out of 232 persons summoned for driving dangerously, only 11 were convicted and urged that accusations of so serious a kind should not be made in future based on the evidence of speed alone, and that before a summons was issued accusing' a driver of dangerous driving all the circumstances should be taken into account. Sir W. Joynson-Hicks pointed out that the persons in question were charged not with driving dangerously, but with driving at a dangerous speed, and, alternatively, in accordance with the usual practice, with exceeding the speed limit. The fact that, in the majority of cases, the court decided to convict on the latter charge only did not seem to call for any action on his part. Capt. Brass asked the Home Secretary if he thought it fair to charge people with driving dangerously, which was the same thing as driving at a speed dangerous to the public, when only 11 out of 232 persons were convicted. Sir William replied that if the police were of opinion that they were driving at a dangerous speed he thought it would be their duty to charge them, but if the Bench concluded that they were not then he could not interfere with the decision of the Bench. The hon. member had not disputed the fact that, in those cases in which prosecutions were undertaken, a large majority were actually breaking the law. The police had been told that they must do everything they could to secure the safety of the public. Sir Frederick Hall capped the short discussion by saying that •the time had passed for having a speed limit at all, and that those found guilty of driving to the danger of the public should he severely dealt with.
Accidents in Cheshire.
OLONEL ASHLEY has promised to inquire into V./the number of fatal accidents which Mr. Remer alleged had occurred at 13rabyn's Brow, Marple, Cheshire, with a view to seeing whether any action can usefully he taken by the Department.
Safety of Pedestrians in Roundabout 'Traffic.
SINCE the roundabout system came into operation in Parliament Square there have been 21 accidents at the south-east corner, including slight personal injury to three pedestrians, 12 accidents at the south-west corner, including slight personal injury to one pedestrian and 16 accidents between these two points, including a fatal accident to a cyclist and slight personal injury to two pedestrians. The question of placing a refuge at the south-east corner between
St. Margaret's Church and the Square is still in the air, although a promise has been given that the matter will be taken up, the whole question of the safety of pedestrians in Parliament Square being now under consideration by the Ministry of Transport and the London Traffic Advisory Committee. It is to be hoped that the authorities will act soon, because the general public who have to pass and re-pass those difficult crossings are concerned about the risks they must run when the stream of traffic is wide and continuous for long periods. There seems no valid reason why numerous well-lit islands should not be provided in broad thoroughfares limited to one-way traffic.
Passing Vehicles at Cross-roads.
IR FREDERICK HALL has recommended the L. Home Secretary to introduce a regulation requiring that, at cross-roads, the driver of a motorcar should be obliged to give way to a vehicle approaching from another road on his right or off side. Colonel Moore Brabazon, speaking for the Minister of Transport, said he had no power to make such a regulation nor was he at present convinced of the advantages claimed for it. Sir Frederick Hall said he wanted to know if the Home Secretary had such powers, whereupon, amid some laughter, Sir William JoynsonHicks said he would consult the Minister of Transport to see where the powers lay.
Compulsory Insurance and Penalties.
IN view of the promise by Viscount Peel in the House of Lords that an experiment in compulsory insurance would be made under the Bill for the regulation of public-service vehicles, a relevant question was addressed to the Minister of Transport by Mr. Morris. He asked whether before introducing legislation the Minister would cause an inquiry to be made into the present system of penalties imposed by insurance companies upon those policyholders who had been unfortunate in meeting with accidents in any year. Colonel Ashley gave an assurance that regard would be had to all relevant considerations before the Introduction of any *stem for the compulsory insurance of motor vehicles.