Road Transport Activities
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Second Reading of Lord Buckmaster's Bill.
TMILE House of Lords, without divi1 sion, gave a second reading to Lord Buckrnaster's Road Traffic Bill, although it was the subject of adverse criticism by the Lord Chancellor and the Earl of Plymouth, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport.
The Bill, Lord Buckmaster explained, provided that if a person negligently killed another he should be adjudged guilty of manslaughter, and that if he negligently maimed another he should be guilty of unlawfully wounding, and that in both cases he should be brought, where he was not now, within the purview of the criminal law.
Further, it enacted that if a person knocked down, killed or injured another, and drove straight on, that should be a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment without the option of a fine. The Bill also provided that no goads vehicles exceeding five tolls in total weight shall exceed the speed of 5 m.p.h. in any city, town or village.
Opposition to Measure.
SPEAKING from the Labour benches, the Earl of Kinnoul opposed the Bill, remarking that Lord Buckmaster, in his condemnation of motorists, overlooked the fact that in many cases the negligence of pedestrians was responsible for accidents.
The Lord Chancellor, whilst describing the number of road accidents as "appalling," said their Lordships should not lose a sense of proportion. It was not necessary to amend the law ; it was necessary to enforce it. The proposal so drastically to regulate the speed of goods vehicles was impracticable. He suggested that Lord Buckmaster should withdraw the Bill.
. Earl Howe suggested that magistrates should be empowered to order arrestment in respect of vehicles involved in accidents. The House should be extremely careful before it placed further restrictions on heavy goods vehicles.
The Earl of Plymouth said the Government was determined to do everything in its power to reduce to a minimum the risks incurred by all road users, but the Bill would not achieve that purpose.
The Bill was read a second time.
Road Versus Rail.
TBE Minister of Transport was asked by Mr. Leslie Boyce the statistical and financial grounds submitted to him by the railway companies for their • assertion that private cars and light motor vehicles were paying too much and heavy motors were paying too little towards road costs and burdens.
Mr. Pybus pointed out that as this matter was one within the terms of the reference of the Conference on Rail and Road Transport it would be inadvisable at this stage to publish the data submitted by one side.
Mr. Boyce asked the Minister if, in view of the fact that the railway companies bad to pay local rates upon their profits and that similar contributions were not made by road-transport organizations, he would undertake to introduce legislation to equalize the burdens between these two competing systems of transport.
Mr. Pybus promised to bear the point in mind when he came tti review the whole problem of the relation between rail and road transport. The matter was one upon which the local authorities might desire to make representa tions. He added that, at present, he could not give any undertaking as to whether legislation would be introduced this year or next.
Commissioners and Unremunerative Services.
AQUESTION was put to Mr. Pybus by Mr. Hutchinson, asking how the Traffic Commissioners were reaching a decision as to what constituted an unremunerative coach service, and whether, in so doing, they would ascertain what was a reasonable operating
cost. • Mr. Pybus said he understood that the Traffic Commissioners reached their decision after considering the receipts per vehicle-mile and other relevant circumstances, such as fair conditions for their employees, including wages and hours, and a proper allowance for depreciation. These Were factors in any estimate of what formed a remunerative service, but it would be appreciated that conditions varied in different parts of the country.
Mr. Hutchinson asked whether, in view of the commencement of the coach season, the Traffic Commissioners were taking steps and, if so, of what nature, to ascertain the measure of public support given to the road services sanctioned and whether such services were adequate both in respect of their number and of the vehicles permitted to be employed.
Mr. Pybus said that any person might apply to the Traffic Commissioners for a licence to commence a new road. passenger service or for the
variation of an existing service. It was then for the applicant to satisfy the Commissioners as to the need for the proposed service or variation.
Removal of Horsed Traffic Impracticable.
-tura. CHALMERS asked the Minis..litter of Transport whether, in the interests of humanity and of London traffic, he would take steps to secure the removal Of horsed traffic from the streets.
Mr. Pybus replied that the question of prohibiting horse-drawn traffic and other slow-moving vehicles from London had, on more than one occasion, been considered by the London Traffic Advisory Committee, but, in view of the requirements of certain trades which claimed that horsed transport for the delivery and collection of goods, especially for short distances, was more economical than mechanical transport, such a proposal was not regarded as practicable at the present time.
Strengthening Rail Bridges..
. TMinister •of Transport was risked whether he proposed to put into operation all over the country Section 25 of the Road Traffic Act, which empowers railway companies to close their bridges to loads above a stated weight. Was he aware of the number of bridges which would have to be strengthened unless ordinary everyday traffic was to be seriously incon venienced? In view of the cost entailed by strengthening the bridges would any specific sub-division of this expenditure over the various interests concerned be recommended?
Mr. Pybus said he proposed shortly to bring this section into force. The number of bridges involved was large, but the powers which the Section would confer upon bridge authorities did not differ substantially from those which they exercised before the passing of the Road Traffic Act. He had not made any recommendation of the nature referred to.
Heavy Traffic Again.
ruHE Minister's attention was drawn 1 by Mr. Boyce to the recent advertised running of lorries with trailers carrying a load of 16 tons on a MOmile non-stop journey from London to Aberdeen in 31i hours, and he was asked "whether, in view of the undesirable character of this road transport, he would say what expenditure of public money, as represented in the cost of roads used by these vehicles, had been necessary in order to enable the service to be run."
Mr. Pybus said he regretted that sufficient information was not available to enable him to give the figure sought. He promised that this ' and similar cases would be borne in mind when the Government was considering a long-term policy for the co-ordination of the various transport services of the country.