§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to move the Second Reading of the Motor Car Act (1903) Amendment Bill. If it be the Bill which I think it is, it is an exceedingly good Bill. It has been brought forward by Members of the Labour party, and will, I think, appeal to every Member of the House. As hon. Members know, when the driver of a motor car is convicted of certain offences, the offence is endorsed on his licence, and the endorsement is carried on from year to year on all the licences he receives. There has been a very strong feeling for some years now, especially amongst chauffeurs who have to earn their living, that it is very hard that a man should be penalised for life through some small infraction of the law for which he has been convicted and punished. It is very hard that that infraction of the law should be put upon his licence and be kept there for ever on every new licence which he gets year by year. There is a strong feeling amongst the 1219 chauffeurs that a Bill should be passed dealing with this matter and providing that the endorsement should not be placed upon the licence for an indefinite period. They have been asking that they should be treated like other men.
If a man is convicted of an offence in any other matter, his conviction stands as a matter of record, but it is not put upon what is really his title deed to carry on his business in life. The chauffeurs say that after a reasonable period, if they have been of good behaviour, these endorsements should be wined off, and I think the period suggested is three years. They appealed to me to formulate a Bill, and I prepared one for this purpose in conjunction with the hon. Member for Ormskirk, who is very keen on these matters. Just before our Bill was introduced I was exceedingly pleased to find that some hon. Members below the Gangway, the hon. Members for Deptford, Leicester, Norwich, Gorton, West Ham—in fact, about half a dozen prominent Members of the Labour party, have drafted this Bill and put it down, and it has come on this afternoon when hon. Members in charge of the Bill are not here. Therefore I beg leave to move the Second Reading, and I suggest to the House that this Bill, which has very general support, on both sides of the House, should be given a Second Reading. Though I do not usually act with the promoters of the Bill, I am very pleased to support this measure, and it is of such a nature that I think the House might very well give it a Second Reading and let it go to a Committee upstairs.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
No, Sir, I was not going to second it. I did not know that it was necessary to second it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
The first Clause of this Bill says:
"Section three, Sub-section (2), of the Motor Car Act, 1903, shall be amended by adding, the following proviso at the end thereof:—
Provided always that nothing herein contained shall authorise or permit the council of a county or county borough to charge any fee to the holder of a licence issued by the Chief Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis under the provisions of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act. 1869, or any Act or Acts amending the same."
I do not think my hon. Friend explained that provision. It, is rather difficult to, understand without an explanation. Apparently Section 3, Sub-section (2), of the Motor Car Act, 1903, does allow a county council or county borough to charge some, fee to the holder of a licence. It is just as well, in passing legislation of this sort, that we should know what we are doing.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is the reason why it passed unanimously. In this particular case the House does not know what it is doing. I am not myself objecting to this particular provision, for I do not understand it, and it is wise before giving a vote in this House to understand what you are voting about. It may be right that a county council or a county borough council should not charge a fee to the holder of a licence issued by the Chief Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. On the other hand, it is possible that there may be some arrangements between the counties and county boroughs whereby licences are issued under certain conditions by the Chief Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. Clause 2 is an important Clause. My hon. Friend spoke about chauffeurs, but I would point out to him that it does not apply only to chauffeurs, it will apply to him if he is driving his motor car and has his licence endorsed. It applies to all people who drive motor cars. Everybody in the House will agree that there is a considerable amount of reckless driving of motor cars and vans. 1221 I do not want to particularise the people who I think are more reckless than others. A large number of accidents have occurred since the introduction of motor-driven vehicles.
The Bill applies to people who have been convicted. It is not a question of anyone who has been improperly charged with committing an offence or injuring anyone, it relates to a person who has absolutely been convicted. In these circumstances I am not at all sure that it would be wise to allow him at the end of a year to become the possessor of a clean licence. I am glad there is a representative of tire Board of Trade present. We are fortunate in possessing the presence of one Member of the Government, and I am quite certain he will be able to answer for the Home Office, if necessary, for I believe that as the licences are issued by the police they come under the Home Office. It will be very necessary to have an opinion from the Home Office upon this Bill. What will happen supposing there has been a fairly bad case of careless driving, say, on the part of my hon. Friend—I do not know whether he drives a motor car. All he will have to do is to wait for a year without driving, then take out a new licence, and, if this Bill becomes law, that licence would be a clean licence. He would be able, in the event of another prosecution for careless driving, to show his licence and say, "Here is a clean licence. I do not know whether my hon. Friend will reply to that, that in the same Court or district a record will have been kept of the convictions. In all the circumstances I think the best thing I can do is to move the Adjournment of the Debate, as I understand that would be agreeable to the House.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I beg to second the Motion for Adjournment. We have no representative of the Home. Office here to guide the House upon this matter, although the Commissioner of Police is mentioned in the Bill; there is not a single Member whose name is on the back of the Bill who is in the House at the present time, although some have been within the precincts; and, in the third place, there is a Committee sitting upstairs which is dealing with the question of the prevention of accidents in the streets.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not think I can take the Motion from a private Member. The question of the Adjournment can only come from a Member of the Government.
§ Mr. GULLAND (Lord of the Treasury)
This is a private Member's day, and therefore I am unwilling that private Members should be deprived of their privilege. Undoubtedly no one expected that those Bills which are now on the Paper would come on and neither the Members in charge nor the Minister in charge of the Department are here to deal with them, and it seems to be the general wish that the House should adjourn, therefore I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
We private Members have a chance of carrying our Bills. It has been suggested that no private Members are here in charge of Bills. I am in charge of Bill No. 10. I have waited for more than three years to get this Bill through, and I can only think, considering that the only objector in the House is the hon. Baronet, that the Bill is of real interest. It is merely to enable women to sit on county borough councils.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
You can adjourn all these other things if there is no Member in charge. I am in charge of this Bill, and I put it down in the hope and expectation that I might have a chance, and I think the House might give me this opportunity. It will not take five minutes. The Bill is accepted by the Government, and there is no objection to it.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to argue the Bill on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I do not think we should adjourn. We have a long period before five o'clock, and there are a number of important Bills. The next is for school board elections in Scotland, and I am prepared to move it.
1223 Notice being taken, at twenty minutes before Three of the clock, that forty Members were not present, the House was told by Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER; and twenty-eight Members only being present, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER retired from the Chair until Four of the clock, when the House was again told by Mr. SPEAKER, and thirteen Members only being present the House was adjourned by Mr. SPEAKER, without Question put, till Monday next (9th June).