§ 10.53 p.m.
§ The Under-Sccretary of Slate for the Environment (Mr. Keith Speed)
I beg to move,That the Motor Vehicles (Speed Limits on Motorways) Regulations 1973, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th March, be approved.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. It will be convenient if we discuss the two sets of regulations together.
§ Mr. Speed
I agree that that will be very helpful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In 1095 that event, we can discuss at the same time the second motion,That the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) Regulations 1973, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th March, be approved. iThese are complex regulations. They deal with the maximum speed limits for certain specified classes of vehicles set out in Schedule 5 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967. Under Section 78(2) and (4) of that Act, the Secretary of State for the Environment may, by regulation subject to the approval of each House of Parliament, vary the speed limits. Schedule 5 to the Act, as amended by the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) Regulations 1971, sets out the limits currently applying to the specified classes of vehicles on roads generally. Also under Section 78 of the 1967 Act, the Secretary of State for the Environment made the Motor Vehicles (Speed Limits on Motorways) Regulations 1971 which have the effect of substituting as respects vehicles driven on motorways a different schedule of speed limits from that applicable to vehicles on roads generally.
The first set of regulations for which approval is sought substitutes two new paragraphs for paragraphs 1 and 2, as amended, of the 1967 schedule, so making the following changes in speed limits applying on all-purpose roads. The speed limit for certain private cars, dual-purpose vehicles like Land Rovers and light vans, when drawing one trailer, is increased from 40 m.p.h.—or 30 m.p.h. in certain cases—to 50 m.p.h. if certain specified conditions are complied with or if the drawing vehicle is a visiting foreign vehicle. If the conditions are not complied with and the drawing vehicle is not a visiting foreign vehicle, the speed limit of these vehicles, when drawing one trailer, is to be 40 m.p.h., which on further consideration is considered to be more appropriate than the 30 m.p.h. limit proposed in the draft regulations circulated for comment.
The conditions which have to be observed in order to travel at 50 m.p.h. the right hon. Gentleman will agree that and on certain kinds of trailer their respective weights are displayed, that a plate bearing the number "50" is displayed on the rear of the trailer and that 1096 a certain ratio between the weight of the drawing vehicle and the weight of the trailer is observed.
Two changes are made to remove minor anomalies. First, the speed limit for passenger vehicles not exceeding 30 cwt. unladen which are adapted to carry more than seven passengers but are not licensed as public service vehicles is raised from 40 m.p.h. to 50 m.p.h., in line with that for goods vehicles of similar weight; and second, the limit for motor cycles when drawing a trailer, which at present is 40 m.p.h. if the cycle is a goods vehicle and 30 m.p.h. if it is a passenger vehicle, is fixed uniformly at 30 m.p.h. The regulations will, in particular, enable caravans to be towed at 50 m.p.h. if the conditions are satisfied. At present, as the House is aware, they are restricted to 40 m.p.h. and in many situations, as we all know to our cost, they are the cause of congestion and frustration which can lead to injudicious overtaking and accidents. Increasing the speed limit for these combinations should go a long way to overcoming this potential hazard, while the condition as to weight ratio between the towing vehicle and the trailer has been designed to ensure that the increase in speed is achieved without the danger which could arise if the two were not suitably matched in weight.
The requirements to display the weights of the vehicle and of the trailer and the "50" plate are needed generally to assist the enforcement of the regulations but are not applied in the case of the visiting foreign vehicle which in practice could not be expected to comply with such requirements.
The effect of the second set of regulations for which approval is sought is to raise from 40 mph to 50 mph the speed limit on motorways for vehicles towing trailers with less than four wheels or with four close-coupled wheels, provided that if the towing vehicle has an unladen weight not exceeding 30 cwt. the increase in speed limit is subject to compliance with the same conditions relating to display of weights and of a "50" plate and to observance of a weight ratio as are specified in the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) Regulations 1973.
With that brief and, I hope, clear introduction of a rather complex subject, I hope that the House will now approve the two sets of regulations.
§ 11.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Bradley (Leicester, North-East)
The House will be grateful to the Minister for his very clear explanation of what, as he indicated, is a rather involved subject. I understand that this matter has been the subject of very long discussions and consultation with the interested parties. Indeed, one could go as far as saying that for the caravan interests it has been rather too long a period of time. For that reason, it is rather a pity that these regulations could not have been brought before the House somewhat earlier.
I understand that the regulations will not be enforced until after the Easter weekend, and that, I would have thought, will be a great disappointment to all caravan users. I suppose that we can only regard that as a characteristic oversight of the present Government concerning the convenience of this section of the public.
Nevertheless we on this side have no wish to impede the implementation of these useful regulations, which I am sure will be widely welcomed.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the Motor Vehicles (Speed Limits on Motorways) Regulations 1973, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th March, be approved.
That the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) Regulations 1973, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th March, be approved.—[Mr. Speed.]