HC Deb 07 March 1984 vol 55 cc941-61 10.14 pm
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

I beg to move, That the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) Regulations 1984, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th February, be approved. I should like to speak briefly in introducing the order and will, with the leave of the House, reply to any points made by right hon. and hon. Members.

I believe that speed limits must be realistic, since otherwise the majority of drivers of all vehicles tend to break them. When the vast majority of drivers are driving over the speed limit, enforcement ceases to be a practical possibility, as most hon. Members will know. Indeed, most hon. Members have acute and personal experience of the problems that I am talking about. The effect is to bring limits into disrepute and thereby to bring the law into disrepute.

Apart from amendments made to caravan speeds in 1973, there have been no amendments of substance to vehicle speed limits since the middle of the 1960s. The proposals in the regulations have been subject to consultation since last August, although they have been aired as possibilities for at least the past two years. We were waiting for the results of the national speed survey, which were published not long ago. That survey confirms the need to look at speed limits as a whole.

The survey said that 64 per cent. of coaches are exceeding the current 50 mph dual carriageway speed limit. Some 89 per cent. of lorries are exceeding the 40 mph dual carriageway speed limit. Some 12 per cent. of cars, which are not covered by the regulations, are exceeding the 70 mph dual carriageway limit, and 40 per cent. are exceeding the 70 mph motorway limit. There is nothing in the regulations about motor car speeds.

Mr. Anthony Beaumont-Dark (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Why not?

Mr. Ridley

I have only just received the national speed survey. I am looking carefully at the evidence on car speed limits in the light of what it reveals.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Surely my right hon. Friend will agree that if one is increasing speed limits for lorries and coaches, one should delay implementing that increase until one has considered whether car speed limits should be increased. It is illogical that a car must break a speed limit even more because of the regulations. Of course, I would never break a speed limit—at least, that is what I tell the police. Surely it is wrong for cars to have to break the speed limit to overtake. Should not one increase the car speed limit, particularly on motorways?

Mr. Ridley

Perhaps my hon. Friend has not studied the regulations in great detail. They increase the speed limits for lorries on dual carriageways only from 40 mph to 50 mph, but as motor cars are allowed to travel at 70 mph on dual carriageways, even my hon. Friend, with his careful and cautious driving, should be able to overtake. The proposal has been around for two years, and it is high time that we came to a conclusion on it. There is no proposal for motor cars, but I shall consider that problem carefully in the light of the survey that I have now received.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

My right hon. Friend said that enforcement has ceased to be a practical possibility, which is one reason for introducing the regulations. Do the Government have any plans to extend the principle to other parts of the law? If a speed limit at 50 mph cannot be enforced, and is impracticable, how is a speed limit of 60 mph so different?

Mr. Ridley

I fear that my hon. Friend misheard me in the hubbub that was created by the departing agriculturalists. I said that the speed limits cannot be enforced if a large proportion of drivers are breaking them. I did not say that they cannot be enforced full stop.

As I said, the regulations deal with coaches and lorries only. They deal with dual-carriageway driving only. The factors that are relevant to increasing speed limits on dual carriageways for coaches and lorries are that over the past 10 years at least, a large amount of high quality dual-carriageway road, especially bypasses, has been built. In 1973, there were 2,217 miles of non-motorway dual carriageway and 10 years later, in 1983, there were 3,095 miles.

Vehicle construction standards have been greatly improved, especially braking performance. The stopping capability of a modern lorry travelling at 50 mph is equal to that of a car travelling at 70 mph. It is no longer realistic or sensible to apply the same speed limits to single-carriageway rural roads as to high-quality dual-carriageway roads such as the A1.

Mr. John Ward (Poole)

I have been listening carefully to what my right hon. Friend is saying, as one of those who intend to support him in the Lobby. I am sure that he will appreciate that what he is saying is making a good deal of sense. However, can he assure us that when he has discussions with our right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary they will ensure that if speeds are increased, another 10 mph on top will not become the norm?

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend is asking a hypothetical question about a change in the speed limit that I am not proposing. I am merely proposing an increase from 40 mph to 50 mph for lorries on dual carriageways and from 50 mph to 60 mph for coaches on dual carriageways.

Enforcing speed limits is a matter for the police. I attach great importance to securing better compliance with realistic limits and I have some things to say about that, particularly about coach speeds. I believe that the police will agree that these new regulations will help enforcement because the limits are so flagrantly and frequently broken now that the task of enforcement is harder than it would be with a realistic speed limit.

Mr. Tim Brinton (Gravesham)

If the speed limits are so important, why is it so important that a works truck should not exceed the speed limit of 18 mph? That is in the regulations.

Mr. Ridley

I am sure that my hon. Friend does not often drive his works truck. It is a specialised vehicle, as he will know, and there are special speed limits, to which I shall come, for various types of specialised vehicles.

For coaches, no change is proposed for motorways, and 70 mph remains the speed. There will be a new limit of 60 mph on dual carriageways. I know that much concern has been expressed about compliance by coaches with the motorway limit. I have agreed with the Bus and Coach Council a code of good conduct for buses on motorways, which will be in force by Easter. It will provide for the voluntary use and the monitoring by management of tachographs. It will be possible for the managers to collate all the details on the tachograph and to make sure that their drivers have not exceeded the speed limits, either on motorways or on dual carriageways. The Bus and Coach Council has undertaken to enforce this new measure, but we shall be reviewing the operation of the code after the summer. If performance is not a great deal better then, as I hope that it will be, further action will have to be considered for bus speed limits at the end of the year.

Sir Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)

On the review of the behaviour of vehicles and compliance with the speed limit, my right hon. Friend will be aware that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the most sensible of the road safety lobbies, supports this proposal. However, if it is wrong, if the Minister is wrong and if there is, when the regulations become law, an increase in the number of serious accidents involving coaches and lorries, will my right hon. Friend, at the end of 12 months, return the speed limits to their existing level?

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend shows a proper concern, but his three "ifs" make his argument extremely hypothetical. Of course the House will want to monitor the effects of speed limits on accidents. If we find that we have made a mistake, the House will want to reconsider. The accident records for heavy goods vehicles have improved enormously. In 1972 there were 114 accidents per 100 million vehicle km and 68 accidents per 100 million vehicle km in 1982. The number of accidents has nearly halved. That should give my hon. Friend some comfort.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will buses be subject to the same restrictions after the summer? Will they still be allowed in the fast lane, regardless?

Mr. Ridley

There will be no change in that rule. Coaches are allowed to use the fast lane.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

I find that profoundly unsatisfactory. Buses go tearing past in the outside lane although lorries are not allowed to do so. Will my hon. Friend reconsider that rule?

Mr. Ridley

If buses stick to the speed limit, they should not be able to go tearing past. We shall require articulated buses to keep out of the fast lane, but there are not many of them.

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

Will the Minister confirm that a special speed limit of 40 mph applies to lorries on the A74 north of Carlisle? Will the regulations remove that necessary safety restriction by replacing it with a 60 mph limit?

Mr. Ridley

The answer to the first question is yes, and to the second no.

There will be virtually no change in lorry speeds on motorways and single-carriageway roads. The limit on dual carriageways will be increased from 40 mph to 50 mph. That new limit was a White Paper commitment into which the Government entered following the Armitage report. Even in 1977 widespread violations of the limit were recorded and the police supported the increase. The safety record has improved greatly since then.

The industry estimates that the economic benefits even from the small change that I have just announced could involve as much as £300 million a year. If we want increases in our standard of living, improvements in productivity and cost reductions for shoppers, we must accept that such things matter. That figure may be an overestimate. It is not mine but the industry's. It demonstrates the importance of doing what we can to help to make lower prices work through.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

How does the industry arrive at an estimated saving of £300 million by increasing the speed limit?

Mr. Ridley

Certainly. The hauliers have to plan the journeys of their heavy goods vehicles on the basis of the speed limits in force on the roads that will be used, in order to be able to calculate how many hours a driver can be at the wheel, in accordance with the regulations on drivers' hours. If the speed limit is lower, drivers deliver fewer goods at higher cost.

Mr. David Harris (St. Ives)

My right hon. Friend is being most indulgent, and I am grateful to him. He is touching on a very important point now. Would he bear in mind counties like my own, Cornwall, which are a long way from markets and other centres, and where hauliers have all the difficulties of drivers' hours, yet, by Government decision, are being denied the benefits of dual carriageways? Thus, their disadvantage will be increased by this measure. Will my right hon. Friend please look again at the A30? The competitive position of these drivers will be worsened if, in areas which have better roads, others can drive that much faster?

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend is stretching a point, if I may say so, with great skill, in order to press me to build dual-carriageway roads in his constituency. His point would be better raised in a debate on roads in Cornwall. I do not think it can be said that his area is disadvantaged by these regulations. However, as he knows, there are many dual carriageways leading to his constituency, if not actually in it, which will be of benefit to his constituents.

In addition to this package of speed limits, the Government are concerned to improve the safety and amenity, if that is the right word, of the heavy lorry. We are bringing in regulations to provide for underrun guards, safe sideguards and spray suppression equipment to be fitted to all lorries. Meanwhile we are developing, at the European Community's insistence, quieter heavy lorries, which should be coming in soon. This development has the Government's support.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

Along with all these sensible new ideas that my right hon. Friend is going to introduce, would he consider also introducing lights halfway down the side of these great juggernauts? Sometimes in dark or foggy weather, if a lorry is turning across a main road and its tail light cannot be seen, other drivers may go straight into the side, with fatal results. That happened to one of my constituents.

Mr. Ridley

I will certainly consider my hon. Friend's point, but I do not think that it arises on speed limit regulations.

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

On two further points of immense importance for safety, is my right hon. Friend giving any guidance as to the distance that lorries must keep between them when travelling at increased speeds? Is he giving any thought at all to better control of the weight of lorries? If the overweight lorries travel at these increased speeds as often as they seem to do now it will increase the risk to every road user.

Mr. Ridley

I do not think that it would be possible for us to secure greater distances between lorries simply by issuing guidance. Like many other road traffic measures, it is a very difficult thing to enforce.

Mr. Rathbone

It is done in France.

Mr. Ridley

The answer to his second question is that lorry weights have been greatly increased lately, and we are now in a much stronger position than we were some years ago to make sure that we have sufficient checks on lorry weights to begin to be able to enforce the legal limits in the way that we should.

Mrs. Anna McCurley (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)


Mr, Ridley

I shall give way to my hon. Friend, but to safeguard the time of the House I am afraid that I shall not give way again after that.

Mrs. McCurley

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that warning signs, for drivers coming off dual carriageways on to single-lane roads, are given well in advance? Some of the most serious accidents take place when vehicles leave dual carriageways, and drivers are still obeying the dual carriageway speed limit.

Mr. Ridley

I should like to give my hon. Friend a considered reply to what I am sure is an excellent point, but I am not sure that it arises on this instrument. The trouble is that we have so many expert advisers on all subjects to do with road transport that I have been taken rather wide of the subject. I have already taken longer than I should, though it seems that the greater part of my speech has been spoken by other hon. Members.

There are some small changes to which I should refer, one affecting cars towing caravans or trailers. We have abolished the complex weight ratio rules and set a new limit of 50 mph for all car-towing combinations on all roads. We have taken the opportunity to bring the speed limits for drawbar trailers up to 60 mph on motorways, 50 mph on dual carriageways and 40 mph elsewhere, as for other types of heavy lorries. Small vans derived from car chassis are now treated as private cars and not as goods vehicles. The light/heavy goods vehicle dividing line —[Interruption.] What is funny about that?

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

It is the way I tell them.

Mr. Ridley

The dividing line between heavy and light goods vehicles for purposes of the definition of speed limits is now 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight to coincide with rear marking rules. There are also some alterations to the speed limits for specialised vehicles such as motor tractors, locomotives and so on, which have been slightly simplified. We have received no adverse comments on these minor changes. I hope that the House will agree that the regulations should be approved.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

Follow that.

10.38 pm
Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

It will be difficult for me to do as my hon. Friend suggests and follow the speech of the Secretary of State. Indeed, I shall have almost as much difficulty as he may have when he reads the Official Report of his remarks. The right hon. Gentleman deserves to be congratulated at least for discovering something that was previously unknown on earth. In a Government, as a part of whose activities mistakes are becoming the norm rather than the exception, he discovered an articulated banana skin on which to slip.

Mr. Ridley

Ha, ha, ha.

Mr. Snape

I knew that that would amuse the right hon. Gentleman.

The main thrust of the Secretary of State's argument—if one can describe such a flaccid speech as having any thrust at all—was that as the present limits cannot be enforced we must increase them. That is a fascinating theory. I hope that the rest of the House is as grateful as I am for the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has never achieved the distinction of being elected the mayor of New York city. Given the murder rate in New York, God knows what legislation the right hon. Gentleman would propose if he were responsible for the administration of that city.

The right hon. Gentleman says that because the present limits cannot be enforced, they should be increased. That is a strange conclusion. Presumably, on the right hon. Gentleman's predictably tortured logic, if drivers treat the new limits with the contempt with which they treat the present ones, the right hon. Gentleman will say that the limits must be increased again.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)


Mr. Snape

That is the only argument that the right hon. Gentleman has put forward so far today.

One could say that there is an argument ——

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

We want to hear the facts.

Mr. Snape

If the right hon. Gentleman ran into the facts I should have to pick him up, because he would fall over them. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to give me the facts, I shall allow him to do so when I have made a couple of points that arise from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. There is plenty of time. The debate will last for another hour, and I am prepared to detain the House for as long as is necessary for us to have a sensible debate on the regulations.

It could be argued that a possible reason for raising speed limits is that the existing variability of speed limits between vehicles causes accidents. Some research suggests that, on some occasions, that might be true. A. few studies — normally made by the Department of Transport, which has an abiding interest in these matters—have reached the conclusion that a reduction in road accidents could result from increasing the speed limits. However, the balance of evidence — not mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's speech— strongly supports the contrary view.

In 1972 there was an OECD report entitled "Speed Limits outside Built-Up Areas". It examined studies carried out in a number of countries and came to a fairly firm conclusion that increases in speed limits generated more accidents, and accidents of increased severity. That message may be a simple one, but it is one that the House should ponder before accepting the flimsy, if not nonexistent, evidence that backs the proposed regulations.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

The hon. Gentleman must concede that things have changed. One of the most important contributory causes of accidents is frustration.

Mr. Richard Hickmet (Glasford and Scunthorpe)

What sort of frustration?

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

I do not want to worry about other people's frustrations. I am talking about motorways and roads. Frustration is caused when vehicles that could safely go faster have to crawl along. Also, since the speed limits were fixed, vehicle safety has been improved. Tyres and braking facilities have been improved, and acceleration is faster. Why should vehicles be kept in the past when safety dictates that they could go faster and so reduce frustration among all road users?

Mr. Snape

I accept the validity of some of what the hon. Gentleman has said. However, I hope the House will agree that accidents are likely to be more severe when speeds are higher.

I concede that advances have been made in vehicle design and development since the 1972 study was carried out, but there have been more recent studies of speed. With regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, the fact that buses and lorries are now designed to run at 80 or 90 mph is not a justification, I should have thought, for increasing speed limits. I heard him say earlier this evening that his car is capable of travelling at 150 mph.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

I do not drive that fast.

Mr. Snape

I am sure that that is true, but if the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that 150 mph should be the speed limit, I am sure that, bearing in mind the appalling speech that we have just heard, he will find a receptive ear in his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He will not get much sympathy—or I hope he will not—from this side of the House.

As recently as last year the Policy Studies Institute said in its evidence to the Transport Select Committee, which was published on 26 April 1983, that, first, conflict situations leading to accidents would be more likely to arise if speeds were increased; secondly, that in some of the conflict situations that would still have arisen it would have been possible for drivers to take evasive action to avoid the accident if speeds had been lower and, thirdly, that if speeds had been lower some of the accidents would have been less serious. That is fairly up-to-date evidence and I should have thought that it was the House's duty to consider such evidence when making a decision.

It is not just interested parties that are worried about the speeds of heavy vehicles. The Motor Transport magazine can fairly be called part of the road lobby. This week's issue gives details of excessive speeds of heavy goods vehicles. It repeats some of the statistics that the right hon. Gentleman gave and points out: On dual-carriageway roads 64 per cent. of buses and coaches were over the 50 mph limit, but only 20 per cent. were over the new 60 mph limit recently announced. Once again I ask the House to draw its own conclusions from those figures, but if 20 per cent. of buses and coaches are exceeding the proposed limits now, is law breaking likely to increase, or decrease, if the House accepts the order? Hon. Members must come to their own conclusions, but I believe that that 20 per cent. is likely to be joined by others who have read about this debate or have seen these matters reported in the commercial press and say, "If speed limits are to be increased, let us go for the 10 mph margin that we often hear about." We are likely to get even more law breaking if we accept the regulations.

Under the heading "Truck speeding noted", the same magazine said: A high proportion of trucks are breaking speed limits on British roads, according to the results of the Department of Transport's 1983 national speed survey. The DTP claims 30 per cent. of heavy goods vehicles were breaking 60 mph limit on motorways in August". Out of a total of 1,425 trucks, more than 30 per cent. had an overall average speed of more than 8 mph greater than the proposed limit. I should have thought that that was ample evidence of the undesirability of the House accepting the regulations.

The regulations refer not only to heavy goods vehicles but to coaches. All of us in this House are aware of the Government's desire to liberalise the regulations covering inter-city coaches, but concrete and specific evidence of the extent to which coach services exceed speed limits is available from a survey undertaken last summer by the Scottish Trades Union Congress. Such a body might not be regarded by the Conservative party, because of its prejudices, as the soul of impartiality, but I hasten to add that the Scottish TUC engaged an independent researcher to carry out the research on this matter.

As part of the study the researchers travelled on four sample journeys by private operators and timed the coaches with a stop watch as they passed various points. The journeys that he logged were from Glasgow to Inverness and return, and from Glasgow to London and return.

On the Inverness run, the coach was calculated to have been travelling at over 71 mph on a road where coaches and buses are restricted to 50 mph. At a later point the coach was travelling at over 75 mph. That is under the existing regulations, and although, presumably, the Secretary of State would cite that as evidence in favour of an increase in those speed limits, those of us who pause and think for a moment would regard such a proposition as both unjustified and untenable.

It gets worse, however. On the London trip the coach was timed at different points as travelling at speeds of 77, 81, 82 and 85 mph, and on the homeward journey speeds of 84 mph were recorded.

Mr. David Marshall

Will my hon. Friend confirm that most of those violations of the law were carried out by private cowboy operators employing non-union drivers?

Mr. Snape

They were certainly carried out by private coach operators, and my hon. Friend will be as aware as I am of the Secretary of State's intention to allow even more private operators on to our roads, regardless of the evidence that I have tried to put before the House tonight that this is the area where these abuses take place.

Mr. Ridley

Would the hon. Gentleman be in favour of reducing the speed limits for coaches, on the extraordinary assumption, which he seems to be putting forward, that that would have the effect of reducing the speeds at which coaches travel?

Mr. Snape

I should be in favour of enforcing the existing regulations. I should also be in favour of not promoting the sort of climate that makes it easy for people like this to break the law, seemingly with impunity. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman is a leading member of a Government who desire even more of these private operators on our motorways is, to say the least, not likely to contribute to road safety. It is likely that if these abuses continue—or even grow worse if these regulations are accepted—there will be even more carnage on Britain's roads and motorways.

The survey went on to say: It was clear that some of the scheduled times advertised by private sector operators were so tight as to allow little margin for recovery time, in the event of any of the normal traffic hold-ups which can be expected. Again, those of us who regularly sit through Transport Question Time will be aware that from both sides of the House complaints regularly come about the amount of road works on Britain's roads and motorworks and the delays that they cause. The fact that there is no built-in recovery time in private operators' coach schedules obviously indicates that where these delays occur, if an on-time or a near on-time arrival is to be achieved, speeds such as I have given to the House are likely to have to be maintained to meet a very heavy schedule.

Mr. Marlow

The hon. Gentleman seemed earlier on to have it in for private coach operators. Does he feel that, for some peculiar reason, private coach operators are far more likely to break the law than are public operators? Is this not yet another scurrilous assertion, without evidence, by the Opposition Front Bench?

Mr. Snape

If evidence is ignorance, the Secretary of State is the wisest man in the House. That is the only reply to the hon. Gentleman. The fact that the survey was carried out on private operations might have been because of the pressures on private operators — legitimate economic pressures in the minds of some of the owners of the firms—that mean that more pressure is put on drivers who work for smaller companies than on those who work for large publicly owned organisations. Any trade unionist worth his salt in the public sector, and the public coach operation is highly trade unionised, will ensure that the abuses that I have described are not forced on him or his fellow members. I should have thought that was common sense, but the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), despite the evidence, is refusing to accept the argument.

I have no doubt that when the Minister of State replies to the debate we shall be told that the proposals are part of the Armitage recommendations. It is true that Sir Arthur Armitage recommended that certain speeds be increased. However, he was emphatic that his proposals did not represent a package to justify the introduction of heavier and faster lorries. He said to the Select Committee on Transport on 25 February: You need to do 50 recommendations, recommendations 1 to 50, if you are going to protect the public and the public interest against the existing situation and its likely developments. What have the Government done to carry out recommendations one to 50 in the Armitage report? They have certainly failed to carry our the bypass building programme that was advocated in the report, which might have provided some justification for the regulations. In the four years of the previous Labour Government, from 1975 to 1979, 59 new bypasses were opened. In the first four years of the previous Conservative Government, from 1979 to 1983, only 35 were opened. Yet this is a Government who accept the obtrusive nature of heavy goods vehicles and intend to try to direct such vehicles away from our towns and cities, where the residents, quite rightly, complain about the noise, the traffic dangers and the damage to the environment that they cause. That is not a blanket condemnation of the heavy lorry, because Conservative Members are rightly as vociferous as my right hon. and hon Friends in drawing attention to the damage to the environment which heavy lorries cause in their own constituencies. That cannot be said of the SDP Members, because none of them is in the Chamber at this hour of the night.

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

I am interested in the debate and I hope to be able to ask many questions about roads in Wales. I see that Ministers from the Department of Transport are present who are responsible for roads in England. I see also that Scottish Office Ministers are present, who are responsible for roads in Scotland. I note that no Ministers from the Welsh Office are present. Is that because the Welsh Office is treating roads in Wales with its usual disdain? What is the reason for this? Is my hon. Friend able to help me?

Mr. Snape

I shall do my best, as ever. I can only think that Welsh Officer Ministers are unable to be with us this evening because of all the damage that has been done to the Severn bridge by heavy goods vehicles. No doubt the Secretary of State, in his desire to placate the people of Wales, will be promising us a further crossing of the Severn so that faster vehicles can travel to and from our respective countries even more quickly.

What have the Government done to implement the 44 major recommendations in the Foster report on road haulage operators' licensing, which was published as long ago as 1978? I shall not even bother to ask the Minister about the 47 minor recommendations contained in the report. The House is still waiting for the common cost-benefit analysis for the road and rail schemes recommended by the Leitch committee report on trunk road assessment, published as long ago as 1977.

The House might feel that I have been unduly hard on certain aspects of Government policy, but there is one item of joy which Motor Transport brings to all hon. Members who are interested in this matter. There is a promise from no less an exalted personage than the Minister of State, Department of Transport, that shortly there will be picnic areas on motorways. It will be wonderful when we get those amenities and we can sit and watch heavy goods vehicles thundering past as we eat our egg sandwiches. That does not strike me as being in line with any of the recommendations of the reports to which I have referred.

I profess to be no expert on the subject of caravanning.

Mrs. Chalker

Or anything else.

Mr. Snape

If the Minister of State thinks that about me, I do not know what she thinks about her right hon. Friend.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Earlier, my hon. Friend referred to the fact that the SDP was not attending this debate. Has he considered the fact that, later this spring, the Leader of the Social Democratic party will address a big luncheon at £27.50 per head, plus VAT, at the Road Transport Industry Training Board? I should have thought he would have got genned up on this matter.

Mr. Snape

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his ingenuity. If the House is sufficiently unwise to accept the regulations, all those dinner-jacketed truckers will be able to get there even faster than at present, and I suppose that we should be grateful for that.

The campaign against the abolition of the weight ratio regulations for towing caravans is being conducted by the Camping and Caravanning Club in no uncertain terms. It has circulated a letter to, I believe many hon. Members, which states: The current problem stems from the Department of Transport's consultation last year on their proposals to raise the speed limit for towed vans and trailers from 50 to 60 mph on motorways only and to abolish the weight ratio. We also support the proposed increase to 60 mph, because, with the weight ratio in force, it is perfectly safe to travel at that speed and we felt that it would perhaps ease the frustration which some other drivers feel when they have to overtake a caravan doing 50 mph. Everyone was appalled at the Minister's decision to abolish the weight ratio, which we understand was taken on advice that the law was unenforceable. I look forward with interest to following the career of the Secretary of State in other parts of Government if he is prepared to abolish existing laws on the ground that he feels they are unenforceable. The right hon. Gentleman's case is palpably unsatisfactory, and I invite the House to join me in voting against the regulations.

11.3 pm

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

I never have been and never shall be a Minister, but if such an unfortunate occurrence ever arose I certainly would hope never to find myself in the position of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, defending what I regard as the indefensible.

There are three points in the regulations which are objectionable, and that is why I am unable to support the measure — speed; the principle behind the regulations; and the effect the measure might have on British Rail, which has not yet been mentioned.

On 2 March the Minister of State wrote to me about the regulations, because I had been objecting to them for a long time. She said: I believe that this is a safe and realistic limit for modern coaches". No one doubts that it is safe for modern coaches to travel fast, but I am worried about other road users, including those people who may find themselves in one of these faster-moving coaches which may be involved in an unfortunate accident. I have never heard anyone claim that more speed means more safety. I do not see how it is possible to claim that a fast coach going faster is safer for other road users. I do not believe that to be so. That is a fairly non-controversial proposition.

My right hon. Friend mentioned enforcement and I asked him a question which, with the greatest of respect, he did not answer. I do not want to drag over the point, but I am bound to say that I regard as reprehensible the proposition that because many people break the law, the law should be changed to accommodate them. The hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) asked where that would leave the crime of murder in New York. I should have thought that the Home Office would have found the principle thoroughly objectionable.

A Department of Transport press release about the regulations states: Action is needed to increase compliance with them. That refers to speed limits. In an intervention to my right hon. Friend, which he did not answer, I asked what on earth made him think, if the 50 mph speed limit was being abused with impunity, that the 60 mph speed limit would be easier to enforce. I believe that the percentage of those people breaking the law by travelling over the speed limit will continue, and that all we will have will be a similar percentage of people breaking the law, but doing so at higher speeds.

Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

My hon. Friend is making a point which has been made by other hon. Members. If the speed limit is being widely ignored, it is likely that it is not being seriously enforced by the police. We must ask ourselves why. I believe that the answer is that the police and those lorry drivers against whom the limits must be enforced realise that the present speed limits are unenforceable.

Mr. Adley

Members of the Conservative party, which is supposed to be the law-abiding party, should think twice before they make that proposition, when over the years we have chastised the Opposition for deciding which laws they want to obey and which they want to break. My hon. Friend should think carefully before using such phrases. "Clay Cross", which is not far from his constituency, caused many heated debates in the House a few years ago.

I take up the point made by my hon. Friend about the abuse of the law. If the law is being abused, the answer is, as I think the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East has already suggested, to enforce the law. There are two ways in which it could perhaps be enforced. One would be stiffer penalties. The mandatory removal of a driver's licence for three years for breaking the law when driving a public service vehicle would be one way. Fitting governors on heavy lorries or coaches with maximum speeds over which the vehicles could not be driven would be a simple way to enforce the law. I know that that would involve cost for the industry, but if we are interested in upholding the law there are ways to do so.

I do not agree with the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East when he says that the only coach drivers who break the law are those who are not union members. If he would like to drive with me down the M3 motorway at 70 mph, he would see the London-to-Bracknell coaches flying past at well over 80 mph. Those drivers are not cowboys working for small private operators. I do not wish to make a partisan point. The breaking of the law particularly by coach drivers is universal and seems to have little or nothing to do with the employer or the size of the organisation.

My right hon. Friend produced the extraordinary figure, taken up by my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames), of £300 million or £350 million benefit which the regulations will bring to the road transport industry. If we are to follow that to its logical conclusion, the obvious answer is not to abolish speed limits but to put a minimum speed of 90 mph on all road vehicles, when presumably we could cut food prices in half. Surely there are some areas where even for some of my hon. Friends money is not the be-all and end-all. What is good for the Freight Transport Association may not be good for the majority of the people. If money was to be the only objective in regard to the utilisation of road space, we could quickly knock down Christchurch Priory in my constituency and build a multi-storey car park.

Even though it is different from the Department of the Environment, the Department of Transport has an environmental responsibility. When I was scanning the orders and the numerous press releases from the Department of Transport, I thought, whatever the exaggerated claims, surely nobody in his right mind would claim that the regulations will improve the general environment. That would be like presenting to the House a claim that even the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) would not make for Socialism. Yet here it is. I quote again from the press release of the Department: These changes carry forward my general policy of removing unnecessary restrictions on road transport,"— we know all about that— so as to keep down costs to industry and to the consumer, wherever this can be done without prejudice to road safety, and at the same time reducing risks and environmental nuisance to motorists and others who share our roads with these large vehicles. Whoever wrote that seems to have a strange idea of what we should be doing in the House to improve the environment.

I want to speak briefly about the effect on British Rail.[Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) groans. I have long been one of those Conservatives who believe in the mixed economy and do not wish ill to our nationalised industries. I want to see a successful British Rail. I am happy that it should face fair competition, but I am disappointed when every opportunity seems to be taken by the Department to make life more and not less difficult for it.

The regulations can only increase competition for British Rail from long-distance coaches on numerous journeys, such as Plymouth to London, where there is a long stretch of A38 dual carriageway between Plymouth and Exeter, and Bournemouth to London, with the long stretches of the A31 and A33. The coach operators will gleefully be able to advertise yet faster journeys in competition with British Rail. That in itself is enough to cause me not to support the regulations.

I have mentioned the Freight Transport Association. We should, I suppose, be grateful for small mercies. The FTA in its press release, which it said it sent to selected Members of Parliament, came out with this proposition: The FTA accepts that Parliamentary approval for such changes must result in an equivalent response from industry and we shall therefore give the utmost public support for the need for new limits to be properly respected. What has it been doing with the present limits?

This is yet another small but not insignificant effort to give the road lobby what it wants. It is yet another small but significant factor in increasing speed and danger on the roads. It is harmful to the interests of British Rail. Finally, it is contrary to what most people believe to be sensible for the speeds of heavy lorries and coaches on non-motorway roads.

11.14 pm
Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)

I confess that, when ploughing through the regulations and the press release, I had rather more sympathy with the Minister who made the regulations than some hon. Members who have spoken in the debate. Vehicle speeds must cover many different roads, and it would require the judgment of Solomon to introduce regulations that would satisfy everyone. Clearly, the opening speech in this debate was not made by Solomon.

I was surprised to hear about some of the speed limits that apparently exist at present. I was amazed to learn that the speed limit for coaches on single carriageway roads is just 50 mph. The number of people in Cornwall who knew that has just been increased from nought to one, because I am sure that no coach driver in my county knew that. Coaches go too fast, intimidate other traffic, and are dangerous. Even if the regulations are accepted tonight, I hope that more effort will be made to enforce the present speed limits. The breach of speed limits is not marginal—we are all tempted to go a few miles per hour faster now and then — but is of a different order, and not enough effort is made to enforce them.

Two points worry me especially, and they are the reason why I shall vote against the regulations. The first is the regulation for caravans. Is the Minister really saying that he would be happy for the largest caravan that can be towed on a road—which I understand to be 22 ft long and 7 ft 6 in wide—loaded with goodness knows what, to be towed by a Mini? There is no doubt that the Mini would have enough power to pull it, given that some people have the patience to drive cars in first gear. I have towed a few caravans in my time. Let us suppose that some of the people who career towards my constituency, as they do in their hundreds, towing caravans at the speeds allowed in the regulations—assuming that they are not exceeding the limit—suddenly reach the corners that I regard as a delight but which too many of our visitors regard as a great surprise. If they suddenly put on their brakes to get round the corners, they will discover some laws of kinetic energy and momentum that I was taught when I studied engineering, and they will carry straight on.

Although in absolute terms the weight ratio for caravan and vehicle may be difficult to enforce, by removing them in toto, as the Minister has done, the floodgates have been opened to the lunacy that I recall existed in Britain eight or 10 years ago before these regulations were introduced. On those grounds alone, there is sufficient reason to vote against the regulations.

One thing that the Government intend to do, which delights me and is a substantial contribution to safety, is to introduce regulations to reduce the spray coming from lorries travelling at high speeds. That is one of the most useful things that the Government could do for road safety, and I look forward to their introduction. But it is wrong to increase speed limits before introducing those spray regulations. The logical approach would have been to introduce the regulations to reduce spray, and then later to increase speed limits, if need be. I am not satisfied that it has been done that way round.

During the past few months the Government have increased maximum lorry weights from 32 tonnes to 38 tonnes, and they are to allow maximum speeds on single carriageway roads to be increased from 40 mph to 50 mph. That represents an increase of 83 per cent. in the kinetic energy of a vehicle. In my area and many others there has not been over-investment in roadbuilding, and in many places the idea of a 38-tonne lorry thundering through a village, legally, at 50 mph would be frightening. Sadly, the reality is that the vehicle is probably a 42-tonne lorry careering through the village at 55 mph. That will increase the demand that I and many other rural Members have experienced for more speed limits through communities that straddle main roads. I have had much correspondence with the Minister on individual cases over the years. It is a natural reaction of those who live in such communities, who perceive and feel the danger and power of those great vehicles as they plough through their midst, to demand that speed limits be introduced. I am therefore far from convinced that in all cases there is the advantage that the Minister claims.

I have outlined three objections to the regulations. I ask the Minister to reflect particularly on caravans when he replies. I am concerned that the regulations represent for many a reduction in the environmental quality of their lives, if they live near routes used by those vehicles. The higher speeds allowed to some coaches on our dual carriageways are not justified.

Let us have a crackdown on the speed of coaches on motorways. There will be the most almighty tragedy one bank holiday. Two or three of those vehicles will crash, and not three, four or eight of our constituents, but many more, will be killed. An hon. Member will then demand an inquiry into why a whole coach has been written off, when there will be clear evidence that it was driving at 85 mph or 90 mph. It is the Minister's responsibility to crack-down on that in a big way. I believe that it is possible to enforce speed limits on our motorways. If there were the will, it could be done.

11.22 pm
Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

Hon. Members on both sides of the House seem to oppose the regulations for different reasons. I shall add to the number. I know that they are full of good intentions. Of course we wish to promote road safety in every way, but the regulations fall down badly by not grasping the issue of raising the speed limits for cars on motorways, dual carriageways and other roads.

Maintaining the differential is essential if we are considering road safety. The regulations reduce the differential, which is already narrow enough. They will make driving more hazardous, create frustration, lead to bunching and make overtaking much more difficult. Many hon. Members have enormous experience of motorways and clock up high mileage every year. Most hon. Members know what they are talking about, in view of what they see nearly every weekend. It is essential that the motor car speed limit on motorways is raised to 80 mph or 85 mph as soon as possible.

I know that my hon. Friend the Minister of State visited the premises of the magazine Motor Sport last January. She received a petition signed by 76,000 experienced motorists, calling for an upward revision. I know that millions more would have signed that petition had they known that the opportunity was available. We should think carefully about this issue.

Part of the Secretary of State's case is that road holding and the brakes of goods vehicles have improved. I accept that. However, so have those of private motor cars. Therefore, there is every reason why the maximum speed should be increased by 10 mph. Another reason that has been given is that the increase will speed the road haulage industry along the motorways and other roads. I accept that, but I hope that my right hon. Friend will also consider the many business men and other commercial users who want to get more quickly from one end of the motorway to another in their private cars.

My criticism is even stronger when we come to dual carriageways. That affects my constituency, where the A74, that notorious road, links the M6 at Carlisle to the M74 near Glasgow. On that road, few drivers realise that they are not still on the motorway.

In the early 1970s I carried out a great campaign against the Scottish Office, which then accepted that special signs should be erected every few miles along the 60 miles of the A74, drawing the attention of the lorry drivers to the fact that the maximum speed for them was 40 mph. As we have heard from both sides of the House, sadly such speeds are not accepted by drivers and they pound along at 50, 60 or even 70 mph. All these signs will now have to be altered.

The differentials about which I have spoken have narrowed even further. I welcome what my right hon. Friend had to say about spray. We must not leave the debate without saying a word of thanks to the police. It is impossible for them to carry out checks on speeds at the moment because their resources are not adequate for dealing with thousands of cars an hour on motorways and dual carriageways. In the more remote areas, all the lorries are linked up by CB radio and know exactly where the police cars are waiting.

My strongest objections are to the speed limits on the so-called other roads, or the single carriageways. In my area there is the single carriageway from Carlisle to Stranraer, which carries all the Irish freight traffic. Cars are limited to 60 mph, and it is essential that that limit goes up to 70 mph soon. There are 1,270,000 lorries under 7.5 tonnes a year, some of which are articulated, and caravans, all of which will be moving at 50 mph. It is difficult to overtake these vehicles, particularly if there are two or three caravans in convoy, if one cannot exceed 60 mph.

Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Does my hon. Friend share my concern for the driver on a road such as those that he has been describing trying to get past and finding it impossible to do so because the road is so narrow and having to travel for a long way behind a lorry? When at last a stretch of dual carriageway comes up and his opportunity to overtake would have been there, because of the extra speed and the fact that the lorry may go over to the other side of the road, possibly to overtake another lorry, there will be little opportunity for the ordinary motorist to pass, where now he is able to do so.

Sir Hector Monro

I accept what my hon. Friend says, and this is one of the problems to which I am coming. A mathematician worked out — these sums are too complicated for me—that if one starts from behind a caravan and a commercial vehicle of under 7.5 tonnes, both of which are going at 50 mph, at 40 yards behind in the proper position, it will take over 200 yards to get past if one does not exceed 60 mph. If one allows another 100 yards for free visibility of on-coming traffic, one needs about 300 yards of clear road before one can overtake if one does not exceed 60 mph. Where, between Carlisle and Stranraer, is it possible to find a straight stretch of road of 300 yards where one can overtake without breaking the limit?

Mr. Home Robertson

The hon. Gentleman is talking about roads in Scotland and is suggesting that it should be possible for all traffic to go a little faster. Has he seen a letter that was sent to the Secretary of State for Scotland last month deploring the fact that, in some parts of Scotland, Government expenditure cuts have reduced the rate at which road surfaces are being repaired to approximately once every 200 years? How can it make sense for traffic to go faster and faster on disintegrating road surfaces?

Sir Hector Monro

That has nothing to do with what we are debating. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the magnificent improvements in roads, such as the A9, he will know what the Government have achieved in the past five years.

There is a super new road from Perth to Inverness with single and dual carriageway alternating all the way for about 130 miles, but one has to change speed limits frequently. Touring cars from overseas, commercial vehicles and private cars chop and change speed limits. The sooner a speed limit of 70 mph is introduced for all cars, the better. The limit should be higher on motorways and dual carriageways.

I shall find it difficult to support the regulations unless my right hon. Friend can give me a clear undertaking that car speed limits will be increased to maintain the differential. That is essential if the regulations are to be of practical value to the majority of drivers.

11.30 pm
Mr. Peter Griffiths (Portsmouth, North)

I support many opinions expressed this evening, particularly that about private motor car speeds by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro). Because of the short time for debate and the late hour, I shall confine myself to discussing the private motor vehicle towing a trailer.

The Minister said that the proposed regulations had been the subject of consultation over the past two years. I am interested to know what consultations about the towing of caravans and trailers behind private motor vehicles support his conclusions. Those who speak for caravanners and campers are in favour of a higher speed limit, so long as the ratio between the weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer behind it is maintained.

An extreme case was described by the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon). We are talking not only of the six-berth caravan pulled by a mini but the powerful modern motor car pulling a small trailer containing camping equipment which will be restricted to 50 mph on the motorways. The Government had an opportunity to raise that to a reasonable and acceptable level.

The mistake lies in disregarding the ratio between the towing vehicle and the trailer. That ratio should allow different speeds for different circumstances. I cannot accept that it is impossible to enforce such rules. It would be no more difficult than enforcing a speed limit. When a car has been stopped, its speed is a matter for argument, but the weights of trailers and vehicles are absolute. It would be simple to establish that a certain ratio permits a speed of over 50 mph and that, when the trailer weight in relation of the towing vehicle is greater, a lower speed limit should apply.

Dr. Marek

In a conversation the other day the hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) said that south of Guildford he always does 90 mph to Portsmouth. It is strange that he should talk about speed limits when he does not keep to them. Will the hon. Gentleman assure me that, if the regulations are passed, he will keep to the speed limit?

Mr. Griffiths

Obviously I shall have to be more careful about who I speak to in future.

Mrs. Chalker

One should not repeat private conversations.

Mr. Griffiths

A mistake has been made in abolishing the weight ratio which allows different speeds for the towing of trailers of different weights and sizes.

11.34 pm
Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

We are short of time so I shall restrict my remarks to one matter. The tachograph record of a coach or lorry will yield an accurate record of whether that coach or lorry has exceeded the 70 mph limit, because the tachograph, when switched on, accurately records the speeds at which a vehicle travels.

At the moment, as far as I know, tachograph records are not admissible as evidence in a prosecution for speeding. Nevertheless, they ought to be admissible in prosecutions for speeding above 70 mph—for instance, on motorways. However, the place where the alleged offence occurred is of no consequence. Wherever it had taken place, it would have constituted speeding.

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend, when talking to the Bus and Coach Council, will have threatened it, perhaps only implicity, with two measures: first, that coaches on scheduled services would be obliged to carry tachographs, which is not the case at present; and secondly, that the tachograph records on those services would be made admissible in court. If the Bus and Coach Council is unable to deliver the promises that it has made to my right hon. Friend, I hope that the Government will consider implementing both measures.

11.37 pm
Mr. Ridley

With the leave of the House and in the short time remaining, I will try to deal with some of the points that have been made.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) felt that these regulations in some way worsened the competition between rail and road for the haulage of goods. This is hardly valid. Trains have no speed limits at all.

Mr. Snape


Mr. Ridley

Some trains travel at 125 mph, as ray hon. Friend should know. I do not believe that, with the taxation regime that the road transport industry has always had to bear, he can sustain that particular case.

Several hon. Gentlemen have asked about caravan towing limits. The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) cited the example of a Mini towing a 22-ton caravan. [HON. MEMBERS: "Twenty-two foot."] I can tell him that this would not be allowed under the construction and use regulations, which give the police full powers to stop and question the driver of any towing combination. It is just as easy to interpret the regulations as it is the old weight ratio regulations, and the powers are reproduced in them.

The hon. Member, like my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths), wondered whether any people were in favour of the changes that we have made. The Caravan Club has strongly supported the changes that we are proposing in these regulations and has dissociated itself from the views of the Camping and Caravaning Club, a separate organisation. The latter wanted not only to maintain the weight ratio but to go to 60 mph for caravans being towed on motorways, as my hon. Friend pointed out. I can tell him that consultations with the industry on motorway speeds are still going on. If we can reach a point where stabilisers can be fitted on a large enough scale, that may well become possible.

It is odd, however, how many hon. Gentlemen in the debate have urged different things upon me. Several have urged much higher speed limits than we propose and others have urged lower ones. I thought that the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) was also asking for higher limits for caravans on motorways. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) urged higher speed limits for motor cars. We have only just received the speed survey, and I would like a little time to consider it and examine the important issues raised by it before making any statement at all on motorway speed limits for motor cars.

Mr. Hickmet

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the evidence that the Association of Chief Police Officers gave to the Select Committee on transport on 22 February, in which it said that speed limits in Britain were in a mess and urgently needed revising, that many were retained merely for historic reasons and had become unrealistic, and in particular that there was a case for raising the speed limit to 80 mph on motorways?

Mr. Ridley

The two suggestions in these regulations for increasing speed limits will make a big contribution towards removing the mess that exists. I have not had time to form a view on the question of motorway car speed limits, and I cannot give the House an indication of the conclusion that I may reach.

I appreciate the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries made about relative speeds from the point of view of overtaking. On dual carriageways, even though lorries and coaches may have speed limits 10 mph faster. I doubt whether they will go much faster, because they go too fast already. While that may not follow — [Interruption.]—my hon. Friend will be able to overtake, because it is a dual carriageway. No increase is proposed for single-carriageway roads—much of the trouble about which he spoke occurred on those roads — but by increasing the speed limits on dual-carriageway roads there may be no overtaking difficulties because those roads are designed for overtaking.

The main point which has worried hon. Members is enforceability. As the speed survey made clear, there is a great deal of abuse of the present speed limits. Coach speeds have been quoted, and we all know that coaches have been speeding excessively. It is a wrong connection to say that increasing the speed limits in the limited way suggested will increase the speeds at which vehicles will travel. I do not believe that to be true.

Enforcement is a matter for the police. They have suggested that enforcement will be easier when the speed limits are more sensible, and I do not believe that a speed limit of 50 or 60 mph for a lorry on a motorway or 40 or 50 mph on a dual carriageway will greatly change the speeds at which lorries travel. However, it will help the police to enforce the limits, because they will be enforcing the exception rather than the rule, which is broken by most.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) said, the tachograph——

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted Business).

The House divided: Ayes 171, Noes, 69.

Division No. 185] [11.43 pm
Alexander, Richard Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Hawksley, Warren
Amess, David Hayes, J.
Ancram, Michael Hayward, Robert
Ashby, David Heathcoat-Amory, David
Aspinwall, Jack Hickmet, Richard
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Hind, Kenneth
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Hirst, Michael
Baldry, Anthony Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Batiste, Spencer Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Holt, Richard
Bellingham, Henry Hooson, Tom
Benyon, William Howard, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Body, Richard Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Hunter, Andrew
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Jones, Robert (W Herts)
Bright, Graham Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Bruinvels, Peter King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Bryan, Sir Paul Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Butterfill, John Latham, Michael
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Lawler, Geoffrey
Carttiss, Michael Lawrence, Ivan
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Lee, John (Pendle)
Chope, Christopher Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Lester, Jim
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lilley, Peter
Cockeram, Eric Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Conway, Derek Lord, Michael
Coombs, Simon McCurley, Mrs Anna
Cope, John MacGregor, John
Couchman, James MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Cranborne, Viscount Maclean, David John.
Currie, Mrs Edwina Marlow, Antony
Dorrell, Stephen Mather, Carol
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Murphy, Christopher
Dover, Den Neubert, Michael
Dunn, Robert Oppenheim, Philip
Durant, Tony Ottaway, Richard
Dykes, Hugh Parris, Matthew
Evennett, David Patten, John (Oxford)
Eyre, Sir Reginald Pollock, Alexander
Fairbairn, Nicholas Powley, John
Fallon, Michael Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Favell, Anthony Renton, Tim
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Rhodes James, Robert
Forth, Eric Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Fox, Marcus Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Freeman, Roger Roe, Mrs Marion
Gale, Roger Rossi, Sir Hugh
Galley, Roy Rowe, Andrew
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde) Ryder, Richard
Garel-Jones, Tristan Sackville, Hon Thomas
Gow, Ian Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Sayeed, Jonathan
Ground, Patrick Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Sims, Roger
Hampson, Dr Keith Skeet, T. H. H.
Hanley, Jeremy Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hargreaves, Kenneth Soames, Hon Nicholas
Harris, David Speller, Tony
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Stanbrook, Ivor
Stanley, John Waller, Gary
Steen, Anthony Ward, John
Stern, Michael Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Warren, Kenneth
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Watson, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Watts, John
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Sumberg, David Wheeler, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Whitney, Raymond
Terlezki, Stefan Wiggin, Jerry
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Winterton, Nicholas
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Wolfson, Mark
Thurnham, Peter Wood, Timothy
Townend, John (Bridlington) Woodcock, Michael
Tracey, Richard
Twinn, Dr Ian Tellers for the Ayes:
Viggers, Peter Mr. Ian Lang and
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Mr. John Major.
Wall, Sir Patrick
Adley, Robert Loyden, Edward
Alton, David McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. McWilliam, John
Barron, Kevin Madden, Max
Beith, A. J. Marek, Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Boyes, Roland Meadowcroft, Michael
Campbell-Savours, Dale Michie, William
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Nellist, David
Clarke, Thomas Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Clay, Robert Parry, Robert
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Patchett, Terry
Corbyn, Jeremy Penhaligon, David
Cowans, Harry Pike, Peter
Cunliffe, Lawrence Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Prescott, John
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Redmond, M.
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Robertson, George
Deakins, Eric Rooker, J. W.
Dewar, Donald Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Dormand, Jack Rowlands, Ted
Eastham, Ken Skinner, Dennis
Fatchett, Derek Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Fisher, Mark Snape, Peter
Foster, Derek Spearing, Nigel
Foulkes, George Steel, Rt Hon David
George, Bruce Stott, Roger
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Wallace, James
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Home Robertson, John Wareing, Robert
Howells, Geraint Welsh, Michael
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Wigley, Dafydd
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Kennedy, Charles Tellers for the Noes:
Kirkwood, Archibald Mr. Frank Haynes and
Lamond, James Mr. Don Dixon.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) Regulations 1984, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th February, be approved.