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Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I support the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who has done sterling work on the subject. I hope that he will be rewarded today with the success that he deserves.

There is no doubt that exceeding proper driver's hours is implicated in many road accidents, which shows how dangerous it is. I am sure that we all support action being taken on that.

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This is a rainbow amendment--I colour my amendments according to who puts them forward and I have four colours on this one--and it deserves the support that amendments coming from all sides of the House often receive.

Lord Berkeley: I am the third part of the rainbow. Many of us debated this provision when we considered the noble Earl's Bill a year ago. Amendments were made--I believe that the Government may have tabled some of them. I think that the Government were happy with the Bill when it left this House, so I hope that my noble friend the Minister will say that he is happy with it today.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and others for tabling Amendments Nos. 391 and 428, which would tighten up the enforcement of drivers' hours. Together with Clauses 253, 254 and 255 and Schedule 29 on HGV impounding, the amendment formed part of the noble Earl's Private Member's Bill last Session, which ran out of time. We made it clear then that the measure is fully in line with our aims. For that reason, I am pleased to be able to tell the noble Earl that we can support these two amendments.

At present, the vehicle inspectorate and the police have no formal power to prohibit the drivers of vehicles registered in the UK who have exceeded their permitted driving time from continuing their journey. They have powers to prohibit the drivers of foreign-registered vehicles, under the Road Traffic (Foreign Vehicles) Act 1972, but for vehicles registered in the United Kingdom the only available remedy is prosecution, which does not necessarily prevent the driver from continuing his or her journey.

For road safety reasons, it is important that enforcement officers are able to prohibit a driver who is found to have reached or exceeded the daily driving time limits or taken inadequate rest. Prohibition is an option for other infringements as well, such as when a driver fails to produce any record sheets detailing his daily activities or when those records have been falsified.

Prohibitions will not be unduly onerous and will normally be the same as the period of rest that is due. For example, when a driver should have taken an 11-hour daily rest period but has not done so, the prohibition will normally be for 11 hours. For other infringements, the length of the prohibition will depend on the circumstances in which it was imposed.

In some cases, prohibition might be more effective than prosecution. The power would also act as a deterrent and it would remove any grounds for complaining of discrimination between UK and foreign-registered vehicles. Above all, it should ensure that exhausted drivers do not continue to drive when they are a danger to themselves and others. I hope that the Committee agrees to the amendments.

Earl Attlee: I am grateful to the Minister for accepting the amendment and for his further explanation of the details.

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On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 392:


    After Clause 256, insert the following new clause--

PUBLICATION OF GUIDE TO OPERATING COSTS

(" .--(1) The Secretary of State shall publish an annual guide to the minimum cost per mile of legally operating a variety of goods vehicles.
(2) The Secretary of State shall not include any element of operating profit in the guide.
(3) The Secretary of State shall ensure that all United Kingdom taxes and duties are included in his calculations.
(4) The Secretary of State shall ensure that annual mileages of--
(a) 50,000,
(b) 75,000, and
(c) 100,000,
are included in the guide.
(5) When producing the guide the Secretary of State shall consult any trade association, vehicle manufacturers or vehicle distributors he thinks fit.
(6) The guide for the second and subsequent years shall include the figures for the previous year.").

The noble Earl said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 425. Amendment No. 392 deals with the costs of operating goods vehicles. That is desirable for a number of reasons. First, new operators in the road haulage industry enter wearing rose-tinted spectacles and do not fully understand their costs of operation. Often they do not understand the costs of tyre wear, depreciation or maintenance. Secondly, frequently customers do not understand the full cost of a transport operation either and, therefore, they may not realise that their haulier may be operating illegally to achieve a competitive rate. Finally, the Government must understand that if fuel taxes are increased the costs of the industry will also increase and their competitive position will suffer.

If it is the Government's intention to show that the cost of transport is increasing rapidly due to the Chancellor's sterling efforts, surely they will want the decision-makers in industry to be aware of that so that they can modify and reduce the amount of transport for which they contract. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My contacts with the road haulage industry have not suggested that they wear rose-tinted spectacles or that they have little idea of the costs that face them. I believe the opposite is the case. To put a requirement on the face of the Bill for the Government to produce a year two publication seems to be unnecessary. A better way to approach the matter is through the process to which I referred earlier: through regular meetings of the Road Haulage Forum. This morning we discussed the work of one of the sub-groups that is looking at the statistical base of information on the road haulage industry. Likewise, that will cover some aspects of the fiscal side. The production of a report on the fiscal barriers to all modes of transport does not seem to me to be the appropriate way to do that. It should be part of an overall approach to transport on the one hand and an

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overall approach to fiscal management on the other given by the Chancellor. A requirement by the Government to produce by law a report in these terms does not seem to me to be sensible.

The Government will continue to look at the case for further fiscal measures in the context of the 10-year transport plan and fiscal measures may be one of the ways in which we achieve the objectives of that plan. To produce a separate report on those matters, as the second amendment in the group would require, is not an approach that finds favour with the Government. I hope that the noble Earl will not proceed with the amendment.

Earl Attlee: I thank the Minister for his reply. He mentioned the Road Haulage Forum. I look forward to reading the feedback in the next couple of issues of the Commercial Motor. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bradshaw moved Amendment No. 393:


    After Clause 256, insert the following new clause--

("Use of weight restricted routes by goods vehicles
LAWFUL USE OF WEIGHT RESTRICTED ROUTES BY GOODS VEHICLES

. It shall be incumbent on the driver of a goods vehicle using a weight restricted route to provide evidence on demand to any police officer or member of the Vehicle Inspectorate or Trading Standards Office that he is using the route lawfully.").

The noble Lord said: This is an amendment that was raised in Standing Committee E in another place. I hope that I shall have more luck with this one! Since the debate in the House of Commons I have pursued this matter with the police and with others. There is considerable doubt as to whether a police officer can, as the law presently stands, demand from a driver of a heavy goods vehicle, driving along a weight-restricted route, evidential proof that he is there for a legitimate purpose.

We have had a long debate on the adequacy of signing routes and about the words "access for loading" or "the route is restricted except for access". It appears that "loading" is the best word to use, although many routes have been signed using other words that were laid down in the law at the time and they may not be the best ones to use now. However, to re-sign is extremely expensive.

Most weight restricted routes are in rural areas but there are some in towns which lorries use to take short cuts through housing estates. If a goods vehicle takes a route that is restricted by law, the driver of that vehicle should be able, when challenged by a police officer, to produce some evidence as to why he is on that route. In most cases he will have some form of collection order or delivery note. In other cases he will be driving to premises, the reason for which he can explain to the police officer. There will also be other cases such as lorries collecting rubbish, when the reason will be perfectly obvious.

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In many towns and villages people's lives are being made absolutely miserable because heavy lorries are persistently driven through narrow streets, taking short cuts for their own business interests and where something needs to be done. The police tell me that as the law stands they cannot demand evidence that would incriminate a person or would not incriminate a person if they were able to produce satisfactory evidence. They have to fall back on the measure of following a vehicle through a restricted route. That is extremely expensive in terms of police manpower. I am sure that most police forces find it quite impossible to police such restrictions.

It seems that it should be possible to word a simple amendment that would place some responsibility on the driver who takes such a short route to justify his presence. I do not pretend that the words that I have used in this amendment are the ideal but if one can be drafted that would give many people in housing estates and in the country routes some protection, I am sure it would be welcomed. I hope that the Minister may be able to reply favourably in this case. I beg to move.


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