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Column 697Sackville, Tom
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Speed, Sir Keith
Spencer, Sir Derek
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Spink, Dr Robert
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Tellers for the Noes: Mr. David Lightbown and Mr. Sydney Chapman.
Column 697Question accordingly negatived.
Column 698Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.
Mr. Deputy Speaker-- forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
That this House reaffirms its commitment to enabling people to buy their own homes, which four out of five people aspire to do; welcomes the fact that the cost of home ownership relative to incomes is at an historically low level; recognises that the existing system of Income Support Mortgage Interest leaves seven out of ten households without cover for their housing costs when unable to work; welcomes the Government's proposed reforms which will help ensure that new home buyers protect their homes against the risk of unemployment; welcomes the innovation taking place in the lending and insurance markets to provide good quality and affordable cover; rejects proposals to spend even more taxpayers' money by introducing a mortgage benefit scheme that will effectively underwrite private borrowing; and is confident that proper management of this major household expense by comprehensive insurance schemes, backed by lenders and insurers, will contribute significantly to a return of market stability.
That Mr. Quentin Davies, Mr. Iain Duncan Smith, Mr. John Evans, Sir Archibald Hamilton, Sir Terence Higgins, Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith, Mr. Robert Maclennan, Mr. John Morris, Mr. Tony Newton, Mr. Stanley Orme and Mrs. Ann Taylor be members of the Select Committee on Standards in Public Life.-- [Mr. Conway.]
That Mr. Robert Ainsworth be discharged from the Environment Committee and Jane Kennedy be added to the Committee.-- [Mr. Don Dixon, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.]
Column 699Motor Cycling (EU Directives)
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Conway.]
Mr. Michael Fabricant (Mid-Staffordshire): You will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, from our discussions from time to time, perhaps on one occasion in an Indian restaurant in Lichfield, that before I became a Member of Parliament I used to spend time motor cycling around Europe braving the uncertain roads of Greece and Turkey. Sadly, my colleagues in the Whips Office take the view that another by-election in Mid-Staffordshire would probably not be a good idea so my Yamaha FJ1200 no longer throbs between my legs in foreign climes. Nevertheless, I maintain a keen interest in motor cycling, so when the European Commission produced the
"Directive on Certain Characteristics of Two and Three Wheeled Vehicles"
shivers went down my spine.
Since we last discussed the matter in the House, motor cyclists in Britain and in Europe, under the banner of the Federation of European Motorcyclists, have persuaded the European Parliament to disagree with most of the Commission's proposals--a rare achievement indeed. The European Parliament took a contrasting view from the Commission because it was persuaded by good solid evidence and well-presented argument that many of the proposals were ill-judged.
Tonight I shall outline three areas where the motor cyclists' case has been most persuasive. First, motor cycle sound levels have been debated a number of times. We must always bear it in mind that public perception of excessive noise is invariably due to machines that are already illegal. Had I been allowed to do so, I would have ridden my Yamaha into the Chamber and demonstrated that its gentle purr is far quieter than any ill-maintained high-revving 120 cc bike with only one tenth of my bike's cubic capacity. I took advice to find out whether I would be allowed into the Chamber in my leathers and crash helmet, but I was told that it would not be de rigueur.
The occasional lack of enforcement in this country and virtual non- enforcement in other European Union member states is no justification for bringing levels down even further.
I recognise that enforcement of existing sound level legislation is extremely difficult technically. It simply is not possible to measure the sound of a motor cycle at the side of the road when the background noise is even louder. However, new laws coming into force in Britain next year will simplify that task by controlling the marking of silencers. That will make it a simple matter for a police officer to check whether the silencer is appropriate for the machine or the circumstances.
The push, therefore, to lower the maximum sound level from 82 to 80 dB when 82 is perfectly acceptable to the public, if only it were enforced, is simply not justifiable.
If the Minister and hon. Members are still not convinced of that, I would urge them to accept an invitation from the Motorcycle Action Group to attend one of its motor cycle noise demonstrations. For that is precisely the way in which the European Parliament was convinced: the Federation of European Motorcyclists badgered it into listening. The
Column 700motor cyclists' most vigorous opponents had their opinions reversed, to the extent that 95 per cent. of Members of the European Parliament voted against the lower levels.
It is not known whether the Commission was aware of that before drafting its directive. However, it is interesting that the motor cyclists nearly met defeat when representatives of the European motor cycle industry, ACEM, stated that the 80 dB limit would be acceptable at a pinch, on the grounds that the noise reduction was technically achievable, albeit at greater cost.
The greatest critics of the EU will be grateful for the ammunition provided by the apparent philosophy that, if something is achievable, it should be compulsory, regardless of whether it is necessary, desirable or detrimental.
ACEM's acceptance of the European Commission's decision was not a unanimous decision of its members. Triumph Motorcycles certainly opposes implementation of the lower sound level, as it will reduce its range considerably or increase its prices even more considerably--hardly the helping hand for industry that I know my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade would want, let alone what my hon. Friend the Minister for Railways and Roads always wants, to provide.
Secondly, I wish to discuss the control of emissions of new motor cycles. Although it would be ideal to reduce emissions as much as possible, a motor cycle has much better green credentials than a car. Even if the exhaust may not be as clean as some cars, it produces a great deal less of it. A bike consumes considerably less petrol and is therefore less of a pollutant. In addition, a motor cycle does not contribute to traffic congestion in the ways that cars do, as anyone who has been in a traffic jam and seen a motor bike roaring past can attest. Having regard to that, the European Parliament proposed a compromise on emissions to minimise price increases to more economical bikes; what good sense that was.
If we divert motor cyclists into cars because of increasing costs in meeting emission levels, the environmental effect will be far worse. If people in poorer parts of the European Union can no longer afford to go to work as their transport becomes illegal--a real prospect for the cheap two- stroke of eastern Europe--we shall have done a great disservice to them and to the British taxpayer, who will have to pick up the tab, as usual, in the shape of still larger contributions to the European cohesion funds.
Finally, I wish to mention the complicated and contentious issue of anti- tampering. However, it is useful to consider the history behind that proposal to appreciate its absurdity fully. Type approval is a well-meaning idea to facilitate standard requirements for vehicles in all member states so that a motor cycle manufacturer can produce for one European market. There are, for example, 15 different types of moped in the Community with different specifications.
Unfortunately, that legislation appears to have been a means to include unregulated, bolt-on regulations, which grow out of all proportion once they fall under the avaricious gaze of the Commission.
In some countries, notably France, 14-year-olds are permitted to ride mopeds without a licence or insurance. Once the joy of riding on two wheels has been experienced, there is a wait of up to four years before motor cyclists can progress to what they would call a real motor cycle. Faced with that frustration, many young Europeans modify their
Column 701machines to obtain greater performance. It should be fairly obvious that extracting more power by essentially amateur means from a frame that is designed for a restricted life is not a safe thing to do; nor is it in the spirit of the restriction.
With that in mind, the principle of anti-tampering was born. The idea was to oblige manufacturers to produce their machines in such a way as to make it impossible for owners to attempt to increase power. That is achieved in two ways. First, anti-tampering provides that no parts should be interchangeable between models that might produce an increase in power; and, secondly, an engine must be designed to cease functioning--to auto- destruct--should anyone other than an authorised dealer attempt to tamper with it.
At the same time there is a proposed licence directive which establishes three different categories of motor cycle licence in addition to mopeds, which are called category A. It now gets a little more complicated. Learners must ride bikes of category B, which will be restricted to 125 cc or 11 kW; while those who have passed their tests will be forced to wait two years, during which time they will be subject to a restriction of 25 kW or a power to weight ratio of 160 kW per tonne. That is known as category C. Only after that long wait will riders be permitted to move up to category D, which is the unlimited category, but which some hon. Members may remember started life as the wholly discredited 100 horsepower limit that would have severely damaged Triumph's marketing.
Although the Motor Vehicles Working Group decided in 1992 that anti- tampering restrictions should apply only to mopeds, the Commission has now taken it upon itself to extend those restrictions to all categories, without taking the expert advice that it sought at the beginning. That makes no sense at all. As a result, those who have passed their tests and are experienced riders would not be allowed to service or maintain their own machines. The majority would be constrained because of the irresponsibility of a small minority. That is simply not equitable.
Triumph Motorcycles--one of our booming exporters--has achieved success by using a commonality of parts in manufacturing its machines. Such production methods would simply not be possible under anti-tampering legislation. Applying anti-tampering measures to Triumph could mean the end of a successful company and the end of many jobs.
It is not only manufacturers of motor cycles who will be damaged by the legislation; the thousands of people in this country who make pattern parts --spare parts--will be affected by the measure, too, as there will be no such thing as a part which fits several motor cycle models or even models from different years. Not only will the economy of scale be defeated, but it will become necessary to gain manufacturers' co-operation in order to produce parts in competition with them. Clearly, the end result will be that parts will be made only by the original manufacturers and servicing will be carried out by registered dealers only.
Such monopolies are not conducive to the free market and they go against the original intent of type approval: to provide a single market giving greater choice, not less, at a lower cost to the consumer. The FEM has reached a compromise with the European Parliament to allow category A and B motor cycles to be subject to