The Law as to Motor Vehicles:

What it is and What it should be. Important Speeches by the Right Hon. Henry Chaplin, M.P., (who, as President of the Local Government Board, introduced the Light Locomotives Act of 1896), and the Right Hon. the Earl of Onslow, G.C.M.G., (His Majesty's Under Secretary of State for the Colonies). And other papers.

London: Published and circulated by the Committee of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903 Stock Code: 125384
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"Many misconceptions are prevalent with respect to the capabilities, speed, and economic importance of the motor vehicle"

First and sole edition of this very scarce and significant Blue Book, not on Library Hub or WorldCat. "An important Blue Book has been issued by the Automobile Club upon the Law as to Motor Vehicles... and addresses this very acute problem... which when the question of further regulating motor cars is so much in evidence, should do an enormous amount of good amongst those who should be mainly responsible for the introduction of any new law. The pamphlet has been circulated to every member of the House of Lords, the House of Common, and over 4,000 members of County Councils, and includes, besides the speeches already referred to, a report of the County Council's deputation to the Local Government Board upon the speed question, an important letter signed by the General Council of the Automobile Club, which was distributed in March last 1902 to over 2,000 papers in the United Kingdom, and dealing with the importance of the industry upon the future of Great Britain, extracts from a memorial of manufacturers and sellers of motor vehicles to members of the County Councils of England and Wales, results of brake trials at Welbeck Abbey, &c." (The Automotor Journal, 17 January 1903).

"In 1884 Daimler built his first vehicle driven by a petrol internal combustion engine, and Benz followed a year or so later with the invention of the motor tricycle. So the 'motorist' or 'automobilist' came into the picture of highway legislation for the first time... and the accounts of parliamentary proceedings since 1896 leave no doubt that this was a cold war of no mean intensity. During the 1890s social antagonism towards the motor vehicle became noticeable and the speed limit for motor cars was severely restricted... Such was the unsympathetic environment for the first British motor cars and it is not surprising that their 'operators' found it irksome and even intolerable. Their views, and those of the motor manufacturers, were forcibly and effectively expressed by the newly formed Motor Car Club and the Self-propelled Traffic Association; sympathetic motorist MPs also pressed hard in parliament. The result was what has been called 'the Motorists' Magna Carta' - the Locomotives on Highways Act, 1896 - which increased maximum permissible speeds to 14 mph... However the Automobile Club and the Association of Motor Manufacturers and Trades (formed in 1902) were not deterred from campaigning for the abolition of speed limits and other restraints" (T. C. Willett, Criminal on the Road: A Study of Serious Motoring Offences and Those Who Commit Them, 2001, Chapter 3). The upshot of this sedulous campaigning, encapsulated in the present Blue Book, was the passing of the Motor Car Act 1903, which received royal assent on 14 August.

A fascinating document from the early days of motoring, which includes issues such as registration, licensing, discussion of speed limits, "English roads unsuitable for very high speeds", "motors for warfare", "motors for the poor", and a rather charming dispute over the numbering of "electric broughams", with an objection raised over the disfiguring nature of official numbering to those vehicles. Such legislative incunabula is decidedly uncommon.

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Quarto, 28 pp. Original blue printed wrappers, wire-stitched as issued.


A couple of small marks to front cover, light vertical crease where folded, old stain to fore-edge of back cover (showing in margin of a few leaves), light rust-staining from staples, touch of foxing, yet this remains a remarkably well preserved copy.


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