Clause 11 - Financial penalty deposits

Road Safety Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:15 am ar 23 Mawrth 2006.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport) 10:15, 23 Mawrth 2006

I beg to move amendment No. 49, in clause 11, page 9, line 26, at end insert—

‘(c)that the motor vehicle is not registered in the United Kingdom, and

(d)that the person is not resident at an address in the United Kingdom or an address in the United Kingdom at which the constable considers it likely that it will be possible to find the person.’.

Photo of Janet Anderson Janet Anderson Llafur, Rossendale and Darwen

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 50, in clause 11, page 9, line 33, leave out subsection (4).

No. 51, in clause 11, page 10, line 7, leave out from ‘in’ to ‘and’ and insert

‘cash, bank-backed funds, debit card, credit card or cleared cheque’.

No. 52, in clause 11, page 10, line 11, leave out

‘in an order made by the Secretary of State’ and insert

‘up to a maximum of £2,500’.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

We are fully with the Government on the clause. It is right and goes to the heart of the current problem that my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk described, when occasionally serial offenders or offenders who are stopped in the United Kingdom are either issued with fixed penalty notices or fines and do not pay them, or indeed are from overseas and do not pay them.

The amendments would first place criteria under proposed section 90A(2) to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 that examiners must have reason to believe are true. That would give them more latitude than the Government have done. The provision is aimed not only at those from overseas who do not wish to comply with our laws, but at the group to which my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) referred in his remarks on clause 1—individuals who seek continually to flout the motoring laws of our country, causing much danger to other people on the roads.

There is a small group of persistent and continual offenders. We want to help the Government and to make sure that the Bill attacks those people. Proposed paragraph (c) to section 90A(2) to the 1988 Act states:

“the motor vehicle is not registered in the United Kingdom”.

That would cover not only foreign vehicles that may be flouting the law, but the huge number of people, representing up to 5 per cent. of the vehicles on our roads, who drive cars without a licence. It should be   clear that such people can be caught. We think that the amendment would clarify what I think is the intention of paragraph (a).

The amendment would move much of what is in proposed subsection (4) into our new subsection (2)(d) to cover not only overseas offenders, but UK citizens who have been persistently problematic, as they are either not resident at the address they have given or not there when the police call. It would give the police far greater power to attack that group of consistent and persistent offenders. I hope that the Government recognise the intention of the amendment: to give the police greater powers to impose fixed penalty notices on such offenders.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Opposition Whip (Commons)

My hon. Friend is explaining the amendments extremely well. One of the challenges is that many such foreign drivers live in houses of multiple occupation or hostels. As my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire pointed out, they sometimes live in caravans. They can be here for a very short period and they will be on the move the whole time. It is difficult to pin them down, which is why it is so important to toughen the clause up.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend; that is exactly the purpose of the amendment.

Amendment No. 50 is merely consequential on amendment No. 49, so I shall turn to our other amendments. We could have a long discussion about the payment of the appropriate amount to the Secretary of State, and the words

“in a manner specified in an order made by him”.

As I said, we see no reason why some detail on that could not be put into the Bill. The offence is serious, and the Government ought to have the opportunity to take a proper deposit that would cover a number of circumstances. A maximum of £2,500 would do that.

We could clarify the means through which the Government took the money. They could take cash—cash is what it is, unless it is counterfeit; we shall assume that it would not be. They could take bank-backed funds, making it perfectly possible for a visitor from overseas to present a traveller’s cheque or show a bank-accredited deposit note. Equally, it would be possible to use a debit or credit card, which will be relatively instantaneous; the Government could be sure of getting the funds. They could also receive a cleared UK cheque.

The Secretary of State would wish to take the payment of the appropriate amount by those methods, so we see no reason why the Minister should be uncertain about whether they should be in the Bill. I look forward to hearing from him about the other methods through which he would wish the deposit to be taken, and to his argument—or not—on why we should leave the maximum, which we suggest should be £2,500, to be decided by secondary legislation.

It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.