Clause 12 - High risk offenders: medical enquiries following disqualification

Road Safety Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:15 pm ar 23 Mawrth 2006.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I shall not detain the Committee long. We are in general agreement that it is sensible that the Secretary of State should have power to hold back high-risk offenders while they are being assessed for their medical condition as alcoholics. There are several clauses on alcohol. I should like to hear the Minister’s view on a disturbing trend that I have read about recently in press reports: as a result of longer licensing hours, more drink drivers are being picked up the following day after drinking. Can he elaborate on   that? I have received information from West Mercia, where one in every five drink-drivers are now being arrested the following day. Jenny Wynn, director of the Telford Training Consultants group, a rehabilitation group, said that

“we have seen an increase in drivers caught ‘the morning after’ which is most probably due to the increase in licensing hours. With pubs opening later people are now drinking into the early hours and while getting a taxi home at night they are still over the limit when driving to work the next morning.”

A total of 1,495 drink drivers were caught last year, which is in an increase of 37 on the previous year in West Mercia.

I know that that is a general point related to alcohol, but does the Minister have any information on it? On the specifics of clause 12, we think the proposal tightens up the loophole. It is a sensible clause and we support it.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Minister of State, Department for Transport 1:30, 23 Mawrth 2006

I do not have any information to hand on that particular issue.

To be fair, successive Governments and police forces have made strenuous efforts over the years to remind drivers that they might think that they are sober when they wake up in the morning but if they have had a real skinful the night before often they might still be over the limit, although they might not still be feeling all the effects. I have no information as to whether such situations are occurring increasingly, but I will look into it, to see what I can find out.

The clause simply closes a loophole where certain people who were convicted of drink-driving were able to retain their licences before the Secretary of State had made the determination that they were fit to get their licence back. It was never the intention of the Road Traffic Act 1988 that they should be able to do that. It was simply a loophole created by a drafting error, which the clause fixes.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.