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There is no excuse for motorists speeding. The object of the exercise must be to reduce the speed of vehicles and the number of accidents. We know that 3,500 people are killed on our roads each year, and that the number of people injured runs to hundreds of thousands. We also know the cost to the public purse of all those road accidents. Surely it makes sense to prevent the speeding and the accidents from happening in the first place.
I agree with hon. Members who said that there must be a culture change. I was not helped when I received a letter from an organisation called the Association of British Drivers bearing the sub-heading "Promoting effective road safety instead of the criminalisation of safe driving", which states:
Speed is a contributory factor in many road deaths and road accidents. We do not know precise figures. If the Bill results in just one death being prevented, it will be worth while. However, I believe that it will result in many deaths and serious accidents being prevented. I therefore urge the House to support it. I also ask the Minister to consider incorporating a proposal that every penny generated by the new system should be spent on road safety in the broadest sense, in addition to moneys already earmarked for the purpose.
Mr. Efford: I want briefly to raise one or two points with my hon. Friend the Minister. I accept all the arguments about road safety, but I want to concentrate on the issue of abandoned vehicles, which is dealt with in this group of clauses.
I accept my hon. Friend's point about the flaws that may exist in new clause 5, but I want to raise the point about the cost to local authorities of dealing with abandoned vehicles. My hon. Friend said that the Bill would restrict its focus to fixed penalties. Abandoned vehicles attract fixed penalties. While we are dealing with issues such as vehicle registration, it would not require a giant leap to add not only the issue of speeding but that of abandoning vehicles by the roadside.
The scrap value of such vehicles has disappeared, which is why we are experiencing this problem. Disposing of a vehicle properly costs money so perhaps we should ask vehicle manufacturers to cover the cost of disposal. Furthermore, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency cannot pursue an individual who has disposed of a vehicle on the roadside. It may ask, "Is this your vehicle? You are the last registered owner," but that person may reply, "No, I have sold it to somebody else--it is no longer mine." Even though the vehicle may be parked outside that person's house, the DVLA can do nothing about it.
I have pursued the issue with my local authority, which assures me that that is the case, but it is surprising that the DVLA has no power to pursue the last registered owner if that person states that he no longer owns the vehicle, even though he may not have returned the log book with a new owner's name on it or taken some such step. There are regulations in place that would allow the DVLA to pursue such individuals, but we must place the responsibility to
Up and down the country, and in London in particular, council tax payers and local authorities face the huge expense involved in disposing of vehicles abandoned on the kerbside, and there are no comebacks on those who deny that they own such vehicles. There are more powers to deal with someone who disposes of litter on the street than with someone who disposes of a vehicle. Abandoned vehicles can be extremely dangerous as well as inconvenient and costly to the public purse.
I want to put my views on record and stress to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary that there is an urgent need to take action. Abandoned vehicles represent a huge cost to the taxpayer and an enormous problem that will not go away unless we give powers to impose a cost on those who dispose of their vehicles in such a way.
Mr. Fabricant: Certain expressions come to mind when one thinks of the new Labour Government--hit the ground running, the people's Parliament, the people's dome and joined-up government, for example--but the new clause reveals not joined-up government, but turf wars between Ministers. Government amendment No. 43 will delete clause 37; it will be replaced by new clause 7. However, I shall speak to amendment No. 26, which stands in my name and, I am delighted and slightly embarrassed to say, that of the Liberal Democrats in the form of the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell), who served with us in Committee, and the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Chidgey), who, like me, is one of the seven chartered engineers who are Members of the House. It is always worth plugging that issue.
I listened to the argument presented by the Under-Secretary as to why the Government would not support my amendment, which and I must confess is a probing amendment that highlights certain issues that the British Motorcyclists Federation and I want to be known. As my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) said, under clause 37 and new clause 7, income derived from speed and traffic light cameras will be ring-fenced for road safety. We approve of that. However, we have tabled our amendment for a simple reason.
Under proposed new subsection (5) clause 37, speed and traffic light cameras will deal with the speed of vehicles, contraventions of restrictions on the speed of vehicles, temporary minimum speed limits, speeding offences generally and traffic light signals; but perhaps that sends the wrong message as to the cause of road traffic accidents, and I shall refer to analysis carried out by a number of institutions.
Mr. Chidgey: The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that time is short because of the programme motion. I shall not be making a speech so I am grateful to him for accepting my intervention. Does he recall that the Minister said that extending the offences relating to the amendment beyond speeding would introduce a distortion of justice in terms of the penalties inflicted? When he argues that moneys raised should be spread wider in terms
Does the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) accept that, notwithstanding the overall cost of accidents to the economy, as such schemes become more effective and motorists become more law abiding in respect of speed, revenues, by definition, will fall? Consequently, there will be less money for such schemes.
Mr. Fabricant: A fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, I believe. Anyway, the hon. Gentleman displays sound logic. If the implementation of speed cameras is effective, there will be fewer offences and, therefore, less income. That makes one wonder whether there will be sufficient money for road safety programmes. One could go on with the argument and say that if there were no accidents one would not need a road safety programme, because the roads would be safe. I guess that everyone would like to achieve that.
To bring the House back to the amendment, I point out that considerable analysis has been undertaken of the characteristics of urban motor cycle accidents. They rarely have anything to do with speed. Keith Booth, of Modern Analytical Studies, Rochford, Essex, has done an analysis showing that 62 per cent. of accidents involving motor cycles, mopeds and scooters were primarily caused by other road user groups.