Vehicles (Crime) Bill

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Mr. Bercow: As my hon. Friend observes, which is why he was bursting into a peal of laughter, my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of York and I were engaged in what might be described as an under-the-table consultation. My hon. Friend has an extraordinary approach to consultation; I was sitting on my chair and she burrowed along the Bench and spoke to me from beneath me.

Mr. Fabricant: I am grateful to hear that, as my hon. Friends seemed to be grovelling together on the floor rather than under the table. I assumed that it was an example of the camaraderie that occurs between people of the same party who are working together to improve a Bill. I am delighted to hear that it was a consultation, which, I am sure, was directly related to the Bill, and possibly to this very clause.

The insertion of the words ``specific aspects contained therein'' protect the individual, who may fear that too much information will be given to police officers. Although we all support the work of police officers, and constables in particular, the fear of big brother is growing. We have already passed 1984 and are now in Stanley Kubrick's or Arthur C. Clarke's 2001. The power of computers makes possible a huge intrusion into the privacy of individuals. This straightforward amendment would make the clause more specific about the sort of information that may be made available.

11.15 am

What consideration did the Home Office and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions give to a more simple way of solving the problem of determining whether a car is insured? Was the European model investigated? Did they consider the introduction of a simple insurance disc, which could be placed in the car window alongside the tax disc? The tax disc system is a long-standing one. If that possibility was considered and rejected, why was it rejected?

Does the Minister not believe that the broad scope of the clause presents a danger to the personal liberties of drivers? We must not forget that drivers feel victimised, not only because of the high cost of fuel, which may rise sharply in the next few weeks as a result of the recent OPEC decision, but because of congestion charging, motorway tolls and so on.

Mr. Charles Clarke: As the hon. Gentleman has raised the matter, I ask him to take this opportunity to urge his friends in the oil cartels to put petrol prices down at the stations; it is they who are raising the prices.

The Chairman: Order. I would like the hon. Gentleman not to answer that and to confine his remarks to the amendments in question.

Mr. Fabricant: On a point of order, Mr. Sayeed. I have no friends at all in any oil cartel—indeed, if such a cartel existed, it would be illegal, so I wonder whether I should raise a point of order about that. However, that might not be in order.

Car drivers and motor bike riders feel themselves to be victimised by this Government. The broad scope of the clause will do nothing to mitigate their fears.

Debate adjourned.—[Mr. Pope.]

Adjourned accordingly at nineteen minutes past Eleven o'clock till this day at half-past Two o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Sayeed, Mr. (Chairman)
Bercow, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Fabricant, Mr.
Gilroy, Mrs.
Jones, Helen
Kidney, Mr.
McCabe, Mr.
McIntosh, Miss
Miller, Mr.
Pope, Mr.
Russell, Mr. Bob
Shaw, Mr.
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Thomas, Mr. Gareth R.

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