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We agree that two key clauses have fallen away from the Road Safety Bill, which will not be enacted in this Parliament. The measures to allow the police to secure relevant information from insurance companies and, in particular, to conduct roadside breath tests are important, and they command support on both sides of the House. We are grateful for the assurances in the other place that the police will be properly trained and supported in administering the evidential burdens test.
The provisions on animal rights campaigners were tweaked in Committee, where the Government listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon
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(Mr. Djanogly), who has led for the Conservative party on that issue. Again, we are grateful that the sensible change outlined by the Minister has been made.
Finally, the Minister referred to the extension of the provisions of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 into Scottish legislation, which is an unexceptional measure. I thought that she and I had had our last outing together on the 2001 Act in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, when we debated bouncers and doorkeepers, but we have returned to it right at the end of this Bill.
I agree with the Minister that the provisions setting up SOCA are important. As I said earlier, although the Bill was a bit of a Christmas tree Bill, it has been improved significantly, and its central thrust certainly commands my party's support. SOCA will undoubtedly help to tackle the soaring levels of crime in Britain. However, we need far more than SOCA: we need 40,000 extra policemen and women to police our streets; we need less micro-management from the centre; and we need more local accountability. The Bill does not address those issues, but they will no doubt inform the debate over the next four weeks. I believe that those issues are a compelling argument to vote Conservative on 5 May.
Peter Bottomley: I shall confine my remarks to amendments Nos. 39 and 40, and I am pleased that Viscount Simon took the opportunity to add two welcome measures to the Bill giving powers to the police.
Amendment No. 39 concerns the disclosure of information about the insurance status of vehicles and, by implication, whether a driver is insured to use a particular vehicle. It is a technical change to remove an inhibition, and it is welcome.
There is a problem with insurance companies that we must face and, again, an open discussion is required. The loadings on insurance premiums for young drivers are now so great that I suspect that a number of parents do not add their children to their insurance policies. Both the additional risk, as calculated by the underwriters, and the fact that it is a good idea for young drivers to be nominated to policies are important, but some insurance companies make it so difficult that some young people and some people who have had trouble with the lawI admit to having experienced such troublefind themselves making the wrong choice of not being covered. People should be covered, but the level of cover is a matter for debate, and we should return to that issue.
Amendment No. 40 concerns the power to require specimens of breath at the roadside or in hospital. It is not vital to know whether this point is covered by this clause or some other provision, or whether the Government are minded to introduce a relevant provision. When I was a junior Minister in the Department for Transport, if a blood sample was taken in hospital from someone who had been injured in a crash for blood matching, and if there were grounds for suspecting that that person had been driving while above the legal limit for alcohol, it was not possible to analyse the blood without the patient's consentI am not sure whether it was possible to analyse it with the patient's consentto see whether there was prima facie evidence of an offence having been committed. I hope that the Home Office, the Department for Transport
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and the Department of Health will examine that issue. Failing to give consent in those circumstances should become an automatic offence, like failing to give a blood sample. Clearly, unconscious patients cannot be asked to give their consent.
Amendment No. 40 provides for less bureaucracy and less movement of people from the roadside to the police station. It contains sufficient protections to prevent the police from using the power to harass people. I am not saying that the police would often do that, but I know of one case in my constituency in which that happened. Amendment No. 40 will not make the situation worse, and it may make things better. It is good for drivers and good for suspects.
During my three-and-a-half years at the Department for Transport, no motorist ever complained about giving an alcohol or breath test. Some of those motorists were not drinking drivers, in which case the legislation was in their favour. Some were drinking drivers who were below the limit, in which case they had a lucky escapeit was not lucky for us that they were drink-driving. Others were above the limit, in which case there were caught bang to rights.
I am delighted to open this afternoon's Third Reading debate on this fourth Session Education Bill. I apologise that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State cannot be with us today. On Second Reading, she set out that improving outcomes for children and learners should be at the heart of everything that our Department does, and that is also at the heart of this Bill. I am pleased that the Bill has met with widespread cross-party support and that it appears likely that it will make it on to the statute book in its entirety.
It was clear from the rate of progress in Committee that the Bill has created a lot of consensus. I thank those Members of this House and the other place who have contributed to the debates on the Bill and parliamentary counsel for the hard work that has gone into bringing the Bill to fruition. I also thank the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) for his excellent chairmanship of the Committee and extend my thanks to the other members of the Committee.
We can look back with pride on the impressive progress by learners, teachers and others working in education in every community. The Bill establishes the framework that we need to take education forward and to continue to improve standards and extend opportunities for every child.
Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) (Con): I am grateful to the Minister for generously giving way so soon. The Bill misses the point. The real problems with standards generally in education include the bizarre ways of teaching reading that have crept into our schools over the decades and the fact that 60 per cent. of lessons in our comprehensive schools, including core subjects, involve mixed-ability teaching. Politicians from all parties must start to address those kinds of issues if we are to tackle standards in our state schools in this country.
Mr. Twigg: The hon. Gentleman makes the reasonable point that legislation is only one of the ways in which we can raise standards. The role of legislation is important in providing the framework, and Parliament and Government clearly have an important role in providing the resources for schools, but what really makes the difference, as he rightly reminds us, is what actually happens in the classroom. He raised today, as he has on other occasions, the importance of setting. He has also raised the importance of high quality teaching in respect of English in general and reading in particular.
I am pleased to put on the record in the House what I have said elsewhere todaythat we welcome today's report by the Select Committee on Education and Skills. The hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Gibb) has played an active role in that Committee, particularly in respect of that report, which sets out some challenges for our national literacy strategy. I take
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those challenges very seriously. If I am in this position in a month's time, I will be very pleased to take them forward, but I am sure that any Minister would try to do the same because they are so important.
Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East) (Lab): The Minister may have noticed that the national media has given a lot of publicity to the Clackmannanshire experiment. Is he aware that the lady who presents the television clip is my sister-in-law, Ann Doran? She is very enthusiastic about the technique, which is not just a one-offit has been around for some time and merits investigation by the Department.
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