Road Safety Bill

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Charlotte Atkins: Clearly, in such circumstances no police officer would prosecute a motorist simply because there was a long wait. I was referring to the
Column Number: 190
idea that someone could get round the legislation by momentarily turning off the engine and then picking up the mobile phone, and saying, ''But officer, the car's engine is no longer running and I was therefore safely using my mobile phone.'' A situation where one expects to be waiting in line for 15 minutes or more is totally different.

Mr. Fisher: Taking the Minister's reply, if a vehicle is stationary and the engine is switched off, whether the intention is to be there for several minutes or just a minute or two, an traffic offence cannot be being committed. I am persuaded by the comments made by the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. I do not see that the time, or the fact that one is in a long queue, is actually relevant. The lack of power and lack of movement of the vehicle is what is relevant.

Charlotte Atkins: No, I appreciate my hon. Friend's point. The point that I was making is that someone should not simply turn off the engine once they see a police officer approaching, and say that they are not guilty because the engine is turned off. If the engine is turned off to conserve energy because the driver is going nowhere, it is rather a different situation from one in which the engine is turned off for 15 seconds or so, so that the driver would not be guilty of an offence. That is the issue. The engine might be momentarily turned off, or in the case of an electric car, it might have turned itself off to conserve energy. The point is that at any one time, if one is driving a motor car, one wants to be aware of the road conditions and what is happening at that particular time and should not turn off the engine for 15 seconds when one is proceeding down the road. One should be focusing on driving carefully rather than using a mobile phone.

Mr. Fisher: I do not want to labour the point, but is not an engine being on or off rather like the word ''unique''? We cannot have degrees of an engine being off. If it is off, it is off.

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

        Adjourned till Tuesday 1 February at twenty-five minutes past Nine o'clock.

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairmen: †Mr. Peter Pike, Mr. Kevin Hughes

†Atkins, Charlotte (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport) (Lab)

†Byrne, Mr. Liam (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab)

†Chope, Mr. Christopher (Christchurch) (Con)

†David, Mr. Wayne (Caerphilly) (Lab)

Ellman, Mrs. Louise (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op)

†Fisher, Mr. Mark (Stoke-on-Trent, Central) (Lab)

Flook, Mr. Adrian (Taunton) (Con)

†Heyes, Mr. David (Ashton-under-Lyne) (Lab)

†Jamieson, Mr. David (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport) (Lab)

†Kidney, Mr. David (Stafford) (Lab)

†Knight, Mr. Greg (East Yorkshire) (Con)

†Mahmood, Mr. Khalid (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab)

†Merron, Gillian (Lincoln) (Lab)

†Reed, Mr. Andy (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op)

†Rosindell, Mr. Andrew (Romford) (Con)

†Stinchcombe, Mr. Paul (Wellingborough) (Lab)

†Thurso, John (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)

†Wilshire, Mr. David (Spelthorne) (Con)

†Younger-Ross, Richard (Teignbridge) (LD)

Dr. John Benger, Frank Cranmer, Committee Clerks

† attended the Committee

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