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Lord Filkin: My Lords, yes, we have. We are quietly positive about the progress so far. First, after two years of a 10-year programme, we are already one-third of the way towards achieving the death and serious injury target. Already there has been a 13 per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries on our roads as compared with when the programme began. Secondly, with regard to child deaths and serious injuries, we are half way to meeting that target after two years. That has already produced a reduction of 24 per cent as compared with the base figures.
In no way are we complacent about these statistics. As the House well knows, every one of those deaths and serious injuries represents a tragedy, but there are no grounds for believing that we are off course on this. If anything, it is the reverse. That is a compliment to the British public, which has made a major contribution to the achievement of this improvement.
Lord Filkin: My Lords, I regret to say that drivers will never see a bright red camera because they are to be painted yellow. However, perhaps that is beside the point. The purpose of speed cameras, which so far are being assessed in 15 pilot programmes which are to be further extended, is not to boost the Revenue by catching a great many people, but rather to help shift the behaviour of drivers. The issue is very serious. It does not concern trying to criminalise people, but trying to put across to the public that speed kills. Around 70 per cent of people are killed if they are hit by a car travelling at 35 miles per hour whereas if they are hit by a car travelling at 25 miles an hour, the percentage death rate is vastly lower. Thus it matters massively to reduce speed.
The extensive speed camera programme is already showing evidence that it is significantly reducing deaths and serious injuries wherever the cameras are locatedby almost 50 per cent in the pilot areas.
Lord Geddes: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that, to a certain extent, a factor which adds to the number of road deaths and accidents is the increasing tendency of push cyclists to ignore anything to do with the Highway Code? They ride on pavements and ride across red lights with impunity.
Lord Filkin: My Lords, I shall be careful of what I say about cyclists after my comments earlier in the week. Certainly most of us have noticed that there does seem to be some difference in the behaviour of cyclists; that is, not all cyclists. I do not think that anyone in this House is anti-cyclist. We want to see more people using bicycles rather than fewer. However, it would be good if cyclists used the road rather than the pavement and it would be good if they stopped at traffic lights. Clearly, if they do not, they have committed offences and they can be prosecuted.
Viscount Simon: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that within the Metropolitan Police district during 2001, the number of people killed on the roads in the district increased by 32 per cent over the previous year? In only slightly in excess of that 12-month period, the number of traffic officers on the road in the Metropolitan Police district had fallen by around 50 per cent. Would my noble friend like to hazard a guess as to whether there might be any correlation between the two?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, I am not aware of either of those statistics. However, they are important and I shall certainly look at them after today's Question Time. It is possible that there is a connection, but I should have thought it unlikely. In a sense, the number
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I found the noble Lord's response to the reduced number of traffic police officers on the road rather strange. Has he never been driving on a motorway when a police car has appeared? He would have noticed that everyone reduces their speed. When the noble Lord referred to cyclists being caught by the police, the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, is quite apparent: there are no traffic police officers about to catch those wretched cyclists who go over red lights and ride on the pavements. Could the noble Lord please look seriously at the situation with regard to the traffic police force?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, yes, the Government will look at it. We are committed to trying to make a very significant improvement in road safety standards. Clearly the police have a major part to play in that. However, I think that we are being assisted by the new technology. Speed cameras and traffic light cameras provide a more effective way of detecting offences than using highly skilled police resources, because they do not require the same amount of police time. Evidence so far from their use has been extremely positive. Nevertheless, I shall take up the suggestion put by the noble Countess.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, can the Minister justify his claim of a 25 per cent reduction in road accidents when the numbers supplied by the Library to my noble friend show that in 1997, those killed and seriously injured numbered 46,500? The number for 2001 was 41,500. That represents a fall of only 5,000 out of 46,000, which translates to a reduction of 11 per cent.
Lord Filkin: My Lords, the detailed figures are no secret. They are published every quarter on the website. I have a copy of the latest set which I shall be happy to share with the noble Baroness after Question Time. In essence, the number of deaths and serious injuries recorded in 2000 was 41,564, which is 13 per cent lower than the base year; namely, the average of the years 1994-98, the latter of which was the latest year on which there were any statistics before the figures came into effect.
Noble Lords may laugh; it is good to laugh. However, I do not think that we could achieve a fairer or more sensible base. The progress from that basefor which the Government do not take credit; that goes to the publicis significant. We have a long way further to go on this and by no means is this the position at which we want to remain.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, the cancer plan is being backed by a large increase in funding for cancer services. Last year, funding rose by £280 million. This year it will be over £400 million.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I welcome the Minister's reply, but the recent report of the Science and Technology Committee demonstrates that only one-eighth of the £280 million allocated to cancer services has actually been received by those cancer services. The committee stated:
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, what my right honourable friend the Chancellor made clear in his Statement yesterday is our fundamental support for the principle of the NHS and the provision of resources to support it over many years to come. With regard to the question of hypothecation and allocations, the noble Lord will know that the Government regard cancer services as a priority. That is why we have identified the sums of money that we believe should be spent by the National Health Service. Of course we will be responding to the report of the Select Committee in the other place in due course. However, the targets and the outcomes that have been set for the delivery of the cancer plan are making encouraging progress. Of course we will monitor the spending of resources and in the future we shall discuss those matters with strategic health authorities. However, I am satisfied that good progress is being made.
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