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Baroness Hanham: I think that I owe the movers of the amendment an apology. It will teach me to intervene without reading further down the amendment. I see that subsection (2) delineates who would be responsible. I still have concerns about the prosecution aspect, but I apologise profusely for having intervened with entirely the wrong objection.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I think that the noble Baroness is being characteristically generous. I checked that out as I thought that the amendment was satisfactory in those terms because of the list. But there is a problem with regard to prosecution and who would be prosecuted. So the noble Baroness is not that far out. There are a few problems with regard to the amendment, which I will not go into in any further detail at this late stage. I understand that Members of the Committee have introduced this as a probing amendment to see how far we could go. I hope that I have given an adequate response.

Lord Swinfen: It would be interesting if the Minister would write to me with the problems that he sees with the drafting of the amendment. I would very much like to see it properly drafted and acceptable. I am very happy to look at who is responsible and who would do the prosecuting. I am delighted with the support that I have received, but I am somewhat disappointed with some of those who have tried to pour cold water on it.

The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, talked about who would enforce the legislation. Who enforces the legislation on the wearing of seat-belts or the wearing of helmets for motorcycle riders? Who enforces the rules on children under the age of 14 wearing hard hats when riding horses and ponies? To a certain extent, insurers will not cover people who are not belted up in their vehicles or who do not wear helmets when riding a motorcycle. Quite obviously, the police can see very
 
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easily and will stop and prosecute a motorcyclist riding along the highway without a helmet. School rules will help to ensure that any child cycling to school will wear a proper helmet and that it is properly fitted. If that is not being done today, schools are not taking their responsibility to the child seriously. They are responsible for the child when on school premises.

Persuasion will work with some people, but not all parents are responsible. We know that. We all like to think that we are. Sometimes we allow our children to take greater risks and other people would think that we are being unwise. We all do it from time to time. I know also that we have gradually to let our children widen the bounds and take greater risks. But taking risks that we know could kill them or maim them for life is not, in my view, one of them.

The Minister said that the number of deaths of child cyclists has been reduced by 40 per cent. I am delighted to hear that. It may be that some car users, which are a very nasty weapon to those riding a bicycle, are taking greater care. It may be that the warmer winter weather that we have had in the past few years has played a considerable part in that. It is much more difficult to see a cyclist when the snow is coming thick and fast compared with on a fine, dry, cold evening.

I am all in favour of children taking more exercise—I can understand the Government's fight against obesity—but cycling is not the only form of exercise; there are many others. I well remember at the age of 10 cycling on the roads without a helmet. In those days such things had not been invented; there were no helmets for motorcyclists and many safety precautions in cars had not been invented. We must move forward; we must not be stick-in-the-muds.

I shall read what the Minister and others who have taken part in this short debate have said, but I shall probably return to this matter at the next stage of the Bill. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 161 not moved.]

Lord Tanlaw moved Amendment No. 162:


"REPORT ON EFFECT OF ADVANCE OF TIME DURING THE COURSE OF THE YEAR
Within twelve months of this Act receiving Royal Assent the Secretary of State shall prepare and publish a report on the predicted changes in the number of road deaths and serious injuries that would result from advancing the time in Great Britain to two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time during the period of summer time and to one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time during the period of winter time."

The noble Lord said: I am pleased to move this amendment on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and other noble Lords who sit in different parts of the Chamber. It is a pity it has come at such a later hour, when we should keep our remarks to a minimum. The Minister has been at the wheel for many hours now and has driven the Bill extremely skilfully so far. With this amendment I am asking him to do a major U-turn.
 
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In a few days' time, on the last Sunday of this month, we turn the clocks back one hour, which will immediately result in darker evenings but lighter mornings. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, that will result in death or serious injury to about 450 people between now and this time next year. Therefore, I propose to move the amendment in the names of those as yet unnamed men, women and children who will become new road death statistics in the next six months. That will be entirely due to the maintenance of a darker evenings policy by both this Government and the previous administration after the passage of the British Summer Time Act 1972 and its subsequent orders.

When is a road safety Bill not a road safety Bill? When it pays no attention to road safety. Yet every sentence from every noble Lord who has spoken has included the words "road safety". We are even talking about road safety for Segways, roller blades and skateboards. We are turning our backs on 450 people, including women and children, who will lose their lives simply due to the fact that we run a darker evenings policy.

I am told that this year schoolchildren will be let out later, as I am sure the Minister will know. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents makes it quite clear that the majority of accidents occur around schools. There will be darker evenings as the children come out and, again according to RoSPA, most children are unescorted when they leave school and make their way home. I ask the Minister: is the death rate going to fall this year?

The Meteorological Office has offered its thoughts about the future of this winter. It may be short, but it may be very sharp indeed. Very bad and inclement weather conditions will make driving conditions bad in the dark, around schools and around the homes of the elderly. It has been drawn to my attention that this imposes a curfew on the elderly. When sunset comes they have to leave the library to get home in what remains of the light of day. That is another problem that will occur on the roads this year.

I do not know who is responsible for this. If the Minister says that the Department for Transport is not responsible, which department is? Last week, outside the Chamber, I asked the Minister with responsibility for science—he is head of the weights and measures department—whether he was responsible for making the decisions on lighter evenings. But, no, he is not; he deals only with the timescale. I asked him whether the Home Office was responsible; he was not sure. It would be very helpful if the Minister could tell me who is responsible. I believe that it should be the Department for Transport. Who is responsible? Who do we go to? Who do we ask? I have been asking this question for years in this House and I have never had a sensible answer yet from either administration on either side.

Who is responsible for the clocks? I once rang up the Home Office to ask for the department which was dealing with changing the clocks. There were two ladies in that department. I asked them what they did.
 
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They said that they were responsible for changing clocks on the two days of the year on which it is done. I asked them what they did for the rest of the year. They said that they dealt with royal processions or something like that. I would be very interested to know how many people work on this problem in the Home Office or wherever. What do they do for the rest of the year after they have seen me change the clocks back? It is a question to which I have yet to find an answer.

10.15 pm

On a more serious note, after the tragic Hatfield rail accident, it was brought to the attention of the relatives of those who had died that they could bring litigation on grounds of corporate negligence against the individuals who were responsible for the deaths through lack of maintenance. Will the sad relatives of those who will die at the end of this year bring charges of ministerial or executive negligence?

What has happened in the past 16 years? No statistics have been produced, nor effort made, to demonstrate whether lighter evenings are going to reduce accident rates. If the Minister can say that darker evenings will reduce the accident rate, he must say so, and he must give facts and figures to prove it. But I suspect that an inter-departmental muddle takes place and that nobody wants to take responsibility. So the Minister is going to say, "I am very sorry. It's a wonderful idea, but we can't do anything about it. It's not my department". But will he please say which department it is?

It is about time someone took a grip on this problem and focused on it one way or another. We really need more facts and figures. Those figures have not been forthcoming. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents—of which the noble Lord has been a president, I believe—states in its report that it would like to see a two-year trial period for single and double summer time. Why cannot this happen? Why cannot we do it? Who is stopping it? Is it the party managers? I have accused party managers in the past, and I accuse them again now. They have absolutely no right to do this in a democracy. They are simply out to try to persuade the government of the day. The attitude of the party managers on the other side was just the same for the same reason. They did not address this problem because they were worried about votes. Which is more important: lives or votes? We call this the Road Safety Bill yet we turn our backs on this issue.

I know that the Minister and his party are very conscious of road safety. Every aspect has been touched on in this Bill. Would he please not ignore this amendment and give us a positive response? Perhaps the amendment does not use the right words, but I am sure that can be adjusted. Can we please move forward from the present static position? I beg to move.


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