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The Earl of Dundee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, but on the case for targeted breath testing I should reiterate a couple of points. First, we have failed to sustain a proper reduction in drink-driving casualties; and, secondly, all the studies have shown that effective enforcement and the fear of being caught present real deterrents. I hear what the Minister says when he offers encouraging statistics, and I note his assertion that the police are content. Nevertheless, further thought should be given to this matter before Third Reading. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"(12) Where an alcohol ignition interlock is fitted to a motor vehicle as part of an approved alcohol ignition interlock programme relating to an offender, a person commits an offence if
(a) he interferes with the alcohol ignition interlock with intent to cause it not to function or not to function properly, or
(b) he is a person other than the offender and provides or attempts to provide a specimen of breath for the purposes of the alcohol ignition interlock with intent to enable the driving (or continued driving) of the vehicle by the offender."
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 10 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 11 to 13. Clause 13 gives the courts the power in certain circumstances to offer offenders the opportunity to participate, at their own expense, in an "alcohol ignition interlock programme". Where an offender agrees to this, his overall period of disqualification may be reduced.
In Committee the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, questioned what would happen if a person other than the offender provided a specimen of breath to allow the offender to drive the car. I note that he has tabled an amendment to that effect today, which I hope he will withdraw when he has heard my remarks.
My response then and my view now is that the risk of the wrong person giving a breath specimen, or at least of this happening without detection, is low. A strong deterrence factor is that the offender, having committed money to the scheme and having the opportunity to drive again, will not risk throwing it all away. He has everything to lose. Nevertheless, I concede the point made by the noble Earl that a person who provides or attempts to provide a specimen of breath to enable the offender to drive the vehicle should not go unpunished, because it would be a serious interference with the law. We therefore propose to amend the provisions set out in new Section 34D(12) to provide not only that an offence will be committed where a person interferes with the alcohol ignition interlock with intent to cause it not to function or not to function properly, but it will now also be an offence for a person other than the offender to provide or attempt to provide a specimen of breath with intent to enable the offender to drive or continue to drive the vehicle. Government Amendment No. 10 substitutes a new subsection (12) into the proposed new Section 34D of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to achieve this. Government Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are consequential amendments arising from Amendment No. 10.
I thank the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, for his contribution. I hope that, in view of our constructive response, he will both support our amendments and withdraw his own. I beg to move.
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Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for accepting my suggestion that there might be a loophole. I shall obviously not move my amendmentthe Minister's amendment is much better draftedbut I take it that the Minister intends it to be legal for a sober person to release the alcohol ignition interlock so that a person other than the offender, who may have been drinking but is not necessarily over the limit, may drive the vehicle. That is the effect of the drafting. I suspect it is what the Minister intends because he will have considered the issue very carefully. It is a little peculiarI do not know why would we want anyone to be able to drive a vehicle when they have been drinkingbut if that is what the Minister intends, I am quite content. I am grateful to the Minister for his action.
(a) in paragraph 3, after paragraph (a) insert
"(aa) an offence under section 34D(12) of this Act,", and.
(b) in paragraph 4, before paragraph (a) insert
"(za) an offence under section 34D(12) of this Act,".
(4) In Part 1 of Schedule 2 to that Act"
Page 19, line 29, column 2, at end insert "etc."
In the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52), after section 80 (approval marks) insert
"80A RETRO-REFLECTIVE MARKINGS
The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument require the fitting of retro-reflective tape complying with ECE 104 to international category vehicles N2 and N3 and on goods trailers under the international classification 03 and 04 newly registered in the United Kingdom.""
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a simple, straightforward amendment that would require the fitting of retro-reflective tape on the side of new heavy goods vehicles. The Government acknowledge that they have the power to act in the UK and that research indicates that they should act to introduce such a measure. During the debate in Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, said:
22 Nov 2005 : Column 1528
The study by the Ergonomics and Safety Research Institute at Loughborough University, which informed the RIA, found that mandating ECE 104 for HGVs newly-registered in the UK would save lives without putting a disproportionate burden on the industry. At a recent UNECE meeting it was decided to progressively make ECE 104 retro-reflective tape mandatory on the side and rear of HGVs in all UNECE countries. This will apply to all new types of HGVs from 2007, but newly-registered HGVs only from 2011.
However, we understand that the UK was the only country to oppose even this very modest proposal. Indeed, given the UK's excellent reputation for road safety, it is disappointing that it is so out of step with the other countries. Furthermore, the DfT has recently completed a consultation on making ECE 104 retro-reflective tape mandatory on the side and rear of HGVs. The consultation closed on 16 September.
In a House of Commons Written Answer on 18 October, the Government said that the results of the consultation would be published shortly. They have still not been released. We are aware of at least 16 positive responses to the consultation from road safety groups, industry bodies and parliamentarians.
Further evidence points to the benefits of introducing such a measure. A study by the European Commission published in late 2004 found that there was a cost benefit in requiring all new HGVs in the European Union of more than 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with this tape. The Loughborough study, commissioned by the Department for Transport and published in May 2005, found that for the UK:
All the evidence is in favour of it. The Department of Transport's own study found that mandating ECE 104 would not only save lives but also reduce road safety-related costs. The Government have found that the measure will save lives and is cost-effective, but have continued to drag their feet about it. All arguments against making ECE 104 mandatory on the side and rear of HGVs newly registered in the UK have been countered. It should be made mandatory. The overwhelming majority of vehicles can easily be fitted with this tape. The number of vehicles which cannot is minuscule. The Government should ask the industry to find ways of dealing with that small number.
22 Nov 2005 : Column 1529
The noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, acknowledged in Committee that the Government have the power to act in the UK, as I said earlier, and the research indicates that they should act. Why do they continue to oppose this proposal? I beg to move.
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