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Lord Tebbit: My Lords, would the Minister at some stage, although obviously not at this moment, let us all have the basis of the calculation that has led his advisers to tell him that the measure if enacted would lead to 150 extra prison places per year? I should have thought that that was rather a difficult calculation to make.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, it is far too difficult a calculation for me to have made, I must say. The noble Lord will not expect me to produce the formula here and now, but I shall write to him about the issue and ensure that other noble Lords know about it.
(11)I recognise the seriousness of the debate. The points that have been made are substantial ones of principle, and I can only adumbrate the argument that we have considered them very carefully but that we have other principles that triumph over those and which have to take precedence, given our commitments and our need to act in the interest of road safety. I shall certainly fulfil the undertaking that we will consider the issue and discuss it with noble Lords before Third Reading. On that basis, I hope that noble Lords will support the government amendment.
Lord Monson: My Lords, it is up to me to wind up on Amendment No. 19A. My noble friend Lord Tenby
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spoke of the fleeting satisfaction of victims' families if imprisonment is imposed on those responsible for the victim's death. I believe that he was spot on with the use of the word "fleeting". I urge the Government to reflect on the point that I made about Amendment No. 19A. If the victims' families are aware that those responsible for the victim's death are suffering the extreme inconvenience of being kept off the road for at least two years, they will be less zealousas my noble friend Lord Northbourne also suggestedin demanding imprisonment. It must surely be better to disqualify careless but otherwise law-abiding drivers rather than add to our enormous prison population.
So I urge the Government to reflect on what I have said before the next stage. Of course, I shall not press the amendment now. I am interested that the Government estimated an increase in the prison population of a mere 150. It has been estimated that 90 per cent of road accidents are caused by human error and only 10 per cent by such things as bad road conditions, weather conditions and so on. That 90 per cent gives us a figure of more than 3,000 deaths caused by careless people. However, the Government have made a most constructive and generous offer to look at the sentencing policy again before Third Reading. In that case, I shall not move any of my other amendments, and I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.
"CAUSING DEATH BY DRIVING: UNLICENSED, DISQUALIFIED OR UNINSURED DRIVERS
(1) In the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52), after section 3ZA (inserted by section (Meaning of driving without due care and attention)) insert
"3ZB CAUSING DEATH BY DRIVING: UNLICENSED, DISQUALIFIED OR UNINSURED DRIVERS
A person is guilty of an offence under this section if he causes the death of another person by driving a motor vehicle on a road and, at the time when he is driving, the circumstances are such that he is committing an offence under
(a) section 87(1) of this Act (driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence),
(b) section 103(1)(b) of this Act (driving while disqualified), or
(c) section 143 of this Act (using motor vehicle while uninsured or unsecured against third party risks)."
(2) In Schedule 1 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (c. 53) (offences to which certain sections apply), after the entry relating to section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) insert
|"RTA section 3ZB||Causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers.||Sections 11 and 12(1) of this Act."|
|"RTA section 3ZB||Causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers.||(a) Summarily.||(a) 12 months (in England and Wales) or 6 months (in Scotland) or the statutory maximum or both.||Obligatory.||Obligatory.||311"|
|(b) On indictment.||(b) 2 years or a fine or both.|
(4) In sections 16(1)(a)(ii) and 17(1)(b) and (2)(b) of the Coroners Act 1988 (c. 13) (informing coroners)
(a) before "or 3A" insert ", 3ZB", and
(b) before "or careless" insert ", unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers".
(5) In paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 to the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 (c. 32) (offences where notice must be given to authority of State in which offender is normally resident), after paragraph (c) insert
"(ca) section 3ZB (causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers),"."
"MOTORWAYS: MAXIMUM SPEED
The maximum speed on a motorway shall be 80 miles per hour, and in other circumstances shall be determined by highway controllers and the police with access to the motorway warning signs system."
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I want to restate the aim of this amendment, which was moved in Committee. It is designed to introduce the concept of variable speed limits in conjunction with increasing the maximum motorway speed limit to 80 miles per hour. In combination, these two elements establish a simple and straightforward system of speed limits that is both safe and practical.
The efficacy of variable speed limits has already been demonstrated on the M25 orbital motorway in Surrey, where road safety is undoubtedly enhanced by the adjustment of the speed limit in accordance with circumstances such as traffic flow and adverse weather. This point was broadly accepted in Committee by many of your Lordships and the Minister himself.
It was the second part of this amendment, the proposed increase of the motorway speed limit to 80 miles per hour, that prompted a much greater debate in Committee. During that debate many noble Lords, and indeed the Minister, referred to studies conducted in the United States of the road safety impact of the repeal of the federal speed limit law in the US in 1995. I must remind noble Lords that these studies did not produce the unanimous conclusion that
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speed increase is detrimental to road safety, which was implicit in their citation in Committee. In fact, many of the studies found quite the opposite.
The Cato Institute 1999 policy analysis, Speed Doesn't Kill: The Repeal of the 55mph Speed Limitthat is, in the United Statesstates that, despite the fact that 33 US states had raised their speed limits since 1995,
This conclusion is also supported by a recent 2005 study by another American academic, Robert O Yowell, who concluded in his study, The Evolution and Devolution of Speed Limit Law and the Effect on Fatality Rates, that,
Furthermore, I must remind noble Lords that this new clause diverges significantly from the American experience, since raising the speed limit to 80 miles per hour in this instance is reliant upon the use of a variable speed limit motorway warning-sign system, where speed is adjusted in accordance with circumstances.
Increasing the motorway speed limit is a proposal that already has widespread public and expert support. A recent survey conducted in May 2005 by the company Motor Insurance found that 82 per cent of motorists supported an increase in that limit. It is not surprising that the public reject the current motorway speed limit so emphatically when one considers that it is widely considered arbitrary and anachronistic. In short, it has lost its relevance to modern-day motorists, the cars they drive and the roads they drive on.
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