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Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, briefly, I support what the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said. I remember quite clearly what the Minister said in Committee: he was keen to avoid extra bureaucracy and mentioned the large cost of extra testing. It does not appear to me, from the researches that the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, has outlined, that it would be very difficult to incorporate some simple first aid questions within the theory part of the test, and include some simulator-type element where somebody could experience what it is like.
The messages to get over appear to be very simple. We are not expecting people to become paramedics. We expect them to think about a few simple things. It would be in the interests of all people who use the roads if the Minister could accede to this amendment.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I support this amendment. I was really opposed to the idea of any sort of extensive training, which I thought would be quite impossible and impractical. I am impressed by the leaflet sent by the Red Cross, however, and putting it into the hazard perception test would be very good. I will mention again the comment of my noble friend Lord Hanningfieldabout new drivers, particularly between the ages of 17 and 20, being the most likely to be involved in a collisionwhen we get to Amendment No. 37.
The Earl of Dundee: My Lords, to add to the remarks of my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes in support of this amendment, the hazard perception test is an ideal vehicle. It is already there. This is just the kind of component that it should include.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Hanningfield. I am grateful for the letter that we had from the Minister, and agree with many of the points he raises in itparticularly the load on
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youngsters at that time, the skill fade on a large first aid test and the need for examiners to be examiners in driving, not in first aid. My amendment, which I described in detail in Committee, was a very short practical test with a dummy. I suspect it would only last 60 seconds and one would really have to be incredibly thick to fail it. That would be good, because the candidate would feel good for having passed the test. It would only demonstrate an ability to procure an airway, immobilise the neck and detect and control bleeding, and nothing else. It would therefore be a very short test. One would have to be some sort of moron not to pass it.
If the Minister cannot accept our amendmentswhich I suspect he cannotwill he at least ensure that there will always be at least one first aid test in the theory test? That way, if a candidate does not study any first aid, he will fail one of the questions.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this short debate. As the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, accurately prophesied, I cannot accept the amendments. But I accept very much the spirit in which they are moved, and who could gainsay the enormous advantages to the road-travelling public, in fact to all of us, if we increase first-aid skills? That is why we were only too happy to meet with representatives of the Red Cross, St John Ambulance and others in the summer to discuss these issues. We want to see an improvement in first-aid skills. As all noble Lords have testified, this can be of enormous advantage in certain circumstances. Our problem is quite straightforward: we are opposed to the idea that passing the driving test, which is a test of being able to drive a vehicle, should be dependent on a supplementary test or concept regarding first aid.
I want to give the assurance straight away that of course we will look at the issues of strengthening the driving test questions on first aid. We already have provision with regard to that. It is not the case that you can pass the driving test and show complete ignorance of first aid. We will look to ways, which we discussed with the Red Cross, of strengthening the driving test in these terms. But we are still reluctant to accept the argument that the test of the ability to drive should potentially be passed or failed by an additional test on competence regarding first aid.
I heard what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said on how limited that test might be. Even so, as I attested when we discussed the issue in Committee, there are some who might find that test difficult, or even inimical, to take. There is a problem there.
I noticed that the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, gave her whole-hearted support to the concept on this occasion. Last time she introduced a concept for which I was grateful and which I shall reiteratenot to embarrass her in any way, shape or form, but to show that we take her representations seriously, as indeed we should. Her point was that people who blithely address themselves to first aid and get it wrong could find themselves liable if it were subsequently shown
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that they had significantly contributed to the degree of action the person suffered. So, we are worried about that aspect. I give way to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, of course.
Lord Davies of Oldham: No, my Lords. I do not have anything in front of me. I know of another incident, and I can only talk anecdotally in this. I do not know of an incident with regard to cars, but I know of a football injury where the person concerned demonstrated extremely inexpert skills in putting that injury right. He got it badly wrong and was sued. He acted out of goodwill, but he did not know what he was doing and made the injury a jolly sight worse than it had been when it first occurred. I am saying that if we introduce this as a requirement of the test, we certainly would have many more people feeling that they were competent to act in these terms and we would not be assured that their competence would stand the test.
Let me make the obvious point, and we discussed this with the Red Cross, some of us hold driving licences from a long way back, do we not? I do not think that the Red Cross would be very satisfied if I said to them that when I passed my test in 1961 I also passed the equivalent first-aid requirement at that time and therefore I feel myself to be entirely competent today. It would say that I was out of date after three years, not after 44 or whatever it is. There is a real problem about the question of effective first aid in these terms. I hear what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, says about how limited the subject might be. That is not actually the nature of the representations we had from the bodies concerned. I give way, of course, to the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield.
Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, the Minister said at the beginning of his reply that he was with us in spirit and went on to say that he was giving the matter some thought. We might achieve the inclusion of some further points in the oral part of the test. We have all had discussions with the Red Cross, which felt that it had persuaded the Government to extend that element of the test. I am disappointed to hear the Minister say that the Government will give some thought to that. Can he not be more categorical and say that there could be more first aid questions in the oral part of the test? That hurts no one and at least gives people a bit more basic knowledge. As I said, that would not increase bureaucracy or need a lot of first aid people to administer the test; it would just ensure that young people taking that first test had a little more first aid knowledge as he and I had all those years ago when we took our tests.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Yes, my Lords, although I am not sure that the noble Lord has applied himself to the test that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, referred to, which is now part of the driving test. I have taken the additional test recently and I hope that he will join me in that competence.
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I can be more positive, because we discussed those issues with the Red Cross. We thought that its case had been made and that we would need to extend questions in the theory part of the driving test to include more on first aid. We have not reached final conclusions on that because this is no straightforward matter. The driving test is a pretty serious examination, as noble Lords will know. One of the blessings of having passed the test some years ago is that we are not subject to quite the same challenge as is presented to newly qualifying drivers today, although we are working on that to ensure that we are all up to competence. But that will have to wait for another day, not the Bill.
Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply, especially for the last part of it. Many of us think that this is an important part of the Bill. There are areas that we are discussing now that could save a substantial number of lives. Earlier, we talked about reflective strips and this area, where a lot of people die in the early stages after a road accident who might be saved if something could be done. So we are discussing saving lives.
As I said, I was pleased to hear what the Minister said right at the end: that the Government were considering that. We all have to reflect on that and talk to others to decide whether we return to it on Third Reading but, with that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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