New clause 4 - CAUSING DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY BY NEGLIGENT DRIVING
Road Safety Bill
Mr David Jamieson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Plymouth, Devonport, Labour)
By the Secretary of State. The final version of the paper is in front of us, but that is a separate matter. Over coming weeks there will be careful consultation over the paper's contents, but that will not in any way affect the Bill before us. There will be a separate Bill, dealing with entirely different matters. We are dealing almost entirely with the penalties, not with the offences. The consultation paper deals with the offences and not the penalties.
Turning to the serious issues raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough, I am only too aware, from my experience as a constituency Member of Parliament, from the correspondence that the Department receives, and from the representations that we receive from hon. Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough and others, how desperately angry many people feel when they have lost a member of their family or a cherished friend in a road accident, or even when such a person has been seriously injured. It is a painful and hurtful experience and it lasts for a long time.
The family's grief is often made worse because they feel that the court has not treated the offence with the seriousness that it should have done, that the penalty that was handed out was not sufficiently serious or, if the person feels guilty and there was no hearing, because they feel angry that the witnesses did not have their chance to say their bit in court to ventilate some of the issues. They feel that there has been no place in which to hear the issues and they feel aggrieved by that. I understand that feeling. That is why the report tackles many of the issues to do with the penalties attracted by certain offences. It is imperative that the criminal law is fully effective in dealing with and addressing all forms of bad driving that have the all too appalling consequences that several Members have mentioned.
However, this is a sensitive area of law that involves difficult issues. Therefore, it is essential—
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.