Oral Answers to Questions — Motorists, Wales (Convictions)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1951.

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Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West 12:00 am, 26th April 1951

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the number of motoring cases in Wales in which the driver was proved to be under the influence of drink during the years 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950, respectively.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The numbers of offences of driving or being in charge of a motor car while under the influence of drink or a drug dealt with by prosecution in Wales were: in 1947, 142; in 1948, 128; in 1949, 134; in 1950, 186. Statistics of findings of guilt are not kept on a geographical basis and I regret that I am, therefore, unable to say in how many of these cases the charge was proved.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

In view of the avoidable tragedies which are caused by motorists driving under the influence of drink, will the Home Secretary reconsider the introduction of legislation to prevent convicted persons from ever having their licences renewed?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

No, Sir. I think we must recognise that there are degrees, even in this type of offence, serious as it is, and to impose that as an unavoidable penalty might involve us in doing injustice in certain cases.

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Bristol North West

Do not the statistics for 1950 show an alarming increase and is it not reflected very similarly in the figures for England?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Yes, Sir. I regret to say that that is so. There was another Question on the Paper today dealing with the problem of drunkenness, but the hon. was not here and I was not able to answer it.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the collection of statistics on these convictions for motoring offences sufficiently takes into account the element of drunkenness as a cause of those offences? Is there not a need for reconsideration of the way in which statistics are compiled?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The statistics I have given to the House today relate to prosecutions of persons who were alleged by the prosecution to be so far under the influence of drink or drugs as to be incapable of driving a car.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon East

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many sober people were convicted of driving dangerously?

Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Brigg

Can my right hon. Friend say in what proportion of the cases he has mentioned, in which drunkenness has been found, disqualification was not imposed?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Not without notice.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

In view of the danger to life and limb and to the number of people of whom we read being injured through people selfishly driving a car while under the influence of drink, will the Minister consider introducing heavier penalties than are at present enforced?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The penalty which can be imposed in these cases is very heavy and includes suspension of the driving licence for life.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant Lieut-Colonel Hon. Peter Remnant , Wokingham

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the licensed trade are equally alarmed by this increase and are making their own investigations, and that they would be willing to co-operate with him?