While measures being adopted in Northern Ireland to combat road accidents are in broad parity with those in Great Britain, the level of casualties remains unacceptably high. For this reason, last November I formed a study group drawn from interested organisations to make recommendations designed to reduce road casualties. I have now received its report and am considering its 10 major recommendations. Copies of the report have been placed in the Library of this House.
I have under consideration how many recommendations can be adopted for a draft order.
I cannot do anything immediately, because I received the report only on Monday. There are 10 fairly major recommendations in the report, which we shall have to consider. They have quite serious implications legislatively and in many other respects for Northern Ireland. I attach great importance to the report. As soon as we can get down to discussing how to implement its proposals we shall do so. I shall keep the hon. Gentleman informed of the progress that is made.
If a comparative judgment were made of the level of inspection in Northern Ireland and that in the rest of the United Kingdom, I think that the right hon. Gentleman would find that the level in Northern Ireland is significantly better than in the rest of the United Kingdom. I do not think that we can be criticised on any front in that respect.
Does my hon. Friend agree that road casualties in Northern Ireland are almost twice as high as in the rest of the United Kingdom? Can he give us some idea why that is so? I had a conversation the other day with my right hon. Friend, who was most interested to know.
I have a report that goes into this matter in detail, which I will let my hon. Friend have afterwards. There are certain peculiarities in the situation in Northern Ireland that are not dissimilar to those in similar rural communities in Western Europe. The fact is that Northern Ireland has the worst road casualty figures in the whole of Western Europe, and we must do something about the matter.