Provisions Substituted for Sections 6 to 12 of the Road Traffic Act 1972

Orders of the Day — Transport Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:45 pm on 28th July 1981.

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Lords amendment: No. 45, in page 67, line 36, at end insert the requirement is made under subsection (2) and

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The amendment corrects a small drafting error made in the drink-drive provisions in the Bill. By accident the Government had changed the law in the original Bill and extended the power that the police now have to require a driver to provide a breath specimen at a police station after an accident to other cases where a breath specimen could be required.

In theory, that would enable a policeman who stopped a driver in circumstances in which he could, properly, require a breath test to take him to the police station if he so wished. That would be tantamount to arrest before a breathalyser had been administered. This was a pure drafting error, and the amendment restores the status quo and the law to the condition that we should all prefer.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 46 and 47 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 48, in page 69, line 1, leave out from "be" to end of line 6.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 49 and 50.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

Again, this is a minor drafting amendment. It gives the police more flexibility by removing the distinction that the original Bill made between the circumstances in which they could require a specimen of blood or urine in cases under section 6, which deals with excess alcohol, and those under section .5, which covers impairment by drink or drugs or both.

We are dealing with section 5 cases. Often the police have to decide whether they are dealing with a person who is affected by alcohol or drugs. That may not be easy. If they have the evidence of a screening test or an evidential breath test, problems are unlikely. However, a person may refuse the screening test and an evidential breath machine may be unavailable. In that case, there will be a difficulty. The amendment will eliminate the possible restrictions that the police might face on what might be analysed in certain cases. They will be able to decide for themselves the type of specimen that they will require. They will therefore be provided with the evidence by which to decide whether an appropriate charge should be brought.

I should make it clear that the amendment will not impose any additional requirement on the suspect. It simply gives the police the discretion to require blood or urine. There is no question of allowing them to require both. As the Bill was originally drafted, it did not give the police sufficient flexibility to decide in every case which was more suitable.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 49 and 50 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 51, in page 72, line 20, leave out "6" and insert "5".

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 52.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

The amendment gives a sensible definition of the word "drug" for the purpose of section 5 offences. It makes it clear that we are talking not only about medicines but about glue sniffing and nearly every other intoxicant that can affect someone's ability to drive a vehicle.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 52 to 62 agreed to.