Although there has been a most welcome and notable saving of lives from the compulsory wearing of front seat belts, we should be careful not to predict too soon exactly how much effect that has had. Now that the anchorages for rear selt belts are provided and we already have powers to require the fitting of a lap or shoulder belt, it is a matter of concern that we get the question of fitments right. We are discussing that matter with other European countries. After that, there is the question whether rear seat belts should be worn compulsorily or voluntarily.
Has my hon. Friend heard of the man who was so concerned for his own safety that he stayed in bed until he died of starvation? Will she ensure that no compulsory rear seat belts are introduced in the interests of spurious safety unless it is completely proven that lives will be saved in that way, and cut out some of the silly nannying that is taking place?
I do not think that I am qualified to speak on the first part of my hon. Friend's question. On the second part, the use of rear seat belts, which has been raised many times before in the House, is something on which we should proceed with all caution, but let us first get the fitting and the type of belts correct.
Is lot the argument "with all caution" precisely the one that was used year after year on the compulsory wearing of front seat belts? If, after a few years, even the Government are convinced that there is a direct correlation between deaths and the non-wearing of front seat belts, will they seriously consider making them compulsory for the rear seats?
In no way do I wish to discourage the saving of lives. As the House knows, I am fully in favour of the wearing of seat belts whenever they are fitted in a vehicle. However, the House should be careful not to draw firm conclusions from just two months' figures, which are the only figures that we have to go on at present.
Does the Minister agree that the fitting of rear seat belts would require certain design features to be considered? Will the Minister give consideration to the type of seat belts that should he fitted—for example, the type fitted in the front seats? Is he aware that people have been spun through the current design of belt when vehicles have been hit from the back?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern, but the option between lap and shoulder belts in the rear requires us to consult further with our European neighbours and the motor industry before coming to a decision, as well as waiting until we have gathered a little more information on the results of the compulsory wearing of front seat belts.