Drinking and Driving

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1988.

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Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East 12:00 am, 21st January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were charged with offences relating to drink and driving over the Christmas period; how these numbers compare with previous equivalent periods; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I regret that information will not be available in the form requested until the second half of this year. However, the Association of Chief Police Officers has collated provisional figures for England and Wales which show that there were 5,259 positive roadside breath tests in the period 19 December 1987 to 1 January 1988. I am encouraged by the widespread support for the way in which the police and the Government tackled the drinking and driving problem over the Christmas period. I hope that that will be reflected in the official statistics when they are available later this year.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

Although figures show a marginal and welcome improvement, does my hon. Friend agree that so much excess drinking at Christmas time is a real problem? Bearing in mind the enormous social pressures on so many people to consume alcohol at Christmas time, will he seek to take steps to require publicans to stock non-alcoholic wines and beers, especially at that time?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of making available non-alcoholic drinks in pubs.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

Is it not time that the Minister started patting some drivers on the back? Does he realise that in the past 20 years, while the number of cars has increased enormously, the number of accidents has gone down yet the Scottish Temperance Society continually uses the issue to slag off drivers who have an excellent record? Is it not a fact that a lorry speeding through fog on a motorway can cause far more damage, and that more people were killed at Christmas by dangerous foam-filled furniture than were killed on the roads by drunken drivers?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The truth is that drinking and driving simply do not go together, and it is the business of the Government to communicate that fact as frequently as possible.

Photo of Mr William Powell Mr William Powell , Corby

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is considerable relief about the success of the campaign last Christmas to discourage people from drinking and driving? Does he recognise that the problem of drinking and driving is not confined to Christmas, but takes place throughout the year, during much of which there is no talk at all about the dangers of such behaviour? Will he use all the resources of his Department to ensure that there is a year-on-year campaign, not one that takes place merely during public holidays?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend's point is very much in the mind of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport. In substance, I agree with what he has said.