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Cycling

Part of Backbench Business — Private Members’ Bills – in the House of Commons at 6:18 pm on 2nd September 2013.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 6:18 pm, 2nd September 2013

I thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing this debate to take place. I also thank everybody who took part in the three-month inquiry and British Cycling, the CTC, Sustrans and the other organisations that helped us run it. I thank in particular Chris Boardman MBE—an Olympic gold medallist, world champion, great man and fantastic campaigner for cycling—for everything he does to promote cycling in Britain and for supporting our inquiry. Phil Goodwin and Adam Coffman pulled the report together and organised the inquiry.

I thank News International for sponsoring the inquiry. Its involvement came about as a result of The Timesbrilliant campaign for cycling, which has been a breakthrough for cycling. I pay tribute to the current editor, John Witherow, and his predecessor, James Harding, and to Kaya Burgess, Phil Pank and Phil Webster, who have worked so hard on this campaign. It is brilliant campaigning journalism at its best.

That campaign, as we heard a moment ago, was triggered by the tragic incident in 2011 that injured their colleague, Mary Bowers, so badly that she has still not regained consciousness. The driver who hit her was getting directions over the phone at the time. Mary was in his direct line of sight for at least 10 seconds, but he failed to spot her. He was found guilty of careless driving, fined £2,700 and banned from driving for just eight months. I therefore welcome the review by the Ministry of Justice of the all too often derisory sentences that are handed down to drivers when cyclists are killed or injured. We also need a comprehensive review of the justice system, from beginning to end, to ensure that the police enforce the law properly and that the Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes people on stronger charges.