Road Safety Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:20 pm on 22nd November 2005.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 3:20 pm, 22nd November 2005

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the way in which he introduced the amendment. As he recognises, Clause 7, which he seeks to amend, introduces the concept of a driving record maintained by the Secretary of State, which would be the official record of a driver's endorsement history. That would enable the introduction at Clause 9 of the new system that we propose of endorsement for all drivers based on inspection of the driving record rather than the counterpart.

I bear in mind what the noble Lord says about the difficulties with regard to technology and how we have to take care with a data bank of such significance. We think that it will take considerable time before we can commence the new system of endorsement. We cannot see it being in place in any fewer than three years, and it will probably be as many as five years before it is implemented. That is because we need to take care, as he indicated, of the creation of the new system. Noble Lords will recognise the complexity of any system that creates the necessary electronic links between the police, the courts and the DVLA, and establishes alternative procedures for all the other functions that the counterpart currently provides.

We have tried to identify all the persons who at this stage we envisage would require access to information held on the driving record. But it may be apparent, when we come to implement the new system, that others require access in order for the system to work. That is why we have the provision in the clause for the Secretary of State to make additions.

In view of the potential significance of the power to extend the categories in new Section 97A(2)(e), the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee recommended at paragraph 28 of its report that the affirmative procedure should apply. We are of course content to follow that recommendation, and we amended the Bill in Committee so that the affirmative rather than negative resolution procedure now applies to the power to make regulations under new Section 97A(2)(e).

That means that regulations prescribing persons other than those detailed in the Bill to have access to the driving record would be subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament. I maintain that that safeguard meets the anxieties of the noble Lord regarding this very difficult question. I am at one with him in recognising that the matter raises significant technical issues of implementation. That is why we intend to take our time and to take great care over the procedure. We recognise how important this record is. However, I think the noble Lord will recognise that to delete from the Bill an opportunity for the Secretary of State to add additional persons to the list through regulation rather than to introduce primary legislation would constitute a great limitation, if only because we have also given the clear assurance that any regulation adding names will be brought before both Houses. I hope the noble Lord will recognise that the powers which are sought here are subject to effective parliamentary scrutiny and that he will withdraw the amendment.