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Policing and Crime Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 7th December 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 7:15 pm, 7th December 2016

My Lords, I support both Amendments 174 and 175. I rise slightly wearily because I do not know, after the calm, clear and patient explanation from the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, of why this is necessary and it is illogical not to do it, that I can find any more reasons to give to the Government for making this change. However, I will try.

We heard from Mr Grayling in the Daily Mail today—he was Secretary of State for Transport this morning, but I am not sure if he still is—that the Government are,

“not interested in penalising drivers who have had ‘a glass of wine at the pub’.”

Nor are we. Drinking is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your time, but I object when the person who has had a drink gets into a car, which then becomes a dangerous weapon. We hear again and again that any alcohol in your blood can impair your faculties and behaviour. Drinking and driving is just not something that we ought to accept in civilised society.

We heard that the number of deaths has plateaued at 240 a year since 2010. From the available evidence, there are estimates that 25 people die unnecessarily a year, and we could reduce that number still by bringing down the limit of blood alcohol content. Yet it seems to me that we accept 25 deaths a year. Why on earth do we think it is okay for 25 people to die on the roads? That does not even include the people injured from crashes. Some 8,000 people a year are injured from crashes, so if we accept that 25 lives would be saved, we must also accept that quite a lot of injuries would be prevented as well.

Lowering the limit would be a deterrent. We do not need to wait for Scotland. Multiple countries and multiple reviews show that lowering the limit has a deterrent effect. It is in fact the biggest deterrent, and it is cheap and easy to do. It is something we ought to do quickly. Martin Luther King said that,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

It is an injustice when we accept that deaths on the road are something we do not want to deal with because we do not want to stop people drinking and getting in their cars afterwards. Personally, I think that is unacceptable.