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Policing and Crime Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 7th December 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Conservative 7:30 pm, 7th December 2016

My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who supported this amendment and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for pointing out that this is an increasing problem, proportionately, within the number of deaths on our roads. I was not surprised to hear my noble friend the Minister refer to the enforcement point on which the Government rely in this matter. We must pay tribute to our police but the Police Federation supports a reduction in the alcohol limit. If that were the main solution and there would be no effect from this amendment, I do not think that the police would be asking for a reduction in the limit.

I was disappointed that my noble friend did not take on board the point that 60% of these accidents involve young people—I think that it rises to 80% in rural areas. These are not the selfish and dangerous drivers. Interpretation of the evidence is that this provision would have an effect, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, outlined. We will always be left with a rump of people who disregard the law completely but the NICE study on this outlined that changing the limit down to 50 milligrams, or any change, would affect behaviour across the board.

I have to join with other noble Lords in saying that I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for outlining that the advice is still, “Don’t take the risk—don’t drink and drive”, because it was not what was outlined in the Daily Mail today, where the message was actually quite disturbing. I am also disturbed that my noble friend has not been able to outline any other action to try to reduce this trajectory of deaths, which has flat-lined at 240 a year for five years. No other solution is being put forward by the Government to say what they will do to trigger a decline in those deaths.

I am grateful to my noble friend for saying that the Government will review any new evidence, including Scottish evidence. Regrettably, I conclude that now might not be quite the moment to review a limit put in place in our law in 1967. However, given the Private Member’s Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, the movement is now against the Government. The momentum is building and, sadly, it will turn when one of the victims who I referred to feels that the criminal justice system has not come to their aid but it came to the aid of somebody in Scotland, where it is particularly persuasive to juries on causing death by careless driving if somebody is also over the legal limit for alcohol. It saddens me greatly that it might take that victim to come forward, having had that injustice, before we reduce the limit and have some kind of unity across the United Kingdom, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 174 withdrawn.

Amendment 175 not moved.