I note that the Minister referred to the “brief debate” this afternoon. I take it that that is a statement of hope on his part—although, judging by the numbers in the Chamber at the moment, perhaps we have both misjudged the situation and the debate on the Specified Agreement on Driving Disqualifications Regulations 2011 really is packing in noble Lords. I thank the Minister for his explanation of the purpose of these regulations, which we support, and the background to them—but I have one or two queries that I would like to raise.
The Explanatory Note indicates that mutual recognition of driving disqualification between the UK and Ireland was previously in operation between January 2010 and December 2014, pursuant to the European Convention on Driving Disqualifications. It indicates that, following the Lisbon treaty, we opted out of the convention from December 2014 as part of a block opt-out under the treaty. It states that the purpose of this instrument is to specify a bilateral agreement dated
In the Commons the government Minister said that Northern Ireland and Ireland were engaged in bilateral discussions through the North/South Ministerial Council about the mutual recognition of penalty points, but added that it was still work in progress. Is this such a big problem that it still cannot be resolved some 18 months after the bilateral agreement dated
However, the main point I want to clarify is the length of time for which there has been no mutual recognition of driving disqualification between the UK and Ireland. On the understanding that the previous arrangements ceased on
If indeed these arrangements have not applied for that lengthy two-and-a-half-year period, why has it taken so long? Presumably, the Government had decided well in advance of the
What happened to the mutual recognitions on disqualifications then in force under the convention when we opted out? Did they remain in force, or did they then no longer have any legal standing? What is the Government's estimate of the number of people who could have been disqualified under the mutual recognition arrangements had these not apparently been brought to an end in 2014 with the opt-out, in respect of whom who it has not been possible since then to apply the mutual recognition arrangements because they have no longer been applicable since the opt-out? In particular, how many people to date have we had who have been able to drive in the United Kingdom who would not have been able to do so if we had not opted out of the convention on the mutual recognition of driving disqualifications? How many of those people have subsequently committed road traffic offences in the United Kingdom?
If the Minister thinks that I am asking for somewhat obscure information, I am certainly not; this is about road safety and potentially about people who should not be driving around on the roads in the United Kingdom. I ask for this specific information particularly in the light of paragraph 7.2 of the Government’s own Explanatory Memorandum, which accepts that it,
“is important to the UK for reasons of road safety to ensure that drivers so disqualified in Ireland cannot drive on UK roads”.
It appears that they have been able to drive on UK roads for the last two and a half years.