Specified Agreement on Driving Disqualifications Regulations 2017 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 27th April 2017.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 3:15 pm, 27th April 2017

My Lords, maybe I was a bit presumptuous in my opening remarks, but from the response from your Lordships’ Chamber perhaps I was right that this would be a short debate. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for his support for this measure. He has raised a number of important points. I would not for a moment suggest that his points at this time, or indeed any that he raises with me at the Dispatch Box, are not important. I of course align myself totally with his sentiments about the importance of road safety.

I shall take some of the issues that the noble Lord has raised in turn. First, on the question of why it has taken since 2014 to do this, and with regard to the European convention itself, the 1998 convention ceased to apply in the EU in December 2016. With regard to the mutual recognition between ourselves and Ireland, the only way that we could introduce these arrangements was via the treaty. The Irish constitution itself forbids agreements of this nature to be made by items such as an MoU, for example, or similar informal instruments. Such matters therefore take time to be agreed. I believe the provisions from the Irish side were carried within a wider Bill that was subsequently passed by the Irish Parliament.

On the issue of penalty points not being included, there are different methods of calculating points between the UK and Ireland. To give some practical examples, they are legally incompatible, and the UK counts one way and the Irish count the other. As to actual enforcement, different points are applied to different defences. If I may, I will get the Northern Ireland Office to write further about specific arrangements between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

On the numbers of drivers, I can tell the noble Lord that about a hundred people per year from Ireland were banned under these measures in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and about an equal number were banned under these measures in Ireland.

I think I have answered most if not all the questions that the noble Lord asked. I emphasise to him once again, as he raised the importance of this issue, that here we are on the last day of term, so to speak, and the Government are putting this forward again. That underlines the importance that we attach to ensuring these provisions can be made and translated into statute.