Clause 22 - Breach of requirements as to control of vehicle, mobile telephones etc.

Part of Road Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 27th January 2005.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 11:15 am, 27th January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 15, in clause 22, page 25, line 23, at end insert

'except in circumstances where a motor vehicle is stationary and the engine is switched off.'.

This is a common-sense amendment that will appeal to all members of the Committee. It makes clear that someone using a mobile phone in a stationary vehicle with the engine switched off would not be guilty of an offence. I am concerned that the present law, because of the wide definition of the expression ''driving'' in road traffic legislation, could mean that people who get stuck in long traffic jams, switch off their engines and communicate with others to inform them of the delay will, strictly speaking, be committing an offence.

The law is brought into disrepute if we allow offences to go on to the statute book that everyone realises are an absolute nonsense. The injustice is even greater where there is no power to mitigate the fixed penalties, as there is not for the proposed offence in question, which will result in a mandatory minimum three-point endorsement on a licence. I am sure the Government do not intend to penalise motorists who are stuck in traffic jams, but the way to ensure they do not do so is to amend the law now to ensure that that is apparent on the face of the statute. It is a simple point, and I hope the Government will be able to accept my reasonable amendment.