Clause 131 - Power to seize etc. vehicles driven without insurance

Part of Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 20 January 2005.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 6:15, 20 January 2005

The clause concerns the ability to seize cars being driven by people who are uninsured. I think it is self-explanatory, and I hope it meets with approval in all parts of the Committee. We have to clamp down on people who wilfully do not pay their insurance. It is ridiculous that, if they are stopped, they are allowed to carry on driving.

The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome will be delighted to know that I have a great deal of sympathy with new clause 15, which he tabled. Again, there is a real issue about those who are unlicensed to drive being stopped by a police officer and then being allowed to keep on driving. That means that someone who has never taken a test can potentially drive. There are some other issues as well. After a number of discussions in my Department, it has come to my attention that one can be insured and at the same time unlicensed. That sounds bizarre, but apparently there are rare occasions where that is the case.

I have also had extensive discussions about disqualified drivers who get stopped. If they are disqualified, they are breaching the terms and conditions of a procedure against them, and therefore they are committing an offence. However, just as with unlicensed drivers, there could be another potential loophole. There is an issue about whether I need to clarify whether a disqualified driver is defined in law as an unlicensed driver, because someone could just get points on their licence, leading to a six-month disqualification, although technically their licence is in abeyance; it is simply reactivated at the end of the disqualification period.

Without further ado, I ask the hon. Gentleman not to press the amendment at this stage, on the basis that I shall introduce an amendment that I think will meet his concerns, and I shall consider whether there are issues in connection with disqualified drivers.