Clause 32 - Alternative verdict on unsuccessful culpable homicide prosecution

Road Safety Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 28th March 2006.

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Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:00 pm, 28th March 2006

I beg to move amendment No. 69, in clause 32, page 34, line 29, at end add—

‘(d)an offence under section 3 of that Act (careless driving).”’.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 70, in clause 33, page 35, line 7, at end add—

‘(e)an offence under section 3 of that Act (careless driving).”’.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

These are probing amendments. Under the framework set up in the clause, if I understand it, if culpable homicide fails a case of dangerous driving could be brought. They are probing amendments to see whether within the rules of double jeopardy it would be possible in the case of dangerous driving also to be caught by the definition of careless driving.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Minister of State, Department for Transport

Not being a lawyer, I may fall into dangerous territory. If I mislead the Committee I will, of course, write and correct it. I understand that if one is charged with an offence such as manslaughter, the alternative offences are offered by the judge to the jury if he believes that they cannot reach a decision on the substantive indictment. That will mean that dangerous driving can be an alternative verdict in a case where   manslaughter is alleged. We have already made it clear that causing death by careless driving would be an alternative verdict when someone was charged with causing death by dangerous driving. I hope that answers the hon. Gentleman’s question.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Does that mean that there could be a cascade from manslaughter to causing death by dangerous driving to causing death by careless driving?

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Minister of State, Department for Transport

Again, as I am not a lawyer I am slightly hesitant, but my understanding is no.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Perhaps the Minister would clarify why the Government have not included within the clause an alternative verdict for the clause that creates the offence of causing death by careless driving? As the Minister will be aware, the range of culpability in respect of culpable homicide can cover events that are low down the scale.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Minister of State, Department for Transport

The rationale for that is that if one has started off with either manslaughter or culpable homicide, our feeling is that it is too far a drop to causing death by careless driving. If one cannot make the case for manslaughter in such circumstances, one would expect to be able to make the case for causing death by dangerous driving, rather than having to cascade all the way down to causing death by careless driving.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

That was a helpful explanation. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.