The purpose of amendment 158 is to provide the police with the powers to remove and seize vehicles that are used in a manner that contravenes sections 3 or 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The amendment will also apply to quad bikes, which are involved in significant antisocial behaviour in many of our communities. Amendment 158 will provide that a constable may provide information at the same time.
Amendment 159 is a technical amendment that will allow secondary legislation to be introduced.
I move amendment 158.
I ask Paul Martin to clarify some points. First, will people who use quad bikes on their own land be exempt from the proposed provisions? I know that we discussed that issue at stage 2. Secondly, would not it be more appropriate to place the proposed provisions in road traffic legislation? Thirdly, are not quad bikes already covered by road traffic legislation?
I understand why Paul Martin has lodged amendments 158 and 159, which mirror provisions of the Police Reform Act 2002 that apply to England and Wales. I am aware of the problems in his constituency, where the use of quad bikes is not only a source of annoyance and concern to residents, but is in many cases dangerous and in some, sadly, fatal. My colleague Margaret Curran has also met representatives of Kirkcaldy esplanade action group to hear at first hand about the problems that have been experienced there.
Clearly, attempts can be made to tackle the problem using existing measures. Traffic calming, road narrowing and speed checks can all have some effect and ASBOs can be used as one option for persistent offenders. However, Paul Martin's amendments will give the police and the courts another option, which I hope will serve as a real deterrent to those who think that they can flout road traffic laws in pursuit of their own enjoyment.
For many people, their car is their pride and joy and they invest heavily in it as a status symbol. Amendments 158 and 159 will ensure that people face a real risk of their vehicle being seized if they persist in bad or inconsiderate driving and ignore police warnings to stop behaving in a manner that distresses others. Similarly, those who choose to ignore the law on off-road driving and who feel that they somehow have a right to take their vehicles across public or private land should face a stiff penalty.
No one is saying that quad bikes and similar vehicles should be banned, but they cannot be above the law. To those who might question the strength of provisions and the proportionality of the sanction to seize an individual's vehicle, I say that no one has anything to fear if they behave in a sensible and law-abiding manner. However, we owe it to those whose lives are made miserable by the offensive behaviour of some to ensure that the law can protect them, and the ultimate penalties that will be available must act as a real deterrent.
I believe that what Paul Martin proposes is a fair balance between the general interest in controlling antisocial behaviour and respect for the rights of the individual. I therefore support amendments 158 and 159.
I am satisfied with the minister's response and am obviously delighted that she accepts my amendments.
Mary Scanlon referred to those who make use of quad bikes on land that they own. Earlier, I made it clear that the Road Traffic Act 1988 refers to those who cause alarm, distress or annoyance, which is the main reason for the amendments. Those who drive quad bikes on their own land would not cause annoyance, alarm or distress to others.
Division number 30
For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McFee, Mr Bruce, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Sheridan, Tommy, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Turner, Dr Jean, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Ballard, Mark, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Curran, Frances, Fox, Colin, Harvie, Patrick, Kane, Rosie, Leckie, Carolyn, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Harper, Robin