Dangerous Driving Offences (Sentencing)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:02 pm on 4th November 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 5:02 pm, 4th November 2014

If I give way to the right hon. Gentleman I will have to give way to my hon. Friend Andrew Bridgen. I will do that if I can, but in a moment. I know the exact time that I have, and if there is time left I will give way.

It is also important that when someone gets this type of sentence there is openness and honesty about why it was given. I have been talking extensively to judges about that recently. Although the courts, quite rightly, must be independent, guidance from Parliament tells them what the will of Parliament is—that is what judges are supposed to look at—when such abhorrent offences take place. One area where we can give the courts and certainly the police more help is in matters such as the terrible incident that occurred in the constituency of my hon. Friend Caroline Dinenage, which was drug-related. At the moment, it is difficult to prosecute someone for drug-driving for myriad reasons, not least that some drugs leave the system quickly. That is why we intend to introduce roadside drugalyser testing—I started the process when I was the Minister responsible for roads—and in-station drugalyser testing.

I have often attended RTCs, and I know from experience, as does Mr Bradshaw, who is another former Transport Minister, that someone who has been involved in an accident, often when someone has died, may have been under the influence of drugs. However, if they are breathalysed that may not show up enough to prosecute them, even though we all know that that person is under the influence of something. We must, morally, do something about that, and I have been working on it with other countries.

As I have made good progress, I will give way to my hon. Friend Andrew Bridgen and then to the right hon. Member for Exeter.