Dangerous Driving Penalties — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:09 pm on 17th September 2015.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 4:09 pm, 17th September 2015

The right hon. Gentleman is a former Minister, and he knows how such things work. I am sorry that I am not able to be more specific, but I can tell him and every other Member here that I get it. There is clearly huge concern on both sides of the House about dangerous driving. A commitment has been made to have the review, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that my officials and others are working on that in earnest. I would be extremely grateful if he were good enough to accept that for now.

The hon. Gentleman made an excellent speech, and he is right that we all want safer roads. He spoke about the language we use in such matters, and I agree that using drink, drugs or phones does not make it an accident. Getting the language right matters, and I hugely agree that enforcement is critical, as my hon. Friend the Member for Reading West also said. As a former road safety Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick brings great experience and knowledge to this debate. The issue of prevention resonated most strongly with me, and the public reporting of drivers who break the rules is an interesting idea. He also said that the punishment should fit the crime.

I assure hon. Members that Ministers and officials in the Department for Transport will be sent the transcript of this debate so that they can study what has been said, because that is an important aspect of our proceedings. The hon. Gentleman specifically asked about prosecutions and, despite the increased number of cars on our roads, the number of incidents and, more significantly, the number of deaths on our roads have fallen very significantly. As a result, there are fewer prosecutions for causing death by dangerous driving, but the sentence length has increased, which is part of a long-term trend.

I listened with great interest to the speech of my hon. Friend Pauline Latham. Safety near schools is incredibly important, and I commend her for continuing to campaign on that issue. She made an important point, which links to the point raised by the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse, about the need for effective enforcement. Again, I will ensure that that point is passed on to the Department for Transport.

The three E’s mentioned by Catherine West—education, engineering and enforcement—are right. She also made a useful contribution to our proceedings. My hon. Friend John Howell told us of a personal experience from his constituency. He speaks as a member of the Select Committee on Justice, so I welcome his contribution. I am struck that 63% of respondents in his constituency expressed a fear of road traffic crime. I agree that that is a significant finding, and one of which we should take note.