Road Safety — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:56 pm on 16th October 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 2:56 pm, 16th October 2018

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. I commend my hon. Friend Jack Brereton on securing this important debate. I compliment him on his speech’s content and his delivery. I pay tribute to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland and the Central Scotland Road Safety Partnership, which delivers the “Safe Drive Stay Alive” campaign every year, as I have previously remarked on in the House. The highly effective campaign includes an evocative and emotive live presentation designed to change behaviour and thinking about the responsibilities that we have when we sit behind the wheel of a car.

I want to speak about my constituent, Mrs Elizabeth Billett, who came to see me a few months ago because she had read something in the Stirling Observer that vividly brought back memories of what had happened to her grandson, whom she had brought up. Her case was previously mentioned in the House by my predecessor, Dame Anne McGuire, but I mention it again because the issues surrounding it are still relevant. Those issues relate to the consequences of foreign drivers who visit the UK driving on the wrong side of the road. The essence of my speech is to ask the Minister what more can be done to help foreign drivers who come to this country to be aware of the need to stay on the correct side of the road. I will also raise points that are outside his remit as a Minister, but which I hope he will contemplate and perhaps offer a view on.

Mrs Billett came to talk to me about her grandson, Andrew McLean, who was 22 years old when the car he was driving was hit by someone driving on the wrong side of the road. That person happened to be a French national, who was subsequently sentenced to 200 hours of community service and given an 18-month driving ban in 2012. When I met Mrs Billett, it was clear that the grief that she felt was still as fresh as if it had only just happened. That is the reality of that kind of shocking loss. To lose a grandson at such a young age—he was only 22, as I said—is a truly horrible thing to happen. It has blighted her life. We must recognise the truly shattering effect that the loss of such a young man has had on Mrs Billett and her family.

I now turn to the case that brought Mrs Billett to my constituency office and highlight the issue that I wish to raise. Recently, in Gartmore on the A81 in my constituency, a French driver, again on the wrong side of the road, resulted in three people being seriously injured and hospitalised. The sheriff in Stirling imposed a £3,000 fine, which he stated was immediately enforceable, and he disqualified the driver from driving for 27 months. I recognise that this is a devolved area, but it is a relevant one, which we should contemplate in this debate.

The sheriff said the second part of the sentence—not the fine, but the disqualification—was unenforceable, because if the individual concerned returned to France it would have no effect. That is what I ask the Minister to contemplate today. Is there not a way in which the consequences of this type of accident, the impact it has—visible to me when I met my constituent; I have a lasting memory of her grief and pain at the loss of her grandson—and the resulting sentence can be enforced, regardless of where the individual concerned goes? There must be a way of co-operating across Governments on this issue.

Being in charge of a motorcar is a very serious responsibility and drivers must take it seriously. I ask the Minister and all of us here today to consider how we might ensure that sentences are appropriate to the impact of the crime and are enforceable across national boundaries. My constituent, Mrs Billett, has been left in limbo for years. Nothing can be done to bring her grandson back, but we can go further than we currently do and help to bring her some sense of justice.