HC Deb 26 July 1927 vol 209 cc1013-4

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that, in accordance with a Home Office Regulation, a person who is arrested for being drunk whilst in charge of a vehicle and who demands to be examined by his own doctor, is not allowed to be so examined in private, the police insisting upon being present; and whether he will give instructions that in such cases the examination shall be private, as is the practice in an interview between an accused person and his lawyer?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)

I am aware that the general practice is as stated in the first part of the question, and I think this practice is right. I cannot see how the interests of the prisoner can be prejudiced by the presence of a police officer, who may have to give evidence in Court with regard to the examination. Interviews with solicitors are obviously on quite a different footing.


Would the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what advantage it is to a prisoner to allow a lawyer to be present while not allowing a doctor to be present?


The doctor is there to examine the prisoner on a question of fact, namely, as to whether he is or is not under the influence of drink, but the lawyer is there to receive any private statements that the prisoner may desire to make to him to assist in the preparation of his defence.


Has the right hon. Gentleman's Department obtained any satisfactory definition of drunkenness?


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Section 40 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1925, while imposing penalties upon any persons convicted of being drunk whilst in charge of a mechanically-propelled vehicle, contains no provision for arrest, and that it is now the practice of the police to arrest such persons under Section 12 of the Licensing Act, 1872, and to proceed against them in the Court under the former Act where the penalties are more severe; and whether this practice is being followed in accordance with any Home Office Regulations?


I am aware that the police often arrest a man who is drunk whilst driving a mechanically propelled vehicle and the Act of 1872 empowers them to do so. Subsequent proceedings are taken under the Act of 1925, the object of which was to allow of an adequate penalty being imposed. No regulations have been issued, but the practice has my approval.