HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc551-3
10. Mr. George Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the number of motoring cases in Wales in which the driver was proved to be under the influence of drink during the years 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950, respectively.

Mr. Ede

The numbers of offences of driving or being in charge of a motor car while under the influence of drink or a drug dealt with by prosecution in Wales were: in 1947, 142; in 1948, 128; in 1949, 134; in 1950, 186. Statistics of findings of guilt are not kept on a geographical basis and I regret that I am, therefore, unable to say in how many of these cases the charge was proved.

Mr. Thomas

In view of the avoidable tragedies which are caused by motorists driving under the influence of drink, will the Home Secretary reconsider the introduction of legislation to prevent convicted persons from ever having their licences renewed?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir. I think we must recognise that there are degrees, even in this type of offence, serious as it is, and to impose that as an unavoidable penalty might involve us in doing injustice in certain cases.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Do not the statistics for 1950 show an alarming increase and is it not reflected very similarly in the figures for England?

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir. I regret to say that that is so. There was another Question on the Paper today dealing with the problem of drunkenness, but the hon. was not here and I was not able to answer it.

Mr. James Hudson

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the collection of statistics on these convictions for motoring offences sufficiently takes into account the element of drunkenness as a cause of those offences? Is there not a need for reconsideration of the way in which statistics are compiled?

Mr. Ede

The statistics I have given to the House today relate to prosecutions of persons who were alleged by the prosecution to be so far under the influence of drink or drugs as to be incapable of driving a car.

Sir H. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many sober people were convicted of driving dangerously?

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Can my right hon. Friend say in what proportion of the cases he has mentioned, in which drunkenness has been found, disqualification was not imposed?

Mr. Ede

Not without notice.

Mr. Thomas

In view of the danger to life and limb and to the number of people of whom we read being injured through people selfishly driving a car while under the influence of drink, will the Minister consider introducing heavier penalties than are at present enforced?

Mr. Ede

The penalty which can be imposed in these cases is very heavy and includes suspension of the driving licence for life.

Mr. Remnant

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the licensed trade are equally alarmed by this increase and are making their own investigations, and that they would be willing to co-operate with him?

  1. PRISONS (HYGIENE) 236 words