HC Deb 30 July 1956 vol 557 cc1077-9

Lords Amendment: In page 24, line 3, leave out "references" and insert: subsection (2) of section forty-one of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948 (which provides for proof, in proceedings for certain traffic offences, of admissions as to the identity of the driver or owner of a vehicle) shall apply to any offence to which the said subsection (3) applies; and in the case of any offence under the provisions of this Act relating to parking places the power conferred by the said subsection (3) to require information shall be exercisable either by or on behalf of the chief officer of police or, in writing, by or on behalf of the local authority for the parking place in question. (2) References".

Mr. Deedes

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment does two things. In the first place, it makes it clear that the power of the police under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, to prove the identity of the owner, or the driver of a vehicle by means of a certificate applies to offences against the Road Transport Lighting Acts, 1927 to 1953, in the first place, to the parking place provisions of this Bill in the second place, and to the London traffic regulations in the third place.

There is a useful provision in the 1948 Criminal Justice Act whereby a certificate can be signed by a constable proving the ownership, or proving the identity of a driver, of a vehicle, thereby saving a good deal of police time by releasing officers from courts. The Amendment rules that this shall apply to lighting offences and parking place offences under the London traffic regulations.

The second thing with which this Amendment is concerned deals with the identity of an owner or driver in the parking place provisions only. This part of the Amendment extends the power of local authorities so far as parking place offences are concerned, because the duty of enforcement will fall, primarily, on the local authorities—a power given under Clause 18 (5.) If an excess charge is incurred but the name and particulars of the driver are not known, he will have to be traced through the owner of the vehicle—who can be traced through the registration number and unless local authorities are given the power to require this information from the owner they would have to get the assistance of the police. Since it is desired, so far as is possible, to reduce the additional burdens which are being put on the police, power is being given to the local authorities to get this information for themselves.

I should add that the power can only be exercised, as is made clear, by or on behalf of the local authority in writing. There was strong feeling on this matter in another place, and these words were inserted to meet the feelings of those who were against the idea of a parking meter attendant being able there and then to demand from a driver his name and address when he suspected the driver of having committed an offence. It is obvious that such a situation might give rise to difficulties which it is desired to avoid.

What is envisaged is that a local authority which wants to follow up the non-payment of an excess charge will write to the owner asking for the name and address of the driver of the vehicle at the material time. If the owner does not answer, the local authority will send somebody to see him. It may be an officer of the local authority or perhaps even a person normally employed as an attendant.

The person who is sent by the local authority will be armed with a further letter, asking for the required information, which he will give to the owner, who will be under an obligation to furnish the information to him. There is no question of drivers being cross-examined by parking meter attendants when they go to collect their cars from the parking place. I hope that the House may be satisfied by this explanation.