HC Deb 28 January 1960 vol 616 cc348-9
14. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now made a decision as to the adoption of a ticket system of optional fixed fines for minor traffic offences.

17. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has given further consideration to the proposal to introduce a ticket system of fines for traffic offences in the Metropolitan area; and what decision he has reached.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Yes, Sir. I hope to put proposals before the House in the current Session for the introduction in specified areas of a standard penalty system whereby persons who commit certain traffic offences will be informed by means of a ticket attached to the vehicle that they may, if they wish, pay a standard penalty to a court as an alternative to being prosecuted.

Mr. Fisher

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this will be a welcome innovation to most motorists? It has worked well in other countries and will save a good deal of the time of the courts, the police and the motorist who knows quite well that he is guilty, without being prejudicial to the legal rights of the motorist who thinks that he is innocent.

Mr. Butler

The last point raised by my hon. Friend is important. If a driver wishes to deny that he has committed an offence it will be open to him to withhold payment of the standard penalty, when he will be proceeded against in the normal way. By way of further information, I would add that we will suggest that this penalty system should be operated experimentally in London in the first instance.

Mr. Fletcher

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention that the standard fine should be the same for every offence, irrespective of whether there has been a previous offence?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give a final answer on that point at present, but I can say that the offences to which this procedure will apply will consist principally of parking offences and matters of that sort. We could not apply such a system to moving vehicles.

Mr. Bellenger

Does not this system cut across the right of the subject to be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty?

Mr. Butler

No. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is that the driver who feels that he is penalised has the right to go to court if he so wishes. That preserves the liberty of the subject.

Mr. S. Silverman

Can the Home Secretary say whether his proposals contain any safeguard to make sure that a man who denies his guilt and exercises his right to go to court shall not pay a greater penalty than the standard penalty merely because he has elected to defend himself and requires the case against him to be proved?

Mr. Butler

That is a very important refinement, to which I must pay attention.

Mr. Gordon Walker

In order to achieve my hon. Friend's object, is it not essential that the court should never be informed that a ticket had been issued in the case? It seems to me to be essential that the court should not know that the motorist had refused to my the standard fine.

Mr. Butler

That is a complication added to the refinement of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), but I will also look into that point.