§ 9. Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the growing practice of drivers driving vehicles on the road whilst disqualified; and whether he will seek to amend the Road Traffic Act, 1962, to ensure that the offence of driving while disqualified should be subject to liability of arrest without warrant.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Stephen Swingler)
There is at present no evidence of an increase in the proportion of people driving while disqualified. However, in view of the seriousness of this offence, we are watching the situation carefully. The power of arrest without warrant does not seem to be appropriate in this sort of case.
§ Mr. Lewis
Will my hon. Friend take this matter up with the Police Federation, which has evidence that this offence 994 is on the increase? The police claim that it is a bit stupid that when they pull a person up for this offence there is nothing to stop him then driving off, even whilst disqualified. Surely the police should have power to arrest when they are satisfied that someone is driving whilst disqualified?
§ Mr. Swingler
This matter was considered by the Traffic Committee of the Central Conference of Chief Constables as recently as October, 1963. After discussion, the Committee decided to reject the idea, and not to recommend that this power should be granted. In this type of case it is obvious that it is not immediately provable that someone is driving whilst disqualified. Some evidence has to be sought for the purpose. Therefore, it is very different from the power to arrest without warrant in, for example, the case of dangerous driving.
§ Mr. Lewis
Is my hon. Friend aware that there have been cases where the police have pulled up a driver and have seen that the licence was stamped with his disqualification but that there was nothing to prevent that man driving off again in the same vehicle? Surely the police should have power to stop a man driving off when they know that he is disqualified? They have no such power at the moment.
§ Mr. Swingler
It would be dangerous to widen the power to arrest without warrant. It is a matter which needs to be considered very carefully indeed. We should need a good deal of evidence that this power was necessary. It has been considered by the chief constables, who decided not to recommend it. If my hon. Friend has further evidence on the subject, we should be glad if he would submit it. It would be considered by my Department and the Home Office.