HC Deb 07 November 1979 vol 973 cc397-9
17. Sir Bernard Braine

asked the Minister of Transport what progress is being made with implementing the proposals of the Blennerhasset committee on drinking and driving.

20. Mr. Delwyn Williams

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now make a further statement about the proposals of the Blennerhasset report on drinking and driving.

Mr. Fowler

I shall shortly be publishing a consultation paper with a view to legislation setting out the Government's provisional views on the recommendations in the report.

Sir. B. Braine

I welcome my right hon. Friend's answer as a step in the right direction. But the Blennerhasset report was published four years ago. In the interval, thousands of people have been killed or injured on the roads in circumstances where alcohol was a major factor. Is my right hon. Friend aware of the recent warning of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that we are facing a crisis of endemic proportions in respect of alcohol abuse? Will he speed up the consultation process which began under the previous Government and ensure quick and speedy action?

Mr. Fowler

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend about the seriousness of this question. I believe that this attitude is shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House. The consultation document that we are publishing was not started by the previous Government. It is intended to set out our views with a view to legislation. There are a number of issues, such as the proposal for unrestricted powers to test, on which we want to hear the public's view. It is important that any legislation that arises should be absolutely right. That is our intention.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that this committee produced irrefutable evidence that the breathalyser legislation had had no effect whatever upon the incidence of alcohol as a causative factor in road accidents?

Mr. Fowler

The right hon. Gentleman should also understand that alcohol and drunken driving are a major cause of road accidents. It is incumbent on this Government to take the action that I am proposing.

Mr. Penhaligon

Will the Minister confirm that the last year for which statistics are available shows that 40 per cent. of drivers killed in motor accidents were at the time over the limit with alcohol? In that light, how can he possibly welcome the sale of alcohol at motorway service stations?

Mr. Fowler

I confirm the figure that the hon. Gentleman gave. On his second point, given my statement that there is no such proposal—a statement which is in Hansard and which has been made clear—I am surprised that he should be so behind the times as not to understand the position.

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