HC Deb 20 April 2004 vol 420 cc143-4
5. Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD)

If he will estimate how many (a) lives will be saved and (b) serious injuries will be prevented in the next 12 months as a result of the installation of speed safety cameras. [166173]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson)

The independently produced evaluation report of the two-year trial of the safety camera cost recovery scheme showed a 35 per cent. reduction in the number of those killed or seriously injured at camera sites. A report covering the third year of the programme's operation is due to be published shortly.

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD)

I am grateful for the Minister's encouraging response. Will he confirm that by the end of today—as of any other day in the year—it is likely that about 10 people will have been killed and scores of people seriously injured on our roads? Against that background, can he understand the logic of those who encourage law-breaking? How many deaths are those people prepared to tolerate? Should they not be made to visit some of the families of people who have lost their lives because of excessive speed?

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Gentleman makes a very salient point. Last year's report on the eight pilot areas showed a reduction of about 500 collisions in those areas alone. Many of those collisions would have led to death or serious injury. Since cameras have been fitted throughout the country, we have seen a dramatic fall, particularly in death and injury to children, which is most significant. There has been a 35 per cent. reduction in three years. I agree that the people calling for the cameras to be removed—we may hear from the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Green) in a few moments—should reflect on the consequences of their policy and assess how many additional deaths of children and elderly people are likely to follow from it.

Mr. Bill Olner (Nuneaton) (Lab)

I welcome the Minister's announcement about the reduction in the number of road injuries and deaths. Those who campaign for the removal of cameras should have on their conscience the consequences for the victims of road traffic accidents. However, I implore the Minister to look further into the issue of speed cameras on motorways. I agree that those cameras are effective when men are working on the motorways, but for long stretches and huge amounts of time there are no roadworks. With modern-day telematics, surely there could be variable speed limits for various parts of the day.

Mr. Jamieson

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that people calling for the removal of the cameras should also answer the question of how many more casualties will result at those sites. He will know that there are very few speed cameras on motorways, which are the safest roads in the country. The few areas where cameras are placed permanently are usually where there has been a record of serious injury or death or where there are roadworks. The figures show that in 18 months, 11 people working on the roads were killed. As I said earlier, I hope that we hear from the hon. Member for Ashford today. Regular attenders of Transport questions will know that we have still not heard about the 4,000 sites that he alleged had cameras in the wrong places. Perhaps we will hear from him some time today.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con)

Do lorry drivers from foreign countries who are caught on speed cameras have to pay the fine?

Mr. Jamieson

That is indeed a problem. In association with our colleagues in the EU, we are looking into the problem of tracking down foreign drivers for the payment of fines. The issue of fines and other penalties across the Union is a matter of concern and we are also worried about the number of foreign vehicles in this country that may not be taxed or insured.