HC Deb 20 April 2004 vol 420 cc149-50
9. Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

What estimate he has made of the average number of uninsured drivers on the road on any one day in the past 12 months. [166177]

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

My Department takes the problem of uninsured driving seriously. The insurance industry estimates that about 5 per cent. of motorists drive without insurance. The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland recently conducted a survey, checking vehicles across the United Kingdom. The results of that survey are being collated and we will study them most carefully.

Chris Bryant

Bearing in mind the significant number of uninsured drivers and the appalling expense and inconvenience caused to those who are involved in accidents with such drivers, is it not time that we considered having a joint tax and insurance disc—or at least ensuring that when someone buys a disc for six or 12 months, they can prove that they are insured for the whole period, not just for the day they go into the post office?

Mr. Jamieson

I note my hon. Friend's interest in this important matter, which he is right to raise. I assure him that I think that uninsured motorists are a menace on our roads. We have not discounted the use of insurance discs on windows, but we have asked Professor David Greenaway to conduct a full inquiry into uninsured driving and we expect his report shortly. We shall examine the recommendations and implement them rapidly. We want tough measures to be taken against those who are clearly flouting the law.

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con)

Does the Minister agree that the problem affects us all, as every motorist pays for uninsured drivers through higher insurance premiums? Transport Ministers have been showing a modicum of common sense recently. We suggested the introduction of a statutory code for traffic wardens—Ministers adopted Conservative policy. We suggested looking at higher speed limits on motorways—Ministers are now looking into that Conservative policy. Will the Minister complete the hat trick and adopt Conservative policy on uninsured drivers by giving courts the power to confiscate the vehicles of repeat offenders?

Mr. Jamieson

One thing we will not be learning from is the Opposition's transport policy. While we concentrate on safety, they wallow in opportunism. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right, however, that uninsured drivers are a menace, and there is a cost to everyone in our insurance policies and in terms of safety on the road. We will look carefully at Professor Greenaway's report—I hope that he and his party will do so as well, and support the measures that we introduce in the House.