HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 cc814-5
10. Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD)

How many speed safety cameras have been removed in the past 12 months because they do not comply with the sitting criteria. [173502]

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

The safety camera partnerships keep the continuing need for their cameras and the level of enforcement under review. Those enforcement issues are best determined locally in response to local developments and concerns. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has noted as well as I have that, despite my constant reminders to the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Green), at no fewer than five Question Times, we have not yet heard about the 4,000 cameras that he says were put in the wrong places.

Bob Russell

In view of the constant criticism of some newspaper editors and politicians who seemingly wish to aid and abet law-breakers, will the Minister confirm that, on an average day, 10 people are killed in road crashes and that excessive speed is a contributory factor in some of them? Does he believe the it the views of those who want the speed cameras removed might change if they lost a member of their family in such a road crash?

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Gentleman reminds us that nearly 10 people a day are killed on our roads. It is estimated that one third of those deaths, and many injuries, are caused by people travelling at inappropriate or excessive speeds. That is why we are determined that the safety camera partnerships should carry on their good work. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, on average there has been a reduction of 35 per cent. in the number of people killed or seriously injured at places where cameras are sited. Cameras are mainly sited in urban areas, where the number of deaths and injuries involving children is falling fastest. The hon. Member for Ashford will have to consider very carefully his policy of removing the cameras without justification, which could cause the numbers of children being killed or injured to rise again.

Mr. Ivan Henderson (Harwich) (Lab)

One of the local papers in my area recently carried a story in which the Essex safety camera partnership was is said to be effective … the best in the country and highly professional. The item also quoted Rodney Bass, Essex county council's Tory highways cabinet member, as saying: The partnership is an extremely professional and constructive organisation. Can my hon. Friend understand why anyone, including one of the Opposition Front-Bench team, should be calling for the partnership to be scrapped?

Mr. Jamieson

I have been wondering about that. There seems to be something of a split among Conservatives on this matter. Front-Bench spokesmen here say one thing, but many Conservative local authority leaders—not least Rodney Bass—tell us something else. Many have written to us, asking to relax the standards required for fitting the cameras, or saying how necessary the cameras are. Some openly disagree with Tory Members about the need for cameras in their areas. I think that this would be a good time for the hon. Member for Ashford and his colleagues to back off from their previous position, as it is clearly nonsensical. It would be good sense for everyone if we could reach some common accord on the issue of road safety.

Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) (Con)

How many people have lost their driving licences in the past 12 months after accumulating 12 points as a result of speed cameras and other measures?

Mr. Jamieson

A substantial number of people will have lost their licences in that time because they will have accumulated 12 points. People who get caught and are given three or six penalty points must reflect carefully on their driving and the speed at which they do it. Some people may have lost their licences, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that a large number of people are alive today, and have not been seriously injured, because of the cameras that are in place.