HC Deb 25 November 1964 vol 702 cc198-9W
Mr. Clive Bossom

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the type of breath-testing equipment to be used by the police during the voluntary breath-testing trials due to take place before and during Christmas; and if he will publish the results of these trials.

Mr. George Thomas

The police will not take samples of breath and will not use breath-testing equipment in the course of the investigation to be carried out by the Road Research Laboratory of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research into fatal road accidents occurring during the 1964 Christmas holiday period. But as part of this investigation the Laboratory intends to ask the drivers of motor vehicles at certain points on the roads to provide voluntarily samples of breath for analysis, and at these points the police will be assisting the Laboratory by stopping cars. The samples will be taken in plastic bags and the contents analysed at the Laboratory by breathalyser equipment. The question of publishing the results of these tests will be considered when the report of the whole investigation is available.

Mr. Thorpe

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce breathalyser tests as a means of determining the alcoholic condition of motor car drivers.

Mr. George Thomas

Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act, 1962, provides that in any proceedings for an offence of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs, the court shall have regard to any evidence given about the proportion or quantity of alcohol found in the blood or the body of the accused by analysis of a sample of blood or urine, and that if it is proved that the accused refused a request to provide a sample his refusal may, unless reasonable cause is shown, be treated as supporting any evidence offered by the prosecution or rebutting any evidence offered by the defence with respect to his condition at the time.

The provisions of Section 2 may be extended by subsection (6) to evidence based on samples of breath Before subsection (6) is brought into force, however, it is necessary to be satisfied that suitable arrangements can be made for taking and analysing breath samples, and a working party is at present considering the problems that would be involved in the introduction of breath-testing equipment for this purpose. I understand that the working party will make a first report early next year.