HC Deb 28 April 1976 vol 910 cc101-2W
Mr. Ron Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now publish the report of the Departmental Committee on Drinking and Driving; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Gilbert

The Report of the Committee on Drinking and Driving, which is published today, makes forthright and carefully thought out proposals for dealing with the continuing and serious numbers of deaths and injuries which result from irresponsible drinking by drivers.

With driving accidents the biggest single cause of death up to the age of 30, and with one-third of all drivers killed in accidents being over the permitted alcohol level, no one can plead ignorance as to the implications of driving a vehicle on the roads after consuming even the most modest amount of alcohol.

There can be no doubt at all that drinking and driving is one of the greatest social evils of contemporary life, and that measures to halt and reverse this rising trend of wantonly created violent death, injury, physical suffering and emotional pain must be one of the most urgent objectives for us all.

I am glad to say that the committee found a wide measure of agreement among those who gave evidence to it, about the changes which are needed in order to restore the effectiveness of the Road Safety Act 1967. I am seeking immediately the views of those bodies which made representations to the committee; and I take this opportunity of inviting anyone else who wishes to comment on the report to write to me as soon as possible. Full consideration will, of course, be given to all these expressions of view. I hope to make a further statement before the Summer Recess.

Following on one of the committee's proposals, the Home Office is inviting manufacturers of breath-analysis devices to submit samples of their equipment for testing and evaluation. This should show when, and at what cost, improved devices suitable for use by the police could be made available, and the reseources in manpower and money that would be needed to maintain those devices at an acceptable standard. This investigation may take some time.

It remains for me to express my deep gratitude to the Chairman, Mr. Frank Blennerhassett, QC, and all the members of the committee, for the hard and concentrated work that has led to the production of this valuable report.