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Lord Brougham and Vaux: I support my noble friend Lord Attlee. It is a well known fact that, when heavy goods vehicles are stolen, the tractor part of an articulated vehicle is stolen only in order to sell the spare parts--the engine, the electronic management system and the gear box. Lorries are not sold complete; they are sold purely for their spare parts. I believe that the amendment would go a long way in combating this crime.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Anyone who has had his or her vehicle broken into or attacked in some way will

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have some sympathy with the amendment, which is designed to tackle the trade in stolen vehicle parts. That is undoubtedly a worthy aim but we do not believe that the amendment will achieve what it sets out to achieve. It requires that those who have a lawful reason or excuse for having a specified vehicle component with a defaced serial number shall not be guilty of an offence. I understand the reasoning behind that, but such a provision would make the new offence difficult to enforce. The police would find it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and unlawful removal of serial numbers and to obtain evidence of sufficient quality to present to a court.

The trade in stolen vehicle parts is undoubtedly a problem--that is one reason why the Bill is necessary. However, we think that the problem is addressed by other provisions in the Bill, which are designed to drive out the criminal element from the motor salvage industry. It is interesting that the police estimate that about 40 per cent of vehicles that are stolen but which are not recovered are broken up for their parts. We believe that regulating the motor salvage industry will help successfully to tackle that problem.

Finally, I want to make a wider point. Serial numbers on vehicle component parts are most useful to the police when they can access a database that provides an audit trail and links a particular component to a particular vehicle. Motor manufacturing is, as we all know, a world-wide industry. The vehicle crime reduction action team is setting up a working group to examine the use of international standards for the marking of vehicle component parts and of databases that are accessible by the police. It will also give further consideration to the need for legislative changes to protect marks.

Although we in government have some sympathy with the amendment--I am sure that all Members of the Committee have much sympathy with its approach--we do not think, for the reasons that I have given, that it is the right way to tackle the problem. However, I am grateful to the noble Earl for moving the amendment in a public-spirited manner.

Earl Attlee: I am grateful to the Minister for his response but I am not entirely satisfied. My noble friend Lord Brougham and Vaux referred to the breaking up of commercial vehicles. It is important to understand that experts can break up a heavy commercial vehicle in a matter of hours, put all the components in a container and export it or send it to another part of the country. There is much concern in the commercial vehicle world about the lack of progress on the Government's part in dealing with the theft and breaking up of commercial vehicles. Clearly, the Bill will go some way towards solving the problem. It is important to realise that a commercial vehicle can be broken up extremely quickly and that one does not require large premises to do it; it can be done in the middle of a wood or in a farm.

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The Minister referred to the amendment's "lawful reason or excuse" provision. With regard to the offence of receiving stolen goods, there must be a "lawful reason or excuse" for having accidentally received stolen goods.

I shall read the Minister's comments very carefully but I expect that I shall come back with a stronger amendment at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 agreed to.

5.15 p.m.

Clause 38 [Unified power for Secretary of State to fund speed cameras etc.]:

Baroness Scott of Needham Market moved Amendment No. 64:

    Page 22, line 45, at end insert "; or

(c) other purposes directly connected with improving road safety under subsection (2A)"

The noble Baroness said: I begin by reiterating my support for the general principle that income from fixed penalty speeding fines detected by cameras should be kept by the local police and used for local speed-limit enforcement. I speak to the amendment as someone who has been involved in local speed-management strategies for the past eight years. While the enforcement of a speed limit is without doubt of crucial importance, it must also be seen as a kind of backstop, which comes into play when education and engineering have failed to make a particular speed limit self-enforcing.

Self-enforcement should be our objective. That can be achieved by an ongoing educative campaign that aims to achieve the cultural shift that we saw in relation to drink-driving a decade or so ago. So far as engineering is concerned, there are roads that are designed in such a way as to almost encourage drivers to drive faster than would otherwise be appropriate. I refer to long straight roads but on which there are many side entrances, or perhaps a school or an elderly people's home. In such cases, I do not believe that education alone will do the job. In the short term, the deterrent effect of speed cameras can be dramatic, as we have seen from the pilot schemes. Eventually, however, something should be done about the road itself. It could perhaps be realigned or treated in a way that makes speeding less likely.

Without that approach, an over-reliance on enforcement could have two undesirable consequences. First, we might begin to lose the battle for greater public awareness about and acceptance of the need to keep speed down. An inappropriate attitude will, unfortunately, be encouraged by those who seek to generate a climate in which motorists are seen as some sort of victim. Secondly, there is a danger that the financial incentive to enforce fixed-penalty speeding offences will result in a reduced emphasis on other driving offences, such as careless or dangerous driving or, perhaps, drink-driving.

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Those issues are far from straightforward and their effects cannot be certain. For that reason, I support Amendment No. 66, which appears on the Marshalled List in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, and which seeks a review of the Bill's proposals.

I appreciate that hypothecation in the way that is proposed in Amendments Nos. 64 and 65 would involve a major step for the Treasury. I congratulate the Minister on achieving as much as he has done in that regard. However, in the interests of developing a road safety strategy in its widest context, I hope that my proposed changes will at least be considered in due course. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: The amendment would extend the purposes for which the money can be paid. The noble Baroness said that that approach involved hypothecation. She is probably correct, but only probably so. The provision does not appear to insist that the money to be applied to the relevant purposes, which may be those referred to by the noble Baroness or those that are already in the Bill, should necessarily come from fines involving speed cameras; the requirement is merely that the Secretary of State may make payments. Under the Bill's provisions, those payments may or may not relate to money that is obtained through fines. We know from what has already been said that that is the broad intention. However, that does not involve, as it were, direct hypothecation.

I make that point as a former Treasury Minister. I want to be sure about what exactly will happen from the technical point of view. I share the Treasury's hesitation about hypothecation. It is not clear where hypothecation might lead and it might ultimately involve difficulties. I should add that I was primarily on the money-raising side of the Treasury rather than on the spending side--although perhaps we should refer to the "stopping-of-spending side". Most of my activities were concerned with getting money out of taxpayers rather than deciding how money should be spent. Those of us who have been responsible for raising money from taxpayers know how difficult that is--and how important it is to ensure that that money is properly spent. Such an experience only reinforces one's feelings in this respect.

On the noble Baroness's amendment, I am sure that traffic engineering and educational work can make a contribution to road safety, although sometimes I begin to feel that it is overdone. I have a flat in Lambeth. Recently, a number of sleeping policemen were put in all the roads nearby. Now it is intended to introduce a 20 mile-an-hour limit. That is rather ridiculous because with all the parked cars and the sleeping policemen it is impossible to reach 20 miles an hour anyway without knocking your car to bits. Even if you did, nobody could possibly catch you and

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certainly no policeman is going to enforce it. So I suspect that we are merely getting a lot more street furniture.

Viscount Simon: It is not really a matter of the police catching you in the 20 mile-an-hour limit zone. It is the possibility of hitting a young child who runs out from behind a parked car.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I appreciate that but the sleeping policemen and the amount of parking allowed and so on ensures that it is very difficult to reach 20 miles an hour anyway unless one is extremely reckless. If someone is extremely reckless, then he is likely to go on being reckless regardless of the fact that there is more street furniture about.

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