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(1) In the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) after section 40A (using a vehicle in dangerous condition) there is inserted—
(1) A person commits an aggravated offence if he drives a motor vehicle on a road while his ability to drive is impaired by drugs.
(2) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section in respect of the effect of a drug on his ability to drive it is a defence for him to show that—
(a) he took the drug for a medicinal purpose on and in accordance with medical advice, or
(b) he took the drug for a medicinal purpose and had no reason to believe that it would impair his ability to drive.
A constable shall have the right to require any driver whom he reasonably suspects of committing a moving traffic offence to take a field impairment test, or require a blood or other bodily sample for analysis, or both, for the purpose of establishing whether or not that driver is under the influence of any drug."
(2) A person guilty of an offence under this Part shall be liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or to both, or
(b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.
(3) It shall be the duty of each coroner to publish each year a report containing a list of all accidents which led to fatalities in which any of the drivers involved tested positive for any drug.
(4) It shall be the duty of each police force to include each year in its annual report a report containing—
(a) a list of all motor accidents which led to fatalities in which any of the drivers involved tested positive for any drug, and
(b) a list of all motor accidents causing injury in which any of the drivers involved tested positive for any drug."

The noble Lord said: I feel that I want to go on self-denying ordinance on this one. I should like to make it conditional, but simply in this sense. There is no need for the Minister to repeat much of his remarks that he made in response to my first group of amendments, which were really in response to this amendment. On that basis I shall not say very much at this stage—partly for time and partly because I hope that we might come to an agreement to talk.

The difference between the Minister and myself on this issue is not over getting something done; it is over timing. I should like to see this proposal brought into this Bill. This is a railway and transport safety Bill which is a very logical place to put the matter of drugs and driving. The Minister has told me that he has work going on elsewhere which we hope will result in

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changes in this area, but the Bill will be aimed at a different problem. In a sense, drugs and driving perhaps will be a secondary issue for that particular Bill.

I cannot help but wonder whether we could find a way to get this matter into a sufficiently good form so that it could be included in this Bill. The amendment as it stands at the moment would not satisfy me if I were in the Minister's position. I admit that because one learns as one goes along. After all, I am an amateur draftsman. I am not a professional. The Government have immense resources behind them which are specifically trained and qualified to undertake this task. I readily acknowledge that.

The sticking point is the difficulty that different drugs have different effects on people. I know that police training is going on so that they are better at recognising people who are driving while under the influence of drugs. But there are the specific problems of defining measurable levels of effect in order to determine impairment to the extent that it is positively dangerous, in the way that one can with alcohol.

However, I cannot help but wonder whether that should not be taken care of by a regulation-making power, which would mean that it could be introduced drug by drug as the information became available. Consequently, one would not have to wait for a blockbuster approach to the whole issue. If we cannot have heavy discussions about this, can we work out a compromise before the next stage of the Bill? I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am much less optimistic than the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. The problems of testing for impairment from the use of drugs are much more intractable than he thinks. I shall be happy to meet him and talk about the issue between now and Report.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 63 not moved.]

Lord Faulkner of Worcester had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 64:

    After Clause 107, insert the following new clause—

(1) The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (S.I. 1986/1078) are amended as follows.
(2) After Regulation 109 there is inserted—
110 No person shall drive, or cause or permit to be driven, a motor vehicle on a road, if the driver is using a hand-held mobile telephone or similar device.""

The noble Lord said: I have been got at by the Minister and I shall not move this today, but I shall bring it back on Report.

[Amendment No. 64 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 65 not moved.]

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Baroness Scott of Needham Market moved Amendment No. 65A:

    After Clause 107, insert the following new clause—

(1) In the interest of public health and safety, the following shall have effect.
(2) The Secretary of State shall within one year from the coming into force of this enactment make a permanent Traffic Regulation Order to prohibit the use of non-essential mechanically propelled vehicles on the National Trail.
(3) Non-essential mechanically propelled vehicles shall mean all such vehicles but shall not include those driven by individuals with an estate or interest in land adjoining the Trail or their lawful visitors or emergency vehicles.
(4) A Traffic Regulation Order shall mean an order as defined in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27) and as subsequently amended."

The noble Baroness said: I have not been got at by the Minister but, nevertheless, in the interests of the advanced stage which he earlier revealed, much to my amazement, I shall be fairly brief. Amendment No. 65A reflects widely-held concern about developments on the network of national trails. National trails are the long-distance routes which were introduced by an Act of Parliament in 1949 on what are essentially footpaths and are intended to be used by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. They have become increasingly under threat from the enormous growth in 4 x 4 motor vehicles and off-road motorbikes, which are using these trails effectively as a playground. That has caused clear environmental problems as well as the sort of amenity issues which destroy the enjoyment of walkers and cyclists.

However, there are some real safety issues here. The surface of these routes is being destroyed. They are being turned into a sea of deep and rather unpleasant mud during wet weather. When the weather is dry, these routes are now set into muddy ruts which make walking difficult. Indeed, that makes it difficult for horses and cyclists too. In addition, there are a number of incidents or accidents which have taken place where horses have been startled by off-road vehicles that suddenly appear, particularly motor bikes.

Most people would agree that it is a nonsense that motor vehicles are allowed onto national trails at all. That has happened because of ancient highway law in which, if it can be proved that wheeled vehicles have ever been allowed on a highway, they continue to be allowed to do that. Therefore, if it has been shown that horses and carriages were using ancient routes 200 years ago, such vehicles can now lawfully use them. Most people would agree that for safety reasons as well as amenity reasons it is time that this legislation was changed. After all, we do quite a lot to reduce the use of traffic in city centres. It seems rather absurd that we are unable to do the same on these trails. I beg to move.

Viscount Astor: I support the principle of the amendment. I declare an interest in that I live near the Ridgeway and I assume from the amendment that the Ridgeway is covered by the national trail. This is a very important amendment. I am also an honorary member of GLEAM, a group that encourages and lobbies the Government about national trails and so

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forth. Recently, national trails have become a nightmare at weekends. There is a voluntary agreement and large signs are put up by various august bodies—whether it be English Nature or the National Trust—stating that there is an agreement with off-roaders that the trails will not be used at weekends. I was on the Berkshire Downs last Sunday for approximately 10 minutes and 40 motor cycles came past, all extremely noisy. I noticed that many had no licence. I do not know whether they were insured. They were certainly off-roaders and should not have been used on the road. There is also a great number of four-wheel drives. None of those are driven by local people. They are not farmers going about their business. They do not need access to fields. They are people who go out for the enjoyment of driving off-road.

There are places one can go if that is one's sport. There are particular off-road sites and parks that can be used. But what is occurring is that bridleways and, to some degree, footpaths, are being generally destroyed. Because of the ruts they are becoming almost impassable for anyone else. This is an issue that has been around for some time. I think it was in 1990 that my honourable friend in another place Robert Key, the Minister, tried to do something about it, but failed for various technical and legal reasons. I always thought it was a disappointment that we never managed to do anything about it.

Quiet rural enjoyment is an important issue. It has become much worse because there are so many more motor cars, 4 x 4 vehicles and bikes around—the jet ski equivalents, as it were. This is an extremely important issue to those of us who live in the countryside. I warmly support the intention behind the amendment.

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