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Baroness Hanham: My Lords, can the Minister clarify this matter? If someone is prosecuted for manslaughter while driving a mechanically-propelled vehicle, and they are tried and found not guilty, is the prosecutor able to say that that not guilty verdict means that they must put before the court the possibility that the defendant is guilty of any one of the other three offences? If that happens, does the prosecutor have to allow time for the defence to take second instructions? Does he have to allow time for an adjournment? Does the defendant have to go through a retrial on the back of much of the previous evidence?
That may happen in other court proceedings, but I am not aware of it. Normally, if you are found not guilty at the end of a trial, that is that and you are not allowed to be prosecuted again for that offence. If you are then prosecuted for another offence, do the proceedings have to start all over again, with the person being re-arrested and the matter put before the court? Before we agree to the amendment, we need an explanation to clarify the matter.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I am interested in my noble friend's point about double jeopardy, because we have heard that that now applies in ordinary manslaughter or murder cases. We have heard reports in the press about someone's car being stolen and the driver deliberately running over the owner of the car. I do not know whether that person survived, but it certainly was a deliberate attempt to injure or kill. It would be desirable to have the option of a number of charges, but, like my noble friend, I would like to know whether the court can determine the outcome as an "either/or" case, or whether double jeopardy applies and the defendant could face a double trial.
The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, can the indictment start in Scotland as culpable homicide and then be followed by a second charge of causing death by dangerous driving? Will those charges all be listed, one below the other, or can they be returned to? Perhaps I may tell the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, that anyone who deliberately drives into someone is guilty of murder.
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, however I put it, all I am doing is questioning the process. I am not questioning whether someone who knocks down and kills someone is guilty of an offence. Of course they are. The question is whether, if they are found not guilty of one offence, they can then be prosecuted for another offence.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and I would have been surprised if she had remained silent while harbouring such anxieties about the way that this legislation will work, if the amendments receive the approval of the House.
We are not talking about double jeopardy or a retrial; we are saying that when the prosecution presents the charge of the more serious offence, it will encompass within that all the issues which might relate
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to the more minor offence. It will be for the judge to say that he did not find the first position established and he might direct the court to consider the second. That is how it would work. It would be the same trialit would not be double jeopardy. You would be before the court with the more serious charge being outlined, and you might find that eventually, on the evidence, you were convicted on the lesser part of the offence. That is the basis on which it would work. I hope that that allays noble Lords' well founded anxieties.
"ALTERNATIVE VERDICT ON UNSUCCESSFUL MANSLAUGHTER PROSECUTION
In section 24 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (c. 53) (alternative verdicts), before subsection (1) insert
(a) a person charged with manslaughter in connection with the driving of a mechanically propelled vehicle by him is found not guilty of that offence, but
(b) the allegations in the indictment amount to or include an allegation of any of the relevant offences,
he may be convicted of that offence.
(A2) For the purposes of subsection (A1) above the following are the relevant offences
(a) an offence under section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (causing death by dangerous driving),
(b) an offence under section 2 of that Act (dangerous driving),
(c) an offence under section 3A of that Act (causing death by careless driving when under influence of drink or drugs), and
(d) an offence under section 35 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 (furious driving).""
The noble Lord said: My Lords, paragraph 5 of Schedule 4 deals with disputes and currently makes provision for regulations allowing for an application only to a magistrates' court. This is a drafting error as the Act applies to England, Wales and Scotland. In Scotland, as the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, was going to point out to me, the equivalent of a magistrates' court is a sheriff court. Consequently, the paragraph should in fact provide for applications in Scotland to be made to a sheriff court. The amendment rectifies that error by providing that the paragraph includes provision for applications in Scotland to be made to a sheriff court. I apologise to the House and, in particular, to the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, for the error. I beg to move.
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"( ) In subsection (1) (tests of competence to drive), after the word "requirement" insert ", has received first aid training".
( ) In paragraph (a) insert at end
"(aa) an applicant shall be considered to have received first aid training if on the date the application for the licence is made he has received the training prescribed by virtue of subsection (3) below.""
The noble Lord said: My Lords, we had a very useful debate in Committee about the importance of basic first aid skills in saving lives on our roads. I have tabled Amendments Nos. 34 and 36 as I undertook to return to this significant issue at Report stage. I shall not rehearse in detail the many benefits of first aid skills for drivers as we heard them in previous sittings. However, I think it is necessary to restate the potential of enhancing first aid knowledge.
Noble Lords will know that we still have an average of eight deaths each day on UK roads. Some of those deaths are inevitable after an accident has occurred due to the massive injuries sustained. However, substantial research has shown that in the cases where death was not inevitable, up to 85 per cent of the casualties had an airway obstruction. With a blocked airway, it can take less than four minutes to die. In those cases, even if an ambulance arrives within the target time of eight minutes, it is those at the scene who can save a life.
In Committee, we were very glad to hear from the Minister that he was working with the British Red Crossmany of us have also been involved in discussions with the Red Crossand St John Ambulance on practical solutions to increase these basic skills in new drivers. I take the Government's point about the complexities of requiring all new drivers to take a practical first aid course in order to pass a driving test. However, other European countries, such as Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia, do require such training.
I was also pleased to hear in Committee that the Government think that there is a way forward in amending the theory section of the driving test. My understanding is that both parts of the theory test can be amended to enhance new drivers' first aid knowledge. The Minister referred to the question and answer section of the theory test and to the fact that there are currently 22 first aid questions out of 1,200 in total. I should very much like the Government to commit to raising that number so that each new driver is certain to be asked questions about first aid. I should like the Minister to comment on that today.
In addition, I understand that the interactive part of the theory testthe hazard perception testcould include one scene detailing a first aid scenario. That would enable a learner driver to understand the basis of responding to a road accident: ensuring that the scene is safe; checking consciousness, breathing and circulation; and calling for help.
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The new focus on the theory test would remedy previous objections on the grounds of bureaucracy and cost. It would not require a separate course on first aid, and would be integrated into the current system. Nor would improving the theory test require retesting every few years; it would simply give new drivers vital life skills at a time when they need them most. As your Lordships have heard several times, drivers between 17 and 20 are six times more likely to be involved in a collision that causes injury than a driver over 40.
These modest steps would not place any obligation on drivers. No driver would be required to act at the scene of an accident. What a dreadful tragedy it would be, however, if there were a willing bystander who could have unblocked an airway or prevented blood loss, but was unable to save a life through a lack of those very simple skills.
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