Fixed Penalty Offences
I beg to move amendment No. 68, in page 61, line 7, column 2, at end insert
`except an offence in respect of a moving motor vehicle'.
With this, it will be convenient to take amendment No. 69.
These amendments are in response to the Opposition's concern that these two offences were not suitable for fixed penalty treatment. Their proposal would have removed all pedestrian crossing offences from the fixed penalty system. We do not feel that is justified.—Schedule 5 Therefore, the amendment is confined to excluding offences
There are many instances where fixed penalty treatment would be appropriate for minor breaches of the pedestrian crossing regulations, especially those involving stationary vehicles. It would be absurd if each of those had to be dealt with in court when one of the main objectives of the new system is to relieve the courts of road traffic cases. However, I am prepared to accept that offences in respect of moving vehicles may be more serious. It must be remembered that the fixed penalty procedure is only an option for a constable who retains the discretion to prosecute for serious breaches of a regulation. There is no intention to devalue the seriousness of any offence by making it eligible for fixed penalty treatment. Nevertheless, in view of the concern expressed, we have decided that breaches of pedestrian crossing regulations in respect of a moving motor vehicle should not be included in the extended fixed penalty system. We have also decided that the offence of disregarding a school crossing patrol may not be ideally suited to the fixed penalty treatment in all cases. In view of the fact that the number of cases that would stay within the court process is relatively small—about 650 convictions in 1980—and in view of the concern expressed, which to an extent I share, we have decided that these offences, too, should not be part of the fixed penalty system."in respect of a moving motor vehicle."
On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I thank the Minister for bringing forward the two amendments.Amendment No. 68 is a sensible amendment with regard to pedestrian crossings. I understand the Minister's point about the moving traffic offence. That is important. The Committee was appalled that a provision should be included in the Bill whereby a fixed penalty notice could be given to a motorist who clearly ignored a school crossing patrol. That could not be right. I am grateful that he has taken notice of the view expressed on both sides in Committee.
This is a useful concession. It is an example of some light being shed rather than just heat being generated in Committee. Once the Committee recognised the division between those offences and the number of prosecutions for moving and stationary vehicles, the need for the amendment became clear. I thank the Government for making that change.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 69, in page 61, leave out lines 9 and 10.— [Mr. Eyre.]