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Speed Cameras

Volume 497: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009

The Department for Transport does not hold that data for 1997 or 2008. The deployment of speed cameras and the number in place is a matter for local road safety partnerships.

I am grateful for that rather inadequate answer. The Minister will know perfectly well that the number of speed cameras has almost trebled since 1997. Since statistics from his own Department from 2008 show that only 5 per cent. of road accidents are caused by breaking the speed limit, do the Government not need a broader strategy to reduce fatalities and casualties on our roads, instead of continuing to be a one-club golfer?

The hon. Gentleman has obviously taken his line from his Front-Bench colleague the hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers), in terms of the idea that there is only one part to the Government’s road safety strategy. It is blatantly clear that that is not so. Our strategy is centred on education, enforcement and engineering. Let me point out that last year, excessive speed remained a contributory factor in 26 per cent. of all deaths on our roads. Although we have had a 14 per cent. reduction overall, which is part of our strategy, excessive speed had an effect in 26 per cent. of cases, involving 600 individuals. I make no apology whatsoever for giving local partnerships the choice in taking forward measures that will help to save lives, which all the evidence indicates happens with speed cameras as part and parcel of the approach, or one tool in the armoury.

Let me add that the Mayor of London—

When are the new cameras hidden in gantries across the M1 motorway in Hertfordshire going to be switched on, and why?

I will write to the right hon. Gentleman specifically about the requirements of the national strategic network in relation to speed cameras. Speed cameras that assist in slowing people down help to save lives. Indeed, that is endorsed by his own party, in the shape of the Mayor of London, who wrote to the Secretary of State saying that safety cameras had helped with speed and saved 400 lives.

Has the Minister seen research from the university of Liverpool and the department of statistical science at University college London on the regression to the mean effect? Does not that call into question some of the claims made by the Government on the effect that fixed speed cameras have on reducing accidents?

Obviously, one would expect any Department worth its salt to keep the evidence always under review. Equally, the hon. Gentleman will be aware of evidence showing that where speed cameras were in place, there was a reduction of up to 42 per cent. in serious injuries and deaths. Of course we keep matters under review, but these measures save lives, and are one of the right ways forward for local partnerships. The change was made in April 2007, so the great announcement recently made in Liverpool that we would end centrally controlled cameras is not correct; that is a matter for local decisions in the local partnerships that are doing sterling work to help to save lives.