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Dangerous Driving (Sentencing)

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

Causing death by dangerous driving is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. I have asked the Sentencing Council to look at its guidelines on causing death by driving to ensure that the sentences imposed reflect the seriousness of the offending. We are also considering whether further changes might be necessary to strengthen the law.

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. Constituents who have lost a close relative in a driving incident, perhaps a young son or daughter, face the stress of a court case along with a feeling that the sentences for serious driving offences are inadequate. Does he agree that the outcome of the review and the various issues he is considering must make a difference to irresponsible driving and the subsequent loss of lives?

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. I feel strongly that we must take a tough approach to someone’s causing death and serious injury while disqualified from driving. Too often, it turns out that the people who commit such an offence have been disqualified again and again and do not have a licence when it happens. That is an area that I am keen to address.

The Secretary of State’s colleague at the Home Office, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), announced in Cambridge on 28 August that he had asked the Sentencing Council to review this very offence. Is this another request today? When exactly will the Sentencing Council review the offence and make a decision?

I put in the original request to the Sentencing Council some months ago. It intends to put this into its work stream for next year and will make recommendations. Separately, I am also looking at the current law. I feel that there is still scope for tightening and I will bring forward my thoughts in due course.

My constituents Mark and Sue Donnelly lost their 26-year-old son Stephen in a road incident on the A14 to a driver who was twice over the limit. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, which they do not think is long enough, and nor do I, but he was also given a 10-year concurrent driving ban, which they felt was particularly insulting since for most of that time he would be in prison and unable to drive. Will the Secretary of State consider concurrent driving bans to see whether they are appropriate?

I am rather sympathetic to what my hon. Friend says and I suggest that he and I have a longer conversation about it.