My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice will be given in the next issue of the Highway Code on the need to practise the release of unfamiliar seat belts before starting a journey.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for drawing attention to this particular omission in the Highway Code. The Government will ensure that it is remedied at the time of the next revision. Drivers will be advised to spend a little time prior to starting their journeys explaining to their passengers how the release mechanisms operate.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that I am most grateful to him for that Answer?
My Lords, are we to understand from the Minister's reply that the Government do accept there is a need for a standardised release fitting for seat belts? If they do not, is there any reason why? If they do, what discussions are taking place with manufacturers?
My Lords, it would be quite wrong for the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, to make that assumption. I said nothing whatsoever about there being standardised mechanisms. Why not? I thought I answered that when I dealt with a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, earlier this week, when I gave a full explanation of why the Government do not think that that is an advisable practice to encourage.
My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House when the next edition of the Highway Code will come out?
My Lords, revisions of the Highway Code take place when a substantial weight of advice in the code requires amending. There are no plans to undertake a revision of the code at present. The last publication was in 1983 and there is a note in it about seat belt wearing, as there is in the Department of Transport's manual called Driving.
My Lords, can the noble Lord tell me how many people read the Highway Code?
My Lords, our understanding is that most people who apply for a driving licence, and receive a free copy, read it. I have on more than one occasion suggested that more people should acquire the code, which costs only 50 pence. I also suggested in an Answer only a few months ago that if some noble Lords would also take the code and disseminate the information in it that might be for the benefit of all drivers.