Road Traffic Offences: Fatal Collisions Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Department for Transport

Road Traffic Offences: Fatal Collisions

Cherilyn Mackrory Excerpts
Monday 15th November 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Cherilyn Mackrory Portrait Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and Falmouth) (Con)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Rosindell. I am pleased to be called in this extremely important debate, which I have been anticipating for quite some time, and I congratulate the Petitions Committee on securing it.

I pay tribute to Ryan and Ryan’s family, who are in the Public Gallery. Ryan lived locally to my constituency in Cornwall with his wife and son, and I believe he worked in Truro as a postman. I also thank the more than 270,000 people who signed the petitions, including nearly 4,000 people in my constituency. I believe that something like 14,000 people across the Devon and Cornwall police area have signed the petition.

As we have heard, Ryan was killed in a road incident in which the driver left the scene and did not report it for 36 hours—in fact, he did not even go in of his own accord at that stage. The driver had been seen drinking that evening and later admitted to failing to stop and failing to report the accident. As we have heard, the punishment was woeful. There is no question but that the punishment did not fit the perceived crime, which led to the campaign by Ryan’s family. They have been campaigning for tougher sentences for those who fail to stop and report an accident, and they set up the petition calling for Ryan’s law, whereby the definition of death by dangerous driving would be widened.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann) has been working incredibly hard on this issue and that he will agree about the need for change. We have been working towards increasing the sentencing range for failing to stop and report an accident. Both he and I have had meetings over the past few months with Transport Ministers, as well as the former Secretary of State for Justice, to discuss Ryan’s law specifically. I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall is present and, like me, awaits with interest the Minister’s update on this matter.

In addressing representations around the specific law change on Third Reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill back in July, the then Lord Chancellor said that his

“ministerial colleagues at the Department for Transport are working to explore options with my officials about how these offences will work in the wider context.”—[Official Report, 5 July 2021; Vol. 698, c. 675.]

Since then, however, I know that the Department for Transport has been working on an options paper and has highlighted the complexity of the area, which has brought up issues that will require further investigation in order to fully assess the potential impact of any legislative changes. I know that the Department for Transport has been seeking external views, to ensure that any changes are done correctly as part of a plan for a wider call for evidence on road traffic matters.

I appreciate the meetings and the work that the Minister, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport have given MPs such as myself and my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall, and I understand the complexities around the specific law change demand. However, we have heard, and will no doubt continue to hear, tragic cases such as Ryan’s where the punishment does not fit the crime. I read Ryan’s petition. It took me some time. I was incredibly moved by the number of stories similar to Ryan’s; it is emotional to read. I am sorry to say that this is not an unusual situation, however shocking these stories are. I am afraid to say that they are all too common.

We must do something positive while we have the opportunity. We just cannot keep the status quo, which leaves grieving families such as Ryan’s and others bereft of justice. We are better than that. I hope that we are better than that as a whole society—I know that we are better than that as a Government. I hope that the Department is genuinely actively considering and working towards this vital law change to ensure that those who fail to stop and report an accident properly face a punishment that fits the crime.