That this House recognises the misery and suffering that can frequently result from the actions of drink drivers and supports information campaigns designed to further improve public attitudes towards drink driving as well as rigorous enforcement of the existing law; but is concerned that reducing the drink driving limit from 80 mg to 50 mg per 100 ml of blood could distract attention away from the most serious and dangerous transgressors who routinely drive after consuming far more than the existing legal level of alcohol; would potentially criminalise many people whose activities and social attitudes are entirely law-abiding and conscientious towards their fellow citizens; would particularly harm social activity in rural communities with very limited public transport; and would further damage small brewers and village pubs which are already struggling from the impact of cheap off-sales alcohol, the smoking ban and higher alcohol taxes and are closing on a daily basis.
It is also signed by Labour's Rudi Vis and Tories Greg Knight and Philip Davies. The reason why there are clenched buttocks in Cowley Street is that the motion directly contradicts LibDem policy, which is to support a reduction in drink driving limits. Their policy is also to support a smoking ban and higher alcohol taxes, which Browne and Williams criticise in this EDM. In normal circumstances this would have to result in resignation, but having lost three Shadow Cabinet members last month, Nick Clegg would be reluctant to lose another. What are the odds on this EDM being withdrawn soon after the LibDem whips step in?
On the substance of the issue, Browne would no doubt argue that he is adopting a classic liberal position. I would argue that any alcohol consumption impairs judgement (as Nick Clegg proves in his GQ interview) and that the limit needs to be reduced. If it is reduced it will save lives. THAT is a liberal position. It cannot be reduced to zero because of the amount of natural alcohol in people's blood, but it could certainly be reduced from 80.
Note: Links to official LibDem Policy in Scotland. And from 2003... "SAFER ROADS: A motion on Safer Roads and Streets for all, proposed by Don Foster, Shadow Transport Secretary, was clearly passed. While welcoming various improvements, including figures published in June showing a 3% fall in all road casualties, Mr Foster noted that Britain's record for child pedestrian deaths remains the worst in Western Europe. He called on the Government to take additional measures to tackle deaths and injuries on the roads by introducing a Road Safety Bill in the forthcoming session of Parliament, including lowering the maximum permitted blood alcohol level, creating a Road Accident Investigation Branch, higher penalties for speed related crashes and injuries and outlawing the retro-fitment of bull bars. The motion also encourages local authorities to introduce road user charging schemes. "
They have also called for in one of the Alternative Queen Speeches...
"Road Safety Bill - To improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists lower the blood alcohol limit to 0.5 mg, establish a Road Accident Investigation Branch to investigate major road accidents in the same way as rail crashes, create a new offence of death by negligent driving with re-education programmes for offenders, and ban the retro-fitting of bull bars on cars."