North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has this morning described as "chaotic" the Government's new child seat laws due to come into force next week. Speaking in his constituency the MP said:
"Like many ideas that start with the best of intentions this has been allowed by bureaucrats to get out of hand. Of course parents and family want to protect children in cars but laws have to be sensible and enforceable. It is weeks since motoring and other organisations flagged up the bewildering complexity of the Government's proposals but nothing has been done to kick some sense into the regulations.
This morning Dr. Ladyman, the Transport Minister, has said that "the rules are a little confusing"!
Apart from creating a bonanza for the Government's retail "partners" in this exercise it is clear that it is going to cause misunderstanding and possibly friction between motorists and police.
Under age 3 (why 3?) a child has to be in a specialist car seat. That is just about straightforward although it takes no account of weight.
Between 3 and 12, or until the child reaches 4`5" (which also takes no account of size and weight) a child will have to be in an "appropriate" but undefined "child restraint". This is a nanny-state recipe that could have been designed by Mr. Blair or Patricia Hewitt! It takes some account of (again undefined) "emergencies" but no account of the thousands of motorists who make occasionally take a child on a short journey.
The police (who of course have nothing better to do) will be required to check to see if a child is under 12. So it's alright for a small thirteen year old to be on the loose in a car but a heavy 4`4" eleven year old will be in "an appropriate child restraint".!
Those of us who are old enough to remember Conservative governments recall the famous "cones hotline". This is a law that is designed to secure for the Minister of State for Transport a place in motoring history as "the first Minister for appropriate child restraint"!