Correspondence with MPs

Our letter to MPs

Responses from MPs

Response from Anne Campbell MP

Thank you for your letter of 19 February.

I share your concerns about Eric Martlew’s Private Members Bill, and I would be glad of your support in helping to defeat it. I have already written to Eric Martlew (copy enclosed) outlining my objections, and he has told me that a reply is being prepared to my letter.

The second reading of the Bill is planned for 23 April. Unfortunately, I shall be in the US on this date. However, I may be able to table amendments and talk out the Bill at a later stage.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Anne Campbell, 1st March 2004

Letter from Anne Campbell MP to Eric Martlew MP

Dear Eric

I am writing to you about your Private Member’s Bill to make cycle helmets compulsory for under-sixteens. As you may know, Cambridge has one of the largest populations of cyclists in the country. Many of my constituents have contacted me with concerns about your Bill.

Wherever helmets have been made compulsory, cycle usage has fallen. Children who give up cycling, or who are discouraged from taking it up in the first place, will miss out on a valuable opportunity for exercise. Regular exercise is vital for reducing obesity, one of the most significant threats to current and future public health. Children are precisely the group we should be encouraging to exercise as patterns established in early life determine later lifestyle. The British Medical Association oppose helmet compulsion because they recognise that the loss in health benefits will far outweigh the potential benefits from head injuries prevented.

The potential number of head injuries saved by the Bill is controversial. People who wear helmets tend not to be the people most at risk of a head injury. Helmet wearers have fewer head injuries partly because they behave more safely. I understand that your bill is supported by the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, a single-interest pressure group, which claims that about 28,000 children a year suffer serious head injuries as a result of cycling. However, I have been informed that this figure is actually the annual number of serious head injuries suffered by children from any cause and that in fact only 1,200 of these are cycle-related. Most cycling organisations, such as the Cyclists’ Touring Club, are opposed to helmet compulsion.

I hope that you will lobby for a bill that encourages rather than enforces the wearing of helmets.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Campbell, 4th February 2004

Response from Andrew Lansley MP

Thank you for your letter of 19th February 2004 regarding Eric Martlew’s Private Members’ Bill on cycle helmets for children.

I have noted your concerns; my Transport colleagues are pursuing this actively.

Andrew Lansley, 3rd February 2004

Response from James Paice MP

No response yet received.

Previous lobbying

We asked members to make their own views clear, by writing to their MP and Eric Martlew MP about the bill. The address is: [Name of MP] House of Commons, London SW1A 1AA.

We asked members to ask their MP to sign Early Day Motions EDM 764 and EDM 774 which are on related matters.