§ 41. Mr. Pannell
asked the Minister of Transport the numbers of driving tests for ordinary motor cars, following first application in the last-recorded period of 12 months in the cities of Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, respectively; how many applicants failed at the first test; and what were the figures in all the above cases for second applications and tests.
§ Mr. Pannell
Will the hon. Gentleman consider making this information available? As he will appreciate, I have already sent a letter to his Department indicating that a vicar of one of the parishes in my constituency has described the present arrangements in the City of Leeds as a "racket." Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, as a result of my mail, I have reason to believe that this sort of thing is fairly widespread? Will he cause a complete investigation to be made in the City of Leeds into the relationship between road traffic examiners and some of the driving schools?
I should like only too well to give the hon. Member the information for which he asks, but the record of a driving test does not contain it. It could be obtained only by very extensive research into the records of each city mentioned in the Question, which would involve, as a preliminary, scrutinising all the application forms and documents relating to every test carried out in these cities over a period of a year. In Manchester, for example, in the course of 12 months the number of tests carried out is of the order of 25,000. The manpower required for a scrutiny of this kind would be very considerable and, economically, we could not afford it.
§ Mr. Pannell
Would the hon. Gentleman consider looking again at the general directive which goes out to Ministry of Transport examiners, bearing in mind that we want a practical test to discover whether a person is fitted to be on the road and not a fancy test which varies from city to city?
§ Mr. Popplewell
Does the Minister realise that it is accepted among people in this area that one does not pass on one's first test? Does he know that that seems to be the pretty general opinion in Leeds, Newcastle and other areas and that there seems to be something "phoney" about it? Will he have a look at the percentage of failures? The figure must be very interesting.
The hon. Member is making a very sweeping allegation. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is true."] The majority of the driving examiners all over the country perform their duty admirably.
§ Mr. Pargiter
Is the Minister aware that there is very widespread feeling throughout the country on this question of driving tests? Is he aware that there is a feeling amongst many people that there is a very considerable variation in the standard that is required by different examiners? Will he see whether the regulations can be made more specific so that the standard required is made an absolutely clear test in all cases? Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the widespread feeling among the public that, unless they 1823 have been taught by one of the driving schools in their area, they are unlikely to pass the test?
Our aim is that these tests should be uniform throughout the country, but, as the hon. Member well knows, his hon. Friends often complain of the fact that there is not always uniformity in an individualist State.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Will the hon. Gentleman consider whether a driving test conclusively proves anything one way or the other? Will he consider whether, in the light of actual experience of people who have passed the driving test and have driven a car, the test necessarily shows that they were fit to drive it?
I am afraid it is true of all examinations that one may be better equipped on the day of examination than in after life, but driving examiners do their best to be fair to all.