§ 34. Mr. Palmer
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware of the long waiting list for driving tests in Cleveland, on Tees-side, and in the North Riding generally; and what action he proposes to take.
§ Mr. Palmer
Is the hon. Member aware that the delays are quite intolerable, and also that there is no driving test centre in the whole of the important Cleveland constituency? Would not it improve the administration if a driving test centre could be situated at Guisborough or Redcar?
§ Mr. Nugent
I will consider that point when we have completed the present round of recruitment. We are now recruiting an additional 200 examiners and have authority to recruit a further 100, which I think we shall get out of the present competition. I agree that the present delay is far too long. We are doing everything possible to increase the strength of the examiners in order to bring the delay under control.
§ Mr. D. Jones
Some six months ago when a Question on this subject was put to the hon. Gentleman, we got the Answer that the Ministry was seeking to recruit additional examiners. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what success has been achieved in the last six months, because the waiting time for tests does not seem to be less today than it was six or seven months ago?
§ Mr. Nugent
I accept that. We have been confronted with a continually increasing number of applications month by month, and although new examiners have gradually come into the service—so far forty-eight have started—we have not been able to hold our own against the increasing number of applications. The Civil Service Commission has a pretty lengthy process for recruitment—these people are established civil servants—and there is no way of speeding up that process. In the meantime, we have arranged for the present examiners to do overtime service and everything possible to deal with the backlog, but at present we are defeated by the huge number of applications. My right hon. Friend and I are determined to bring this backlog under control, and I hope that in the coming months we shall progressively do so.