HC Deb 08 March 1967 vol 742 cc1497-8
22. Mr. Homer

asked the Minister of Transport what steps she is taking to improve the standards of the car testing scheme.

29. Mr. Chapman

asked the Minister of Transport what representations she has received from the Birmingham area on the operation of the car-testing scheme.

99. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the Minister of Transport what steps she takes to ensure that the testing of old vehicles is properly carried out.

Mrs. Castle

I am very concerned about the shortcomings brought to light in recent cases. I propose to strengthen the supervision we exercise over authorised examiners. After consultation with the Motor Agents Association and the Scottish Motor Trade Association, and with their full co-operation, I am arranging for officers of the Ministry to take vehicles to garages for test. They will witness the test but will not reveal their identity until the test has been completed. Where a test has not been properly carried out, appropriate sanctions will be taken against the testing station.

Mr. Homer

Would my right hon. Friend take it from me that her Answer will give great pleasure to many car users who have been involved in some of these unsatisfactory tests? May I say in passing that I regard this, and I hope that the House will regard it, as further evidence of the energy which she is showing? Will she from time to time give the House a record of the effect of the examinations which she intends to institute?

Mrs. Castle

I thank my hon. Friend for what he has said. I agree with him that it is imperative that we ensure that the country has confidence in our car-testing scheme. I think that this will help to give that confidence. I am grateful to the associations concerned for their co-operation. I shall certainly consider the point which my hon. Friend made.

Mr. Chapman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the car-testing scheme is a cause of particular complaint in Birmingham? Can she say what complaints she has had there? Would it not be a good thing to reduce the number of testing stations so that they can be more adequately supervised?

Mrs. Castle

I am aware of the inquiry carried out by the Birmingham Post. We have looked into all the cases reported by it and are taking appropriate action on them. I do not think that the answer is to reduce the number of testing stations because of the number of cars with which we have to deal. But I am confident that the new procedure will give us a check which we did not have before. The fact that garages will not know that a car is being brought into them by one of my own officials will keep them on their toes.

Mr. Peter Walker

We fully support and approve of the measures taken to improve the standards of testing. Has the right hon. Lady agreed with the associations concerned some form of arbitration or appeal procedure if sanctions are applied and the garage concerned feels that some injustice has been done?

Mrs. Castle

No. I do not think that that point has been raised by them. It is pretty obvious that I shall have to take the responsibility in the light of my officials' reports.

Mr. Gurden

Is the Minister aware of the very high percentage of faults in lighting found on testing? When will the new lighting regulations be ready so that we can have something modern in this respect?

Mrs. Castle

Before very long.