§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Norman Fowler)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of European Community Document R/3075/75 and the Department of Transport's Supplementary Explanatory Memoranda of 17 July 1980 and 28 October 1980 concerned with a proposed first Council Directive on the introduction of a European Community driving licence; and supports the Government's intention to agree to such a Directive.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Richard Crawshaw)
Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Fowler
The draft directive represents a small step, but an important one, towards making life simpler and safer for everyone who needs the freedom to work and drive in Europe. In the short term, the measure will have little impact on our lives, apart from cutting down on the red tape encountered by the ordinary motorist who changes his or her country of residence. In the longer term, I hope that it will lead to better safety standards throughout Europe, and I am sure that both sides of the House will welcome that.
I set out in the supplementary explanatory memorandum that I submitted to the Scrutiny Committee on 17 July the long and complicated history of this proposal. The House has therefore had the opportunity to look at the background and at the detailed provisions of the directive.
Very briefly, the intention is that from 1983, a resident moving from one Community State to another will be able to change his old licence for a licence of his new country. From 1986, national licences will be issued in a common form throughout the Community, although they will continue to be national licences. Special conditions are attached to the exchange of large passenger and heavy goods vehicle licences. I shall come to that point in a moment. In the longer term, members are pledged to work towards more detailed harmonisation of driving tests and licences which will be based upon improved medical standards and testing standards.
I mentioned the long and complicated history of the proposals, and the House 1202 might find it helpful if I set out some of the background and explained why so long has elapsed since we first debated the Commission's original proposal seven years ago.
Over those years, both the present Government and their predecessors—there has been very little between us in our approach to the negotiations—have argued that a true Community-wide system of driver licensing can be achieved only against a background of uniform and mutually agreed standards for health, driving examiners and driving tests. Regretfully, harmonised standards are not yet with us. That is the fact. Historically, within the Community, our individual national testing and driver licensing regimes have all developed over the years in their own different ways.
The United Kingdom's licensing regime has evolved differently from others in the Community. Our system, for example, when it comes to the ordinary car driving test, places more emphasis on a practical test of ability, while several European systems place emphasis on a theoretical test. I think that the system that we have developed in this country is the right one for us. It is useful in road safety terms, and I have noticed that representatives of a good number of States who have visited us, from both within and outside the Community, have spoken warmly of what we have been able to achieve over the years. The result is that we are not yet ready for the more ambitious Community-wide licence that the Commission set its eyes upon originally, nor, indeed, is any member State. That will perhaps come eventually, but only on the basis—and this is a point that we have consistently made in all the negotiations—of a general raising of testing and licensing standards, and certainly not simply by settling for the lowest common denominator. It is inevitable, therefore, that the revised draft directive, which has been so laboriously negotiated, and which the House is considering tonight, must be strictly limited in its effect and is a much more realistic and far less ambitious directive than the one that we debated seven years ago.
So what does the directive do? In essence, it will give a new resident moving from one Community State to another a period of 12 months in which he can change any valid car or motor cycle 1203 licence he holds for his new State's equivalent licence without the need to take a further test. This measure should be introduced in 1983. From 1986, it is proposed that licences within the EEC should be issued in a common format. That is set out on pages 13 and 16 of the directive.
The House will appreciate that, even now, new residents can drive cars and motor cycles for a year on the strength of their existing foreign licences, just as any international visitor can. But, after that period of 12 months, under our existing laws new residents have to take a test. I can understand why this often produces considerable resentment, particularly as our own nationals, when they settle abroad, freely receive other Community States' licences in exchange for their own. The Department receives many letters on this matter, both directly and from hon. Members, and we are well aware of how strongly their constituents feel.
I should advise the House that these problems affect not only people coming here from Europe. They apply also to people who have lived and driven in other countries—for example, Commonwealth countries. If this directive is approved, I shall be ready, in providing for its implementation, to consider extending similar exchange arrangements for cars to other countries, provided, of course, that their standards are satisfactory.
Under the directive, the intention also is that licences for driving lorries and buses will be exchanged, but subject in those cases to much more stringent conditions. This aspect of the proposals has been of primary concern in our negotiations in Brussels. The House will recall that my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. Rodgers), was ready about two years ago to endorse the principles of a directive that would enable the exchange of licences for driving cars and motor cycles to take place, but that he could not at that time see a reasonable means of making similar arrangements for heavier vehicles.
Our partners have never been prepared to exclude HGVs and PSVs altogether. They were all ready to go ahead on the basis of arrangements which did not differentiate at all between cars and heavier 1204 vehicles. I have sought to find a way of avoiding the difficulties which my predecessor rightly emphasised in the case of HGVs and PSVs, whilst at the same time providing a limited means of exchanging licences for driving such vehicles in such a way that we did not prejudice our own standards. It seems to me that an approach of that kind should be explored thoroughly. Not to do so would be contrary to the spirit of the Community and, indeed, not helpful to the wider interests of road safety.
The result is that we do not intend to grant automatic exchange in the case of HGVs and PSVs where the licence to be exchanged was obtained through a test which was not the equivalent of our own either in standard or in the type of vehicle for which our own licence is sought.
We have recognised, however, that, because of the different ways in which testing and the categories of vehicle on which tests are carried out vary in different member States, there will be cases where HGV drivers have passed tests on smaller vehicles than they have in fact driven afterwards. If such people—I emphasise that it is a very small number—come here to live and wish to take jobs driving the larger vehicles on which they have gained experience, it seems to me that it would be considered unreasonable to refuse to exchange their licences for ours if we can establish that they have in fact had that experience.
That is the essence of the provisions in article 8 which provide for relevant experience and proof of it to be taken into account. We saw that as the way to enable progress to be made on a draft directive which all the other member States were and are keen to adopt. We believe that this is reasonable. I assure the House that we intend to be rigorous in considering any applications that we receive. We shall expect at least six months' safe driving experience within the previous 18 months, or 12 months, in the previous three years. In addition, I shall expect the chairmen of the traffic commissioners, who are the licensing authorities for this purpose, to see applicants in person before they agree to issue licences. Therefore, only a driver who has qualified for a licence, albeit on a different basis, and who in addition has had actual experience in driving some 1205 kind of HGV as he is intending to drive here will get a licence under these arrangements.
I add a further safeguard. If there is any doubt about the evidence of previous experience, the licensing authority here will be able to check with the licensing authority in Europe which issued the previous licence. Unless the traffic commissioners are satisfied that a licence should be exchanged, they will refuse, and the person concerned will have no option but to take our normal test.
I remind the House that the basis of the arrangements that we are seeking here is much the same as that which was applied in 1970 when our present regime of HGV driver licensing was introduced. I think that it would be wrong in principle and unnecessarily bureaucratic to refuse to accept the arrangements in the draft directive which will enable us to ensure that licences are granted only in circumstances where we can be satisfied that the applicants satisfy the standards which we seek to achieve in our own licensing arrangements.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
In relation to ordinary driving licences, how will the Community driving licence be terminated? Will there be common offences which will lead to the taking away of the driving licence? What is the position with regard to totting up? If one commits a driving offence in another European country, will that offence find its way on to the Community driving licence?
§ Mr. Fowler
No. My hon. Friend has misunderstood the purpose of what we are debating this evening. It is important that the House should understand the situation. We were talking in the mid-1970s about the situation described by my hon. Friend. The House is being asked to talk about the more modest proposal which concerns the exchange of licences when residents from other European countries come to live here. There is no question of totting up or of an exchange of offences.
Mr. Selwyn Glummer (Eye)
Would I be right in saying that this is not a Community driving licence, but a misstatement of what is happening? Even if we issue the licences in a common form, they will still not he Community driving licences. Therefore, there is 1206 ground for many of us to say not that we have gone too far, but that we have not gone far enough.
§ Mr. Fowler
I cannot satisfy both sides of this argument, but, if that is my hon. Friend's considered view on this subject, he is right in his complaint. I think that we have gone far enough and that we would be wise to move cautiously on this matter. But my hon. Friend rightly describes the arrangement to which we have come, and what he says is so, because, even when we come to 1986, we shall simply be covering a national driving licence. That is only until we can move to the next stage of the Community driving licence, which my hon. Friend clearly wants, but to which we are not prepared to go until we can be satisfied that the increased standards that we want apply throughout the Common Market countries.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
Since the right hon. Gentleman says that it is important that the House should understand what is happening, perhaps he will say whether I am right in thinking that the holder of an ordinary passenger driving licence in this country who does not wish to become resident in any other part of the EEC, but may wish periodically to travel in other EEC countries, will remain in exactly the same position. as he is now if these proposals go through.
§ Mr. Fowler
Yes, that is so.
I shall now deal with the Opposition amendment. I am sympathetic to what I understand to be its intention, but I must advise the House that I believe that, as it stands, it is unnecessary. First, I have already dealt with the question of exchanging licences for driving lorries and buses. I hope that what I have said has reassured the House that there is no question of our issuing licences unless we are satisfied that our own standards will not be prejudiced. I believe that the method that we have worked out and negotiated with our partners to ensure that is reasonable and adequate.
§ Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, West)
I missed the beginning of the Minister's speech, so I am grateful that he has given way. Will he elucidate exactly what he means by "provided that we are satisfied that they have had the 1207 relevant experience" on a heavier vehicle?
§ Mr. Fowler
I thought that I had spelt that out in some detail, but, in the main, what I said was that the licensing authority in this country would have to be satisfied that the driver concerned had that experience; that any driver who came to this country and began to live here as a resident and wanted to exchange his licence would have to make a personal appearance before the traffic commissioner, and, at that stage, if the traffic commissioner was not satisfied with the situation, he could check further with the licensing authority in the country from which the driver had come. If he was not satisfied, the driver would have to take our normal test in the normal way. We have provided for every reasonable check in that respect.
As to the second part of the amendment, article 5(2) of the directive specifically enables member States to refuse to recognise the validity of driving licences issued to drivers under the age of 18. That is the minimum age here for the granting of any HGV provisional licence, but in most cases it is 21. The position is similar for PSVs. It is certainly not my intention to reduce our own age limit of 18 for the benefit of younger people from other member States who come to live in this country. In fact, I am advised that, in general, similar age limits to ours apply elsewhere in the Community. I shall certainly take advantage of the provisions of article 5(2) to ensure that our own age limits apply.
As to the further work on standards in the Community envisaged by article 10, it is stated clearly in the article that the objective will be to improve road safety throughout the Community. It was, in fact, the United Kingdom that pressed for that objective to be stated clearly. It is my intention that we should play a full part in seeking to achieve it.
I undertake on behalf of the Government—as I think the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) would wish me to do—to ensure that any proposals that emerge are brought to Parliament for approval.
This directive is not a contentious or very dramatic matter. The record shows 1208 that the Labour Party would have been very willing two years ago to accept a directive worded in very similar terms had it been directed solely to cars and mortor cycles and excluded heavy vehicles. What we have done in negotiations with our partners is to work out a method that will enable us to preserve in the United Kingdom our well-tried heavy vehicle driver testing and licensing regime, which has substantially reduced road accidents involving heavy vehicles. At the same time, it will allow us to exchange licences to drive heavy vehicles granted by our partners when the holders are able to provide satisfactory proof of adequate driving experience of the vehicles for which they seek United Kingdom licences.
I should not have been prepared to commend to the House an arrangement that prejudiced our standards in any way. The outcome of the negotiations with our partners has been completely satisfactory from the United Kingdom's viewpoint. I hope that it is one that the House will be prepared to endorse. I therefore invite the House to accept that the amendment is unnecessary, and to support the motion.
§ Mr. Albert Booth (Barrow-in-Furness)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add'provided that it does not commit the United Kingdom Parliament to enact legislation—
I am sorry not to be accompanied tonight on the Opposition Front Bench, as I have been in so many other transport debates, by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott). It is unfortunate for me that I shall lack his considerable experience as a Member of the European Assembly, and sad in an ironic way that the reason for his absence arises from a motor vehicle accident occasioned by his interest in a transport matter.
- (1) enabling the issue of HGV and PSV licences to EEC member state nationals who have not passed driving tests of a standard equivalent to current United Kingdom tests;
- (2) recognising the validity of any category C or D Community model licence issued by a member state to a driver under 18 years of age; and provided that no proposal from the Commission under Article 10 shall be given effect in the United Kingdom without the approval of Parliament.'.
1209 The directive is the result of a failure to agree among Transport Ministers on a much more ambitious, comprehensive and wide-ranging directive which has been under consideration in the Community for many years. Out of the shambles of that disagreement has been resurrected a much more limited directive which has a sting in the hind quarters in that it will enable Ministers, on proposals of the Commission, to proceed about the business of the more ambitious directive.
I contend that the directive before us has immediate political and legal effects that impinge on the licensing of drivers both for private and commercial driving. As such, it has important implications for road safety in the United Kingdom and in the Community.
Article 10 has the long-term objective of making provision for further harmonisation. In interventions, there have been references to uniform offences, the totting up of offences and conditions under which ultimately a European driving licence might he withdrawn. Those issues have been discussed by Ministers, and they appeared in a previous form of the directive. Ministers may return to those issues, and may be directed to do so, under the provisions of Article 10.
Successive Transport Ministers have blocked progress on the wider directive. The Minister has said fairly that the major stumbling block for successive British Ministers has been our special provisions for heavy goods vehicle driver licensing. I fear that, if the House were to agree that the directive should proceed and that if we were to say to the Government that we endorsed their action in accepting the terms of the present directive, we would be obliged by its terms to exchange the EEC model category C licence for the British HGV licence for certain EEC nationals coming to reside in Britain. Under the terms of the directive, we should have to do that for at least the first 12 months of their residence in Britain. I shall comment later on the circumstances in which we would have to provide them with licences to operate for a much longer period.
I was encouraged when the Minister said that he was sympathetic to the amendment. I was surprised that he did not accept it, because he indicated his 1210 agreement to the three major provisions. At least, he did not indicate dissent from the part of the amendment that deals with drivers' ages. He intimated that at present, HGV licences were not supplied below the age stated in the amendment. Recently, an amendment was accepted on the age qualifications for PSV drivers. Presumably, the Minister has no objection to that qualification. He has no objection to the qualification about HGV licences. The Minister said that, if any measures were necessary as a result of article 10, the Government would introduce them.
One would have thought that the Minister and I were in complete agreement. One would have thought that he would say "Let us accept the amendment and have an early night", On the contrary, he says that he does not want to accept it. Under the provisions of article 6, a strict interpretation of the directive would oblige the Government to carry out medical tests on every person who wanted a driving licence. In fairness to those who drafted the directive, one could make a substantial case for such a proposition. However, one cannot defend a Minister who fails to point out the serious implications of this part of the directive. The directive says that licences will be issued to nationals of EEC countries, only if they have passed medical tests and tests on their theoretical knowledge. It states that the standards of those medical tests should not be substantially lower than those set out in annex 3. The directive affects applicants for United Kingdom driving licences, because it requires every member State to apply those requirements.
I have conceded that the Ministers who discussed the directive had to consider an important issue which was relevant to road safety. I accept that they had the best medical advice available. Perhaps it was better medical advice than I had at my disposal. Within the limited time available, I have contacted several doctors with parliamentary experience, and sought their opinion. One of those doctors was once a Minister, and I drew his attention to a written reply from the Minister which I received yesterday. As a result, I am convinced that, if an applicant for a driving licence were to suffer from any of the illnesses or disabilities. described in annex 3, it would be sufficient 1211 for him to produce evidence from a doctor to the effect that he was competent to drive.
To begin with, there is one case where it is quite clear that there is no such exemption, exception or means of bypassing the effect of the directive. There is a case in this annex where I find it impossible to conceive of a way of dividing a test which is not substantially less stringent and which would not have the effect of debarring EEC nationals from obtaining licences on medical grounds. The case I have in mind is on page 27, paragraph 14, of the original document before the House. That paragraph deals with endocrine diseases. It is also in paragraph 14 on page 29 of the latest document. This provision says:Group 1: driving licences shall not be granted or renewed for applicants or drivers suffering from diabetes who are affected by ocular, nervous or cardiovascular complications or uncompensated acidosis.That is a straight bar to diabetes sufferers who apply for driving licences if they suffer any of those symptoms which, I am told, are not uncommon with diabetes. The directive goes on:Driving licences may be granted or renewed for a restricted period for applicants or drivers suffering from diabetes who are not affected by any of the complications mentioned …But those who are suffering from those complications will find, on a strict reading of this part of the directive, that no member State can issue them with driving licences.
In the preceding article, which deals with cardiovascular diseases, certain people who suffer from such diseases—and I am not clear from my reading whether this applies to those who suffer from diabetes as well—may be allowed to obtain licences if their doctor says that the disease does not make them unsafe to drive. But I can find nothing in the directive which would exempt those who show other symptoms related to diabetes.
I am not suggesting that this is a reason for refusing to accept the directive. There may be a very strong case—in fact I am prepared to accept that there is—for saying that people who suffer from certain diseases may, at certain times, be dangerous at the wheel of a car, and therefore should be debarred from 1212 obtaining licences. If that is the effect and if that is what the Government are putting before us tonight, it behoves the Minister to show the House the medical evidence that that is so and to tell us the extent to which, within the Community discussion, it was decided that it was appropriate that there should be a medical test not substantially less stringent than indicated by the annex. Then the House would know the extent to which the decision had been taken, presumably based on road safety consideration, to debar many people whom we represent and who are unfortunate enough to suffer from these diseases from obtaining United Kingdom driving licences. We accept that we would be doing exactly the same as other EEC countries.
If the Minister makes that clear and the evidence is reasonable, I will support that part of the directive, knowing full well that it may be unpopular with certain of my constituents who could be debarred from obtaining driving licences. However, we should not take such measures by back-door methods or without being conscious of what we are doing in regard to medical tests. That provision will have considerable and important effects on the issue of driving licences or reapplications for driving licences in this country.
When the House debated the wider directive in 1973, an amendment was put down rejecting the medical test provision. The then Minister of Transport accepted the amendment in terms that suggested that he considered that such a test would be expensive and difficult to administer. I believe that he also said that it would not be particularly rewarding in terms of road safety. Subsequent Ministers are entitled to take different views, but we must make a conscious decision.
Another point arising from the directive concerns the provision in article 3 for the category A driving licence. I refer to the EEC model driving licence that will cover motor cycles with an engine capacity of more than 50 cc or which do not have to limit their speed to 50 kilometres per hour, and all sidecars.
The position has changed since we last debated the matter. The Government have applied certain construction and use regulations, forbidding the construction 1213 or importation of combinations with sidecars on the right-hand side. That was done contrary to a decision in Committee upstairs on grounds that were not constitutionally justifiable. However, the law will preclude from importing, constructing or ultimately driving motorcycle combinations with sidecars on the right-hand side.
It is therefore amazing that the Minister suggests that we should endorse the proposal to accept a category of EEC licence that will allow a young Italian, German, Frenchman or Dutchman—I mean no national prejudice—to obtain a category A EEC model driving licence by driving a motorcycle combination with a sidecar on the right-hand side around the streets of a Continental city and then have the unqualified right in this country to drive a solo motorcycle of unlimited capacity under our rules of driving on the left-hand side. It is difficult to think of anything less conducive to road safety.
§ Mr. Gummer
Does not the same situation apply at present to someone who comes to this country for less than a year? If it is as dangerous as the right hon. Gentleman says, why did he not try to stop that practice when his Government were in power?
§ Mr. Booth
Someone can do that now, but, when the House decided to allow that, it did not imagine that there would be construction and use regulations making the vehicle illegal in this country. The hon. Member for Flint (Sir A. Meyer), who is in the Chamber, did the House the singular service of tabling a Prayer to oppose the change in the construction and use regulations.
I know that the Parliamentary Secretary takes a keen and conscientious interest in the difficult question of motor cycle testing and safety. I am glad that he is to reply, and I hope that he will tell us that it is not the Government's intention to proceed along this course.
The tragic truth is that large numbers of young men in their late teens or early twenties die in motor cycle accidents. The House should think long and carefully before approving a categorisation of European driving tests which does not face that fact. I concede to the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Gummer) that we 1214 have failed to face the fact that training on a motor cycle combination, whether with a right- or left-hand sidecar, is not necessarily a means of guaranteeing that someone is safe to go out on an unlimited capacity motor cycle. That is nonsense in motor cycle safety terms.
I urge the Minister to press his fellow Transport Minister to ensure that, if the EEC is to make a significant contribution to the harmonisation of driving licences and road safety, they should begin to consider a sensible categorisation of motor-cycle testing, if not training as well.
Presumably the Government have agreed with the categorisation. The Minister claimed that it had not been a stumbling block. That came on the heavy goods vehicles. However, the right hon. Gentleman did not see fit to explain to the House what a proper application—I use those words carefully—of the directive would do in respect of applications for driving licences from those who suffer any of the disabilities listed in the annex.
The Minister has declared his sympathy with the part of the amendment dealing with public service vehicle and HGV driving licences. I am conscious that we have given much consideration over a number of years to the contribution that good training and rigorous testing can make to the safety of operation of public service vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. We have also considered other aspects of the operation of those vehicles that contribute to safety—whether the vehicle should be subject to annual testing, and so on.
On the question of the age of applicants for licences, we have amended our legislation to comply with an EEC directive on the admissible age for the obtaining of a PSV licence in the Community. If the Minister contends that there is no wish on the part of the Government or any other member State that we should exchange a PSV or HGV licence on the Community model issued in another member State to a person under 18 for one of our licences, why can he not accept the amendment? That is exactly what the amendment provides. If anything, it is rather less ambitious than the assurance that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to give the House. The assurance 1215 that he wants to give would go further and would suggest that there should be no lowering of the age limit in respect of HGV licences which means, in practice, that no one under the age of 21 would obtain a class I HGV licence in exchange for an EEC model category C licence. That part of the argument, I assume, is not in dispute across the Floor of the House and must be acceptable.
The Transport Act 1980, in so far as it lowered the driving licence age for PSV drivers, was passed in spite of considerable reservations represented to the Minister and to those on the Opposition side of the Standing Committee on the Bill by the transport industry. Operators and unions had reservations. If the Minister has no intention of going further down that track and using the provisions of this directive to allow people from other EEC countries to obtain PSV licences if under that age, I can see no reason why he should not accept the amendment. I do not think that anyone argued that PSV licences should not be issued to people under 18. I can see no reason why the amendment should not be accepted. A much more difficult issue in relation to HGV licences is bound up in this directive.
§ Mr. Fowler
One of the reasons why we have not accepted the amendment is that this matter is set out in the article. There does not seem much point in accepting the amendment if it is already contained in the article.
§ Mr. Booth
The point on age is not set out in the article. The article says that the Government may make restrictions as to age. If the Transport Ministers of the EEC had taken the view that EEC countries should not issue PSV driving licences to applicants under 18, there is no reason why they should not have written into the directive a statement that no EEC country should do this. That is not what the directive says. The directive says that countries may apply this reservation. It says that licences shall not be issued in this country and that this country shall not recognise the validity of a licence issued in any other country to enable a person under 18 to drive a public service vehicle.
I must ask the Minister to read the directive again. The directive definitely 1216 says that member Governments "may" do so.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)
The right hon. Gentleman should perhaps read again his own amendment, which suggests only that we shouldnot commit the United Kingdom Parliament to enact legislation recognising the validity of any category C or D Community licence issued by a member state to a driver under 18 years of age".That is what the article provides. It does not commit us. It provides that we may refuse to accept them. My right hon. Friend has made clear that he has no intention of accepting licences issued for HGV or public service vehicles to people under 18. We can accept that part of the amendment, except that it merely re-states the text of the article. It is not a substantial amendment.
§ Mr. Booth
The text of the directive provides for the possibility that member Governments may refuse to recognise the validity of licences. The amendment invites the House to say that we shall not legislate to recognise the validity of any such licences. This must make sense in terms of the Government's own memorandum which explores the legislative implications of the directive and deals with the extent to which we shall have to modify our legislation to comply with the directive.
I wish to turn to what I consider to be the more difficult issue. It is relatively easy to say that we shall not legislate to recognise the validity of licences issued to people under 18 to drive public service vehicles if they bring those licences to this country. That is simple. It is more difficult to reconcile the view, which is implicit in the directive, about categories of heavy goods vehicle licences and the practice which we have developed carefully over the years in Britain.
The directive says that we may not refuse to allow a person to drive a heavy goods vehicle if he has been issued with a licence in another EEC country. The directive states that, if a person with a category A EEC model licence comes to Britain to reside for 12 months, he may drive a heavy goods vehicle. If such a person applies within the 12 months to exchange that licence for a United Kingdom licence, we are obliged, in certain 1217 circumstances, to provide that person with a United Kingdom licence.
I was heartened to hear the Minister say that he intended to put all sorts of barriers in the way of people who were not properly qualified but who had EEC model driving licences without passing a test. However, that is not what the directive states. The directive says that such a person must show that he has "experience" of driving heavy goods vehicles. That will present a problem. Only when a driver wants to exercise his right to exchange his licence shall be able to check the validity of the licence. A refusal will not be possible on the ground that the person has not taken a test because, under the directive, all he has to do is show that he has "experience."
We have built up a strict regime for HGV licences. That is not so in other Community countries. Nothing like the regime that we have exists in any of the other EEC countries. I shall give the House an example from a report in The Economist. An EEC country last year issued 20,000 licences without submitting the applicants to a test because a postal strike held up the receipt of applications. They were not HGV licences, but that proves that the regimes are differerent in other EEC countries.
§ Mr. Fowler
The right hon. Gentleman was talking about HGV testing and of the system in Britain. There is nothing between us on that, but it is unfair to introduce an example which involves not HGV testing but ordinary driving tests, which are entirely different.
§ Mr. Booth
I accept that, and I shall stick with HGV tests. In southern Ireland many HGV licences are issued to people who have not taken HGV tests. For the purposes of the amendment, it does not help to argue about whether there is a strict test regime.
If the Ministers responsible for transport in the other EEC countries had agreed that the system of HGV licences in Britain made sense, they would have moved towards us. They would have allowed for permanent arrangements for the type of categorisation which we operate. However, the directive goes in the other direction.
In this country, all people who apply for HGV licences for the first time can 1218 apply only for class 3 licences. They must undergo training and operate with licences for a year before they can obtain class 2 licences. Similarly they must have a year's experience with that before they can obtain class 1 licences. That means in practice that no one under the age of 21 can operate under a class 1 licence.
Equally, our system means that we require someone to have passed a test for and driven a four-wheeled vehicle before he can start to train for multiple-axle vehicles—the six-wheelers, and so on—and to have passed a test on those vehicles and to have operated on them for a year before going on to the heavy articulated lorries.
Ours is a sophisticated, thorough method of testing people for their capacity and ability to drive heavy goods vehicles. In addition, our test requires specific health standards to be attained, although that is not covered by the amendments.
Al] of these classes are covered in the directive by a single category C licence. Article 8(2) provides that a state that does not apply category C licence provisions—and that includes the United Kingdom—"shall", not "may", issue an applicant with the lowest corresponding category of licence that they have within their system corresponding with category C in the Community. How would the Minister interpret that provision of article 8(2)? How can he say that we are not obliged to issue a Dutch, German or Italian driver coming here with an EEC category C licence with our HGV licence? Article 8(2) states that, irrespective of other considerations, if he applies we must give him the lowest appropriate category licence.
Is the Minister proposing that somehow we can avoid that application of the directive? That cannot have been overlooked. It has been the major bone of contention between EEC Transport Ministers, and the right hon. Gentleman must have an answer to it. There is no denying that our categories are much more selective. They do not depend solely on the weight of the vehicle as does EEC category C. They depend on such important considerations as whether the man has been tested on a rigid or an articulated vehicle.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I am genuinely trying to save the right hon. Gentleman 1219 time. I think that, again, he has misunderstood what I accept is a complicated document. We are retaining our national categories for heavy goods vehicle licences. We will not issue any foreign national who comes to live here with a licence in any category other than our own. The answer to that lies in article 8(2), which expressly provides for member States that do not apply categories C, D and E, which, as he rightly says, includes us. If he examines the requirements that my right hon. Friend stressed in his speech and that he insisted in the negotiations should be inserted, he will see that we can require an applicant to furnish proof of driving experience, and so on, and then we can issue a licence to entitle him to drive vehiclesin the national category in respect of which he furnished proof of adequate experience".So we will require stringent tests of experience, and we will issue a licence only in our United Kingdom national category in which, in our opinion, that man's experience would entitle him to drive.
§ Mr. Booth
I leave the House to judge who is misunderstanding or misinterpreting the article. It reads very clearly:Member States which, pursuant to Article 9, do not apply categories C, D and E—we are talking about category C—"may" and then sets out two choices. They may either exchange category C driving licences in accordance with paragraph 1 of the article or they canrequire the applicant to furnish proof of driving experience and in this case issue a licence entitling him to drive vehicles in the national category in respect of which he furnished proof".He could produce a document signed by his employer giving proof that he has driven an articulated vehicle, a six-axle vehicle and a four-wheeled heavy vehicle. On the basis of that—irrespective of whether he has passed a test—presumably we must give him a class 1 HGV licence. Article 8(2) continues:In any event, such States shall issue to the applicant at least a licence to drive vehicles in the lowest of the national categories corresponding to category C".What is the lowest category corresponding to category C? In any event, we must issue that to him.
§ Mr. Fowler
The right hon. Gentleman is not addressing himself to the question of proof. That is the point that he must take on board. We have said that if a person produces a document that says that he is entitled to drive a certain vehicle he must appear first, and personally, in front of a traffic commissioner, who is able to question him. If the traffic commissioner is not satisfied, he is able to make inquiries from the licensing authorities in the country of the person's origin. The right hon. Gentleman is making the most enormous mountain out of a molehill. We have made every sort of check to ensure that the person has experience. If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that tests throughout Europe are not the same, of course we agree with that. That is why we cannot accept his amendment, and why we are putting forward other safeguards.
§ Mr. Booth
No doubt eight other Ministers of Transport thought that the right hon. Gentleman was making a mountain out of a molehill, and that all his predecessors did the same when they tried to hold on to our right to operate the HGV categories. If somebody furnishes evidence that he has driven that sort of vehicle, it will be no good checking with the licensing authorities of the country of origin because they are not obliged to operate the checks and safeguards that are operated by British licensing authorities. All that they have to say is "We gave him a category C EEC licence in a way that is perfectly proper in cur law". If that happens we shall face a real difficulty.
§ Mr. Fowler
With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, article 8 is included in the directive, and we are able to make these arrangements because of the insistence of the United Kingdom. As I have tried to make clear, the other EEC countries have none of those reservations and wanted the same transfer of licences that we had for cars and motor cycles. It is because of our insistence, and the agreement of the other EEC countries to our insistence, that we have these safeguards.
§ Mr. Booth
In that case, I see no reason why the Minister should not accept the amendment. He was not proposing to go anything like the distance that the 1221 amendment suggests. I think that he must agree that he is now proposing to exercise much more stringent checks and safeguards than those required by the amendment.
§ Mr. Fowler
I tried to explain to the right hon. Gentleman why we do not intend to accept his amendment. If he looks at his amendment, he will see that it talks about enabling the issue of licencesto EEC member state nationals who have not passed driving tests of a standard equivalent to the current United Kingdom tests".I accept that the tests, if that is to be the only criterion that the right hon. Gentleman is using, are different.
I could give the right hon. Gentleman a whole list of the different tests that exist in Europe. It is impossible to meet this point within the confines of the amendment. We have said test plus experience, and it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to address himself to that point.
§ Mr. Booth
I want to address myself to both these questions, but I must remain with the terms of the directive. As the Minister now concedes, if it were a question of having equivalent tests only, that would be a bar to his acceptance of the amendment. That is fair enough. We need not argue about experience. He is saying that he rejects the amendment because he cannot or will not apply the directive in a way which would debar an EEC national with a category C model licence from having a British HGV licence if he had not passed an equivalent test. We might as well leave the argument at that point, because at least there is a clear understanding.
Our categories of licence are more selective. They have been developed to meet the high standards which this House thought it was necessary to maintain. The development of these standards by the United Kingdom is a matter of which we should be proud, and one which we should not retract in the face of this directive.
Under the directive, a host State cannot require a further driving test to be taken, even if it has reason to believe that the licensed driver has not been submitted to a proper qualifying test. We are now agreed that proof of previous 1222 driving experience is the only condition of the exchange—either of the HGV or PSV licence. At least, it may well be that way. The interested trade unions which I have consulted are extremely concerned about the effects of article 8. The Transport and General Workers Union and the United Road Transport Union fear that the introduction of the directive will cause considerable confusion in the regulation of HGV and PSV driving standards. They also feel that the system of licensing exchange is open to abuse. They also happen to share the view that I expressed in relation to qualifying age. They want, as the Minister has now agreed that he wants, the age requirement in respect of the HGV licence not to be reduced.
I turn finally to the provisions of article 10. This article requires the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, to carry out as soon as possible more detailed harmonisation of driving licences in the Community. The problems that have been experienced for at least seven years between successive British Ministers of Transport and their Community colleagues in agreeing grounds for this directive give me, and I believe the House, no confidence that the Council will introduce a scheme of harmonisation that will not compromise road safety standards in this country. Any harmonisation which maintains or raises standards of road safety will have the support of this House. The Minister need have no fears on that score. If he brings back proposals under article 10 which spread higher standards to other countries, I am sure that he will receive the support of the House. But while thousands of people who are represented in this House are killed and maimed on our roads, we should retain control of every aspect of legislation which has a bearing on drivers' safety.
§ Mr. Fowler
I do not want to detain the right hon. Gentleman, but it is important and crucial for him to understand that there is absolutely no disagreement between the parties on the final point that he has mentioned. There is no question of harmonisation unless standards are improved. In other words, there is no question of going down to the lowest common denominator. I hope that he accepts that, because I do not believe that we should play party politics with road safety.
§ Mr. Booth
I am certainly not playing party politics with road safety. As I have made clear, if the Minister wants to commend the stricter standards of medical tests implicit in my reading of annex 3 and the corrected article, I am prepared to support him, provided that it is clearly done in this House, whether or not it is popular in the country.
§ Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)
It the right hon. Gentleman is so concerned about road safety, why did he oppose the introduction of the tachograph, which is also a road safety device?
§ Mr. Booth
I believed that, in the context of this country, our drivers' hours and our standards of vehicle testing, coupled with proper training and qualifications for heavy goods vehicle drivers, were an effective means—as effective, if not more effective than those in most countries—of safety. But the tachograph argument is now behind us. We have accepted the introduction of tachographs in vehicles, category by category.
The Minister assures me—I welcome the assurance—that article 10 is intended to bring about improvements in road safety throughout the Community. I accept that, but, although the article states that on a proposal from the Commission we shall proceed with harmonisation as swiftly as possible in spite of all the difficulties, I am not convinced that it is right for this House to forgo its rights to control any aspect of this legislation. Therefore, if the Minister does not accept the amendment, I shall urge all hon. Members to vote in favour of it.
§ Mr. Selwyn Gummer (Eye)
We have listened to a long speech by the spokesman for the Opposition, but many hon. Members still wonder whether his argument could not be turned on its head. He suggested that, if the Miinster agreed with him so much, he could accept the amendment. But if the Minister has agreed with the amendment so much, perhaps the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) could ask leave to withdraw it, and we could all come to a happy compromise on the matter. The Minister made clear that the substance of the amendment would be carried out by the Government. We should not have discussed for almost 50 minutes an argu- 1224 ment so thin as to be almost disappearing.
As a result, the right hon. Gentleman has changed my mind on the matter. I came to the House tonight to berate my right hon. Friend in the most polite way for bringing forward so small a change. I had hoped that, after seven years, we could have moved closer towards a proper Community licence. I understand his difficulties more clearly now. If, even to make this tiny step, he has to listen to 50 minutes of opposition that is practically impossible to understand after a series of interventions, I can see how he must have reached Brussels with yet another sigh, realising that the argument was not in Brussels, with his fellow Transport Ministers, but here, in putting this tiny molehill to the House tonight.
The House should take note of some of the arguments that were used. On the subject of heavy goods vehicles the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness said that there was no country in the Community with anything like the regime on HGV vehicles that we have in this country. When he was challenged by Conservative Members to name a single one, he produced an answer about Italy, on motor car licences. Having been pushed on that, he produced a second example from Ireland. He did not mention that the situation to which he referred was a temporary two-month situation, and that it was a derogation from the usual Irish procedure, which is to have an HGV system similar in toughness to ours, and in certain instances tougher.
The right hon. Gentleman did the House an injustice in suggesting that, because this was the British system, all the others must, ipso facto, be worse. We must accept that there are a variety of systems in the European Community. We have so far been unable to produce a system that reaches the highest common denominator, and therefore we have to go for a compromise. I do not much like the compromise, because one of the most sensible things in the Community would be for us to have a common driving licence that we could use and to have common standards that we could accept. It has taken seven years not to get that.
I accept the right hon. Gentleman's concern for safety. I have in my constituency, at Mendlesham, an excellent 1225 road training establishment that is concerned to raise the standards of driving of heavy goods vehicles in this country. But people trained in other countries—under what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested are wholly inadequate conditions, with wholly inadequate tests and totally unsuitable driving licences—are perfectly at liberty to drive their foreign heavy goods vehicles in this country. Not only are they foreign; but they have left-hand drive, so that it is even more dangerous than if they were driving right-hand drive vehicles in this country.
If the right hon. Gentleman took his argument to its logical conclusion, it would keep out all foreign drivers of heavy goods vehicles, otherwise his whole safety case must fall to the ground, because those people are driving these vehicles now on our roads, under the laws that he accepted when he was in office and that his Government did not suggest to the House would cause danger.
The case is very clear. There are more foreign drivers tonight on the roads of Britain, driving heavy goods vehicles, without any of this paraphernalia, than there would be in a month of Sundays, after the introduction of this arrangement, asking for indigenous British heavy goods vehicle licences.
If the argument is about safety, the right hon. Gentleman must come clean with the House and say that a future Labour Government would stop all foreign drivers coming into this country unless they had passed a British heavy goods vehicle test. If he does not believe that, he must withdraw what he says on safety, because his argument does not hold water in any sense at all.
The right hon. Gentleman is in a very poor position to put forward the case on safety. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) made the point very clearly. It was not in the safety brief of the Transport and General Workers Union to support the tachograph. That is the real reason why the right hon. Gentleman opposed the tachograph. Do not let us imagine that the generalities and wide-ranging comments that he made are the real truth. The real truth is that the Transport and General Workers Union was against the tachograph, so the right hon. Gentleman was 1226 against it. The Transport and General Workers Union has worries about this issue, so the right hon. Gentleman has worries about it. We know where the brief came from. This House had to listen for 50 minutes when we could have got it directly from Transport House. We could have asked Transport House for the brief and read it and gone home much earlier this evening.
I believe that we ought to have tried to go a bit further forward with regard to the motor car, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will address himself to this matter. Would it not be possible now to take a second step, as soon as possible after this one, and to look again at a possible compromise, so that we can reach towards what is really a Community driving licence, with a common standard? Perhaps he could work hard to convince his fellow Transport Ministers—if he cannot convince the right hon. Gentleman—to come to an agreement on the motor car driving licence rather quicker than agreement has been reached on the general plans that we have here tonight. It would be very helpful to the House if my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary would comment on that at the end of the debate.
We were talking for a long period about what is a very small problem concerning the motor cycle. The number of people wishing to drive the kind of motor cycle combination that has been declared illegal by my right hon. Friend cannot be very large. I cannot believe that vast numbers of people wish to buy or to construct in this country a motor cycle combination that itself is more difficult to drive than the one that is normally produced. The whole case seems to have been very much overplayed, although I felt that, because it was so small a case, it would perhaps have been better not to bring in the rule. I accepted and supported the view put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) on that very issue.
I wonder whether it is sensible to say that, because we stop a small number of British nationals from buying an inconvenient form of motor cycle combination, we should refuse to allow those who have trained on a form of motor cycle combination that is more convenient when driving on the right to swap their motor cycle 1227 licences for British licences. That does not seem to be a logical argument. It is even less logical than some of the others that we have had. Therefore, we should accept that the exchange is not a danger to safety and is reasonable. After all, the rider of a motor cycle combination can come to this country and ride it, unwieldy as it is on the wrong side, for a whole year. To suggest that it is not dangerous for the first year but that the moment the driver gets a British licence he becomes a danger to the public is an unconvincing argument.
Finally, I turn to the question of proof. I think that the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness did my right hon. Friend less than justice on the question of proof. My right hon. Friend made it clear that proof did not mean the provision of any tatty old piece of paper signed by any old person and shoved in front of any old traffic commissioner. It is in our hands to decide what is proof and, having decided what is proof, to say whether that bit of paper is proof and, if we are not happy, to go back until we get the proof. But the onus of proof is on the person who wants the licence. If he does not provide it, he will not get the licence. He will then have to take one of these tests that are so much more marvellous than other countries' tests and, if he passes it, get a British licence.
In common with our debate on harmonising the start of Summer Time, this is another example of the Opposition opposing anything emerging from the European Community. Whether it is sensible or obvious, whether it is in favour of motherhood or anything else, the Opposition will oppose it. The only reason for the debate tonight is that it started in Brussels. If it had started in Tonypandy, the Opposition would have been in favour of it.
It is time that we grew up and argued the case, instead of constantly using any example to beat the Brussels Commissioner or to attack our membership of the Community. We ought to learn that we live in a world in which other people have contributions to make. We do not have everything that is best on this side of the Channel. We should learn from others and not make outrageously xenophobic and reactionary statements, such 1228 as "No other country in the European Community has a regime anything like as goods as ours". That is untrue and unworthy of a representative and internationalist party.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)
One of the difficulties in a debate of this kind is to keep in mind the fact that there is no difference of opinion in the House about the need to maintain high standards of licensing and to protect drivers and vehicles. It is easy, against a background of many years of discussion and understandable argument in the Common Market, momentarily to forget that we have this common yardstick by which we achieve safety on our roads.
I listened to the Minister with great attention. It would be wrong to minimise the assurances that he has given, but he knows that assurances given in the House—this has happened under both Labour and Conservative Administrations—although at the time honourable and acceptable, often do not materialise. That is the great worry. We must all concede that Ministers, in both Labour and Conservative Governments, have, over several years, struggled in the Common Market to find genuine answers, so there is no quarrel over that, either. However, because of the endemic problems of diverse views and practices, it has not been easy to reach a solution.
Perhaps we should welcome this draft directive, because the outcome falls short of the major objectives of many hon. Members—common practices, a common licence and common standards—which, for reasons that I have outlined briefly, cannot be achieved. Therefore, to a large measure, this directive commends itself to the House.
That is why I was rather surprised when the Minister, having given his assurances, did not accept the amendment, as he might have done. He will note that it follows Opposition agreement to the motion. We have not questioned the motion. Having put it in that way, the Minister might have appreciated that the amendment does not do very much more than confirm what he has in mind.
However, at least it is on record that the House has accepted that we ought not to be persuaded, by the absence of words in the draft directive, that, as a 1229 consequence of this debate, matters can develop in Brussels in such a way as to go beyond the intentions of this House. Matters should not be pursued without the member States knowing that we intend not to introduce certain legislation.
It seems reasonable, for instance, that we should not be expected to enact legislation for people under the age of 18 carrying C and D Community licences. I think that there is agreement that, in the course of time, the yardstick of the age of 18 may be altered with experience, but at present it is generally conceded that it is not acceptable for persons under 18 to hold C and D licences. Again, there is no quarrel over that. I should have thought that it was the will of the House not to be placed in the situation of having to legislate on the issue of HGV and PSV licences according to standards which are lower than those current here and which will possibly feature in further discussions in Brussels. There is no problem there.
It is worth reminding the House of article 10. There is a far more serious problem, because it is against the background of the long argument and the persistence of the other member States over the years that we have to read article 10. Both Labour and Conservative Ministers have had great difficulties in protecting the United Kingdom corner. That experience tells us that we, should not allow the House merely to take note of article 10, but should make it clear that if our past worries are substantiated by a similar worry in the future—I put it no higher than that—the House should not agree to take note of the draft directive without underlining, as we have in the amendment, the fact that we shall not accept the implementation of article 10 without the matter coming before the House of Commons.
The Government would have been wise to look to the House for its help and aid. I shall quote article 10 purely for the record and not to bore hon. Members who have read it for themselves. It states:The Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, shall carry out as soon as possible a more detailed harmonisation of the standards for driving tests and licensing with a view to inter alia, subsequent improvements in road safety throughout the Community.1230 That objective is highly commendable. There is no quarrel with it. The seeking of harmonisation over the past few years has led to the major quarrel over protecting United Kingdom standards. If we merely take note of the directive and pass it back to Brussels, we shall be saying, in effect, to Brussels "Carry on as soon as possible. Pursue the argument that you have been having in the past." There would be sound common sense in the Minister accepting the amendment, because it does not fall out of line with his present thinking.
Irrespective of what Ministers believe and assure us upon, and of what we believe and seek assurances on, we have to fall back on the wording of the articles. Does it not occur to the House that the result of the long and tedious years of argument is a watered-down directive that is perhaps the wedge that is being used to gain a degree of consensus so that we may be encouraged to pursue article 10 with a greater possibility of getting legislation? There has been a failure to arrive at legislation since 1973.
Article 8 raises some simple, yet interesting problems. We are concerned that there is to be automatic recognition for one year of all driving licences issued in any of the member States, whatever the vehicles may be. The article requires no proof of validity. Only when a licence is exchanged is a written assurance of current validity required. That is not in accordance with our general practices. To wait one year without any element of proof, and only at the point of exchange to ask for a written assurance, is a practice that must be questioned. The Minister has given us an indication of safeguards, but those do not appear in the directive. That is an issue to which the Minister should give his attention.
Proof of previous driving experience is required only at the point of exchange. According to the article, proof will consist merely of signed statements of former employers. That is rather odd. If the Minister were to accept the amendment, these worries would be put behind us.
The article deals with the exchange of a full HGV or PSV licence. It is ambiguous. It is not clear whether the lowest—in terms of vehicle weight—form of HGV or PSV licence has to be issued, 1231 or whether the lowest category licence—namely, a motor cycle or motor car licence, has to be issued. In the former case, the effect of the refusal will be minimised.
Both sides of the House face the same problem. I wish to approach this issue in a conciliatory manner. The Minister has indicated his support for the amendment, and there is merit in responding to the will of the House, because future discussions can then be pursued more safely. I should have thought that Brussels could say that it recognised that the House of Commons had a positive watching brief for future discussion.
I welcome the directive. We merely seek the reasonable assurance that what the Minister says in the House will apply if the directive is implemented.
§ Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)
On one or two occasions, hon. Members have tried to trivialise this important debate. For many years, I have opposed the draft directive. Indeed, I opposed it in Brussels. My hon. Friend and Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) will remember that I was chairman of the Transport Committee in Brussels, and that on one unfortunate occasion I had to table 55 amendments against the first horrific draft directive on the introduction of a European driving licence.
The licence covered almost every contingency, qualification and penalty, and the most complex medical test that could have been devised by any medical lobby. My Committee colleagues fought against the "psycho-technical" examination. All the Europeans were up in arms. It almost seemed that a document had been kept in a pigeon hole for some years. It was presented by an Italian commissioner, Scarascia-Mugnozza, whose name I shall never forget. Ultimately, the committee had to tell him that it would not support the document in the European Assembly. As the commissioner had no support. he was unable to present it. That occurred in 1973–74.
I give the Commission full marks for tenacity. The directive has appeared again in a modified form. It has been contested hotly by the Ministers, who have tried to cut away its coarse edges. The document before us now is moderate in tone.
1232 A European driving licence would be an asset to the Community and the United Kingdom. However, it must be right and it must be accepted by the British people. It must also allay the fears of the trade union movement. The livelihood of many of its members depend on HGV and PSV licences.
I fear that the directive has been drafted too roughly, and that may be to ensure that it meets the views of the nine Ministers, the Economic and Social Committee or the committee of the European Parliament. Like all European legislation, it has to bend around many corners before it arrives. Tonight it has arrived, and in certain places there are fears about the drafting. I noted particularly that the specification that the Department brought out on 17 July, which said:The United Kingdom's essential interests are (a) to preserve its existing testing and licensing regime until standards throughout the Community have been sufficiently harmonised.Those last few words are the crunch.
The Department is trying to say that it is not only the testing and licensing standards but the safety standards as well. Safety standards must include the medical provisions. The worst aspect of the car or lorry being driven is the health of the person behind the wheel. Therefore, obviously in a short time the licence will embody the medical requirements of the blue document as presented this evening.
Article 10 is drawn so roughly that one can read whatever one likes into it. But I am sure that my right hon. Friend is fully aware that, although he has protected the existing United Kingdom driving licence up to the age of 70, one of the biggest debates is not the medical examination which it has been suggested should be every two years, but the medical requirements each year for those who are over 70. That suggestion was thrown out simply because of the burden that it would have put on the medical profession in this country. It could not be implemented. Consequently, we have now reached the stage where the majority of us will be protected to the age of 70. It is fairly obvious to me that the medical requirements in this directive are similar to the ones which were felt to be too onerous for the requirement of the time. At that time, the licence was to be phased out almost immediately. I think we were thinking in terms of a two-year phasing.
1233 Here we are talking about a five-year phasing. Luckily, those of us who are not too near 70 will not need to worry about any phasing yet, but the crunch will come for everyone with a driving licence at the age of 70. I wonder whether these rather strong medical provisions will be enforced. Perhaps my right hon. Friend could reassure me on this point.
On the minimum requirements for driving tests, in annex 2 there is a series of figures, and each one starts with the word "knowledge". For example2. Knowledge and understanding of regulations2.1 Knowledge and understanding of traffic rules2.2 Basic knowledge and understanding of technical regulations2.3 Knowledge and understanding of rules relating to the driver, in so far as they concern road safety2.4 Knowledge and understanding of the rules on what a driver should do in the event of of an accident.The next one is typical European—and as a pro-European I can say this—3. Knowledge and understanding of other subjects.Whoever put that in had obviously come to a crunch time—it was getting near either lunch or dinner, and he or she thought "Let us put that in because it will satisfy the Germans, the French or the British."
The legislation is roughly drawn and much to be feared in places. My right hon. Friend cannot accept it on its face value. He should watch carefully the minimum standards of physical and mental fitness. The Commission will want to bring back a horrendous medical qualification. It may not be for five or 10 years, but there are very many open doors. Did the Commission wait until there were new faces around the Council of Ministers' table or in the Economic and Social Committee, or until the European Parliament had directions elections so that it could deal with new people, who would perhaps accept its ideas of what should be a medical test for everyone in the Community?
It is a dangerous draft directive unless watched carefully. I am sure that I can rely on my right hon. and hon. Friends to make sure that they are not talked into anything over a sumptuous lunch in Brussels. I hope, too, that they will 1234 put in the file for their successors copious notes of how far they have managed to persuade their fellow Ministers in their way of thinking.
§ 10.1 pm
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
The hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Hill) raises a material point about medical tests. The draft directive opens a potential Pandora's box. For example, are we to say that a driver who is seriously overweight will be considered medically unfit because of risk of a coronary? That is not as far fetched as it may seem. If a principle for medical tests is introduced, there will be clinical criteria. Many people who are perfectly good drivers may not pass strict clinical criteria.
My locus for speaking, apart from a general European interest, is that I represent a driving instruction school, Motec, at Livingston. I have been asked to raise succinctly two separate issues. The first arises from paragraph 6(b) in the supplementary explanatory memorandum, which states that our interests areto commit the Community to working in the longer term towards improved harmonised test and licensing standards in the interests of road safety".Are we certain that harmonisation is absolutely necessary? If it is, is it desirable?
Much of the testing in Scotland is done for winter conditions in these very heavy vehicles that have completely new braking capacities. Although that is good in one way, it has problems in another. The litmus test of a competent driver is how he can cope with icy roads in foggy winter conditions, which may be an important part of a driver's training in Scotland, but it is not necessary for drivers who do most of their work in Sicily or other parts of the Community that have little ice or snow, or where, in any case, most of the driving is on motorways.
Should we go hell for leather for harmonisation? I have a number of doubts. Those of us who have been members of the European Assembly in various capacities know that the Commission has a propensity to harmonise for the sake of harmonisation. I hope that this is not one of those occasions.
1235 The second issue arises directly from Motec and is a matter on which I have had correspondence with various Ministers. It is the practice in training to send heavy vehicles to the conservation area and narrow streets of South Queensferry, in my constituency. It is all very well for the Minister to take the matter lightly, and I shall not take up the time of the House in arguing the case, but it seems absurd that there is an official diktat that training should take place in areas where the presence of heavy lorries is detrimental to buildings.
Drivers must have training grounds, but heavy vehicles should not be sent to small communities who plead with the authorities not to send them and whose community councils—the council at South Queensferry is led by the indomitable Miss Thallon—ask that their conservation areas should not have the added problem of being heavy vehicle testing areas. They should be heeded and not told rather bluntly that they must take their ration.
1236 Surely there are many places that are not conservation areas, where such training could take place and where it would not do the amount of harm to buildings that is done in South Queensferry and other areas. If we are to have a cascade of directives, I shall be looking for one—I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, with whom this matter has been raised, will note this point—that provides that driving schools and heavy vehicle testing centres do not go to small communities that do not want them and where there is damage to buildings.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
As I shall not have the opportunity to deal with the hon. Gentleman's second point in my reply, I undertake that either the Scottish Office or my Department will find out who is responsible for routing heavy goods vehicles to South Queensferry, and the responsible Minister will write to the hon. Gentleman.
§ 10.7 pm
§ Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)
The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) used the phrase "hell for leather" when he was asking the question to which my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has replied. I hope that the hon. Gentleman would not dream of using that phrase as a description of the progress made on the draft directive over the years.
It was depressing to witness yet again the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) and the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) demonstrating appalling mediocrity and ignorance of the history of the directive. I am sorry to have to use such strong language, but it is justified. They also showed their ignorance of the standards, conditions, testing, rules and regulations relating to heavy goods vehicles in other countries. When the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness was challenged during his excessively lengthy speech, when he was repeating himself endlessly—and I share the suspicions of my hon. Friends that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be quoting, sometimes verbatim, from a brief that must have been written by the Transport and General Workers Union——
§ Mr. Dykes
In that case I withdraw my remarks, but hon. Members will have drawn that sort of conclusion from the language and atmosphere of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments. When challenged to say which countries had lower' standards than Britain—the assumption in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks being that they all had lower standards—he was not able to give any examples of variations, but gave a misleading example relating to one of the smaller member States.
The truth is that in the rules and regulations in member States, particularly in relation to the right hon. Gentleman's main preoccupation, which was heavy commercial vehicles, there are enormous variations between countries. Some have higher standards. To give just one ex- 1238 ample, I think particularly of the rear lighting standards in Holland, which are much higher than they are in this country.
Labour Members, mostly because they have internal problems in the Labour Party—and the motion of the Blackpool conference reinforced that problem—continue chauvinistically, nationalistically and narrow-mindedly to say that everything that we do is better than what is done in other member States. The original directive six or seven years ago that gave rise to the argumentation in member States but particularly in this country was drawn too tightly. The other member States agreed with us that a new directive should be drawn much more widely. It was to be a permissive directive. This modest document, laying down general conditions for harmonisation is a first step to a Community driving licence. Most of the details are contained in the annex and are not part of the main legislation. That point was missed by the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness. It should have been mentioned if the right hon. Gentleman was to give a fair picture to the House. Again and again, the House has seen the depressing spectacle of the Opposition doing down the real nuts and bolts of our membership of the Community.
I agree with those hon. Members who have expressed disappointment that after years of debate and after member States have increasingly given way to United Kingdom suggestions—almost all the suggestions in the directive and the annex are British suggestions—the House should be asked to incorporate an absurd amendment that is totally unnecessary. The directive takes care of all the anxieties and objections in the argument of the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness. Those objections, I suppose, are the encapsulation of the restrictive practices of the union that he may favour. It is union policy so to hem about foreign lorry drivers—the fact that they do not have to observe those restrictive practices now in the first year of entry into this country shows the illogicality of the hon. Gentleman's suggestions—and so to restrict the freedom of movement that is essential in order to create a proper Common Market.
1239 Meanwhile the target is 1986. We have years to wait before we get a real European directive creating a genuine European driving licence which, I hope, will also cover commercial vehicles. I hope that the process might be speeded up in the second half of the decade. It is possible for member States to work together on the proposals without indulging in the absurd idea that there is a wicked foreign conspiracy for 4 ft tall, eight-year-old dwarfs, driving lorries, to come here with forged documents, which they will flash in front of innocent British officials who cannot properly verify that they are experienced drivers. That nonsense is an insult to the intelligence of people who are trying to create a genuine European Community.
§ Mr. Dykes
If my hon. Friend had heard the debate, he would have been as appalled as I to hear the anti-Common Market arguments of the Opposition. It would be wiser if I did not give way. If my hon. Friend had been present earlier, it would have been different. My hon. Friend has, however, only just appeared.
I hope that the amendment is rejected decisively. I assume that the directive will require additional legislation by way of regulations and even possibly primary legislation in respect of some clauses. I hope that we shall consider the idea of modernisation of our own United Kingdom driving test. There are many useful lessons to be learnt not only from European countries but from the United States on elements of a test that must reflect the increasing congestion, complexity and pressure of traffic, particularly the increase in the number of heavy vehicles.
I turn to a sacred part of a future modern test which should be made into regulations or even legislation. I refer to the use of flashing lights when changing lanes. In future, much more discipline must be used in respect of that motoring activity. Traffic congestion is causing people in all the member States to be less self-disciplined when using flashing lights to indicate a lane change.
The original proposal for a national register of drivers and the exchange of 1240 information arising there from has been left out of the latest draft document. I hope that that will be examined again and that the Government will get the new powers if the new directive is approved in Brussels eventually for a proper exchange of data between States.
It is unnecessary to single out article 10 (2) for an amendment. It is too easy, and unwise, to tack on an amendment to every "take note" motion. The Opposition do that because it is a way of being "OK with one's party", and "switched on", in terms of knowing the legislation. Such amendments prove that Members do not know the legislation because one clause does not necessarily deserve more weight than the others.
Article 12 (2) exhorts member States to help each other in the prosecution of the directive. I hope that that will result in an active exchange of information as the number of intra-Community journeys increase. There is no need to accept the amendment. The case for neither element of the amendment has been proved. Everything has been taken care of in the Minister's comments. I am sure that they will be reiterated adequately by the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) was right when he explained the reason for the long speeches on, and the bitter opposition to, the directive by the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth) and the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter). The long debate is the result of the subject carrying a misleading title on the Order Paper. Technically it is correct to say that the debate is about Community driving licences, because that is contained in the title of the directive, but the directive bears no relation to the type of Community driving licence which was once contemplaced, which was the subject of debate and in which my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Hill) took such a prominent part some years ago.
My hon. Friends the Members for Eye (Mr. Gummer), for Harrow, East and for Test said that in principle they were in favour of a Community driving licence. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Test that we should agree to such a 1241 licence only if it is on a common sense basis and on terms acceptable to the United Kingdom. The original directive to which my hon. Friend put up such opposition was abandoned long ago. We might move towards it again eventually, but it will be on the basis that the United Kingdom accepts no reduction in safety standards and no derogation of its own licensing powers.
The directive under discussion makes arrangements for the exchange of driving licences in fairly limited circumstances between nationals of the member States. It makes arrangements whereby, from 1986 onwards, new licences will be in a common EEC format—although they will differ in content according to the wishes of individual Governments. Even when they go out in the common format, licences that we issue to our nationals and the licences that we issue to the nationals of other EEC countries will be British licences subject to British licensing laws. Nothing in the directive requires us to change that system. Nothing in the directive requires us to modify our medical testing system. There is nothing in the directive to make us alter the categorisation of vehicles in our licensing system, and in all respects we are retaining the British licensing system with all its safeguards.
What, then, is all the fuss about? It has been difficult to discover from the debate, because not all the speeches, including those from the Opposition, have been altogether clear. We must put this matter in context, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Eye. He explained, quite correctly, how limited is the number of drivers about whom we are worrying in this three-hour debate on the Floor of the House.
In considering the effect of the directive it is necessary to examine the present arrangements and the changes that are being made. The present arrangements for EEC visitors to this country are very generous. Any visitor can use his driving licence for the category of vehicles for which he is licensed. As we know, any tourist coming here in his car uses his existing licence to drive—a German, for example, will use his German driving licence to drive his German car in this country. The roads are full of Germans, Frenchmen, Italians and so on driving lorries on their German, French and 1242 Italian heavy goods vehicle licences. There are thousands of EEC nationals driving foreign vehicles using foreign licences on our roads. No one is suggesting that we should suddenly ban them all, because our drivers enjoy the same reciprocal rights when they go abroad.
This directive is concerned only with that small proportion of the populations of each country who change their State of residence. It will apply when a British national goes to reside in another EEC country and wishes to drive there, or when an EEC national wishes to reside in this country and drive here. Even then, the present position is that when they come here they may continue to drive on their foreign licences for 12 months. They are on our roads now. German, French and Italian licence holders are already driving in this country. The only change under this directive is that if they stay here as residents for more than 12 months it will be possible for us to exchange their national licences for our national British licences without requiring them to take a British test.
The circumstances in which we shall do that for those who come here as residents are hedged about with qualifications as set out in the directive, most of which have been insisted upon by the British Government, and which have been set out in detail by my right hon. Friend to explain how they safeguard our road safety standards.
Since the directive has only that limited effect, we are dealing with only a few hundred drivers each year, and with only a tiny number of lorry drivers who so concern the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness. How many German lorry drivers will flood here after this directive is passed to search for work in the British road haulage industry? I hope that there will be some, and that eventually there will be more as our economy revives, but we are talking about a couple of dozen people a year at the most.
When we consulted on the document there were some reservations and comments on the part of some bodies, but only two bodies in the transport world were opposed to it—the Transport and General Workers Union and the United Road Transport Union. As we now know, having heard their case, they did 1243 not even understand why. They know only that, as it appeared on the Order Paper, it concerned a Community driving licence and that the documents emanated from Brussels. That is a red rag to a bull at the moment to a large section of the Labour Party and the trade union movement, even when sensible proposals come forward, and some sensible proposals must come from Brussels.
In negotiating this directive we have made a large number of changes to the original proposals—not just the proposals that were so condemned by everyone here in 1973 and 1975, but even to the proposals that others were prepared to agree to, and we did so in order to protect British interests.
When the Conservative Government took office Britain was outnumbered by 8 to 1 in the EEC. We were the one country holding out with reservations about the directive. My right hon. Friend continued to negotiate from that position in the Council of Ministers. He held out against ratifying the directive until he had won important concessions that safeguarded British interests. It should be the opinion of the House that those concessions meet the points that the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness continues to make. The directive is principally the product of the pressure applied by my right hon. Friend to ensure that Europe complies with Britain and that any changes in standards are likely to be improvements in a direction of which Britain would approve.
In the negotiations my right hon. Friend laid particular stress on heavy goods vehicle licensing and the medical requirements that we apply to licence holders in Britain——
§ Mr. Booth
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman at least make it clear, and concede to the House, that the derogation won by his right hon. Friend about the categories of HGV licences was temporary, and that article 9 makes it clear that we can do it only with the permission of the Commission, pending the introduction of the final system? Will he address himself to that point? Does he agree that, although we concede that his right hon. Friend won a temporary right to derogate, it is only temporary and is 1244 pending the introduction of the final system under article 9?
§ Mr. Clarke
I shall come to the final system that arises out of article 10 in due course. That is the harmonisation that is feared. Article 9 paves the way for article 10, which lays down harmonisation as the final system. We hope to harmonise on a basis of British standards and our particular requirements, and thereby raise road safety standards in the remainder of Europe. Meanwhile, the derogations that have been won are expressly designed to serve the British purpose.
On the question of HGV licences, my right hon. Friend spelt out with considerable care the proof 8f experience that we shall require from lorry drivers who come to Britain seeking a licence. I shall not repeat the details, but I commend them to the House for study. We have gone out of our way to require positive proof from an applicant that he has experience in the category of vehicle, going to the extent that the traffic commissioner will interview the applicant and make approaches to the competent authority in the country that issued the foreign licence if there are doubts about the proof produced. The pattern on which that is based is the pattern followed in Britain when so-called grandfather rights were given to existing lorry drivers when we introduced our HGV licences in 1970. It has actually stiffened the requirements. With our HGV licences we did not expect the commissioners to interview all applicants. We have tightened the requirements, and they are expressly written into the directive at British insistence.
The categories of lorry for which people will be given HGV licences will be our categories. Derogation from the European categories is expressly provided for by article 6 of the directive—again included at our insistence. There is no way in which anyone will be able to obtain an HGV licence in Britain for a size and type of vehicle for which he does not have considerable driving experience.
We cannot, however, rule out all foreign HGV drivers. We know that there are some mavericks on the road. Our Department organises occasional drives at Dover against overloaded foreign vehicles 1245 to try to ensure that our rules are complied with, but there are such people as the highly skilled and competent German lorry drivers presently driving very large German lorries, probably through the constituency of the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness. Where they can provide proof of that experience, we cannot refuse them a licence. It is ridiculous to suggest that we should do so.
I turn to the medical requirements. I well remember the rather absurd provisions of the original directive, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Test referred. I remember psychological tests, but he used a different phrase. Some curious requirements were dreamt up by the Commission in the early 1970s. They have all gone. They have been swept out of these regulations, and there is nothing in the directive that will commit us to reintroducing anything of that sort.
We were most anxious, given the stage at which matters have arrived, that we should not be required to issue licences to people taking up residence in this country when they have obtained their national driving licences on lower medical standards than ours. For road safety reasons our medical standards tend to be strict. I know that the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) has a particular case of a monocular lorry driver, which I am taking up. We have been trying to make sure that we do not have to vary our medical requirements, either for our drivers or for those who come to this country.
The annex, which sets out the medical requirements, will not cut across our medical requirements if we comply with this directive. It is drafted in terms that will enable us to continue with the medical practices that we have at present. That is made clear by article 6(1)(a) on the question of the type of test and the medical standard. It merely requires that the minimum standardsmay not be substantially less stringent than those set out in annexes II and III".Our test and our medical standards are not "substantially less stringent" than those, and we are satisfied that our present arrangements will enable us to comply with the directive.
I have already dealt with the form of the licence, which will change in 1986.
1246 The licence will be pink. I am not sure why pink has been chosen, but no doubt it is a result of some wicked alliance between Healey voters in the Labour Party and the "wet" side of the Tory Party. Apart from the fact that the colour will change, the format will change so that policemen and everyone else can recognise what the driving licence looks like when it is produced. There will be no change in the substance of the licence so far as the British law or British drivers are concerned.
§ Mr. Clarke
That goes quite outside the scope of the directive and this debate.
I stick strictly to the terms of order, and I turn to article 10, which has aroused considerable interest because it contemplates the possibility of eventually harmonising driving standards and deals with the longer-term aims of the directive of moving towards closer standards of driver testing and licensing throughout Europe.
In this country we have as much interest as has any other member State in the EEC in raising standards of road safety and bringing standards closer, where those standards will result in European standards being brought closer to ours. In negotiations on the directive Britain insisted that there should be an undertaking by all member States to continue in the direction of improving road safety standards throughout Europe. That is plainly in our interest. Many more British people now drive abroad, surrounded by European drivers, and many more European drivers are driving on our roads, regardless of this directive. We should welcome anything that has the effect of raising standards throughout Europe.
The right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness mentioned a recent surprising abandonment of standards by one member State, when Ireland issued 25,000 licences without testing, following the postal strike. If this directive had been in force, it would not have been able to do that. It would have been in plain breach of the directive. The reason why the Irish were able to respond to an emergency of the kind that they faced 1247 was that they were not at that time bound by the directive and the consequent legislation. One can almost claim that one of the most positive results that arose from the previous Government's holding out against any directive of this sort for the last two or three years of their period of office was that it enabled the Irish to allow 25,000 untested Irishmen on to the roads after the postal strike.
One of the effects of the directive, and one of the effects of increased harmonisation of standards, will be that all member countries, the existing Nine, and Greece when it joins, if it wishes to gain the benefits of this directive, will be obliged to move towards harmonising their standards in an upward direction. That, I should have thought, would be to the advantage of Britain as much as to that of the other member States.
I hope that I have dealt with most of the specific points that have been raised in the debate——
§ Mr. Clarke
Nothing whatever. We shall continue with our present medical arrangements. We have no intention of introducing annual medical tests for people over 70, and there is nothing in the directive that would require us to do so. I hope that that battle, which my
§ hon. Friend was fighting in the European Parliament a few years ago, has now been successfully won and that no enthusiastic Eurocrat will try to revive it in the course of any future harmonisation proposals.
§ The standards that we have of medical inspection, heavy goods vehicle driving and of licensing and testing generally have been maintained in the directive by our negotiations. The directive is likely to bear more heavily on those countries that do not at the moment have standdards that can comply with the necessary articles in the directive. We have insisted throughout that road safety is paramount and that we could do nothing that would threaten road safety in this country.
§ The changes that are made are tiny. We have protected road safety standards. In a way, one wishes that we could have put forward something more substantial that would have led to more significant changes in road safety throughout Europe. They are tiny, they are unobjectionable, and I suggest, with respect, that the amendment is fairly trivial when we look at the effect in practice of the directive. I do not think that it will have the slightest harmful effect on any road user in this country.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:
§ The House divided: Ayes 92, Noes 138.1249
|Division No. 487]||AYES||[10.37 pm|
|Adams, Allen||Fitt, Gerard||McKelvey, William|
|Anderson, Donald||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Forrester, John||Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Foster, Derek||Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Golding, John||Maxton, John|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Gourley, Harry||Meacher, Michael|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Graham, Ted||Milian, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Hardy, Peter||Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Haynes, Frank||Molyneaux, James|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)||Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)|
|Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill)||Home Robertson, John||Morton, George|
|Cryer, Bob||Hooley, Frank||Newens, Stanley|
|Cunningham, George (Islington S)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven)||John, Brynmor||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Dalyell, Tam||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)||Parry, Robert|
|Dewar, Donald||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)|
|Dixon, Donald||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Dormand, Jack||Leadbitter, Ted||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)|
|Douglas, Dick||Leighton, Ronald||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Dunlop, John||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||Litherland, Robert||Rowlands, Ted|
|Eadle, Alex||Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Silkin, Rt Hon S.C. (Dulwich)|
|Eastham, Ken||McCartney, Hugh||Skinner, Dennis|
|English, Michael||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Soley, Clive|
|Ewing, Harry||McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Spriggs, Leslie||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Stoddart, David||Whitlock, William|
|Torney, Tom||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wainwright, Edwin (Desrne Valley)||Winnick, David||Mr. James Two and|
|Welsh, Michael||Woolmer, Kenneth||Mr. Terry Davis.|
|Adley, Robert||Gower, Sir Raymond||Myles, David|
|Alison, Michael||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East)||Greenway, Harry||Needham, Richard|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Grieve, Percy||Newton, Tony|
|Beith, A. J.||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouh N)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Bendall, Vivian||Grist, Ian||Oppenhelm, Rt Hon Mrs Sally|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Grylls, Michael||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Best, Keith||Gummer, John Selwyn||Page, Rt Hon Sir Graham (Crosby)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hawkins, Paul||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Blackburn, John||Hawksley, Warren||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hayhoe, Barney||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Bright, Graham||Heddle, John||Pollock, Alexander|
|Brinton, Tim||Hill, James||Porter, Barry|
|Brittan, Leon||Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Raison, Timothy|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Hooson, Tom||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Rost, Peter|
|Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick||Hurd, Hon Douglas||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Buck, Antony||Kershaw, Anthony||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)|
|Butcher, John||Kilfedder, James A.||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||King, Rt Hon Tom||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Knox, Cavid||Sims, Roger|
|Carlisle Kenneth (Lincoln)||Lang, Ian||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Stainton, Keith|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Colvin, Michael||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Crouch, David||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Dean, Paul (North Somerset)||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Tebbit, Norman|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Loveridge, John||Thompson, Donald|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Lyell, Nicholas||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Dover, Denshore||MacKay, John (Argyll)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||McNair-Wilson, Michael, (Newbury)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Durant, Tony||McQuarrie, Albert||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dykes, Hugh||Major, John||Waddington, David|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke)||Marten, Neil (Banbury)||Wakeham, John|
|Eggar, Tim||Mather, Carol||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Elliott, Sir William||Maude, Rt Hon Angus||Warren, Kenneth|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Watson, John|
|Faith, Mrs Sheila||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Wheeler, John|
|Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N)||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)||Wickenden, Keith|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Freud, Clement||Moats, Roger||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)||Mr. John Cope and|
|Garet-Jones, Tristan||Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)||Mr. Peter Brooke.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
§ That this House takes note of European Community Document R/3075/75 and the Department of Transport's Supplementary Explanatory Memoranda of 17 July 1980 and 28 October 1980 concerned with a proposed first Council Directive on the introduction of a European Community driving licence; and supports the Government's intention to agree to such a Directive.