HC Deb 16 February 1983 vol 37 cc287-8
12. Mr. Robert Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will arrange to meet the Scottish traffic commissioners to discuss roadside inspections of public service vehicles.

Mr. Eyre

My right hon. Friend receives regular reports from the traffic commissioners about public service vehicles, but we are always willing to meet them to discuss particular points of concern.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that the latest Scottish traffic commissioners' report said that out of 1,979 vehicles that were examined in a spot check, 200 received suspension notices, 95 of which were enforced immediately? Is he further aware that it said that, on routine checks, more than 200 vehicles were immediately issued with suspension notices—twice the figure for the previous year—and that that was described as an unnecessary risk to the public, which resulted from the failure to keep the number of inspectors up to standard? What discussions will the Minister have to ensure that the shortage of seven inspectors is immediately rectified or that their number is increased in the light of that serious report?

Mr. Eyre

Spot checks are part of the system for enforcing PSV standards. The number of inspections in Scotland is broadly in proportion to the number that take place throughout Great Britain. I note the hon. Gentleman's anxiety about the subject. We are willing to do anything that we can to improve and increase the standards of enforcement. I shall be ready to discuss that subject with the commissioners.

Mr. McQuarrie

Is my hon. Friend aware that most inspections take place in public laybys? When he meets the Scottish traffic commissioners, will he give them some guidance about giving advance notice to oncoming motorists about where an inspection is taking place? Is he aware that, invariably, one arrives at a spot where an inspection is taking place without having been warned, and that there is therefore a danger to motorists using that road?

Mr. Eyre

I note my hon. Friend's practical point. I shall arrange for that to be discussed with the traffic commissioners. According to my information, most inspections do not take place in laybys, as there is a desire to allow the PSV to go to a terminus, garage or proper parking space so that passengers will have disembarked and the inspection can be carried out properly. I shall certainly bear my hon. Friend's point in mind.

Mr. Foulkes

Is the Minister aware that I am grateful to him for agreeing to review seating arrangements on school buses? Is he further aware that there is still great anxiety among many parents, especially in Strathclyde region, that some old vehicles—they are often more than 25 years' old—are being used for school bus contracts? Will he arrange for the traffic commissioners to make regular swoops to check the vehicles, as there is grave concern about the safety of schoolchildren?

Mr. Eyre

I shall certainly discuss that point with the commissioners. If the hon. Gentleman has any special matter of concern and would be kind enough to let me have details, I shall ensure that the matter is discussed in detail.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the Minister worried by the problem to which the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) drew his attention? If he is, why has he not already had discussions with the traffic commissioners about the subject?

Mr. Eyre

I believe that considerable efforts are being made, within the resources that are available, to ensure that enforcement is carried out properly throughout Great Britain. Naturally, I am prepared to do anything that I can to improve those standards.