HC Deb 16 May 1988 vol 133 c667
5. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from Basildon seeking the introduction of a higher standard of driving proficiency test for taxi drivers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Mitchell

None that I am aware of.

Mr. Amess

Will my hon. Friend recognise that some of my constituents not only feel that the present test is inadequate but are fed up with having to travel over 15 miles to the nearest test centre? Will he accept that the present test does not teach taxi drivers how to defend themselves against the increasing number of incidents of violence against the person? As two taxi drivers have recently been murdered and one seriously assaulted in Essex, will he please introduce an emergency service for taxi drivers?

Mr. Mitchell

Basildon is not a typical place, and we like to have typical places for driving test centres. It has an extensive one-way system, wide open junctions, well-planned roundabouts, few traffic lights and a pedestrianised town centre. There are four alternative test centres within 13 miles. My hon. Friend had an Adjournment debate on the safety of taxi drivers on 15 February. I announced an extension to allow taxi drivers to be represented on the standing panel on assaults on bus crews. It met on 5 May, and I much regret that taxi drivers were not represented.