HC Deb 21 May 1999 vol 331 cc1386-406
Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe)

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 2, line 36, leave out `application or'.

I shall address a different aspect of the Bill—the possibility of introducing an element of privatisation to MOT tests. The amendment is quite minor because its purpose is to delete two words. However, it would remove the central determination of fees for testing for the purpose of obtaining an MOT certificate.

When we consider the privatisation of any activity, I suggest that five tests should be carried out, each of which applies in this instance. The first test is whether there is a clear definition of quality. Rail privatisation is an example of privatising without applying that test. The companies that take over the work will interpret their duties in widely different ways and there is a danger that standards, as perceived by the public, will deteriorate sharply.

The second criterion is whether there is potentially a large competitive market. The rail industry provides an example where, effectively, there are many local monopolies. The effect of privatisation has been to move from a state monopoly to a set of private monopolies. Most people—even those who have an ideological preference for privatisation—will agree that that is sub-optimal.

12 noon

Thirdly, is there a regulatory format? Water privatisation is an example of the difficulty of regulators who are torn between regulating for superior water quality and regulating for lower price. Their job is not enviable and privatisation, where it is not easily possible, is somewhat suspect.

Fourthly, we will seek always to ensure that, where privatisation is undertaken, there is minimal disruption and hardship for the existing staff, who have loyally administered the service previously. The coal industry is an example of the dangers of privatisation. Effectively, since the coal industry has been denationalised, it is well on the way to being phased out altogether. I admit that there were some tendencies for that to happen before denationalisation.

Fifthly, we need to see the potential for significant cost savings, either for the Government or for consumers. I think that the privatisation of telecommunications is generally accepted, even by those who are not enthusiastic about privatisation as a concept, to have resulted in substantial benefits for the consumer.

If we apply these criteria to MOT testing, the House may agree that all five of them are satisfied. The Bill gives us the opportunity, by deleting "application or" to open the door to them. First, let us consider well-defined quality measures. What the MOT test consists of has been laid down for many years. From time to time, the Government may introduce a change, but there is no dispute about what an adequate MOT test is. That is clear to everybody, and it will continue to be so if pricing is left to the individual garage.

The second consideration is whether there is a potentially large competitive market. I suppose that there are thousands of small firms throughout the country that offer MOT testing facilities. It seems clear that, if they were allowed to compete on price for the MOT test, they would be interested in doing so. If some of them were to withdraw from the market, others would take their place. There seems every prospect of a vibrant competitive market for MOT testing.

Mr. Shaw

I am concerned about what my hon. Friend said. The idea that small garages in rural areas will be able to compete with large multinationals by keeping their prices lower is—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

Order. We are straying rather wide of the mark.

Dr. Palmer

I shall make a general observation. The vibrant competitive market to which I refer is partly ensured by the fact that most people will wish to have an MOT test carried out locally. The likelihood of their going to a large multinational company for an MOT test is not as great as it would be in some other industries.

Thirdly, there is the question of disruption and hardship for existing staff. My proposal would involve existing establishments continuing, as envisaged by the Bill, with some degree of additional licensing and training. I think that we all welcome the provisions set out in the Bill, and allowing garages to compete with one another on price should not, in principle, produce any problems for them. There may, of course, be cases where an individual garage feels that downward pressure on the price for MOT tests forces them to withdraw from the service. However, that in itself is unlikely to result in disruption or hardship for that garage. Other hon. Members may correct me, but I believe that relatively few garages depend heavily on income from MOT testing for their survival. The impact on businesses should be minimal; I doubt whether even one would cease trading.

Mr. Shaw

Do not MOT testing and servicing go hand in hand? Garages, therefore, rely on MOTs because the two are carried out together.

Dr. Palmer

The fee for the MOT test makes up a relatively small component of the bill paid by the typical car owner, but the necessary servicing resulting from it, and the parts involved in that, make up a large component. For that reason, even the smallest garage would find it valuable to continue in the market, simply because of the attraction of the ensuing service work.

That point brings me to the possibility of significant cost savings, which is the fifth criterion. I suspect that the cost of MOT tests would descend rapidly towards zero. Given the difficulties of attracting customers, of which most of us who have worked in any kind of small business are aware, it would be much cheaper to attract a customer by offering a free MOT than by taking out any amount of advertising for services or repairs, and the consumer might benefit in respect of the entire cost of the MOT.

Under the Bill, a garage would pay a fee to the Department; I am not suggesting that that fee should be abolished or varied, although it needs to be standardised so that the garage can recoup its costs. In an age in which most of us have declared ourselves to be open minded on matters of state control versus privatisation, I wonder whether it is appropriate for the Government to say precisely what charge should be made, from John o' Groats to Land's End, for work done for the general public. I welcome the Bill as much as have previous speakers. It gives us the opportunity to look again at that assumption and to ask ourselves whether it is time to open up the possibility of a new option.

Mr. Browne

A feature of clause 2, which my hon. Friend seeks to amend, is that it substantially restates existing law. Indeed, the words that he seeks to delete from the clause already appear in section 46 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Is it not in the interests of the consumer that such a standard national test has a standard application and a standard fee to ensure that testers do not cut corners?

Dr. Palmer

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point, which brings me back to the need for a well-defined quality measure, which is the first criterion. It is tempting for any MOT establishment to cut corners, simply because that saves time. They do not—or we suppose that they do not—because a well-defined list of activities has to be carried out under the MOT test. Under the other criteria relating to the Bill, people would be specifically trained in what needs to be done. A more well-defined licensing system for approved assessors would be put at risk if they attempted to cut corners.

Mr. Dismore

Is not the answer to my hon. Friend's point that the Bill introduces much tougher policing of garages to ensure that they maintain standards?

Dr. Palmer

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who said what I was trying to say in a much clearer way.

The Bill offers an opportunity that is worth seizing for the benefit of consumers, and presents no hazards for standards of quality control or for those who have to operate it. I ask the House to accept the amendment.

Mr. Hunter

I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) and to the interventions that he allowed, and I wonder whether a slight misunderstanding prevails. Under the current regime, there is no standard or fixed fee for the tester to charge the motorist for an MOT test. The downward pressure of market forces, which the hon. Gentleman advocates—and which I warmly advocate, too—is possible under the present regime. The Motor Vehicles (Tests) Regulations 1981, as amended, prescribe a total maximum amount that a tester can charge a motorist. If I recall correctly, the precise figure that the tester is obliged to pay the inspectorate is 58p per blank certificate. That is the cost of implementing the test process. The Department estimates that that sum might rise by £1 to £1.58 or thereabouts, but, as the hon. Gentleman said, it is a very small proportion of the total charge that the motorist pays for his MOT test.

Dr. Palmer

Does the hon. Gentleman agree, however, that the passage that the amendment seeks to delete appears to suggest that the fee to be paid on an application—by the consumer—will be laid down?

Mr. Hunter

That is not my understanding. I apologise to the hon. Gentleman—perhaps the Minister can clarify this point in due course. I understand that the principle of payment that currently applies will continue to apply. The tester will buy in advance space on a database, which represents the blank certificates that he now buys. The Secretary of State sets the maximum charge that the tester can then make to the motorist. It is the intention of neither the Bill nor the Department to change that basic principle.

It is perhaps ironic that, as someone who believes in the open market and privatisation, I support the current regime and want it to continue, as the Bill would allow it to do. I do so, however, because this is not a genuine open market. Where market principles apply in their purest form, the purchaser has the option not to purchase, whereas every car owner is obliged to have his or her vehicle MOT tested. The law requires that, and that causes a distortion of the marketplace. Therefore, the regime of imposing a maximum sum is a consumer protection measure. Although the hon. Gentleman and I support downward pressure of market forces, the reverse could happen—MOT testers could raise their charges because motorists are obliged to undergo the test. I defend the current regime, and I oppose the hon. Gentleman's amendment. He may have misunderstood the situation. We need to protect the motorist—and other consumers—from an unreal market.

12.15 pm
Dr. Palmer

As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman is arguing that there is already an open market, but he also likes the fact that there is not one. I should be grateful if he would clarify that. The charges to be paid by the tester are regulated under clause 2(1)(j), whereas the charges to be paid by the consumer are regulated under clause 2(1)(f). Many privatised services are, in effect, compulsory: water supply is an obvious example. Consumers can refuse to take water, but few do so.

Mr. Hunter

I follow the hon. Gentleman's argument, and I am sorry if I did not make my point entirely clear. I certainly accept the principles of an open market, and in many respects I am sympathetic to what the hon. Gentleman is seeking to achieve by his amendment. However, there is downward pressure of market forces under the present regime, so the amendment is not needed to achieve the objectives that the hon. Gentleman seeks.

I believe that the experience of the past 10 years has justified a measure of consumer protection to prevent garages from raising the cost of the MOT test above the level prescribed by the Secretary of State. The Bill reflects that view, which is why the hon. Gentleman's amendment is mistaken.

Dr. George Turner

I represent a rural constituency, and such protection is particularly important in a rural environment. People who live in an urban environment may have many test centres in their immediate vicinity, but people who live in villages in my constituency need the protection that the law currently offers, and we should maintain that.

Mr. Hunter

I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's point, and with that I conclude my remarks.

Mr. McNulty

If I were being honest, I would say that, when I first read the amendment tabled my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer), I did not understand where it was going or where it was coming from. He has now explained with great eloquence where he is seeking to go. I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) that, if that is where my hon. Friend wants to get to from here, the Bill is the wrong device to use. Moreover, I do not share my hon. Friend's goals.

My hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner) referred to consumer protection and the existing ceiling on the charge. That protection should not be hampered or interfered with. The Bill implies a shift from 58p to £1 per certificate for the database, which is a fair charge and can be recovered subsequently, as we shall see when we come to the next amendment.

The test is compulsory, consumer protection measures are in place and there is a ceiling on the charge, so the market is already regulated, and that would be disrupted if the amendment were accepted. In my area, garages use the MOT test as an entrée to get people to go back for further services, whether it be petrol, regular car servicing or other services. I fear that, if that maximum charge is lost and we have a less regulated market, or a market that is not regulated at all, small garages with MOT testers in rural areas will go, and there will be a completely distorted market.

If the amendment were passed, we would have not a pure free market—the hon. Member for Basingstoke will not like this, but such a thing does not exist anyway, except in the psychotic minds of people like Milton Friedman—but a far more distorted market. By definition, large, perhaps multinational, garages will be in a far better position to defray all testing expenses—whether or not a computerised database is involved—than a one-man outfit.

Moreover, the amendment might well distort the process of dealing with criminal elements in the issue of MOT certificates. By liberalising the market, it might affect one of the key aspects of the Bill, which I firmly support. Computerisation could enable authorities to identify disconcerting patterns of testing—for instance, a disproportionate number of passes for older cars—far more readily, and to police effectively the whole MOT process. That ability would be lost if a broader free-market regime were introduced, leaving consumers unprotected.

Many garages now say that, if a car fails its test, they will test again free of charge. Many now say that they will incorporate the test in the regular service. It is crucial to consumer choice that smaller garages should retain the freedom to act in that way, within a regulated market. If—I suspect that this will not happen—the amendment were passed, and brought about the pure free market that my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe wants, that would be a disaster. He has not said so thus far, but I hope that his is a probing, even teasing, amendment, intended to air the issues involved.

I commend many of the Bill's provisions. Computerisation will improve the current regime. Tinkering with the pricing regime and the regulatory framework will not allow us to improve the operation of computerisation, and the amendment should be resisted as strongly as possible.

Ms Glenda Jackson

The reasons why the Government cannot accept the amendment have been put succinctly by my hon. Friends the Members for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner) and for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), and by the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter). This Government—and, indeed, previous Governments—have felt that it must always be within the powers of Government to set the level of the maximum fee for an MOT test.

The amendment would delete part of subsection (1)(f) of the proposed new section 46 to the Road Traffic Act 1988, which mirrors, and enlarges, the existing section 46. I have no argument with—indeed, I endorse—the desirability of keeping legislation as simple as possible, and I have little doubt that that was part of the thinking of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer). However, the Government cannot accept the amendment, because it would remove the Secretary of State's power to prescribe in regulations the fees to be paid by applicants for MOT tests. My hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk described the difficulties that would be caused to his constituents, and—in his own way—my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East expressed the Government's concerns.

Part of new section 46 to the 1988 Act simply repeats what is provided in existing section 46, which has been tried and tested over the years and has been found to work well in practice. Therefore, in principle, there is no reason to disturb the legislation. Existing section 46 of the Act re-appears in the Bill because it is clearly better to consolidate the legislation into a single section of sequential provisions, rather than to amend many isolated parts of the existing provisions. It has clearly been done for ease and clarity of drafting and to make the legislation easier to work with in practice, all of which is commendable and, as I have said, was part of the thinking of my hon. Friend in tabling the amendment.

Perhaps more fundamentally, the existing wording of the relevant part of the clause is needed because, as I have already said, it is essential for the Secretary of State to be able to prescribe the fees to be paid by applicants for MOT tests. In practice, what is prescribed in subordinate legislation, the Motor Vehicles (Tests) Regulations 1981—the point was made by the hon. Member for Basingstoke—is the maximum amount that can be charged by an MOT testing station for carrying out an MOT test.

Surely, were the Secretary of State not able to do that, from John o' Groats to Land's End, there would be no control of how much an MOT test might cost. Motorists would be faced with being required by law to have their vehicles MOT tested, but there would be no protection in the law to regulate how much could be charged for those MOT tests. As I have said, successive Governments have felt that control to be necessary. Those points were endorsed by my hon. Friends the Members for North-West Norfolk and for Harrow, East, and the hon. Member for Basingstoke.

I was somewhat concerned when my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe referred to the possibility of garages—or, indeed, testing stations—cutting corners. I am sure that he is aware that arrangements have been in existence since the inception of the MOT scheme in 1961 for the Vehicle Inspectorate to supervise the conduct of the scheme. Generally, it works very well. However, the computerisation project has been designed to give the inspectorate far better information than it has ever had, so that it can do its job even more effectively. That will enable the inspectorate to concentrate its efforts where they are most needed.

Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe is not aware that the inspectorate has to supervise the standards of some 55,000 nominated testers at 19,000 MOT testing stations throughout the country to ensure that vehicles are tested to the correct standard and that motorists get a fair test. In practice, the inspectorate does that by ensuring that testers and testing stations are given clear ground rules for carrying out testing when they first join the scheme. Thereafter, inspectorate examiners check on their performance once every 12 to 18 months. Most people would say that that was a bare minimum to ensure fair and proper standards, rather than a case of vexatious regulation. As I say, computerisation will enable the inspectorate to have far better information and to be able to target, if it perceives any lapse of standards in the results of vehicles that have had their MOT.

In the light of what I have said, and mindful of the reasons—the best of all Possible reasons— why my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe tabled the amendment, I trust that he will withdraw it.

Dr. Palmer

I am grateful for hon. Members' comments. With regard to the Minister's remarks, I clarify that the suggestion of cutting corners did not come from me. I expressed confidence that the existing arrangements would avoid that.

The feeling of the House on the point is clear. Rather than pressing it to a vote, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

12.30 pm
Dr. Palmer

I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 4, line 14, leave out subsection (6).

This is a probing amendment, the aim of which is to explore the extent to which the Government should become involved in the commercial use of MOT data. It may well be that, to defray the costs of the computerised system—which has the benefits to which other hon. Members have very rightly referred—such involvement would make sense. Nevertheless, it is appropriate that the House should have a quick look at the issue, to decide whether we wish to move down that path.

Subsection (6), which the amendment would delete, would allow the sale of information, for any price, on such terms, and subject to such restrictions as the Secretary of State thought fit, to any persons whom the Secretary of State thought fit.

The only restriction proposed in the subsection is that information on the premises at which any examination was carried out or any person concerned with the carrying out of the examination should be protected.

I wonder whether the subsection will provide sufficient protection. It is not instantly clear to me whether information about persons involved in the ownership, or driving, of a vehicle will also be protected—as that information is held in separate DVLA records, and I am not sure of the extent to which those records are open to the general public. If they are open, cross-searches and cross-retrievals would make it possible to undertake a quite massive direct mailing operation, writing to those who have taken an MOT test, drawing on their experience to date and attempting to influence their future buying patterns.

If information on individual car owners is not available, the issue will be substantially de-fanged. However, I still wonder about the extent to which the Government should market their knowledge of individuals' transactions with the Government. If we accept the principle of the provision without amendment, there are a great many other spheres—tax records, for example—in which we might feel able to market government knowledge. One current and controversial example is the marketing of information from the electoral register.

I invite the Minister and the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) to give the House their views on whether subsection (6) will offer sufficient protection against misuse of data.

Mr. Hunter

I wonder whether the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) is aware of the Transport Act 1982–which has not been enforced, but is a paving Act for privatisation of the Vehicle Inspectorate. The previous Government passed it, but never implemented it. Nevertheless, it remains on the statute book. If the current Government, or a future one, wished to enable it, privatisation of the inspectorate would happen, and the core of the hon. Gentleman's arguments would, I suspect, cease to apply. He is concerned about the Government, rather than a private industry, becoming involved in commercialism.

I think that, in one respect, I may be able completely to reassure the hon. Gentleman. Personally, I do not know about the accessibility of the DVLA database—but I do know that the Bill will not remotely affect it. The Bill is concerned only with establishing the MOT centralised computer database.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about anonymity, and whether vehicle owners' identity would be contained. The answer lies in clause 1(6B). The only information that would be made available under that provision is that pertaining to vehicles and the carrying out of and the results of the examinations", not the names of the registered keepers. I understand that the names of registered keepers are not available from the MOT database.

We could spend a long time discussing the principle of how much the Government should be involved in commercial activities. I am not sure that it is right to question that in the absolute and general; we should concentrate on the detail. If the Secretary of State were able to become involved in commercial activities and "sell" information, consumer organisations might wish to use that information to advise consumers about the reliability or otherwise of specific motor cars; manufacturers might use it to rectify defects in their models; prospective purchasers would find it valuable, not least in respect of the mileage of second-hand cars; and vehicle insurers might wish to know whether the vehicles of the drivers whom they insured had valid tests. I look at the issue pragmatically: the database contains information which many individuals and organisations would find useful, so it should be made available on a commercial basis.

Finally, the commercial element would go some way to offset the cost of computerisation and would therefore benefit the motorist.

Mr. McNulty

The final point made by the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) is extremely important. People should not run away with the notion that we are commercialising and selling the MOT database simply to defray the entire cost of its computerisation. As he suggested, it will go some way towards it, but will not cover it completely. Rather than being in any way sinister or suddenly opening up some huge new opportunity for the ghastly men and women from direct marketing organisations, because of the qualifying statement at the end of clause 2(6)(b), it is of no value to direct marketing, blind-selling organisations.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) said, the only caveat on the sale, or passing on, of information from the database is if those particulars do not identify the premises at which any examination is carried out or any person concerned with carrying out that examination. When that important caveat is included in the equation, it is not some liberalisation-mad free-market measure that will mean that, having got an MOT, one will receive a barrel-load of unsolicited rubbish because the nasty old Government have sold the information. If that is not the case, what is the main motive for selling on, or making accessible, certain elements of the database? I would suggest that, rather than defraying the cost of computerisation, there are fundamental consumer protection reasons. Again, I would depart from what my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner), who is not in his place, said. He seemed to suggest that Governments were good at modernising and computerising various activities that had been done on paper, without producing benefits. The Bill takes us into areas of consumer protection that we would not begin to entertain under the certificate-based system, and that is much to its credit. Those elements will be lost if we accept the amendment, which is why I strongly argue against it.

The proposal that anybody—that is legitimate organisations and individuals rather than the "inquiry versus enquiry" argument from dodgy solicitors or anyone else—who can show reasonable cause should be able obtain the MOT history of a particular vehicle must make more sense to a potential purchaser. They would not be allowed to do that if we accepted the amendment.

Anonymous, vehicle-specific information such as recorded mileage will be of use to the purchaser of a second-hand car. Another useful and exciting element of the new database is that commercial organisations will be able to purchase anonymous aggregate data on the MOT performance of particular brands of cars from particular years. Better information on trends in the performance of particular makes and models in MOTs must feed into overall protection for the consumer.

The existing MOT pricing regime will continue. The elements of consumer protection from the previous testing regime are vital. In relative terms at least, the MOT testing process has been a success. Without discarding the successful elements, we are adding new, interesting and exciting areas of consumer protection afforded by the development of a computerised base. Lord knows, second-hand car salesmen, like solicitors, are not, in some regards at least, one might suggest, necessarily by nature the friends of consumers and always interested in their protection.

I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe for tabling the amendment, which, like the previous ones, has allowed us to highlight the important areas of consumer protection that the computerisation of the MOT regime affords. The hon. Member for Basingstoke is to be congratulated on the enhanced consumer protection that the Bill provides in an area where it is needed.

I do not want people to run away with the notion that the proposals represent the wicked commercialisation of another database that would result in anyone who has an MOT getting an avalanche of rubbish through their door. The anonymity of the vehicle keeper and the garage at which the test was carried out are fundamental and are the only caveats needed to render the database worse than useless for direct mail organisations. Those provisions are vital for consumer protection, enhancing, rather than moving away from, the consumer protection elements in the existing MOT structure. I commend subsection (6) strongly to the House, because it is fundamental to the spirit of the Bill. Removing paragraphs (a) and (b) would deeply wound the Bill in a way that I would find unacceptable.

Ms Glenda Jackson

We strongly agree with the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) about the benefits inherent in the Bill for consumer protection. I am aware of the concerns expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) but I trust that, in responding to the amendment, I shall be able to reassure him that the kind of scenario that he has evinced to the House this morning will not be possible, given the strictures within the Bill.

12.45 pm

In effect, the purpose of the amendment is to delete a part of the proposed new section 46 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If the amendment were to succeed, it would—I am sure inadvertently—defeat one of the main objectives of the Bill. That objective is the disclosure of anonymised information in bulk from the computerised records of the results of MOT tests for the benefit of consumers—a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East—and many other interested parties. For that reason, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe will withdraw the amendment.

Subsection (6) of new section 46 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 would enable the Secretary of State, by regulation, to sell anonymised information in bulk from the MOT database. He would be able to sell such particulars and information to such persons as he thought fit—for such price, on such terms and subject to such restrictions as he thought fit.

The objective in being able to do that is twofold. First, we would make information available from the database which could be used for all sorts of useful and beneficial purposes. Secondly, there would be the ability to sell such information for a price that reflects its commercial value, so that the proceeds would help to offset the cost of introducing and running computerisation in the MOT scheme. All of those very positive benefits would be lost if the amendment were to succeed.

It is the view of the Government that there is an overwhelming desire for better information about the results of MOT testing to be more widely available. The useful opening debate this morning on an amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) showed that, with many hon. Members presenting interesting and detailed contributions. At present, the available information is somewhat limited—primarily because no central record of MOT tests exists at present. That is understandable, given that the MOT scheme relies on paper-based records.

That will all change with the introduction of computerisation over the next couple of years, and it is therefore absolutely right that information that will be gathered on the database should be put to maximum use. That means making it available for other people to use, other than just the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. That is exactly what new section 46(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is designed to enable the Secretary of State to do.

It is not possible here to give a full account of all the possible uses to which this information might be put. However, it seems highly likely that consumer organisations, and indeed the motor vehicle manufacturers themselves, will have an interest in being able to find out, for example, which makes and models fail the MOT test at what stage, and for what reasons. Such information would clearly be of interest to prospective purchasers of second-hand vehicles, as would information about recorded vehicle mileage. Vehicle insurers, for example, are also likely to be interested in being able to confirm that vehicles of drivers whom they insure have valid MOT certificates if they need them.

Under the provisions of new subsection (6), as it stands, no information would be released which identified the registered keeper of the vehicle—because such information would not be on the record of the results of MOT tests anyway. Nor would any information be released about where vehicles were tested or about who tested them, because the provisions of the Bill preclude that information from being supplied. The Government believe that the provisions that would enable the Secretary of State to disclose anonymised particulars and information have clearly been very carefully thought through, and provided for in the Bill.

The clear objective of the provision is to enable the Secretary of State to reflect the commercial value of the information in the price that is charged for it. The income arising would be used to offset the cost of computerisation. That, we believe, is an equitable arrangement.

I am aware of the concerns expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe about the possible misuse of such information. I am sure that we all share those concerns. As with all legislation, the Bill must accord with the requirements of the Data Protection Acts. My officials have already held preliminary discussions with the assistant Data Protection Registrar about the Bill's provisions and the controls needed to meet those requirements. No significant problems have been encountered or envisaged.

The regulations enabling the Secretary of State to sell anonymised information in bulk and detailing the particulars as to prices charged and the individuals or groups to whom or which such information may be sold will all be drawn up with the benefit of consultation. We have little, if any, doubt that the information that will be available once the MOT test scheme is computerised will be safe from misuse. No one wants anyone's letter box to bring a daily avalanche of unsolicited junk mail. There are more serious uses to which the information could be put, and we are very clear that everyone must be protected from such misuse.

In the light of what I have said, I trust that my hon. Friend will withdraw the amendment.

Dr. Palmer

I am grateful to the Minister and to all who have commented on the amendment. We had a useful discussion, putting on the record exactly what the intentions of the clause are. I accept my hon. Friend's assurances: it is a reasonable package. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Order for Third Reading read.


Mr. Hunter

I beg to move, That the will be now read the Third time.

As hon. Members may be aware, the Bill had the briefest of Second Reading debates and was unchallenged in Committee. I therefore welcomed the fact that amendments were tabled on Report, because that exposed some of its central features to scrutiny. Few things are worse than a Bill being passed unscrutinised.

Hon. Members will be aware that the Bill's origins lie in a consultation process initiated by the previous Government in the Department of Transport's 1994 review of MOT testing. We would probably have arrived at this point in the evolutionary process set in motion by that review at about this time, regardless of which party won the 1997 general election. The Bill is not contentious from the point of view of party politics.

The main purpose of the Bill is to provide a statutory framework for the establishment of a central computer database of the MOT test status of vehicles. We believe that the database will help to ensure compliance with the requirement to hold a valid MOT certificate and will aid enforcement. It will help to ensure high and consistent standards of testing and facilitate the introduction of paperless tests should that be deemed desirable at some time in the future. As we have heard, it will also allow the sale of information on the database, to the benefit of consumers and to offset the cost of computerisation.

I thank the Minister for allowing me access to her officials while the Bill was being prepared and during its passage through the House. I am most grateful to them for their invaluable advice and help. I commend the Bill to the House.

12.55 pm
Mr. Miller

The House should express its gratitude to the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) for introducing the Bill. I am especially grateful for what he has just said; this has indeed been a useful exchange on several issues that would not otherwise have received any scrutiny.

It is absurd that we still have a paper-based system for MOT certificates. One large vehicle manufacturer put it to me that the average vehicle coming off the production line today has more computer power than the Apollo lunar module that landed on the moon. We have very sophisticated vehicles with extraordinary computing power, yet the regulatory regime that licenses their use on the road does not incorporate the same technology. The House should therefore welcome the Bill, and I urge the Minister to ensure that progress is made rapidly towards bringing it into practice.

One of the aspects of the Bill is something on which I have done extensive work—the relationship between computerised data and the rights of private citizens, in terms of the Data Protection Acts. The House will be aware that one of the Government's early actions was to introduce a Bill incorporating the European directive on data protection into mainstream legislation; its provisions were absorbed into the 1988 Act, which was passed under the Conservative Government. That was a positive step.

Bills such as this underline the need for us all to be vigilant on behalf of our constituents about the continued protection of privacy where there is legitimate concern. Anyone who does not meet the legal requirement to have a proper MOT certificate should expect that information quickly to reach the hands of the various authorities, including the police, the prosecuting authorities, magistrates courts and so on. That is right.

However, when data are sold, it is vital to have proper mechanisms for the anonymising of the information, so as to protect the individual citizen. The state has more and more information about the individual citizen on databases that can be cross-referenced, and I can see that more of that will result from the Bill. Cross-referencing between the police national computer and the MOT database is right, but, as the powers get stronger, we must consider carefully the privacy issues that arise.

I have consistently argued that, some day, we shall need to consider the role of the Data Protection Commissioner, as she is now called, and that her role should be expanded, to make her commissioner both for data protection and for privacy. That is a powerful argument, and the Bill illustrates the need to consider it. Whether that will happen as a result of this Bill, or of subsequent mergers of databases—the merger, for example, of the databases of the Contributions Agency and the Inland Revenue—is open to discussion.

I urge the Minister to reflect on that observation in the context of her responsibilities, because there are some important issues that we need to consider.

As the hon. Member for Basingstoke suggested, the central purpose of the Bill is to create the database. The subsequent issues stemming from that must be to ensure that people abide by the law and that we collect information that may help us in the future with the better design of vehicles. We must not allow the Bill to be used for purposes that might put at risk the privacy of an individual citizen. I commend the Bill to the House.

1.1 pm

Mr. Browne

I congratulate the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) on introducing this Bill. It is clear to me from the debate today and from reading the report of the Second Reading and Committee stages that both sides of the House agree that this modest, technical Bill will make an important contribution to the growing body of road traffic legislation. I checked in the Library yesterday and that legislation now takes up the equivalent of five volumes of an encyclopaedia.

Vehicles of an appropriate age are certified through the MOT test as roadworthy and that has been an important addition to the cause of accident prevention. As my hon. Friend the Minister made clear in the debate on new clause 1, it is probably as a consequence of the MOT requirement that research shows that the lack of roadworthiness of vehicles contributes to comparatively few accidents. However, we must bring the MOT system up to date.

As the Bill makes clear, there are many advantages in having a centralised computer database of the MOT test status of vehicles. Not only will a computerised system provide a means of control of the issue of the some 22 million MOT tests that are carried out annually, it will make it easier for the Department's Vehicle Inspectorate to monitor the performance of MOT testing stations and, as importantly, the individual testers who will now be effectively licensed.

Much was said on Second Reading, in Committee and in the debate today about how the database will assist the police to enforce the law on MOTs; how the instant access through the PNC will be a preventative force; how it will facilitate the relicensing of vehicles; and even, through access by prospective purchasers, how it will help to protect consumers. Those positive advantages justify the proposed changes in the Bill.

On Report, I raised a question with the hon. Member for Basingstoke about the disclosure of information under the new sections 45 and 46 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 that the Bill will introduce. My reading of new section 46(6)(b) is that no information can be disclosed that identifies who tested a particular vehicle or where it was tested. If I have understood that provision correctly, it means that the information can be sold commercially either in bulk or to individuals such as prospective purchasers of vehicles, but information about the premises where the vehicle was tested, or who tested it, cannot be revealed. I believe that that is what the hon. Member for Basingstoke said in response to my intervention on the point.

I seek reassurance from the hon. Gentleman or from my hon. Friend the Minister that regulations made under subsection (5) will not necessarily restrict access to information about who tested the vehicle or the premises at which it was tested. I can envisage circumstances in which an individual other than the owner or registered keeper of the vehicle could legitimately argue for access. For example, a person injured in an accident may want that information for civil proceedings, so that the testing station or the individual tester may be held responsible. Subject to that clarification, I support the Bill.

1.10 pm
Mr. James Cran (Beverley and Holderness)

I shall be brief. The Opposition support the Bill. That support was expressed on Second Reading and it has not changed. However, we spent almost four hours on Report considering the most fatuous collection of amendments that I have ever seen, illustrated by the fact that the Minister simply swept them all away—very elegantly, if I may say so. The ulterior motive was never to improve the Bill, but to—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin)


Mr. Cran

The intention was merely to make sure that the next—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat when I stand. He is straying from the Third Reading motion.

1.12 pm
Dr. Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test)

I support the Bill and congratulate the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) on introducing it. I am delighted to be present on Third Reading to make a brief contribution.

I have a confession to make to the House. I belong to the small but shamefaced club whose members are people who have bought clocked cars. I did so some years ago, having undertaken what I considered to be reasonable checks about the provenance of the car. It appeared to have 30,000 miles on its clock, and I took it home and began driving it.

The circumstances in which I found out that the car was clocked are pertinent to the Bill. I believe that, in future, when consumers purchase a second-hand car and face the same problem as I had, they will be grateful for the passing of the Bill. After I had driven my car for a while, I was surprised to receive a telephone call from the trading standards officer of Wiltshire county council—not the county where I resided at the time.

The trading standards officer had been on a "fishing" expedition around car auctions in Wiltshire, and happened to have recorded the mileage of cars that were sold at the car auction at which I had bought mine. He had taken it upon himself to search, by whatever means he could, the destination of the cars sold at that auction and to telephone the registered keeper of the cars whose destination he had traced, to find out whether the mileage that he had recorded was the same as that which the purchaser believed to be the case. The car that I thought was a good purchase at 30,000 miles in fact had more than 80,000 miles on the clock. I was astonished and humbled to find that my checks had been so useless and that I had been sold a thoroughly dodgy car, so I took up the matter with the vendor. When I returned the car to the vendor, I contacted the trading standards officer concerned to thank him for his diligence.

The organisation that had sold me the car denied all knowledge of the circumstances in which it had been clocked. It claimed to have been taken in as much as I had been when it purchased the car. I was paid back most of my money and, thanks to the trading standards officer, I was spared having a car that was not fit for use.

The company that had sold me the car escaped any prosecution or any come back for its activity and it is still trading. The trading standards officer could not demonstrate that the vendor had sold the car knowing it to be clocked and was guilty of an offence.

I hope that the hon. Member for Basingstoke will be able to assure me that a car's mileage as registered at its MOT can be obtained with proper safeguards. That will allow two things to happen that will be a complete response to the calamity that I have set out. First, I will be protected substantially on purchasing a car that appeared subsequently to have been clocked. As importantly, trading standards officers would be assisted in establishing, when a second-hand car dealer bought a car, perhaps at an auction, and passed it on, the point at which the clocking had taken place.

A genuine purchaser of a car for sale, believing it to show the correct mileage on the clock, would be able to mount a defence. Someone who had taken on the car with a high mileage on the clock and clearly between the point of purchase and resale had clocked it, could be identified. If that is a correct reading of clause 2, it represents a tremendous step forward for consumer protection. It will allow purchasers in future to rest assured that it is possible by reasonable inquiry—there will still be people who purchase cars without undertaking sufficient checks, who will be duped—to have a good chance of knowing what has happened to a car and the circumstances in which it was purchased and sold to them.

If that is the position, the Bill's progenitor, the hon. Member for Basingstoke, is to be congratulated. Purchasers of cars will have recourse to action whereas I discovered only by chance that my car was clocked.

1.14 pm
Mr. Dismore

I congratulate the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) on the progress that his Bill has made. Not many hon. Members have the opportunity to introduce a private Member's Bill, and far fewer have the opportunity of taking it through the House and seeing it, one hopes, make rapid progress in the other place.

I welcome the Bill for several reasons. First, it will make a great contribution to vehicle safety, not only in the short term for one-off vehicles but in the longer term. The database that the Bill will create will enable the Secretary of State to accumulate comprehensive and authoritative statistical data on the trends of vehicle roadworthiness.

We often hear about problems with new vehicles. I do not know how many times I have seen recall notices in the press when a design fault has suddenly been found or a manufacturing defect has affected a number of vehicles. Such difficulties are often easily and quickly detected, the vehicles are brought back for repair and the problem is dealt with. The most obvious example was the Ford Pinto case in the United States. The design fault was the positioning of the petrol tank and cars exploded suddenly when they were rear-ended at traffic lights, incinerating the occupants. The Ford Motor Company took some time to accept that there was a design fault on the vehicle and that was one of the issues on which Ralph Nader, the great defender of consumer rights, made his name.

The Bill goes beyond that and, through the database, will look at the longer-term trends of vehicle safety. That will, first, enable manufacturers to determine whether there is a longer-term design fault in a vehicle, which may not be immediately apparent when it appears on the road—for example, a part may wear out more frequently on one type of vehicle than on another—and, secondly, inform them in their design processes. They will be able to work through the MOT system to check what may be going wrong with a particular vehicle, and that will help them to improve design.

Thirdly, the Bill will help consumer choice when people are buying vehicles second hand. If we publish the statistical information on which cars last longer, we will enable people in that market to make a much better choice. For example, we all know that Morris Minors go on for ever. Such information does not come from MOT testing, but from experience gained over many decades, and it could be made available to consumers at a much earlier stage.

Mr. Miller

My hon. Friend has raised an interesting point about the safety of second-hand vehicles, which is very pertinent to me. My wife suffered whiplash injuries in a crash. Immediately following that, there was a press announcement about the reinstallation of a petrol cap. Had there been a computerised system, she could have got that information far earlier and perhaps avoided the injuries that she sustained.

Mr. Dismore

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because it graphically illustrates the point I am making. Design faults are often found early on, but sometimes they are longer term and the MOT system could be a useful early-warning system for consumers who have bought a particular vehicle or as part of the second-hand market.

I also welcome the Bill because it will enable the inspectorate to monitor garages much more closely. We all agree that most garages do an excellent job when they repair cars and carry out MOT tests, and that they would not be involved in ripping off the consumer in any way, shape or form. Equally, as in every profession, one or two rogues may not test vehicles as they should. Someone may issue an MOT certificate on a dodgy vehicle in return for a back-hander, but the Bill will allow us to monitor statistically the performance of garages. If the same garage issues dodgy MOT certificates time and again, we will be able to clamp down quickly and easily, which is a great consumer benefit.

I am also pleased that we are putting the training of people involved in MOT testing on a statutory basis. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), who is not in his place, had quite a pot at solicitors. Perhaps I may return the compliment by having a pot at teachers, lecturers and instructors—there are good, bad and indifferent ones. Putting the training mechanisms on a statutory basis, including the charging arrangements for them, will result only in an increase in standards.

The Bill will also achieve much better supervision of MOT testing stations. Garage chains were mentioned earlier, and the authorised examiner may not be able to be present at every garage for every test. That is inevitable. Therefore, I am pleased that the Bill provides for nominating supervisors at each MOT testing station to ensure that the tests are carried out effectively and competently. That is an excellent improvement that has been made to the Bill.

We discussed how the Bill will help crime prevention, but many issues that warrant being highlighted were not mentioned. In particular, the Bill will help to remove the incentive to steal and forge MOT certificates. That is one of the problems that often occurs through the dodgy garages that I mentioned earlier—those who, for a back-hander, issue dodgy MOT certificates—which find that blank MOT certificates have disappeared from the garage safe. If, as a result of the Bill, the definitive MOT record is on a database rather than a paper certificate, it will make a great contribution to combating the problem of stolen MOT certificates. It will also mean that we can stop supplying blank MOT certificates and get rid of the whole paper chase.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Dr. Whitehead) mentioned the important benefit of including vehicle mileage on the record. One of the problems is that people rarely keep previous MOT certificates, so a vehicle's long-term history is not available. For example, a company car may cover a vast number of miles in the first year or two, which would take much of the life out of the car. Indeed, it would run it into the ground. It may then be sold on to somebody who uses it very little for two or three years. When it is sold on again, the mileage, averaged out, may look reasonable. However, it is important that the consumer buying that car knows that, in its early years, it had a lot of use, because that may affect the vehicle's life. That is another important protection for consumers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Test also made a valid point about the Bill avoiding the clocking of vehicles. It is important that we make that information available to consumers. I do not want to rehearse our earlier arguments about who can make inquiries, but I hope that this mechanism will enable consumers and those interested in vehicle safety to obtain MOT histories for the purposes that I have described.

Another benefit of the Bill is that of renewing the MOT certificate. When my tax disc comes up for renewal, I know that I must buy a new one because I receive a reminder and can trot down to the post office and fill in the relevant form. I doubt whether I am alone in that, the last time that I went to renew my tax disc at the House of Commons post office, I forgot to take my MOT certificate with me. That was a bit of a nuisance, because I then had to return to renew it on another occasion. If we have automatic renewal through a computer database, we will not need to produce our MOT certificates in order to renew our tax disc, so the risk of having to make two trips to the post office will be avoided.

Moreover, if one receives a reminder, it ensures that one renews the certificate. My hon. Friend the Minister said that, when people have to renew their tax disc, it serves as a reminder that their MOT test may be due at the same time. Although that may be so for people who have an annual tax disc, those who renew periodically during the year may find that their MOT certificate is out of sync with the disc.

Happily, the garage to which I take my car for repair issues its own reminder to me. Obviously, that is of great commercial benefit to the garage—it not only reminds me that my MOT certificate is due for renewal but suggests that I might like to go back to the garage to have the job done. It is an excellent garage and I have no qualms about taking my car there. I suspect, however, that many people forget to renew their MOT certificate and thus commit an offence along the lines that we discussed earlier. The Bill will therefore benefit consumers in that way.

For the reasons that I and my hon. Friends have given, I commend the Bill to the House and congratulate the hon. Member for Basingstoke on making such progress with it.

1.25 pm
Ms Glenda Jackson

I add my voice to those that have already been heard in the Chamber thanking the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) for introducing the Bill. As he is aware, the Government welcome its introduction. I also thank him for his gracious comments about the help afforded to him by my officials.

I should also like to thank hon. Members who have contributed to the debate. As the hon. Member for Basingstoke said, the Second Reading debate was comparatively short. The contributions that we have heard this morning from my hon. Friends the Members for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller), for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne) for Southampton, Test (Dr. Whitehead) for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) for North-West Norfolk (Dr. Turner) and for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) have been fascinating to listen to, because they have been informed and particularly detailed. I should also like to thank hon. Members not only for their good-natured approach to the debate, but, although it was brief, for the way in which the Committee stage was conducted.

I must exclude from that list the contribution of the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Cran), who is the official spokesperson for the Conservative Opposition on this issue. He had the temerity to dub as fatuous amendments tabled by my hon. Friends that sought to improve the Bill and to ensure a reduction in deaths and injuries on our roads. Their amendments were concerned with data protection to safeguard the individual, given the computerisation of information proposed in the Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady knows that I brought the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Cran) to order because a discussion of the amendments takes us away from the motion, which is that the Bill should be read a Third Time.

Ms Jackson

I am grateful for your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and for the fact that we share a view about the contribution of the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness.

I shall deal with the issues that have been raised by my hon. Friends on Third Reading. My hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston was rightly concerned—as I am sure that all hon. Members are—about how we ensure data protection, given the requirements of the Bill, and about individual privacy.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun asked to whom information on the computerised database will be available and what information the database will contain. I trust that I shall reassure him by saying that new section 45(6B) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 covers all details of the tests—not only the results, but where and by whom the vehicle was tested. New section 46(5) allows, by regulation, disclosure of full details under new section 45(6B) to people who can show reasonable cause for wanting such information, such as for an investigation into a car accident. New section 46(6), however, provides bulk disclosure of information to anyone, but that precludes the selling of information on where, and by whom, a vehicle was tested.

My hon. Friend the Member for Test gave us painful and personal details of what had happened to him and his vehicle. He rightly highlighted the fact that a computerised central database will help to ensure that such situations do not arise in the future.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon brought together the central themes of this important debate. He referred to the co-ordination and dissemination of information, which can bring only benefits in the important areas of crime reduction; ensuring that testing and test centres are the best that they can be; and consumer protection. As he most tellingly pointed out, such information can also assist in the better design of motor vehicles. All that is part and parcel of what I regard as one of the central conclusions of today's debate: that the dissemination of information can play a major part in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads. That was the opening theme of the debate, when we discussed new clause 1.

As I have said, the Government welcome the Bill. We believe that computerisation will bring significant benefits to MOT testing. We are proceeding with the modernisation of the existing scheme, but, as I am sure that all hon. Members know, the current legislation would impose constraints that would prevent us from achieving all our objectives. The Bill will ensure that modernisation takes place as cost-effectively as possible, and with the maximum benefits.

One of the Bill's main purposes is to amend provisions in part II of the Road Traffic Act 1988 relating to MOT testing. None of the Bill's provisions will relax or remove any of our existing controls over the scheme; on the contrary, the Bill will preserve and enhance those controls.

The main objective of MOT computerisation is to enable the Secretary of State to establish and maintain a central record of the MOT status of vehicles, and the project will ensure that the Secretary of State has better information. The need for better information has been a recurring theme today, and not only in the context of how tests are carried out. Computerisation will clearly enable testing standards to be controlled more effectively; what the Secretary of State would not be able to do without the Bill is to enable the police to check easily and quickly whether a vehicle has a valid MOT certificate. The Bill will also help to facilitate paperless vehicle relicensing transactions, and will enable information from the proposed MOT database to be used for the benefit of others. For instance, the information could be used to help to meet the cost of introducing computerisation.

As has been pointed out, the Bill provides the potential for us to reduce the amount of crime, and to make it easier for consumers to meet requirements in legislation specifying that vehicles on the road should be properly licensed and roadworthy. It will make better enforcement possible, and may enable vehicles to be relicensed over the telephone. As I have said, we are aiming for paperless vehicle relicensing transactions.

We welcome the provisions enabling information to be made available to prescribed persons in certain cases. Hon. Members were rightly concerned about that issue, but, as I was at pains to point out, it will be for the Secretary of State to define what information may be disseminated to whom and for what amount. The Government have no intention of selling information from the database about the identity of registered keepers of vehicles; indeed, such particulars will never be recorded there. Particulars in database records, such as where and by whom an MOT test was carried out, will not be disclosed except in cases prescribed by regulations. I have responded in detail to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, who was rightly worried about that.

We want to ensure that disclosures of information will be permitted only when the person requesting the information can demonstrate the existence of reasonable cause for requesting it. For example, the regulations would require it to be demonstrated that an inquirer had a legitimate connection with the state of the vehicle involved. That could be achieved by the quoting of the 17-character alpha-numeric identification number that is unique to individual vehicles.

The Bill enables the Government to obtain maximum benefit from a central computer record of the MOT test results of approximately 22 million vehicles, tested every year at 19,000 MOT testing stations. A full regulatory impact assessment has been carried out. It is estimated that the cost of computerising the MOT testing scheme will be approximately £22 million per annum. That cost will be borne initially by the Vehicle Inspectorate at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, but passed on to motorists through an increase in the MOT test fee, amounting, we expect, to no more than around £1.

If anonymised information from the proposed MOT database is sold for commercial benefit, as we hope that it will be, the Vehicle Inspectorate will have a share in the income generated and, in turn, will use that income to help to reduce the extra £1 burden of the test fee, so the Bill will benefit consumers not only by making additional information available to them, but by helping to reduce the cost of obtaining an MOT test.

I am pleased to reiterate that the Government welcome the Bill, which will greatly assist in achieving the maximum benefits from introducing computerisation into the MOT scheme. For all those reasons, and for all the reasons that have been put forward by hon. Members, I commend the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

Back to