§ 2.48 p.m.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government Whether lengthening the validity of a driving licence to three years has affected the cost of renewal; and why the former annual fee of 5s. has been trebled.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, the period of validity of full driving licences was extended by the Road Traffic Act, 1956, from one year to three years in order to reduce the work done by licensing authorities in issuing driving licences to over 10 million drivers. Although the cost of issuing a licence was not affected by this extension of validity, the annual cost of maintaining a record of each person to whom a licence has been granted also remains unchanged. The fee now payable every third year for renewing a licence has to cover the cost of maintaining the licence-holder's record for three years as against one year previously. During the passage of the Road Traffic Act, 1956, through Parliament it was made clear that the extension of the period of validity of full driving licences must not involve any loss of receipts to 1115 the Exchequer. The extension avoids the need for holders of driving licences to apply for a licence every year, and is thereby of practical benefit to them.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether, in those circumstances, the Government, in dealing with the Road Traffic Bill, will consider the position of people who forget to renew their licence? Because if you have to do it every year in January it is an easy thing to remember, but if the licence has a life of three years it is easy to forget whether you are in the second or the third year. Therefore, as the Government are a contributory party to the negligence in that respect, they ought to be willing to mitigate any penalties involved by such an omission.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I do not think there is any greater onus on the Government in that case than there is at present to take responsibility for reminding people to renew their licences; because, so far as I am aware, the normal system of renewal reminders operates just the same.