§ Mr. Molloy
asked the Minister of Transport if she has completed the check on standards maintained by garages operating the car testing scheme mentioned in the White Paper Road Safety —a Fresh Approach; what were the results; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Castle:
The special random sample check involving some 500 garages has been completed. Only 40 per cent. of the tests were carried out fully satisfactorily while 15 per cent. were completely unsatisfactory.
I am very seriously concerned at these results. It is essential for road safety that all owners should keen their vehicles properly maintained and mechanically safe. When they take them to a garage for testing they must be assured that the job will always be done completely and efficiently to the standards that are clearly laid down. I am therefore taking immediate steps to enforce the standards of the testing scheme.
As from today no new application to join the scheme will be considered for a period of at least one year. This will allow the existing backlog of applications 422W to be cleared and enforcement staff to concentrate on the standards of garages now in the scheme by regular inspection checks and incognito visits. The authorisation of any garage, or individual tester, failing fully to meet responsibilities under the scheme will be withdrawn immediately; applications for reinstatement of a garage's authorisation will not normally be considered until 5 years have elapsed. The minimum requirements for equipment, facilities and staff for garages in the scheme will be raised; garages failing to meet the higher standards must leave the scheme. A garage's responsibilities under the testing scheme will be written into a contract.
These measures have been discussed with the associations representative of the garade trade and have their full support. I want to make it quite clear that I will take the strongest possible action against any garage that fails to do its job properly. I hope they will all co-operate to make the existing scheme a success. But I am also considering alternative plans that I could adopt if further checks should show that garages continue to operate the existing scheme unsatisfactorily.