HC Deb 27 February 1978 vol 945 cc65-6W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will give the name and title of the official in charge of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea; what his salary is; and whether, in view of the many cases of maladministration, neglect, and actual mistakes made by this department as witnessed by the latest report by the Ombudsman, he will now dismiss this official.

Mr. William Rodgers

I see no case for identifying any official or officials on account of an error made in good faith with the object of helping the public

Mr. David Young

asked the Secretary of State for Transport why it was necessary for the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre to make rebates recently; and what action is contemplated against the officials concerned.

Mr. William Rodgers

On the standard vehicle licence renewal reminder forms last March the centre printed the words "If the rate of tax is changed in the Budget, the new rate must be paid". The intention was to help the public by indicating that applications to relicense made after the Budget would attract duty at any new rate the Budget might have brought in. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration after investigating three complaints concluded that, well-intentioned though they were, the words had misled the complainants into paying more duty than they would have incurred by relicensing before the Budget. The Commissioner therefore recommended that ex gratia payments should be made to the complainants.

In accepting the Commissioner's findings I also took the view that other people would have been misled and that an opportunity should be provided to them to claim similar payments. The ambiguity of the note on the original forms was a mistake which we are now remedying. I do not think that any action against the officials concerned is appropriate on account of an error made in good faith.