§ Mr. Wickenden
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the new standards for Ministry of Transport testing stations which came into force on 1 January.
§ Mr. Fowler
The new standards are the final stage in a programme to improve the effectiveness of test garages which was begun in 1975. As from 1 January 1980 all MOT testing stations authorised to test private cars and light goods vehicles have been required to have facilities meeting the new specifications. The most important of these is a roller brake test machine which enables brakes to be tested more consistently and reliably without having to use public roads. Other new conditions include minimum dimensions for premises and specifications for equipment, including optical test 73W equipment for headlights, facilities for members of the public to wait under cover, the provision of adequate parking facilities and the implementation by garages of a system of quality control to ensure that testing is carried out to the standards laid down by my Department.
Testing stations were allowed four and a half years in which to adapt their premises or prepare to withdraw from the testing scheme. There are now about 11,500 testing stations authorised to test private cars, compared with approximately 16,000 immediately before the new requirements came into force. 2,300 garages previously authorised to conduct tests are in the process of re-equipping and another 1,400 are seeking authorisation for the first time. We therefore expect that there will eventually be over 15,000 testing stations in the scheme.
My Department has taken great care to ensure that the implementation of the new requirements will not result in the public having to travel long distances to their nearest testing station and temporary special arrangements have been made for those few areas where there would otherwise have been insufficient testing capacity.
I am confident that motorists will welcome the new standards as a worthwhile contribution to road safety.