§ Mr. Parris
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress is being made on the exchange of driving licences within the European Community.337W
§ Mr. David Howell
I shall shortly be making draft regulations to implement part of directive 80/1263 EEC on the introduction of a Community driving licence.
The House debated this directive on 4 November 1980. From 1 January 1983 anyone from an EEC country who comes here to live will be able to exchange his or her driving licence for a British one, provided he or she applies within the first year of residence. The same provisions will of course apply to British people moving to other EEC countries.
The regulations will not affect the present arrangements which enable visitors and new residents from other countries to drive here as ordinary licence holders for up to a year on a foreign licence.
The directive establishes minimum standards for health and driving tests. I believe that these provide a satisfactory basis for the exchange of driving licences. Applicants for British licences will have to meet the same medical standards as British drivers.
We have taken special measures to safeguard standards as far as heavy goods and public service vehicles are concerned. In addition to an appropriate licence, applicants will have to supply proof of recent driving experience on suitable vehicles. This follows the precedent laid down for British licence holders when the hgv licensing system was introduced in 1970.
The directive will be implemented by means of regulations under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. We are today writing to representative organisations giving them an opportunity to comment on the details of implementation. The draft regulations will be subject to affirmative resolution.
The directive's other main requirement is for national licences in a community style format. This will be introduced from 1 January 1986. Although the licence format makes provision for the inclusion of a photograph, this is not a requirement. Since we regard the inclusion of a photograph as incompatible with our concept of lifetime licensing, we shall not be using photographs in the United Kingdom licence.