HL Deb 19 November 1987 vol 490 cc404-6WA
Lord Brougham and Vaux

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the purpose of the review of driver testing arrangements and whether they have yet had its findings.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

The aim of the review was to find ways of improving the driver testing service without prejudicing its integrity. My right honourable friend is determined to cut the queues for tests; to reduce the wastage of resources implicit in a failure rate of over 50 per cent; and, to end the situation in which candidates—the customers—cannot get through to booking sections on the telephone.

The report has just been submitted. It proposed a strategy for immediate action to cut waiting times quickly and a package of longer-term measures to improve the standard of candidates coming for test and hence increase the pass rate. Provided these improvements can be delivered, my right honourable friend is inclined to accept the review's general conclusion that the best way forward would be to build on the current system rather than privatise driver testing. He has accordingly asked for an action plan to be formulated as a matter of priority.

The review emphasises that too many candidates take the test too soon and fail. That lengthens the queues for everyone else. The worst 20 per cent. of candidates have virtually no chance of passing. If they delayed their tests until they were ready, queues could be halved in a year. Candidates should seek and follow their instructors' advice about whether they are ready to take the test and instructors should give firm and professional advice even where it may be unwelcome.

The review also discusses ways of providing learner drivers with a better basis on which to choose a good instructor and of encouraging all instructors to bring their performance up to the standard of the best. These are very important aspects. Good teaching produces good drivers. We are keen to move forward in these areas as quickly as possible and I am consulting those concerned with a view to finalising early in the new year a programme for action which might contribute to our general goal of improving driving standards and reducing casualties.

Copies have been placed in the Library.