§ Mr. Gregory
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the vehicle inspectorate annual report and accounts for 1987–88 are to be published; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
The annual report and accounts are published today. They provide a useful overall picture212W of the general condition of Britain's road vehicles. They record the vehicle inspectorate's continuing progress towards a business-like basis for carrying out their essential duties of annual testing, and spot-checks of the vehicle fleet. The inspectorate has now become an executive agency.
Well-maintained road vehicles are essential to road safety. We welcome the slight improvement in the annual MOT test performance of cars and light goods vehicles. It cannot be regarded as acceptable that a third of the vehicles presented for test fail to meet basic safety requirements.
We continue to be concerned at the poor condition of many heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles. The number of spot checks of lorries and buses was increased by a third and a tenth of the goods vehicles fleet examined. In the April special survey of public service vehicles carried out after the period covered by this report, there was a slight improvement compared with six months earlier. The vehicle inspectorate are targeting their efforts on operators with poor records and seeking to help promote good maintenance practice.
The Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association and the Bus and Coach Council have been asked for their proposals to secure higher standards throughout their industries.
We shall also be exploring with operators and manufacturers the reasons for the unsatisfactory trend in trailer test failure rates and to identify any general issues this raises.
It will continue to be the Government's policy to take stringent enforcement action against operators who fail to maintain vehicles adequately.