§ Mr. Andrew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what documentation and tests are to be required after 1992 for a person to be qualified to drive a minibus in the United Kingdom and other European Community countries; and what are the present arrangements.
§ Mr. Atkins
Minibuses with up to 17 seats that are not used for hire or reward may be driven in the United Kingdom by holders of full ordinary licences who are over 21 years of age. Younger drivers are also allowed to drive minibuses in closely defined circumstances. In order to drive these vehicles in other European Community member states, drivers must obtain a certificate of driving experience from the local traffic area office.
Proposals for a second directive on the driving licence, as published by the European Commission, would require new drivers of minibuses to take a second test and meet tougher health standards. The United Kingdom has been pressing for the retention of the present arrangements. Useful progress has been made in direct discussions with Commission officials. Details of the modifications agreed with the Commission were announced in the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on 21 July 1989, Official Report, column 336. There is still a good deal of negotiation ahead before the proposals are finalised. Any changes arising from the directive are unlikely to be in place by 1992.