§ Mr. Norris
I am delighted that we have now settled the dispute in a way which is satisfactory to both sides. It has been agreed that direct services between the United Kingdom and Poland can resume from 13 March. The agreement creates enhanced opportunities for the airlines.648W
§ Mr. Key
Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Driving Standards Agency under its chief executive, Dr. S. J. Ford. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Dr. S. J. Ford to Mr. Jim Cousins, dated 14 March 1994:
DRIVING STANDARDS AGENCY
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to the questions you have raised about certain of DSA's operations.
You asked about DSA staffing levels both at 1 April 1993 and currently, and how many of these staff would be affected by the market testing of booking and finance functions.
The Agency currently employs 1,829 full time equivalent staff, this compares with a total of 1,810 at 1 April 1993. These staff are located across GB at the Agency's headquarters in Nottingham, 10 regional offices and a network of nearly 500 test centres. The staff who are affected, directly or indirectly, by the market test are those identified in the attached schedule. (The figures quoted are for December 1993, but there has been no change since then.)
PQ 1577/93/94 224
You also asked whether a review of Driving Standards Agency locations is being undertaken. The Driving Standards Agency has a continuing responsibility to deliver its service in the most cost-effective way. In this context, I have a responsibility to keep the number, status and distribution of its operating locations under constant review.
I recently wrote to Members of Parliament with a constituency about the planned closure of 22 of DSA's 486 driving test centres. No further closures are planned, although the Agency must continue to review its network to meet business and demographic changes.
The principal activity of its ten regional offices is booking driving tests. This operation is currently the subject of a market testing exercise. It is not possible at this stage to anticipate the result of the market test, but a possible outcome could be a change in the number and location of the offices required to deliver the service.
It will, for instance, allow British Airways to phase in increased services over the next 12 months. This is good not only for the airlines: travellers will benefit, too, from greater choice.