HC Deb 13 February 1997 vol 290 cc280-1W
Sir John Cope

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are his plans for establishing the Driving Standards Agency as a trading fund. [16140]

Sir George Young

I have today laid an order in draft which, subject to the approval of the House, will establish the Driving Standards Agency as a trading fund from 8 am on 1 April 1997.

Although driving test fees are set at a level to cover DSA's full costs, the agency currently surrenders all fee receipts to the Consolidated Fund and its expenditure is financed from my Department's vote. As a trading fund, the test fee receipts will become DSA's income.

Driving test candidates pay test fees several weeks in advance of taking the driving test. The DSA has estimated that it will be liable to conduct £7 million worth of driving tests from 1 April 1997 for which it will have surrendered test fee receipts to the Consolidated Fund. In order to establish the DSA as a trading fund with sufficient assets to cover its liabilities, some £7 million—equivalent to the fees paid in advance and surrendered to the Consolidated Fund—will be paid to the DSA on 1 April before the trading fund order takes effect.

Parliamentary approval of this payment will be sought in the main estimates for 1997–98 for the Department of Transport vote, class 5, vote 6. Pending that approval, the necessary sum will be met by a repayable advance from the Contingencies Fund.