asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will extend to all authorised examiners running vehicle testing stations who have already had their authorisation withdrawn on a first offence without warning the new modified withdrawal scheme, under which all present and future first offenders are given a written warning first.
I regret that this would not be practicable. There are many cases involved, extending over several years, and there would be great difficulty in ensuring equitable treatment for them all.
There would be great difficulty in making this matter retrospective, and there would also be difficulties in regard to manpower and time spent on these matters in the Department. Most of the firms which have had their authorisations withdrawn have been suspended for a period of five years. That figure relates to the period 1968 to 1971. The bulk of these cases are now returning to the Department and will require a great deal of consideration.
Will my hon. Friend say when it will be possible for firms which lost their authorisations under the old scheme, with some hardship as a result of isolated lapses, to reapply for licences? Does he not agree that many of these firms deserve to be relicensed?