The three amendments, the first of which is to clause 29 and the others of which are to clause 30, essentially address the same question. Why do the Government wish to change the fee arrangement, and what is their thinking behind that? Amendment No. 69 would, in subsection (1)(4)(a) of clause 29, which introduces the ability for the Secretary of State to charge a fee, take that out and removes the words
''pays such fee (if any) as is specified by the order''.
Amendment No. 68 would remove subsection (1) of clause 30, which would have the effect of returning the legislation to its current state so that
''any licence granted under this subsection shall be granted free of charge''.
Amendment No. 70 is consequential on that, in simply rewording subsection (1).
Under the current regime, having passed our test and paid the necessary fees, we are granted a licence, which the vast majority of us get to keep until the age of 70. A photocard has now been deemed to be a better form of licence, but no change was made to the system of charging. Now there is the possibility that new forms of licence may be introduced at any time in the future, and in any form. We do not know what we might be providing for; the new licence could be a card with a photograph and a chip, and, with the way ID cards are going, might contain DNA and all sorts of other jolly things.
Different Ministers and Secretaries of State could decide on a regular basis that changes should be made to the system, and on each occasion a person around my age, who had happily passed a test some years ago, paid their money and got their licence, would have a new charge imposed on them that had not existed in the past. That may or may not be right, and I want to test the Government's thinking.
During the last short debate, on which I did not intervene, because I knew I had these amendments, the Minister said that we should have the user pays—
It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without the Question being put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock. The Committee consisted of the following Members: