Schedule 4 - Driving instruction

Road Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 1st February 2005.

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Amendments made: No. 32, in schedule 4, page 88, line 24, leave out '125A(3)' and insert '125A(7)'.

No. 33, in schedule 4, page 88, line 26, leave out '125ZA(7)' and insert '125ZA(3)'.—[Mr. Jamieson.]

Question proposed, That this schedule be the Fourth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland)

I am perfectly content with what is being proposed here, but I should be grateful if the Minister answered one question and perhaps put something on the record.

As Ministers know, I had considerable correspondence from advanced driving instructors earlier this year, which I think all worked out happily. However, one thing that I learnt from that   correspondence was the slight concern about what paid instruction is and, in particular, the allegation made at that time by a number of ADIs that unscrupulous people who were not registered were giving instruction to people in cars, and being paid for it. They were getting round the law by setting the transaction as the hire of the vehicle and giving the instruction for free. One or two ADIs said that that was a common way for rogue operators to get away with it. Will the Minister help me as to whether, first, that loophole exists? Are such people in contravention of the law as it stands? Secondly, if it is a loophole, is it closed by the Bill? Thirdly, if it is not being closed, will the Government consider closing it at a future date?

Photo of Charlotte Atkins Charlotte Atkins Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I do not believe that that loophole exists, although I am sure that any number of unscrupulous people will try to create a loophole. As far as I am aware, the Bill does not close that loophole that does not exist.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

Will the Minister explain how the process will be introduced? At the moment, driving instruction for heavy goods vehicle drivers, bus drivers and the like is unregulated. If, in the future, all the people who can carry out paid instruction have to be subject to the conditions of the schedule, how will we ensure that they have passed the necessary exams and got the qualifications required under the regulations? What is the time scale for that procedure? What is likely to be the cost of undergoing the tests that will be a precursor to obtaining registration? When will a clear regulatory impact assessment with proper costs be produced so that we can assess the implications and the extent to which the measure is an additional burden on business?

Photo of Charlotte Atkins Charlotte Atkins Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I do not have the details to hand on all those questions. I am not sure whether anyone has any help on that. Clearly, it will be introduced over time. I will write to the hon. Gentleman on the issue.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

I do not want to be unfair to the Minister, but she has had much more notice than we have about the contents of schedule 4. Before deciding how to vote on a schedule, it is reasonable to ask when it is proposed that it be brought in, what the implications are and so on. I do not think that any of the questions that I have put to the Minister are unreasonable and I do not think that she thinks that they are unreasonable.

It would be appropriate for the Committee to adjourn so that the Minister can get some instruction on the issue. When will we be able to have a debate, and get answers to those questions, if not during a stand part debate? The situation seems to me unsatisfactory. I hope that the Minister now has some more briefing that she will be able to use to inform her response so that we are all a bit wiser about what we are being asked to vote for.

Photo of Charlotte Atkins Charlotte Atkins Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I do not have a note on the time scale. Clearly the Secretary of State will require professional instructors to undertake training, because that is completely absent from the present scheme.   Training instructors will have to ensure that they maintain and update their knowledge and skills. I do not have a note on when that is likely to take place. We will ensure that we have a full note before the Committee next meets.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

With those remarks, the Minister has pretty much answered the point that I was going to raise. I was going to ask her to undertake to write to all members of the Committee before Report on that point.

Photo of Charlotte Atkins Charlotte Atkins Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I should be happy to do that.

Question put, That this schedule, as amended, be the Fourth schedule to the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 10, Noes 4.

Division number 13 Nimrod Review — Statement — Schedule 4 - Driving instruction

Aye: 10 MPs

No: 4 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.