As I indicated earlier, schedule 6 to the Road Safety Act 2006 will make significant changes to the way in which trainee driving instructors are regulated. In particular, the current licensing system will be abolished and a new system of exemptions from regulation will be introduced. That is intended to provide for a more flexible system of qualification to be prescribed by the Driving Standards Agency. However, one effect is that it may reduce the registrars ability to regulate trainee instructors, as it does not explicitly envisage exemptions being granted on an individual basis so that the registrar may grant, suspend or remove exemptions from individual applicants wishing to become driving instructors.
The exemptions from registration are to be introduced by regulation. Clause 3 elaborates on the circumstances where such exemptions might apply. It envisages that the registrar might exercise his discretion over who can and who cannot take the benefit of an exemption and that the regulations may include a system for withdrawal of exemptions as well as a system of appeals and compensation in connection with such withdrawals.
The group of amendments enables the registrar to exercise his discretion regarding exemptions from registration in respect of individual and other cases, when provisions in schedule 6 to the 2006 Act are commenced. In particular, they permit the registrar to consider not only class exemptions from the requirement to be registered before giving paid driving instruction but individual applications for exemption, so that the registrar retains complete control over who can give paid instruction once the new regime is commenced. They also enable the registrar to charge a fee in connection with the exemptions, reflecting the extra administrative overhead that will be involved. That permits a fee to be charged in much the same way that there is currently a charge for granting training licences.
I am grateful to the Minister for introducing the group of amendments. He has identified a potential weakness in the Bill, because my original Bill did not include trainees. That is a large number of people who could, potentially, teach for everthey do not have to become fully fledged approved driving instructors and can remain trainees for a very long time, until they take that final test. Therefore, there was a potentially large loophole for people who might want to subvert the system. I am grateful to the Minister for tabling the amendments.
We are caught between the old system of training registration and the new one, which is more of a block exemption. The clause will eventually straddle both systems and allow a proper supervisory arrangement to cover trainees. It also introduces a charge, which was already there under the old system, so there is no change. The Bill allows a charge to be introduced so that we can fund the supervision of the trainees, so that they cannot subvert the system. I am grateful to the Minister for tabling the amendments. I shall close my remarks there.