Clause 3

Driving Instruction (Suspension and Exemption Powers) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 17th June 2009.

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Exemptions from prohibitions concerning registration

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I beg to move amendment 18, in clause 3, page 4, line 15, after ‘exercise’, insert ‘(whether in individual cases or otherwise)’.

This amendment would confirm that regulations providing for exemptions from prohibitions concerning registration may give the Registrar a discretion as to whether the exemption should apply in individual cases (or a discretion in relation to persons more generally).

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment 19, in clause 3, page 4, line 26, at end insert—

‘(5) Regulations made by virtue of this section may, in particular, make provision for the payment of fees.’

This amendment would permit fees to be charged in respect of exemptions from prohibitions concerning registration.

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

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 registrar’s 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.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Chair of Parliamentary Campaigns; Shadow Defence Minister

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 ever—they 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.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: 19, in clause 3, page 4, line 26, at end insert—

‘(5) Regulations made by virtue of this section may, in particular, make provision for the payment of fees.’ —(Paul Clark.)

This amendment would permit fees to be charged in respect of exemptions from prohibitions concerning registration.

Clause 3, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 4 to 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.