To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of (a) the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency's contribution to the improvement of road safety and environmental standards and (b) failure rates on checks and tests of (i) heavy goods vehicles, (ii) public service vehicles and (iii) light goods vehicles reported in the Vehicle Inspectorate's Effectiveness Report for 2002–03; and what targets he has set for these checks and tests for 2003–04 to 2005–06.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency's contribution to road safety and environmental standards is made through its range of licensing, testing (including emissions testing), enforcement, education and training services, and through its supervision of MOT testing. Fleet compliance checks are carried out regularly to assess the base-line condition of vehicles and to compare them against our targeted checks. Failure rates at annual test for heavy goods vehicles, public service vehicles and light goods vehicles remain unsatisfactory. Slightly higher fail rates for heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles in 2002–03 over previous years is mainly due to a new item in the test.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency is increasingly targeting bad practice among operators and owners of vehicles through improved knowledge and intelligence systems. The responsibility for test failure rates lies with operators and owners, and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency has not been set specific targets. The Agency has been set effectiveness improvement objectives for its enforcement activities during 2003–04. Enforcement effectiveness is measured by Performance Gain points, and the Agency is to achieve at least a 2 per cent. improvement across all its activities, including for enforcement of HGV and PSV roadworthiness and environmental standards. No objectives have yet been set for enforcement effectiveness in 2004–05 or 2005–06.
Performance Gain is an agreed indicator of the outcome value in road safety compliance terms of each of VOSA's specific enforcement activities and has been operating for several years during which annual performance objectives have been met.