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Royal Marriages (Freedom of Religion)

Mr. Edward Leigh accordingly presented a Bill to make provision to allow any member of the Royal Family to marry a person of any religion or none: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 8 April, and to be printed [Bill 79].

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Orders of the Day

Road Safety Bill

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 14

Tests: Approved Language Translators

'In the Road Traffic Act 1988, before section 163 insert—
"Requirement for approved translators
162A   Test language translators
(1)   The Secretary of State may by regulations require that, if a person who is not fluent in the English language submits himself for a relevant test and wishes to be accompanied at the test by a translator, he may only be so accompanied if the translator is approved in accordance with regulations under this section in relation to a language in which the person is fluent.

(2)   The regulations may make provision in relation to the approval of persons as translators and may, in particular, include provision—

(a)   in relation to the making of applications for approval,

(b)   for the payment in respect of applications for approval, or in connection with approvals, of fees of a prescribed amount,

(c)   in relation to the period for which an approval is to have effect and withdrawing approval,

(d)   authorising the imposition of conditions on an approval,

(e)   for an appeal to lie to the Transport Tribunal against a refusal of an application for approval, the imposition of conditions on an approval or the withdrawal of approval,

(f)   prescribing circumstances in which an approved translator may not act as such,

(g)   as to the evidencing by persons of their status as approved translators, and

(h)   authorising the Secretary of State to make available (with or without charge) information about approved translators.

(3)   The following are relevant tests—

(a)   tests of competence to drive a motor vehicle prescribed by virtue of section 89(3) of this Act or section 36(5) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988,

(b)   examinations of ability and fitness (or continued ability and fitness) to give driving instruction for which provision is made by virtue of section 132 of this Act, and

(c)   emergency control assessments under section 133A of this Act.".'.—[Mr. Jamieson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

12.42 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Since the Bill was introduced to the House of Commons, we have been considering the legislation covering arrangements for regulating translators at driving tests, and we have concluded that we ought to remedy its deficiencies. In short, we have decided, after careful reflection, that the existing law is not clear enough in this regard.
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The new clause will provide a much improved framework for regulation of translation services at driving theory tests by introducing more robust conditions and better and more transparent checks on those who act as translators. It will also enable us to extend the scope of our current arrangements so as to assist candidates taking their practical driving test. The examination of a person's fitness and ability to give driving instruction and the emergency control assessment taken by disabled driving instructors are also covered.

The powers will enable the Driving Standards Agency to impose conditions on approved translators in respect of their initial and ongoing approval. It will also be able to require approved translators to produce evidence of their approval to theory test invigilators and practical test examiners and charge reasonable fees for administering the approved translator arrangements. Finally, it will be able to make information available about approved translators and publish information about their language specialisms, the geographical area covered, and so on. In addition, there will be a right of appeal to the transport tribunal in respect of the DSA's decision regarding refusal to grant approval, withdrawal of approval, and the imposition of conditions.

These improved arrangements are essentially anti-fraud measures. They will help to prevent unscrupulous persons from becoming translators in an attempt to improperly assist candidates to pass tests of competence to drive that they would otherwise have failed, thereby facilitating identity fraud. They also represent a customer service improvement. Candidates will be able to make use of approved translator services for the practical driving test and the emergency control assessment, and for examinations of fitness and ability to give driving instruction. Such services are currently restricted to the theory test.

I hope that Members will accept the new clause.

12.45 pm

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): We regard this new clause as sensible and necessary, largely for the reasons outlined by the Minister. Indeed, this is perhaps the first and last time that I can say during consideration of this Bill that I wholeheartedly agree with him. As a lawyer, I am aware that the law in this area is unclear, and there may be occasions when an inappropriate person is acting as a translator, and when the temptation to commit fraud could arise. Can the Minister confirm, however, that generally speaking, the fees to be paid to the translator will be passed on to the person taking the driving test, and that where that person lodges an appeal that proves unsuccessful, the costs will follow the event? In other words, will the person appealing have to pay the costs of the appeal if it fails?

Subject to hearing what the Minister has to say on those two points, we support the new clause.

Mr. Jamieson: I am very pleased to hear of the right hon. Gentleman's welcome for this new clause, which will enable the DSA to charge translators for being put on the approved register and ensure that checks such as criminal record checks can be carried out on them. It will also ensure that information on translators is made
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publicly available by, for example, putting it on the website. On the appeals system, the standard transport tribunal arrangements that obtain in many other areas will apply. However, I will examine the question of who would pay in the event of an unsuccessful appeal and write to the right hon. Gentleman on that point. I accept his welcome for this useful little new clause, and I hope that it will become part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 1

Funding of Speed Awareness and Driver Improvement Course

'(1)   The Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 (c. 3) is amended as follows.

(2)   In section 38 (Unified power for Secretary of State to fund speed cameras etc.) after subsection (1)(a) insert—

"(aa)   such educational or training programmes undertaken by that authority as may support the activities in (a),".'. —[Mr. Chope.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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