House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Road Safety Bill [HL] - continued          House of Commons

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Driving standards

Clause 36: Driving tests

118.     This clause amends sections 89 (driving tests) and 91 (repayment of test fees) of the RTA.

119.     Subsection (2) amends section 89(3)(regulations about nature of tests) so as to allow the Secretary of State to provide, by regulations, for more flexible arrangements for the booking, cancellation and rearrangement of test appointments. It also allows the Secretary of State, again by regulations, to require the driving test candidate to surrender his licence to the examiner in prescribed circumstances (for example, if it does not pass the necessary security checks).

120.     Subsection (3) amends section 89(4) (provision that may be included in regulations) so as to enable the Secretary of State, by regulation, to require inspection and certification of prescribed test vehicles. (An inspection and certification process is needed to evidence compliance with the weight requirements for large goods vehicles and large trailers used for driving tests set out in Commission Directive 2000/56/EC). Subsection (3) also reformulates the fees provision contained in section 89(4)(b) so as to enable the Secretary of State, by regulation, to charge a reasonable fee for or in connection with the test (for example, the review of theory test results) and for any inspection of a vehicle which may be required by regulations.

121.     Subsection (4) amends section 89(5) (driving tests in parts) by omitting paragraph (b), the contents of which are now dealt with in new subsection (5ZA).

122.     Subsection (5) inserts new subsection (5ZA) into section 89. This provides that regulation-making provisions in section 89(3)(b) may permit the Secretary of State to supply certificates evidencing the results of driving tests to persons authorised to conduct such tests and to charge reasonable fees in respect of the exercise of any functions conferred or imposed on the Secretary of State by regulations made under section 89(3)(b).

123.     Subsection (6) amends section 91 so as to provide for partial refunds of fees for driving tests.

Clause 37: Disqualification until test is passed

124.     This clause amends section 36 of the RTOA (duty of court to order disqualification until test is passed) by substituting a new version of the definition of "appropriate driving test". The new definition will enable the Secretary of State to prescribe by regulations when the appropriate driving test is an extended test. The clause also amends section 36 so as to require the Secretary of State to consult with such representative organisations as he thinks fit before making an order under section 36(3). It also amends section 173(2) of the RTA (forgery of documents etc.) to include reference to documents produced as evidence of the passing of a test for the purposes of section 36 of the RTOA.

Clause 38: Granting of full licence

125.     Subsection (1) of this clause amends section 89(1) of the RTA (licence not to be granted unless conditions satisfied) so as to allow the Secretary of State to prescribe the period within which, or time at which, a person applying for a licence must have passed the relevant driving test.

126.     Subsection (2) of this clause inserts a new subsection (1ZA) into section 97 of the RTA (grant of licences). The new subsection permits the Secretary of State, by regulations, to grant a licence subject to prescribed conditions that are effective for a prescribed period or until the happening of a prescribed event.

127.     Subsection (3) of this clause extends section 98(1)(c) of the RTA (provisional licence to specify conditions subject to which it is granted) so as to enable the Secretary of State to specify any conditions subject to which full licences are granted.

128.     The power to impose conditions on licences would be used, for example, in relation to a driver who had previously been disqualified from driving for a drink driving offence, but had agreed to a court order allowing him to participate in an alcohol ignition interlock programme (as provided for by Clause 14). The condition would require the driver to drive only in accordance with the alcohol ignition interlock programme.

Clause 39: Driver training

129.     Section 99ZC of the RTA (Driver training courses: supplementary) is a regulation-making power. Subsection (2) of this clause amends paragraphs (b) and (c) of section 99ZC(1) so as to include express provision regarding those persons giving instruction on compulsory driver training courses. Subsection (3) will enable the Secretary of State, by regulations, to make available information about persons providing, or giving instruction on, driver training courses.

130.     Subsection (4) substitutes a new paragraph (ff) of section 173(2) of the RTA (forgery of documents etc.) so that it applies to a document evidencing the successful completion of a compulsory driver training course. Subsection (5) amends section 174(1) of the RTA (false statements) so that a person who knowingly makes a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a document evidencing the successful completion of a compulsory driver training course is guilty of an offence.

Clause 40: Driving instruction

131.     Clause 40 introduces Schedule 5 which amends the law relating to paid driving instruction.

Schedule 5

132.     Paid instruction in the driving of motor cars is regulated by Part 5 of the RTA ("motor car" being defined in section 141A, a provision which is replaced by a new provision in the Bill). Schedule 5 amends the provisions of that Part in a number of ways, by substituting new provisions for existing ones, inserting new sections and amending existing provisions. The changes are set out in more detail below.

133.     Paragraph 2 substitutes new provisions for section 123 as follows:

New section 123: Requirement of registration

134.     Subsection (1) provides that driving instructors have to be registered if they give paid instruction of any prescribed description. This enables the existing provision regarding paid driving instruction in the driving of motor cars to be extended, by regulation, to other motor vehicle types in addition to motor cars, for example, driving instruction in respect of lorries, buses and motorcycles. The subsection furthermore extends the current registration requirement by requiring not only those persons who give paid instruction but also those who carry on a business of providing paid driving instruction of a prescribed description (such as franchise operations), to be registered. "Driving instruction" is accordingly given a wider meaning by subsection (3) and subsections (5) and (6) make provision about what "paid instruction" means.

135.     Subsection (2) sets out the requirement for all persons giving paid driving instruction or carrying on business in the provision of paid driving instruction to display evidence of their registration as required by regulation e.g. in a classroom.

136.     Subsection (4) provides that regulations prescribing a description of driving instruction may describe it by reference to the class of motor vehicle (for example, bus or lorry), the person to whom the instruction is given (for example, provisional or full licence holder) and the nature of the instruction or where and how it is given (for example, on or off-road). Currently only instruction given in a motor car is caught by the provisions of Part 5 of the RTA.

New section 123A: paid driving instruction - offences

137.     Subsection (1) makes it an offence to give driving instruction in contravention of section 123 and also provides that employers and franchisors commit an offence where driving instruction is given in contravention of section 123 by their employees or franchisees. Subsection (3) provides a defence for persons able to prove that they did not know and had no reasonable cause to believe that they were not registered or, in the case of employers and franchisors, that the person giving instruction was not registered. Subsection (2) makes it an offence to carry on business in the provision of driving instruction in contravention of section 123.

138.     Subsection (4) makes it an offence to contravene section 123(2) of the RTA (to provide paid driving instruction or carry on business in the provision of paid driving instruction without meeting the requirements regarding the display of evidence of registration).

139.     Paragraph 3 substitutes a new section 124 (Exemption from prohibitions imposed by section 123) making provision for exemptions from the requirement of registration.

140.     Paragraph 4 substitutes new provisions for section 125 (register of approved instructors) enabling the Secretary of State, by regulation, to establish and maintain a register for the purposes of Part 5 of the RTA.

141.     Paragraph 5 inserts a new section 125ZA (conditions of registration) as follows.

142.     Subsection (1) provides that the Registrar must register a person who applies to be registered in respect of a description of driving instruction if he satisfies the Registrar that conditions prescribed under the subsection (for example, conditions requiring the persons to have passed certain examinations) are fulfilled.

143.     Subsection (3) provides that a person may be registered subject to fulfilling conditions prescribed under the subsection for so long as he continues to be registered and subsection (7) provides that regulations may include provision to exempt persons from any condition in prescribed circumstances.

144.     Paragraph 6 amends section 125A (registration of disabled persons). Subsections (2) to (5) of section 125 and section 125ZA of the RTA do not apply to disabled instructors and these amendments to section 125A ensure that the provisions relating to the registration of disabled persons are in line with the amendments made by new section 125 (register) and new section 125ZA (conditions of registration).

145.     Paragraph 7 amends section 125B (provisions supplementary to section 125A). It provides that regulations may make provision for prescribed persons to be exempt from the holding of a current emergency control certificate (as in existing section 125B(3)).

146.     Paragraph 8 substitutes a new section 126 (duration of registration). Where a person whose registration has been terminated applies under section 125 of the RTA to be registered again he is required to show again that he fulfils such of the conditions prescribed under section 125ZA(1) as may be prescribed or, if a registered disabled instructor, such of the conditions prescribed under 125A(5) as may be prescribed.

147.     Paragraph 9 amends section 127 (extension of duration of registration), substituting new subsections (1) to (4). It provides that the continued registration of a person by virtue of an extension under this section may be made subject to the conditions mentioned in section 125A in the case of a registered disabled instructor and in any other case the conditions mentioned in section 125ZA.

148.     Paragraph 10 substitutes new provisions for the current section 128 (removal of names from the register):

149.     New section 128 (termination of registration by Registrar) sets out the Registrar's powers to terminate a person's registration if he is satisfied that any relevant prescribed condition has not been complied with. (A "relevant prescribed condition" means, in the case of a registered disabled instructor, a condition prescribed under section 125A(7) RTA and, in any other case, a condition prescribed under section 125ZA(3) RTA.) There are provisions as to the giving of notice to the person concerned and a requirement that the Registrar must take into account any representations made by that person before exercising his powers.

150.     Paragraph 11 inserts a new section 128A (power to give direction as to further applications) into Part 5. This empowers the Registrar to impose a rehabilitation period (i.e. a period during which no further application for registration will be considered) thereby preventing persons whose registration has been terminated from making futile applications for re-registration or an extension of an existing registration.

151.     Paragraphs 12 and 14. Paragraph 12 removes sections 129 and 130 (licences for giving instruction so as to obtain practical experience) from Part 5 of the RTA. Under the current law, a person may obtain a licence to give instruction prior to applying for full registration. Such licences last for 6 months subject to a limited right of renewal. This system has proved unsatisfactory as a means of training driving instructors. Instead regulations under section 124 will make provision for persons training to be driving instructors to be exempt from the requirements to be registered. There are also to be new arrangements as to examinations and training.

152.     These are contained in paragraph 14 which makes major changes to the training and examination systems. It replaces the current sections 132 (examinations) and 133 (review of examinations ) of the RTA and inserts a new section 133ZA (training), to make the system more flexible.

153.     New section 132 (examinations) contains revised powers enabling the Secretary of State to make regulations with respect to:

  • the nature of, and administrative arrangements for, examinations of fitness and ability to give driving instruction,

  • persons who may conduct them

  • evidence of the results of examinations, and

  • the making available of information about examination results.

154.     New section 133 (review of examinations) provides for a person to apply to a Magistrates Court (or in Scotland the sheriff) to determine whether a relevant instructor examination or part of such examination was properly conducted.

New section 133ZA (training)

155.     Subsections (1), (2), (4) and (5) enable the Secretary of State, by regulations:

  • to make provision about instructors' training courses, persons providing the courses, and those giving instruction as part of that training,

  • to require a person to successfully complete training in accordance with the regulations before being permitted to take any part of an examination, to become registered or to have his registration extended,

  • to provide for the setting of maximum charges for persons undergoing such training, and

  • to make available information about persons providing training and those giving instruction as part of that training.

156.     Subsection (3) provides for exemptions to the general requirements and subsection (6) allows the Secretary of State to charge reasonable fees in respect of the exercise of any function conferred or imposed on him by the regulations.

157.     It will be possible under these provisions for the Secretary of State to control better the giving of paid instruction by requiring persons giving it to undergo training.

158.     Paragraph 13 makes a number of amendments to section 131 (appeals), in particular a provision for appeal to the Transport Tribunal where the Registrar has imposed a rehabilitation period.

159.     Paragraph 19 substitutes a new section 134 (power to alter registration period). It enables the Secretary of State, by regulations, to make changes in the registration period, allowing for greater flexibility and to make changes as to the maximum rehabilitation period that may be imposed.

160.     Paragraph 20 substitutes a new section 135 (evidence of registration). This contains a regulation-making power regarding those items or titles that may be issued or used as evidence of a person's registration. It makes it an offence for a non-registered person to display such items or use such titles. It is also an offence for a person carrying on business in the provision of driving instruction to use such titles in relation to employees or franchisees who are not registered or to issue misleading advertisements or invitations as to the extent to which employees or franchisees are registered.

161.     Paragraph 25 substitutes new interpretation provisions for Part 5 of the RTA as follows:

New section 141A (interpretation)

162.     Subsection (1) describes the ways in which persons may carry on the business of providing driving instruction. Subsections (2) and (3) define what is meant by a "driving instruction franchise", "franchisor" and "franchisee", in relation to driving instruction businesses.

163.     Subsections (4) and (5) make incidental provision.

164.     Paragraphs 15 to 18, 21 to 24 and 26 to 31 make minor and consequential amendments.

Clause 41: Tests: approved assistants

165.      This clause inserts new section 162A (approved test assistants) into the RTA. This gives the Secretary of State power to provide for a statutory scheme regulating the use of persons who may assist test candidates that have difficulty in hearing, understanding or responding to instructions or questions.

166.     Subsection (1) enables regulations to be made permitting any person wishing to be accompanied at a relevant test by another person (a "test assistant") if he submits himself for the relevant test in any circumstances in which the Secretary of State considers it appropriate and if the test assistant is approved in accordance with regulations made under this section to accompany people at relevant tests in such circumstances.

167.     Subsection (2) sets out examples of the circumstances in which the Secretary of State considers it appropriate that a person should be entitled to be accompanied by a test assistant at a relevant test.

168.     Subsection (3) provides that the regulations may include, in particular, provision with respect to the administrative arrangements for the approval of test assistants, the conditions that may be imposed with respect to their appointment and continued approval, an appeals procedure, the circumstances in which a test assistant may not act as such, the evidencing by persons of their status as approved test assistants and the publication of information about approved test assistants. The subsection also provides that the regulations may provide for the charging of fees in respect of applications for approval, or of approvals, (or both) of fees of such amounts as are prescribed.

169.     Subsection (4) provides that the regulations may make different provision in relation to different cases.

170.     The relevant tests (specified in subsection (5)) are the theory and practical parts of driving tests (including those taken in order to discharge disqualification until test is passed), the examination of fitness and ability to give driving instruction and the emergency control assessment taken by prospective disabled instructors.

Regulation of registration plate suppliers

Clause 42: Enforcement authorities, Clause 43: Registration plates, and Clause 44: Extension to Scotland and Northern Ireland

171.     These clauses concern the regulation of number plate suppliers. The controls affecting such businesses, which are in Part 2 of the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 ("the 2001 Act"), already apply in England and Wales and are now being extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland. In essence the controls consist of suppliers having to register with DVLA (upon payment of a fee) and requirements as to sale of number plates, record keeping and submission to inspection. Suppliers can be prosecuted if they fail to meet these requirements.

172.     Clause 42 amends the 2001 Act to enhance the role of the Secretary of State in the enforcement process by allowing him to authorise persons to inspect the premises of number plate suppliers and to prosecute offenders (save in Scotland where that remains the province of the Procurator Fiscal). It also allows those trading standards officers who work for those county councils in England where there remains a two-tier structure of local government to be able to take enforcement action.

173.     Clause 43 amends the 2001 Act to make it an offence to supply a plate bearing a vehicle registration mark that does not comply with regulations concerning the manner in which registration numbers must be displayed. There is a power to make regulations prescribing circumstances in which the offence would not apply.

174.     Clause 44 extends the controls on number plate suppliers to Scotland and Northern Ireland and amends the 2001 Act in consequence.

175.     The intention of the Government is that clauses 42 and 43 will be brought into force before clause 44 and hence, upon the commencement of the latter, Part 2 of the 2001 Act as amended by the provisions in clauses 42 and 43 will extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Clause 45: Particulars to be included in vehicles register

176.     This clause amends VERA to allow the particulars to be included in the register of vehicles held by the DVLA to be prescribed by regulations and such particulars may relate to the vehicle itself or its keeper. The provision of these particulars can be required of a person before being issued with a vehicle licence. These particulars can also be required of a vehicle keeper (not just of a buyer or seller as currently) and the providing of these particulars may be required at any time. The issue of a registration document may be refused if these particulars are not provided.

177.     The present intention is to make regulations listing the information (relating both to the vehicle and its keeper) required for the DVLA vehicles register and this will include the particulars currently held. This information will also include the odometer reading (recorded mileage) of the vehicle where it is fitted with such a device.

Clause 46: Records of goods vehicle examinations

178.     This clause amends the RTA to replicate in respect of Goods Vehicles, provision which already exists for other motor vehicles:-

  • to place the Secretary of State under a duty to maintain records in relation to the testing of goods vehicles, and

  • to provide that such records may be used to check the accuracy of, amend or supplement, records maintained by the Secretary of State for the purposes of his functions under VERA (and vice versa).

179.     In addition, VERA is amended to provide that goods vehicle testing records may be used to check the accuracy of, amend or supplement, information obtained in connection with vehicle identity check examinations (and vice versa). It replicates provision which already exists for other motor vehicles.

Clause 47: Disclosure to foreign authorities of licensing and registration information

180.     This clause provides statutory authority for the relevant agencies - the DVLA in, Great Britain, and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland ("DVLNI"), in Northern Ireland - to disclose certain data to their foreign counterparts. The relevant data held by DVLA and DVLNI is that concerning driving licences and the registration of vehicles held in any form for the purposes of Part 3 or 4 of the RTA, or Part 2 of the VERA, or Part 2 or Articles 70 to 79 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

181.     This statutory authority will enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Treaty on European Vehicle and Driving Licence Information System (EUCARIS) which was signed by the UK, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on 29th June 2000. (The Treaty is designed to facilitate the exchange between the central registrars of the Parties of information on the subject of driving and vehicle registration).

Miscellaneous traffic provisions

Clause 48: Trunk Road picnic areas

182.     This clause amends section 112 of the Highways Act 1980 to enable the Secretary of State to provide picnic sites on land adjoining, or in the vicinity of motorways, to enter into arrangements with a council for the provision of facilities at such sites and to provide public sanitary conveniences on land adjoining the motorway. Currently, the power to provide picnic sites and conveniences is limited to trunk roads that are not motorways.

183.     The Secretary of State also has an existing power to manage trunk road picnic sites. That power is extended to the new picnic sites adjoining motorways, and will be strengthened by allowing the enforcement of waiting restrictions at all picnic sites (i.e. those on motorways and ordinary trunk roads) by removing vehicles and recovering the costs of doing so.

184.     The provisions apply to England and Wales. The Secretary of State's functions regarding motorways and other trunk roads, including the provision of picnic areas, are devolved matters exercisable in Wales by the National Assembly for Wales.

Clause 49: Development potentially affecting traffic over level crossings

185.     This clause imposes a requirement on the Secretary of State to exercise order making powers in relation to the consultation requirements for certain kinds of development. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 makes provision for the Secretary of State to make development orders by statutory instrument. The current consultation requirements of relevance to this clause are set out in paragraph (e) of the Table to article 10 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995.

186.     This clause requires the Secretary of State to make provision by a development order to provide that a local planning authority consult before granting planning permission. The scope of the obligation imposed by the order would be required to be in conformity with the circumstances set out in the clause.

187.     Those circumstances are that a consultation is required where a proposed development is likely to result in a material change in the volume or character of traffic on the highway, or may require changes to a level crossing's protective arrangements. The requirement would apply where a level crossing is within 15 miles of a railway level crossing. The consultees are the Secretary of State, the rail safety authority and the relevant network operator.

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Prepared: 12 January 2006