Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Third Report


Memorandum by the Department of Transport


The Committee has asked for a memorandum on the following point:

  Section 129(I) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (licence to gain experience in giving instruction) as amended, reads (so far as material):

    "A licence is granted . . . to acquire practical experience in giving instruction in driving motor cars with a view to undergoing either - "

    (a)   such part of the examination referred to in section 125(3)(a); or

    (b)   such part of any examination prescribed for the purposes of section 125A(6),

    as consists of a practical test of ability and fitness to instruct."

  Given that the power to prescribe is contained in section 125A(6) rather than in section 129(1)(b), ought not the recital of powers and new regulation 9A (inserted by regulation 3) to have referred to the former provision instead of the latter?

  A person wishing to become registered as an approved driving instructor ("ADI") must pass an examination mentioned, according to whether he is able-bodied or disabled, in either section 125(3)(a) or section 125A(6)(a) of the Act. The examination is in three parts, each part being described in general terms in the Act itself but the precise content being prescribed, for the purposes of those two sections, by virtue of regulations 2(1), 4, 5 and 6 of S.I. 1989/2057, the relevant amendment being by S.I. 1996/1983.

  Section 129 concerns licences which may be granted to trainee instructors who wish to become ADIs and need to pass the final part of the prescribed examination, the practical test of ability and fitness to instruct ("the instructional ability test"). However, paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) provide, respectively, for able-bodied and disabled instructors using different language.

  Paragraph (a) clearly states that the licence is to be granted to enable the trainee to practise for the instructional ability test as a whole (so it follows that he need not therefore have passed any part of it before being eligible to apply for a licence). At the time the regulations were made, it was felt that paragraph (b) might be interpreted as referring to either (i) that part of the examination as consists of the whole of the instructional ability test or (ii) such part of the instructional ability test as is specifically prescribed. Consequently, as a precaution it was decided to prescribe the whole of the instructional ability test for the purpose of section 129(1) alone using an implied power in subsection (1)(b).

  On reflection, however, we believe that the wording of the enactment does not justify such subtlety of interpretation and the two paragraphs mean the same thing. Regulation 9A is therefore redundant and will be revoked at the next convenient opportunity.

  Since the content of the instructional ability test had already been prescribed for the purposes of section 125A(6), it was not thought necessary to mention this provision in the powers or in regulation 9A.

11th June 1997

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