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Driving Test: Revision

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Following extensive consultation, we have decided to make important changes to the practical driving test, its length, content and the way it is marked.

From spring 1999, candidates will be required to demonstrate their skills in a broader range of road and traffic conditions. Tests will have about 10 minutes more general driving. Test routes will include more higher speed dual carriageways and rural roads. The

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emergency stop exercise will be carried out at random in about one-third of all car tests rather than all of them. Candidates who commit large numbers of less serious driving faults will fail their test. The threshold will initially be set at 15 faults. The revised test will set higher standards for candidates' driving and will check they are prepared for the pressure of driving in today's road and traffic conditions.

The package also includes measures to raise training standards. We plan to introduce a voluntary log book scheme at the same time as the test is amended to aid candidates and their instructors to gauge progress towards test standard. Candidates will also be given more detailed written feedback about their performance on test by the examiner. This will advise unsuccessful candidates about the reasons they failed and provide those who passed with guidance about aspects of their driving which could still be improved.

The implementation date for these changes will be announced shortly. The longer test and the revised marking arrangements will be introduced for the motorcycle test, and the emergency stop exercise will be retained in all those tests. The revised marking arrangements will also be introduced for lorry and bus driver tests. Training logbooks for these sectors will be developed in consultation with the representative bodies.

Regional Eurostar Services: Review

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received the review into the feasibility of regional Eurostar services.[HL241]

Lord Whitty: The consortium presented its report Review of Regional Eurostar Services to my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister on 13 November and a copy has been placed in the Library. The Government have noted the conclusions of the report and will be commissioning a thorough, independent review of it and of the alternative proposals put forward by the Virgin Group. The Government will also be working with the parties to seek to ensure that the regions have access to convenient, effective Channel Tunnel services.

Channel Tunnel to Glasgow: Railtrack Submission

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the submission document handed by Railtrack to Dr. John Reid, Minister for Transport, in mid-November on the Channel Tunnel to Glasgow piggyback gauge upgrade project.[HL129]

Lord Whitty: No. The presentation material used by Railtrack at its meeting with the Minister for Transport constitutes information supplied to Ministers in confidence. It also contains commercially confidential information.

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