Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Hanningfield: I accept the Minister's answer. Perhaps the provision should have referred to retesting, which would have enabled us to understand it better.

Clause 26 agreed to.

Clause 27 [Granting of full licence]:

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 118:

"( ) In section 89 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, after subsection (3) there is inserted—
"(3A) Regulations under subsection (3) above shall include a requirement that before a full licence is granted the driver must have received training in, taken and passed a Hazard Perception Test, which shall measure the driver's proficiency at identifying and avoiding hazards.""

The noble Baroness said: I need not delay the Committee with this amendment, as I tabled it a considerable time ago but subsequently had a conversation in the Library with a Peer whose son had just passed his driving test. He told me that his son had had to complete such training, as it is already included in the test. If that is the case, there is no point in this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Davies of Oldham: The noble Baroness's knowledge is quite right, although she arrived at it anecdotally. There was an invitation to Members of this House, together with Members of another place, to present themselves for the hazard perception test. I was rash enough to do so. I would not be confessing to that if I had not had the good fortune to cope with it reasonably well. I assure the noble Baroness that it is very demanding and entirely appropriate. I am sure provision could be made again for noble Lords to avail themselves of this test. If such an opportunity arises, I invite her to participate, but she will have to stand by the results.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
17 Oct 2005 : Column 663

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 119:

"(4) In section 195 of that Act (provisions as to regulations)—
(a) in subsection (3), omit "is exercised" and after "189)" insert "is exercised (otherwise than for the purposes of section 97(1ZA) of this Act)", and
(b) in subsection (4), after "Act" insert ", or for the purposes of section 97(1ZA) of this Act,"."

The noble Lord said: Subsection (2) of Clause 27 enables the Secretary of State by regulations to impose conditions on full driving licences in order to help improve enforcement of road traffic law and road safety. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, in its first report of the current Session, commented that the power in Clause 27(2) seemed to be wide, and recommended, in paragraph 38 of its report, that,

Although the negative resolution-making procedure is applicable for many powers in Part 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, we fully understand the view of the committee, and are eager to comply. We are happy to make this amendment, which ensures that an affirmative order procedure will apply. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 28 [Compulsory surrender of old-form licences]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount Ullswater): The Marshalled List has erred, so we move to Amendment No. 120A.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 120A:

"RTA section 98A(7)Driving licence holder failing to surrender licence and counterpart.Section 6 of this Act."

(3) In Part 1 of Schedule 2 to that Act"

The noble Lord said: The amendment will apply Section 6 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to the offence created by this clause. Clause 28 of the Bill inserts into that Act a new Section 98A, which contains an order-making power that provides for the compulsory surrender of old-form licences. Anyone failing without reasonable excuse to comply with any requirement imposed by the order to surrender a licence and its counterpart will be guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction with a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale; namely, £1,000.
17 Oct 2005 : Column 664

Section 6 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 provides for an extended time limit within which summary proceedings for certain offences may be brought. Under that section, proceedings may be brought within the period of six months of the date the prosecutor becomes aware of sufficient evidence to warrant proceedings, but cannot be brought more than three years after the commission of the offence. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 28, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Hanningfield: I should like to say from the outset that we are deeply suspicious of Clauses 28 and 29. We will discuss the issue of a renewal charge for existing licences, but for now I would like to learn more about why the Government are so keen to remove these licences, what form they will take and the associated costs.

We learn from the Explanatory Notes that not only are the old-style paper licences likely to be replaced but so too are the first generation of photocards, introduced only a few years ago. Under the current regime, having passed our test and paid the necessary fees, we are granted a licence that the vast majority of us get to keep until the age of 70. A photocard has now been deemed to be a better form of licence, but no change has been made to the system of charging. Now there is a possibility that new forms of licence may be introduced some time in the future and in a new form. Can the Minister comment on the reasoning behind the move and say whether this development is European-led? Does a similar scheme operate in other EU countries?

We are particularly interested in the form that the new cards might take. The new licence could be a card with a photograph and a chip. With the way that ID cards are going, it might contain DNA. We would be fascinated to learn how the cards will interact with the proposed ID card scheme. Does the Minister envisage there being a single card containing one's personal identification details and driving details? Exactly what information will the new licence card have on it? What is the likely timescale for the introduction of the scheme?

We are left in little doubt that each driver will be expected to pay the cost of one of the new-style licences. Why should individual drivers have to pay a fee because the state does not now like the form of licence that was issued previously? In essence, that is what the clause is about. If a member of the public has a valid permit—an old-style driving licence—and the Government, for whatever reason, want to take it away from him and issue a new one, the cost of doing so should be met out of general taxation, not by the member of the public concerned.

In getting rid of the old-style licence, the Government also want to substitute it with an interim arrangement. The clause does not make that proposal clear, other than saying that we will get a piece of plastic and a piece of paper. The Government
17 Oct 2005 : Column 665
acknowledge that that is not satisfactory and that the document will have to be substituted again, presumably at a cost to the motorist once more. Furthermore, knowing how the Government bungle any IT programme—it is almost impossible to get any IT programme to work—I imagine that it will be years before the new version is available.

I would be interested to learn from the Minister how much each of us will be expected to pay to acquire one of the new licences. Given the strength of feeling on the issue, the Government may have difficulties getting the clause through Committee, unless they can give an assurance that the cost of acquiring one of the licences will not be another tax on the over-taxed motorist.

Lord Bradshaw: I support most of what the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, said. This is possibly a sort of stalking horse for something that goes much further. I know that my colleagues, if they were present, would agree that they will have a lot to say about it, should such an extension—if that is the right word—be proposed.

I am not as concerned as the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, about a tax on the motorist, but I am concerned about the Government proposing that we should have a form of licence—whatever form—for which we will pay what will possibly be a large sum. I have one of the old licences, which is perfectly good, as far as I can see. If I have to face getting an interim licence and then another replacement, how much money will I be asked to pay? What information is to be included on the new licence? The Minister's answer will be studied closely in Hansard by myself and by other people.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page