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Driver And Vehicle Licensing Centre

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will visit the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre.


asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will visit the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre.

My right hon. Friend hopes to visit Swansea. I have myself visited the centre twice.

Is the Under-Secretary aware that the complacent answer that he gave us at the last transport Question Time was considered by some to have been amazing, by others to have been insulting, and by almost everybody to have been unsatisfactory? Is he aware that many of my constituents find a grave discrepancy between his satisfaction and their experience? Will he please ask his right hon. Friend to bear in mind, when he visits the centre, that many people are far less satisfied than he is?

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman says, but I think that it is fair to say that the situation, which once was very unsatisfactory—I concede that readily—has systematically improved over the past nine months or so. The Automobile Association specifically acknowledged this a couple of months ago. So there is objective motorist-oriented evidence that the Swansea centre has continued to improve its performance to the public. However, I accept that it should aim for the highest standards.

Is the Minister aware that the time taken to process vehicle ownership registration changes at the centre is causing considerable difficulties in certain sectors of the motor trade? Will he undertake to look into this as a matter of great urgency, with a view to speeding it up?

The position at present is that registration documents take between eight and nine days, on average, and that 75 per cent. are currently being dealt with within 10 days. I accept that there is concern about this, although from the point of view of the ordinary motorist this aspect is not as time-critical as is his vehicle licence.

Is my hon. Friend aware that if one case goes wrong at Swansea the centre seems to be paralysed completely and cannot untie itself?

The problem is that there is a very large turnover at Swansea and a small percentage of mistakes leads to a large absolute number of mistakes. It is a problem common to computerised bureaucratic systems. As I said before, we are continually trying to improve the situation, and I hope that we are succeeding.

May I remind the Under-Secretary that in its Ninth Report, published a few weeks ago, the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments criticised the Government for the methods that they have adopted to deal with the transfer of cherished number plates at Swansea? What steps are the Government taking to revise the regulations to meet those express criticisms of the Select Committee?

We are looking closely at the regulations and how they are working. We are trying to meet individual cases as they arise and in so far as they are proven to be ones that we can meet. In general, we are being as flexible as we possibly can be.