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Driver And Vehicle Licensing Centre

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1977

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21.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is satisfied with the efficiency of the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre; and whether he will make a statement.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is satisfied with the efficiency of the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre; and whether he will make a statement.

There has been a substantial improvement over the past year—though all concerned at the centre would readily admit that there is still room for further improvement.

I thank the Minister for that reply and accept that there has been a considerable improvement, but is he aware that I continue to receive a considerable number of complaints from my constituents about the work of the centre, and that there is clearly room for considerable further improvement?

The hon. Gentleman has raised three cases since he came to the House and in only one was the centre at fault.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he should not brush aside complaints, as they are widespread, repeated, and received by many hon. Members? Is he further aware that he will not satisfy the public criticism of the operation of the centre unless he orders an immediate independent—and I stress "independent"—inquiry into the working of the centre to try to make good these faults?

I am aware of the complaints, because I have to answer them. I am constantly aware in detail and in depth of the sort of problems that have been caused. We take this matter seriously, but, given the volume of work that the centre deals with, the improvement has been quite marked over the last 12 months, and rather than our setting up an inquiry it would be better for the improvement to continue. If it does not, I shall look at the matter again.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree, on reflection, that the whole concept of this centralised Government bureaucracy was a disaster?

The Government of the day believed that the system in operation at that time—a system that was popular—of the local taxation offices handling these matters could not continue because of the increasing number of motor cars and the additional licensing involved. A decision had to be taken on that basis, and whatever the merits of the previous system we cannot go back to it.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been a number of cases of people applying to Swansea for provisional licences and being issued with full driving licences? Can he tell us how many such cases there have been and how many people are now driving on the roads without ever having taken a driving test?

This is a new one on me. I thought that I had seen everything in the way of complaints about the centre. I shall certainly look into this matter if the hon. Gentleman will write to me, or perhaps I can speak to him about it later.