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Volume 939: debated on Friday 18 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on the Government's negotiations with the EEC to exempt school minibuses from the age limitation specified in Regulation 543/69; and if he will make a statement on age limits for driving such vehicles.

The age limit of 21 for driving minibuses with more than eight passenger seats is already in operation—Section 1 of the Road Traffic (Drivers' Ages and Drivers' Hours of Work) Act 1976. Drivers under 21 who were authorised to drive minibuses before 1st January 1976 retain their entitlement for vehicles up to a limit of 14 passengers. The Government have no intention of amending these provisions.Regulation 543/69 deals mainly with the control of drivers' hours. It is due to come into effect next year for journeys within the United Kingdom, but a decision of EEC Council of Ministers at the end of last month allows the United Kingdom Government, after consulting the EEC Commission, to modify the application of the regulation to minibuses. Consultations will be held first with interested bodies in the United Kingdom on the terms of such a modification.