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Driving Licences

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport why he sent the hon. Member for Twickenham two different replies to Question 38 on Thursday 27th July, one of which read "Because this accords with the law", and the other read "I am advised that the 70th anniversary of a person's date of birth occurs when his 70th year ends and his 71st year begins, that is when Section 78(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1972, as amended by the 1974 Act, provides that most licences should expire. Licences currently issued conform with this provision".

Because the shorter answer prepared for oral delivery was inadvertenly given in written reply. I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for giving him two replies for the price of one.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, in the light of his detailed reply to the hon. Member for Twickenham on 27th July and in view of the fact that anniversary means the repetition of the same date in a different year and that birthday means the anniversary of a birth, whether he now accepts that his Department had acted wrongly in issuing millions of driving licences to expire the day before the 70th birthday of the holder instead of on the actual birthday as prescribed by section 13(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1974.

No. S 13(1) is merely introductory. The law provides for a licence to remain in force for the period ending on the seventieth anniversary of the applicant's date of birth. I am advised it is well established that that means the commencement of the birthday: indeed, section 9 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 establishes that a person attains a particular age at the commencement of the anniversary of his date of birth. I will consider whether any of our documents need clarification on this point. But we are quite consistent in our practice: for instance, we do not make a 16 year-old wait until the day after his birthday before riding his new moped.