asked the Secretary of State for Transport what arrangements he intends to make with regard to the licensing of driving instructors; which body or bodies those who give driving instruction will be required to join; and whether he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend intends to seek powers to abolish trainee licensing at the first suitable opportunity. Only those registered in the Department's register of approved driving instructors would then be authorised to give paid instruction. Qualification for inclusion in the register is a question of individual competence tested by examination, not a matter of belonging to a particular body.
Is the Minister aware that there may be plenty of driving instructors but that there are very few ministerial appointments of instructors to take those who wish to pass their test? There is a shortage throughout the country and this is affecting employment, particularly among the young who have to make long journeys to work. What is the Minister doing about that?
I accept that there is a real problem at the moment over the length of time that people have to wait to take their driving test. It is something which gives me great concern. What we are doing about it is, first, trying to redistribute the existing examiners more evenly around the country to sort out the worst problems and to recruit 250 more to cut down the waiting time at the first practical opportunity.
Will my hon. Friend look again at a matter about which I have been in correspondence with him—the amalgamation of the Government scheme with some of the RAC schemes for training and testing, since these not only might fill the gap in waiting for motor-cycle tests but have a very stringent acclimatisation programme, which the State scheme does not?
That is something which has been gone into from time to time. I will certainly look at it again, but we must always proceed so that we do not reduce the standards of our testing procedures.