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Clause 8

Volume 24: debated on Tuesday 25 May 1982

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Private-Sector Vehicle Testing

3.38 pm

I beg to move amendment No. 17, in page 6, line 19, at end insert—

'(1A) The Secretary of State may not under subsection (1) above authorise any person who is for the time being either—
  • (a) the holder of a goods vehicle operator's licence granted under Part V of the Transport Act 1968; or
  • (b) the holder of a PSV operator's licence granted under Part II of the 1981 Act;
  • to carry on a vehicle testing business; and any authorisation granted to any person under that subsection shall cease if that person subsequently becomes the holder of any such licence.'
    This amendment makes it impossible for vehicle operators to be appointed as approved testing authorities. It fulfils an undertaking given in Committee, where concern was expressed about the possibility of undue commercial pressure if vehicle operators were able to pass their vehicles and fail those of other operators. It became clear during the discussions in Committee that many hon. Members shared the view that no vehicle operators should be able to carry out tests on their own and their competitors' vehicles, with the evident risk of commercial influence that that entails.

    It has always been the Government's view that vehicle operators should not be appointed as testing authorities. We have given assurances to that effect. We agreed, however, to consider whether it would be desirable to make that intention plain in the Bill. That is what the amendment does. The amendment makes it impossible for the Secretary of State to authorise as an improved testing authority any person—that includes a company—who holds an operator's licence either for PSVs or HGVs. The provision will reassure hon. Members and those in the industry who have been concerned that we should never enable a vehicle operator to pass his own vehicle and fail those of his competitors. That possibility is clearly ruled out.

    I am grateful to the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary for tabling the amendment. In Committee we were concerned that the hiving off of vehicle testing centres from the Department of Transport to private enterprise would lead to undue commercial pressures that could damage road safety and public confidence in the testing system. We are glad that the amendment has been tabled as we want all doubt removed. The Opposition welcome amendment No. 17

    Amendment agreed to.