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Driver And Vehicle Licensing Centre

Volume 33: debated on Wednesday 1 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport what improvements he expects to be brought about by the introduction of a new computer system at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre in Swansea.

It is planned to bring the new system into operation over the next three years. It is designed to provide a more rapid service to the public and will enable us to make significant manpower savings.

I am delighted to hear that reply. Is my hon. Friend aware that I have had to write to her Department in Swansea in the past three weeks about two cases of delay in the issuing of driving licences? Will she assure us that during the interim period while the new computer comes into operation steps will be taken to ensure the reduction of the delays that have taken place recently?

I understand that there have been problems in a small minority of cases, about some of which my hon. Friend has written to me. Our current aim is to handle 90 per cent. of transactions within 10 days. When we have an on-line rather than a batch processing system we shall be able to deal with far more inquiries instantaneously. I assure my hon. Friend that we are providing for the continuation of the old system until the new system is fully operational, with the help of private computer consultants.

How many people are now employed at Swansea, particularly in dealing with vehicle excise duty? Are the Government taking steps towards a fundamental reform of the car licensing and VED systems?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea and the local vehicle licensing offices now employ 5,500 people. That is 1,500 fewer posts than when the Government took office, despite a 4 per cent. increase in work load. We are continually reviewing the way in which jobs are carried through to make the service more efficient. The VED system was examined in 1979 by the then Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler), and the Government decided not to abolish vehicle excise duty because of the effect on rural motorists and business users.