To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if will make a statement on the operation of the vehicle inspectorate.
The inspectorate's annual report for 1986–87 is published today. It provides a useful overall picture of the general condition of Britain's road vehicles. It also sets out the excellent progress made in introducing a more businesslike approach into the inspectorate's work. Unit costs have been reduced significantly and standards of service improved. To enable it to continue to develop this approach and to respond quickly to changes in demand for its fee-earning services, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed that it should be exempted from gross running cost controls as from 1 April 1988. It will be required instead to work within a new system of unit cost and performance targets.The picture is less satisfactory on the state of Britain's vehicles. Twenty per cent. of buses and lorries continue to fail their annual test. For cars and light goods vehicles the figure is 41 per cent. The vehicle inspectorate is working closely with the vehicle user associations to pin point the causes of the high failure rate and to see how best they can be tackled. The Government will continue to take a tough line against those who consistently fail to maintain their vehicles properly.