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Driving Tests

Volume 408: debated on Friday 11 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will change the period for which foreign nationals may drive on British roads using an international or other foreign driving licence without taking a British driving test. [124889]

[holding answer 10 July 2003]: A review of the present arrangements is not considered necessary at this time. The 12-month concessionary period during which new residents with valid non-European Economic Area driving licences may drive in Great Britain is designed to allow sufficient time for them to become familiar with road traffic conditions here and to take British driving tests. To ensure continuous driving entitlement, a British provisional licence must be obtained and driving tests passed before the 12-month period elapses.The same 12-month concessionary period exists for visitors with non-EEA licences. This is provided for under the Paris Convention of 1926 and the Geneva Convention of 1949, and protects the interests of tourism and trade. Visitors to this country are prohibited from taking British driving tests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take powers to ensure that privately contracted and owned mini-vans carrying staff to work are driven by individuals holding current UK driving licences. [124891]

[holding answer 10 July 2003]: Residents in Great Britain cannot drive vehicles over 3.5 tonnes nor vehicles with more than eight passenger seats if they hold a non-European Economic Area driving licence. Such licence holders are restricted to driving small vehicles such as motorcycles, cars and small vans up to 3.5 tonnes and vehicles with up to 8 passenger seats.At present, visitors with valid non-EEA licences may drive British registered vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes and those with up to 16 passenger seats, provided they are not driven for hire or reward. A public consultation exercise proposing that visitors also be restricted to driving small vehicles as for residents ended on 7 July. The outcome will be announced shortly.In the interests of trade and tourism, professional drivers visiting Great Britain are permitted to drive minibuses, buses and lorries, providing these vehicles are not British registered and have been brought temporarily into the country. No changes are proposed to these arrangements.