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Multi-purpose Driving Test Centres

Volume 478: debated on Tuesday 8 July 2008

10. How many new multi-purpose driving test centres the Government plan to establish; and at what cost. (216864)

The Driving Standards Agency plans to establish a network of 66 multi-purpose driving test centres. The capital budget for the project is £71 million and revenue costs will be £13 million per annum.

The Minister has rightly confirmed that the Government are planning to spend £71 million because of a European Union directive. However, if the Government had applied for a derogation from the directive so that 50 kph was translated to 30 mph, no expenditure would have been necessary. Why did the Government waste £71 million rather than apply for a derogation?

We do not see it as wasting £71 million, but as something that improves the test and the facilities for examiners and the examined. It will enable the tests to be conducted off-road because of the manoeuvres that are expected to be required. That will enhance safety because it will improve the skills of those who go to the new multi-purpose driving test centres.

I sincerely hope that Crawley will have a multi-purpose test centre. It is vital that the new centres should allow people to take a variety of tests, provide safety and comfort to those taking their tests as they wait for people to arrive and provide secure accommodation for those who are teaching. I hope that all those things will be achieved at Crawley.

The new purpose-built MPTCs are environmentally friendly and compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. They provide improved facilities for customers and staff. When my hon. Friend visits her new centre, I am sure that she will be impressed by the facilities on offer.

My apologies, Mr. Speaker; I had not seen that the previous three questions had been withdrawn. In that case, may I ask whether the Secretary of State thinks that the management and accountability structures of Network Rail are satisfactory? If her answer is yes, will she seek some early medical attention? If the answer is no, what does she propose to do about it?

The Government have no plans to look again at the structure of the railway industry. I am confident that the current governing procedures for Network Rail are satisfactory. They are delivering for the passenger and the railway industry.