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House of Commons Hansard
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Road Traffic Offenders (Surrender of Driving Licences Etc.)
01 May 2018
Volume 640

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

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I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about the surrender, production or other delivery up of driving licences, or test certificates, in relation to certain offences; to make provision in relation to identifying persons in connection with fixed penalty notices, conditional offers and the payment of fixed penalties under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988; and for connected purposes.

The primary purpose of the Bill is to streamline the processes for the electronic endorsement of driving licences, but it would also strengthen the rules for the surrender of a driving licence when a driver faces disqualification. It would primarily amend the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 and the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995. It would eliminate the unnecessary burden on drivers by removing the need for a physical licence to be produced.

It may be helpful if I give some background information about why the requirement to produce the driving licence, as part of the enforcement of road traffic law, is such an issue for all concerned. Before the requirement for a paper counterpart to the driving licence was abolished, the counterpart would have been physically endorsed with details of offences and penalty points. Since the removal of the paper counterpart, no physical documents are endorsed when a person receives penalty points, either from a court or as part of the fixed penalty process. Instead, penalty points are recorded on the electronic driver record held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The provisions in the Road Safety Act 2006 which removed the counterpart did not remove the requirement to surrender licences as part of the court and fixed penalty processes, because at that point the automation of the computer systems of the police and court services was unable to accommodate that change.

The surrender of a licence, which was vital when physical documents had to be endorsed, no longer serves any practical purpose. It also creates unnecessary administrative burdens for courts, fixed penalty offices, police and, importantly, motorists. In recognition of that, the Bill removes the requirement to surrender a driving licence as part of the fixed penalty notice, and the conditional offer processes, for all road traffic offences. That will mean that licences will no longer have to be handed over, or posted, before a person can accept a fixed penalty notice or a conditional offer.

As some Members will know, fixed penalties and conditional offers are widely used to enforce “moving traffic offences” such as speeding. Currently, if a person does not have their licence with them when they are stopped for a road traffic offence, the police officer cannot issue a fixed penalty notice. Instead the police officer can give the driver an interim notice which requires them to attend a police station, and at the police station the driver must surrender their licence and exchange the interim notice for a fixed penalty notice. My Bill amends this procedure. It allows police officers to issue a fixed penalty notice without checking and retaining the physical licence, as long as they are reasonably satisfied of the driver’s identity. This also means that the driver will no longer have to attend the police station to surrender their licence under these circumstances.

Another aspect of my Bill focuses on the process under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. This Act provides that when a driver is prosecuted for a motoring offence that could result in a disqualification, they must deliver or post their licence to the court in advance of the hearing, or take it to the hearing if they attend. The Bill proposes to remove any need for these drivers to deliver or post their licence before the hearing, leaving only the duty to take their licence to court if there is a hearing and if they attend. This will not only remove the unnecessary burden on drivers having to get their licences to court prior to a hearing, but will also remove the burden on the court of having to handle the driving licence administratively if the driver does not end up being disqualified.

The Bill will also provide courts with the power to require the driver to surrender their licence to the court if they are disqualified. However, where a driver is disqualified but does not attend the hearing, or does not produce the licence, the Bill empowers the DVLA to serve notice on the disqualified driver to send their licence to it. If a driver fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the notice within 28 days, they will have committed an offence and could be liable to a fine of up to £1,000.

Similar adjustments are made to the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995 procedures and offences, which contain various references to the court, fixed penalty or conditional offer processes involving production and surrender of driving licences. Again, the DVLA will be empowered to serve a notice on a disqualified driver requiring them to send their licence to it.

Under the powers provided in this Bill, where a driver has already been required to surrender their licence to the DVLA and has failed to do so, police officers and vehicle examiners are given the power to require production of the licence from the driver. Failure to surrender the licence to a police officer or vehicle examiner in these circumstances will be an offence and will also incur a maximum fine of £1,000.

There are numerous benefits to be had from removing this administrative requirement. Motorists and employers will welcome these changes, as the inconvenience for such a vast number of drivers serves no practical purpose, when all that happens is that the licence is receipted and then returned to the driver concerned without anything being done to it.

This Bill is greatly supported by both the police and the court services across Great Britain as it will enable them to continue to make savings in their processes and optimise their use of digital services. While there will be initial set-up costs associated with removing the requirement to surrender the licence, they will be absorbed by the departments involved in the process.

Members will also be pleased to learn that the measure is expected to provide savings of approximately £2 million a year to the Government, by removing the need for these physical documents to be surrendered. There will also be cost and efficiency savings for the police and courts, because fewer staff will be required as driving licences will not be handled or returned to drivers. In addition, there will be a reduction in stationery and postage costs for these departments. Motorists will also see a reduction in costs from the time saved in not having to forward the licence to either the fixed penalty office or the court.

It is expected that in the longer term this measure will allow for further Government savings, and removing the requirements for physical documents to be surrendered will enable the courts to digitise greater parts of the court service and fixed penalty processes for road traffic offences, in line with their current digitalisation goals.

I hope that my Bill will provide an opportunity to streamline these processes and maximise digital services across Government by removing what is now considered to be a redundant process, and I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Mr Alister Jack, Alex Burghart, Eddie Hughes, Mrs Kemi Badenoch, Leo Docherty, Mr Simon Clarke, Julia Lopez, Andrew Bridgen, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mr William Wragg, Richard Drax and Colin Clark present a Bill.

Mr Alister Jack accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 May, and to be printed (Bill 201).

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords]: Programme (No. 2)

Ordered,

That the Order of 20 February 2018 (Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill (Lords) (Programme)) be varied as follows:

(1) Paragraphs (4) and (5) of the Order shall be omitted.

(2) Proceedings on Consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.

(3) The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.

TABLE

Proceedings

Time for conclusion of proceedings

New Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to gross violations of human rights, to public registers in Crown Dependencies and British overseas territories of beneficial ownership

of companies, or to Scottish limited partnerships

Two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this Order, or 4.30 pm on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced, whichever is the later.

Remaining proceedings on Consideration

6.00 pm on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.

(4) Any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 6.00 pm on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 pm on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.(Sir Alan Duncan.)