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Transport: Heavy Goods and Public Service Vehicles

Volume 687: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2006

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Dr Stephen Ladyman) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

We have completed our consultation on the Government's proposals for streamlining and modernising the licensing system for operators of heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles.

We proposed three key changes to take forward our commitment in the White Paper The Future of Transport to provide better regulation of the road haulage and passenger transport industries:

new arrangements for holders of more than one licence, involving the allocation of a lead traffic commissioner who will be responsible for all of an operator's licences;

a simplified fee structure with most licence fees being merged with fees for annual roadworthiness tests; and

abolition of windscreen discs and margin concession for goods vehicles.

We propose to implement the first of these proposals as planned, and the traffic commissioners will shortly be consulting the industries on the detail of the new arrangements with a view to their introduction in 2007.

In response to concerns raised by the road haulage industry, we have modified the proposed fee structure for goods vehicles so that only “O” licence vehicle fees will be merged with roadworthiness test fees. This will remove the vast majority of financial transactions but produce a fairer distribution of costs between different sectors of the industry. For the PSV sector, all fees will be merged except for application fees for new licences or major variations. We plan to introduce the new structure in 2008. The Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA) will be consulting the industries on arrangements for giving credit for fees paid in advance under the current system.

We plan to go ahead with the abolition of windscreen discs for goods vehicles when we are satisfied that access to new technology is sufficiently advanced to ensure that existing levels of enforcement can be maintained. However, evidence has been presented to us that abolition of the margin concession could impose a much higher burden on the industry than we originally thought. We therefore propose to carry out further work to evaluate the costs and benefits of this proposal before making a decision. We will also look at options for minimising the burden of an immediate notification requirement. These measures will cut significantly the administrative burdens of the licensing process and reduce costs for the road haulage and passenger transport industries while maintaining safety standards. They will also build on administrative improvements already made by VOSA.

An analysis of the responses received to the consultation is available from the departmental website (www.dft.gov.uk) and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.