My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
The Department for Transport has today published a response to the public consultation which closed 5 February 2010. It outlines our proposals for implementing the third EU directive on driving licences (directive 2006/126/EC), adopted in December 2006.
Most features of the directive must be transposed into national law by mid-January 2011 and come into practical effect by mid-January 2013. Implementing regulations will be laid before Parliament in order to transpose the directive into law in Great Britain by the due date of January 2011. Separate arrangements apply in Northern Ireland, where driver licensing is a devolved matter.
After carefully considering views expressed by respondents, we intend to maintain the approach of making as little change to our current arrangements as is consistent with the directive and, where change is unavoidable, making it at least cost. Changes include:
a new European moped category AM which will include light quadricycles and tricycles. The minimum age for this category remains unchanged from current requirements at 16 years;
the introduction required under the directive of a new motorbike category A2, providing in the future categories A1, A2 and A;
progress through these categories will be achieved by passing a test; direct access to a category, by passing a test, will also be possible. Direct access to new category A2 will be 19 years. Direct access for category A will rise from the current 21 to 24 years;
special provisions for moped and motorcycle riders with a physical disability;
the need for new car drivers to pass a test to tow a medium sized trailer;
new conditions of approval for organisations with non-DSA driving examiners;
abolition of the separate category B1 (quadricycles) driving entitlements for new drivers; and
five-year driving licence administrative validity periods for drivers of lorries and buses.
We have decided not to introduce a training route to progressing through the motorcycle categories or, for car drivers, to towing a medium sized trailer. Although a training route was supported by many respondents some did not consider that in the current economic downturn the proposals were financially viable. This is also our assessment.
Many respondents opposed our proposals that riders should first take a familiarisation course on a more powerful category of motorcycle before being able to ride that category with a provisional licence before taking their test. They argued instead that riders wishing to ride category A2 or A motorcycles who have not yet qualified for a full licence for the larger category should be accompanied by an authorised trainer (AT) when riding on the roads. We agree with this argument and have amended our proposals accordingly.
Copies of the response report are available on the DfT website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.