Commons Gate

The Work of The Department for Transport's Executive Agencies - Driver and Vehicle Operator Group and The Highways Agency (HC 907-i)

Transport Committee 8 Feb 2006

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Evidence given by Mr Stephen Hickey, Director General, Driver and Vehicle Operator Group, Department for Transport; Miss Rosemary Thew, Chief Executive, Driving Standards Agency (DSA); Mr Clive Bennett, Chief Executive, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA); Mr Paul Markwick, Chief Executive, Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA); and Mr Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive, Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

Q38 Mrs Ellman: Concerns have been expressed to us that you do not have enough staff to deal with enforcement particularly as enforcement is becoming increasingly important. Is that a concern to you?

Mr Hickey: I, like anyone, would always happily have more staff. It would be foolish not to say that and we are of course under pressure on our head count and all sorts of different things, so the efficiency drive is quite an important one for us. What we are trying to do is to use efficiency savings not only to achieve absolute savings, because that is right and proper, but also to free up resources for high priority things, and that does include enforcement and, as I say, Stephen could talk about in VOSA in particular how that is being done.

Q39 Mr Clelland: Does that mean you are under-staffed? You gave us a long answer but what is the answer to the question?

Mr Hickey: The answer is that we, like anyone coming in front of you would say, could always use more staff.

Q40 Mr. Eric Martlew: No, they do not actually.

Mr Hickey: Well, we could use any number of staff.

Q41 Chairman: I think the point is the enforcement bit. If you are going to create 109 new posts for enforcement officers, are you going to create those at the cost of losing other posts?

Mr Tetlow: We are intending to create those particular 109 posts by rediverting staff from back office jobs onto the front-line so they will be cost neutral.

Q42 Chairman: That is fine of course until somebody wants some information that relies on back office staff, is it not?

Mr Tetlow: In this case the way we are doing it is by centralising a lot of our operations from around the country, for example our licensing operation, into one place, which will be in Leeds.


Q48 Mr. Eric Martlew: There was a throwaway line about the remit not running in Scotland. Can you explain that to me? My constituency is on the border so I am interested in this point.

Mr Tetlow: We have had powers to stop in England in all but one of the police areas so VOSA staff with the agreement of each chief constables now have powers to stop commercial vehicles.

Q49 Mr. Eric Martlew: So you have got one area in England where you cannot. Can you name it?

Mr Tetlow: We do not do it the Metropolitan area.

Q50 Mr. Eric Martlew: Which is where?

Mr Tetlow: London.

Q51 Mr. Eric Martlew: You cannot do it in London and you cannot do it at all in Scotland.

Mr Tetlow: That is for practical reasons rather than anything else.

Q52 Mr. Eric Martlew: But you cannot do it in Scotland either.

Mr Tetlow: We have to do it with a policeman in Scotland and we are hoping that a new bill would push that through.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB