Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440
WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY 2001
(Mr Newey) Yes. It depends what the particular type
of inspection is. There is something called an initial operator's
visit where you are looking at perhaps a sample of vehicles but
also the general facilities on the site. We might be asked by
the Traffic Commissioners or we might, on our own initiative,
want to do a fleet inspection where we go in and tell the operator
we want to look at every single vehicle on the site and wait for
some others to come in for example.
441. How many of such inspections have you done
at the request of the Traffic Commissioners, let us say, within
the last 12 months when figures are available?
(Mr Newey) I have not got a number in my head. We
spend around £3 million on the activity annually answering
those sort of requests.
442. Can you supply that information to us?
(Mr Newey) Yes.
443. Is it still the case there are Traffic
Commissioners operating from offices outwith the regions they
normally have to deal with?
(Mr Newey) I think they are more rationalised now.
I think there are still some boundary discrepancies. It is not
444. I understand that but you have emphasised,
Mr Newey, more than once intelligence. This has been the basis
of many of the things you have said this afternoon. "We target
people more, we try and keep an even-handed approach between foreign
vehicles and British vehicles and we rely on intelligence and
we swap intelligence." Traffic Commissioners are a big source
of accurate intelligence about the industry.
(Mr Newey) Yes. We have full access to the Traffic
Commissioners and the Traffic Area Offices' data bases with details
of operators, their licences and so on, we can get that irrespective
of any boundary issues. We can always get that information in
full and complete.
445. Are there variations between regions as
there used to be or are they more inclined to have similar rates
of examination? That was a major problem at one time, was it not,
that you had a pro-active Commissioner in Scotland but the exact
oppositeand I will not say wheresomewhere else in
the United Kingdom?
(Mr Newey) Yes, there are variations, and the Traffic
Commissioners produce annual reports which show what those variations
are. In terms of VI's role in meeting Traffic Commissioner's requests,
I think it is true to say last year we managed to answer all their
requests for work within a very reasonable period. To some extent
checks can be initiated either by the Traffic Commissioners or
by the Vehicle Inspectorate so there can be a balancing act there
if you like.
446. What are you doing to standardise that
approach across the whole country?
(Mr Newey) We are not strictly standardising because
if, for example, in one part of the country the general condition
of vehicles as measured by annual tests and so on is better than
in others, then we will give relatively less attention to that
part of the country, and there are these variations which are
fairly consistent over the years. So there is some variation in
our targeted approach.
447. Do you want to tell us what the creation
of the Driver Vehicle Operator strategy board has produced in
the way of benefits?
(Mr Newey) I think it has produced benefits on probably
three levels. First of all, because it involves not just the DVO
Agencies but the Department as well working together we have a
better strategic outlook on things. For example, we are looking
at ten year strategic plans to talk about what we think the major
changes are going to be in our industries.
448. How often do you meet?
(Mr Newey) About every month to six weeks.
449. Who fixes the agenda and who writes the
(Mr Newey) There is a task force which serves the
deputy secretary in the Department, Willy Rickett, who is chairman
of the Strategy Board. Just to return to the advantages and the
benefits at the strategic level, we are certainly delivering better
policies on the ground through better co-ordination, and very
much in line with the current Government's intention of modernising
government we are looking at delivering much better joined-up
services to customers on the ground, that is the 25 million motorists
who have to have an MOT every year, for example, and, also in
my case, the goods and PSV industries.
450. That all sounds very cheerful, what steps
are taken by the Department to oversee your activities. All of
you, that is.
(Mr Bennett) From my point of view, I have come in
relatively recently but we have regular meetings with the Minister.
451. How often did you meet the Minister last
(Mr Bennett) I have only been here for three months
but I have seen him twice, so about once every six weeks; formally
that is. In addition with the Department, we have an advisory
board which meets three times a year, and I have been to two of
those, I think.
452. How often does anybody at ministerial level
come and see your facilities?
(Mr Bennett) Relatively regularly, I do not think
he has been since I have been there but certainly Lord Whitty
has been down to see DVLA, and we encourage regular visits. In
fact, Willy Rickett, for example, the Director General, Transport,
Strategy and Planning, has been down recently and spent a day
with us at the DVLA.
453. Mr Harvey?
(Mr Harvey) About the same sort of level. We would
see Lord Whitty about twice a year at VCA and a couple of times
additionally elsewhere, in London or wherever. We have two advisory
board meetings a year with senior members of the Department. We
have a very regular relationship with our policy people in Vehicle
Standards in the Department.
454. Mr Newey?
(Mr Newey) A similar picture. Lord Whitty has been
to Bristol twice in the last year.
455. There are advantages in having Ministers
in the House of Lords.
(Mr Newey) And he has in his diary two dates for the
Mr Donohoe: He is going to be in office, is
Chairman: Ignore that. Gentlemen, you have been
very tolerant, it has been very interesting. The Committee are
anxious to keep a continuing watch on what is happening in the
Agencies, as I am sure you realise. It may be an inconvenience
to come and see us but you will always be welcome and we can expect
to see you again before long.