Stephen Hammond is Member of Parliament for Wimbledon and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport.
Here is a fact that may surprise you: figures out today show that trips by car accounted for 79 per cent of distance travelled in 2011!
The Department for Transport obviously has a wide range of responsibilities – all of them essential to helping people get from place to place. But the fact that so much of that travel takes place on the road can be all too easily forgotten – as of course it was so spectacularly during 13 years of Labour.
This Government, by contrast, is committed to helping the road user. Indeed, we showed this again only last week in the Autumn statement which committed more than £1 billion to a range of road projects. £333 million for road maintenance and £270 million more for our highly successful programme of targeted ‘pinchpoint’ schemes that remove bottlenecks and reduce congestion. Money to keep Britain moving and growing!
But there is another important way that we are determined to make life easier for motorists and that is by improving the way that motoring services such as driving tests and vehicle licensing are delivered.
So today I am publishing a consultation setting out how we think we can achieve this. In doing so, our overriding principle is putting the customer at the heart of what we do, while looking at ways to cut costs and create opportunities for business.
There is now a commitment to being at the forefront of digital technology, with less unnecessary paper and more convenience. We will also bring the test centre closer to the user so, by using locations that are easier to get to such as colleges and retail premises, a better service is provided. And we will look at streamlining the agencies involved in delivering these services so that they are both easier for the consumer and cheaper for the taxpayer.
I also want to explore ways to help the VCA, which provides a world class service, to export its services and contribute more to the wider economy.
These are important improvements to unsung but essential services. When you consider that the Driving Standards Agency conducted 1.6 million practical car tests in the last financial year, by delivering these services better we underline how this government is on the side of the road user.