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Written Question
Department for Transport: Coronavirus
Thursday 24th February 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in his Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by his Department as of 21 February 2022.

Answered by Andrew Stephenson - Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)

At the current time there are no plans to mandate the use of the risk assessment tools.

As any such risk assessments are voluntary, DfT does not hold data centrally on the number of risk assessments completed or reviewed as of 21 February 2022.


Written Question
Members: Correspondence
Monday 28th June 2021

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to respond to the correspondence form the hon. Member for Glasgow South West of 29 March 2021 and 8 June 2021 on the industrial dispute within the DVLA; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The Department responded to your letter of 29 March on 9 April, and your letter of 8 June on 25 June. Copies of both are in the attached documents.


Written Question
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Monday 25th January 2021

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) plans he has for and (b) discussions he has had with stakeholders on amending the law on driving theory test certificates as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and a subsequent practical test is in place for road safety reasons; to ensure that a candidate’s knowledge is current. This validity period is set in legislation and the Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to extend it.

It is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point that they drive unsupervised for the first time. Those with theory test certificates expiring may have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.

Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Artificial Intelligence
Friday 13th November 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris - Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have many potential applications including in the transport sector. Innovation teams across the DfT family support research and development initiatives conducted both within and outside of DfT.

One specific initiative is investigating a proof-of-concept study into a non-intrusive AI-model capable of detecting the number of face-coverings, and the number of uncovered faces, in an image. The model would then display message responses focussed on positive engagement. This work will not be able to identify or track individuals, and no images will be stored by the system.

We don’t hold information centrally regarding further AI or machine learning projects being undertaken or planned by the department at this time.


Written Question
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Monday 6th July 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent advice his Department has received from Public Health England on the safe restarting of driving tests as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

The DVSA has consulted with Public Health England and has released an updated version of its standard operating procedure and risk assessments to driving examiners, which contains social distancing measures and safety precautions, to ensure the safe restart of driving tests. The DVSA is currently engaging with Scottish and Welsh Governments to ensure it engages with Health advisors before services are resumed in both.


Written Question
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Monday 6th July 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has received advice from Public Health England on the safety of clinically vulnerable DVSA staff who conduct driving tests as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

The DVSA has consulted with Public Health England (PHE) to ensure the safety of all its staff when resuming testing services. The DVSA will be following the guidance PHE has provided to Government for those who are Extremely Clinically Vulnerable and those who are Clinically Vulnerable.

Driving examiners will wear face coverings on test and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers. Candidates will be asked to bring and wear a face covering attending for test, unless they have a good reason not to. Candidates are reminded they should not come for test if they have any symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate by test and trace. Similar guidance has been provided to the approved driving instructors.


Written Question
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Monday 6th July 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the ability of DVSA staff to socially distance while conducting driving tests.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services. The approach being taken has been developed with input from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE).

To prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep staff and candidates safe:

  • Driving examiners will wear face coverings and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers.

  • The number of people arriving for a driving test at the same time will be limited and all meet and greet will be undertaken achieving social distancing.

  • Driving instructors or supervising drivers will not be allowed to sit in the back of the car during the test.

  • Candidates will be asked to bring and wear a face covering attending for test, unless they have a good reason not to.

  • Driving test centre waiting rooms and toilets will be closed except for those who have a disability, medical condition, or who are pregnant.

The amount of time spent in the vehicle will be minimised:

  • If a candidate makes a serious or dangerous fault, which means they have failed, the driving examiner will direct them back to the driving test centre, where the test will end.

  • At the end of the test, the driving examiner will give the test result feedback outside of the vehicle.

  • Driving instructors can listen to the test result feedback if it is safe to do so.


Written Question
Driving Tests: Coronavirus
Monday 6th July 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what personal protective equipment will be provided to DVSA staff conducting driving tests; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

To keep driving examiners safe, and help prevent the spread of coronavirus, examiners will wear face coverings and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers. These measures have been put in place following discussions with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE).


Written Question
Department for Transport: Trade Unions
Monday 20th January 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris - Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip

The assessment of the Department for Transport is that the General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the DfT in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Pay
Monday 20th January 2020

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris - Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip

The Department for Transport provides trade union representatives with reasonable facility time to undertake trade union duties, union learning representative duties and health and safety duties. This is in line with the departmental policy, the Civil Service Management Code, the Cabinet Office Framework on Trade Union Facility Time and our legislative obligations. These include a requirement to publish, as set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.