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Written Question
Members: Correspondence
28 Jun 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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
25 Jan 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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
13 Nov 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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

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
6 Jul 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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
6 Jul 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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
6 Jul 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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
6 Jul 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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
20 Jan 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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

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
20 Jan 2020

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

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

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.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Equal Pay
24 Oct 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many equal pay reviews there have been in his Department since 2010; what the dates were of those reviews; and whether his Department plans to undertake an equal pay review in 2019.

Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris

An Equal Pay Review was undertaken in 2015. An external service provider has been appointed to undertake a further Review, with work expected to be completed before the end of 2019.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Pay
24 Oct 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the pay system in his Department has been changed to take account of the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling on Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Mr G Willetts and Others on holiday pay and voluntary overtime; and whether affected workers in his Department have been given back pay as a result of that ruling.

Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris

Officials have begun discussions with the Departmental Trade Unions on making the relevant changes. Future meetings will include the Unite Union, who represent drivers in the Government Car Service.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Ethnic Groups
7 Oct 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many and what proportion of staff who applied for promotion within his Department from 1 September 2018 to 1 September 2019 and who identified as (a) BAME and (b) White were successful by each grade in his Department.

Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris

The way that roles are advertised as either across government or external means that it is not possible to identify promotion opportunities only available to existing Department for Transport employees.

The data which can be provided is the number and proportion of BAME and White total applicants and successful applicants for all recruitment campaigns between 1 September 2018 and 1 September 2019. The whole data set is provided because existing Department for Transport employees have the opportunity to apply for all these roles and could achieve a promotion if successful.

This breakdown provided in the table and covers the Department for Transport and its four Executive Agencies (the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)).

Grade

Ethnic Group

Total Number of Applications

Total Number of Successful Applicants

% of total applications by ethnicity at each grade

% of successful applicants by ethnicity at each grade

Administrative Officer

White

274

57

94%

93%

BAME

12

4

4%

7%

Prefer not to say

5

0

2%

0%

Total:

291

61

Executive Officer

White

1085

98

85%

94%

BAME

153

3

12%

3%

Prefer not to say

40

3

3%

3%

Total:

1278

104

Higher Executive Officer

White

1186

81

57%

75%

BAME

739

21

35%

19%

Prefer not to say

157

6

8%

6%

Total:

2082

108

Senior Executive Officer

White

763

63

53%

68%

BAME

542

23

38%

25%

Prefer not to say

128

6

9%

7%

Total:

1433

92

Grade 7

White

611

56

61%

88%

BAME

310

4

31%

7%

Prefer not to say

86

4

9%

7%

Total:

1007

64

Grade 6

White

378

33

76%

92%

BAME

80

0

16%

0%

Prefer not to say

40

3

8%

8%

Total:

498

36

Total

White

BAME

Prefer not to say

Applications

65%

28%

7%

Successful

84%

12%

4%

More details on the limitations of providing data on only promotions.

For vacancies advertised across government, individuals need to have a verified account to confirm their eligibility as existing Civil Servants. As part of their personal profile, Civil Servants are requested to provide their current substantive grade. If individuals have not completed their personal profile we would be unable to identify whether they were promoted.

For vacancies advertised externally, individuals have the option to use a privately registered account as there is no requirement for them to confirm that they are existing Civil Servants. This means that in the instance that an existing Civil Servant applies for an externally advertised vacancy using a private account, then we cannot identify whether or not the successful individual is being promoted.

The diversity of applicants applying for posts that are advertised regionally will be affected by the percentage of BAME individuals in the working population.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Brexit
14 Jan 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the additional staff required by his Department in the event that the UK leaves the EU (a) with and (b) without a deal.

Answered by Chris Grayling

DfT currently has just over 160 staff working directly on EU Exit and is drawing in more resource. The department’s current assessment is that it will not require a significant increase in staff numbers if the UK leaves the EU with a deal. In a no deal scenario, a substantial number of additional staff are likely to be redeployed from other roles in Government. The majority will be internal DFT staff or staff from other government departments. These requirements are being kept under regular review.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Staff
14 Jan 2019

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many staff were employed in his Department on (a) 20 December 2018 and (b) 23 June 2016.

Answered by Jesse Norman

In response to your request, the number of staff employed by the Department and its agencies (DfT Central Department, the Driver Vehicle & Licensing Agency, the Driver & Vehicle Services Agency, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Vehicle Certification Agency) on the respective dates are as follows:

30th June 2016

30th November 2018

Headcount

FTE

Headcount

FTE

DfTc

2084

2021.8

2674

2598.2

DVLA

6244

5548.2

6068

5346.9

DVSA

4527

4273.2

4827

4559.9

MCA

1015

963.8

1143

1095.1

VCA

155

145.9

180

170.5

Total

14025

12952.9

14892

13770.6

Please note, the figures represented have been taken from end of month reports and as there is currently no report available for December 2018. The figures used are at 30th November 2018. The figures represent pay staff and do not include contractors and other non-pay employees.


Written Question
Department for Transport: Universal Credit
30 Oct 2018

Questioner: Chris Stephens

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the (a) number and (b) proportion of staff employed by his Department who are in receipt of universal credit; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Nusrat Ghani

We are unable to provide the requested information as the Department for Transport and its Executive Agencies do not record or collate information on staff in receipt of universal credit as standard.