§ Dr. John Cunningham:
The Government firmly believe that the fuel consumption testing scheme provides the public with a useful and comprehensive basis for comparing fuel economy of new passenger cars. The test procedures set out in the Passenger Car Fuel Consumption Order 1977 have been developed by an international group of technical experts for the Economic Commission for Europe—ECE. The test procedure was fully agreed with the motor industry in the United Kingdom. The same procedure is in use in France, where a similar fuel consumption scheme has been introduced.
We are aware that a report published recently by the British technical council of the motor and petroleum industries suggests that the variation in results obtained in different laboratories can be as high as plus or minus 14 per cent. in some cases. However, the correct test procedure was not adhered to in particular 373W cases and there were a number of short cuts circumventing many of the features of the procedure which have been introduced precisely to ensure a reasonable degree of accuracy. Officials have written to the secretary of the British Technical Council pointing out these shortcomings of the study, the conclusions of which are unreliable.
Nevertheless, the Government recognise the importance of ensuring that the test procedure should be as accurate as possible and have placed a contract with the Motor Industry Research Association laboratory at Nuneaton to examine possible ways of optimising its reliability.