§ Mr. Allen
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what has been the change in the number of unprocessed applications at the Driving Standards Agency over the last two years; 
(2) what has been the average waiting time for tests from the Driving Standards Agency on a monthly basis over the last two years in each region; 
(3) what assessment has he had made of the effect of the recent reduction in the number of Driving Standards Agency regional offices from 10 to five on service levels to the public; 
(4) how many people have applied for driving tests in each month of the last two years at the Driving Standards Agency; 
(5) how many driving tests have been cancelled by the Driving Standards Agency at short notice in the last year; 
(6) what have been the annual funding and staffing levels at the Driving Standards Agency since it was established; 
(7) how much compensation has been paid to people whose driving tests have been cancelled in each of the last five years. 
§ Mr. Norris
I have asked the chief executive of the Driving Standards Agency to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from B. L. Herdan to Mr. Graham Allen, dated 23 January 1996:DRIVING STANDARDS AGENCY SERVICES—PQS 680, 683, 688, 696, 698, 699 AND 705The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your Questions about the Driving Standards Agency's services.PQ Numbers 680 and 696/95/96: Numbers of applications and unprocessed applications over the last two years182WWe have taken the reference to unprocessed applications to mean those who have applied for but not yet received a driving test. The table at Annex A shows the monthly level of applications for tests and the numbers awaiting a test at the end of each month over the last two years.PQ Number 683/95/96: Average waiting timesAnnex B shows the monthly average waiting time for each region over the same period. The more recent data reflects the merging of regions into our new 5 Area structure. Wales and Western were merged first; the Eastern regions (Nottingham and Cambridge) were merged with West Midlands; North West was merged with North East and the majority of South East was merged with Metropolitan (although some south eastern centres are now managed from Birmingham and some from Cardiff). We are pursuing a number of measures to improve service levels.PQ Number 688/95/96: Effect of reducing regional officesWe recognise that the reorganisation changes have resulted in a number of temporary problems. These include a backlog of postal applications, misdirected mail, and poor telephone answering performance. These have been exacerbated by extremely high demand on the telephones because of the increase in queries about the new theory test and vocational test changes.Additional staff together with new and more efficient telephone systems are now in place which provide much better management information. We are setting higher service standards in next year's business plan and are confident that once the transition period is over the service offered by the 5 offices will be superior to that offered previously by the ten.PQ Numbers 698 and 705/95/96: Short notice cancellations and compensation levelsAnnex C shows the numbers of driving tests we have had to cancel at short notice, other than when the weather was too poor to enable a test to be conducted, over the last year. The following table summarises the compensation paid to customers whose tests were cancelled at short notice:
£ Year Compensation 1990–91 264,665 1991–92 244,468 1992–93 186,912 1993–94 205,853 1994–95 124,435 1995–96 179,021 1The figure for the current year shows the amounts paid for the nine months to 31 December 1995.PQ Number 699/95/96: Funding and staffing levelsThe Agency is a non statutory on-Vote trading body whose current expenses are not classified as public expenditure. Its full costs are recovered through fees and charges and it has been producing audited commercial style accounts since 1992–93. The following table shows the Agency's net resource costs in cash prices and the numbers of full time equivalent staff employed for the five years since the Agency was established. The figures for the current year are our latest forecasts of outturn.
Year Costs £000s Staffing 1990–91 49,914 2,105 1991–92 51,808 2,192 1992–93 50,786 1,898 1993–94 48,064 1,805 1994–95 48,505 1,789 1995–96 50,288 1,811