§ Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his latest assessment is of the number of car owners driving in Northern Ireland without valid(a) car tax, (b) insurance, (c) MOT certification and (d) driving licence; and what steps he is taking to reduce these figures. 
§ Angela Smith
The information is as follows:
(a) The most recent detailed survey on vehicle excise duty evasion, undertaken in mid-2002, indicated that there were 74,700 unlicensed vehicles in the private and light goods (cars and vans) tax categories.
(b) No detailed information is held on the number of car drivers without valid insurance, but a report produced by the PSNI concerning 107 unlicensed vehicles, under operation Nemesis, in October 2002 indicated that 80 per cent. were also evading insurance requirements. The Association of British Insurers, 51 Gresham Street, London, EC2B 7HQ may have more detailed information on uninsured drivers.
NICS staff by department and grade at January 19971 Grade 5 and above Senior Principal/ Principal Officer Deputy Principal Staff Officer Executive Officer I/ Executive Officer II Department of Health and Social Security 45 156 194 353 2,121 Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland 24 273 385 299 989 Department of Education for Northern Ireland 18 80 38 62 157 Department of Environment 43 251 505 793 2,085 Department of Finance and Personnel 43 128 174 218 304 Department of Economic Development 37 137 210 315 897 Northern Ireland Office1 46 116 134 154 373 Total 256 1,141 1,640 2,194 6,926
Administrative Officer Administrative Assistant Industrial grades Total Department of Health and Social Security 3,125 1,059 2 7,055 Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland 368 390 729 3,457 Department of Education for Northern Ireland 167 61 2 585 Department of Environment 1,338 653 2192 7,860 Department of Finance and Personnel 408 159 1 1,435
(c) An analysis of data collected in 2002 estimated that 28 per cent. of vehicles of MOT age did not have valid MOT certificates at the date of sighting. This would equate to approximately 150,000 vehicles.
(d) No information is held on the number of car owners driving without a valid driving licence.
A range of measures are in place to reduce vehicle excise duty evasion and indirectly insurance and MOT evasion as valid insurance and MOT documents have to be produced at re-licensing. These include on-going detection by the PSNI and traffic wardens, wheel-clamping, detection by Automated Number Plate Reading cameras, Statutory Off Road Notification, and from 1 January 2004, the introduction of Continuous Registration, which allows detection from the vehicle record. There are also special joint exercises involving the PSNI, HM Customs and Excise, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI) and Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency.
Specific measures to tackle MOT evasion include the introduction of an MOT disc for display at present voluntarily, but which will be made mandatory in 2004–05, on vehicle windscreens, and the intention to issue MOT reminders starting in March 2004.
The detection of those driving without a valid driving licence is a matter for the PSNI and tackled through their on-going programme of enforcement against traffic offences. Reminders are issued by DVLNI to all driving licence holders prior to the expiry of their licence.