I have today (19 October 2021) published as a draft The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 and an accompanying draft Explanatory Memorandum. The draft regulations amend the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/ 2864) (the ‘1999 Regulations’).
This statutory instrument (SI) has 2 purposes. The first is to permit drivers who passed certain driving tests using a vehicle with automatic transmission to acquire the manual entitlement for that sub-category, provided that they already hold a manual licence for another category, such as a car.
This brings licence upgrades for sub-categories, including the car and trailer combination, medium-sized lorries and minibuses, together with their trailer towing entitlements, into line with the full lorry and bus or coach categories.
The second purpose of this SI is to reduce the engine size of motorcycles that can be used by candidates taking their A2 category test. This is for medium-sized motorcycles that have an engine power up to 35kW. Candidates will be able to take their A2 test on a wider range of motorcycles that is more representative of the A2 class.
These are sensible and pragmatic changes and received widespread support when a public consultation was held.
Through this instrument, the government is modernising the regulations in light of developments in engine technology. Especially the trend towards electric vehicles, which almost always have automatic or semi-automatic transmission, and the increasing power produced by relatively small motorcycle engines.
The shortage of qualified lorry drivers is a matter of national importance. Although the reduction in the number of medium-sized lorry tests resulting from this instrument is likely to be small, it will help to ease test demand.
It should also help riders pass the A2 motorcycle test first time, because they will be able to use a motorcycle they are more comfortable and confident riding.
The instrument is being published in draft for 28 days before being laid for affirmative debate. This is required under paragraph 14 of Schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, because part of the text in the 1999 Regulations, which the draft Regulations amend, includes amendments previously made under the European Communities Act 1972.
The amendments to the 1999 Regulations, which were introduced under the European Communities Act, were made by the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (the ‘2012 Regulations’) and the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences)(Amendment) Regulations 2014 (the ‘2014 Regulations’).
Further details are contained in the annex to the draft explanatory memorandum.