D1 licence change voted down

A move to allow car driving licence holders be able to drive D1 category vehicles without any additional test has been voted down in the Commons Chamber.

On 21 February 2024, Thérèse Coffey, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, asked parliament whether the change in law could be made (encompassing D1 and C1 vehicles). She notes grandfather rights exist that allow drivers who passed their driving test before 1997 to drive D1 (minibuses) and C1 (medium-sized goods vehicles). She said the proposed change is intended to support rural communities and unlock economic growth opportunities.

Thérèse says the Community Transport Association has contacted her to voice its full support for a change to the law.

Speaking at the Commons Chambers, she gave examples of community transport organisations that face challenges finding drivers, partly due to the shrinking pool of people with the correct licence.

Thérèse said: “I believe that this is a real opportunity to adopt some sensible approaches that, as I say, would be welcome across the House. The Bill would be a Brexit bonus, increase community transport and remove an unnecessary, costly barrier for business. Recognising the strengthening of the driving test in the past 25 years, we should have the confidence to back British drivers with British rules. I would like to work with the Government during the passage of the Bill to a Second Reading, and I commend it to the House.”


Chris Bryant, Shadow Minister (Creative Industries and Digital), opposed the appeal. He said: “My main objection to the Bill is that the right hon. Lady seeks to make this a ‘Brexit bonus’, as she referred to it. I disagree with that very concept, because I believe that regulatory convergence, rather than regulatory divergence, is more useful both so that British drivers know where they stand in this country and other countries in Europe, and so that European drivers are able to drive in the UK. Of course, there are other areas where there might be Brexit bonuses, because we might trade with other countries elsewhere in the world, but when it comes to driving licences specifically, the only other countries that we are likely to deal with are those within the European Union.

“I believe—I think the Government do too, because so far the Department for Transport has refused to budge in the direction that the right hon. Lady suggests—that this is an inappropriate Bill that would do harm rather than good. It would not lead to greater safety, but actually imperil safety in the UK.”

A vote saw 59 MPs support the changes, most of whom were Conservative; while 79 MPs voted against it, most of whom were Labour.

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