MPs to debate extension of theory tests as thousands of learners face double fees

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MPS are to debate whether the expiry of theory test certificates should be extended during the pandemic to avoid learners paying double fees.

It comes after The highlighted that almost 30,000 Scots are waiting to sit their driving tests but are unable to due to the closure of test centres.

Thousands of learners are also facing an extra charge, to resit their theory tests, as their certificates will expire before they can take the practical test.

Theory tests are only valid for two years once passed, and cost £23 a time to sit.

David Linden, MP for Glasgow East, is to hold a debate in the Commons today on the issue, and has urged the Government to reconsider extending the validity of the theory exam.

So far the UK Government’s Department for Transport has refused to do so, arguing that it would have to implement a change in the law.

If learners were allowed to sit the exam again for free, the DfT said it would cost more than £1.5m for all 118,000 people whose certificates are due to expire.

However in Northern Ireland, certificates have been extended for an extra eight months to account for the coronavirus crisis.

Ahead of the debate, Mr Linden said: “Ordinarily, 1.2 million driving tests are undertaken in the UK every year, that means hundreds of thousands of new learner drivers are preparing to hit the road at any one time. We know that one of the first things they need to do is navigate the theory test which, in itself, is pretty rigorous and has a high bar for passing.

“At the moment, lockdown restrictions and cancelled tests have meant that tens of thousands of theory certificates have simply expired.

“This is not the fault of learner drivers and they shouldn’t be put back to square one by a UK Government which, frankly, has no good reason for doing so.

“We’ve already seen common sense prevail in Northern Ireland which automatically extended theory certificates for its learner drivers. The UK Department for Transport must follow suit, otherwise learner drivers will have to pay again to take a test they’ve already passed. Left unchecked, this will result in the double whammy of learner drivers having to spend extra cash unnecessarily and also having to re-join a ridiculously long queue which is already backed up as a result of this year’s disruption.

“If Ministers could extend the validity of MOTs at the beginning of lockdown, which is arguably much more dangerous than extending the validity of a theory test, then surely they can extend theory test certificates to avoid further chaos.

“Learner drivers, driving instructors and the industry all want to see this change that’s what I’ll be pressing for in the House of Commons tonight.”

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