I propose to take Questions Nos. 672, 701 and 712 together.
Some 87,000 applicants are at present awaiting driving tests. Of these, approximately 18,000 have been given test appointments and a further 8,500 have indicated that they are not currently available to be tested. The national average waiting period for a driving test is now some 27 weeks. Average waiting periods have not been compiled for all individual test centres due to limitations in the IT systems involved.
As indicated in the reply to Question No. 264 of 24 November 1998 my Department is responding to this unsatisfactory situation by increasing the numbers and productivity of its driver testers. Saturday testing has been in place for some time and a further package of productivity measures has also been implemented. The service is also being augmented by the appointment of new driver testers on both a permanent and contract basis.
Information on the deployment of testers who are assigned to regions and not individual test centres and the numbers on the waiting list at each centre is set out in the following tables.
Assignment of Testers