The Government is to turn to the private sector in an attempt to reduce the backlog of learner drivers waiting to take their tests.

At present over 120,000 people are waiting for a driving test, and will have to wait up to 15 months to be tested at current rates.

The move involves a private company running the driving test in existing centres all around the country, and is one of a number of measures aimed at bringing the waiting time for a driving test down to a matter of weeks.

The contract will be put out to tender shortly and the successful firm will be asked to carry out 40,000 tests a year.

The contract will only run until the end of next year by which time it is hoped that the backlog will have been cleared.

Discussions are underway with the trade union Impact to iron out the details of how the new measures will affect existing driving testers.

The Government is also planning to lift the embargo on the recruitment of driving testers in order to fill a number of vacancies that exist at the moment.

A bonus scheme will also be introduced for State driving testers where they will be rewarded for productivity.