Vehicle Cloning

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 18th March 2010.

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Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Opposition Whip (Commons) 10:30 am, 18th March 2010

If he will bring forward proposals to assist those whose vehicles have been illegally cloned.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

We already assist victims of cloning and will give their vehicle a new registration, if appropriate. Number plate supply is tightly regulated to counter the availability of false number plates and prevent cloning. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has sponsored the development of a standard for theft-resistant number plates, which are now commercially available.

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Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Opposition Whip (Commons)

I thank the Minister for that response. An elderly couple in my constituency are among the estimated 20,000 innocent motorists who are victims of cloning-in this example, by a minicab driver who was regularly collecting parking tickets at Heathrow airport. That was extremely distressing for them and took a long time to resolve. Will he look more urgently at how the processing of such cases might be speeded up so that the distress to the victims of those crimes may be reduced?

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

First, I extend my sympathy to the elderly couple in the hon. Lady's constituency who face this difficulty. We recognise the issue, which is why we put out clear guidance. Someone who is, for example, receiving parking tickets that they have not incurred should take the matter up, first and foremost, with those who have issued the tickets, and then with the DVLA. Extensive guidance is available through a number of sources-information is sent out directly to those of us who are road users, but is also on the directgov website. We have taken several other steps to ensure that the number of such cases is reduced still further.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Government have failed miserably to tackle the problem of vehicle cloning. Many motorists face the misery and distress of receiving dozens of tickets for offences that have nothing to do with them. Why is it still so easy to buy so-called show plates over the internet? It is so easy that, rather embarrassingly for the Minister, I was recently able to purchase plates identical to those on the Prime Minister's official Jaguar in that way.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The answer is very simple. The Opposition spokesperson will know that the DVLA has introduced a standard for anti-theft number plates. It has worked with the industry so that people can buy what I call "self-destruct" number plates, which break into many pieces if removed. Other developments include the use of clutch-head screws, which can be tightened but not unscrewed. We are taking those steps to deal with the issue rightly raised by Angela Watkinson.

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