Clause 66 - Vehicle excise duty: late renewal supplements

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 30 June 2005.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Shadow Paymaster General

We are approaching the final lap and moving on to part 5. We dealt with clause 69 on the Floor of the House, so we need trouble ourselves no longer with that. That leaves us with three relatively non-controversial clauses in part 5. I shall comment on them only briefly.

Clause 66 relates to vehicle excise duty and varies the powers by which the Government can exercise sanctions against those who renew their VED late. I have a few questions for the Minister. We have received a representation from Mr. Paul Watters, the head of road and transport policy at the AA Motoring Trust. He stated:

''The AA Motoring Trust regards the 1 million or so uninsured, untaxed, wrongly registered users of vehicles a serious problem that must not be allowed to grow. That is why these initiatives are being taken. However, our support is conditional on the basis that DVLA modernises (and is given sufficient resources to modernise by government). We are pleased that DVLA has delivered customer service improvements for example, the new electronic road tax renewal system now coming on stream. It is a pity that some of the (close on) £1 billion so far raised in the sale of cherished number plates was not given back to DVLA to invest by Treasury.''

So, I offer that suggestion to the Minister.

Why is the clause amending measures that were passed as recently as in the Finance Act 2002? The clause is slightly confusingly drafted. What is the rationale behind the proposed change? We should know that, not least because the DVLA's business plan for 2005–06 has hardly anything to say about   the change, which presumably would have been important to it. Given our theme of the afternoon, what steps have the Government and the DVLA taken to ensure that its computers can cope with the changes?

Photo of John Healey John Healey The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The question of the proceeds from the sale of personalised number plates is rather far removed from the provisions of the clause. If the AA Motoring Trust genuinely regards the number of untaxed, unlicensed and uninsured vehicles on our roads as a problem that needs to be tackled—I am sure that it does—it will support the clause's strengthening of the continuous registration scheme.

The hon. Gentleman asked me why the provision was needed so soon after the Finance Act 2002. I shall be frank with him: at the time, it appeared to us that the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 would enable DVLA officials to act for the Secretary of State in processing court action. We found that that was not the case. The clause is designed to rectify the matter, and I hope that it will receive the hon. Gentleman's support.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 66 ordered to stand part of the Bill.