Clause 119

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 25th June 2009.

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Requirement to destroy replaced vehicle registration documents

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

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke Shadow Minister (Treasury)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the last time on this Finance Bill, Mr. Atkinson.

I have only one question for the Minister. The clause amends the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 to allow the Secretary of State for Transport to make regulations compelling the registered keepers of vehicles to destroy the vehicle registration certificate once they have received an amended or updated version. My question for the Minister is simple: why is that in a Finance Bill? It does not seem to be directly a taxation matter and consequently it sits somewhat strangely in the Bill.

Photo of Brian Jenkins Brian Jenkins Labour, Tamworth

I have more than one question. I am glad that the measure is in the Bill, because at least I have the opportunity to put a couple of points to my hon. Friend.

I understand why we are compelling owners of vehicles to destroy documents, but some people in this country keep what are called historic vehicles. The historic vehicle is itself an asset, but the documentation is also an asset. When a vehicle is sold and ownership is transferred, it adds value to the vehicle if it was owned by a famous individual, a member of the Royal family or other such person. The documentation is part and parcel of the history of the vehicle. Will my hon. Friend give me an assurance that when a new document has been issued, the owner of the vehicle can send the old document into the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency where it can be stamped “no longer valid” and returned to the owner, so that it can be part of the history of the vehicle?

A second point is that although we say that we need to compel owners to destroy documents, people will be allowed to register documents online, which means that there is no requirement to send the documents back to the DVLA. What assurance can my hon. Friend give me that we will not have a situation in which two sets of documents refer to one set of vehicle registration details? Will not such a situation benefit those individuals in the motor trade—they are thankfully few and far between—who carry out the process of ringing, whereby, after a bit of work, two cars are given the same registration number and the same engine stamped number? We will have provided such individuals with an extra set of documents because one set has not been destroyed. Surely, to restrict growth in that trade, it would be far better if we insisted that those documents be sent back to the DVLA. We could therefore close the loop and ensure that we have not got two sets of documents in circulation for one vehicle. I wait for clarification from my hon. Friend on those two points.

Photo of Sarah McCarthy-Fry Sarah McCarthy-Fry Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury

The hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire asked why the measure is in the Finance Bill. The provision relates to vehicle licences, which are taxpayer records. The change will help to keep taxpayer records up to date. The purpose of the clause is to grant the Secretary of State for Transport the power to make regulations allowing keepers of vehicles to destroy an existing vehicle registration document once they have received a new one. They are currently legally obliged to notify and return a registration document to the DVLA if any of the details on it change.

The clause lays the foundation for the DVLA to begin work on a system of electronic notification. Motorists will be able to destroy a superseded registration document, instead of having to return it. When the secondary legislation provided for in the clause is enacted, it will bring into force a deregulatory measure that will remove from motorists the burden of having to return the registration document.

The DVLA plans to have a full round of stakeholder engagement before regulations are amended. I am sure that the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs will be part of that stakeholder engagement and that we will consult with it. On historic vehicles and the fact the documentation is an asset, there is no change to the current system. Owners of such vehicles currently have to return the document to the DVLA to be destroyed. Under the Bill, they will simply be able to do it themselves.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 119 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.