I beg to move,
That this House
has considered the use of regional flags on driving licences and number plates.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Nuttall, and to have secured this debate. It is worth while bringing this debate before the House as we begin the process of withdrawing from the European Union. As Members will be aware, we see the EU flag on driving licences and number plates throughout our daily lives. All licences have the EU flag as well as the flag of the United Kingdom. While we can display the EU flag on number plates, at the moment it is optional.
In around two years’ time, the UK will be leaving the European Union. That means that our laws will no longer be influenced by European bureaucrats or politicians and the UK will be an independent sovereign state once again, where motor vehicles will no longer be under EU jurisdiction. The EU flag will disappear from UK licences and number plates. That not only symbolises Brexit, but provides us with a great opportunity to be much more inclusive when it comes to the flags representing different parts of our great United Kingdom. Post-Brexit, a standard UK driving licence will just have the UK flag on it. We will also have number plates that will just display registration numbers and letters. That said, it is worth pointing out that motorists have the option of displaying the Union flag, the cross of St George, the Scottish saltire or the red dragon of Wales, along with the other accompanying identifiers, on their current vehicle number plates. That was legislated for in 2009, and the addition of the Union Jack to driving licences was announced in 2012.
With the EU flag disappearing from both, there is a real opportunity for us to consider displaying flags that represent different parts of Britain. First, I would at least like to see the current rules on number plates extended to driving licences. If motorists are allowed to have the flags of England, Scotland or Wales on their number plates, that should be extended to driving licences too. Where the flag would go on the licence is a minor detail, but considering that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency produces tens of thousands of individual licences every year with individuals’ names, addresses, IDs and other details, I cannot see why it would be any more difficult to include a second flag, which could be chosen by the licence holder.
Alongside the flags of England, Scotland and Wales, I urge the Minister to consider flags from other parts of the United Kingdom. I am a very patriotic Cornishman, and it would give me great delight to see the St Piran’s cross on my driving licence. The flags could go on licences and number plates, but if the Minister is in favour of a slower approach, groups of flags could be extended to number plates first and then to licences, if consultation proved to be positive.