Those old number plates

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The time has passed, as the DVLC has been continually reminding us, for safeguarding the correct registration numbers for your untaxed historic motor vehicles. On the face of it the DVLC’s scheme to get all motor vehicles on its computers but to allow the retention of existing number plates on the older vehicles providing it was notified before November 30th seemed harmless enough. But was it?

In an Editorial in the Sept / Oct issue of Veteran Car, the official organ of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, the scheme is dismissed as -the most insidious and iniquitous piece of non-legislation yet to be foisted on us”, the point quite rightly being made that it seems ridiculous that after November 30th an original registration number that hasn’t been re-allocated to another vehicle, such as, Vintage Car suggests, “some idiot with more money than sense who wants to personalise his Porsche Turbo”, for instance, cannot be claimed and retained by its rightful owner.

But it seems to go further than that. It will be remembered all too well by those it concerned that the none-too-recent move to try to tax all motor vehicles, whether they were in use or not, and about which Motor Sport campaigned strongly at the time, was quite rightly abandoned, on the grounds of contemptuous iniquity, the far-reaching effects which such a ruling could have had on other possessions and hobbies, that indeed, the “Englishman’s home is his castle” and he must retain the right to use untaxed vehicles on private roads; which is quite different from duty being demanded on unused vehicles standing on public roads. Fortunately this astonishing scheme failed. But is the recently concluded threat to confiscate existing number plates on the older vehicles unless they were declared and put into the Swansea computers simply Big Brother checking on every possible vehicle owner in a different way?

The proof demanded before a cherished number plate could be safeguarded was that an original type log book or a licence disc belonging to the vehicle in question had to be sent to the DVLC with the application. Now many vehicles acquired for future restoration would have changed hands without a log book being handed over, about which there is nothing illegal if the original had been lost, we believe, and as for an old licence disc, an aged licence holder is one of the first items likely to fall off a neglected vehicle, so that, too, could be difficult to produce. Why original number plates where these were still on an old vehicle, together with the signed statement from the owner that this was so, were apparently not acceptable, is beyond us. To say the very least, the cost in public money and the time involved in refusing to permit future use of such obviously valid registrations while being prepared to issue numbers roughly appropriate to an aged vehicle, seems appalling.

Watch out for later moves Big Brother may be contemplating! — W.B.