Matters of Moment, February 1969

Cut Motor Taxes

In a country which seems to be sinking into the financial mire, its citizens subject to an ever increasing cost of living and even its essential postal services now costing more (the 5d. post does not always maintain the promised delivery-next-day, either, but perhaps things are looking up at least in this department; we received a letter last month which bears the postmark “London W.C.1 -31-IV-69”!), the motorist pays more dearly than most. Car tax has risen from £17 10s. a year to £25 and there are rumours that it could go to £40 at the next Budget. Petrol tax is 4s. 4d. on every gallon. Purchase tax on cars is up. Even the compulsory vehicle test now costs 25s. instead of 15s.

So we are glad to note that the R.A.C., which should be the most influential motoring organisation in the country but which has signally failed to fight effectively for our cause in recent times, has at last woken up, over this matter of excessive taxation. It is calling for a National campaign for a drastic reduction in the present excessive taxation. Lord Chesham, Executive Vice-Chairman of the R.A.C., describes the present taxes a “modern version of highway robbery”, appeals to Britain’s 15-million motorists to display R.A.C. “Cut Motor Taxes” stickers, and asks each one of us to protest to our M.P. and to the Chancellor. The R.A.C. says it intends to wage a vigorous battle for a fair deal. If it succeeds it will gain urgently-wanted prestige among the car-owning public. It cannot afford to fail.

Do you realise that since 1960 car-licence fees have risen by 100% and petrol tax by 70%? Apart from the £25 for the windscreen disc (£20 fine if it isn’t displayed) there is now 4s. 4d. on every gallon you burn, putting petrol prices to astronomical levels; Esso have tacked on their own ½d., but while you are not forced to buy any particular brand, you cannot evade the savage tax. In the last eight years tax milked by the Government has risen from £500-million a year to more than £1,500-million, a 260% increase, yet, of this, only £300-million was spent in 1968 on road construction.

It is high time we protested. Colin Chapman thinks so too. When opening the Racing Car Show he said : “This is a Show for those who enjoy their motoring, be it as a competitor in motor sport, as a spectator or as an enthusiast private motorist. It is probably not amiss therefore for me to take this opportunity to express the British Motor Industry’s sympathy with and support for the Royal Automobile Club’s 1969 campaign to encourage the Government to Cut Road Taxes. Motoring has long since ceased to be merely a luxury pastime for the rich. Today it is a necessity. Any move to cut the costs of motoring must receive our wholehearted approval and it is pleasing to see at last that Britain’s senior motoring organisation has taken a real initiative on behalf of the ordinary motorist—surely a major original aim of the R.A.C.’s founders.”