It is a scandal that the DVLC computers at Swansea, which have cost the tax-payer millions of pounds, are still not running in top gear. For instance, we received recently, a vehicle licence reminder document, informing us that the excise licence for the car to which it applied expired at the end of the month, that was, in some three weeks’ time. Yet the licence had been cancelled and a refund obtained two months before. We thought that what expensive computers were for, was to tell the DVLC that, far from a particular licence having some weeks’ validity, it had expired considerably earlier. This may seem a minor matter, and it is unlikely that even the unscrupulous would gain much from it. But what untidy accounting, what a bad example for a Government Department to set! It poses the interesting legal conundrum, i.e. if mistakenly or otherwise, the document was taken at its face value and the car was used on the road, would the user be liable under avoidance of excise duty (when the DVLC had provided evidence to the contrary) or only for having no tax disc on display?
With this document came a leaflet from the Department of Transport giving tips on how drivers might save £50 or more on petrol bills in 9,000 miles. One recommendation is to drive at a sensible speed, with a note saying at 70 mph you use a third more petrol than at 50 mph. As 70 mph is illegal on ordinary roads, the note applies to Motorways — so here we have the MoT recommending this low pace on M-ways already in trouble from “mimsers”. . . . — WB