Chancellor, Thank You.

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Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, dropped a surprise into his Budget Speech, with the exemption from “Road Fund” tax on cars over 25 years old and abandonment of the proposed Continuous Licensing ploy. This unexpected bonus will be welcomed by those who run such vehicles, not only V-E-V and classic car enthusiasts but also owners of serviceable cars from Mini to R-R, including some long-lived Rovers, etc. So thank you, Chancellor!

Mark you, this is not necessarily an indication that Clarke loves us. He explained that the numbers of quarter-century vehicles in use was so small as not to justify the cost of licensing them. Better to spend the money saved on apprehending those evading duty on more generally encountered “everyday” cars. But there will be rejoicing among enthusiasts, not only because their cherished cars are now tax-exempt but because the lobbying against Continuous Licensing has had the desired effect; apparently the protests were the largest MPs received except those from animal-rights groups — and we are rightly a nation of animal lovers. . . So congratulations to the FBHVC, the clubs and all the individuals who took action, too strong for the Chancellor to ignore, an indication to any government that car owners are a force too big to disregard when unjustified restrictions offend them — and the CL protest avalanche came only from that smaller old-car section of the total. . .

Not only will the tax exemption be welcomed by the V-E-V and classic fraternity as saving on the expense of running such cars, but also for obviating all that paperwork involved in licence refunds after short-term spells of vintage motoring. The object behind the concession, it seems. Those who advocate an increased petrol tax and elimination of licence discs have to consider the unemployment at the DVLC that would result and the drain on the pocket each time a tank has to be replenished, unwelcome to many to whom cars are essential transport. So a toast perhaps to Mr Kenneth Clarke? Whether his Budget concession will bring more so-called “old bangers” onto our roads is conjectural, and if properly MoT-ed, what objection to them is there?’ They are mostly five to 12 years old anyway, but no doubt some motor dealers will increase slightly the prices asked for cars of the late 1960s persuasion. However, the exemption is truly very welcome, and it will apply mainly to well-kept, highly-priced, sensibly driven historic cars which provide much public pleasure. Yes, that toast, I think!