Lamentable Legislation

I hope strong objections are being raised against this proposed "Continuous Licensing", which the Government proposes to apply to all motor vehicles, whether used on the road or static on private premises. It is the most ill-conceived and obnoxious legislation since the window tax. And it could have the same outcome, with cars stored for restoration being destroyed to avoid paying tax on them.

Do not be deluded! The "road fund" concession on pre-war cars and the sop that this may be extended to cover pre-1961 cars, although appreciated, was introduced years ago to simplify taxation when different licence fees were in operation for different ages of vehicle, and continued because older cars are unlikely to do large mileages. But for those who run their veterans once a year, road tax and "continuous licensing" could actually cost more.

No, what we are facing is paying for some of the lost revenue because police and traffic wardens have been unable to catch unlicensed vehicles on the road. Apart from which, it is a disturbing violation of the long-undisputed rule that the Englishman's Castle is his home, wherein he can do as he pleases, providing it is not criminal or obscene. Soon, if the new law comes into being, you will be taxed for keeping one or more cars on private ground or in a private garage on which rates are levied. This does not, yet, apply to tennis courts, swimming pools, chicken-houses, model-railway tracks, etc — I am trying not to think of caravans. It is the car-owner they will tax...

The scheme as presently constituted looks unworkable. The FBHVC was told not to be hasty with criticism until the discussion document was issued in three months' time. It came out in little more than two, so the Government, not the Clubs, had time on their side. The paper, moreover, does not define what is to be statically taxed — how many wheels, on or off, constitute a car? Will a pile of rusty iron be back-taxed after it has been assembled into an historic vehicle, before this is ready to go on the highway? And although such vehicles are unlikely to be used for lethal "joy-riding", have to be taxed when entered for competitions, are not usually run by licence-evaders and in some cases consume large gallonages of taxed petrol, the 1995 Finance Bill strikes two further blows at their users. VAT concessions were withdrawn from vehicles re-imported from outside the EU in a delayed and mis-explained way by the Ministry, and steam-rollers used as a hobby had their tax concessions withdrawn, with no announcement until it was too late for amendment. The Minister concerned showed no understanding of the complaints, and the DVLA had no idea that the concessions had been withdrawn. Can Ministers or the DVLA be trusted?

Unless you wish to subsidise the cost of trying to catch dishonest owners of unlicensed fund-raising cars by paying a tax on cars, which you, as an honest tax-payer, do not have on the road, PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST! To Alan Newport, DVLA, D9/S, Longview Road, Swansea SA6 7JL. (Fax: 01792 782 056), and your MP, the RAC, AA, etc. You have until June 2.