HC Deb 13 December 1979 vol 975 cc1512-3
5. Mr. Costain

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the present procedure for the prosecution of owners of vehicles which do not carry a road fund licence whilst on a public road; and what proposals he has to simplify and speed up this procedure.

Mr. Brittan

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has responsibility for enforcing prosecution of the offence of using a motor vehicle whilst on a public road without a valid licence. In a writteen answer on 30 November he announced the Government's intention to retain vehicle excise duty and to increase the enforcement effort. The separate offence of failing to display a valid vehicle excise licence is dealt with either by normal prosecutions in the courts or by the fixed penalty procedure, at the discretion of chief officers of police.

Mr. Costain

Does my hon. and learned Friend appreciate that if someone does not display a road fund licence on his vehicle he is told that he is a naughty boy and that he should buy one, whereas if he does not have a television licence he is fined? Why the difference?

Mr. Brittan

He can be fined on both occasions. It is just a question of enforcement. It is true that if he does not have a licence on his vehicle, that is an offence that can be dealt with either by prosecution or by the fixed penalty procedure. However, it is an offence.

Mr. Sever

The hon. and learned Gentleman may not be aware that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport indicated in a letter to me recently that there was some degree of confusion between the Home Office and the Ministry of Transport over this problem. Will the Minister enter into talks with the Ministry of Transport in order to decide how best this evasion can be curtailed?

Mr. Brittan

If the hon. Gentleman cares to send me a copy of the correspondence, I shall consider the matter.

Mr. Burden

Is it not a fact that if a vehicle does not have a road fund licence, automatically it is not insured, and therefore if any claims are made in respect of an accident there is no possibility of getting compensation?

Mr. Brittan

It would be most unwise of me to give off-the-cuff legal advice of that kind.