HC Deb 12 January 1987 vol 108 cc7-8
5. Mr. Robert Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has taken any action to end the practice whereby vehicles which have been written off are allowed to re-appear on the market.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Michael Spicer)

We are reviewing the problems associated with written-off vehicles with the police, insurers and other interested bodies to see whether there are ways in which the present situation can be improved.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister accept that there is an accumulating body of evidence that ripping off customers by unscrupulous car dealers is becoming far too widespread and, in some cases, dangerous to the customers? Will he therefore consider making certain that no vehicle registration document is issued from Swansea for any vehicle that has been written off, or, if he cannot go that far, will he at least make sure that it is printed on every document that the car has been written off, so that the customer might have some redress through fair trading legislation?

Mr. Spicer

We are aware that there is considerable public concern about this matter. The working party should report within the next two or three months. It has been set up with a view to seeing whether we can get more rigid guidelines for what constitutes a write off and what can be done to make severe accident history more readily available to the public, and, as the hon. Gentleman asks, we seek to ensure that potentially hazardous vehicles are kept off the road.

Mr. Heddle

Does my hon. Friend accept that probably the poorer members of the community are forced to buy those potential death traps because they are the cheaper cars on the forecourt of the second-hand car lot? Perhaps those people would not go to the Automobile Association for an independent structural survey beforehand. At the moment, the power of monitoring is vested in the county trading officers, who can see the cars only after they have been bought. Will my hon. Friend consider giving the police power, where there is a suspicion that such death traps are on second-hand car lot forecourts, to enter those forecourts to examine the cars before they are sold?

Mr. Spicer

The police already have powers to investigate accidents when write offs occur, so police powers already exist. The question is whether one should have more rigid guidelines on what constitutes a write off. That is the real problem.