HC Deb 18 April 1988 vol 131 cc536-7
4. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to simplify procedures for the removal by local authorities of abandoned, unroadworthy and untaxed vehicles.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

We are considering whether procedures for removing abandoned vehicles can be simplified. Local authorities have no powers to remove unroadworthy or untaxed vehicles.

Mr. Bowis

Will my hon. Friend consider two points in particular, among the many things that one can do, to improve the situation? First, will he consider initiating discussions with the DVLC and local authorities to see whether we can speed up the transfer of information from the DVLC, which can take 10 seconds for the police, but three weeks for local authorities? Secondly, will he consider the possibility of deeming cars which do not bear tax discs to be abandoned? There is nothing more infuriating for the law-abiding taxpayer than to see cars outside his home, alongside his own car, without any such tax discs.

Mr. Bottomley

My hon. Friend will know that the North report covers some of those points. The Government will be considering their response to the recommendations.

I accept my hon. Friend's suggestion about a discussion on a simple way for local authorities to check with the DVLC. I think he will accept that it is necessary to have some degree of confidentiality in respect of personal records held at Swansea.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Minister accept that lack of public transport encourages people to use their cars excessively, so that elderly cars become unroadworthy and become the old bangers which are the subject of the question? Does he agree, therefore, that abandoned cars in the Yorkshire dales national park are a particular eyesore? Should he not come to the House as soon as possible to make an urgent statement that the Settle-Carlisle railway will be retained?

Mr. Bottomley

It has always struck me as rather odd that the hon. Gentleman should ask for a Minister to come to the House as soon as possible when he is already here and answering questions.

It is far more likely that the abandoned cars were abandoned by those, especially in the London area, who, in growing numbers, have moved to public transport. That is a sign of the success of our policies.