HL Deb 23 June 1975 vol 361 cc1264-7

5.51 p.m.

Baroness BIRK rose to move, That the Draft Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Order 1975, laid before the House on 9th June be approved. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this draft Order is, at first sight, a somewhat formidable document. But I hope it need not detain the House for very long because, as I will explain, it is—except in two minor respects—merely a consolidation of existing provisions dealing with the international movement of motor vehicles and their drivers. I will, however, just briefly mention the background.

This Order—and the previous Orders listed in Schedule 4, which it revokes—is made under the Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Act 1952, which itself repealed a previous Act of 1909. It has, therefore, deep statutory roots. The 1952 Act conveys powers for the making of Orders in Council, subject to the approval by each House of a draft of the Order, for the modification of domestic Statute law so as to give effect to any international Agreement concerned with the international movement of motor vehicles or their drivers to which the United Kingdom is a party.

The Orders which have been made under this Act from 1957 onwards cover a wide range of subjects—all designed to facilitate the movement of traffic across international borders by removing documentary and other formalities. Touring has been greatly helped by these international agreements which, as your Lordships will see from paragraph 1 of the Explanatory Note to the Order, cover quite a large range of subjects. Matters such as the issue of international driving permits; the recognition of foreign driving permits held by temporary visitors; exemption of visiting vehicles from payment of vehicle excise duty and the removal of vehicle registration formalities are examples of the sort of subjects covered by this Order.

As I have said, this Order is very largely a consolidation measure, so I feel it is unnecessary for me to go through every article in detail. We have consolidated on this occasion because the original Order of 1957 has been amended four times already. On the last occasion an undertaking was given that when the next amendment became necessary, consolidation would be undertaken. This then brings me to the amendments which it is proposed to make on this particular occasion. They are, as I have indicated, both quite minor.

The first relates to the fees charged for the issue of International Driving Permits and International Certificates for Motor Vehicles. The powers to charge fees for these documents derives from paragraph (6) of Article 1 of the Order. The function of issuing these documents has, for many years, been delegated to the motoring organisations—the AA, RAC and RSAC—which is, of course, a convenience since many motorists travelling abroad already utilise the services of one or other of these organisations in arranging their travel. I would stress, however, that it is not necessary to be a member of any of these organisations in order to obtain one of these documents from them.

So far as International Driving Permits are concerned, there are many European countries which recognise "the British domestic licence. Some, however, do not and in these cases, or for motoring outside Europe, an IDP in the form provided for in the Conventions of 1926 or 1949 is necessary. The House may like to know that about 300,000 International Driving Permits are issued each year. Issues of the other document—the International Certificate for Motor Vehicles—are on a very much smaller scale: under 1,000 a year. They are usually required only when the normal vehicle registration book or document is, for some reason, not available.

As I have said, these documents are issued under delegated powers by the motoring organisations. The present fee for either document is £1. It was fixed at that level in 1971. Since then, of course, costs have unfortunately risen and the Order therefore proposes a new fee of £1.50. We are satisfied that this is no more than is necessary to cover the increased costs of storage, administration and so on. There is no profit element. The provision for this new fee of £1.50 is contained in Schedule 2 to the Order.

The other amendment is a rather technical one concerning the exemption from vehicle excise duty there of certain vehicles temporarily imported into Northern Ireland. By the 1971 Amendment Order, provision was made, so far as Great Britain was concerned, for the exemption of vehicles owned by visiting servicemen from outside the United Kingdom and of vehicles temporarily imported from the Isle of Man. Corresponding exemptions were not, however, carried into the corresponding Northern Ireland Order.

The Order now before the House corrects this. Article 5A of the draft Order contains Vehicle Excise provisions relating to Northern Ireland corresponding to those in Article 5, which are appropriate to Great Britain. These replace those contained in the previous Northern Ireland Orders listed in Part II of Schedule 4. This course has been taken because vehicle excise and vehicle registration functions in Northern Ireland now fall to be exercised by the Secretary of State for the Environment, under the provisions of the Northern Ireland (Modification of Enactments) Order 1973. The amendment relating to the exemption of vehicles temporarily imported by visiting servicemen appears in paragraph (2)(a) of Article 5A. That relating to vehicles temporarily imported from the Isle of Man is in paragraph (3).

If I may sum up the purpose of this Order, it is, first, to make a modest increase from £1 to £1.50 in the fees payable for two documents which are sometimes needed for international motoring—the International Driving Permit and the International Certificate for Motor Vehicles. Secondly, it corrects an omission from previous Orders by extending to Northern Ireland the same provisions as apply in Great Britain as regards vehicles temporarily imported by visiting servicemen and from the Isle of Man. Thirdly, it consolidates previous Orders and Amendment Orders containing provisions which have enabled the United Kingrdom to accede to several international Agreements and Conventions, to the general benefit of those who want to travel internationally with their vehicles. I commend the Order to the House.

Moved, That the Draft Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Order 1975, laid before the House on 9th June be approved.—(Baroness Birk.)


My Lords, I should like, very briefly, to thank the noble Baroness for explaining this Order to us. The only time I applied for an International Driving Permit, my photograph was so awful that I have greatly disliked these documents ever since! However, it is nice to hear that the Government are going to net just over an extra £150,000 towards the expenses. I have no questions of a technical nature to put to the noble Baroness.

On Question, Motion agreed to.