HL Deb 25 June 1998 vol 591 cc343-4

3.10 p.m.

Lord Blyth asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the tax concession for vehicles over 25 years old was withdrawn in the recent Budget.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, in his Budget speech, the Chancellor announced his intention of introducing a new, fairer and more environmentally sensitive system of vehicle excise duty. In the meantime, the level of vehicle excise duty has been frozen for all vehicles and the rolling forward of the exemption for vehicles over 25 years old has been stopped so that only vehicles manufactured before 1st January 1973 will be eligible for the exemption. A consultation document setting out the options for reform will be published soon.

Lord Blyth

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer, which seems useful. I have in front of me a document entitled Budget 98, HM Treasury 16, which gives environmental reasons for the decision. Can the Minister comment on the fact that when a Boeing 747/436 takes off for a United States west coast destination in the first three minutes it uses fuel at the rate of more than 19 gallons a second which makes the Deputy Prime Minister's Jaguar look like a fuel miser?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I am grateful for the aeronautical information which the noble Lord gives me in his supplementary question. The fact that other people use a lot of fuel does not reduce in any sense the obligation on us to ensure that our cars are as environmentally sensitive as possible.

Lord Strathcarron

My Lords, does the Minister agree that as vehicles over 25 years old are normally in the hands of collectors and probably travel only 1,000 miles a year, perhaps a little more, it is unjust to expect the owners to pay for the full licence?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, if such cars are off the road for a large part of the year it is always open to the keepers of the vehicles to apply for the vehicle excise licence to be suspended and to be given a refund for the period of the suspension. Therefore, there is no discrimination against those who use their cars for a short time.