HC Deb 01 August 1978 vol 955 cc298-9W
Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is his latest estimate of the evasion of vehicle excise duty; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. William Rodgers

A survey carried out by my Department showed that about 2½ per cent. of cars parked on the street are unlicensed. Because the owners of unlicensed vehicles seem less likely than others to leave them on the street the real figure is likely to be higher. Taking account also of the results of a study using the new central vehicle record, my Department estimates that the real rate of evasion by car owners over the country as a whole may be between 7 per cent. and 9 per cent. The studies show considerable variations between regions. An estimated 40 per cent. of those evading payment of the duty do so for periods of four months or less. Compared with some £730 million a year paid by car owners at current rates of duty, the loss of revenue resulting from evasion is estimated to be about £50 million to £60 million. I have placed copies of the report of the survey in the Library and further copies are available at the Vote Office and from my Department.

My Department plans to undertake as soon as possible a survey of evasion by goods vehicles which could not be covered in the street survey of cars. The indications are that the rate of evasion may be slightly higher than that for cars.

I am considering urgently what action can be taken within present civil service manpower constraints to reduce the rate of evasion.