§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what action has been taken by Her Majesty's Government to prevent evasion of excise duty on motor vehicles; how many prosecutions have been instituted for non-payment of duty in each of the last three years; what information he has as to the nature and scale of particular efforts to reduce evasion; and to what extent advance announcement of such efforts resulted in evaders paying duty.
§ Mrs. Chalker
I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) on 18 October—[Vol. 29, c. 51]—about action to deal with evasion. The number of prosecutions for nonpayment of vehicle excise duty in each of the last three years has been:
Number 1979 108,390 1980 134,939 1981 117,028
In the same three years over 200,000 motorists agreed to pay a mitigated penalty rather than face prosecution. The rate of prosecutions and so on in 1981 was affected by industrial action. So far there have been 21 intensive local enforcement campaigns run with the help of the police and 4 run with the help of London borough councils. Publicity is an important feature of these campaigns and has led to a surge in voluntary relicensing. Its precise quantification is not possible, but, for example, the number of licensed vehicles in West Yorkshire increased by 19,000 following the campaign there in July.