HC Deb 15 July 1999 vol 335 cc295-6W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what initiatives his Department has introduced to reduce car tax evasion on Merseyside; and if he will make a statement on their progress. [91211]

Ms Glenda Jackson

[holding answer 13 July 1999]: The main responsibility for enforcement action against unlicensed vehicles rests with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The police and traffic wardens in the Merseyside area provide the Agency with reports on unlicensed vehicles seen on the public road. Last year, the Agency took successful enforcement action against some 25,000 evaders in the Merseyside area, bringing in over £2.9 million in fines and penalties. In addition, the Agency and the police conduct campaigns periodically against road tax evaders. These take the form of extensive localised publicity to encourage motorists to relicense their vehicles, or risk being caught in subsequent police checks. The last such campaign in Merseyside was run in March of this year, and resulted in around £0.3 million recovered in additional revenue.

The Agency also operates a permanent wheelclamping operation in Merseyside as part of a national scheme. The scheme has proved to be very successful in encouraging motorists to relicense their vehicles. Since its introduction in Merseyside in November 1997, almost 2,000 vehicles have been clamped. Some 50 per cent. of these have been left unclaimed and disposed of. The initial publicity of the scheme led to the recover of £0.5 million in additional revenue.

Further initiatives aimed at reducing the level of vehicle excise duty evasion include measures to improve the quality of the vehicle register and to make it more difficult for motorists to drop out of the licensing system. Planning is being done for the introduction of camera systems in Merseyside and the rest of the country to detect and deter evasion.