HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc27-9W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to reduce the number of(a) unlicenced and (b) untaxed cars on UK roads. [75552]

Mr. Jamieson

The Government takes the problem of the use of unlicensed and untaxed vehicles on the United Kingdom's road seriously and is pursuing a wide range of initiatives to deal with the problem. We are currently developing proposals for the reform and modernisation of vehicle registration and licensing, to reduce evasion and to bear down on vehicle crime. In response to the recommendations of a report commissioned by my Department from the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science—a copy of which was placed in the Library in June 2002—we have established a Modernising Vehicle Registration Implementation Board (MVRIB), including representatives of motorists' organisations. the motor trade, the police and the insurance industry to advise on and develop those proposals.

The 2002 Finance Act contained provisions under which the responsibility for licensing and taxing vehicles will be placed on the registered keeper, who will remain liable for doing so until such time that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has properly been notified of a change of keeper. These proposals will mean that it is not necessary for a vehicle to be detected on the road for effective enforcement action to take place. The implementation of these new powers is at the heart of MVRIB's agenda.

Detection of unlicensed vehicles on the public road is currently carried out by police and traffic wardens, who pass offence reports to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for enforcement action. Last year 800,000 offenders were brought to book, bringing in £110in in fines, penalties and relicensing revenue. Since 1997 a nationwide scheme has been operating to wheelclamp and impound untaxed vehicles seen on the public road. Over 100,000 vehicles have been clamped since the scheme started. The scheme has been a success and we are looking to increase the level of wheelclamping across the country. A pilot scheme has proved the feasibility of local authorities using DVLA's powers to wheelclamp and impound untaxed vehicles. Following a succesful pilot in the London Borough of Newham, this is being rolled out to local authorities that wish to join the scheme. In addition, mobile digital camera technology has been introduced to detect untaxed moving vehicles.

DVLA is also working closely with other enforcement agencies in schemes to target both unlicensed and abandoned vehicles, in particular through Operation Cubit, a joint operation between DVLA, the police, fire service and local authorities which removes offending vehicles from the road immediately, and has been run in a number of locations including Kent, Hastings, Brighton, Liverpool, Belfast and Cleveland.