EU REFERENDUM PUTS BRAKES ON MoT EXEMPTION
Consultation on EU Roadworthiness Directive – due now – has been swept under the carpet
The Government is refusing to deny that it has postponed a consultation on ending annual testing for taxexempt classic cars to avoid influencing the EU ‘Brexit’ referendum.
The consultation on whether all Historic vehicles should be given the same exemptions from annual testing as pre-1960 cars was due to be published earlier this year. But the Department for Transport has declined to explain whether the decision to delay the consultation on the EU-led legislation has anything to do with the 23 June referendum.
CCW columnist and Classic Aware founder Fuzz Townshend says: ‘It’s got the potential to be one of the first European Union-led policies to tie us up in knots, whether we vote to stay in or to leave.’
The Government is refusing to deny that the reason behind delays to the EU Roadworthiness consultation is down to the forthcoming referendum, which is due to be held on 23 June.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has – after several weeks of not answering CCW’s questions on the subject – declined to confirm why the public consultation on how it implements the EU’s Roadworthiness Testing Directive into UK law has yet to be launched. This is despite announcing that it would happen last year.
The proposals involve replacing the MoT test with a new pan-European roadworthiness test, from which all tax-exempt historic vehicles are expected to be exempted.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) said last October it understood a consultation on how to exempt tax-exempt vehicles from roadworthiness testing was due before last Christmas or in early 2016 at the very latest.
This was a position later confirmed by the DfT in a statement to CCW.
A DfT spokesman says: ‘The consultation is due to start in 2016. There is enough time to consult and implement any changes to the law in advance of May 2017.’
CCW columnist Fuzz Townshend – who founded the Classic Aware scheme to promote older cars being given independent roadworthiness tests – says that he’s unsurprised by the Government’s refusal to explain the delay. ‘The amount of people I’ve spoken to makes me suspect it will be an “out” vote come 23 June. But the Directive will be introduced into law regardless of the outcome because it’s a money-saving scheme that reduces the number of MoT testers required.
‘It has the potential to be one of the first EU-led policies to tie us up in knots, whether we vote “in” or not,’ he says. ‘For me, the bigger worry is that so many people don’t know this is happening – it’s a bit like a goalkeeper not even noticing the ball rolling past the line. It’s human nature that a lot of people won’t bother testing a car if they don’t have to. I’ll offer a big handshake to the few that will.’
The delay has also frustrated the classic trade, which is still waiting to find out how the legislation will affect their business. Ken Perrin of Northamptonshire-based classic specialist City Call Garage is firmly opposed to the legislation, but thinks the public should be able to have its say before the in-out referendum.
‘It definitely feels like they’re keeping this issue on the back burner until after the referendum, whereas classic owners and the trade ought to know where they stand,’ he says. ‘The big question is whether this Directive will disappear in the event of an “out” vote, along with a lot of the other silly laws that come out of Europe.
‘With the move to replace the MoT with a new roadworthiness test being led by the EU, I’m hardly surprised the Government isn’t prepared to say when the consultation is taking place.’
The FBHVC has confirmed it was also still waiting to hear back from the DfT on the consultation’s progress, but refused to be drawn further into the conversation.
‘The DfT statement is no surprise to us. We had assumed as much from the delay in the consultation being launched,’ says the FBHVC’s communications director Geoff Lancaster. ‘It does seem however that its slow response in responding to CCW hasn’t helped.’ David Simister
Last October the chance to have your say on what replaces the MoT seemed imminent – but the Government has refused to explain the delay.