Con­sul­ta­tion on EU Road­wor­thi­ness Di­rec­tive – due now – has been swept un­der the car­pet

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page -

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.

De­lay­ing tac­tics

‘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.

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