London, 28 Sep 1999.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release

Family Favourites Face Flawed Fine - £500 Exhaust Pipe Tax Proposed
This is a Tax on Childrenís Safety and a Tax on Car Ownership
As Transport Minister Lord Macdonald tells motorists that the government plans to hike road tax payments yet again, this time based on carbon dioxide emissions, leading motorists' campaign group The Association of British Drivers warn that the proposed "Graduated VED system" is flawed in principle and unacceptable in practice.

It was the ABD which first exposed the scam of the "smaller car" £55 rebate - where the threshold was deliberately set at a level which excluded Britainís most popular small cars, in many cases by less than 25cc, leaving only a couple of gutless one litre wonders and a clutch of Japanese and Korean microcars which are all wholly inadequate for family use.

The new plans, for a scheme based on carbon dioxide output mean that a family car with engine capacity between 2 and 2.5 litres will be re-classified by John Prescott and Gordon Brown as a gas guzzler, and face a possible hike in road tax of over 300%, to £500 per year.

This proposal is in direct opposition to Government statements that they want to move taxation from ownership to use to encourage car owners to use public transport.

Allegedly based on environmental considerations, the government admitted it was consulting focus groups to see how much pain motorists would bear before turning against Labour.

ABD Roads and Traffic Spokesman Mark McArthur Christie comments:

"This shows that the government's environmental flag of convenience is at half mast. If there was a valid environmental reason for a specific rise in road tax, why are focus groups being asked how much of a hike they can stand before the bands are fixed? The private transport sector is being asked to pay a price far above anything that is remotely justifiable in environmental terms. Cars bought today are very eco-friendly, and if the scheme is ever backdated to older cars then owners will be penalised for a buying decision they could not have known would result in such a harsh and inexcusable financial penalty.

"Car drivers already contribute £35 billion to government coffers, accounting for more than £1 in every £8 of government spending. Enough isn't enough - it's already too much!

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory concludes:
"Any scheme based on engine size is fundamentally flawed. Apart from the fact that climate change is due to the Sun, not man-made emissions, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted depends far more on mileage than on engine size. Why should someone who needs a seven seat 4x4 vehicle for transporting their family and safely towing large trailers, but who only does 5000 miles a year, pay four or five times as much road tax as somebody doing 50,000 miles in a small car?"

Carbon emissions are already heavily taxed in terms of fuel - 85% of the price of a gallon is tax. Whilst the tax on fuel is far too high, at least it is a progressive tax - the more fuel you use, the more tax you pay. The last thing we need is a totally unfair, non progressive tax that penalises families who need a large vehicle to transport their children safely irrespective of the mileage they do.

This is just a thinly veiled attack on the car-owning majority, especially the middle classes, which will cost the government dearly at the ballot box."


Notes for Editors