Saturday, 7 June 2008

Cameron mauls Brown on VED

Vehicle Excise Duty (or VED but perhaps better known as car tax to you and me) is a subject I've been wanting to comment on. Not so much VED itself but the government plan to hugely increase the rates for the more polluting cars made since 2001. I happened to see PMQs from the House of Commons last Wednesday lunchtime and Cameron majored on this particular subject in his six questions to the Prime Minister.

My car came off the production line a long time before that particular year, so I'm not affected by these exorbitant increases and therefore don't have a personal axe to grind. However, and I'm not going to mince my words here, Labour's decision to effectively backdate this tax increase is totally immoral. The government are also going to raise the level of VED on those cars yet to be built if they are particularly polluting. This at least has the merit of pushing both manufacturers and customers in what is perceived to be a good environmental direction. But picking on certain car owners whose vehicles are up to seven years old is absolutely grotesque. At the moment it looks as if Labour might have to eventually make yet another U-turn as their backbenchers and supporters get fidgety on this subject.

It is inherently unfair to 'backdate' this tax because purchasers of these cars would not have known that they would face these swingeing increases in costs. But let's put issues of principle aside for just a moment and look at other aspects of this sorry saga. As with the 10p tax fiasco Labour are in danger of alienating their natural supporters many of whom will already own one of these alleged polluting cars. One thing that makes me hot under the collar is the fact that nobody, well certainly not politicians, ever talks about the pollution caused by the manufacture and eventual scrapping of a motor car, it's always about the pollution produced when they are driven. If there is anything that irks me it is the presentation by people who should know better of only half the story. Now even if older cars are more polluting when in use than newer models surely it makes sense to not shorten their life. But reducing their lifespan seems to be exactly what these idiot decision makers are intent on doing. With the retrospective increases in VED then there will be a rapid acceleration in the time when the residual value of the car approaches the amount that has to be paid each year in car tax. This will seriously skew the second hand market and make it very difficult to sell certain perfectly serviceable but more polluting cars up to seven years old (actually up to 8 years old because the increases start in 2009) and lead to premature scrapping of them.

I really don't know what they put in the water in Westminster but as with the 10p tax business the government are showing unbelievably bad judgment and terrible incompetence. No wonder Cameron was having a field day at Brown's expense. By the way why was Brown calling VED VAD I wonder. He just doesn't seem to be in control at the moment.

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