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RMI Government Update: 04/04/2014Back

RMI2The RMI’s weekly political bulletin on issues and legislation affecting the motor industry. If you have any comments please contact Katy Recina – katy.recina@rmi.co.uk.

Introduction

This week has seen the beginning of the round up of parliamentary business before the Easter break.

Many debates and statements have taken place across all government departments with notable announcements being made on Wednesday by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond who announced the introduction of the new DVSA.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison also stated on Thursday that a second consultation paper would be published in regards to the Government’s plans for standardised cigarette packets. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) is awaiting this release and will be submitting their response accordingly.

Next Thursday will be the last day of parliamentary business until 28 May when the Commons will return from recess. And full dates can be found under the Westminster Diary section.

The EU has also announced this week that the Commissions plans for automotive policy reform will be driving forward as the European Parliament vote to decrease vehicle noise. This is part of a package of measures which will also see noise installations in electric vehicles.

Finally at a Vehicle Industry Policy & European Regulation (VIPER) meeting, attended by the RMI policy team on Tuesday, it was confirmed that the next Cars 2020 Automotive Council meeting has been postponed until June 2014.

For more policy updates follow @RMICaterina

Westminster

Launch of Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

Wednesday saw Roads Minister Stephen Hammond announce the launch of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

The agency will centralise testing, regulate driver and vehicle standards and take over roles previously managed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

Hammond emphasised that the new agency would help to achieve further road and safety improvements and ensure “cost effective services for motorists”.

The DVSA has provided the following yearly statistics:

– 1.5 million theory tests and 1.6 million practical tests are conducted by the DVSA.

– 87,000 goods and passenger vehicle operator licences are issued by the DVSA.

– The DVSA carries out 137,000 roadside inspections.

– 28 million MOT tests are regulated by the DVSA as well as 46,000 driving instructors and motorcycle trainers.

Prime Minister’s Questions

PM David Cameron responded to small business question by Conservative MP David Rutley (Macclesfield) stating; more efforts needed to be made so that it is easier for people to take on their first employee.

Cameron welcomed the introduction of the National Insurance Contributions Act which would begin benefiting employers shortly.

Introduction of the HGV road user levy

Transport Secretary for State Patrick McLoughlin announced the introduction of a levy of heavy goods vehicles using UK roads above 12 tonnes on Tuesday.

The levy will be compulsory for all HGVs at or above 12 tonnes who are using UK roads and users will be required to pay a new time-based road user charge, the HGV road user levy.

The introduction of the levy is a coalition government commitment, and following the introduction of the HGV road user levy bill in October 2012.

In a statement released by the Department for Transport, the following details on the levy have been provided:

The levy is structured in a series of bands to reflect vehicle type, maximum weight and axle configuration, with heavier, more road wearing HGVs paying the most.

For a given vehicle type, the annual rates of levy and 6 month rate of levy are the same for foreign and UK-registered HGVs.

The vast majority of UK hauliers will notice no difference. For over 9 out of 10 UK-registered HGVs, the cost of the levy will be fully offset by reductions in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). The levy will be paid alongside VED in a single transaction so that unnecessary administration costs are not incurred.

Foreign HGVs must pay the levy before they use UK roads and can purchase for between a day and a year, with discounts available for longer periods.

The levy will be enforced by the police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVA) in Great Britain and the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.

The levy will be enforced through measures of targeted stops and existing road safety stops.

If road users fail to pay the levy a fixed penalty notice of £300 will be incurred. On summary conviction a fine of up to £5000 will be payable for non-compliance.

Announcement: online vehicle tax service unavailability on 31 March

The DVLA has announced that a technical fault on their online vehicle tax service has been resolved.

Motorists were unable to tax their vehicles online on 31 March. The fault has now been rectified but some motorists would have been unable to tax their vehicles before the new tax rates came into force on 1 April.

The DVLA have apologised for the technical error and have requested that any customers who feel unduly affected should contact the organisation.

https://www.gov.uk/contact-the-dvla

Brussels

EU vote to reduce vehicle noise

On Wednesday (2 April), the European Parliament voted to decrease vehicle noise which forms part of the European Commission’s automotive policy.

The Commission has stated that ‘noise limit values will ultimately be decreased by 4 dB(A) for passenger cars, vans, buses and coaches and for trucks by 3 dB(A). Altogether, these measures will reduce vehicle noise nuisance by some 25%’.

The Commission has also proposed that electric and hybrid vehicles will have noise generators installed to heighten road safety for pedestrians and visually impaired persons.

Sue Robinson, Director of the RMI, commented on the vote saying it “is encouraging to hear today’s proposals in what is slowly becoming a cleaner, greener more environmentally friendly industry. The move has recently be tested and proven following the introduction of quieter engines in F1 cars.

“There has also been a great amount of public demand for electric vehicles to omit a noise to add safety value for pedestrians, and so we support this proposal fully. The move will increase road safety and undoubtedly help avoiding road-accident injuries”.

ECB holds rates

On Thursday the European Central Bank postponed increasing interest rates and instead chose to keep rates at a steady 0.25%.

Whilst fears have been voiced that increased money-printing and a lack of increased rates will cause deflation, the ECB President, Mario Draghi, stated that he and his colleagues were committed to ensuring measures would be adopted to stop low inflation from ‘dragging’ on too long.

Draghi has said “We will monitor developments very closely and we will consider all instruments available to us”.

“We are resolute in our determination to maintain a high degree of monetary accommodation and act swiftly if required.”

He added: “The Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using also unconventional instruments within its mandate in order to cope effectively with risks of a too-prolonged period of low inflation.”

Retail trade increases by 0.5% in EU28

In a report published on Thursday by the Eurostat Commission (the statistical office for the European Union), retail trade within the EU28 can be seen to have risen by 0.5% in February 2014 compared with January 2014.

The report also noted that there was a 1.5% increase in retail sales when comparing the February 2013 results against February 2014.

Malta had the highest retail trade increase with +1.9%, with the UK, Denmark and Romania coming second with +1.4%.

The 1.5% increase in retail trade has been attributed to a 2.9% rise for the non-food sector, of which 0.8% was automotive fuel and 0.3% for “Food, drinks and tobacco”.

Westminster Diary

The following will be taking place at Westminster, week commencing 7 April;

Monday 7 April
Oral Questions: Tacking youth unemployment (HL)
Oral Questions: Communities and Local Government (HC)
Short debate: Prospects for economic recovery in Wales (HL)

Tuesday 8 April
Treasury Select Committee: Budget 2014 (HC)
Oral Questions: Consideration of Commons amendments to Pensions Bill (HL)

Wednesday 9 April
Oral Questions: PMQs (12:00)
Work and Pensions Select Committee: Employment and Support Allowances and Work Capability Assessments (HC)

Thursday 10 April
Oral Questions: Business, Innovation and Skills (HC)
Business Statement: Leader of the House (HC)

Friday 11 April
N/A

Parliament will be in recess on the following dates:

House of Commons
Next recess is scheduled for the 10 April (Easter), sittings will resume from the 28 April.

House of Lords
Next recess is scheduled for the 9 April (Easter), sittings will resume from the 6 May.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 04/04/2014