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The RMI’s weekly political bulletin on issues and legislation affecting the motor industry.
If you have any comments please contact Rebecca Gladstone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transport policy has been on the agenda within both Westminster and Brussels this week. European policy has been conflicted, with the introduction of some measures promoting sustainability and others delaying key emissions targets. UK Government, on the other hand, is showing its continued commitment to the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ and has introduced key measures aimed at increasing efficiency in the transport sector.
Of particular relevance to our industry this week:
A new agency has been launched this week with responsibility for maintaining vehicle standards – the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) (article two).
Government have announced plans to remove the need for an insurance check when a vehicle gets taxed (article three).
We urge all members to ask their MPs to sign EDM 784 – an Early Day Motion introduced into Parliament aimed at cutting costs for motorists (article four).
In European news, the European Parliament’s Transport Committee has voted on measures to break Europe’s oil dependency of transport (article five).
The European Union has agreed a new compromise that delays stricter rules on carbon dioxide emissions for EU cars (article six).
The EU Economic Sentiment Indicator has shown a monthly increase of 0.4 points for November 2013, preserving the upward trend seen since May of this year (article seven).
For more policy updates follow @RMIRebecca
2. Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
A new agency with responsibility for maintaining vehicle standards has been launched this week as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The new agency, which employs 4,600 people throughout the UK, will replace the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) with responsibilities for setting, testing and enforcing driver and vehicle standards in Great Britain.
There will be a gradual introduction of the new agency name ahead of the formal launch in April 2014, with no change to the level or quality of services during the transition period.
DSA and VOSA will be incorporated within the new agency and the new branding will reflect this until their services and trading funds are brought together over the next financial year.
The DVSA will have a broad range of responsibilities, including processing applications for licences to operate lorries and buses, operating testing schemes for all vehicles, and enforcing the law on vehicles to ensure that they comply with legal standards and regulations.
The agency will also enforce drivers’ hours and licensing requirements, provide training and advice for commercial operators, investigate vehicle accidents, defects and recalls, and run tests for instructors of large goods vehicles, as well as driver trainers.
To ensure costs are kept as low as possible there will be a phased approach to the introduction of the new branding over the next financial year, where items will be replaced when stocks run out.
Source: Department of Transport
3. Vehicle tax reform
There will no longer be a legal requirement for motorists to produce evidence of valid insurance when they tax a vehicle, according to Government plans announced this week. They will, however, still need to be insured against their liability for injuries to others (including passengers) and for damage to other people’s property resulting from use of a vehicle on a road.
Motorists will still be responsible for ensuring that they have an adequate policy in place before they use or keep a vehicle on the public road. Currently, there are around 34 million licensed vehicles on the road. Every time one of these vehicles is licensed, motorists must provide evidence of insurance before they obtain a tax disc.
The introduction of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) scheme midway through 2011 resulted in there being two separate checks of vehicle insurance. The first is through the regular checks that CIE performs to confirm that there is a valid insurance policy in place for a vehicle, while the DVLA request a further check for valid insurance when a motorist applies to tax a vehicle. The check made when a vehicle is taxed is an unnecessary burden on motorists, business and the government.
Even though an electronic check for vehicle insurance is made when a motorist applies for a tax disc online, there are around 600,000 online applications that fail every year because of insurance reasons. These people must then license their vehicles elsewhere, normally at the Post Office®.
The removal of the check will make it easier for motorists to tax their vehicle, no matter the channel they prefer to use. They will not need to replace lost, stolen or destroyed insurance documents in order to tax at the Post Office® and there won’t be failures for insurance reasons when they tax online.
For the full Government response click here
4. Early Day Motion 784
The RMI, particularly the PRA, are championing Early Day Motion 784 (EDM 784). Introduced into Government by Robert Halfon MP, EDM 784 states:
“That this House welcomes the Government’s actions cutting fuel duty in 2011 and the freeze in fuel duty until the end of the present Parliament announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and urges the Government, if the economic conditions allow, to continue to cut costs for hard-pressed motorists and to consider a further fuel duty cut.”
We have urged many politicians to champion our cause and pledge their support by signing EDM 784, and ask that members ask their constituency MPs to do the same thing.
See the full list of signatures here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/784
5. European Parliament Transport Committee vote against oil dependency
The European Commission has welcomed the vote of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee on measures to build-up alternative fuel stations across Europe to break the oil dependency of transport.
In January 2013, the European Commission proposed a Directive to ensure the roll-out of alternative fuels stations across the EU, with common standards to ensure EU wide mobility.
The proposal aims at solving a “chicken and egg” problem: refuelling stations for alternative fuels are not built because there are not enough vehicles while consumers do not buy the vehicles because there are no stations. Hence the proposal foresees a minimum coverage of refuelling infrastructure for Electricity, Hydrogen and Natural Gas for road and sea transport, and their corresponding standards.
This week’s vote overall supports and strengthens the initial Commission proposal in the following key areas:
6. EU agrees to delay CO2 emissions deadline
The European Union on Tuesday (26 November) agreed a new compromise that delays stricter rules on carbon dioxide emissions for EU cars, ending months of wrangling after Germany insisted on tearing up an earlier deal.
The new outline agreement delays full implementation of a limit of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (CO2/km) for all new cars until 2021 from a previous deadline of 2020.
It also changes the rules on flexibility, giving more leeway to German luxury car manufactures such as Daimler and BMW whose emissions are higher than those of smaller, lighter automakers such as Fiat.
The deal would be presented to a meeting of EU diplomats on Friday, with a view to getting their agreement. It would then have to be signed off by member state governments and the European Parliament.
Provided it is signed into law, the compromise agreement will draw a line under six months of acrimony over what other member states saw as heavy-handed negotiating tactics from Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose party received money from BMW, took up the cause of the big German carmakers, declaring she was protecting German jobs, and persuaded other EU states to agree to scrap an agreement on 2020 emissions targets that was reached in June.
7. EU Economic Sentiment continues on upward trend
In November the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 0.8 points in the euro area (to 98.5) and by 0.4 points in the EU (to 102.1). While the upward trend observed since May has been preserved, the improvement in confidence has noticeably decelerated over the past two months, mirroring differences in developments across sectors.
In the euro area, the ESI’s increase was driven by improved confidence in services and industry. Confidence weakened among consumers and in construction and remained broadly unchanged in retail trade. Economic sentiment improved in four out of the five largest euro area economies, i.e. Italy (+1.9), Spain (+1.4), the Netherlands (+1.3) and Germany (+0.8), while it deteriorated in France (-0.9).
In the wider EU, the improvement in sentiment was less pronounced (+0.4). On a sector basis, confidence improved at a higher rate in industry and at a lower rate in services. As in the euro area, confidence among consumers decreased. In contrast to the euro area, confidence declined strongly in retail trade and improved somewhat in construction. The main reason for the strong decrease in retail trade was sharply worsening confidence in the largest non-euro area EU economy, the UK. In line with developments in the euro area, the EU financial services confidence indicator decreased (-4.0).
8. Westminster Diary
The following is of note at Westminster next week – 2 – 6 December 2013
Monday 2 December
Oral Questions: Home Office
Starred Question House of Lords: Number of disabled people who have had access to adapted cars removed as a result of changes to their entitlement to mobility benefits – Lord Wigley
Tuesday 3 December
Ten Minute Rule Bill; Decarbonisation. Ian Murray MP
Wednesday 4 December
Oral Questions: Prime Minister
House of Commons Debate: Business Rates.
Thursday 5 December
Oral Questions: Business Innovation and Skills
1230 – Chancellor’s Autumn Statement
Friday 6 December
House of Commons not sitting.