Non Use of Motor Vehicle Bill 2013

PaulConnaughton-2-150x150

 

Dáil Éireann 30 April 2013

 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this Bill.

 

In the economic climate that we currently find ourselves in, all opportunities for tax evasion must be examined and countered and I believe that up to €50 million annually may be lost to the country as a result of false declarations of non-use of motor vehicles and so this Bill is a common sense approach to closing this loophole.

 

The decline in car ownership reflects the huge difficulty that many people find themselves in and it is worth considering the increased costs which rural living puts on families, increased costs of sending children to school, fuel costs for weekly shopping and any extra-curricular activities that children are involved in.

 

Poor families cannot afford new cars and thus find themselves driving pre-2008 cars with high motor tax.  These families are already in distress and are finding it difficult to cope and that’s why I believe it is imperative that, should the need arise for them to make a declaration of non-use, there should be no fee.  Families are already swamped with the number and nature of fees to be paid and if they are complying with all regulations by making this declaration of non-use, I firmly believe that no fee should apply.

 

 

This administration entered government at a time when the country’s finances were in the mire and have had to take many, many difficult decisions in an effort to get the country back on track, to stop racking up the huge debts that were being added to daily and to carve a leaner and more cost-effective method of governing the country.  In order to do that, spending had to be reduced and income, through taxes, increased.

 

However, I feel that prior to this Government taking office, too often charges were put in place by people with little or no understanding of how life is on the ground.  Also, it should be taken into consideration that for families living in a rural area, a car is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

 

In relation to the detection of motor tax evasion, I do not believe that it should be contracted out to a private firm.  I know that Garda resources are stretched, but I also know that Gardai on a daily basis are coming face to face with people in great emotional and economic distress and I feel that at the present juncture, it would be injudicious to contract this work out.  Motorists who are detected for motor tax evasion should at least be met with in person. I believe that increasing the work of the mobile speed detection vans to encompass motor tax evasion would be counter-productive.

 

At the moment, advertisements are running to try and increase public support for the placement of mobile speed check vans, the rationale being that they are placed in locations where there have been serious accidents.  Of course, this isn’t always the case.  I have had many complaints from people in Mountbellew, County Galway about the constant presence of speed vans on the N63 approach to the town from the Galway side.  On investigation with the Road Safety Authority, it appears that they are there as a result of accidents that occurred at the junction in the centre in Moylough, another neighbouring town, but because there was no place convenient for the speed van to park in the centre of Moylough, the were placed just inside the speed limits in Mountbellew.  The locations where the accidents occurred is a town centre, but the speed vans are located just inside the speed limits in a different town.

 

Were speed vans to be checking for motor tax evasion, it would negate the argument that they are there to save lives on our roads and boost the public perception that they are mobile revenue creating machines.

 

The idea of using toll operators to check for motor tax evasion similarly, I believe is a bad idea.  Already, many people cannot afford to use the best and most expensive roads in the country, our motorway network.  Poor people are sidelined from these roads, as they cannot afford the tolls.  The prospect of families who cannot afford to tax their vehicles being unable to use tolled roads is simply a bridge too far.  Under the new regime, these people would not be able to declare that their car was off the road and so either the car would have to be scrapped or taxed for the period, and this should be sufficient.

 

This Bill is a necessary step in shoring up the country’s finances, but should not be used as a stepping stone to the introduction of any further charges or costs on motorists, who are already facing increased carbon charges, and ever-increasing fuel costs.