Motor Vehicle (Duties and Licences) (Amendment) Bill 2016: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Finance Act (Excise Duties) (Vehicles) Act 1952, as amended by the Motor Vehicle (Duties and Licences) (No. 2) Act 2008; to allow all vehicles 30 years and younger, and whose date of first registration is prior to the 1st of January 2008, to have their road tax calculated based on CO2 emissions (as certified by the vehicle manufacturer or the National Car Testing Service) or engine size, whichever is the lower of the two.

I am pleased to introduce the Bill, which, if passed, will see everybody in this State being able to avail of the same system of car taxation. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that those who own a vehicle which was registered prior to July 2008 will be able to avail of the cheaper system of taxation introduced in 2008 but which is currently only available to vehicles which were registered post-July 2008.

In a republic, every citizen should be treated equally before the law and nowhere should this be more apparent than in our taxation system, which I believe should be progressive. This is not the case for those with older vehicles, so the young, the elderly and people on lower incomes are discriminated against in our State in regard to car tax. In certain circumstances, they pay up to three times as much car tax as those with newer vehicles, so a person driving a 2016 diesel BMW 520 can be paying one third the amount of tax a person driving a 2007 Nissan Micra is paying.

We must look at how this can be changed while still complying with the CO2 requirements as stipulated in the 2008 Act. The explanatory note to my Bill sets out clearly how this can be done. As some pre-2008 vehicles will not be able to comply with CO2 specifications for the purposes of taxation and in circumstances where pre-2008 vehicles were purchased before the CO2 legislation system for road tax, they cannot retrospectively comply with the legislation, which did not exist at the time the vehicles were purchased. For this reason, pre-2008 vehicle owners will be allowed the option of road tax based on CO2 emissions or engine size, whichever is the lower of the two. The level of CO2 emissions can be based on the certificate provided by the manufacturer or, in the absence of a manufacturer's certificate, the level of CO2 emissions can be tested as part of the NCT. Given that this level is listed on the NCT results, the car owner does not incur an extra cost but owners will be able to readily see their CO2 emissions level.

At the moment, the legislation discriminates against those who cannot afford to purchase a vehicle dating from 2008 onwards, a category which, as I said, includes the young, the elderly and those on lower incomes. All road users and taxpayers should receive equality of treatment. Therefore, I hope the Government will see fit to agree to the implementation of this Bill.

To give an example of the operation of the current system, a person driving a 2007 Opel Astra will pay €544 annually in road tax whereas a person driving a 2015 Opel Astra will pay €280. There is obviously an anomaly in the system in that many cars registered prior to July 2008 have the exact same engines and electronic management systems as cars purchased post-July 2008. If we want a progressive system and want to encourage people to use more efficient cars, this makes no sense. There are systems which can remap the engine of a vehicle to make it more fuel-efficient and lower the CO2 emissions. Why would we not encourage people to do that? Given we have the technology to do so, we should encourage drivers to lower the CO2 emissions if that was the real purpose of the 2008 legislation, rather than just tax collection.

This is progressive legislation that would benefit all road users, particularly young people who are trying to get a job for the first time and need a car to travel to work and elderly people on pensions who cannot afford a new vehicle but find the annual level of road tax crippling.

Any government that ignores this cohort of society, who can least afford to tax their vehicles, is out of touch with society. It is all well and good to feel that one can buy a new car and there will be no problem, but the majority of people in this country who suffered throughout the recession are not in a position to buy a new vehicle and need to be encouraged to try to make their cars more efficient. This Bill is a positive measure and I hope the Government agrees to implement it. I look forward to the Bill going before the House in the coming months.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.