Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013: Committee Stage

This meeting has been convened for the purpose of consideration of the Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013. I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Fergus O'Dowd, and his officials, Mr. Donal Enright and Ms Marie Gleeson, and thank them for being with us.

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

Vehicles that are scrapped must have an end of life certificate. We had problems in the past where vehicles which ended up being called "company cars" wound up being driven by joyriders. Is there special monitoring of this in garages? What penalties will be imposed in this regard?

That is not part of this legislation, but it was mentioned on Second Stage. The Department has engaged consultants to undertake a review of the producer responsibility initiative model in Ireland. The report on the review which will be ready in the coming months is expected to make recommendations in a number of areas, including on end of life vehicles. I hope the issue raised by the Deputy will be dealt with. If he submits a parliamentary question on it, we will answer it.

I was only referring to it in the context of the end of life certificate which is part of the Bill. I want to know how the process will work for garages.

It is not part of the Bill. The briefing material might state it is, but it is not included in the legislation. I will ensure the Department contacts the Deputy after the meeting to answer his query.

Another issue raised on Second Stage was that of the penalties imposed on those who sought to pay car tax on a quarterly or half yearly basis.

The question relates to the different amounts charged, where if a person pays for a full year, it is cheaper than paying by the quarter. The difference is due to the administrative costs involved.

It is becoming the norm for many because of the economic situation. I, therefore, ask the Minister of State to consider ways of equalising it.

The three and six month tax rates are set at a higher figure than the annual fee to take account of the extra workload involved for the national vehicle driver file in motor tax offices and the additional reminders sent on the date of each renewal. The current half and quarter year duty rates are 55.5% and 28.25% of the annual rate, which rates have remained constant since 1960. The annual income from the increased charge for half year and quarter year discs was over €50 million last year. While costs may have reduced for those paying on-line at three and six month intervals, they are not measurable as such. I take the point, however, that because people have a smaller income, it is more difficult for them.

There is no getting away from the fact that some cars are off the road out of necessity because of the economic situation and people's inability to meet the cost associated with these vehicles. If we can lessen the burden - I accept the remarks made about administrative costs - by allowing someone to pay monthly by direct debit, it would be of great assistance.

The difficulty with making payments by direct debit is that when someone ceases to pay, the Department will not receive the money expected. As I hear the Deputy's remarks, I will talk to the Department about the matter.

As technology is moving much faster these days, there are means and methods of doing this.

There are 4.6 million road tax transactions. Theoretically, that number could rise to 15 million if everyone opted to make quarterly payments.

Could small haulage firms with large commercial vehicles at their disposal which might not have enough work for them to do year round be taxed incrementally during the year when in operation?

They can use the off-road declaration form like everyone else.

The vehicle is off the road because business is cyclical. They could tax it for six months and yet only use the vehicle for one month.

The owner does not have to give a reason. If a vehicle is off the road, the owner simply declares that it will be off the road; he or she does not have to give a reason. This is a difficulty if there are certain numbers of vehicles that are only used for certain periods.

I am asking the Minister of State to look specifically at this problem. If they pay tax for six months and expect to be on the road for that long but then business dries up, where do they stand? Will the Minister of State see if there is any way this provision could be relaxed?

The Department has advised me that the Bill will not change that position, but I accept the Deputy is raising it as a point to be considered in the future.

We must think outside the box. I appreciate from where the Minister of State is coming in this regard, with a saving of 5% or 10% on the figures collected in the past, but these are issues about which we are hearing on the ground.

Car hire companies also have an issue in that they can have a certain number of cars but if the business is not available, they face a significant loss.

If a business is operating and finds out that it must put a vehicle off the road, how strictly is the one month notice period adhered to?

At any time during the relevant month the company can declare a vehicle is off the road.

Therefore, that could happen at the end of the month.

Yes. It does not have to be a calendar month.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 2 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.