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Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013: Second Stage (Continued)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seán Kenny: Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny] The forms can be submitted initially via motor tax offices and will be available via Motor Tax Online later in the year. A declaration can be made up to one month in advance of the expiry of a motor tax disc or a previous declaration of non-use, while purchasers of new and second-hand vehicles will have ten days from the date of registration or change of ownership to make a declaration. The new declaration will not require vehicle owners to make a declaration in a Garda station, as is the case with the current retrospective declarations. I welcome that.

There will be a three-month transitional period to the new system. During this time, those in arrears must pay the arrears and either take out a vehicle licence or make a prospective declaration of non-use. Those whose vehicles have not been on the road must make a retrospective declaration and either take out a vehicle licence or make a prospective declaration of non-use. Following the end of the transition period, only a prospective declaration of non-use can be made. Those who fall into arrears of motor tax will not be able to make a prospective declaration - rather, the arrears and a minimum of three months' motor tax will be payable before a vehicle can be declared off the road.

In addition to the recommendation in the local government efficiency review group report, the 2011 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General also contained a chapter highlighting the level of motor tax evasion and recommending that a more robust system be put in place to deal with off-the-road vehicles. It is estimated that the measures could yield up to €50 million in a full year and I am pleased the Government is taking action.

Deputy John O'Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony I welcome the opportunity to contribute briefly to the debate on the Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013, which puts the responsibility on vehicle owners to declare non-use in advance rather than retrospectively. In view of the amount of avoidance or evasion, it is only fair on those who are compliant that everybody else is brought into line. It is estimated that €50 million will come into the Exchequer as a result. I have no doubt plenty of homes will be found for that money, or savings may not have to be made in other areas. It will go towards protecting vulnerable persons in other areas. From that point of view, the Bill is welcome. However, there are a few issues that the Minister of State may be able to clarify or take into account before the legislation is passed. When the Bill was announced, media reports suggested one had to give three months' advance notice before taking a vehicle off the road. That is fine if it was planned.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd It is one month's notice.

Deputy John O'Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony I was contacted by a person who has a medical condition and was advised by her consultant not to drive for the next six months. It is difficult for anyone to give notice three months in advance of getting sick. However, the Minister of State has provided clarification as I speak. It is important that such exceptions be taken into account.

There may be an issue for road hauliers. Companies with fleets of trucks may not know from month to month whether they will be doing business and if they will be on or off the road. As this is a very important industry, I ask if there can be some engagement. Perhaps those exceptions can be dealt with. I have no issue with the overall Bill and the thrust of it. The issue needed to be addressed, given all the money lost to the economy. There may be other exceptions that have not occurred to me which we should deal with to ensure a level playing field where a vehicle owner does not have sufficient control over circumstances to allow the giving of advance notice.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I thank the Technical Group and all who work so diligently in the Whips' office for allowing me some speaking time. I appreciate that at all times.

I am totally opposed to the Bill before the House, because it is lacking in common sense. I have read the Minister of State's contribution and what is being proposed in the Bill. The Government is castigating people by generalising and presuming that the vast majority of the public are engaged in telling lies. I do not believe that. If the Minister of State studied the speech he has read into the Dáil record he would be aware that he is castigating many of his constituents as liars. He is castigating many members of the highly respectable Garda force as inaccurately reporting events. I abhor that type of castigation. In the area I come from we have been castigated. People have tried to put us into a box and castigate us as something we are not. The vast majority of people are respectable, hardworking and genuine. In the past, if a person presented to a member of the Garda Síochána to say that his or her vehicle had been off the road - due to a breakdown, a period of working away from home, or the fact that an old van, as many of us had, had been left in the yard for a while because the engine had failed or the radiator burst - the Garda knew it was genuinely off the road and would sign the form. The Minister of State and the Government are castigating those people for having told untruths. I disagree with that at a time when the Minister for Justice and Equality-----

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd That is not true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Minister of State can reply at the end of the debate.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae -----is ill-treating the highly respectable members of An Garda Síochána. If one does not have respect for the Garda force one has respect for nothing. Its members get up in the morning and put themselves in harm's way to protect individuals and society. It is clear from reading between the lines of the Minister of State's speech that he is attacking the members of the Garda Síochána, to which I take grave exception.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd That is not true.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae While I am a Member of this great House I will stand up for the rank and file members of the Garda Síochána on every occasion because the Minister for Justice and Equality certainly will not defend them.

In his contribution the Minister of State said that many people take a holiday from paying motor tax. Either the Minister of State or the person who wrote his speech should go back to speech-writing school, because their speech-writing leaves much to be desired. To suggest that a person would take a holiday from paying his or her motor tax is rubbish and I condemn it.


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