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MPs call for grant reform

Taxes on the most polluting cars are set to rise if the House of Commons Transport committee of MPs gets its way. In a report called ‘Cars of the Future’, it calls on the Government to offer manufacturers incentives to introduce cleaner technologies and safety systems, and to offer consumers incentives to buy them.

The report was critical of the Government for failing to back up its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 2010 and for not increasing the Powershift budget for grants to buyers of ‘green’ cars after it ran out after six months in 2003/04. The amount of money invested in the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies was “trivial”, the report adds.

It urges for reform of the grant funding system and says the differentials between vehicle excise duty bands must be widened to increase the incentives to buy cleaner cars. “Owners of cars which produce high levels of carbon should be made to pay for the environmental damage they cause,” says the committee.

The report acknowledges the technical advances made by car manufacturers but says Govern-ment should not be afraid to legislate to meet environmental targets. It also warns about missing the opportunity to have cars on our roads within the next decade that prevent someone driving if they are drunk, uninsured or untaxed.

“The technological potential is stunning,” says Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, chairman of the committee, who adds: “The Government does not need to be prescriptive; the car industry is capable of bringing forward the best solution.”

The SMMT welcomes the committee’s conclusions. “The report recognises the great steps the automotive industry has taken to address the important issues of safety and environmental performance,” says Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive.

“Government must take a lead in stimulating further R&D to maximise the UK’s competitive advantage in the supply of new technology to global markets.”

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