I am pleased to confirm that a new offence of keeping a vehicle with no insurance is being introduced, and that supporting regulations were laid before Parliament on 11 January 2011. Enforcement of the offence is planned to commence in the spring. The scheme for continuous insurance enforcement identifies uninsured drivers by comparing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s vehicles database with the motor insurance database.
I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I am sure that he would agree that uninsured drivers are selfish in the extreme. Can he tell the House how much money will be saved for responsible drivers as a result of the changes, and will he also confirm that the police will retain the power to seize vehicles that are uninsured?
I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s welcome for the steps that the Government are taking. I can confirm that the police will continue to have the power to seize vehicles, and he may be interested to know that last year they seized 180,000 such vehicles. Around 1.4 million vehicles are uninsured, which costs responsible motorists around £30 extra in their premiums each year. We think that the measure will save about £6 for each motorist.
Does the Minister not recognise that insurance costs, particularly for young drivers, are reaching ridiculous levels? The AA premium index suggests that they could rise by 40% this year, which he is making worse with the rise in insurance premium tax. Given that fines are so low, will that not mean that people will sometimes be incentivised to avoid paying their insurance? What on earth will he be doing about that?
I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point, and my Department is in discussions with the Ministry of Justice about that specific matter. However, I hope that he would also welcome the steps taken today to clamp down on uninsured drivers, who are costing motorists more money.