Skip to main content

Vehicle Registration Marks Bill

Volume 691: debated on Thursday 10 May 2007

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill has come to us from another place, having been sponsored there by Mr Richard Ottaway, the Member for Croydon South.

The Motor Car Act of 1903 introduced measures to identify vehicles and their drivers, due to the rise in traffic at the time. There were 5,000 vehicles on the road then; we now have around 33 million, with most, it seems, driving around the M25 at eight o’clock in the morning. All vehicles were to be registered and to display registration marks—the vehicle number—on a plate in a prominent position. I believe that the police refer to them as index numbers. Since then, there have been many reforms to road traffic and vehicle numbers legislation, including the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994—VERA—and, even more recently, the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

The first registration was A 1, issued to the second Earl Russell, who wanted the registration so much he camped out all night to secure it. Vehicle registration marks vary greatly in price. I understand that one of the most expensive ever sold was M 1, bought for £331,000. Most of the numbers transferred are much less than that—typically from £500 to £1,500. Thousands of motorists display vehicle number plates that individualise their cars, making it easier for it to be recognised by them and indeed the police. A number plate could spell out a name. For example 51 NGH, which can look like Singh, was sold by the DVLA for £254,000 in 2006. Or a plate could convey an interesting message. I have fond memories of an old number plate of mine, FIB 4157. For a politician, it was probably better than 1 FIB.

The Bill is designed to remedy an imperfection in the existing legislation, VERA. If my car with the number plate FIB 4157 expired, as it did, and I wanted to keep the number, I would apply to the DVLA to retain it separately from the vehicle. If I wanted to sell my right to the number to a dealer or an individual, as the grantee, I would be involved in the subsequent process until another car was nominated to take the number. That could take some time, and I would be contacted every 12 months, when the retention needed to be extended. I cannot make a quick, clean-break sale. For the buyer or dealer, there is the possibility of fraud or financial loss, as he will have to trust my integrity to assign the number as agreed and not renege. The dealer may have expended considerable effort in marketing the number.

The current arrangements clearly lack flexibility in not allowing the person, other than the current or original keeper, to hold the right of retention, as only the grantee can apply to assign a number to a vehicle registered in his name or that of a nominee. That is because entitlement to the number cannot be passed on while it is held on retention, as the nominee has no legal entitlement to the registration mark before its assignment to a vehicle. A dealer may transfer a valuable number to a cheap vehicle, but that would cost £80 each time. He would also then have to store many vehicles—that is clearly inappropriate for low-value numbers. Although the original intention of the legislation was to safeguard an individual's right to display a number, it creates an unnecessary administrative burden for those trading in numbers and can prevent the quick conclusion of the transaction. The retention certificate costs £25, and an additional fee of £80 is payable for the assignment of the registration mark to another vehicle. During the past financial year, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency handled almost half a million cherished transfer and retention applications. Your Lordships will now understand why Ministers are so supportive of the Bill.

Under the Bill, the registered keeper would be involved in the process only when making the initial application for a right of attention in favour of his chosen purchaser, unless he wants to retain the number himself. Once the initial right of retention has been granted, it will be non-transferable, unless the person holding the entitlement to the number—the grantee—wishes to pass his entitlement to another party via the existing nominee arrangements. The seller will be able to make a clean-break sale, and the buyer will acquire entitlement to the number before assigning it to the vehicle.

Clause 1 amends the Secretary of State's powers, and subsection (1) extends the power to give a right of retention to someone other than the registered keeper. Subsections (2) and (3) make consequential amendments. The Bill enables the DVLA to conduct its business more effectively in respect of the sale of vehicle registration marks. It will also benefit both buyers and sellers of vehicle numbers and intermediaries in the trade.

Although the Bill improves the system associated with vehicle numbers, I am aware that there is another problem with cherished number plates. That is the misrepresentation of number plates for amusement or for criminal purpose. The misuse of different fonts and fasteners is a good example. Misrepresented vehicle registration plates are illegal, and difficulties have arisen in respect of automatic number plate recognition. There is also evidence of the growing use of non-UK-style plates. Vehicles are displaying number plates that carry the car's UK registration but, due to the style, appear to be from another country. That can impact on the ability of ANPR to read the plates correctly. However, although those problems are real, the Bill does not attempt to address them. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Earl Attlee.)

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Attlee for introducing the Bill so coherently this evening, and I wish it well. I declare my interest as chairman of the European Secure Vehicle Alliance—ESVA—and the associated parliamentary group dedicated to the reduction of vehicle-related crime and disorder.

Vehicle registration marks, especially their manufacture and distribution, have been a particular interest of ESVA since its formation in 1992. A register for manufacture and supply was established as part of the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001. My last address to the House on this matter was on 25 October 2005, during the debate on the Road Safety Bill, which extended the aforementioned legislation to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Bill before the House is welcome in its aim to enhance the efficiency of the trade in vehicle registration marks, although concerns have been expressed regarding the added complexity that this trade can generate when exploited by criminals seeking to benefit from dealing in stolen vehicles. My main concern is that the Bill shares some characteristics with shifting the deck chairs on the “Titanic”. I urge the Government to indicate that they are now prepared to undertake a fundamental review of the system of manufacture and distribution of vehicle number plates.

In other countries, such as Sweden, for example, number plates have the same provenance as bank notes. They are security-printed and distributed. Such a system should now be introduced in the United Kingdom. I have said previously that DVLA records indicate that there are 32,000 suppliers and 38,000 outlets registered to supply number plates. The DVLA estimates that at least 35,000 plates are stolen from vehicles each year.

The current trials, which the DVLA has supported, to promote the use of tamper-proof number plates and to fit electronic identification chips to plates are also welcome, but they should be regarded as steps that tinker at the margins. A more fundamental step-change needs to be adopted. The benefits of a new system suitable for the new millennium would be significant and would enhance the value of the trade in number plates, as referred to in the Bill, because the market in counterfeit plates would be, at best, eliminated completely.

We have observed over the past decade significant growth in our capability to identify vehicles via their number plates. We have the London congestion charge and the police’s automatic number plate registration database, which is capable of reading up to 50 million vehicle movements nationally each day. Very competent networks have been developed across public and private enterprises, capable of managing what are essentially simple but in some ways also complex systems associated with road users and their vehicles. It is becoming increasingly evident that there is a growing appetite to tackle and significantly overcome the challenges associated with this step-change proposal.

The focus for all those associated with road use is to encourage greater compliance among all road users. A fundamental aspect of this strategy must be to make it very easy for all road users to comply with all aspects of the legislative framework associated with road use. Similarly, we should develop our approaches to make it simple to detect non-compliant road users. The preparedness to consider, develop and adopt a new national vehicle number plate infrastructure is entirely consistent with this approach. I wish the Bill well.

My Lords, this Bill has been introduced with the normal efficiency by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. It will be welcomed by owners of vehicles with number plates that have either sentimental family connotations or are personalised for reasons known only to the owner.

Owners of such vehicles can, and from time to time do, alter the spacing or font in order to portray some sort of message, as the noble Earl has said. That is an offence. The one I would like to see—I do not know whether it is already in existence—is YE5 1M OK: yes, I’m okay. It would be rather nice, even if it was not altered and was legally accurate. However, it would also be wonderful if those companies making number plates were the only ones making them. I am led to understand that at some fairs and markets there are stalls that will make any number plate, altered to reflect the customer’s requirements. These are outside the regulations and, to date, get away with this by putting up a notice that says something to the effect of “these plates are for home use only”. Despite the financial aspects for the traders concerned, the ability to produce such illegal number plates should be curtailed.

The noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, mentioned tamper-proof plates with chips fitted. That would indeed be a step forward; it might even stop—only for a short while, probably, but none the less that would be better—those criminals who duplicate number plates to put on their car in order to avoid such things as speeding offences caught by a safety camera, the congestion charge and more serious offences where having a false plate is considered by them to be very helpful.

If we went the same way as some other countries and retained a certain number plate for life, an implanted chip could be read by safety cameras—if the technology eventually evolved—thereby confirming the authenticity of the vehicle. Those who might say that that would infringe their human rights might be persuaded to change their minds when they learnt that such a system could cut down both motoring and other offences. Let us move forward. In the mean time, I am pleased to support the Bill.

My Lords, the Bill deserves support, but no more than that. It affects a few people, and I am certainly not going to oppose it. However, there are bigger problems that we ought to address.

What are the Government’s intentions with regard to sorting out the absolute chaos in the supply and manufacture of number plates? Considerable investment has been made—the Government have played a large part in this—in safety cameras, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, referred, and in the installation of automatic number-plate recognition, with which the police are now well equipped. Does the Minister have any idea of the amount of information that is now coming to the attention of the police on which they may act? They do not have the resources necessary to cope with that information.

In the Thames Valley—I declare an interest as a member of that authority—we will have by the summer 60 automatic number-plate installations in cars and vans or alongside the roads. They will generate something like 80,000 hits a day. Eighty per cent of those will relate to cars that are administratively committing an offence; the owner has not paid their tax or insurance, the car does not have an MOT certificate, or for some other reason there ought to be an intervention. In fact the DVLA has told Thames Valley police: “Don’t report those 60,000 a day, because we just can’t handle it”. That leaves 15,000 hits a day of vehicles that will be of interest to the police: vehicles that are stolen; that have stolen number plates; whose occupants are engaged in crime or are known offenders; or that contain people whom the police ought to stop and question—perhaps terrorists. That information is now becoming available to the police.

Does the Minister consider it consistent that we have a sophisticated means of knowing that a vehicle needs to be stopped but alongside that we have what I can only describe as a haphazard system of licensing vehicles and marking them? I know that road traffic legislation does not come forward that often but it is time that the Government dealt with this issue—not necessarily in the Bill, because it is too much to hope that it will be amended. I seek some assurance from the Minister that a real effort will be made to tackle the nonsense of number plates. The system needs to be tightened up. It is abused and it is costing taxpayers huge sums of money. It is time a stop was put to the whole business.

My Lords, I have a feeling that this committee is in expert hands. I am declaring myself a non-expert on this subject. My problem with number plates is that I have great difficulty remembering mine. If I could have one that had some relation to my name, that would be in everyone’s interests, but most especially mine. This Bill is nothing but sensible. I therefore wholeheartedly support my noble friend Lord Attlee, whose introduction was extremely clear and left us in no doubt about the Bill’s business.

My Lords, I, too, ought to make an admission: I am going to join the committee of non-experts. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, I always struggle to remember my number. That is no great surprise to anybody in my household, since the few numbers that I can remember are usually my PIN, mobile phone and bank numbers—the number plate is one too many.

I pay tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, for his introduction. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, said, it was crystal clear. Although the noble Earl was suffering with his throat—and then not so crystal clear—he gainfully proceeded and did a splendid job, for which I thank him, because this is a useful piece of legislation.

I am not at all surprised that, as with everything discussed in your Lordships’ House, there are experts here on vehicle registration marks. There is always an expert in your Lordships’ House and it is interesting to listen to what they have to say, even on perhaps obscure issues.

As the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, motor vehicle registration began in the UK in 1903, with the introduction of the Motor Car Act. This was the first legislation to require the registration of motor vehicles and it included the requirement to display vehicle registration plates—therefore, we have had over 100 years of them. On behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, the DVLA registers vehicles that are kept or used on the public road. This is in accordance with the requirements of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994—or VERA, as it is affectionately known—which has been amended by the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

As we have identified, the registration and licensing process plays an important part in identifying vehicles and their keepers for road safety matters, and, importantly, in revenue collection. These main functions remain the principles for the vehicle register, which is held at the DVLA.

The registered keeper of the vehicle is the person responsible for keeping, using and licensing it. This may not necessarily be the legal owner of the vehicle. Legal ownership of a vehicle is a civil matter, usually established by a bill of sale or other document of title. There is a statutory obligation on the vehicle’s keeper to notify the DVLA when disposing of it.

When a vehicle is first registered and licensed, it is allocated with a vehicle registration mark. Vehicle registration is performed by the DVLA, their local offices or motor dealers, with the appropriate computerised links. Motor dealers with this facility subsequently send the first licensing and registration details to the DVLA, where the information is held on the central computer record.

The DVLA holds in excess of 33 million licensed vehicle records. Vehicle registration marks are not items of property in their own right, so it is not possible to acquire legal title to them. Registration marks are assigned to and may be withdrawn from vehicles—rather than keepers—by the Secretary of State, as part of the registration and licensing process required by law. Furthermore, the DVLA, on behalf of the Secretary of State, can withhold registration marks if the mark is likely to cause offence or embarrassment—from having my name on it, for example—when displayed on a vehicle. Marks can be withheld for a number of reasons, such as on the grounds of political, racial and religious sensitivities or simply because they are regarded as in poor taste.

When a registration mark is assigned to a vehicle, it normally remains with that vehicle until it is broken up, destroyed or sent permanently abroad. Since the early days of the registration system, the idea of having a distinctive or personalised registration mark for a vehicle has, as we know, appealed to many individuals. To meet the widespread interest in personalised and cherished registration marks, the DVLA introduced special facilities to allow vehicle keepers to acquire and retain the use of particular vehicle registration marks. Once a mark is assigned to a vehicle, further movement of that registration mark is subject to the requirements of the cherished transfer and retention schemes.

As the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, observed, a market in attractive marks has in recent years begun to gain momentum, in particular since the mid-1970s. In response to growing demand for attractive registration marks, the DVLA began in 1989 making available registration marks that had not previously been released for use. Up to this point, the only registration marks available to trade or transfer were those already in use on vehicles. There is still a steady trade in these numbers, which can range in value, as the noble Earl commented, from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds.

The DVLA’s sale of marks scheme made it possible for the first time for an individual to buy the right to have an unissued registration mark assigned to their vehicle. These marks are seen as particularly desirable and are often purchased to celebrate a particular event such as a birthday, a wedding or an anniversary. The marks appeal to all ages and incomes. They can range in price from £250 to, as the noble Earl commented, more than £300,000.

As a matter of interest, my own local authority owns a very famous number plate CD1, which I am told is worth somewhere in the region of £100,000. It must be one of the most sought-after municipal number plates in the known world. When the adjacent borough, Hove, existed, it had the number plate H20, which was also quite a sought-after plate.

In 2005, income from the sale of marks passed the £1 billion mark for the first time since the scheme began in 1989, and I am informed that in excess of 2.4 million marks have been purchased since that date. When the DVLA entered the cherished numbers market in that year, there were perhaps a dozen private businesses that traded in used registration marks. The market has since grown and there are today more than 150 registration mark traders. Many traders deal in marks that are already in use on vehicles, as well as in unissued marks, which are available only from the DVLA.

The DVLA’s personalised registrations service operates in an increasingly crowded and competitive market. It holds a unique position in the GB personal registrations market. It is a source of new stock, which makes it a supplier to the market, industry and private buyers alike. During the last financial year, the net value from the sale of registration marks was in excess of £76 million, equating to just over 220,000 registration marks being sold.

The next two years will see redevelopment of the sale-of-marks websites to provide an online payment and purchasing facility. This has been prompted by rapid changes in technology and a greater understanding of customer needs and demands. Customers currently research the website on a 24/7 basis for their desired mark, but then have to make their purchase during office hours. The new enhancements will allow customers to purchase marks online, which will be an attractive facility to those customers who frequently buy registration marks. The development of further online features will allow customers to perform other transactions, providing a better customer experience overall.

When buying the rights to display a registration mark, the purchaser does not acquire legal title to it. They acquire only the right to display the registration mark on an eligible vehicle. Services provided by the DVLA for the acquisition, assignment and transfer of registration marks must be operated in a way that does not compromise the fundamental purpose of vehicle registration. Strict requirements are therefore in place for these facilities. Attractive vehicle registration marks can fetch large sums of money. In the past, there have been several cases of organised criminal activity aimed at acquiring valuable marks through unlawful means.

The retention facility in its current format was introduced in 1992. As the noble Earl explained, the purpose of the retention facility is to allow a registration mark to be retained separately from the vehicle.

Under current legislation, a right of retention must subsist in the name of the registered keeper only and it must remain so until the mark concerned is either assigned to another vehicle registered in his name or to that of a nominee. This requires the previous holder of the mark to remain involved in the process until a mark has been assigned to a vehicle. If they were to sell the entitlement to the mark, the mark might not be assigned to a vehicle for some time, possibly years. This can often be the case if the mark enters the cherished number-plate trade.

Currently, the grantee must be contacted each time the entitlement needs to be extended or if an additional change of nominee is required. Not only does this create an unnecessary administrative burden for those trading in registration marks, it can prevent quick conclusion of a transaction. Also, the purchaser of the mark referred to as the nominee must rely on the integrity of the grantee to assign the mark as agreed, thus creating the potential for fraud and financial loss should the grantee go back on the agreement with the nominee.

During Second Reading in the other place, assurances were sought that the greater flexibility that the Bill seeks to achieve would not create loopholes. Indeed, I can confirm that the Bill will not create any avenues for abuse in relation to retention schemes. It will make it easier for the customer without compromising current safeguards. Furthermore, it has the potential to reduce fraudulent activity in, for example, situations where a grantee may not honour an agreement by refusing to consent to the assignment of a mark after receiving payment.

I can also confirm that the Association of Chief Police Officers—ACPO—has been consulted on the change and fully supports the amendment that the Bill will provide. The Bill proposes to change the way in which the DVLA processes the retention of a vehicle registration mark. It will amend the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 by simplifying the buying and selling or transferring of registration marks to both cherished number dealers and individuals. The purpose of the Bill is to allow a registered keeper to dispose of his entitlement to a vehicle registration mark when it is first put on retention, therefore easing administrative burdens.

Departmental system development costs are estimated at being no more than £100,000. The department is committed to improving customer service. Because of the desire to ease regulatory burdens, these costs will be absorbed by the DVLA. Consequently, the introduction of the Bill will not have any financial consequences for businesses or individuals. I am advised that the Bill has no equality or human rights implications. The popularity of the sale of registration marks continues to grow. In the first year of the sales scheme’s inception the DVLA sold just 658 registration marks; now over 200,000 marks are sold on an annual basis. In addition to that, during the last financial year, the DVLA handled nearly half a million applications to transfer and retain cherished registration marks. We think that that shows the level of support for this active market in cherished vehicle registration marks—something which the Bill will do much to underpin.

A number of noble Lords used the opportunity to make points about vehicle registration and the opportunity for criminality. Notably, the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, called for an assurance to deal with what he described as the absolute chaos of the current scheme. I do not see the scheme as being in absolute chaos. I recognise, as does the noble Lord, that there are occasionally some difficulties. But we are well aware of that and believe that although there will continue to be difficulties—there is always scope for abuse in these matters—we continue to narrow down the scope and opportunity. The Bill achieves that in some small measure.

The noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, is concerned about registration. To that end the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency administers a mandatory register of all number-plate suppliers in England and Wales— registered suppliers who must make a record of all number plates sold. It makes checks to establish the identity of the customer and his entitlement to the registration number requested. This is usually by requesting a photocard driving licence and a vehicle registration document. Failure to comply can result in a fine or suspension from the register, and it is illegal to trade in number plates when unregistered. So there is legislation that deals with that problem.

That register will be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland during the autumn of this year. The DVLA has recently obtained powers to enforce the scheme. In addition, both the police and trading standards officers are embarking on a programme of inspections and proceedings against those suppliers who breach the law, so we are taking action on the issue that the noble Lord is most concerned about.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, asked about stall holders selling misrepresented plates. The Road Safety Act 2006 made it an offence to sell misrepresented number plates. This offence is to be commenced later this year following the making of regulations to introduce an exemption to the offence for plates that show wording such as “Not for road use” printed on their face. That exemption would allow the legitimate sale of show plates. There will shortly be a public consultation on the proposed exemption. We are conscious of the problem to which the noble Viscount referred.

The noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, made a number of points about the Bill. He is concerned about potential abuses. He will recognise that the Bill and the amendment that it brings forward will make it easier to trade in vehicle registration numbers, but it will not necessarily impact on the market for counterfeit plates. The measures in place to cater for the register of number plates arise out of separate provisions in the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001. Perhaps it would help noble Lords if I explained a bit of background to that.

I am sure that the House will be interested to learn that a thorough internal review has recently been carried out by the DVLA into the administration of the register of number-plate suppliers. A number of other initiatives are under consideration that will improve the way in which the existing scheme operates. These will include: clarification on what constitutes a show plate, closing the loophole whereby illegal number plates are supplied for use on vehicles kept off-road but subsequently fixed to vehicles used on a public highway; and the introduction of annual registration, which will ensure that the register is kept up to date—a very important enforcement. It is proposed that reminders will be sent to registered suppliers on an annual basis, which will support accuracy and add a further dimension to enforcement. All those things will be subject to full public consultation and a regulatory impact assessment.

The noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, made some reference to the Swedish model. Our view is that any scheme along those lines would have very serious implications for the many small businesses involved in the sale of number plates. As I have explained, there are many of those and it is quite a legitimate business. While the numbers will increase when Scotland and Northern Ireland are included in the scheme later this year, as of 14 April there were some 33,165 number-plate suppliers and some 39,274 outlets registered in England and Wales. To adopt the Swedish model would result in a loss of trade and, perhaps, some widespread redundancies. We have to be very careful how we approach this. There is a great deal of support for the current scheme, notably from Trading Standards and ACPO, which regard it as a very effective deterrent against criminal activity.

I hope that I have responded to the points of concern. I know that I will not have fully satisfied everyone but on the narrow focus I urge your Lordships' House to support the Bill, as it is very valuable and will go some way to making the trade easier to understand and speed up transactions.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this Second Reading debate. I am sure that all noble Lords will agree that the Bill is worth while in making the process of transferring personalised and cherished number plates more straightforward for the buyer and the seller. I am grateful to the Minister and his officials for their help. The Bill will allow a registered keeper to dispose of their entitlement to a vehicle number when it is first put on retention. This will ease the administrative burden on the cherished number industry and on individual motorists without—this is most important—compromising the current legislative safeguards against fraud.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and my noble friend Lord Brougham and Vaux raised the issue of misrepresented number plates. The law is quite clear and the Government have made some desirable changes, which the Minister outlined. I share noble Lords’ concerns, but the Bill is not designed to deal with that mischief, as I am sure they recognise. However, I do not understand why the police do not do more to counter such behaviour. It is an obvious offence and, as the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, described, it interferes with the ANPR system.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, talked about show plates. He rightly identifies the problem. However, our current plates are simple to manufacture; there is nothing special about them. I will return to the point of the designer plates in a moment.

My noble friend Lord Brougham and Vaux in effect questioned whether the system of the manufacture and supply of number plates is fit for purpose. I have already expressed my views to the House on the provisions of the Vehicles (Crime) Act on a number of occasions. I believe that the requirement to register number plate suppliers performs no useful purpose, but has severe downsides, such as increasing the theft of number plates. When we last debated the issue, the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, could not come up with a counter-argument.

The engine management computer is the brain and the soul of the vehicle. In future, it should be possible to have it emit the identity of the vehicle. That facility could be used for a number of desirable purposes. Since the engine management computer is an expensive item, it could easily be strictly controlled by the manufacturers’ main agents only, but this of course is something for the future.

The difficulty with my noble friend’s approach is that it will always be difficult to prevent plates from being removed from the vehicle. I read about the so-called theft-resistant number plates, but they have been made desirable after the implementation of the Vehicles (Crime) Act, and the problem is that the more theft-resistant a number plate is made, the more damage the criminals will do to a car in removing it. In addition, maintenance procedures could become more difficult.

The noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, also expressed concerns about the current systems of supplying number plates. He rightly believes that crooks could still be involved despite the provisions of the Vehicles (Crime) Act. I can obtain any number plate that any noble Lord cares to specify, and I am not a criminal. There is no point in requiring number plate suppliers to be registered unless the number plate is chipped, but we are some way away from that. I look forward to debating all the issues, if noble Lords desire.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at 5.29 pm.