DfT “regrets” false claims on motorcycle road tax evasion

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The Department for Transport has said it “regrets” making “inflated” claims that nearly four in 10 motorcycles are untaxed.

Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, was forced to issue an apology to motorcyclists after the committee claimed 38% of motorcycles were untaxed based on DfT figures.

When a new DfT study reported only 6.5% of bikes seen in a roadside survey were untaxed, Leigh wrote to the Department demanding an explanation.

In reply, Stephen Hinckley, Director General of the DfT’s Safety, Service Delivery and Logistics Group, wrote: “Can I first express my regret for any embarrassment which the latest results have caused to the Committee.”

Hinckley blamed the discrepancy between the old and new figures on a new method of recording registration numbers at the roadside.

He said: “The survey is very large, involving as it now does around 1.7 million vehicles.  Matching the data collected at roadside to the information held on the vehicles database is therefore an important and difficult challenge.

"As we mentioned when we appeared before the Committee last year, we have been moving increasingly away from manual data collection (where individuals write down number plates) to video (through the use of cameras).

"We did not foresee the effect that would have on the 2007 results nor that it would show that for past surveys the evasion rate may have been erroneously inflated.”


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Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell