We shouldn’t be too surprised that MPs seem so completely disconnected from motoring issues.
For most of them, driving is something that happens to other people. Government ministers are whisked everywhere in the back of taxpayer-funded Jags, to the extent that our own Prime Minister has never felt it necessary to get a driving licence.
And between the free flights, free train travel and generous taxi accounts, even backbenchers rarely have to actually drive themselves anywhere.
All of which helps explain why the Commons Environmental Audit Committee reckons that the biggest problem with the controversial recent increase in Vehicle Excise Duty is that it didn’t go far enough.
Indeed, according to chairman Tim Yeo (a Tory), we need the “biggest possible incentive”, including “really penal rates for high-emission cars.”
Great idea, Tim. And why not go the whole hog and make the driver of anything with over 2.0-litres of swept capacity given HMG their bank account details, so that the revenue can take whatever it likes, whenever it likes?
Backdating the road tax revisions to everything made after 2001 has trapped thousands of motorists into the equivalent of negative equity, collapsing residuals (in many cases to considerably less than the outstanding finance on a car) and preventing punters from trading out of their situation.
Surely the whole point of punitive ‘green’ taxation is to allow people the chance to make decisions that will avoid it, something that sticking it on new cars that then work through the secondhand system would achieve. Imposing it retrospectively on cars that were, in many cases, bought years before it was conceived is nothing short of highway robbery.
At least there was some sense from the three committee members who disagreed with the greenwash report enough to write a dissenting opinion on it.
"The public must have faith that green taxes are not about raising revenue for the Treasury,” said Lib Dem Jo Swinson, “but in this case, their use is clearly more to do with filling Alistair Darling's coffers than cutting carbon emissions from our roads."