Is that screeching sound the Chancellor of Her Majesty’s Exchequer doing a rather impressive handbrake turn? 

I ask because of fairly persuasive press reports that the proposed rise in the cost of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax, to you and me) for cars registered between 2001 and 2006 is going to be shelved when Alistair Darling stands up to read next week’s pre-budget report.

My first reaction is that it’s better late than never – and one would suppose that if we were not facing economic Armageddon, the Government would still be happily socking the owners of 2002 Mondeo V6s and the like. However there will still be a retrospective element in all this, because cars bought after 2006 (two years before the raises were unveiled) will still be hit.

So not altogether fair, but a big improvement on the previous state of affairs, which has already pretty much eviscerated parts of the used car market - just ask anyone trying to cash out of anything falling into the dreaded band ‘G’ for CO2 emissions.