Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Angry Motorists Could Force Darling U-Turn

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Angry Motorists Could Force Darling U-Turn

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

TWO CABINET ministers paved the way for a Treasury U-turn on car taxestoday as the Government struggled to halt the slide in its popularity.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Business Secretary John Hutton stressed thatthere would be a fresh look at Budget plans to raise vehicle excise duty by upto [pounds sterling]200.

Labour insiders are preparing to ditch the most controversial element of thescheme to impose a retrospective tax on cars bought between 2001 and 2006.

The change could come in the pre-Budget report in the autumn, but could comeeven earlier.

Labour MPs are pushing the Treasury to stop the damage by using the final daysof the committee stage of the Finance Bill next month to signal that some ofthe rises planned for next year and 2010 will not go ahead.

Amid fears of a fresh revolt by Labour MPs, Mr Straw said that ministers werelistening to public concerns, adding: Its already been made clear in respect ofvehicle excise duty, thats the car tax, that this is not due to come into forceby next April.

If there are going to be decisions about this, they could be announced in theautumn statement. Its very impor-tant that we take proper measures and we judgethings properly.

Mr Hutton said that the Government should not be hammering people withincreases in their motoring costs.

Mr Hutton and Mr Straw also left open the possibility that the planned 2p risein fuel dutywhich is due to come into force in Octobercould be postponed once more. Chancellor Alis-tair Darling will be holdingcrisis meet-ings with backbenchers to discuss the Budget plan to raise vehicleexcise duty for the most polluting cars.

With some Labour insiders fearing the row could cause as much damage as the 10ptax issue, the Standard has learned that Mr Darling will hold two separatesessions next month to discuss MPs concerns.

Critics point out that applying the increases to cars purchased before theBudget announcement is bound to be seen as unfair. …

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