Written statement to Parliament

Historic vehicles MOT exemption review

Vehicle of historic interest to be MOT exempt.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon Mike Penning MP

The Department for Transport has today published a consultation on a proposal to exempt vehicles of historic interest (vehicles manufactured prior to 1 January 1960) in Great Britain (GB) from statutory MOT test, as allowed under Article 4(2) of the EU Directive 2009/40/EC.

The EU directive of the European Parliament and of the Council, Chapter II, Exceptions, Article 4 states: ‘Member states may, after consulting the Commission, exclude from the scope of this Directive, or subject to special provisions, certain vehicles operated or used in exceptional conditions and vehicles which are never, or hardly ever, used on public highways, including vehicles of historic interest which were manufactured before 1 January 1960 or which are temporarily withdrawn from circulation. Member states may, after consulting the Commission, set their own testing standards for vehicles considered to be of historic interest.’

Sections 45 to 48 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provide the legislative basis for MOT testing. The purpose of the MOT test is to ensure that cars, other light vehicles (including some light goods vehicles), private buses and motorcycles over a prescribed age are checked at least once a year to see that they comply with key roadworthiness and environmental requirements in the Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 (both as amended).

Whilst it is important to ensure that vehicles are safe to use on the highway, it is also important to ensure that regulations imposed are not excessive. Currently, both the age and the categories of vehicles requiring the MoT test in GB go further than the EU Directive on roadworthiness test 2009/40/EC, which only subjects post-1960 registered vehicles to a compulsory roadworthiness test and does not require motorcycles of any age to do a statutory roadworthiness test.

The government believes that the proposed exemption will reduce regulatory burden on owners of historic vehicles, meet its Reducing Regulation agenda and the desire to remove unnecessary burdens. It will also bring the age of vehicles requiring the statutory MOT test in line with The Goods Vehicles (Plating and Testing) Regulations 1988, which already exempts unladen pre-1960 manufactured Heavy Goods Vehicles from the roadworthiness test.

Two-thirds of pre-1960 licensed vehicles (vehicles manufactured prior to 1 January 1960) are driven less than 500 miles each year. This is significantly less than the 9,000 miles driven on average by all licensed vehicles.

Whilst the pre-1960 licensed vehicles made up about 0.6% of the approximately 35.2 million licensed vehicles in GB in 2010, they were involved in just 0.03% of road casualties and accidents. The pre-1960 licensed vehicles are largely well maintained by their owners. The initial MOT test failure rate for these vehicles in 2009 was less than 10%, whilst the initial MOT test failure rate for post-1960 licensed vehicles was over 30%.

The purpose of the consultation is to invite views on proposals to exempt vehicles of historic interest from the statutory MOT test in GB. In addition to no change, the consultation offers three options based on vehicle manufactured date, ie it seeks respondents’ views on whether the government should exempt from the statutory MOT test, pre-1960, pre-1945 or pre-1920 manufactured vehicles.

The consultation also seeks respondents’ views (in all three options) on whether all vehicle categories and vehicles used for commercial purposes should be included in the exemption review.

The consultation will run until 26 January 2012. Copies of the consultation document have been placed on the library of the House. Further copies are available on the DfT website. Depending on comments received and the department’s response, amendments may be made to regulations.

Published 3 November 2011