Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Our "Leaders"

The phrase inmates running the asylum doesn't quite cover this- more a case of blithering idiots being put in a position of power far, far beyond their meagre mental capacity.

A Labour politician has crafted a bill aimed at the nuisance of mini-moto bikes- the bill is, like most other government legislation, vaguely worded and, despite far-encompassing consequences, it has made it past two readings with large majorities in favour. As becomes apparent the politicians had no idea whatsoever about the details of the law they were in favour of creating.

The Bill is drafted in such a way that it covers all motorcycles. In simple terms, it insists that every motorcycle should comply with the Road Traffic Act (RTA).

There is absolutely no exemption, and the DVLA in Swansea insists that a registration mark can only be issued to an RTA-compliant vehicle. So whether it is Valentino Rossi's 2007 MotoGP Yamaha or a classic racer, an Edwardian museum exhibit or a gold-plated custom show bike, the proposals mean it will have to be fitted with number plates and made RTA-compliant or face confiscation and destruction.

In other words, an attempt to legislate mini-moto bikes actually affects all motorcycles-

The Bill as it stands would therefore kill British motorcycle racing at a stroke. It is impossible to make most racing bikes RTA-compliant (consider the aerodynamic consequences of fitting a number plate to a 200mph MotoGP machine) and it would be an offence to race any that was not registered. Custom and classic events would be equally devastated and museums would be liable to prosecution if they displayed any bike that did not carry a DVLA registration. What's more, the Bill makes no mention of compensation for confiscation. One can only imagine the reaction of someone who has a £100,000 racing bike in the garage if the authorities try to remove it.

Sounds about right- taking the private property of citizens without any compensation. The solution would seem to be simple to all but the congenitally stupid-

The political parties are in disarray about what to do with this ill-conceived and poorly thought-out piece of legislation. Mr Stringer himself seems confused and bemused by the reaction. His response to my questions was to ask whether I was "pig ignorant" about parliamentary procedure, then terminate the conversation.

Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dem spokesman on transport and MP for Orkney and Shetland, was willing to listen but equally confused. This is particularly worrying because the Lib Dems are the main supporters of the Bill. Mr Carmichael feels that a system of exemptions would be the way forward. This is topsy-turvy, given that the exemptions would have to cover everything except illegally used mini-motos.

Yet again it's up to the actions of people outside of the political process to point out the ghastly errors that the politicians were making-

only when I repeatedly pressed the Conservatives this week did transport spokesman Chris Grayling declare that they would oppose it at third reading: "It is certainly far too wide-ranging," he said, "and while there is a case for strong action against mini-motos, this is a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

That's putting it mildly. Such a shame that on the first two readings they didn't know what the law they were voting for actually said.

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