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Government Confirms That Anti Tampering Proposals Will Not Be Retrospective

Minister says that measures will be limited to environmental aspects and autonomous driver software systems on new and future vehicles, with heritage and sports vehicles, plus customisation protected.

Parliament has debated a petition (25th April 2022), which opposes potential new regulations against so called vehicle ‘anti tampering. The petition; ‘Do not implement proposed new offences for vehicle “tampering”’ was tabled by Gareth James and attracted more than 115,000 signatures making it eligible for a parliamentary debate.

The original proposals were revealed in a consultation on ‘The Future of Transport Regulatory Review – Modernising Vehicle Standards‘ during 2021.

This consultation proved to be highly controversial, generating wide attention in the motorcycle world and the media, given how the wording in the consultation was interpreted by the wider public. It was worded in such a way that suggests that all types of modifications of motorcycles will be outlawed. It also went further by proposing to outlaw the marketing, promotion and sale of ‘tampering services or products’. The National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) and other motorcycling organisations responded to the consultation, rejecting the proposals and called on the government to clarify, in detail, what it means by ‘tampering’.

In today’s debate, which was opened by Nick Fletcher from Parliament’s petitions committee, several members spoke against the proposals as they stand, citing concerns about the damage wide ranging anti tampering regulations could do to the classic vehicle sector, motor/motorcycle sports and the aftermarket parts accessories and customisation sector. Steve Baker MP, a member of the Parliamentary Motorcycle Group, spoke with passion about how sensible modifications have improved his riding experience. Other members spoke about the social nuisance caused by modified car exhausts and public highway racing – all matters which are covered by current regulations.

Responding for the Government, transport minister Trudy Harrison MP said that 7,891 people responded to the consultation and confirmed that the government would announce its further plans during the summer. It is still considering its approach to any new laws.

She spoke warmly about the long heritage of vehicle modification and the industries which support this and revealed she modified her own cars when she was younger. She said that the Government’s plans should protect a healthy after market sector and protect motor sports and heritage vehicles. Ms Harrison. firmly stated that any new regulations will not be retrospective, with new measures targeting ‘safety and health’ particularly the tampering of advanced and autonomous driving systems and modifications that increase emissions from new and future generations of vehicles.

Craig Carey-Clinch, NMC Executive Director said: “Nick Fletcher MP should be thanked for steering this debate where he concluded by saying he felt that the Government has listened to concerns. The Minister’s response indicates that this could be the case. Ruling out historic vehicles is a welcome step, but as always, the devil will be in the detail concerning this and what the fine detail will be in relation to safety and emissions systems. But for now it is clear that motorcyclists and other motoring groups have made a significant impact, demonstrating the value of political engagement by both individuals and representative organisations. We will await the government’s more details plans with interest to see if the Minister’s warm words today translate into a positive result.”

‘The BMF have been a leading part of the NMC team, in opposition to the Anti-Tampering proposals. We remain completely opposed to any blanket anti-tampering proposals. The acknowledgement that they won’t be retrospective is a starting point, not a finishing position’ said BMF Chair, Jim Freeman