Darling facing car tax challenge

Chancellor Alistair Darling is to face a challenge to plans to increase car tax on the most polluting vehicles to up to £455.

The House of Commons will consider a Conservative amendment to the Finance Bill which would stop the new vehicle excise duty (VED) rates being applied to cars bought before the tax hike was announced in the Budget in March.

They hope to win support from some of the 49 Labour MPs who have signed a parliamentary motion branding the move "retrospective" and urging Mr Darling to reconsider his decision to apply the new rates to all cars registered since 2001. But it is thought unlikely that enough Labour MPs will be willing to join Tories in the voting lobbies to threaten the Government's majority in voting on the Finance Bill.

According to Tory calculations, the Budget changes will move 1.2 million of the most polluting band F cars registered between 2001 and March 2006 into the new bands L or M, increasing their VED from £210 now to £430 or £455 in 2010. A further 1.1 million will end up in band K, bringing the cost of their tax disc up from £210 to £310.

Ms Greening said that cars in the new top bands would include Citroen C8s, Renault Espaces and VW Passats, while Band K would include some Ford Mondeos and Vauxhall Astras.

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