The original justification for these was to raise money for the upkeep of roads, and also provide a check that the road user carried a valid MOT certificate and Insurance. Times have moved on and there are greener, fairer, and less beauracratic ways of paying for the upkeep of roads. In any case, the road fund has gone into general Treasury funds for many years now, and is not ring-fenced.
With modern databases, records already exist about MOTs and Insured vehicles. The argument that proof of these needs to be displayed on a car does not carry weight any more. In any case the MOT certificate and Insurance certificate could always be condensed and displayed as an alternative, in the windscreen.
The financial and green arguments are compelling:
Abolishing the road fund and instead collecting the revenue through an increase in fuel duty would have a direct green incentive. Most significantly though, it would also ensure that foreign vehicles on our roads, including lorries and foreign tourists make a bigger contribution.
It would also be fairer to pensioners who may use the car just once a week to do the weekly shopping.
There has been an argument in the past that it would penalise people in rural areas who have to travel long distances. Times have changed, and so has vehicle technology. Long rural journeys in high gear on fast roads are far more fuel economic than short journeys in town, in low gear, especially while moving in slow traffic. The rural argument no longer holds credence.
The green argument is also compelling because those who travel more miles will pay more in tax. The concept of polluter pays, and also those who pose the greatest wear and tear on our roads pays are supported by transferring the tax on vehicle ownership to that of vehicle use. It is also a moot point that a tiered tax disc system does not act as a detterent to those with large funds who want to buy gas-guzzling cars. Besides, the MOT contains an emissions test in any case.
There are also huge beauracratic savings – the staff at DVLA could be deployed on far more useful and productive work than the issuing of tax discs. Also the cost of printing, sending, reminding people would all be saved, as would the huge cost of enforcement.
It's time to change this regressive and unfair tax on ownership of vehicles which many people on low incomes have to pay for undertaking even rare and short journeys and instead transfer the cost on to those who pollute the most, travel the most, and above all foreign traffic which is being subsidised by UK tax payers.