Dr Julian Lewis: Given that the police are not enforcing the law in respect of those number plates anyway, why are the Government changing the law to allow this practice to be made legal, unless it is because they know that, further down the line, it will be made compulsory?
[Keith Hill: Let me come back to the deep-dyed suspicion of a conspiracy. The fact is that the essence of the scheme is to permit ease of circulation in certain European countries. That is the whole basis of the use of these symbols, which after all are 98 mm by between 40 to 50 mm – 4 by 2 inches in the old measurement for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman. This is not a major deal.
John Bercow: Whenever the Minister has not a leg on which to stand, the decibel level of his oration always rises proportionately. Given the concern that my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) has expressed – that this measure is the prelude to a compulsory imposition of an EU symbol, a concern that I expressed to the Minister in the Vehicles (Crime) Bill Standing Committee in January – why will he not now abandon his procrastination, give up the coy nonsense about being merely a junior Minister and pledge in front of you, Mr. Speaker, and the House that he will always oppose any such compulsory EU imposition? It is blindingly simple. Is he up to it?
Keith Hill: The British Government have no intention of making such a symbol compulsory on number plates. I cannot go further than that. I stress the voluntary nature of the arrangement. I know that many of our compatriots are keen to exhibit their national identity, whether it be through the display of the Union Jack or other flags from within the United Kingdom. The Government have absolutely no desire to impede perfectly proper displays of national pride. Of course, as I have said, vehicle keepers may continue to use stickers and transfers on their vehicles. We simply do not believe that the number plate is the right place for such flags or logos. The watchword here is clarity and the need for a standard mark on the number plate.]