Friday, 24 October 2008

Car flag ban 'outrageous' says UKIP MP

UKIP supporters and others who bought national flag stickers to place over the EU "ring of stars" on their car number plates could face a £60 fine.Answering a parliamentary question from UKIP MP Bob Spink, transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said number plates showing a union flag, the Cross of St George, the Scottish saltire and Welsh dragon were breaking the law.

Vehicles with such number plates might also fail an MoT test.Mr Fitzpatrick said regulations that came into force seven years ago permit only the EU symbol to be displayed.Dr Spink, MP for Castle Point, said he had raised the issue after being contacted by motorists fined for displaying national flags."No one believed it," he added. "This is outrageous."Europe is gathering around itself the trappings of a country because only countries can have a flag. Europe is becoming the country and Britain is just a region. This is just not acceptable."

The ban on national symbols, forced through Parliament by the government in June 2001 despite strong opposition, also applies CYM for Cymru or SCO for Scotland on number plates, though they can be shown as stickers elsewhere on vehicles.Ministers said the regulation were needed to allow easy circulation thoughout the EU, but Open Europe spokesperson Lorraine Mullally responded: "The use of EU symbols instead of national ones is part of a wider attempt to promote the idea of a common European citizenship, which EU federalists have been pushing for some time. The Government seems happy to buy into this.''