Motorists can now fly the flag

* National flags allowed on numberplates * Law comes into effect today * Ministers welcome change...

Motorists can now fly the flag

New laws come into force today, allowing motorists to display a national flag on their car's numberplates. Previously, only the European flag and the letters GB had been allowed.

Drivers can now display the Union flag, Cross of St George, Saltire or Red Dragon of Wales, along with a full or abbreviated country name.

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon said: 'The display of our national flags is a healthy expression of the pride we have in our country.'

Welsh secretary Paul Murphy added: 'There are more than 1.7 million vehicles registered in Wales. Any of those can now choose to proudly fly the Welsh flag to promote Wales on roads across the UK and Europe.'

Scottish secretary Jim Murphy said: 'This is good news for Scottish motorists who, thanks to changes in the law made by the UK Government, can now use this important part of their identity in public. I welcome today's announcement.'

The flags can now be displayed on the left-hand side of a numberplate, but drivers with national flags are still required to display a separate oval GB sticker when driving in Europe.

Alternatively, the European flag can be displayed with GB within the circle of stars, allowing motorists to travel in the European Community without the need to display a separate sticker.