24 July 2009.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release

Transport Committee Tax Report is a Welcome Dose of Realism
Transcom MPs Sing To ABD Tune
The latest report from the Commons' Transport Committee (Transcom), "Taxes and Charges on Road Users" 1, is published today. Many of the committee's recommendations align with the ABD's views on vehicle taxation, transport investment and parking.
The ABD welcomes the Transcom report as a ‘dose of realism’ which recognizes long standing issues which have dealt a raw deal to Britain's drivers for many years.
"Many sections of the Transcom report could have been lifted from the ABD website and press releases," said ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries. "We are delighted that the transport debate has shifted to the extent that the ABD's view, once on the fringes, now occupies the mainstream."
The Committee accepts that almost £50 billion per year is paid by road users in taxes and charges, with less than £9 billion spent on the roads. Its report is critical of the lack of transparency in the way road users are taxed and how the money is spent. It is particularly scathing of the way the Government handled the introduction of retrospective increases in Vehicle Excise Duty for cars registered since 2001, which severely damaged the credibility of environmental taxes 2.
The Committee agrees with the ABD that taxation based on vehicle use, such as fuel duty, is fairer than taxes on vehicle ownership, but accepts that there are limits as to how much can be raised from drivers without damaging the economy. It is also critical of charges imposed on road users that do not relate directly to the services provided, such as the parking charges levied by some councils based on a car's CO₂ emissions, rather than the amount of parking space occupied 3.
While the report does not rule out congestion charging completely, it recognises the difficulties of gaining public acceptance for the idea, largely because people have no faith in the Government to devise a fair system. The Committee says the Government should no longer try to force congestion charging onto local authorities in return for transport funding.
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments:
"The Committee cited the 1.8 million signature e-petition and the overwhelming rejection of road pricing by residents of Manchester as evidence of the public's scepticism. The ABD was heavily involved in both those campaigns, showing that we really do speak for drivers on issues of major importance."
ABD chairman, Brian Gregory, concludes:
"We would have liked to see the Committee give more explicit recognition of the vital contribution that road transport makes to the economy, rather than concentrating on its external costs. Nevertheless, the report is a welcome injection of the realism that is so clearly missing from the Government's muddled policies."

1. House of Commons Transport Committee. Taxes and charges on road users.
2. Committee Chairman Louise Ellman MP said, "The Government handled a phased set of increases to Vehicle Excise Duty so badly they tarnished the image of environmental taxes. We believe taxation based on car usage - through fuel duty - remains fairer than any approach based on car ownership and does more to encourage fuel efficiency or reduce CO2 emissions. We recognise that economic factors will limit how much revenue can be raised by this method."
3. MPs also question the use of parking charges for wider policy purposes. Where they cover more than the cost of parking and are used to generate revenue for other services MPs argue parking charges must be proportional, explicit and justified. In a similar vein, the Committee warns ministers that penalty charge notices must retain their credibility as an enforcement tool and must no be used as a blatant method for raising extra revenue from motorists.
Notes for Editors about the ABD