MPs call for pay-per-mile lorry charges
Members of Parliament have called on the UK Government to introduce road tolls for UK and foreign-registered lorries, in the interests of fairness.
Members of the House of Commons Transport Committee, in a report on road taxes and charges, express concern that motorists do not trust the Government on road user tax measures, saying "Road users are, and will remain, an important source of revenue for Government expenditure, beyond that spent on the road network. If their trust in the taxation system is to endure, they must be treated fairly and with openness."
The committee's chairman, Louise Ellman, said: "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. We call on the Government to develop other measures to address the problem of congestion."
While acknowledging that there is no prospect of a national road-pricing scheme for cars in the near future, the Committee wants the Government to look again at previously-abandoned proposals for a low-cost pay-per-mile lorry charge. "Without some form of toll or vignette system the Committee concludes that UK freight operators will continue to face unfair competition from foreign-registered vehicles able to take advantage of cheaper diesel.
The report says there should be pricing incentives to encourage greater integration between road and rail freight.
Freight organisations also raised concerns about the level and frequency of Penalty Charge Notices, leading the Committee to comment that such charges are "an enforcement tool and not a charge for a service, " saying that a greater proportion of the revenue raised from them should be used to resolve the problems that give rise to infringements, such as inadequate loading or parking facilities and poor signage.
With regards to investment made available under the Transport Innovation Fund, the Committee argues that access to this funding should no longer be tied to implementation of road pricing projects, since such schemes have proved unacceptable to many local electorates unwilling to vote for additional charges.
However, the report favours the development of voluntary road-pricing schemes, where Vehicle Excise Duty ("car tax") or fuel duty may be traded for per-mile charges. The MPs say this could facilitate complementary systems, such as pay-as-you-drive insurance, and "would help build a new consensus for how to curb congestion".