NEW POLL: do you support road pricing?

by Stephen Tall on June 3, 2008

The party has today launched its new transport programme, Fast Track Britain: Building a Transport System for the 21st Century, promising to “significantly increase long-term rail investment, introduce road user pricing to tackle pollution and congestion and hand control of buses back to local authorities have been launched today by the Liberal Democrats.”

You can find the full news release on the Lib Dem website here, and the full document is available in PDF format here.

There’s a raft of proposals – building a high speed rail network; introducing rolling contracts for train operating companies to increase long-term investment and improve services; giving power to control local bus services back to local authorities; and introducing a new fund for rural transport – but there’s no doubt what will attract most attention… The BBC website gives a clue:

Clegg unveils road charging plan

(The full details of the Lib Dem proposals for road pricing are copied below.)

Party policy has generally been in favour of road pricing – though we’ve been a bit quiet about it in the past couple of years – with most concerns centring on the privacy issues of the state collecting data on citizens’ movements.

Personally, I’ve never seen the problem (with reasonable safeguards in place). It is one thing to have to carry an ID card simply to prove to the state you exist – that’s bad; but quite another to enjoy the privilege of using a less-congested road system. The fact remains that the market is the most efficient – and certainly most effective – way of pricing road use according to the value we place upon it.

But that’s my view: what’s yours? Choose now in our new Lib Dem Voice poll asking: Do you support Lib Dem plans to introduce road pricing in return for the abolition of vehicle excise duty and cutting fuel duty?

You know the drill: simple yes / no / don’t know options are located in the right-hand column. (And of course feel free – I know you will – to use the comments thread to pick apart the question).

Motorway and Trunk Road Pricing
2.4.11 Liberal Democrats propose a motorway and trunk road pricing scheme covering all motorways and major trunk roads in Britain.
2.4.12 During our first parliament we would undertake preparatory work:
– Detailed consultation on the design of the scheme, including levels of charging and data privacy issues.
– Invest significantly in public transport through our Future Transport Fund.
2.4.13 The key aspects of our proposal are:
– Road pricing should be seen as part of a package of measures – it is not a solution on its own.
– To tax differently, not more. Our scheme will be revenue neutral for the average motorist, with the revenue from road pricing used to remove VED entirely and reduce fuel duty.
– Significant investment would be injected into public transport prior to introducing any charging, providing a viable alternative to the private motor vehicle, where possible.
– Pricing would be linked to car emissions, benefiting lower emission vehicles.
– A ‘Privacy Guarantee’ would be provided to motorists, by separating any personal details held from journey details. This would include the option of using an anonymous pre-pay system and would establish robust legal guidelines around the use of data collected (i.e. data would not be passed on to other organisations).
– Exemptions and discounts would be introduced for emergency vehicles, NHS vehicles, public transport vehicles, and vehicles used by disabled drivers who rely on their car for transport (following the disability exemptions for VED).
– We would make a firm commitment to provide political leadership in tackling emissions from the transport sector.
2.4.15 A number of locations have already implemented forms of road pricing including London, Stockholm and Singapore, and the Netherlands are currently considering a national scheme.
2.4.16 The benefits we would expect to see include:
– Fairer charges for using roads according to the polluting effect of each vehicle.
– Financial benefits for drivers who have no public transport alternatives and are dependent on the car (particularly in rural areas).
– An increase in the certainty of journey times (vital for the freight and services sectors) due to an incidental reduction in congestion levels.
– A commensurate improvement in viable public transport alternatives to the car.
2.4.17 We envisage that our motorway and trunk road user charging scheme would operate using the ‘tag and beacon’ scheme, covering motorways and trunk roads. To avoid a plague of ‘rat running’, the technology chosen must allow for penalties to be enforced on drivers who ‘rat run’ in order to avoid payment.

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I’m not against the principle, but I agree with Jock that it does depend entirely on the details.

The ‘civil liberties’ line is not an excuse to react automatically against any proposal of this sort but an opportunity to clarify our rights and create means and methods to catch any abusers or intruders.

This is an electoral goldmine. The other parties can’t be trusted with our data and can’t be trusted to put sufficient or adequate controls on corporations or the state.

We can win this argument and thereby we can show we are to be trusted in government. Of course it is painful to go outside our comfort zone, but to do so demonstrates our foresight and our determination.

I hear the sound of gunfire!

by Oranjepan on June 4, 2008 at 7:31 pm. Reply #

# asquith Says:
4th June 2008 at 4:19 pm

Coming late to the party…

I voted “don’t know” 😉

I’m not sure Herbert would have been so unsure:

“The value of land rises as population grows and national necessities increase, not in proportion to the application of capital and labour, but through the development of the community itself. You have a form of value, therefore, which is conveniently called ‘site value,’ entirely independent of buildings and improvements and of other things which non-owners and occupiers have done to increase its value – a source of value created by the community, which the community is entitled to appropriate to itself. …In almost every aspect of our social and industrial problem you are brought back sooner or later to that fundamental fact.” [Mr. H.H. Asquith, at Paisley, 7th June 1923]

by Jock on June 4, 2008 at 8:16 pm. Reply #

In respect of Iain’s anonymity scheme,

i) How do you appeal against a bill if there is no record of where you have been, or is the answer that we assume the technology is infalible?

ii) How do you track or police evasion if there is no record of where you have been?

iii) If instead the ‘privacy guarantee’ is purely cosmetic as in of the same high quality protection as the Home Office data mislaid last year, what guarantee is it?

by Norman Scott on June 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm. Reply #

“Commenters who think road pricing is electoral poison forget that the primitive London system – which does not offer compensating cuts in petrol duty and Vehicle Excise Duty – proved pretty popular.”

I’m sorry, did you seriously just say the congestion charge is popular?

by Lee Griffin on June 4, 2008 at 10:49 pm. Reply #

The legions of hauliers whining about fuel costs compared to the rest of Europe conveniently ignore the lines of toll booths across many of the continent’s motorways. Much as toll booths are low tech they do target long-distance journeys and push the cost/speed ratio in favour of other modes – ie you can avoid the tolls on local roads but it’ll take you a lot longer.

If the public is too squeamish to accept the technology then some form of toll boothing may be the only answer. I disagree that it’s not a green policy that way – on the contrary, reducing congestion and getting people out of cars onto trains or coaches IS reducing emissions – and charging people for road travel where they have no alternative is not going to reduce emissions – it’s just going to impoverish them.

A fair approach would be to tie individual road pricing schemes with public transport alternatives – for example halve trans-pennine rail fares, and double capacity, on the day you open toll booths on the M62.

Rail capacity in and out of London is a problem, but a fleet of subsidised express coaches (with dedicated lanes if necessary) could easily complement toll booths on the M1, A1 and other key roads, at least until the proposed high speed rail link is completed.

by Paul on June 5, 2008 at 1:01 am. Reply #

This policy ignores the weight of opinion at the consultation on transport policy in Liverpool. IMHO it is being adopted because the party is terrified of the impact of high fuel prices and duties on the rural vote and cannot think of alternatives.

It’s easy to make an elegant economic case for congestion charging, far more difficult to do it in practice. There’s a motorway toll in the West Midlands which has signally failed to relieve congestion in the region (although the toll is on the wrong bit of motorway of course. it should be on the urban section). On a national level toll booths will not work, especially in the age of the satnav where anybody can track down the nearest B road alternative. Again, talking of the West Midlands, they spent millions trying to design a workable scheme for the region without success. Satellite tracking promises to be more efficient but poses the two problems:
a) that of creating databases of individual movements;
b) the cost of implementation.
All this at a time when fuel prices are rising inexorably and most motorists are desperately casting round for alternatives. Economics also says that the price of carbon-based fuels will continue to rise in the medium to long run and as one poster said it is the price of fuel more than anything else that will push motorists to reduce consumption by all means possible.

Two cheers for a party that is being honest about the future cost of driving. But why don’t we really start talking about how rural communities will cope – indeed are coping – when fuel prices go through the roof?

by Jon Hunt on June 5, 2008 at 1:22 am. Reply #

Let’s stop calling busses, coaches, trains and trams public transport and start calling them mass-transport, eh?

‘Public’ transport ignores the fact that every company is profit-motivated.

If we can be clear about the real motivation behind corporate behaviour by increasing economic transparency and accountability we can make sure we make the best economic decisions.

This ties in with the simplest reason for pushing road pricing, which is to try to create price-comparability between different modes of transport so that consumers can make informed decisions about how best to get from A-to-B based on some real economic figures rather than some illusory sales pitch.

by Oranjepan on June 5, 2008 at 1:51 am. Reply #

“There’s a motorway toll in the West Midlands which has signally failed to relieve congestion in the region”

Seems to do a pretty good job of preventing congestion on the road itself though! The whole tragedy of it is that the toll is marketed as a means to avoid the congestion on the free route.

Like I said, those using their SatNav to negotiate the free B-Road route will find themselves with a much longer journey; some will do it for sure, but I reckon most will either pay up or consider alternative modes.

Because travelling long distances on B-Roads is a bit like travelling long distances on local buses with a free pass – it’s cheap and kitsch, but slow and awkward. And suddenly you have to worry about the additional costs of overnight stays and more sustenance.

The public is so against hi-tech road pricing for now that I reckon toll booths are the only workable medium-term option. The issues with toll booths will ultimately pave the way for higher technology at a later stage.

by Paul on June 5, 2008 at 3:42 am. Reply #

It is necessary to explain more directly why the new Lib Dem road pricing policy is so ill thought through and just plain barmy.

First; the costs faced by the general voting public. Trains and track are expensive, but the majority of costs are covered by ticket revenues for each journey. Roads and traffic systems are expensive too but they are paid for (several times over) indirectly, by petroleum taxes, car tax, tax discs, and motoring/parking fines & charges. However, with increases in fuel economy and vehicle reliability, individual INCREMENTAL car journeys are much cheaper for car owners than trains, despite much higher fuel prices.

Part of the answer is to SHIFT road financing from taxation to usage, to create ‘fairer’ competition between rail and road for individual journeys – thus reducing car usage and emissions and increasing rail usage where there is capacity.

Higher fuel prices – especially in Europe – continue to generate improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and dampen increases in road usage. Even higher taxes will continue to do so.

Paying for the costs of road building & maintenance directly in practice means basic ‘entry and exit’ charges like motorway tolls and congestion charges – and new electronic systems in Singapore, Switzeland and elsewhere are very cost-effective (and can be easily ‘hypothecated’).

Cost per mile charges however, sever the link between the actual cost of roads and the revenues raised. In addition, when applied as a general policy, they are enormously expensive and complicated to administer. They require a vast electronic infrastructure, and systems of fines for non payment require number plate scanning technology as well as payment system technology, especially if complex exemption systems are proposed – as indeed the new Lib Dem policy proposes.

Due to the technology needed to implement it, cost per mile road pricing also provides for government a database of everyone’s whereabouts, which will make Labour advocates of the nanny state, and civil servants, salivate.

Promises of that such data will not be used by the State apparatus, are just laughable to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of recent history.

Most Lib Dems support with their heart and soul the Party’s courageous stand over the ‘surveillance society’, and Nick Clegg should be admired for his principled position. But this new cost per mile road pricing policy has, with great sadness I’m afraid, driven a coach & horses through our anti surveillance principles.

Civil servants and the lobbyists who persuaded our party on this one, will be celebrating a great victory. Our adoption of this broad cost per mile road pricing policy (as opposed to an entry and exit system and other feasible proposals) signals a terrible day for liberalism, but great day for the nanny state.

For the bureaucracy, excuses to extend the nanny state will always trump more important aims, like making the UK free of harmful emissions – an aim we are forgetting in the rush to punish the ‘population’ and in our willingness to be cajoled by slick lobbying from the electronic ‘surveillance’ and payment industry.

We need to focus more on non-statist innovations in public transport, and on leading the world in non-polluting private transport.

Only when we have more stringent deadlines for zero emissions than California, will I begin to feel we are doing our best. Paul

by Paul Reynolds on June 5, 2008 at 6:06 am. Reply #

Just to comfort everyone: –

1. Detailed universal road pricing can be done without a massive, insecure and shaky data base. A scheme of the sort that Iain rightly commends above works through YOU having a sealed record of every charging point you have passed. That record generates your bill, the total of which is read automatically and remotely from time to time.

2. You can use that sealed record to appeal against a wrong bill.

3. If you really don’t want anyone to be able to find out where you have driven to ,you unseal the record and delete it after you have paid the latest bill. Then no record exists. (Putting in automatic record deletion X months after the automatic bill reading would be no problem.)

4. Proper flexible road pricing like this allows transferring many elements of motoring costs that are now overheads on to a per mile (or km.) basis – VED and insurance for starters. That discourages additional journeys.

5. Nobody is suggesting eliminating road fuel duty. It is a key incentive for introducing more fuel-efficient vehicles.The best policy against our motoring danaging other people (which happens through both congestion and climate change) is a combination of road pricing and fuel duties. However, what produces changes in car design is the international levels of fuel duty: there is not much point in keeping our levels well above the rest of Europe. We do better raising the rest through road pricing.

6. Proper road pricing can be introduced area by area, thus getting the bugs out of the system early. There is no calamitous disaster of a national switch-on day.

7. LibDem policy is better the longer you look at it. It happens that way in a lot of policy fields.

by David Heigham on June 5, 2008 at 2:10 pm. Reply #

“5. Nobody is suggesting eliminating road fuel duty. It is a key incentive for introducing more fuel-efficient vehicles.The best policy against our motoring danaging other people (which happens through both congestion and climate change) is a combination of road pricing and fuel duties. However, what produces changes in car design is the international levels of fuel duty: there is not much point in keeping our levels well above the rest of Europe. We do better raising the rest through road pricing.”

But we are suggesting reducing fuel duty, which will reduce the incentives to pump up your tyres, drive carefully etc, as I outlined earlier. Furthermore, our fuel costs give an incentive to buy smaller and/or more economical cars, although clearly EU wide duty matters as well in terms of what manufacturers offer.

I have looked at this proposal for road pricing long and hard. It will be costly to implement compared with just having fuel duties (the London scheme eats a majority of the revenue in costs), and it will worsen global warming. I don’t find it looks any better for having looked at it longer, quite the reverse.

by tim leunig on June 5, 2008 at 11:05 pm. Reply #

David Heigham’s comments are well-meaning but naive. Can you really entrust the implementation of a ‘sealed system’ to British civil servants ? One thing one learns in politics from experience is that in IMPLEMENTATION you have to assume the worst from the bureaucratic implementers, or face disaster. Wildly optimistic assumptions about the ability of civil servants to implement perfectly, without self interest, is Labour’s psychological flaw, not ours. Of course it is POSSIBLE to keep public information ‘sealed’, it is just very unlikely, and a cavalier risk to our liberties that MUST NOT be taken. . NHS IT systems, tax credits, child benefit, rail privatisation/subsidisation, polyclinics, detention-without-charge safeguards, you name it ! Well will we learn ? When will will we enter the real world and vacate our armchair ‘I’ve got a theory’ fantasties ? When will we grow up, finally ?

by Anonymous on June 6, 2008 at 6:04 am. Reply #

It is a scandal that Lib Dems have had our roasd pricing policy essentially established as a result of lobbying from fincincial consortia that stand to make billions, and who care not a jot about potential misuse of data and further erosion of civil liberties. Nick Clegg should be reprimanded for allowing this nonsense to slip through.

by Paul Reynolds on June 6, 2008 at 6:09 am. Reply #

Indeed, Paul.

* wonders if this entry is going to be put into the “big mad database” category, where it belongs *

by Jennie on June 6, 2008 at 10:34 am. Reply #

>- To tax differently, not more. Our scheme will be revenue neutral for the average motorist, with the revenue from road pricing used to remove VED entirely and reduce fuel duty.

13p a mile (the average proposed charge) is .. interesting.

That represents 100% of the entire cost of fuel at AA rates for cars in the new price £10k to £13k band (the most common I think – one up from the bottom) at a fuel price of just over £1.20 a litre.

Will not be popular.

And that’s leaving all the overhead costs out.

And the civil liberties stuff.

by Matt Wardman on June 6, 2008 at 12:23 pm. Reply #

It seems the anti-camp have admitted defeat and are resorting to attacks on the messengers rather than concentrating on the message.

If we react dogmatically we’ll get left behind, so whatever we do propose we’ve just got to avoid all assumptions and ensure we are fully aware of every possible eventuality to be able to make a judgement about what is most desirable under the present circumstances.

I’d actually prefer my freedom of movement to be entirely free, but I know the best I can hope for is to pay the actual costs of travel, so I continueto fully support any measure to remove any market distortions between the different transport modes.

Database issues regarding private information can be resolved, but there’s still no price that can be fairly placed on exchanging my freedom of movement for our freedom of information without recognising, defining and enforcing the natural limits on both.

by Oranjepan on June 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm. Reply #

“Database issues”

I’m a strong sceptic where databases and automatic enforcement are concerned – even the daddy of them, the DVLA database, is riddled with errors.

I’d have liked to have seen proposals for resolving the current “issues” with the Motor Insurance Database, and how the cars of insured drivers are regularly being seized on the spot (driver, children etc stranded) for not being on it. That seems to me to one where LD involvement could cause a change.


Given that the current fraud rate on Disability Blue Badges is quoted as being up to 50%, how on earth are the “disability exemption” provisions going to be implemented effectively?

The current system relies on badges not being abused, and that clearly doesn’t work.

by Matt Wardman on June 6, 2008 at 1:32 pm. Reply #

Matt, the issues you refer to don’t arise if the design is got right in the first place: you want to ensure that the horse doesn’t bolt, so you close the door behind you in case of just such an eventuality.

by Oranjepan on June 6, 2008 at 2:15 pm. Reply #


Sorry (and it’s not meant as an insult even though it may sound like one), but your response seems to be more or less what Mr Blair said.

Certainly on the Insurance one, they know damn well that there is a problem and don’t do anything about it. The police know there is a problem, yet they still operate the system.

On the Blue Badge problem, all the signs are that it can’t be made to work.

I’d choose the precautionary principle instead.


by Matt Wardman on June 6, 2008 at 3:07 pm. Reply #


I was a civil servant. You are right that in implementation you should always guard against mis-use. My fellow officials are rather bad at seeing the possibilities that others with evil intentions may mis-use a system. It is therefore imperative that possibilities of mis-use are minimimsed. For road pricing that means leaving all the journey details in the car and never transmitting them to the charging system unless YOU choose to for a good reason at a particular moment. That is what I meant by “sealed”; sealed in the memory of your car’s automatic road price collecting unit, not circulating through a national system.

tim leunig

As yo uare probably aware, rising fuel duty (the Fuel Duty Escalator in thr jargon) was the most effective anti- climate change measure Britain has implemented(why Gordon Brown abandoned it is another story). But in the long run the major effects for reducing CO2 emissions from pricing up fuel work through the incentive to make vehicles more fuel efficient. The other effects, apart from discouraging journeys, are secondary. Road pricing discourages journeys just as well as fuel duties, and in a more discriminating way.

by David Heigham on June 6, 2008 at 3:34 pm. Reply #

While disliking this proposal, I would just make two points. First, for rural dwellers like me road pricing could actually be a benefit, as we are likely to be charged very little as our roads are (comparatively) uncongested, while high fuel costs hit us hard. Second, when (hopefully not if) we get cars that use very little fuel (100mpg is technically easily feasible) and/or cars are powered by renewables-generated fuels, the problem will not be one of emissions but of congestion and fuel taxes may then not be the best route to go.

by Paul Burall on June 8, 2008 at 9:17 am. Reply #

I know an awful lot about this subject but if I told you why I would have to kill you. I have a huge degree of sympathy for the civil liberties arguments on here but I am afraid you are all way too late and way too naive. If you were to travel say from a suburb of London to a suburb of Leeds by car, you would be caught by dozens of ANPR cameras (automatic number plate recognition). Every police force would know instantly when you entered their area and when you left. Your number plate is flagged up and checked with DVLA for tax disc and insurance and if the police want to track you they can put a marker on your car and that is flagged also. This system is operational now and was used to track the cars of the 7/11 bombers (after the event) so they knew their entire movements for days beforehand.

This policy seems to be a copy of the existing DfT proposal and is therefore not about the environment but about demand management.At current rates of traffic growth the strategic road network (motorways and trunk roads) will have major areas of congestion that will mean almost stationary trafic for long periods of the day. There are 2 ways to deal with this, build more roads or manage demand by pricing. Therefore the SW section of the M25 at 8 am Monday to Friday would be the most expensive road on the network. Other bits of the network would be free.
As an “expert” in this field I am v conflicted about its introduction. I will ignore the civil liberties arguments as that horse has bolted already. In terms of whether we manage demand by congestion or pricing, I see the former as unacceptable for UK plc but see the latter as incredibly difficult to manage administratively. Whichever option is used we need to have far more imaginative public transport solutions to give people alternatives.

by John D on June 8, 2008 at 9:40 am. Reply #

Sorry, I should have said 7/7 bombers.

by John D on June 8, 2008 at 9:54 am. Reply #

“I will ignore the civil liberties arguments as that horse has bolted already. ”

Then what’s the point in even being a Liberal any more? not for you, I mean, for me. If fighting against government surveillance is a lost cause then I might as well hang up my keyboard and go live in a tree on some island somewhere.

by Jennie on June 8, 2008 at 11:07 am. Reply #

Ref ‘John D’ comments…

I rest my case.


by Paul Reynolds on June 8, 2008 at 11:31 am. Reply #

John D: there are not just two ways to deal with the problem: there is a third, which is leave it to the ‘market’. The fact that there is congestion on a particular road at a particular time is a function of hundreds or thousands of individual decisions. Human beings are highly adaptable and therefore so is the free market: individuals are deciding whether it is worth their while to travel on a piece of road at a particular time bearing in mind the amount of congestion they may encounter, the cost in fuel, and whether they will be able to arrive at their destination at a satisfactory time. If the cost seems worth it, then what is the problem? If it doesn’t then the individual has to find an alternative solution.

by tony hill on June 8, 2008 at 11:59 am. Reply #

John D>“I will ignore the civil liberties arguments as that horse has bolted already. ”

Disagree profoundly. The job then becomes to shoot the horse if it has been let out. It may take longer, but it is still worth doing.

And there are enough miscarriages of justice around to make success possible.

The same (“it is here, we can’t change it”) point was probably made about everything from slavery to MPs expenses to corruption in the Met Police in Soho to the Sus Laws.

I hope to reply to some of your points in detail this evening or tomorrow.

Matt W

by Matt Wardman on June 8, 2008 at 6:07 pm. Reply #

Matt, I find it quite eay to agree with quite a lot of what Mr Blair said, so I won’t take that as an insult.

His words were fine and he did have an effective style of oratory, unfortunately his actions became increasingly divergent from his words: do you remember “we will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them”?

I understand the motivation behind the precautionary principle, but that shouldn’t lead to anyone to sit on their hands to avoid taking action, it should force us to get the design right before we introduce it (though political reality means this is rarely the case).

Both the problems you raise are consequences of flaws in the design process which led to flaws in the design (or lack thereof) in the system.

re John D and civil liberties: a notoriously brutal kidnap/rape/murder case from my area was solved by the ANPR system tracking a suspected vehicle within 30 minutes of the report being filed so I can recognise the applications. I still think however that it is important to make the distinction between dual-carriage highways and the universally accessible streets and by-ways which we live on and walk down, elsewise are we going to start charging pedestrians and cyclists?

by Oranjepan on June 8, 2008 at 10:25 pm. Reply #

tony hill

“there are not just two ways to deal with the problem: there is a third, which is leave it to the ‘market’. The fact that there is congestion on a particular road at a particular time is a function of hundreds or thousands of individual decisions.”

But the proposed policy is presented primarily as a means of reducing carbon emissions. Clearly “leaving it to the market” isn’t going to achieve that.

Of course, it’s very questionable whether the answer is to reduce fuel tax and replace it with road-pricing for selected journeys!

by Anonymous on June 9, 2008 at 12:30 pm. Reply #

“f you were to travel say from a suburb of London to a suburb of Leeds by car, you would be caught by dozens of ANPR cameras (automatic number plate recognition). Every police force would know instantly when you entered their area and when you left.”

I personally don’t have a problem with the database society as I believe that with proper safeguards and policies there is no reason for our information to become dangerous to us. What I have a problem with is the people administering it that seem unable to do so effectively. We can sit here with our situation at the moment and STILL argue against more pervasion of this type of system through our society because there is no “door” to close.

The whole database issue is a river that is growing. Yes, we have to live with the river as it stands, but that doesn’t mean we can’t build defenses to hold the river back, or even to go back up stream and make measures to alleviate it’s threat. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the argument that “we’re already tracked” is both not a new argument, nor is it one that stands in direct contradiction to people asking to not be tracked/recorded any further.

But this whole issue has got off base, the problem with this idea is not the privacy issue (though that is a part of it), it’s that the Lib Dems are abandoning the tradition of being the party to actually think its policies through and to start becoming one that throws out headlines it thinks people want to this case more taxation on polluting nasty cars without any kind of policy idea for improving public transport.

by Lee Griffin on June 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm. Reply #

“But the proposed policy is presented primarily as a means of reducing carbon emissions.”

No, it’s not. If it was for reducing carbon emissions it wouldn’t be trying to force people off of the shortest and most fuel efficient routes even when there is traditionally no congestion on them (outside of rush hours). This policy intends to cash in on convenient travel while aimlessly hoping to tackle congestion.

by Lee Griffin on June 10, 2008 at 2:04 pm. Reply #

Lee, similarly, if were a cash grab why are we arguing that it is fairer?

“to tax differently, not more” – have you bothered to read the document yet?

by Oranjepan on June 10, 2008 at 3:33 pm. Reply #

Let me see. Massively complex computer system that needs to monitor the location of all cars and lorries (and by implication normally their owners), with a Lib Dem guarantee of privacy. We may believe that privacy needs protecting, but New Authoritarian Labour, Old Authoritarian Conservatives and the Home Office, the secret service etc, etc? Remember Local Authorities using legislation intended for fighting terrorism, to determine whether a family lived in a particular schools catchment area.

I wonder if we really ever think through how our pronouncements can be misused by non-liberals. Which bit of “safeguard a free, fair and open society … fundamental values of liberty” don’t we understand?

by David Evans on June 12, 2008 at 10:19 am. Reply #

Oranje: Good question, why *are* you arguing that it’s fairer? I’m certainly not.

by Lee Griffin on June 12, 2008 at 11:40 pm. Reply #

Perhaps someone can explain how CO2 can be a pollutant when the Dutch use enhanced CO2 at levels of 1200ppm or more to get higher and faster growth levels in their glass houses, normal levels are 380ppm.
Perhaps someone can show a link between rising CO2 levels and temperature, global temperature stopped rising in 1998 while CO2 carried on increasing, Co2 does not drive temperature and is not a pollutant.
Don`t be conned, go on the net and type (Global warming skeptic) and learn the truth.

by Bob on July 3, 2008 at 5:07 pm. Reply #

If CO2 wasn’t a pollutant which raises temperature, what would be the point of the Dutch using it in their glasshouses to increase the temperature?

by Jennie on July 3, 2008 at 5:37 pm. Reply #

CO2 is used in hydroponics to give plants more to photosynthesise and so the theory is that they grow quicker. Nowt to do with temperature I don’t believe.

by Jock on July 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm. Reply #

Not a chemistry specialist, but the relative density of CO2 molecules means it stores greater energy compared to the average atmospheric composition at similar pressures. Within the range of the process the rate of photosynthesis varies according to the relative values of sunlight, temperature and chemical and nutrient availability.

Further to this different plants manage the process slightly differently with infinite variation in the by-products.

Our friend Bob, above, seems to have a seen a definitve set of facts but has failed to understand how this knowledge can be applied to different situations with different effects.

Pollution is like weeds, in that both are perfectly normal things which happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong to the wrong effect for our purposes.

by Oranjepan on July 3, 2008 at 6:31 pm. Reply #

Bob – whether something is a pollutant depends on where it is found. Eg, ozone is very useful and important high in the atmosphere, less so at ground level.

by Hywel Morgan on July 3, 2008 at 8:04 pm. Reply #

What is being missed here is the vast cost of running a road pricing system. You would need to double VED and fuel tax just to pay for the technology and administration so it is ridiculous to suggest taxes could be reduced to compensate for the journey costs.

The people pushing this and arguing for its introduction are big business who will make fortunes from it. The end user i.e. the driver will never see any benefit; only huge increases in cost which go directly to the private companies like Capita who will run the scheme.

London is a good template – nearly all the £1.2Billion in charges has gone in running the scheme. Why repeat such a dreadful mistake?

by Peter Roberts on August 16, 2008 at 11:10 am. Reply #

A massive, enormously complex computer system. Can you imagine the fun consultants would have in interpreting “2.4.17 We envisage that our motorway and trunk road user charging scheme would operate using the ‘tag and beacon’ scheme, covering motorways and trunk roads. To avoid a plague of ‘rat running’, the technology chosen must allow for penalties to be enforced on drivers who ‘rat run’ in order to avoid payment” as one example.

An example of the politics of dreams I’m afraid.

by David Evans on August 16, 2008 at 8:29 pm. Reply #

Barmpot nanny statism dressed in green clothing that will do nothing but get up the noses of motorists and hand great swathes of rural England to the Conservatives on a silver platter. Just crazy. Was this policy written using Norman Baker’s special green ink?

by Tez Burke on October 2, 2008 at 11:11 am. Reply #

We need a decent transport system and inter urban roads are a central part of that. We need to pay for their upkeep and a road-user charge is a good way to do it. You do not need to to have a spy in the sky, the government does not need to know who or where you are. All you need is for the vehicle to know where it is and it can work out how much it should pay. It collects the fee from a local nominated mobile telephone. The technogy in done and dusted. The rate to charge in most areas and for most vehicles would be to low to bother colecting (most roads most of the time around a penny a mile). Don’t do it on CO2 use fuel tax for that. Use it for raod damage and congestion. For more

by Andrew Davis on November 6, 2008 at 8:40 pm. Reply #

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