The vehicle excise duty yield is expected to be £1,300 million and road expenditure approximately £1,950 million. The estimated ratio is 0·7:1.
Does the Minister recall that during the last election campaign, his party promised to reduce taxation? This year road users are paying £7 billion in taxes—£2½ billion more than in the last year of the Labour Government. Is the Minister aware that the average car user now pays £7 a week and has to put up with more congestion, more potholes, more delays and more dangers, as a direct result of the present Government's road policy?
That is all very well—if it were not for the fatal flaw in the hon. Gentleman's argument. The present Government are spending more not less, upon trunk road investment and road maintenance. That is because of the pure incompetence of the previous Labour Government, who were not even able to spend the money that was allocated to those things.
What about all those motorists who pay nothing at all towards the maintenance of roads and so on? Is the Minister satisfied that we are making suitable progress in reducing the apparently large number of people who get away for, seemingly, a very long time, without paying vehicle excise duty?
I am sure that my hon. Friend is correct about that. We have already had one campaign concerning this matter. Another campaign is now in being. I assure my hon. Friend that the present Government will take every action open to them to detect vehicle excise duty evaders, because I agree with my hon. Friend that it is wrong and is something which the public abhor.
As I have said previously to the hon. Gentleman, no one would be more pleased than I would if we could arrange a debate upon roads policy in this House. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is a matter of importance and that it is something which should be debated on the Floor of the House. I shall pass on the hon. Gentleman's point to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.