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HM Revenue and Customs

Part of Supplementary Estimates 2009-10 — Department of Health – in the House of Commons at 5:48 pm on 10th March 2010.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering 5:48 pm, 10th March 2010

I thought that the hon. Gentleman's argument about road pricing was very thoughtful. It may be one of those issues that is hugely unpopular with the public, but it needs to be looked at very carefully if we come to the conclusion that we cannot as a country afford to build more road space. This may be one of the very difficult decisions we will all have to take over the next few years because as a country we have maxed out on the credit card and do not have the money we would like to spend on these things. I would certainly concede that a difficult decision on road pricing might well have to be taken.

The Road Users' Alliance claims that congestion will rise 37 per cent. in the next 15 years-a very similar estimate to that of the Department for Transport-and it says that UK investment in motorway capacity is among the lowest in Europe. In the 10 years between 1996 to 2006, only Belgium, Austria, Italy and Lithuania built fewer roads, and three of those countries are far smaller than the UK. The alliance also makes the very good point that only 8 per cent. of UK commuters use the train. When we hear the announcement on high-speed rail, perhaps tomorrow, it will be interesting to compare the cost estimate for the high-speed rail scheme against the annual £48 billion we are levying from motorists in taxes and charges. It is roads, not rail, that moves 92 per cent. of passengers and 87 per cent. of freight. Those are the brutal statistics.