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It is indeed nonsense. I am pleased that my hon. Friend has raised that point today, given that the roads Minister is present, and I hope that the Minister will be able to respond to it when he winds up the debate.
Let me give some other interesting statistics. Motorists pay 4p a mile to the Treasury, while rail travellers receive a subsidy of 21p a mile. Between 1998 and 2008 the major road network grew by 1 per cent., but had to cope with traffic growth of almost 10 per cent. Our country's population is growing at an unprecedented rate, and most people do not realise that. Our roads are crumbling at an unprecedented rate, but people do realise that, because they find it embarrassing to return from the United Kingdom from other European countries and see the appalling state of our local road network. We, as a country, must do something about that.
In comparison with the revenue raised from motorists in taxes and charges, the bill for the repair of the potholes is not that great, but it is clear to me that local authorities cannot afford to carry out the repairs themselves. This year, central Government should grant an emergency fund to local authorities throughout the country so that our local roads can be fixed. Ministers in whichever Department is involved, the Department for Transport or the Department for Communities and Local Government, should stand up and take a lead. They should say "The Government are going to fix this problem, because our country deserves better than this." Motorists up and down the land who are already paying a huge amount of money to Her Majesty's Treasury would be extremely glad if the Government took that bold and innovative step.