Taxing travel

I saw in the press the case made for private sector run roads. The IEA pointed to the shortage of capacity of the current road system, the high pay backs that new road investment would achieve compared to new railway lines, and urged a more radical approach.  The present government has ruled this out, and is only considering road user charging for lorries, not for private cars. Without a system of comprehensive user charging private run roads with private new investment are impossible. This article is not an attempt to re open this issue, which the government regards as settled.

In the run up to the 2010 election the Conservative party looked at a scheme to repay debt from franchise fees for roads whilst abolishing  Vehicle Excise Duty, but decided against it. The Conservatives were keen to find ways of cutting state debt. I am not recommending this scheme now, and the numbers no longer work with lower interest rates on government borrowing. I thought it might be of interest to see what has been explored and rejected in the past in the light of some people’s wish to re open road pricing as an issue.

The aims set were

1 Abolition of Vehicle Excise Duty, introduction of road charges. Road users overall to pay no more in tax and no less as a result of the change

2. Tax road use rather than vehicle ownership

3 Raise a large sum of money from the private sector  to pay off some national debt.

4. Government to retain the  freehold of the road network so we were not selling long term national assets

5 Motorists to display and register their insurance so there remained accessible records of vehicles in use

6 Private managers of the highways network incentivised to increase capacity,safety and availability of road space

7 Price controls to stop monopoly exploitation of popular roads at popular times of day.

8. Winners from the scheme to be people on lower incomes, low mileage drivers  and users of roads at off peak periods

The scheme entailed introducing road charges to replace the lost VED revenue. The government was to offer franchises to the private sector yo manage and improve the main roads and to collect the charges to pay for the maintenance, management and franchise premium paid to the state.  The franchises were to be auctioned for a specified price, with bidders bidding for length of contract. There would be absolute price controls to stop monopoly exploitation, allowing franchise holders to charge less off peak as they saw fit. The numbers worked to deliver £ 100 bn of capital to the government to repay debt, with later reversion of the franchises to do it again.

Private management of the highways was likely to result in improvements to flows and use, with less time  with intrusive roadworks and closures. Franchise holders could add to the network, with incentives to spend capital on road improvement and protection for sunk capital if they lost the public sector road  franchise.

The leadership considered it carefully but rejected it because it had a big political drawback . The public were so distrustful of government that they did not believe any government would honour the promise not to charge more.  The scheme did of course offer  a useful tax cut to those using the main roads less than the average. It was particularly helpful to low income and elderly households who drive fewer miles. The user charges only applied to the national trunk and motorway network.

Today interest rates are lower so the public finances would lose out from the loss of state revenue, so it is a non runner. The scheme worked financially only because the state saved in interest  costs from debt repayment what it had lost in VED revenue forgone. Today some people are proposing a switch from VED to road charges but all collected by the state. This cuts out revenue loss but fails to deliver service improvements in highway provision. With user charges the motorist would likely get even more critical of the poor service and availability of roadspace in the UK with a public monopoly.


  1. Sir Joe Soap
    February 18, 2018

    Sounds like a scheme crazy enough for T May to put in the next manifesto. You’d have people rat running here there and everywhere and actually those folk who do 500 miles a year need a road in place as much as those doing 50k miles.
    There are more important issues right now.

  2. Lifelogic
    February 18, 2018

    Charging per mile and at different rates depending on demand is very sensible rather than per car. Roads are far more needed than new rail. People want to go door to door with luggage, bags, children….. and calling off on the way at the school, supermarket, doctors….. TRAINS in general are far too inefficient, inflexible and absurdly expensive.

    The public were certainly right to be so distrustful of government that they did not believe any government would honour the promise not to charge more. Especially with the appalling Hammond in number 11 with his vendetors against landlords, tenants, house movers, pension savers, the hard working, motorists, the rich, the self employed, savers, people who buy insurance, use private schools and anyone who might inherit any thing.

    Self drive cars and taxis wil make roads even more vital.

    But May and Hammong are wrong on slmost every issue, just a socialist warm up act for magic money tree and con man Corbyn.

  3. mickc
    February 18, 2018

    Yet again, the Conservative party wants to tax more…… And they want to win the next election….

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2018

      Tax, borrow, waste and regulate to death seems to be the May/Hammond agenda with lots of pointless but expensive virtue signaling for good measure.

      This while delivering poorer and poorer public services of very little actual value.

  4. Sakara Gold
    February 18, 2018

    I seem to recall that you discussed this subject recently. If the roads were to be privatised, Corbyn and McDonnell would only want to re-nationalise them.

    Anyway, would you really want foreigners owning and running our roads?

  5. formula57
    February 18, 2018

    “The public were so distrustful of government that they did not believe any government would honour the promise not to charge more.” And we were right! Just look at what has happened meanwhile to VED.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2018


  6. Christine
    February 18, 2018

    I think you are looking at this from the wrong angle. The problem is there are too many people using the roads. The choices are – 1) Cut immigration 2) Move jobs and people to the North of the country 3) improve public transport and make it affordable like has been done in central London. 4) Introduce a road tax for foreign registered vehicles, like they do in Switzerland.

    1. Prigger
      February 18, 2018

      Why doesn’t the SNP government implement a “Ten pound Pom” scheme for the English. £10 travel/removal costs including transporting your furniture. A rented flat with fridge, washing machine a dryer and help getting a job? I’d go.

  7. Mark B
    February 18, 2018

    Good morning.

    Sorry for both the length and links, but this is relevant and the sites are governmental.

    Before we begin I think it is good to know where this is coming form. And yes, you guessed right 😉

    The European Transport Policy is promoting the application of the user-pays principle . . .

    The EU has created a framework to encourage Member States to use taxation and infrastructure charging . . .

    In six EU countries . . .

    Why only EU countries ? What about the rest of the world ? Shows you their, ‘Group Think’ mentality 😉

    If we go a head with the privatisation of our transport network, it will, eventually, end up being owned by the Germans, French, Italians etc. With all the profits going to them. I am all for privatisation but, as I said in a previous post, it must meet certain criteria, and one of those is that it must NOT be owned by another foreign government, which represents another form of subsidy we give the EU.

    The UK government is only holding back because it is a clear vote loser, but it is having to do lorry charging because it is forced to by the EU. Which again is why I voted to leave the EU and why I keep banging on about governance NOT bloody trade !!!

    If we are leaving the EU, then it is high time we stopped Kowtowing to them !

    1. Mark B
      February 18, 2018


      After the; In six EU countries . . . should have come this link.

  8. Old Albion
    February 18, 2018

    I don’t know what it costs to administrate VED. However, I do know DVLA spends significant sums sending reminders to people like me, who own Historic Vehicles. We are reminded to renew our road tax (VED) which costs nothing. Every year we go through this pointless exercise !!

    This simple answer to replacing VED is to put a ‘road tax’ on the cost of fuel. That way nobody can avoid paying it. Those using the roads most, pay most. Foreign drivers who need to fill-up here will also contribute.
    I read recently, since the removal of tax discs. Government has lost in excess of £100m in revenue.
    All new cars could still have an additional one-off charge according to their emissions. To encourage manufacturers and buyers toward lower emitting vehicles.
    I acknowledge finding the appropriate level of this proposed new tax will be difficult, but not I suggest, impossible.

  9. agricola
    February 18, 2018

    There is no mention of a simple solution to scrapping VED. An appropriate level of tax on fuel would provide the income to produce a first class road network. At present the combined tax on the motorist far exceeds what is spent on the roads, or in other words it is a confidence trick run by the treasury. My suggestion would ensure that people only paid proportional to usage. The real bonus could be the scrapping of the DVLA.

    An electronically interrogatable disc of vehicle insurance compliance should be introduced along with registration and insurance for all cyclists.

    1. Mark
      February 18, 2018

      The police and DVLA already have access to the database of insured vehicles: you cannot pay your VED unless your vehicle has current insurance and MOT, and the police can check you are insured simply from your vehicle registration number. They use ANPR and other mobile cameras to check up on uninsured vehicles on the road (at least where they feel they wouldn’t be treading too much on sensitivities by doing so). Not sure what they are doing about lawn movers though.

    2. acorn
      February 18, 2018

      The last time I looked, VED raises about £6 billion a year. Fuel Duty about £28 billion plus another £5.3 billion in VAT on the Fuel Duty. Plus another £4.1 billion of VAT on the fuel, its delivery and retail margin.

      DfT spends about £6.1 billion on roads via Highways England (£4.3 b) and Local Authority Transport (£1.8 b).

      About 17 billion litres of petrol and 28 billion litres of diesel were consumed to do an aggregate 324 billion vehicle miles according to DfT. I will let you work out which is the best way to eliminate VED.

      BTW. Brexiteers be aware. DfT says 3 million road goods vehicles travelled from Great Britain to mainland Europe in 2016-17, a record high (5.7 for every minute of the year). You have to assume they all had return tickets.

      1. acorn
        February 19, 2018

        The winning answer is: you discount the £6 billion VED by the VAT and add it to the excise duty. That is, £28 b plus £5 b, equals £33 billion plus Vat at 20% equals £39.6 billion. so you are looking at putting the Excise Duty of 57.95 pence per litre, up by about 11 pence per litre.

    3. sm
      February 18, 2018

      Fully agree, agricola and Old Albion.

  10. alan jutson
    February 18, 2018

    Surely the most simple solution is to scrap VED and then increase the tax on fuel by a few pence, to make it a cost neutral change.

    No need to fit fancy and additional costs for toll collection points to roads of vehicles.

    Thus no way to avoid paying, so actual revenue would increase, because all would pay.

    No additional collection cost, because it is exactly the same collection system as now.

    If people want a large luxury vehicle, then they pay for it with usage.

    Has the above ever been considered, if not why not.

    Insurance on windscreen seems sensible, given too many (about 1,000,000 we are told) are driving without it.

    1. Bob
      February 19, 2018

      electric cars don’t pay VED or fuel duty, Which is why we’re being softened up for road pricing.

      1. miami.mode
        February 19, 2018

        Hole in one, there Bob. As acorn says above, VED and fuel taxes bring in close to £40bn per year and this sum is in jeopardy within the next 20 years or so.

        1. alan jutson
          February 20, 2018


          I take your point about diminishing fuel taxes in the future.

          Rest assured electric powered cars will have their fuel taxed in some ingenious way, the Government will see to that.
          Perhaps we will have an automatic shut off on the car socket after so many charges, which you then have to pay to get released, or a large tax on the cost of batteries when they need replacing, as they will in due course.
          The obvious of course is a meter on the actual charging point.

          Where there is a will to gain revenue there is always a way.

          1. Bob
            February 21, 2018

            They’ve already told us that they will be introducing road pricing for HGVs, do you really think they would then invent a secondary system to tax battery charging once the camera gantries are in place?

  11. Adam
    February 18, 2018

    Existing motorways waste driving space. Typically, they comprise 9 ‘lanes’: 3 North, 3 South, & 2 hard shoulders. The 9th is the central barrier to prevent 140mph collision.

    Now, think laterally. Use all 9 lanes, but position the fastest traffic widest apart. Lanes 6,7,8 & 9 go North. Lanes 1,2,3 & 4 go South. Remove the barrier & use the central lane solely for emergency.

    The slow traffic is at the centre, adjacent to the emergency lane. The fastest traffic is separated by the 7 slower lanes between them.

    The change delivers a 33% increase in existing road-driving surface.

    1. Beecee
      February 18, 2018

      And then the slower traffic wishes to leave the motorway and ……. oops and oh, the slow cars joining the motorway will have lots of fun also!!!!

      1. Adam
        February 19, 2018

        All traffic changing direction or crossing any motorway needs access, yet the solution is easier than the image your description presents.

    2. Mark
      February 18, 2018

      Two 44 tonne trucks vying for your central reservation emergency lane would have a lot of energy to disperse in a collision, even if they were only doing 56mph each. You would also have to redesign every junction at enormous expense.

      1. Adam
        February 19, 2018

        Max mph for the 4 driving lanes could be: 20, 30, 40 & 60. Trucks may be confined to a slower speed, of perhaps 40mph, yet all traffic can go faster with the freedom an extra driving lane enables.

    3. miami.mode
      February 18, 2018

      Adam……are you the original, before drivers were invented? What fun we would have when a slow moving wants to exit a motorway and has to cross all the fast moving traffic.

      1. Adam
        February 19, 2018

        Existing motorway exits use flyovers & tunnels for directional changes. On a motorway with the emergency lane at its slow centre, a driver can even reverse direction with a flat mini-roundabout.

    4. Caterpillar
      February 18, 2018


      On/off slip roads?

      1. Adam
        February 19, 2018

        There are several solutions. Even the motorway itself could split at its centre into 2 roads with different destinations.

    5. getahead
      February 18, 2018

      But then slip roads would run into the fast lane. And you have lost the barrier. Too dangerous Adam.

      1. Adam
        February 19, 2018

        Not so. Vehicles entering the motorway would join the slower traffic. The ‘loss’ of the barrier could be avoided by not building such an expensive obstruction to vehicle-to-vehicle space & freedom of movement.

    6. agricola
      February 18, 2018

      I like the basic idea, however , getting on and off such a motorway would require some tricky engineering.

      I have oft thought that a two lane carriageway for cars only, supported on pillars planted in the central reservation of a three or four lane motorway would also increase it’s capacity without using up our precious land. Build the components in factories for a rapid construction time.

      1. Adam
        February 19, 2018

        The method is simpler than it seems; so fundamental that it would work similarly in Left Hand Drive countries’ motorways too.

        A double decker system would add capacity, but simpler methods usually involve less engineering & materials.

  12. Bert Young
    February 18, 2018

    Road use and related taxes ( of one kind or another ) is a vexed subject . Different users have different priorities . There are no public services in transport where I live near enough to for the carrying of parcels from shopping to be a possibility ; as one ages this becomes more and more apparent .

    The density of road use is increasing every day and at times it is extremely difficult to access the nearby main road from my locality and turn right . Every school day either my wife or I face this hazard and efforts to achieve a roundabout at this location that would overcome this problem have all failed .

    The condition of road surfaces in Oxfordshire is a disgrace ; potholes abound . Any sort of temporary disruption is an absolute nightmare . The extent of new housebuilding abounds and creates more and more difficulties .

    This hodge podge approach to the overall problem has to be overcome – population growth is at the bottom of it all .

    1. John C.
      February 18, 2018

      If you follow logically nearly all the (n0n-moral) problems that we face, you will eventually find that over-population is the basic cause. Never raised once by any politician that I know of, perhaps because they feel immigration is somehow involved. Immigration IS a part of it, but only as an offshoot. The main problem lies undiscussed.

  13. Whopping Tom Malthus
    February 18, 2018

    We British could stop building too many roads. It would’ve been an idea to dig some of them up but we can’t as housing estates were stuck up dependent upon them. More houses are planned and being built partly on a basis of location on there being a road there which it would be un-British not to over-traffic.
    Normally, a responsible government would reduce family tax benefits and increase family planning clinics encouraging young couples not to have such big and growing families beyond their income. And ours.

  14. graham1946
    February 18, 2018

    You have outlined a complicated answer to a simple question.

    Simply repeal VED and put it on fuel so no-one can get away with it. Then simply spend more of the money raised on what it is supposed to be for – the roads and drop silly vanity projects and tax bribes so beloved of the political class – i.e. spend less overall and reduce government size and reach.

    At the moment VED falls heaviest on the poorest which always seems to be government intention, despite their protestations to the contrary. If you can afford to buy a brand new low emissions or electric car you get away with the roads for free. If you can only afford an old car (even though even these are cleaner these days than ever before you pay top whack. When are Ministers (the PM could give a lead for the first time in her career) going to give up their limos and use small electric cars? Not comfortable enough? Don’t work? Oh dear, then let them think what they impose on others before feather-bedding themselves and preaching to the people.

    1. miami.mode
      February 18, 2018

      g1946….cannot remember whether it was the PM or a member of the Cabinet but I did a number plate check once on a car carrying such individual and it turned out to be a Mondeo hybrid. Seems fair enough.

  15. Bob
    February 18, 2018

    We all know the real reason behind the move to road pricing is the self inflicted hit the govt coffers will take as a result of their push for electric vehicles which don’t pay road tax or fuel duty.

    If the Chancellor had used the money paid in VED, insurance premium tax and fuel duty to build and maintain roads instead of wasting it on foreign aid and HS2, not to mention the untold fortunes spent on quangocrats, we would have had the best road network in the world.

  16. fedupsoutherner
    February 18, 2018

    I suspect eventually that those of who drive diesel cars will be paying the most towards ‘road improvement schemes’ and we will see no improvements at all. We already pay disgustingly high amounts of tax on fuel and road tax is obviously being used to prop up other things. It doesn’t matter what is brought in, we will end up paying through the nose. In Scotland, in the rural areas the roads are falling to pieces. It is more convenient for the government to price people off the roads than to build new roads.

  17. duncan
    February 18, 2018

    No one cares about this issue John. We do care about the BBC and its continued attempts to undermine Brexit.

    The grotesque Marr had Guy Verhofstadt (GV) on his programme this morning. Essentially, GV threatened the UK. This EU technocrat appears on the pro-EU BBC and both appear to enjoy provoking its people or certainly those who voted for a UK free from foreign interference such as this

    We have a foreign politician threatening the British people on British television. This cannot get more farcical or indeed more offensive

    Obama did exactly the same thing before disappearing off into the political sunset

    For Brexit to be a success we need control over our laws, our money and our borders. If we cannot enter into trade deals and rework business regs and business tax rates then what’s the point?

    We need a leader who fights back against this interference. It wouldn’t surprise me if this intervention this morning by GV was organised between the BBC and No.10

    1. Caterpillar
      February 18, 2018

      👍+1 paragraph 5.

      Hopefully BBC will cover each o f the articles on the new ‘Briefings for Brexit ‘ page.

  18. Denis Cooper
    February 18, 2018

    Off topic (after all it is Sunday, when the Remoaners are allowed to run rampant across three major TV channels, without any challenge from the non-existent Rapid Rebuttal Unit in the jovial David Davis’s Department for Pretending to Exit the European Union):

    “Verhofstadt wants Britain in the Single Market, the Customs Union and the EEA”

    Once again I point out that at least 88% of the UK economy involving about 94% of UK businesses has nothing to do with exports t0 the rest of the EU, but nevertheless all of the UK and its economy and population and businesses and institutions are forced to obey all EU laws however silly and/or damaging they may be.

    As for the apparently intractable and fraught problem of the goods exported from the UK across the Irish land border into the Republic, they are about 0.1% of UK GDP.

    1. Denis Cooper
      February 18, 2018

      Emily Thornberry told Robert Peston that the UK should stay in the/a customs union to solve that Irish border problem, but it was not possible for the UK to stay in the EU Single Market because of freedom of movement of persons.

      Obviously it’s complicated and most people will not have had any reason to clarify all the details in their minds, but as Shadow Foreign Secretary she should know that under current arrangements the absence of any kind of checks on the Irish border depends on both the UK and Ireland being in the EU Single Market as well as in the EU Customs Union.

      As explained here, for example:

      “… Ireland and Britain were members of the European Economic Community … and … its customs union … There was thus no further need for customs-related controls along the Border. But border controls persisted … ”

      And they persisted for 20 years, with just the customs union, until:

      “The … single market programme … ensured that what could legally be sold in one country … could be legally sold in all … on the 1st of January 1993, the final systematic trade-related border checks … ceased … ”

      “Getting rid of border controls on trade thus depended on both the European customs union, and the European single market … The UK and Ireland were members of a customs union before 1993, but not a single market, and the result … was border controls.”

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      February 18, 2018

      Clearly from this interview the EU are hoping for our Parliament to reject any deal. So they’re working towards that.

      1. Mark
        February 19, 2018

        I thought Verhofstadt was making plain that he hoped his own pet Europarl would vote against any deal. That way he gets to feel powerful, because otherwise he has no formal role in the negotiation at all according to Article 50. Of course, after putting a comma in a different place to satisfy his vanity, the deal will then be voted through. It would not be put before Europarl if it was going to be rejected in the EU Council, where a tougher, QMV vote is required.

        I am assuming the negotiators are planning for this. If they aren’t, they ought to be.

  19. Andy
    February 18, 2018

    We won’t need extra road capacity after Brexit – as the economy will crash.

    Who will be building the giant lorry parks in Kent?

    1. Edward2
      February 18, 2018

      Only the other day you were telling us of the dreadful shortages of labour that would happen because of Brexit.
      Now it’s a crashed economy huge unemployment and empty roads.
      It can’t be both.
      So which is it Andy?

    2. Mark
      February 18, 2018

      I don’t remember giant lorry parks in Kent before we joined the EEC.

      1. Andy
        February 19, 2018

        There were. But then, comparatively, there weren’t that many lorries in the 1970s either.

        (It must also be remembered that in the 1970s people also bought Gary Glitter records and thought Jimmy Savile was a nice man. The furthest most people had travelled was Cornwall. We really shouldn’t be aspiring to be like the 70s).

    3. Anonymous
      February 18, 2018

      The economy won’t crash, or rather it won’t crash without the EU economy crashing too.

      Britain goes bust without grave economic impact elsewhere ? Unthinkable.

      If they were worried about any one of the PIIGS crashing and causing global contagion why belittle our country so much by minimising our importance ?

      The decision was made in a referendum in which you pledged to uphold the result with your ‘X’. Now it is your duty to get behind your country and talk it up, not down. Or be quiet.

      1. Andy
        February 19, 2018

        I am very happy to criticise both Brexit and Brexiteers very loudly – it makes me a patriot.

        You will, no doubt, remember that Tory Eurosceptics spent 40+ years criticising the EU and its predecessors.

        This is just payback. (With interest added).

    4. libertarian
      February 18, 2018

      Andy andy andy

      If the economy is going to crash why would we need extra lorry parks in your analysis? We’re already building them in Kent because of the vastly increased exports and the rise in cross channel traffic

    5. fedupsoutherner
      February 18, 2018

      Andy, thanks for the joke of the day.

    6. Prigger
      February 18, 2018

      So you’ve not emigrated yet Andy? Only a year to go and air flights will be grounded, ferries left in port, waterwings leaking, a plague of boils. So off you go!! You can set up camp in Calais until the generous French authorities give you a flat and a job. You will no longer be part of the EU so you can actually claim asylum whereas now no EU citizen can claim asylum in a fellow EU nation state. Things are looking up for you Andy. Especially if you visit the Eifel Tower which is a pretty good copy of the Tower in Blackpool

      1. Andy
        February 19, 2018

        Ah – the usual Brexiteer pensioner comment. “If you love the EU that much love to it.” Pathetic.

        1. Prigger
          February 21, 2018

          Ah – then you are not going to move. Not quite as bad here after all. No food, no housing, no education, people dropping like flies all around you. Obviously you do not mean on pennyworth of what you say.

    7. Timaction
      February 18, 2018

      ……or the bigger lorry parks in Calais and collecting all those extra and far bigger tariffs from EU companies!!

    8. Stred
      February 18, 2018

      Brexitoia. Recent psychological condition caused by belief in anti Brexit propaganda, possibly self generated.

  20. Prigger
    February 18, 2018

    One should try removing reasons for travel instead of increasing them in every conceivable way.
    As at first a daft example, there are 8,500,000 dogs in the UK. Too many require the owner making a short car journey for a suitable place where they can powder their noses. Morning, noon, evening and night. How many car journeys per day is that?
    No, there are not too many dogs. Just too few green routes from home and back on this over-crowded island

    1. fedupsoutherner
      February 18, 2018

      Prigger. Yes, hardly any green spaces left to walk dogs or exercise your own body due to the fact that all ancient woodlands and meadows/fields/paddocks are all being taken up with housing and half of it for millions of extra immigrants. Green? Hard to see green in some areas.

    2. John C.
      February 18, 2018

      Sounds like too many dogs to me. Unless you propose making the UK bigger.

  21. miami.mode
    February 18, 2018

    The proposed scheme seems typical of something that was drawn up by a committee. Keep it simple.

    Have a nominal VED of say £40 for cars to keep a record of vehicles currently registered and put fuel up by an amount to cover the projected loss, which could be around 15p per litre and which could be split between Fuel Tax and VAT so that commercial users are not disadvantaged. These can then easily be adjusted and will do away with all the complications of the current VED scheme and will go some way to making the polluter pay.

    Any road charges or sales tax on new high polluting or expensive vehicles are separate issues and with the advent of more electric vehicles a “vehicle tax” could be added to all electricity bills which, in effect, will give a discount to those who use this type of transport.

  22. Ron Olden
    February 18, 2018

    Privatising the roads is much too difficult, and a waste of time. It’ll end up like the PFI thing.

    There’s a fairly close correlation between road use, and the weight of the vehicle (so therefore the wear and tear on the road), and the amount of petrol and diesel it uses.

    So the obvious way to fund roads is to scrap the Road Fund Licence and charge the money on petrol and diesel instead. Possibly with a charge to use busy motorways at peak times, in the hope of diverting some traffic to off peak.

    Apart from all the other advantages, it would end this controversy about foreign drivers coming here and using our roads free of charge. A small duty could be charged on the fuel lorries bring in from abroad in their tanks.

    It might also be a good idea to get rid of the Tax on Car Insurance, and abolish VAT on new tyres, replacement car parts, car servicing and breakdown cover, and put that on petrol as well.

    1. Bob
      February 18, 2018

      ” charge to use busy motorways at peak times, in the hope of diverting some traffic to off peak.”

      I don’t travelling at peak times is what people do out of choice – that would be quite bizarre.

      “A small duty could be charged on the fuel lorries bring in from abroad in their tanks.”

      Charge them full duty upon entry for a full tank of fuel against a tax voucher that they can redeem for the applicable “per litre” rate of duty if they buy fuel in the uk.

  23. Peter Fatts
    February 18, 2018

    Why not simply increase fuel tax enough to replace ved. This has recently been done in Guernsey. That way all road users pay in proportion to how much they drive, use the roads and emit pollution.

    1. Adam
      February 18, 2018

      Charging for road access is tantamount to adding toll gates, causing unknown traffic knock-on effects, each with complexity needing further solutions to remedy.

      Your suggestion is simply the best, Peter. It enables control to be adjusted efficiently, easily, fairly & rapidly.

  24. Lettuce walk
    February 18, 2018

    Many roads would make great sites for large-scale food greenhouses with 100% light penetration. Also they are located just so for food distribution.Well, for the North of England, let alone Scotland it could save a 516.54587 mile road journey one way to York from Holland so you can scoff an absolutely necessary lettuce.

  25. English Pensioner
    February 18, 2018

    I’ve always been in favour of moving the taxation from the VED to the fuel. That way the large mileage and large vehicle driver pays more for his road usage.
    We have a largish car which we like for the comfort on the long journeys which we make maybe three of four times a year. Otherwise we’d have the smallest car we could find for the other journeys. But paying two lots of VED puts us off the idea in spite of the problems of parking a larger vehicle at the shops.

  26. bigneil
    February 18, 2018

    It seems to me to be a way of freeing up the motorways so the rich can have them to themselves. Again, something built by the taxes of the poor, for the benefit of the rich. Just like the HS2.
    As for “paying no more and no less” tax – – maybe to start with, then watch it escalate. Just like the HS2 costs – and anything else the govt gives AN “end price” on.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2018

      The best examples of the establishment & of MPs damaging the poor are the EU taxes on food imports and Ed Milliband’s absurd climate change act that prevents people keeping warm. An act supported by almost every MP in the house.

  27. Mark
    February 18, 2018

    It is interesting to note rising activity in South Wales now the Severn Bridge tolls are within sight of ending. Tolls inevitably discriminate, which lies at the heart of why we got rid of toll roads in the 19th century. The Highways Agency is already seen as equivalent to a private operator in my local town, now considering plans for a bypass. I can imagine the howls of protest were it to be a private company seeking to optimise tolls.

    Trucks pay substantially less in VED than is justified by the road damage they cause, which is in proportion to the fourth power of axle weight.

    I think that in addition to not trusting government not to rack up road charges almost indiscriminately (something that will doubtless return with Gove’s push for EVs) there was distaste for the intrusive monitoring of movements implied.

  28. Anonymous
    February 18, 2018

    Taxing people trying their best to get to work.

    Niiice !

    What was never mentioned in the Grenfell tragedy was the amount of middle class white people killed driving/motorcycling to work in London because they couldn’t afford to live in a zone 2 area.

    It dwarfs the number of people killed in sub standard accommodation.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 18, 2018

      Some truth in this, not helped by Hammond’s idiotic up to 15% stamp duty and restrictive planning laws.

  29. Denis Cooper
    February 18, 2018

    This morning on TV there was mention of a new report from the Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which apparently warned of problems for our farming and our food supplies after we have left the EU.

    However what was said didn’t seem to make sense, so I looked up the report:

    “Brexit: Trade in Food”

    And one of the first things I noticed was the absence of any overall picture of our trade in food. In the Summary it is merely asserted that “Trade is vital to the industry” but without giving any numerical detail to support that claim.

    It does not say what fraction of the £110 billion annual output is connected with exports, it only says that 60% of whatever those exports may be are sent to the rest of the EU.

    In theory that could be £66 billion, with the entire output being exported, or it could be zero exported with 60% of that zero being sent to the EU …

    And then on page 5 that incomplete information is repeated, with a bar chart showing the division between the EU and non-EU markets and sources for our exports and imports of eight key agricultural commodities, but with no information from which to learn whether we are a net exporter or a net importer of any of them … ”

    As I recall out of the eight categories we are a net exporter just for sheep meat, and that is the only case where the reintroduction of EU tariffs would be to the net disadvantage of our farmers, but that was not the impression conveyed in the media report.

    So much total twaddle being spread around, day after day, week after week, month after month, and the government does nothing to prevent the public being misled.

  30. mancunius
    February 18, 2018

    It would be impractical to trial such a scheme, so it’s pretty much all or nothing for a very long period. And no, nobody does believe any government’s ‘guarantee’ since the next lot can cheerfully renege on it. (e.g. Hammond had to backtrack on his rise in NI for the self-employed after a storm of protest from lower-paid self-employed workers – as it wasn’t a Tory election commitment. One general election a couple of months later – May 2017 – and the same May/Hammond government quietly introduced it again and pushed it through.)

    Why should we tax travel at all? Is Moving from Place to Place somehow now a Bad Thing? And who decides – and how – what is ‘unnecessary’ or ‘excessive’? (As in the wartime question aimed only at the permanently conscience-stricken: ‘Is your journey really necessary?’ )

    Does anyone remotely think travelling can be done 1) entirely by public transport and 2) entirely without using fuel?

    Until telekinesis or *genuinely* pollution-free fuels are on the horizon, the car, van and lorry are with us to stay. Taxing essentials is not a public good.

    1. mancunius
      February 18, 2018

      I realize of course the money for roads has to come from *somewhere* – but these per use schemes look very fiddly. Fuel duty surely better, as it can finesse clean/dirty energy use.

  31. Bryan Harris
    February 18, 2018

    I’ve always wondered why VED and car insurance are not rolled up into the price of petrol, as an extra tax…? Be nice to see costings worked out on this…
    Yes, we should abolish VED, but we pay a huge amount in taxation on petrol already, which every motorist resents – If there was “ADDED VALUE” in the form of no VED and no insurance… people would be less inclined to complain.
    Big/heavy road users would naturally pay more of the tax – and everyone, by default would be fully covered against accidents… Car insurance could still be run by the private sector, and every accident a person has would log against them, such that if they had more than 3 accidents a year, with them at cause, then they’d be banned for a year.

  32. Bryan Harris
    February 18, 2018

    Why are we still charged tolls on the QE Dartford Bridge – we motorists paid for the thing years ago – now the government is just making extra money from it… which is rather immoral, after the initial promise.

  33. alan jutson
    February 18, 2018

    Looks like a large proportion of the comments say the same:

    Scrap VED and put additional tax on fuel John.

    By far and away the simplest and fairest method, thus I think I can Guarantee politicians will never put it forward, or even think about bringing it in.

    Would even save on admin because you can do away with all those who work in the VED Department who have lost £100 million a year income for the Government, since the stupid tax disc removal from screen idea.

  34. Iain Gill
    February 18, 2018

    Don’t think this would go down well with the voters.

    We already pay a distance tax in the fuel taxes.

    And cars already pay more tax than they use in public spending, unlike trains.

  35. libertarian
    February 18, 2018

    Why not actually do something innovative for a change? Why not actually invest in rural technology infrastructure, why not encourage employers to employ people from home via the tax system and also move the housing shortage along too. There are plenty of cheap houses to be bought in the country outside the South East and home counties

    Over 9,000 houses for sale at £130,000 or less in East Midlands

    Over 6,000 houses for sale at £100,000 or less in Lincoln etc etc

  36. nigel seymour
    February 18, 2018

    So, Here I am being asked on a site to lobby members of the Lords AGAINST brexit!?
    Well, It seems to me that we have a considerable amount of Lib Dems in the proverbial wood pile? Too many me thinks… So what needs to be done about this threat to brexit and the UK leaving the EU? It needs strong leavers to get their walking boots on again and get Farage to come out of his closet and do what he does best!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Prigger
    February 18, 2018

    The BBC says today a group of “Key MPs” warn food prices go up after Brexit. No reason given. Just something for Losers to say.

    1. Mark B
      February 19, 2018

      Prices went up when we joined the EU. It was called Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT will still be on many things we by (not cold food obviously) and ALL the money will go into the UK coffers and NOT the EU’s. We would also be able to remove VAT on hot foods and other food stuffs that carry VAT. Currently under the EU we cannot. eg The pasty tax !

      1. nigel seymour
        February 19, 2018

        Agree. Farmers are warning that EU imports on agri products will be going up and use Danish pork and French cheese as examples. So, are people so dim that they can’t find alternative british products…

        JR is speaking tomorrow and through Con HQ I suggested that VAT should be reset at 17.5% when we leave. It will fall on deaf ears though.

  38. Stred
    February 18, 2018

    VED is already the second highest in Europe. If this is an EU plan to tax all the electric cars we will be forced to use, why not design a sealed meter in the car which takes tax over the mobile phone network off a prepaid card, avoiding a massive network of monitors.

    1. stred
      February 19, 2018

      Oops. I meant fuel duty not VED.

  39. lojolondon
    February 18, 2018

    John, I am glad you are against this scheme. I would like to start this response with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill : “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

    We have a similar situation on the railways. I remember that one franchisee pays a £5Billion ‘franchise’ fee in order to run a certain service. So we all know that company has to recover the cost of running the railway plus the cost of the franchise plus interest plus profits over the term of the franchise. So, in effect, the government is using the train company to launder £5B out of the pockets of travellers and to the government, conveniently avoiding any obvious ‘tax’ increases. This is dishonest, and even worse, the more money the franchise makes over the term, the more the government can charge for the next term franchise. The net effect of this is that the government and train company are in cahoots to extract more money from rail users.
    This is a very bad idea indeed, and it is a sad comment on the state of our politics that a ‘Conservative’ government is even considering it.

  40. Peter Martin
    February 18, 2018

    Most motorists might vote Conservative but nevertheless they are staunchly socialist on the question of the privatisation of the road network. It’s not likely to be a vote winner for the Tory party.

  41. ChrisS
    February 18, 2018

    High road tax is a significant barrier to buying a new car.

    £40,000 does not buy you a particularly large car these days and the road tax is punitive. I looked at recent second hand vehicles as an alternative and the VED was £500 pa whereas two older, powerful cars I own with large engines are well under £300pa.

    These cars use twice the fuel of the planned purchase but that is a small price to pay compared with the tax and depreciation on a new or nearly new vehicle. These cars do relatively low annual mileages and they will be around for the next fifty years or till petrol is unavailable so their impact on the environment is small.

    I’ve now more or less decided to just keep the cars I have for these reasons. That will deprive the exchequer of a very large sum of VAT and VED and do nothing much for the economy.

    Then there are the ludicrous rates of CGT, the abolition of tax relief on borrowing costs for property investors – and that’s on top of the extra 3% stamp duty on second properties which is even levied on those I used to buy for redevelopment and/or improvement.

    I used to keep three of four subcontractors more or less continually employed so that they were paying taxes and contributing to the economy. Not any more !

    When will even this ( vaguely) Conservative Government realise that much of what it does is highly damaging to business and growth.

    The answer is it won’t unless and until it appoints a pragmatic, business-savvy character like our host as chancellor.

  42. S Matthews
    February 19, 2018

    There are calls here to raise fuel tax. That ship has sailed, or is about to. Over the next few years increasingly many cars will be electric or hybrid, the tax take from petrol and diesel will diminish/disappear. Assuming that no government would be stupid enough to try and reclaim this by taxing mains electricity even further then a consumption tax is not feasible.

  43. ale bro
    February 19, 2018

    In my view personal travel should not be taxed.

    Travel provides a social benefit – if I’m going to visit my elderly relative, why is that a taxable activity? A well timed visit can make the difference between life and death for some. The government should be encouraging personal travel, not trying to stop it.

    The rich can easily afford to pay travel tax, but is it right that a poor family are priced out of normal social activity because tax payable for a 100 mile trip is £30?

    Commercial road users make profits from road use, but these profits are already taxed via corporation tax. Clearly commercial road users are getting an advantage here, as corporation tax is 17% but personal taxation is much higher – someone earning £70k will end up paying 55% tax, and then they have to pay travel taxes on top?

  44. ChrisS
    February 19, 2018

    The real problem is the overall level of tax, not how it is raised.

    Since 2010 we have had nothing but increasing taxes – not the headline rates of income tax of VAT, of course, but just about everything has been hiked mercilessly.

    Just take insurance premium tax : introduced by Ken Clark in 1994, this is a Conservative tax measure like no other.

    In 1994 the rate was just 2.5%. It remained at low rates until Osborne became Chancellor when he successive increased it to 5%, 6% and really increased it in 2015 to 9.5% then to 10%, 12% and finally he introduced a two tier system with a high rate of 17.5%

    This innocuous extra tax is just being used to milk the public whereas the real answer would be to properly cut expenditure. Not the Faux “Austerity” we’ve been subjected to since 2009.

    Hammond could start by halving the aid budget and making Scotland raise the money it spends entirely through Scottish taxes

    1. ChrisS
      February 19, 2018

      The £17bn saved on these two measures alone would allow fuel duties to be reduced by 70%- 80%.

Comments are closed.