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Roads: Tolls

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether her plans for a national road pricing scheme will be limited to roads under the jurisdiction of the Highways Agency; (209464)

(2) how much her Department has spent on identification and development of the technologies required to implement a national road pricing scheme in the last five years;

(3) what her most recent estimate is of the cost of implementing a national road pricing scheme;

(4) which consultants and contractors her Department is working with on matters relating to a national road pricing scheme; and which were so engaged by her Department in each of the last five years;

(5) whether her Department has identified preferred bidders for implementation of national road pricing trials;

(6) how much her Department has allocated for trials of a national road pricing scheme; and how much of this has been spent to date;

(7) when she expects work to commence on the installation of equipment required for national road pricing trials.

In the four years since work began on following up the Feasibility Study of Road Pricing in the UK, the Department has spent £9.3 million on technical and professional advice to inform the way that pricing could be used to tackle road congestion; for example in the local charging schemes that are being developed by local authorities.

Our priority, now and over the next decade, is to tackle congestion, focusing on where it is a problem—in towns and cities and on motorways. The Command Paper ‘Roads—Delivering Choice and Reliability’, published on 16 July, sets out how we intend to do this.

Our plans for testing technology are set out in the same document. We expect that the Demonstrations Project we are about to commission will lead the way to developing better systems that could support urban schemes, possibly over a wider area than have been developed to date, as well as informing our thinking on managing motorway capacity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in which areas road pricing trials will take place. (209471)

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement, ‘Roads—Delivering Choice and Reliability’, made by the Secretary of State for Transport, on 16 July 2008, Official Report, columns 32-34WS. It will be for the contractors to propose how and where best to demonstrate their capabilities.