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Severn Bridge

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

8. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the operation of the Severn bridge. (315871)

Short and not so sweet! The effective operation of both Severn bridge crossings is a priority for all travellers using this vital route to and from Wales—something that both the Secretary of State for Transport and I fully recognise.

Will the Minister explain why users of the Severn bridge will have to pay an increase in charges, whereas users of the Humber bridge, thanks to Government intervention, will not? Why is Wales being discriminated against? Is it because the Secretary of State for Wales would prefer to compare us to Rwanda rather than to other regions of the United Kingdom?

I have to ask whether the hon. Gentleman is seriously suggesting that the Government spend billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on subsidising the Severn crossings. I have to say that he is a classic example of two-faced Tories—[Interruption.] Yes, they suggest savage cuts one moment, while promising to spend billions the next.

Although this is the 21st century, it is still the case that the Severn bridge toll can only be paid in cash. Because the toll is rising so fast, it is becoming trickier and trickier to have enough change. Is it not time to alter the law, so that travellers can pay not only in pounds and euros, but by credit card?

That is a good point. Credit card payments are, in fact, being introduced for that reason. I pay tribute to, in particular, my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, East (Jessica Morden) for her tireless campaigning. As a direct consequence of her intervention, work is under way to make the necessary arrangements for secondary legislation.