London, 26 Oct 2005.
For immediate release.

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Darling Introduces Mobility Tax by the Back Door
In a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research today, Alistair Darling admitted the Department for Transport is already well-ahead with plans for the introduction of road user charging using private companies.
 
The seminar hosted by the IPPR was sponsored by Norwich Union, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and T-Systems, an international IT provider and part of Deutsche Telecom.
 
Plans for satellite road user charging inevitably raise Big Brother concerns, centred as the scheme is around satellite-controlled black boxes fitted to vehicles. These black boxes will know the vehicle s location, how fast it is travelling and on which roads. All this data will be recorded and used by private companies to charge drivers a tax for their mileage, based on where and when they travel, potentially with a commission for the work done.
 
ABD Spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie commented
"It seems that Mr Darling is determined to press ahead with his Big Brother mobility tax no matter what. He realises what a potential vote-loser this is, and is now using private firms to front, develop and manage the scheme for him."
The ABD's Chairman Brian Gregory comments
"This scheme has phenomenal implications for people's civil liberties. Private companies and the government will know exactly where they are every hour of the day and charge them for it. Of course, the in-car black boxes also open the door to instant speeding tickets and penalties for almost any other offence that can be dreamed up."
The ABD believes that the introduction of this mobility tax is mistaken, but not simply because of the implications for civil liberties. Demand for travel is inelastic people need to travel for work, to commute, to see friends and families. This tax is based on the whole premise that people are able to change their travelling behaviour. Although there is potential for some commuters to switch to cycling and powered two wheelers for some trips, public transport is, in the government s own words unreliable, expensive and does not go where people want. The majority of travellers will simply have no choice but to pay up.
 
McArthur-Christie concludes
"We are extremely concerned about any tax that involves satellite and computer technology spying on citizens. When unelected and unaccountable private companies are involved, our concern grows still further. We urge Mr Darling to reconsider."

 

 
Notes for Editors