Select Committee on Trade and Industry Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Association of International Courier and Express Services


  1.  AICES is the trade organisation in the United Kingdom for companies handling international express documents and package shipments. AICES membership—which includes household names such as DHL, FedEx, TNT and UPS—employs tens of thousands of people and is responsible for over 95 per cent of the international courier and express shipments moved through the UK every day. Our services provide the "just-in-time" information and goods that organisations from hospitals to financial institutions rely upon.


  2.  AICES members are acutely aware of the major transport challenges with which the Government is faced. As an industry that prides itself on "just in time" services, we have become increasingly concerned by the congestion that plagues Britain's roads. Not only does it impact on the efficiency of our services and subsequently the UK economy, we also recognise the significant consequences for both the environment and public.


  3.  AICES fully accepts that it is for the Government to determine levels of taxation and policy priorities. However, our members have been extremely concerned that whilst the Government is prepared to wield the stick—in respect of fuel duty or by allowing the introduction of congestion charges—it would seem the carrot has yet to make an appearance.

  4.  We believe that the Government must ensure that any policies that are introduced with the aim of reducing car journeys and thus congestion, must distinguish between the private motorist and the essential business user. The consequence otherwise is the gradual erosion of British competitiveness and a commercial environment that discourages risk and investment. The courier and express industry exists to provide "just in time" services and has little choice but to use roads to deliver to its customers. Whatever the cost of fuel, our members will be forced to purchase but with the knowledge that these costs will eventually be passed on to customers. There is no doubt that unless costs are managed effectively, AICES members will either find themselves unable to compete or with customers who can no longer afford their services. Either way, the economy suffers.


  5.  The debate about how to reduce congestion and pollution whilst maintaining individual liberty and business competitiveness is a complex one. The Government has already shown that it is willing to create fiscal incentives to achieve its aims by reducing car tax for motor vehicles under 1000 cc. We believe a similar creative approach is required in the debate about taxation on fuel. The Government could, for example, create new fiscal benefits for gas or electric vehicles or reduce significantly other costs for businesses involved in distribution. What AICES believes is imperative, is for the Government to recognise that a policy that maintains a high fuel duty will have negative implications for business and individuals who have little choice but to rely on fuel for their everyday lives. In this sense, AICES does not believe that a uniform policy can be appropriate without quid pro quo concession for essential users.

30 October 2000

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