Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2002
140. But will that charge cover all of the costs
of what you are outlining? There are going to be improvements
within bus services and the London Underground. Is the congestion
charge revenue going to be able to fund what you are saying in
terms of what you would expect to have as improvements in both
the bus services and Underground? That congestion charge of £5
is going to cover that?
(Mr Kiley) The estimate of upwards of £130 million
per annum for four years of congestion charging are net numbers
so that that number will be net of the cost which pays out over
five years of putting the zone in in the first place. That means
that latter years you have the ability to realise a greater gain
as you pay off debt, and so on, for having put the zone in in
the first place. I am the subject of what happens to that resource.
We intend to be absolutely completely transparent on what the
priorities will be and that will begin with the business plan
that we are in the final stages of preparing right now. We will
be indicating from the outset where, whatever the revenues turn
out to be, will be invested.
141. As an additional investment?
(Mr Kiley) Well, yes, in terms of what we are doing
now, it would beWe are kept to a very parsimonious line
because we are pleaders and beggars as everyone in the country
is when it comes to getting the government to give us a little
extra consideration. One of our fears is that we could end up
being penalised for the revenue flows from congestion charging
and what we get with one hand will be taken away.
142. Is there any protection against that happening?
(Mr Kiley) Yes. There is an interesting word that
is used for doing that; abstraction of revenues. That is a word
I was unfamiliar with and admittedly was second grade in my former
country in English language. But abstraction is a dreadful word
if it means that you are penalised for being creative and innovative
in trying to deal with London's problems.
(Mr Turner) The additionality, which is what you are
asking about, we have sought cast iron assurances from the government
about additionality of the £130 million.
143. And you have that in writing from the Treasury,
(Mr Turner) We did not get it in writing from the
144. How surprising.
(Mr Turner) A comment was made on the floor of the
House to the fact that we would not be penalised but obviously
the transparency of this, as the Commissioner has indicated, is
(Mr Kiley) As the Chairman I believe knows, we have
yet to learn what the results are of the spending review for London.
We were promisedjust as were promised something about congestion
charging earlierthat we would know these numbers by late
June and here we are entering November and we still do not know
what we are faced with.
145. Mr Kiley, are there any plans being prepared
at the moment for workplace charging as well as congestion charging?
(Mr Kiley) No, there are not.
146. Are you sure of that?
(Mr Kiley) I am positive. Well, no plans in our organisation
147. The Mayor said that congestion charges
were a pricing mechanism to influence choice and not a tax. Is
that a very meaningful statement given that revenues from congestion
charging are required to invest in public transport?
(Mr Kiley) I would say it is a meaningful statement
in this senseand we could argue about this forever I guessone
person's tax is another person's price. The purpose of the charge
really is not to collect money; it is to reduce congestion and
traffic. If we were at a break-even point I would say this would
be very much a worthwhile project. The idea here is not to raise
a lot of money. Clearly there is a correlation between the net
revenue that we believe we will collect and the investments we
make with it. They should really be a corollary of the effort
to reduce traffic and congestion so I think you will see, certainly
in the early years, the investment of these funds will be in measures
to help tamp down congestion and traffic in London. In other words,
to give people more options than the automobile, wherever they
are in London.
148. Do you not feel that the pressures will
be for that price to go upwards?
(Mr Kiley) Yes, I do.
149. What about enforcement? The MayorI
do not know whether it was a throw away comment or notspoke
about plans to crush offending vehicles, presumably without their
occupants. Can you tell us any more about that.
(Mr Kiley) The enforcement mechanism is different
from de-criminalised parking in a number of instances. The secondary
legislation has given us powers to pursue miscredence beyond what
is normally the case. What we would be able to do with repeat
offendersby that we are talking about people who have not
paid their charge and have not responded to the penalty charge
on three occasionsis that their vehicle can be located
and clamped and removed and ultimatelyif the fines are
not paidwe crush to recover the cost.
150. Mr Turner, you must be well aware that
in those areas, for example, these powers are very often used
by, say, the DVLA in order to encourage people to pay their road
(Mr Turner) Yes.
151. You must know that there is not only a
very considerable cost to removing vehicles and crushing them,
but quite often if someone has a very old car it is cheaper to
leave it where it is and get you to remove it. I assume you have
done some estimates of that.
(Mr Turner) Yes. Our estimate of the £130 million
includes a view that we would raise about £30 million in
terms of net additional sums as a result of the total collection
of the enforcement activity in the collection of the fines, the
crushing of the vehicles and the storing of the vehicles.
152. Is your definition of congestion the same
as that in the 10 Year Plan?
(Mr Turner) The answer to that is, which 10 Year Plan,
153. The latest one.
(Mr Turner) I would have to check back but I am sure
that we can reconcile the view. Our view in terms of congestion
is very much the variability in terms of journey time and that
is the standard that is used generally. I would have to check
back on the latest technical detail. I am happy to do so and provide
you with the details.
Chairman: Write it in a note.
154. What period of time would be reasonable
before the scheme could be assessed? It is suggested that the
two months is not right, but what would be right?
(Mr Turner) My monitoring exercise that we have set
in place will enable us to start providing reliable information
after six months. Some of the information will take a number of
years to come through in terms of the economic trends and changes
in environmental trends. Indeed, you will be familiar with the
accident statistics; to actually quote accident statistics after
six months operation would be highly dangerous and certainly unconventional.
At six months we would start being happy to release information
on a reliable basis and continue to do that. As the Mayor has
said, we have a very large range of monitoring surveys because
we are aware that we arewithout being sort of conceited
about itat the lead in terms of the profession of a scheme
of this size. We know that colleagues in this country and elsewhere
are watching this and want to know the cause and effect and not
speculate about the elasticities and the like. So the work is
155. Do not tell us, Mr Turner, that your knighthood
is hanging on this.
(Mr Turner) I do not think so.
156. The benefits of congestion charging that
were announced were calculated on the basis of fewer or lower
levels of exclusion. Have you done the new set of calculations?
(Mr Turner) Yes. Some of the work is still to be run
through the models, but the information that we have provided
as a supplementary note to you are the broad changes that we would
still expect. That information is still broadly consistent with
what would happen if we ran the models with the reduced traffic
entering into central London.
157. Can I ask about an emergency situation.
In central London it is not unusual to have a bomb warning or
a road closed or some sort of matter of concern where the police
suddenly take you when you think you are going in one direction
and send you in another direction. In the event of hundreds of
cars being put through the congestion charging area who have no
choice simply because the police have tried to manage the situation,
do you forgive them or do you just take a profit?
(Mr Turner) The system is able to recognise that.
We have the type of camera detection which detects the context
in which the event is occurring. And also, of course, obviously
we have very close liaison with the Metropolitan Police so we
would be able to write-off any offences. Indeed, the Mayor has
power within the way the Traffic Order has been constructed to
suspend the scheme should he decide that it is desirable to do
158. You are quite confident that your technology
will show up the number plates?
(Mr Turner) Absolutely. I think the Committee saw
a recent demonstration of a first generation system that is already
in place and is operating in terms of bus lane enforcement cameras.
159. As you know, south-east London does not
have direct access to the Underground. About a quarter of London
is not served by the Underground and is often forgotten about,
especially by the Evening Standard.
(Mr Turner) Not by me.