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Mr. Burstow: The problem is that the Minister acknowledged earlier that she could not give commitments as to the level of public expenditure to be committed to London Transport over the next 10 years, or any other period. That is why we believe fundamentally that the Government's weasel words on additionality have nothing to do with additionality. The separate accounts to which the Minister referred do not give Londoners any form of guarantee that the revenue streams that the charges will produce will give additional funds for the benefit of London Transport.

Ms Jackson: Given the company he keeps, the hon. Gentleman clearly knows a great deal more about weasel words than I will ever know. The Bill states that the revenues will be additional by virtue of the requirement for separate revenue accounts and income and expenditure accounts, which must be published annually. My point was that I could not guarantee any budget; nor, in the unlikely event of the hon. Gentleman ever being in a Government position, could he. I can assure him of the Government's commitment to local public transport, by virtue of the additional £1.8 million that we have invested.

Mr. Burstow: The Minister is charm itself, and she makes my point for me yet again. She makes it clear that she cannot give a commitment tonight that is essential, in terms of a debate about charges in the elections next year, to give Londoners confidence that they are voting for something that will benefit them and not the Treasury, which undoubtedly has the Minister in an arm-lock and is denying her the ability to give the guarantee this evening.

Ms Jackson: Will the hon. Gentleman give way? [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): Order. It is entirely up to the hon. Gentleman whether he gives way.

Mr. Burstow: I happily give way to the Minister again.

Ms Jackson: I am grateful. I repeat: we have made it clear that the Government have broken the wall of hypothecation, which was an absolute no-no as far as previous Treasuries were concerned. That is another indication of our unified, linked-up government, inasmuch as we have achieved a clear commitment that 100 per cent. of the net proceeds of the revenues raised will be spent exclusively and totally on transport. Those proceeds will not be diverted into the Treasury--not only in London but in the rest of the United Kingdom--when, as we hope, the schemes are introduced post-legislation.

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8.45 pm

Mr. Burstow: The Minister may be right in saying that hypothecation has had one of the arms that was held behind its back released, but the Treasury still firmly grips the other when it comes to budgetary matters. The hon. Lady has not persuaded me or my colleagues that she has been able to convince the Treasury on that point.

The Government will produce a sterile debate about road charging in London because they are not setting up a scheme that will give confidence to Londoners. That is one of our major criticisms of the policy, but we believe that the provisions are needed and we support the permissive powers that they grant. We want the debate to take place because we believe that, ultimately, with the caveats that we have set out, we need the charges to generate the revenues that the mayor will need to deliver real improvements for London in the long term.

Mr. Simon Hughes: New clause 6 suggests a third revenue stream, which it calls a "traffic disruption charge". Some wonderful true stories have appeared in the London press over the past year. On 22 February, the Evening Standard carried a story,

One of my local authority chiefs complained that Southwark Bridge road in my constituency had been visited 30 times by BT alone, with workmen arriving 75 times, in the past 12 months. That was not as bad as a street in Camden that had been disrupted by the utilities 85 times in the previous year.

Without much notice, the Royal Parks decided to close the Mall, effectively blocking all central London's traffic for a few weeks at the turn of the year. The hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Mr. Fraser) introduced a private Member's Bill on the subject earlier in the year, perhaps because of his earlier incarnation as the unsuccessful candidate for Peckham, where I believe he got about 5 per cent. of the vote. The experience may have left a searing impression on him about traffic in London. I welcome his Bill. Lord Archer has also seen that there may be cause for complaint.

If we are seriously looking for revenue streams to help to fund public transport in a way that is ring-fenced, as my hon. Friends have so painstakingly argued, in addition to giving the mayor and the authority the option of workplace and road user charging--which we support--we should consider so arranging matters that, when an agreed contract for digging up the road has been breached, somebody should pay something into the London kitty for the disruption caused.

The Government may not have seriously considered that.

Ms Glenda Jackson: We have.

Mr. Hughes: As far as I know, the Minister has not yet put it on the record whether the Government are for or against the idea. I am not pressing her for an answer now, but I hope that, when the Bill goes to the other place, the Government will seriously consider introducing that third revenue stream. If we are looking for money for London, that seems an obvious source, and it will be extremely popular with Londoners.

Mr. Davey: My hon. Friend is making a refreshingly different speech. Perhaps it should be known as the Heineken traffic disruption charge speech?

Mr. Hughes: My hon. Friend nearly got his joke in.

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I hope that my proposal will be taken seriously. It would probably be more popular than the others. I hope that, in due course, not only will London government have the ability to raise revenue as it chooses, but the Government will not interfere in such revenue once it has been raised.

Mr. Ottaway: It is not often that I find common cause with the Minister, but I sensed her frustration when the Liberals were misinterpreting the Government's policy, just as they do my party's policy, which frustrates me.

As this debate has gone on, I have detected a certain frisson in the Chamber. It is beginning to dawn on Members that the Conservatives are right on this matter, and that the other parties are wrong. It is beginning to dawn on people that the Government's policy will not work. It will hit people hard, as my hon. Friends the Members for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) and for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight) have pointed out. [Hon. Members: "They are not London Members."] It is a perfectly valid point, no matter where the hon. Members come from.

I also note a willingness among all Members who are not Conservatives to try to put an interpretation on Conservative party policy, so I shall clarify it. The Minister has chosen to misinterpret our policies possibly because I left a slither of a vacuum in them, which I shall now promptly fill. I should make it absolutely clear that we are opposed to congestion taxation in London. I stand by what we said in Committee: we still have an open mind on congestion taxation in the rest of the United Kingdom. That was and remains our position.

The Minister said that she was unable to give an undertaking on the question of additionality because she could not possibly decide the budget for years to come. That is exactly the point that we have been making. It is impossible to give an undertaking on additionality, which is why it will be impossible for the Government to persuade anybody that such additionality will occur.

Ms Glenda Jackson: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ottaway: No, not at the moment.

The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) said that the Government must make their case before they are able to support congestion charging. I do not think that they have made that case. We therefore hope that the Liberal Democrats will join us in the Lobby.

The hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Efford) spoke about out-of-town centres such as Bluewater, as, indeed, did the Minister. The hon. Gentleman said that he was against out-of-town centres where there was free parking. From that, I presume that he is advocating that such centres should have paid parking. The Minister chose to misinterpret my point about Croydon on that issue.Road pricing is being proposed in Croydon. Why should any shopper choose to pay to go to Croydon when they can go to Bluewater out-of-town retail development and park for nothing? That is the impact that the proposals will have on local economies in London. The Minister has made the case neither for additionality nor for hypothecation. Nor has she addressed the 10-year cut off for hypothecation.

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The hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) supported congestion charging; it was the first time that I have heard him do so. I suppose that the waiting electorate will digest that development. He said that he thought that people would welcome a little extra for the funding of transport in London, but unless the Minister can assure him on additionality, there will not be any little extra. That is the difficulty.

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