DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT ANNUAL REPORT 2007
The Government must re-examine its policy on road pricing to deal with congestion, focus on train reliability and pay more attention to regional development.
These are among the conclusions of a Transport Committee report looking at the Department for Transport's Annual Report for 2007. This found that local authorities have little appetite in bidding for funding for road pricing schemes with only Manchester and Cambridge submitting detailed bids to the Transport Innovation Fund.
MPs were also "deeply disappointed" by the Government's abandonment of the lorry road user charging scheme proposed in 2002. They want it introduced as soon as possible to ensure foreign hauliers start to contribute toward the costs of maintaining the UK road network and for the environmental damage they cause.
Overall the Committee recognises that the Department for Transport has made some progress in addressing its major objectives but says the general picture is disappointing.
It details how the evasion rate for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rose from 3.6 per cent in 2005-06 to 5 per cent in 2006-07. It is now costing the Government some £214 million in lost revenue. However, the most worrying aspect of this is that these figures suggest an apparent growth in the number of motorists whose vehicles are neither registered, taxed, insured nor roadworthy.
The Committee wants the Government to reinstate targets for reducing the size of this group of illicit road-users, which were dropped in March 2007.
It also calls on the Government to safeguard personal data and to address the spiralling costs of road schemes.
Disappointing too is the failure to deliver on road congestion targets and the Committee also expresses concern that the Government has no plans to assess the risks of first generation biofuels in the short term.
On rail services, MPs are concerned that the Department appears to have lost interest in rail punctuality and reliability. The Committee warns that a loss of focus in this area might lead to a reversal of recent progress made over the past five years. It also calls for the Government to take a decision on high speed rail.
Commenting on the report Transport Committee Chair Louise Ellman said: "The Department must be clear about identifying its main priorities and showing how progress can be measured. It must demonstrate more clearly how it is addressing the Stern and Eddington reports so that environmental and economic targets can be achieved."
Copies of the report may be purchased from The Stationery Office (TSO) Ltd - tel: 08457 023474.
The Report will be available on TSO's and the Committee's website shortly after the publication hour has passed (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtran.htm).
1. Committee Membership is as follows: Mrs Louise Ellman (Lab, Liverpool Riverside) (Chair), Mr David Clelland (Lab, Tyne Bridge), Clive Efford (Lab, Eltham), Mr Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering), Mr John Leech (Lib Dem, Manchester Withington), Mr Eric Martlew (Lab, Carlisle), Mr Lee Scott (Con, Ilford North), David Simpson (DUP, Upper Bann), Mr Graham Stringer (Lab, Manchester Blackley), Mr David Wilshire (Con, Spelthorne).
2. Further information about the work of the Committee can be found at www.parliament.uk/transcom
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SCA 44/2007-08 13 June 2008