Transport Minister confirms the Government is opposed to ‘catastrophic’ proposals by London Mayor to charge people driving into the capital

The Government yesterday confirmed it does not support the proposal for an outer London congestion charge being investigated by the Mayor of London’s office, which would charge all vehicles registered outside of London £3.50 every time they cross the boundary into the capital.

During a Westminster Hall debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, which was led by Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, Transport Minister, Rachel Maclean, said: “This would be a border tax levied on people outside London by a Mayor they were not able to vote for or, indeed, vote out.  I am a firm believer that there should be no taxation without representation, as such a move would fly in the face of the Mayor’s supposed mantra that London is open.  For that reason, I put it on the record that this is an idea that the Government do not support.”

Opening the debate, Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said the charge would be catastrophic.

He said: “The Mayor of London’s proposal to charge drivers to enter Greater London would have a catastrophic impact on places like Dartford and all the areas surrounding London. It would also have a detrimental impact on outer London boroughs. Businesses located in outer London boroughs would suffer from people being reluctant to travel the—often short—distance across the border to use that particular business.”

Mr Johnson said more than 26,000 people have signed a petition against the idea and that if this proposal were to go ahead it would have the most profound impact of any governmental actions.

He said: “It will be taken by somebody who Dartfordians have absolutely no control over. The London Mayor knows that the ring of seats around London, with the exception of Slough, are Conservative. He also knows that, generally, outer London areas—there are some exceptions—are more likely to vote Conservative than inner London seats. He knows who he is hitting with this idea. It is the most divisive issue ever conceived by a London Mayor and it needs to be stopped. It will have a profound impact, not just on the counties around London, but on the outer London boroughs. It is an abuse of power and it needs to end.”

Following the debate Mr Johnson said he was pleased the Government has confirmed its position.

He said: “I’m pleased to hear the Government is opposed to this proposal and I hope the strength of feeling against this plan, which has been illustrated through the petition and this debate, means the idea will be scrapped altogether.”