Roads minister says motorists pay for roads

Mike Penning Roads Minister

Of all politicians, you’d think the roads minister would know how roads are funded. Apparently not.

Yesterday in parliament, Mike Penning, the minister in charge of roads and road safety, said:

“We also need to ensure that the motorist, who predominantly pays for our roads, is not inconvenienced too much.”

He was talking in a debate about allowing motor sport to use public highways and ignored a call to allow cycle sport to benefit from the same rule relaxation. He then came out with the corker above.

Should he be in his job if he doesn’t know that roads are paid for out of the consolidated fund and motorists haven’t directly paid a penny for roads since 1937?

Tax-payers – some of whom own cars, some of whom don’t – pay for roads. Roads are paid for out of general and local taxation.

It’s important for ministers to get their facts right on this issue. Why? Because it’s an issue that causes danger for one class of road user: cyclists. Some motorists believe cyclists “don’t pay road tax” and have lesser rights to be on roads. This can lead to animosity towards cyclists, and even violence.

It needs stressing that not one single penny from car tax goes to building or maintaining roads. Vehicle Excise Duty is a tax on vehicles, not a tax to pay for roads. Somebody tell the minister.

Better still, this would be an opportunity for an opposition MP to put Penning on the spot and ask why he said roads are paid for by motorists. Simple mistake or does he really not know? And does he know that such ignorance sometimes spills over into abuse of cyclists?

++++++++++ is an ironically-named campaign supporting the road rights of cyclists. The message that cyclists have equal rights on the roads is carried on iPayRoadTax t-shirts and jerseys.