Recently I was one of those members of the public who, by email, petitioned the Government of the United Kingdom (there's an oxymoron for a start) to ensure that motorcycles would not be subject to the proposed Road Pricing and Charges legislation. We argued that motorcycles should be treated as one of the solutions to road congestion and pollution not as a contributory factor.

We, the Government, received a petition (Nocharges4bikes) asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that, in relation to the proposals on Road Pricing and Charging Schemes as set out in the draft Transport Bill, at a suitable future date regulations be laid before Parliament that exempt motorcycles and scooters (Two Wheeled Motor Vehicles) from all charges and/or they be zero rated under any charging scheme."

Details of Petition:

"Although mention is made of exempting motorcycles and scooters (Two Wheeled Motor Vehicles) from road pricing and charging schemes in the Department for Transport Guidance to Local Authorities on such schemes, regulations to ensure exemption for these modes will need to be laid before Parliament."

The Government responded to all electronic petitioners as follows;

Thank you for taking your time to register your views on road pricing and charging schemes.

We believe that the detailed design of local road charging schemes is best decided at local level. As stated in the Transport Innovation Fund guidance, this includes the decision to offer any exemptions or discounts. This is consistent with our desire for local authorities to be able to tailor solutions to local circumstances and to be locally accountable.

In February 2007, the Department for Transport (DfT) issued guidance to local authorities who were preparing business cases as part of their bids for funding from the Transport Innovation Fund. We would expect local authorities to consult with relevant interested parties on a full range of issues including any proposals for exemptions and discounts.

While exemptions and discounts, in the first instance, are a matter for local authorities, under the Transport Act 2000 the Secretary of State may make regulations for national exemptions and discounts and the Government will be considering how those powers might be used in due course. As proposals for local schemes are developed we will be happy to listen to views on exemptions and discounts for users. We will want to strike the right balance between local discretion and national consistency.

Now is it just me or does this reply indicate that;

a) The Government, desperate for money to fund its useless profligacy, intends to raise even more cash from the UK motorist who, in the majority of instances, has no option but to use his vehicle as our public transport infrastructure is so poor.

b) It wishes to distance itself from this crude mode of taxation by putting the onus for 'level' and 'exclusions', initially at least, on the local Councils. A good move on their part as they are clinging on to office by the skin of their teeth at the moment.

c) 'Whilst exemptions and discounts, in the first instance, are a matter for local authorities' this, to me, indicates that they are testing the water before getting down to the nitty gritty of even more taxation. 'happy to listen to views'? 'right balance', 'local discretion and national consistency.' Either one has local discretion or one has national consistency - I fail to see how one can have both unless all Councils are in agreement on Road Pricing and Charging policy.

d) The answer given above, is a political fudge and has so many 'ifs' and 'buts' that it is not an answer at all.