On 16th March, I was pleased to take part in a debate at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce focussing on transport and infrastructure.
The other panellists included Richard Burden MP (Birmingham Northfield), whom I am standing against in the General Election, as well as the Liberal Democrat ex-MEP and election candidate, Mr Phil Bennion. The other panellists were Alex Boulter (Conservative) and Dr John Blewitt (Green).
The debate was well chaired by Mr Jerry Blackett, CEO of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and the issues were debated in a constructive, courteous and respectful way by all present.
It was clear that many of the people attending and asking questions had a special interest and expertise in transport issues and it made a refreshing change from the accusation and denial “yah-boo” type of debate we see so often.
Towards the end of the debate there was a question relating to the introduction of “black boxes” in cars and the possible effects on personal privacy, weighed against the potential benefits. These boxes monitor a driver’s car usage and timings and allow charges for insurance and tax etc. to reflect these factors.
My reply said that while there could be advantages, particularly as a way of restricting and monitoring new drivers at high accident risk and bringing down the accident rate, I was concerned that the impositions on privacy and the possible compulsory nature of the introduction of black boxes was something for which I was not in favour. I also mentioned that my concern about this last point was added to by the fact that their introduction stemmed largely from, and was actively encouraged by, the EU.
This was hotly disputed by the Lib Dem ex-MEP, Phil Bennion, who told me directly that I was wrong and that this was not the case.
However, a quick conversation with the excellent researchers in the office of Jill Seymour (MEP for the West Midlands region and UKIP’s Transport Spokesman) has shown very quickly that this is exactly the case. The five links below are to articles related to the EU’s involvement with this.
- Commissioner calls for standardised road pricing in member states
- Mobility and Transport – Road charging
- Road pricing in the European Union: direct revenue transfer between countries
- EU gears up for more road toll schemes
- The European road pricing game: how to enforce optimal pricing in high-transit countries under asymmetric information
So, I would like to know – did ex-MEP and transport issue-aware Phil Bennion not know this, or was there another reason for denying that this is the case?
I am really looking forward to hearing why I was told this. Mr Bennion, over to you.