Government Technology

British Prime Minister Responds to Constituents



February 23, 2007 By

After starting an online petition section on his 10 Downing Street Web site, British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent out e-mailed responses to participants on Wednesday.

The response was to the most popular petition on the site which regarded the issue of road pricing, and the privacy concerns of the citizens.

"The idea of tracking every vehicle at all times is sinister and wrong," wrote Peter Roberts of Shropshire in the original petition. "Please Mr. Blair -- forget about road pricing and concentrate on improving our roads to reduce congestion."

Among the many worries of the citizens is how vehicles would be tracked to be charged.

Blair sent out his response to approximately 1.8 million people who signed Roberts' petition. In his response, Blair points out that the petition was started shortly before the Eddington Study was released on the state of Britain's transportation network.

"One aspect of the study was highlighting how road pricing could provide a solution to these problems and that advances in technology put these plans within our reach," Blair wrote in his response. "Of course it would be ten years or more before any national scheme was technologically, never mind politically, feasible."

"But any technology used would have to give definite guarantees about privacy being protected - as it should be," Blair continued. "Existing technologies, such as mobile phones and pay-as-you-drive insurance schemes, may well be able to play a role here, by ensuring that the Government doesn't hold information about where vehicles have been. But there may also be opportunities presented by developments in new technology ... Our aim is to relieve traffic jams, not create a 'Big Brother' society."

Blair stressed throughout his response that no final decision has been made, and that both the people and the Parliament would have their say.


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