C-Charge and the US Embassy

MQT on 2007-01-30
Session date: 
January 30, 2007
Question By: 
Damian Hockney
One London Party
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


You regularly attack the American embassy over its contention that the congestion charge is a tax not a charge. It seems that the government accepts the embassy's position. The DEFRA Charging Handbook 2005 states that the c-charge is "a tax rather than a charge for a service", which confirms the US embassy's argument. Do you disagree with the government?


Answer for C-Charge and the US Embassy

Answer for C-Charge and the US Embassy

Answered By: 
The Mayor

TfL and the UK government are very clear that the congestion charge is a charge for a service and not a tax from which diplomats are exempt. TfL has clear legal advice to this effect. As an example of the government's support, I would quote Lord Triesman, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State within the Foreign Office, who in the context of outstanding parking and congestion charging penalties, told the House of Lords on the 24 January 2006:

"My Lords, we take every opportunity to remind diplomatic missions to meet their obligations to comply with United Kingdom Law and pay promptly any fines that they incur"

All diplomats should pay the charge if they choose to drive in the charging zone. The view expressed in the DEFRA handbook is incorrect and at odds with the Government official view as expressed by the Foreign Office. TfL have taken this matter up with DEFRA.