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Lord Islwyn of Casnewydd
"We would be obliged to impose VAT at 17.5%"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Nick Palit
"The advocate general has warned no country should be exempt"
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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Europe may force Severn toll rise
The second Severn crossing
It could soon become costlier to cross the Severn
The House of Lords is due to be told that motorists face an increase in tolls on crossings like the Severn Bridges after a landmark European judgement.

The Labour peer, Lord Islwyn, will urge Ministers to fight any attempt to impose VAT on toll charges.


Toll booth
VAT could raise tolls to nearly 5
The prospect of VAT on Severn crossing tolls has previously been dismissed as a euro-myth, but a ruling by Europe's advocate-general last January has raised fears that motorists could face a hike in charges.

It is argued that Britain is in breach of its Treaty obligations by failing to impose VAT.

If the European court endorses the decision, the Government could even face a retrospective VAT bill.

Lord Islwyn will question Transport Ministers on the subject in the House of Lords.

He said Britain should be allowed to decide for itself whether to add VAT to tolls.

And he is predicting widespread protests if tolls are suddenly increased from their current 4.20 per car to almost 5.

'Make a stand'

Lord Islwyn of Casnewydd said people who worked across the Bristol Channel would be at a disadvantage.

"I would have thought it was time to make a stand," he said.

"We will have to ask ourselves whether we are to be governed by a democratic Parliamentary system or by these faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.

"I've no hesitation on which side I would come down on," he added.

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