It is expected that the moves to establish road pricing in central London and workplace charging in the capital will pave the way for similar charges to be introduced through the UK. The Bill also gives the go-ahead for the setting up of an integrated transport body - Transport for London - which will be responsible for major roads, the Underground, buses, river transport, taxis and minicabs and a role in overground railways coming into London.
In publishing the Bill, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: 'For the first time anywhere in this country, there will be an integrated transport body. The mayor will have the power to tackle London's congestion problems and money raised by road user charging or parking levies will be ploughed back into improving the public transport system for everyone.'
However, while the powers to introduce such charges are laid out in the Bill it is by no means certain that whoever is elected Mayor of London, probably in elections due to be held in 2000, will want to introduce the controversial measures. The Bill was published on the day that new figures showed traffic speeds in inner London averaged 12mph in the morning and 11.4mph in the evening - 1.5mph down on 1995 figures.