should diplomats pay the London congestion charge?

tags:

 NPR reports on how the US Embassy decides not to pay the London congestions charges.     The report is rather disappointing because it focuses on Ken Livingstone’s expressive style, essentially criticising Ken,  rather than the fundamental issue of whether the US Embassy should be exempt from paying the London congestion charges.  

More recently, the New York Times reports on the French Embassy’s announcement of not paying the congestion charges  now that  the congestion zone has been extended to include their embassies base.   The report includes userful information pertinent to the basic principles at stake here though does not focus the article whether or not Diplomats should be exempt from paying the charges

Excerpts:

The charge for a vehicle entering the center of London during weekday business hours is roughly $15 a day, and it has inspired some other European capitals, notably Stockholm, to follow suit. While European officials say that roughly half of the European Union’s 25 members are refusing to pay the charge in London, Sweden is not among the rebels….

…Ken Livingstone, announced a plan to cut bus and tram fares by half for about 250,000 people who live on welfare…

…According to Transport for London, the official body running the city’s transit system, the American embassy owes more than $1.95 million in unpaid congestion charges and fines already….     …“Those embassies that flout the law of this country and misuse diplomatic immunity to avoid the charge are enjoying the benefits of reduced congestion but contributing nothing,” Transport for London said in a statement.

My impression is that this toll is imposed as part of a set of measures to improve the experience of travelling in inner city London.   A praiseworthy social goal.   It is accompanied by other actions to improve the public transport system.   I do not see why foreign Diplomats should be exempt from paying tolls that improve the environment within which they are based.     I pay for the services that I use while I live in America,   Diplomats should pay for the services they use while living abroad.  

Am I missing something here?

should diplomats pay the London congestion charge?
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