UK Politics

Boris Johnson jokes about 'light-fingered Parisians'

London Mayor Boris Johnson has hailed the launch of his bike hire programme - contrasting it with the problems its French equivalent has faced.

Mr Johnson told the Conservative Party conference that just three bikes were stolen during the first two months of his £140m scheme.

In the same period hundreds of bikes in the French capital were stolen by "light-fingered Parisians", he noted.

He said the figures showed "a growing sense of civility and trust" in London.

To laughter from the audience in Birmingham, he said of the theft figures: "Does it tell you that the people of London are more honest than the light-fingered Parisians? I would point out in Paris over a comparable period they managed to lose five hundred bicycles.

"I don't want to violate the 'entente cordial' but it seems to me there are obvious comparisons to be drawn between our population and the light-fingered Parisians.

"What I do think it shows is a growing sense of civility and trust in London, and respect for property that is public."

Mr Johnson, who is to stand for a second term as London mayor, said his £140m scheme enabling people to hire bicycles at docking stations around the centre of London, had proved the doom-mongers wrong so far.

He added that the three stolen bikes had now been recovered and the offenders had had their right to free travel removed.

The "culprits" had been given the chance to "earn it back" by volunteering - showing Conservative government in action, he told the party faithful.

In his speech Mr Johnson also rejected calls for cuts to the transport infrastructure for London, stressing the economic benefits it brings to the rest of the UK.

But he said his defence of London would be easier if his "friends in the City" lent more to businesses and showed restraint in pay awards.

Mr Johnson told the Conservative conference they needed to show "awareness" of the wider difficulties facing people in a time of cuts.

He repeated his condemnation of the "politically motivated" London Underground strike and said transport in the capital should not be cut.

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