Clause 16 — Rates and rebates from September 2009
Stewart Hosie (Spokesperson (Economy; Home Affairs; Treasury; Women); Dundee East, Scottish National Party)
It has. The price might not always come down in line with the price of fuel, but I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that many of the surcharges were put in place when the price rises were expected to be modest. They were also capped, and as the cap could not be exceeded, when the price spiked dramatically, hauliers that I know of—I name no names—made a loss.
To bring us right up to date, we have heard about hauliers in difficulty and about bankruptcies. Ramage went bust, as did many others, and fuel costs were cited as a contributory factor. We know from previous debates that hauliers in Campbeltown were selling trucks and laying off drivers. The Freight Transport Association, citing figures released by the Office for National Statistics, tells us that the number of people seeking work as a heavy goods vehicle driver has risen from 3,280 in March 2008 to 15,000 this year. I suspect that that is because of the number of drivers who have been made redundant, rather than because a huge number are training to become hauliers at this very difficult time.
We need to take action. We cannot mitigate all the price rises, because they occur for all kinds of reasons, including because of costs of sale and delivery, but we need to militate against the worst rises, particularly when they are driven by the barrel price of oil. I therefore propose, as I have done before, a simple measure that would oblige the Government to lay out their forecasts and to introduce a statutory instrument to reduce the duty when the price rises. The reduction would be the equivalent of the amount of extra VAT that would be gained due to the increased price at the pump. That amount could come from the VAT windfall or the North sea windfall, because it would be directly related to the price of oil.