Clause 16 — Rates and rebates from September 2009
Angela Eagle (Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury; Wallasey, Labour)
Let me finish my point. I have listened to what has been a long debate, and I would appreciate it if the hon. Gentleman would let me make some preliminary comments so that I can address some of the issues that have been raised. I acknowledge real issues of difficulty, but nobody is saying that fuel prices ought to be directly connected to duty rates, because although those rates have an effect on fuel prices, they are not the whole story.
It is only right that I acknowledge that fuel prices account for a higher percentage of the cost of living in remote rural areas. Mr. Reid, who moved the amendment, has proposed a reasonably specific measure, which Members representing rural areas have presented to us before over the years. As the process has gone on, we have had debates about that measure. As well as hearing from Members from Scotland and its remote rural areas or islands, we have heard from Northern Irish Members, and Mr. Heath, who has his own rural areas to represent. I acknowledge the cost issues for those who live in rural areas, but I think that other Members—particularly opposition Members—ought also to acknowledge that their solution to this is not an easy one and that it is not without its own difficulties. In a grown-up debate on the issue, I would acknowledge the problems related to the higher fuel prices and other Members would acknowledge that the solution that they are pushing is not without its problems. If we were to do that, we might have the chance of a reasonable discussion.