Clause 7 — Increase in rate of supplementary charge
Planning (Green Belt Protection)
Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East, Labour)
The Minister is trying to return to the topic we debated in the previous group, so perhaps she should have been a little quicker and thought up her intervention then. I am talking now about stability in fuel prices and the empty promises the Government made to the electorate in the run-up to the election that they would be able to do something to stabilise fuel prices at the petrol pumps.
Representatives of the oil and gas industry tell us that as recently as February the Government were giving assurances that they wanted to keep the North sea tax regime stable, as they had said in their previous Budget, but between February and April they very swiftly changed their mind. Perhaps the Minister can tell us why? What caused the Government to have such an urgent rethink on the fair fuel stabiliser? Many of us suspect that the increased scrutiny that the Opposition brought to bear on the Government’s policy might have prompted them belatedly into action—action they would have realised much sooner was needed if they had only done their homework and listened to what people were trying to tell them.
Inevitably, given the panicked way in which it was put together, the Government’s new version of the fair fuel stabiliser is equally as half-baked as the proposal put forward before the election. As a result, potentially tens of thousands of jobs, as well as billions of pounds worth of investment, are at risk, and the Government have broken their commitment to stable, consultative tax policy making.