Fuel Protests

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 25th October 2000.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions) 4:44 pm, 25th October 2000

No, I wish to make a little progress. Unlike the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells, I want to put some suggestions into the arena on how we might move forward.

During the fuel crisis, I genuinely believed that the protesters had some quite legitimate concerns, particularly those from rural areas who have no adequate public transport and no adequate alternative. The Minister told us to wait for the rural White Paper to come along and solve all these problems. However, the rural White Paper is rather like a rural bus—we wait and wait, but still it does not come along. We look forward to seeing it eventually, although we have been told it has been delayed for yet another few months.

During the entire discussion about the fuel crisis, it has been suggested that this is a simple problem that can be dealt with by simple solutions. The issue is incredibly complex, and it requires a complex solution. It must not only address environmental issues, as I argue strongly, but take into account economic issues and social justice.

We know from studies done at Lancaster university that the growing number of cars on our roads is leading to about 15 million people suffering health problems that are, at the least, aggravated by traffic fumes.