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Cost of Living

Part of Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:17 pm on 24th June 2008.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:17 pm, 24th June 2008

I must make a little progress before giving way again. I will take more interventions later, if I can.

The fundamental problem is that the world is not producing enough food or energy to meet rising demand, particularly with the growing demand from developing countries as well. We need to act at international level to help increase production in the short term. That means working with international partners to remove some of the barriers preventing increased supply. On food prices, the UK will work with other countries to put forward proposals for increasing agricultural production at next month's G8 summit. We have already committed to doubling investment in agricultural research to help improve efficiency and production over the next five years. We are continuing to press for reform of the common agricultural policy, because it is unacceptable that the EU continues to apply high tariffs to many agricultural imports, particularly at a time of such high prices.

On oil, we are pressing for the removal of barriers that are preventing an increase in supply. This weekend, the Prime Minister was in Saudi Arabia making the case for greater transparency in the provision of data on oil supply and demand.

We are continuing to press for further energy market liberalisation in the EU, so that consumers and businesses do not lose out as a result of inefficient and expensive gas and electricity markets. Of course, in the medium term we need to do more to reduce our dependency on oil and gas both in Britain and across the world, for the sake not simply of the world economy but of the planet. That is why we will be setting out further proposals on renewable energy later this week.

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