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[Un-allotted Half Day] — Fuel Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 7th February 2011.

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Chief Whip, SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 4:31 pm, 7th February 2011

That does not surprise me. In previous debates, after we have experienced high spikes, several Members in the House and elsewhere have reflected their constituents' views that they had almost reached the point when it was not worth going to work, particularly in rural areas with long distances to travel-I will deal with that later-because of the price of fuel. However, that applies not just in Stornoway, Aviemore or my hon. Friend's constituency. In Dundee last week, I paid more than £1.33 a litre-more than £6 a gallon in the city. That is now not uncommon, and it is unsustainable. It is inflationary, decimates family budgets and puts untold pressure on many businesses and business sectors. It is having a catastrophic effect in remote and rural areas. That is why we call on the Tory part of the Government to keep its promise to consult on and deliver quickly a fuel duty stabiliser, and on the Liberal part of the Tory-led Government to keep its promise to deliver a fuel duty derogation for remote and rural areas.

I have said that the high fuel prices are bad for business. The Federation of Small Businesses has told me just how bad. According to its January poll of members, should fuel prices continue to rise, 62% of those polled said that they would be forced to increase their prices; one in 10 suggested that they may lay off staff; more than a quarter said that they could be forced to freeze wages; more than a third said that they would have to reduce investment; and 78% said that rises would put overall business profitability in jeopardy. When we are trying to grow our way out of recession and into sustainable recovery, that is the wrong thing to do.