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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

I am going to make some ground.

This motion is not simply about the fuel duty regulator; it is about the problems in remote areas, where there is no choice but to drive. In a debate on introducing a rural fuel derogation in 2006, the argument was put as follows. The purpose of the proposal-on that occasion contained in a new clause-was to

"enable the Treasury to specify lower rates of duty on fuel to apply in remote rural areas. Hon. Members will know that article 19 of the European Union's energy products directive allows member states to apply for a derogation to allow lower duty rates in specified areas. In October 2004, the French Government, with the support of UK Ministers and Ministers of other member states...did just that, following the example set by the Portuguese and the Greek Governments in previous years."

The argument for applying such a measure in the United Kingdom rested on

"the very serious economic impact that higher fuel prices in rural areas have on areas such as the highlands and islands of Scotland. The truth is that people...in remote areas such as the highlands and islands are victims of a triple whammy. They pay higher fuel prices and have much longer distances to travel, with few or no alternatives to making those journeys by car. Unavoidably, they spend more on transport than others and therefore also contribute more to the Treasury. Motoring costs represent some 18 per cent. of total household expenditure in rural Scotland compared with 13 per cent. across the rest of Scotland."-[ Hansard, 4 July 2006; Vol. 448, c. 738-39.]

Those were not my words; they were the words of the current Chief Secretary to the Treasury. I am disappointed that he is not here to stand by his words and make a commitment to drive forward a rural fuel derogation at the earliest possible opportunity.