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I am delighted to hear that the rural fuel derogation is going to happen. I cannot wait to hear that from a Minister, because the reports that I read earlier tended to indicate a little confusion in the Government's ranks. I hope that that happens soon, for the following reasons.
In the final bit that I want to quote from the Chief Secretary's speech in 2006, he said:
"Median earnings in the highlands and islands are some 85 per cent. of the UK figure, so the inequitable situation" that he had described
"hits an already poorer region very hard."
He said that before coming to the Chamber, he had conducted
"a random survey of pump prices for a litre of unleaded petrol. In Aviemore in my constituency...the...price is 99.9p per litre. In Dalwhinnie, a little further south, it is 102p per litre. In Thurso, in the constituency of my hon. Friend John Thurso, it is 102p per litre. In Lerwick, in the constituency of my hon. Friend Mr. Carmichael, it is 106.9p per litre. By comparison, at Asda in Leeds the price is 92.9p, while in Morrison's in Camden in north London, it is 90.9p."-[ Hansard, 4 July 2006; Vol. 448, c. 739.]
In preparation for today, we were told by the AA that petrol cost £1.34 a litre in Portree and £1.42 a litre in Stornoway. With prices now more than 30p a litre more than four years ago, that means an increase of more than £1.30 a gallon-many hon. Members will remember when that was what a gallon of petrol itself cost. If the argument was correct then, when the price was between 90p and £1 a litre, it is even stronger today, when the price is £1.30 a gallon more.