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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

There are whammies after whammies, and the hon. Gentleman is right to say that the use of a car can be a necessity, and that people have to buy whatever they can afford. Also, if the roads are not quite as good as they ought to be in remote and rural areas, that can pose its own problems, especially in winter.

There are three key issues in this debate. The first is the lack of choice, which is very important. The second, which I hope that urban Members will recognise, is the fact that the average mileage per year travelled simply to access essential services in rural areas is 8,794 miles. The comparator in urban areas is 5,200 miles. So the people in rural areas have no choice, and the distances that they have to travel are far greater. On top of that, the third factor is the price of fuel.

I am grateful to the BBC, which reported on 22 January that the RAC Foundation had found that some filling stations in Orkney were charging £1.50 a litre, which is £6.82 a gallon. An increase of only 4p or 5p per litre would result in the £7 gallon, which, because people have no choice, they would have to pay in order to travel the greater distances necessary in rural areas to access the services that most of us take for granted.

The time for talk and promises on fuel is over. There is now an absolute necessity for the Government-both bits of them-to deliver on their promises. We need to put the stabilisers on rocketing fuel prices now, before the brakes are slammed down on any chance of economic growth.