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[Un-allotted Half Day] — Fuel Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 7th February 2011.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 5:00 pm, 7th February 2011

I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add:

"notes the dramatic increase in the world oil price to over $100 per barrel;
further notes that there has been a significant impact on fuel prices in the UK as a result;
recognises the impact this has on households and business;
notes that the previous administration's rises in fuel duty that have taken effect during the past year have further increased prices;
further notes that the Government inherited the largest deficit in UK peacetime history, that the previous administration had no credible plan to deal with the deficit, that the Government has been clear that everyone will make a contribution to tackle the deficit but that the most vulnerable will be protected, and that the Government is considering a fair fuel stabiliser that could support motorists and businesses when oil prices are high;
further notes that the Government in addition is taking forward swiftly its commitment at EU level to introduce a pilot scheme that would deliver a discount of up to 5 pence per litre in duty in remote rural areas such as the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles and the Isles of Scilly;
and further notes that the Chancellor will update the House on all fiscal matters at the time of the Budget."

We have long recognised on this side of the House-both parties in the coalition Government-that the price of fuel has been a very difficult issue for motorists, businesses and families up and down the country. I know that it is a particular concern for people living in our rural communities, and no doubt many Scottish Members who hope to participate in the debate will make points on behalf of their constituents and echo the concerns set out by Stewart Hosie. I am sure that other Members representing rural seats will also want to set out their concerns.

There is no doubt that rising oil prices and their impact as they feed through to the petrol pump have been a real concern. In fact, even before we came into office, both coalition parties had committed to looking at the issues surrounding the cost of the fuel, as the hon. Member for Dundee East has pointed out. Let us be clear, however, that this whole area is something that the last Government chose completely to ignore. They believed that the challenges posed by these problems were too great. When we were talking about alternatives to help families, hauliers and motorists, they said that it was all too difficult and that the issues were way too complex.

Let me state at the outset that we would be interested to hear from the Opposition whether they stand by the fuel duty escalator-the one that they put in place before the election; it is a bit like reaching from the political grave into taxpayers' pockets. Or do they believe that that policy was a mistake? Are we to be treated to the spectacle of Labour Members arguing not only against the Government's measures across a whole range of areas, but against the measures they put in place before being booted out of office? We have taken a very different approach to fuel prices to that of the last Government.