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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 shall ensure that I respond to my hon. Friend on that issue. A variety of concerns about the cost of motoring have been expressed in constituencies throughout the country in recent years.

I hope I can reassure Opposition Members that we are getting on with the process of requesting a derogation by trying to arrange some pilot schemes. I am sure they will be pleased to learn that, although we are still considering the exact scope of the pilots, we have announced our intention of including the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles and the Isles of Scilly, should we be given the necessary dispensation. I assure Members that we are pressing ahead as fast as we can, and we should appreciate their support in helping us to complete the process. I hope that they will be able to overcome any political barriers, do the right thing and back up the coalition Government as we go through this process over the coming months.

We recognise the importance of fuel prices to motorists and businesses. While we are looking at options in the run-up to the Budget, which I will discuss this afternoon, we can have one of two debates today: we can continue to argue about the problem and waste the opportunity presented by today's debate by scoring points, or we can have a frank and open debate about how to reach the best solution and how we can find common ground. For instance, do we agree that the price of fuel and the affordability of motoring are important for motorists? The answer is yes. Do we agree that the unpredictable way in which the oil price fluctuates can create difficulties for households and businesses when it comes to budgeting? The answer is yes, although the Labour party never recognised that point in government, and I doubt whether it recognises that point in opposition-if it does, perhaps Kerry McCarthy will explain why it has suddenly changed its mind after having been booted out by the electorate.