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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

My hon. Friend is right. We do not even know whether the Opposition think that going ahead with the fuel duty rise, which they planned, is a good idea. We know that they rejected calls from Opposition parties to look at alternatives when they were in power. Perhaps the hon. Member for Bristol East will explain her party's position today.

My hon. Friend is also right to point out the difficult challenges that the current Government face. He has rightly pointed out that the level of deficit and debt that we have been left as a country costs the British taxpayer £120 million every single day. To put that in the context of a 1p a litre rise in fuel duty, which is worth £500 million, the British taxpayer will pay as much in debt interest over the course of four or five days as they will pay in fuel duty, if fuel duty is subject to a 1p a litre rise. That demonstrates two things, the first of which is the importance of tackling the deficit. Clearly, this country cannot continue to pay this expense of £120 million a day and it has to be tackled, because we are spending more on servicing our debt than on transport. The challenge for this country is that if we do not get this £500 million of real money from fuel duty, it has to come from somewhere else. The Government have made it clear that they want to try to protect key spending, for example, on the NHS-the Labour party did not want to do that-and schools.