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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 am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be aware of the Goodison review and that the Scotland Bill is passing through Parliament right now. We are making some changes on tax, and I think he will welcome those measures to strengthen the devolution settlement. [This section has been corrected on 15 February 2011, column 3MC — read correction]

I shall now, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman would like me to, address my comments to the measures we have been talking about and what we are considering. Only this Government have been looking at how best to help drivers, including those in Scotland and Wales. We have demonstrated our concerns about these issues both before and since coming into government. Indeed, one of the first things that the coalition Government did was to get the Office for Budget Responsibility to look at how oil prices affect the economy and feed into public finance.

This is a complex issue, and we have to make sure that whatever we do is not only fair but affordable. It would not be right of me to pre-empt the Chancellor or the Budget, but, as we promised in the June Budget, we are considering a range of options. We have already discussed the rural fuel duty rebate. The Government understand the challenges faced by people in rural areas in relation to fuel costs, which those of us in city and urban areas perhaps do not face. I know that those people cannot easily shop around nearby petrol stations to get the best deal in the way that other people can. I understand the arguments about the lack of public transport as an alternative and that the car is often the most realistic mode of transport. That is precisely way we are working towards getting a derogation so that we can get on with putting in place pilots to look at how a rural fuel rebate would work.