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[Un-allotted Half Day] — Fuel Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 5:35 pm on 7th February 2011.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Treasury) 5:35 pm, 7th February 2011

I would like to make some progress.

There are other concerns about the stabiliser. The then Liberal Democrat spokesman, who is now Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said at the time of the 2008 Finance Bill debates that the idea of a fuel duty regulator was "unbelievably complicated and unpredictable". He said that the Exchequer would have to predict the net windfall, and then:

"May I suggest that there might not be any net windfall at all?"-[ Hansard, 16 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 339.]

The OBR has now confirmed that.

Labour's then Chief Secretary to the Treasury said:

"In the face of a world slowdown, to take any one tax in isolation and claim that there is a windfall available to spend is economically illiterate, irresponsible or just disingenuous."-[ Hansard, 16 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 331.]

She was basically saying-this was echoed by Mr Browne, who was the junior Liberal Democrat spokesman at the time-that we cannot consider these revenues in a silo. Yes, oil revenues might go up, which might provide a boost to the nation's finances-although I stress the word "might", because it does not necessarily follow that increased revenues come from increased oil prices-but other things might happen that affect revenue flows, and it is irresponsible not to look at everything in the round. Hypothecation can box us into a corner and hamper our choices, and that is a real problem in the case of the stabiliser.