[Un-allotted Half Day] — Fuel Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:23 pm on 7th February 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 6:23 pm, 7th February 2011

This has been an interesting debate for a number of reasons. However, I begin by apologising to Stewart Hosie for missing the opening part of his remarks in introducing the debate.

The issue of fuel costs touches not only those living in regions that the devolved Administrations are largely responsible for governing, but many rural constituencies across the country, and certainly my constituents and members of the public across Lincolnshire. The reason is that it costs-and has done for a long time-a great deal of money to run a car, given the current fuel prices. However, a car is not a luxury to my constituents and people living not only in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but in rural parts of England. In those places, a car is a necessity. Owing to the state of public transport, people cannot live their lives without at least one car-certainly, they could not do so without great difficulty.

Much of my constituency is made up of rural areas dotted with small villages and farms, which means that I live in a beautiful part of the country. However, it also means that it takes a great deal of time to get to the doctor's, the supermarket or anywhere else that one needs to get to in order to live one's ordinary life. Public transport has got worse over the past few years, and will continue to get worse owing to the state of the deficit left by the previous Government and the need for this Government to deal with it. That will not be conducive to better public transport over the next few years, and will exacerbate the problems caused by high fuel prices.

I would like to echo a point made by the Economic Secretary. The Labour Government left us with the worst possible fiscal position. The simple fact is that we are paying debt interest of £120 million a day in circumstances where 1p on fuel raises only £500 million. It does not take a very good mathematician to work out that were we not paying that debt, we would not need the level of fuel duty or VAT that we do-with all that that has meant for the current fuel crisis. I heard no apology in the remarks of Kerry McCarthy or explanation of why we have been left with this debt legacy and of what it means, in the context of this debate, for my constituents and others all over rural Britain who are paying the price for the previous Government's failure, inter alia, through the cost of fuel.