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[Un-allotted Half Day] — Fuel Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:40 pm on 7th February 2011.

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Photo of George Freeman George Freeman Conservative, Mid Norfolk 6:40 pm, 7th February 2011

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. It is vital that we should not go for some short-term gimmick, and that we make a sustainable, serious commitment to helping rural communities and the rural economy.

My constituents and many in other rural constituencies have been encouraged by the Prime Minister's continued espousal of the benefits of a fair fuel stabiliser. I defer to Ministers and experts in the Treasury on determining the right mechanism for that. We have a duty to make some gesture towards ameliorating this problem, and my plea to the Ministers and Treasury experts is that, whatever mechanism we go for, we focus on two groups in most urgent need: the rural small businesses on which we rely for economic growth and for the jobs in the rural economy on which we all ultimately depend; and the very lowest-paid employees who are struggling to get on and make something of their lives by earning a living. In my constituency, the average income is £17,500, and such people are hit hardest by this serious problem. I urge Ministers to do all that they can in the forthcoming Budget.