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[Un-allotted Half Day] — Fuel Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:56 pm on 7th February 2011.

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Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Chair, Finance and Services Committee 6:56 pm, 7th February 2011

I am, in fact, presenting the Minister with a novel suggestion which I hope he will consider in the Treasury, and which might benefit us all.

Let me make another point about the current regime. I happened to note that if the escalator were introduced, it would be based on the retail prices index. Perhaps the Minister would consider basing it on the consumer prices index, which would be in line with the rest of Government thinking.

Finally, let me express a view on an issue that I studied in some detail when I was my party's transport spokesman. I believe that the whole way in which we tax fuel is wrong. In my opinion we should not tax it at all, but should adopt a proper method of variable road user charging. Through that mechanism, we could both raise the amount of money that we wish to raise and incorporate all the fairness that we seek. It would require those who are most able to find alternatives, and who use the most congested roads, to pay the most, while allowing those with the most need-most of whom live in the least congested areas-to pay the least, and it has been suggested by most academics in the field of transport.

I have a funny feeling, Madam Deputy Speaker, that when I first raised the issue of road user charging in a Westminster Hall debate in 2001, it was you who responded from the Dispatch Box. I hope that the Government will seriously consider introducing such a system, because it would enable us to escape from the groundhog day of the fuel duty debate which comes round at least once a year, and adopt a sensible method of charging for road use that would be both green and economically efficient.