Fuel Blockade

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:08 pm on 28th September 2000.

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Photo of Lord Peston Lord Peston Labour 4:08 pm, 28th September 2000

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on providing a listening response to this matter. However, I urge him not to listen to people who talk economic nonsense. Where the world oil market is driving up the price of oil, I hope that he does not fall into the trap--I am sure that he will not--of assuming that one can use the tax system somehow to offset those market forces. That would be a serious error. One cannot possibly insulate those who use oil from the market forces which are at work.

I ask my noble friend to bear in mind that the French Government, acting apparently in panic, seem to have done precisely that. Certainly when I was in France last week, the French budget appeared to have been thrown totally into disarray by the open-ended commitment given by M. Jospin. Therefore, I ask my noble friend to reassure me that the Government will not listen to those who really do not wish to face reality. The fact is that when oil becomes expensive, those who use it must face up to the consequences. Much as the Government would like to help, they cannot possibly shield them from those powerful market forces.