Thursday, 3 March 2011

Action on fuel prices

Once again, it has been a couple of weeks since my last blog. In that time, I have had a couple of articles published in the Cornish Guardian. Last week, I chose the topic of the ever-increasing price of fuel. The article was as follows:

The cost of petrol and diesel is at an all-time high. It is estimated that January’s fuel duty increase and the hike in VAT to 20% have together added 3.5p to the price of each and every litre of fuel.

I understand that petrol prices in the UK before tax are the second cheapest in Europe, while diesel prices are the third cheapest. But the cost of fuel to actual motorists is the highest due to tax – 61 per cent of the cost of petrol is paid to the Exchequer while for diesel it is 62 per cent.

Earlier this month Mebyon Kernow’s sister parties in Wales and Scotland, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, used their annual Opposition Day debate to call on the Conservative-led Coalition to fulfil its pre-election pledge to establish a fuel duty regulator.

The MPs wanted to cap, and then reverse, spiralling prices at the pump. They also sought to persuade the Government to postpone a further duty increase of 1p planned for April.

Their motion was comprehensive. It noted the financial pressure caused to hard pressed families and businesses already struggling with the economic downturn, recognised the additional fuel costs for people living in the remote and rural parts of the UK, condemned the Government for its failure to implement a fuel duty regulator (or stabiliser) and called for action in the most remote areas at the earliest opportunity.

I fully agree with the Plaid and SNP MPs that the Government needs to rethink its approach to fuel taxes. For many people in rural areas like Cornwall, a car is not a luxury but a necessity. And massive fuel taxes are already having a very detrimental impact on families, small businesses, rural and farming enterprises throughout the country.

The motion certainly enjoyed widespread support from leading industry bodies and motorist groups.

In the debate, Treasury Minister Justine Greening claimed the Government was considering "all options" in the run-up to their Budget in March, when she promised to give an "update" on how the Government might be able to reduce the amount of tax it sought from taxes on petrol and diesel.

The motion was resoundingly defeated by the Government and all six of Cornwall’s MPs voted against the Plaid Cymru and SNP proposal. It remains to be seen whether the Coalition is listening and will act to address the concerns of millions of people in areas like ours.

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