Monday, 7 February 2011


Plaid and the SNP have a debate at Westminster (this afternoon) which will help to pressurise the UK government into taking action on rising fuel prices (which is hitting all of us either directly or indirectly). Plaid and the SNP are calling for the Con Dem Government to consider a regulator to cut fuel duty when oil prices rise. Both parties will make their case during an opposition debate in the Commons.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Transport, Jonathan Edwards MP, said:

“Plaid Cymru and the SNP recognised this problem long ago – we pushed for it in Budgets in 2005 and 2008 with widespread support from real people outside parliament. Unfortunately, Labour stubbornly ignored the problems of rising fuel prices while the Conservatives scared of supporting our idea decided to steal it, water it down and re-brand it as their own. There has been a massive hike in the cost of fuel recently, not all of it down to the rising cost of oil. The Tory-led Government's VAT increase and fuel duty hike have pushed the price of a litre up by at least 3.5p in the last month alone.Businesses and especially families in rural areas, especially in many parts of Wales, where a car is a necessity not a luxury are those who are facing the pain because of these choices. For the short-term we need to have a fuel duty stabiliser and a special price for fuel in rural areas, but we also need to diversify and invest in renewable energy alternatives to reduce our reliance upon oil and other fossil fuels.”

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:

"This may be the only opportunity MPs will have to debate fuel prices ahead of the Budget in March and the fuel duty increase in April, and so it is crucial that we persuade the Tory-led government to honour its pre-election pledge and establish a fuel duty regulator.The country is crying out for action to bring down fuel prices, and this SNP / Plaid debate will be a focus for that. Westminster's inaction has made this an enormous issue for the Scottish Parliament elections in May. Its a huge issue on the doorstep and the forecourts because and a key illustration of why we need to build up Scotland’s Parliament, and equip it with the full powers of financial responsibility. A Fuel Duty Regulator – which the Tories supported before the election – would bring duty down when oil prices go up. Cutting fuel by 10p per litre in Scotland would only cost about half of the estimated £1 billion in extra revenue the Treasury is set to rake in as a result of rising oil prices. It's a national scandal that in Europe's oil-richest country, Scots are paying among the highest fuel prices.”

Plaid Cymru / SNP motion:

This House notes the oil price has reached $100 a barrel; that diesel in the UK is the most expensive in Europe; further notes that the combination of the 1 January 2011 duty rise and the VAT increase is estimated to have added 3.5p to the cost of a litre of fuel; acknowledges the sharp rises in fuel prices over the past year and the resulting impact on headline inflation figures; recognises the financial pressure this places on hard pressed families and businesses already struggling with high inflation and the impact of the recent VAT rise; condemns the government's continued dithering over the implementation of a fuel duty regulator (or stabiliser) as neither a sustainable or stable way to make tax policy; further recognises the specific additional fuel costs for those living in remote and rural parts of the UK; is concerned that diesel in such places is approaching £7 per gallon; condemns the Government for its failure to prioritise the implementation of a fuel duty derogation; and calls for the introduction of a fuel duty derogation to the most remote areas at the earliest opportunity.

The Conservative Party had promised to look into a "fair fuel stabiliser" in their election manifesto, back in January, David Cameron was considering ways to help cash-strapped motorists. More recently, however,  Cameron has played down the possibility of a "fair fuel stabiliser" to limit fuel duty rises. The fact that UK Government benefits to the tune of 600 million a week in fuel duty may be a contributory factor in relation to the PM’s indecision, just as it was with former New Labour PM, Gordon Brown, perhaps Mr Cameron should declare an interest?

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