asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will remove the tax on fuel oil used by rural bus operators, in view of the ever increasing cost of rural bus services to the public.
This is a Budget matter on which I cannot comment.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a serious risk of many rural bus services breaking down in consequence of the high fuel tax, and that this is a very serious problem in areas where rail closures have taken place? Will he consider this question again, as a matter of urgency?
The problem is undoubtedly a serious one, but I cannot accept that the one cause is that to which the hon. Member has referred.
Will my hon. Friend or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when considering his Budget proposals, bear in mind that those hon. Members who represent rural areas are concerned about this matter and that he might do worse than to obtain the opinion of the Minister of Transport, in view of the action of the Traffic Commissioners, who are not always in touch with rural requirements?
I can assure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is well seized of the urgency and difficulty of this problem.
Will not the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking at least that the petrol tax will not be increased in the Budget?
There is no need for me to add that I am unable to give an undertaking of that kind.