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Red Diesel

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 12 May 2011

11. What discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the effects on British farmers of planned EU changes to rates of duty on red diesel. (55097)

The Secretary of State has not discussed this issue directly with the Chancellor, but officials have been in contact with the Treasury. The Commission’s proposals will not affect the ability of member states to set a lower duty on the off-road use of diesel as vehicle fuel. However, the UK does not support a mandatory pan-EU carbon tax, and nor does it support the Commission’s proposal, which would require 27 member states’ unanimous agreement before it could be adopted.

I thank the Minister for that reassuring answer. The EU draft proposal to remove the tax exemption on agricultural red diesel sent shockwaves through farming communities in my constituency and across British agriculture. After a decade in which the Labour party put up duty on red diesel four times, may I urge him to make the strongest representations across Whitehall and show that it is we on the Government Benches who are standing up for the rural economy?

My hon. Friend is to be applauded for standing up and campaigning on behalf of farmers in his constituency. They need to know that they have got a Government obsessed with keeping them competitive against a lot of international and domestic challenges. The Government recognise the value of farmers in producing food, protecting the environment and being the guardians of ecosystem services, and they now have a Government who are on their side.