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Rural Fuel Rebate

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 10 December 2013

2. What progress he has made in extending the rural fuel rebate pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement. (901514)

I have been asked to reply on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor who is at ECOFIN in Brussels.

On 8 November, the Government launched a supplementary call for information that gave fuel retailers in remote areas a further opportunity to submit information to the Treasury as part of our plan to extend the fuel discount to mainland rural areas. That call for information closed on Friday, although we extended the deadline until yesterday for areas affected by the recent severe weather. We received information from a further 42 filling stations. We are analysing the data at the moment, and will make a full application to Brussels in January.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, and for the helpful way his Department and officials have taken account of local factors that have led to such an upsurge in feedback. Does he agree that one of the real lessons of the previous discount scheme and its success is that, despite a lot of scepticism at home at a European level, when we engage positively and constructively with the European Commission—and do so punching our weight as the United Kingdom—we are much more likely to deliver the results our constituents need and want?

I wholeheartedly agree—as I usually do—with my right hon. Friend about that. It is a statement of fact that British leadership as a strong and committed member of the European Union is hugely to our country’s benefit. The scheme for communities in remote areas across the United Kingdom shows the benefits we get from positive engagement at European level, and that is the way we will take the proposal forward.

17. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that those who will benefit from the rural fuel rebate scheme will also benefit from the Chancellor’s freeze on fuel duty? What benefits in pence per litre will that bring to rural people, compared with the Labour party’s plans? (901530)

It is noteworthy that no one from the Labour Benches wanted to comment on cutting fuel duty in remote and rural areas. I wholeheartedly agree with my right hon. Friend, and by the end of this Parliament, motorists will be paying 20p a litre less every time they fill up their tank than they would have paid had Labour’s fuel duty escalator been allowed to go forward.