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Fuel Duty

Volume 574: debated on Tuesday 28 January 2014

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor confirmed in the 2013 autumn statement that fuel duty will be frozen for the remainder of this Parliament. As a result of this Government’s actions, average pump prices are now 13p per litre lower than if the Government had implemented the previous Government’s fuel duty escalator and it will be 20p per litre lower by the end of this Parliament.

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is only because of the difficult decisions that the Government have taken on deficit reduction that they have been able to provide this action on fuel duty? Does she further agree that if these difficult decisions on spending had not been taken, not only would it have been impossible to help motorists, it would have put at risk the economic recovery?

My hon. Friend is entirely right. We all know of many businesses across our constituencies, as well as households, who rely on their vehicles—their lorries and vans—to get about. By 2015, the average motorist will be saving £680 a year and the average small business with a van will be saving £1,300 a year in their fuel costs.

Will the Minister explain to my rural constituents in a low-wage economy area why of the 10 areas where the Chief Secretary has endeavoured to get a special rural fuel discount scheme into place, eight are in Lib Dem constituencies and two are in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency? Is that some kind of coincidence?

The point is that there were very strict criteria relating to pump price thresholds, cost of transporting fuel and population density. That is how the list was arrived at and that is why the hon. Gentleman’s constituency was not included.

On that latter point, I commend the Government for listening in a way that the Labour party never did and I commend the scheme, but may I draw to my hon. Friend’s attention one anomaly, namely the petrol pump at Bettyhill? It meets all the criteria of the others, but because of an anomaly in postcodes will not be included. Is there anything at all that can be done to help that one station?

As I mentioned before, very strict criteria were laid down by the EU. The scheme was brought in by this Government, not by the last Government, to help rural areas. My hon. Friend might like to consider campaigning for the postcodes to be changed.

Rural north Wales has the highest petrol prices in the United Kingdom but is not included in the rural discount. Is that because we made the mistake of not electing a single Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament?

The right hon. Gentleman seems to have forgotten that if the last Labour Government had continued in office prices would have been even higher, because it is this Government who reduced fuel duty.