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Motorists: Fuel Costs

Volume 720: debated on Thursday 13 October 2022

12. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on taking steps to support motorists with fuel costs. (901616)

I regularly discuss fuel prices with Cabinet colleagues, particularly those in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Our Departments are working with the Competition and Markets Authority, which is currently looking at fuel prices. We will continue to work together and with representatives of the fuel industry on this issue to ensure that motorists are paying a fair price at the pump.

Rural constituencies such as mine in Broadland, where public transport is limited, are disproportionately affected by high fuel costs. It is sometimes overlooked that people also have limited choice as to which forecourt to fill up at. I am struck by the effectiveness of the price-comparison requirement in Northern Ireland, which is used to get consistently lower forecourt prices; are we considering that policy in England?

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to focus on the challenges in rural areas, including my own constituency, which is why we asked the Competition and Markets Authority to conduct a thorough review. He is also right that although the price of fuel in Northern Ireland has historically been lower than the rest of the UK for several reasons, we absolutely consider the fuel price checker provided by the Consumer Council in Northern Ireland—along with cross-border competition with petrol stations in Ireland and lower overheads—to be part of the reason for those lower costs, and we are considering that possibility to help us to assess our own.

I do not think I am the voice of Northern Ireland, but I do my bit for Northern Ireland. Is there any intention to work with the Treasury to formulate VAT reductions for small and medium-sized businesses that pay a mileage allowance to staff and are struggling to meet those costs?

The hon. Member is indeed Northern Ireland this morning, as he sits alone on his Bench, and we are always pleased to hear him raise such important issues. Questions of finance are, of course, for the Treasury, but I will make sure that point is raised with Treasury colleagues.