Fair Fuel rally highlights urgent need for duty regulator

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By a Newsnet reporter

Commenting on the mass lobby of the House of Commons by Fair Fuel campaigners on Wednesday, the SNP called on the Chancellor to fulfil his pre-election pledge and introduce a fuel duty regulator in the Budget.

The SNP have consistently called for the introduction of a regulator which would cut fuel duty when prices spike unexpectedly, freezing the price at the pump.

Hundreds of protesters took their campaign for fuel duty cuts to Parliament.  Organised by the FairFuelUK group, the protest included the delivery of a key report to 10 Downing Street.  The report, by the the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), provided evidence that even a small cut in fuel duty, by just 2.5p per litre, could create 180,000 new jobs.

FairFuelUK founder Peter Carroll said: “It may have been wet today but we have been heartened by the fact that hundreds have joined our protest.

“We are hopeful that Chancellor George Osborne will see sense and cut fuel duty in his Budget.”

Geoff Dunning, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “The findings of this report prove, without shadow of a doubt, that there is an achievable solution to regaining at least some stability as regards fuel prices.”

The protest came after the latest figures showed new record highs for petrol and diesel at the pumps, with petrol having reached 137.79p a litre and diesel 144.92p.

Another report last week showed that UK drivers were paying the highest fuel taxes in Europe.

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP said:

“The size of this lobby underlines the scale of concern at soaring fuel prices. The country is crying out for action to bring down fuel prices, and the Chancellor should use the up-coming Budget to honour his pre-election pledge and establish a fuel duty regulator.

“It’s a national scandal that, in an oil rich country like Scotland, we are paying the highest fuel prices in Europe. With the bulk of the pump price made up of tax, the Treasury must stop this highway robbery because soaring fuel prices are hindering economic recovery.

“In July 2008, George Osborne launched plans for a Fair Fuel Stabiliser, describing it as a ‘common sense plan’. As well as being common sense, it is unanswerable and fair for Scotland, given that we pay among the highest fuel prices in Europe even as Scottish oil revenues surge into the UK Exchequer. The problem with the Tories plan is that they launched a dangerous smash and grab raid on the North Sea to pay for it, which was the wrong thing to do.

“With record North Sea oil and gas revenues flowing to the Treasury, we need to see some of that money used to bring fuel prices down – and to keep them stable – through a fuel duty regulator.

“The SNP have consistently called for the introduction of a fuel duty regulator, in contrast the only measure Labour introduced was the fuel price escalator that increased the misery for motorists.

“The Tories and LibDems promised action before the election. They have the money – Scotland’s oil money – and the powers to deliver.

“If Westminster will not act, the powers should be passed to the Scottish Parliament so that it can. If Scotland had control of fuel duty, the SNP government would introduce a fuel duty regulator to lower prices now.”