PM must “stop dithering and start delivering” action on fuel prices

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By a Newsnet reporter

Commenting as the average price of petrol broke through the 140p a litre barrier today (Friday), with diesel at a new record of 146.72p, SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP warned that soaring fuel prices were hindering economic recovery and called for Chancellor George Osborne to honour his pre-election promise to introduce a Fuel Duty Stabiliser to deliver a permanent stabilisation measure which would bring prices under control.

According to a report published on Friday by industry analysts Experian Catalist, the average price of a litre of unleaded petrol hit 140.20 pence.  The price hike has been driven by higher oil prices for crude oil, caused by concerns about the situation in Iran, and the weakness of sterling against the US dollar.  Crude oil prices have risen 12% since January.  Fuel prices in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe.

Motorists will be faced with a further rise of 3p per litre in August, when the rise in fuel duty announced by the Chancellor in Wednesday’s budget speech come into effect.  

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, the RAC’s technical director, David Bizley, said: “£1.40 a litre is a massive price for people to have to pay and there is no end in sight to rising prices.  The way things are going the planned duty rise will see average petrol prices hit the £1.50 a litre mark – forcing more and more people who need their cars off the road.”

SNP Transport spokesperson Mr MacNeil said:

“David Cameron needs to stop dithering and start delivering action to bring soaring fuel prices down.  His silence at the Tories conference in Troon, on one of the most urgent issues facing households and businesses, underlines how out of touch his party is with people in Scotland.

“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 – we need a permanent stabilisation measure to bring prices under control.

“In July 2008, the Tories promised 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.

“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 Tories and Lib Dems 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.”