The politics of petrol

Via today’s Order of Business, the Opposition attempt to put the boot in and we kick back:

OPPOSITION DAY (13th allotted day)
[Until 7.00 pm]
Edward Miliband
Ed Balls
Ms Angela Eagle
Maria Eagle
Kerry McCarthy
Ms Rosie Winterton
   That this House recognises that rising world oil, food and commodity prices are increasing the cost of living and adding to the squeeze on families on low and middle incomes across Britain; believes this has been compounded by the Government’s decision to increase VAT to 20 per cent., which will cost a family with children an annual average of £450, has helped to push up the consumer prices index annual inflation to 4 per cent. and, according to the House of Commons Library, is adding £1.35 to the cost of filling up a vehicle with a 50 litre tank; notes that the AA announced last week that the cost of unleaded petrol has now reached an average of £6 a gallon and that the fuel duty stabiliser promised in the 2010 Conservative Party manifesto has not yet been announced or implemented; further notes that the previous administration regularly postponed planned fuel duty rises when world oil prices were increasing sharply, as they are now; and demands that the Government takes immediate steps to reverse January’s VAT rise on road fuels, using the extra £800 million from the bank levy and securing the appropriate EU derogation, in order to provide relief to hard-pressed motorists and, at the time of the Budget, looks again at the annual duty rise due in April.
   As an Amendment to Edward Miliband’s proposed Motion (Fuel prices and the cost of living):
The Prime Minister
The Deputy Prime Minister
Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer
Secretary Vince Cable
Secretary Chris Huhne
Secretary Philip Hammond
Secretary Caroline Spelman
Mr Secretary Moore
Secretary Cheryl Gillan
Danny Alexander
Mark Hoban
David Gauke
Justine Greening
   Line?1,?leave out from ‘House’ to end and add ‘notes that the Government inherited the largest deficit in UK peacetime history and that the previous Government and current Opposition has no credible plan to deal with the deficit; further notes that this Government has already taken steps to support families and that those on low and middle incomes will benefit from April 2011 from a £1,000 increase in the income tax personal allowance, above-indexation increases in Child Tax Credit and that pensioners will receive new ‘triple-lock’ increases in the basic State Pension; further notes the significant impact on fuel prices in the UK of the dramatic increase in the world oil price to over $100 per barrel and the impact on households and business; notes that the previous Government increased fuel duty no less than four times between December 2008 and April 2010, proposed introducing a fuel escalator from 2011 and planned for a further series of six consecutive fuel duty rises up to 2014; nonetheless recognises the significant impact of high fuel prices on motorists, hauliers and businesses and that the Government is considering a fair fuel stabiliser that could support motorists and businesses when oil prices are high; and in addition notes that a reduction in VAT on fuel would be deemed illegal under EU law and that the Chancellor will update the House on this issue at the time of the Budget.’.

Of course I support lower fuel duty and VAT – one can only dream that they might be abolished one day – but we have to deal with the diabolical mess we have inherited.

However, what is actually required to deliver lower taxes on a sustainable footing is much lower public spending so that the State is not reliant on currency debasement and borrowing but lives within its means. Once the State is living within its means, we can then have a sensible discussion about what we expect Government to provide by forcing us to pay for it…

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