Campaign for lower fuel prices moves up a gear

 
Fuel pump Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, feels the time is right to speak out on increases in fuel duty

The campaign for lower fuel prices is gearing up again. Robert Halfon's debate at Westminster is so well attended that he can hardly get a word in edgeways.

"Families in my constituency spend more on petrol than on food," he told the crowd in Westminster Hall. "It costs more than £1.40p a litre and that hits the poor twice as hard as the rich.

"People say the price has come down but it is a bit like a burglar taking £100 out of your pocket and giving you £5 back," he added.

With a 3p duty increase due in August, Mr Halfon feels now is the time to speak out again. He quoted figures from the AA, which claims the duty rise will switch £1.8m a day out of the economy and into petrol costs.

He also reminded the government that according to another report from the RAC, motoring taxes would fall by around £10bn over the next decade as people were driven off the road.

Mr Halfon called for a windfall tax on the oil companies (as opposed to just the North Sea oil companies, which the chancellor announced last year) to fund a fuel duty cut.

"The big oil companies are not struggling. In the first quarter of this year Shell had profits of $7.6bn, BP $5.9bn and Exxon Mobil $9.4bn," he said while calling for an investigation into whether the fuel companies were deliberately keeping oil prices high.

Start Quote

Pump prices are always quick to rise but it feels like a court order is needed to get them down”

End Quote Robert Halfon MP Conservative, Harlow

Mr Halfon questioned why: "Pump prices are always quick to rise but it feels like a court order is needed to get them down."

He was applauded at the end of his speech. So many MPs wanted to speak in this short debate that he was often interrupted before he had finished his sentences.

Brandon Lewis (Great Yarmouth) reminded the hall the tourism industry was also heavily affected by high fuel prices. "If fewer people are able to afford to travel [to our resorts] there is a knock-on effect on our economy."

It fell to Norwich MP and Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Chloe Smith, to reply on behalf on the government. She agreed high fuel prices hurt but didn't offer anything new.

"The government has listened to motorists," she said. "Duty at the pumps has been frozen for 16 months and pump prices are now 10p lower thanks to this government's actions."

She said there was a review under way into the possible reform of Vehicle Excise Duty. When it came to the competitiveness of the oil market, she added the Office of Fair Trading was undertaking a review of pump prices in Scotland but a cut in duty this August seemed out of the question.

Many MPs accept a cut in duty is only a short-term solution to what has become a long-term problem.

"The trouble is that we take 1p off fuel one day and the next day the oil companies add it to the price, we need to come up with a new way of pricing fuel," one MP later told me.

For now Mr Halfon will keep his campaign going

A new online petition has been launched and he's planning to speak on the subject extensively over the next few months in the hope - albeit a distant hope - the government will once again change its mind.

 
Deborah McGurran, Political editor, East of England Article written by Deborah McGurran Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 36.

    i'd use the bus, but to get to work which is about 10 miles away is a 2 hour bus journey. i'd use my pushbike, but that about 3 hrs then. and cycling is not fun in the rain or snow. so it has to be a car.

    sure i'll move closer to work, but i can't afford the housing costs.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 35.

    I love some of the entitlement that people believe they have to the road. "I own a car, I deserve to use it!" Its not really how it works though, no if you can't afford it, you don't deserve to use it. Driving is a privilege. not a right.

    The British seem to have a huge attachment to their cars, yet the distance we cover to get places is laughable compared to mainland Europe.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    Our Chancellor should wake up and not just smell the coffee but drink Espresso! He puts a duty cost on each litre sold, then there is VAT on top and that is before any Oil company's costs and retailer's small profit. Also VED changes - Politicians wanted us to change our greenhouse gas habits, this is happening. No surprise that the high revenue cars have gone - OH - surprised Treasury!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 33.

    Amazing! Good old HMRC trying to stomp on the fuel retailers(not that I support them in any way I might add) in a vain attempt to get them to lower fuel prices. Is that for the benefit of us, or is it a cunning ploy so that Osborne can raise fuel duty without unduly affecting the economy? Does he really think that we are that stupid? Or is it that he just doesn't give a damn what we think?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 32.

    A luxury!!!!! Unfortunately No 25, for the vast majority of hard working people - not just one, but two cars are an absolute necessity to be able to get to work whilst maintaining some form of decent family life. Public transport unfortunately is NOT a viable means of tranportation. It is either far too expensive, or just not available at the right time to get to work. Wake up you idiot!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 31.

    Oh thank you Mr Osborne! How very grateful we all are now that fuel prices are 10p cheaper because of your actions. Cheaper because YOU haven't put up the price! Are you for real you muppet! And how dare you try appeasing us by having a go at fuel retailers in a futile attempt to deflect the blame! Who is responsible for 75% of the price? Hypocrisy of the highest order springs to mind!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 30.

    with this government and any government the only way i think they will listen to the people is if we all agree a date that we do not use the private vehicle and use public transport which will not be able to handle the work load and after a couple of day of no revenue from the petrol the government would lower the price. and this would not work if us the public would stand together

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    so fraz3375 - a car is a luxury is it? What about those that have to ferry around elderly relatives, disabled folk and the like - and then there are so many others that depend on cars.

    Our transport system is a joke, far too expensive and unreliable.

    I have to use my car for my work - and I work in the NHS and chances are you have reaped the benefits of the service I help to provide.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    HMG take most of the money from a litre of road fuel. Now they want to reform VED. Let's milk the motorist cash cow

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    The duty rise should be scrapped - not only will the cost of fuel increase but every other item's price will increase as companies try to reclaim the extra paid out on fuel bills by passing the increase on to the consumer. Less money for people to spend - no recovery! Simples...... Cut the duty, more available funds = more spending! Also simples!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 26.

    Many years ago a government minister was heard to say "on your bike". He didn't mean get out of a car and onto a bycycle. He meant if you cannot get a job locally move. The effect of this pollicy was to split families. My immediate family is over a hundred miles away and not on a direct train route. To have contact them a car is a necessity. The money spent on fuel is not available for other items

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 25.

    People have forgotten that a car is a luxury and not a neccessity. It feels great when you finally learn to do without one and get rid of it,believe me.And there's the satisfaction that this government can't get into your wallet as much as they did.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 24.

    Very little mentioned about the fact that 1/2-2/3 of the cost is tax! This includes VAT, which i believe is calced using the price+duty of the fuel so we're paying tax on tax! One way to boost the ecomony is to shed 20-30p per litre off fuel (and not allow the petrol companies to hike their prices). This would pump money directly into the economy, rather than through the banks who don't to share.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 23.

    I agree with a previous comment. When the government increases the tax on fuel every person in the country suffers somehow. Nearly every business sector is damaged financially. It is then that people become less mobile and there is a dramatic downturn in the economy - again. Situation a joke? Oh yes! This government needs to stop playing politics and start governing - not playing at it!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    IS IT ONLY ME THAT HAS NOTICED THAT WHEN THE PRICE OF A BARREL OF OIL WENT TO 128$ THE PRICE OF PETROL WENT TO 140PENCE A LITRE TODAY IT IS 103$ AND THE PETROL IS 133PENCE ALITRE IT IS FAIRLY OBVIOUS SOMEONE IS PROFFITEERING BUT THIS GOVERNMENT THAT CARES SO MUCH ABUOT US HAHA DOES NOTHING. ROLL ON THE GEN. ELECTION

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    "The trouble is that we take 1p off fuel one day and the next day the oil companies add it to the price, we need to come up with a new way of pricing fuel," .

    To quote Gideon Osborne...

    "I will be watching the oil companies like a hawk" when referring to this particular problem.

    As I said at the time, a particularly aged and short sighted hawk.

    Lies and flannel... Part 2

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 20.

    well the time is coming when the people of this country need to take to the street and remined all MPs who there work for. We need to make there lifes hard and if need be get rid as not fit for purpose. There is no public transport were I live at the times I go to work and I dont think any MP would ride the twenty miles there and back ....we need to bring these MP back to the real world .OUR WORLD

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 19.

    "The government has listened to motorists," she said. "Duty at the pumps has been frozen for 16 months and pump prices are now 10p lower thanks to this government's actions."
    ====

    Lower than what?! What they were? I dont think so!

    Lies and flannel.. Part 1

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 18.

    Oh and by the way - bus services all around the country are cutting services. Why? Wait for it - cost of fuel being main reason!
    So now we can't use cars, buses no longer run when and where they are needed, and many, many people not able to use a bike, or walk.
    What is Governments real agenda? Answers please!
    It's about time they realised their policies are crippling the country.!!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 17.

    So the government are still hell bent in pricing the average motorist off the road. Well done! Another home goal in the making? When will they realise that by LOWERING the cost of fuel people will use their cars more and travel longer distances. Haulage companies will be able to improve productivity and increase their turnover. More fuel used - more tax to government - Recession recovery!

 

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