Support grows for Plaid’s call to tacklet fuel prices

Widespread support for the establishment of a fuel duty regulator from across Wales and the UK has added fire to Plaid’s campaign to tackle rising fuel prices.

Campaign groups such as the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW), NFU Cymru, the Freight Transport Association and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are among those to have added their voices in favour of the fuel duty debate.

Plaid Cymru and the SNP have called a House of Commons debate on Government action to tackle rising fuel prices today (Monday). The parties, who cooperate in a group at Westminster, will use their annual Opposition Day debate to call on the Conservative-led coalition government to fulfil its pre-election pledge to establish a fuel duty regulator.
Plaid is now calling on all Welsh MPs to follow their lead and support the fight to create a Fuel Duty Regulator to cap spiralling prices at the petrol pump.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Transport, Jonathan Edwards MP, said:

“There is a huge amount of support backing the call for a Fuel Duty Regulator now – the UK Government cannot ignore the issue any longer.

“Plaid Cymru and the SNP recognised this problem long ago – we pushed for it in Budgets in 2005 and 2008 with widespread support from real people outside Parliament.

“Unfortunately, the Labour government stubbornly ignored the problems of rising fuel prices while the Conservatives made watered down promises that they’ve yet to deliver.

“There has been a massive hike in the cost of fuel recently, felt by all sections of society, and not all of it down to the rising cost of oil.

“The Tory-led Government’s VAT increase and fuel duty hike have pushed the price of a litre up by at least 3.5p in the last month alone – and it is set to get worse with another 1p rise in duel futy this April.

“Businesses and families in rural areas, especially in many parts of Wales, where a car is a necessity not a luxury are those who are facing the pain.

“We need decisive action. Voices from a broad a spectrum as the agricultural world through to small businesses are with Plaid in calling for action to stop the spiralling fuel price problem.

“For the short-term we need to have a fuel duty stabiliser and a special price for fuel in rural areas, but we also need to diversify and invest in renewable energy alternatives to reduce our reliance upon oil and other fossil fuels.”

ENDS / DIWEDD

Notes / Nodiadau:
The half-day debate will take place at 330pm on Monday.

Supportive Quotes:

1. FUW (Farmers’ Union of Wales)

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said:

“In view of the acute and growing pressure that rises in fuel prices represent for rural businesses, not to mention businesses across the UK, I believe that we have reached a critical point at which action must be taken to significantly reduce fuel tax in order to aid the economy.

“The FUW supports Plaid Cymru’s calls for an early introduction of a fuel stabiliser, where duty is cut when oil prices soar and goes up again when prices fall, as this will be much fairer on rural dwellers.

“Bearing in mind that there is a difference of as much as five pence per litre between rural and city garages in Wales already, the added fuel duty coupled with rising oil prices will be devastating to rural communities all over the UK.

“It is grossly unfair that we here in the UK pay far more for our fuel than any other country and the fault lies with the extortionate level of tax imposed by the Government.”

2. Road Haulage Association

Jack Semple, Director of Policy at the RHA said:
“The Road Haulage Association welcomes Plaid’s support for a fuel duty stabiliser. The volatility of fuel prices is a major issue for hauliers and, increasingly, for their customers.”

3. NFU Cymru

NFU Cymru President Ed Bailey said:

“With fuel accounting more than 35 per cent of haulage input costs, inflation in the haulage industry already runs at over six per cent and this cost has to be recouped through higher charges to the user. However, as primary producers farmers are inevitably price takers, not makers, so they cannot recoup their increased costs through selling at higher prices.

“Rural communities already pay higher fuel prices than less remote parts of the country, and a further increase at this time will hit both rural businesses and communities particularly hard. Clearly oil prices are set in a global market, and we look to the Treasury to adjust exorbitant prices to ensure UK industries including farming remain competitive.”

4. Freight Transport Association

A spokesperson for the Freight Transport Association said:

“FTA welcomes the efforts of both Plaid Cymru and the SNP in helping to develop the fuel duty debate further. Lives and livelihoods up and down the country are suffering in the face of unsustainable and crippling fuel costs.

“For businesses still in the grip of tough trading conditions these costs severely restrict cash flow and a company’s ability to do business; sadly this can translate to job losses and the difference between solvency and insolvency.

“Fuel accounts for a third of the costs of running a truck, when its price rises steeply it has an immediate impact on a company’s cash flow. The fuel duty increase planned for April will likely see the price of a litre of diesel rise by 3.5ppl, landing UK business with an annual bill of over £430m.

“This cost is unsustainable and because the logistics sector impacts on every sector of our society there is no doubt that it will severely impede the UK’s chances of economic recovery.”

5. Federation of Small Businesses

John Walker, the FSB’s National Chairman said:

“Every extra penny spent at the pumps is a penny not being spent elsewhere in the economy.

“Small businesses want to grow … and create employment but the cost of fuel puts the brakes on their ability to drive the recovery.”

The text of the Plaid/SNP motion is as follows:

GOVERNMENT POLICY ON THE COST OF FUEL

This House notes that the oil price has reached $100 a barrel; that diesel in the UK is the most expensive in Europe; further notes that the combination of the 1 January 2011 duty rise and the VAT increase is estimated to have added 3.5 pence to the cost of a litre of fuel; acknowledges the sharp rises in fuel prices over the past year and the resulting impact on headline inflation figures; recognises the financial pressure this places on hard pressed families and businesses already struggling with high inflation and the impact of the recent VAT rise; condemns the Government’s continued dithering over the implementation of a fuel duty regulator (or stabiliser) as neither a sustainable or stable way to make tax policy; further recognises the specific additional fuel costs for those living in remote and rural parts of the UK; is concerned that diesel in such places is approaching £7 per gallon; condemns the Government for its failure to prioritise the implementation of a fuel duty derogation; and calls for the introduction of a fuel duty derogation to the most remote areas at the earliest opportunity.

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