Opinion Former Article

RHA support SNP & Plaid Cymru action to force debate on fuel prices

The SNP and Plaid Cymru have called a House of Commons debate on Government action to tackle rising fuel prices.

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.

The half-day debate will take place on the afternoon of Monday 7th February 2011 and will be the only opportunity for MPs to discuss fuel prices ahead of the Budget in March and the planned fuel duty increase in April. Senior RHA staff who represent hauliers from Scotland and Wales will also be in attendance.

Phil Flanders , Director of the RHA's Scotland and Northern Ireland Region said: "The RHA fully supports the SNP/Plaid Cymru motion to urge the Government to take immediate action to resolve the increasingly difficult situation that hauliers - and motorists - find themselves in due to the cost of fuel.

"We have always supported the SNP's proposals for a fuel duty regulator in order to bring stability to the costs of a haulage business where fuel can account for around 40% of running costs at today's prices. Help is urgently needed for all hauliers and particularly those further from their market such as those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Remote rural communities also deserve special help given the exorbitant price they have to pay.

"It cannot be stressed strongly enough that in the past year fuel prices have gone up by at least 14% and in the last 28 months there have been 8 fuel duty hikes amounting to a 25% increase. This is just simply unacceptable if the economy is to stand any chance of short term recovery and long term viability.

Speaking ahead of the debate, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said: "This may be the only opportunity MPs will have to debate fuel prices ahead of the Budget in March and the fuel duty increase in April, and so it is crucial that we persuade the Tory-led government to honour its pre-election pledge and establish a fuel duty regulator. The country is crying out for action to bring down fuel prices, and this SNP / Plaid debate will be a focus for that.

"Westminster's inaction has made this an enormous issue for the Scottish Parliament elections in May. It's a huge issue on the doorstep and the forecourts because and a key illustration of why we need to build up Scotland's Parliament, and equip it with the full powers of financial responsibility. Mr Hosie continued.

"A Fuel Duty Regulator - which the Tories supported before the election - would bring duty down when oil prices go up. Cutting fuel by 10p per litre in Scotland would only cost about half of the estimated £1 billion in extra revenue the Treasury is set to rake in as a result of rising oil prices. It's a national scandal that in Europe's oil-richest country, Scots are paying among the highest fuel prices."

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Transport, Jonathan Edwards MP, said: "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, Labour stubbornly ignored the problems of rising fuel prices while the Conservatives scared of supporting our idea decided to steal it, water it down and re-brand it as their own. There has been a massive hike in the cost of fuel recently, 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.

"Businesses and especially 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 because of these choices. 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."

Road Haulage Association - phone us first

For more details, contact

RHA Director for Scotland, Phil Flanders on .
Tel: +44 (0) 0131 472 4180
Mob: + 44 (0) 7801 500713

RHA Regional Director Midlands & Western (South Wales), Nick Payne on
Tel: +44 (0) 1179 503600
Mob: + 44 (0) 7917 427196

RHA Regional Director Northern, Steve Biddle (North Wales), on
Tel: +44 (0) 1274 863100
Mob: + 44 (0) 7979 531459

www.rha.uk.net

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