Ritchie welcomes Tory u-turn on fuel duty
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has welcomed a u-turn by Chancellor George Osborne whereby the planned 3p fuel duty hike due in August has been scrapped and fuel duty frozen for the rest of the year.
Ritchie, who leads on energy issues for the SDLP in Westminster, spoke to Newry Times and said: “This is a welcome, though long overdue, move by the Chancellor on an issue which has been of enormous concern to consumers across the UK, but especially in the North of Ireland, where fuel prices have been the highest in Europe. It goes to show the power that consumer pressure can have on the highest levels of government, and I am glad that the Treasury has seen sense and responded to the wishes of fuel users, as communicated both directly and via the work of parliamentarians, including the SDLP’s MPs.”
She continued, “That said, of course one must also question the timing of the u-turn, which could be viewed as a sop to Tory backbenchers who might otherwise have rebelled against the government during next week’s vote on the finance bill. Though by no means the answer to all our problems, this move on fuel duty will allow pause for reflection and allow the Fair Fuel campaign to move to a different footing, whereby we look at ways of reducing fuel prices in the face of a stuttering economy.”
“As the Cebr report prepared for FairFuelUK earlier in the year stated, a drop of 2.5p in fuel duty could generate 175,000 jobs in a year, stimulating the economy and encouraging the growth that the Chancellor purports to be committed to.”
“I will be bringing representatives of the NI Consumer Council to meet with the Treasury next week to discuss fuel prices and I will be looking forward to seeing whether the Chancellor will be working pro-actively in the interests of the consumers who drive the economy or whether he will be resting on his laurels after this necessary, but insufficient, u-turn,” Ritchie added.
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