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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Cut Fuel Duty

The soaring cost of fuel is an ongoing worry for us all here in Ceredigion and in the immediate future there appears to be no relief on the horizon. To many residents of a rural county there is no alternative to the car. This is particularly true for the agricultural community, for businesses operating within a widely distributed rural economy, for carers travelling between residents in need of social care and also for Ceredigion County Council who have rightly complained about how the high cost of fuel is adversely affecting its services.

The Government seems particularly reluctant to counteract the effect on our pockets and particularly keen to benefit from the windfall generated by high pump prices and a greater tax take. Plaid Cymru and the SNP have listened to rural communities and proposed an amendment to Parliament requiring the Government to invoke a Fuel Duty Regulator. A Fuel Duty Regulator would trigger an automatic freeze in fuel duty rates when oil prices are high, and the extra cash raised from VAT on petrol or diesel would go back into an equivalent cut in fuel duty. This is a practical solution that would ease the situation and make a huge difference to people's lives.

It is disappointing that the measure was defeated. It is even more disappointing that Mark Williams MP did not support this sensible solution. He chose to absent himself from a vote that would have benefited a rural county such as Ceredigion – it was an opportunity missed. When high fuel costs are penalising Ceredigion it is his role to champion our cause and not submit to the whip of his Party and stand aside. It is simply not good enough.

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