MP - Driven to despair over petrol prices

IF YOU’RE lucky enough to have a car, the chances are you have filled it up with petrol recently.

You might have taken a few days off to coincide with the kids’ half term, or you may be just going about your normal schedule of travelling to work.

Chances are that you will have winced at the cost of filling your car up with petrol.

At a time when prices of food and energy bills are rising faster than they have done for something like twenty years, the cost of petrol is at an all-time high.

Although prices at the pumps in Hartlepool are a penny or two a litre cheaper than other towns, it is easy to pay sixty, seventy or even eighty pounds to fill your tank up completely. This is a big part of any family’s budget.

It would be easy for me to blame the Government and say it is all solely their fault. That wouldn’t be the full picture.

Petrol prices are obviously dependent upon the price of oil, and this has been rising steadily.

Brent Crude was trading in London in the middle of December at about $83 a barrel: this week it was over $107.

The historic events in Egypt a fortnight ago, which now seem to have spread dramatically this week to Libya, puts further pressure on the price of oil.

I don’t wish to be flippant about the events in the Middle East, especially when people are losing their lives and which genuinely seem to be of similar historic significance to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, but it really doesn’t take much to push the price of oil up.

Given that our family car is a diesel car, which seems to eat the stuff, I share drivers’ frustrations that prices always seem to go up, but they never seem to come down.

But a large part of the blame can be put to the Government.

A large proportion of the price at the pumps is down to VAT and fuel duty. The rise in VAT just after Christmas hasn’t helped matters, whilst the recent rises in duty have pushed the price

ever higher.

There is a planned further increase in fuel duty in April, which I hope the Chancellor, currently preparing his Budget for a month’s time, will put off, or even reverse.

The price of fuel is hurting drivers, with some low paid workers questioning whether it is worth going to work when so much of their wages are going on petrol. It is hurting the economy and dragging down the recovery.

I have asked Parliamentary questions on this issue on behalf of constituents, and received very disappointing responses from Treasury Ministers.

But the fact of the matter is that the Government cannot keep seeing the motorist as a golden goose that will endlessly give more revenue to the Exchequer.

What surprises me is that we haven’t had more protest about the rises in petrol. But it can’t go on like this.

I hope the Government listens to the pleas of motorists and thinks about how it will help the driver.