HC Deb 08 November 1989 vol 159 cc979-80
3. Mr. Arbuthnot

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment by how much sales of unleaded petrol have increased since the 1988 Budget.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

In the month to mid-October, unleaded petrol accounted for nearly 26 per cent. of the market. Demand has increased more than 250-fold since March 1988 when uptake stood at less than 0.1 per cent.

Mr. Arbuthnot

Does my hon. Friend agree that that is extremely good progress, which has been partly brought on by this year's excellent Budget changes? How many more cars could be converted to take unleaded fuel?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

We estimate that there are still about 9 million cars on the road which are not run on unleaded fuel and could do so with minor adjustment or in some cases with no adjustment.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell

Is my hon. Friend aware that in my constituency of Gedling only three garages were selling unleaded petrol at the start of the year, but now virtually every garage in my constituency sells it? Is not that a tribute both to the wisdom of using the market mechanism to achieve this important environmental objective, and to the wisdom, good sense and responsibility of my constituents?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I have heard about my hon. Friend's campaign for unleaded petrol in his constituency and I am glad that he has succeeded. Throughout the country, unleaded fuel is available in about 80 per cent. of petrol stations.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing

We all welcome the large number of people who have transferred to unleaded petrol, but will the Minister accept that the price cut was an effective weapon in persuading them? If so, has he considered the possibility of persuading the Chancellor to introduce similar incentives to encourage people to buy ozone-friendly household goods such as furniture polish?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

Further tax changes are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the hon. Lady is right to point to the success of the price difference of about 12p between leaded and unleaded petrol. The average motorist, who travels about 10,000 miles per year, will save £40 a year by using unleaded petrol, which is much more than the cost of adjusting the car.

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