HC Deb 25 February 1991 vol 186 c635
9. Mr. Carrington

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the increase since 1989 in the number of petrol-retailing outlets selling unleaded petrol; and what is the level in other EC countries.

Mr. Moynihan

The United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association estimates that, at the end of November 1990, 98 per cent. of filling stations in the United Kingdom sold premium unleaded petrol, compared with about 80 per cent. at the end of 1989 and 20 per cent. at the end of 1988.

The latest available comparable figures for 1990 in the European Community were: West Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg 100 per cent.; Denmark and Netherlands 85 per cent.; Italy 64 per cent.; Ireland 50 per cent.; France 40 per cent.; Spain 19 per cent.; Greece 11 per cent.; and Portugal 4 per cent.

Mr. Carrington

Do not those figures, taken in conjunction with those for the sale of unleaded petrol, show the determination of the Government, the industry and the people to reduce the amount of lead in our air? Is it not it possible, perhaps through the European Commission, to encourage our European partners, who are not as environmentally friendly as we are, to improve their actions and environment?

Mr. Moynihan

I agree that it is important for the Government to continue to pursue that objective throughout the Community.

Mr. Tony Banks

It is welcome that so many petrol stations are making unleaded petrol available, but the Minister understands that the real test is the number of cars using it. What discussions are being held within the Department or with Treasury Ministers and officials to encourage the take-up of unleaded petrol by giving further tax incentives or cuts in petrol prices?

Mr. Moynihan

The latter point is for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The 1990 Budget, which increased the duty differential to nearly 14p a gallon, was important. About seven out of 10 cars are capable of using unleaded petrol. The Department of Energy and other Departments have been promoting a publicity and information campaign to encourage those who can convert rapidly to do so.