HC Deb 30 November 1993 vol 233 cc938-9

First, I propose a modest increase in the vehicle excise duty on cars — the tax disc — of £5 a year. The duty on lorries will be unaffected.

Secondly, on road fuel duties, with effect from 6 pm tonight, I propose to raise all the road fuel duties by 3p a litre. Even so, petrol will still cost less in the United Kingdom than in most countries in the European Union, and it will be cheaper than it was in real terms in the early 1980s. It is not good policy in these environmentally conscious days to keep road fuel costs so much cheaper than they used to be. Taken together, these increases will raise around £¾ billion next year. Bus fuel duty rebate will be held at pre-Budget levels.

In March, my predecessor announced that fuel duties would increase on average by at least 3 per cent. in real terms in future Budgets in order to restrain carbon dioxide emissions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment subsequently announced in July that the Government would be looking at further measures in this area to help to meet our Rio commitment.

I have now decided to strengthen the March commitment by increasing road fuel duties on average by at least 5 per cent. in real terms in future Budgets. This will complete Britain's strategy for meeting our Rio commitment. We are the first country in Europe to do this; and we have done so in a way that minimises the additional costs to industry.

Others in this country—some others in this House—and in Europe continue to canvas unrealistic blueprints for a new European Union-wide carbon tax, which would impose massive new burdens on British industry. Any critic of the Government's tax plans who claims also to support the international agreement to curb carbon dioxide emissions will be sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy.

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