HC Deb 23 April 1998 vol 310 cc957-8
5. Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

If he will estimate the cumulative increase in the retail prices index as a result of increases in petrol and diesel duty rates since 1992. [38246]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Dawn Primarolo)

Since January 1992, petrol and diesel duties have added around 1.75 per cent. to the RPI compared with a cumulative increase in the headline RPI of around 18 per cent. over the same period.

Mr. Winterton

I am grateful to the Minister for that response. Is she aware that the recent rise in petrol is the third in only 18 months and that the new Labour Government have increased the road fuel escalator, which, together with bringing forward the Budget, has raised another £9 billion in taxation from the British people? Is she aware that the announcement of £50 million for rural transport in the Budget is a pittance that will have no impact in most rural areas, where there is no meaningful public transport and never can be? What is she going to do to help the people of those areas who are suffering from additional taxation that was not promised by the new Labour Government?

Dawn Primarolo

The hon. Gentleman is suffering from amnesia. His Government supported the fuel escalator. Indeed, when the previous Chancellor increased it, he said:

Any critic of the government's tax plans who claims to support the international agreement to curb carbon dioxide emissions will be sailing dangerously near to hypocrisy. I agree with the previous Chancellor.

On the subject of hypocrisy, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that it is this Government who have invested in rural transport, committed £500 million to transport over the next three years and come up with a plan for London Underground£unlike his Government, who did nothing at all.