HC Deb 30 January 2001 vol 362 cc156-7W
11. Mrs. Ewing

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment she has made of the impact of the level of fuel prices on the economy of the highlands and islands. [146190]

Mr. Foulkes

The level of fuel prices is only one of a number of factors, which impact upon the highlands and islands economy, and needs to be seen in the context of overall UK fiscal policy.

The measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pre-Budget report will bring significant benefits to the highland and islands economy. Notably, the extension of the lower rate of vehicle excise duty to include cars up to 1500cc will benefit over 40,000 motorists in the highlands and islands.

Fuel duty will be frozen for two years and reduced for cleaner fuels. Hauliers will benefit from the proposed reform of vehicle excise duty and the freeze in duty on "red" diesel. The abolition of Vehicle Excise Duty on tractors and other agricultural vehicles will benefit around 9,000 agricultural producers in the highlands and islands.