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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 August, 2004, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Should duty on petrol be increased?
A group of MPs is set to recommend that petrol should be made more expensive to curb vehicle emissions.

The Environmental Audit Committee is expected to say that petrol is still relatively cheap despite the current high oil price.

It will call for the government to make a stronger case for higher fuel taxes.

The MPs are also likely to criticise the Treasury for failing to do enough to promote more efficient use of energy in people's homes.

Should duty on petrol be increased? How would you be affected? Why are we so dependent on oil? What are the alternatives?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Michael, Darlington:
Is a committee of MPs right to ask for even more tax on fuel?

Its certainly a better idea than road tax, at least you guarantee everyone pays it...but surely it will just force more and more people to not get insurance as the costs involved in running a car spiral. Again the rich will be OK, they don't care. The poor will pay more for petrol and more for goods. Excellent...just what I need from the Tax and Spend monsters in Westminster. Yipeee looks like I better dust off my pedal bike! good job its only a 60 mile round trip to work.
Paul Miler, Stafford, UK

We already pay the highest prices for our fuel over here. I am disabled and without personal transport would find it very difficult to get out of the house at all. It also means I'm on a very low budget and all the taxes and general costs of living in this country are crippling to those of us not able to get a decent income
Harold, Plymouth UK

Give us struggling rural motorists a break
Bob, Alnwick, Northumberland
Bring Back Window tax or Beard Tax. Give us struggling rural motorists a break! How about a compromise: A Regional Tax on Petrol. Those living in cities with good public transport should pay more for their fuel, whilst those living in rural locations with terrible public transport should pay less.
Bob, Alnwick, Northumberland

Yes, I fully agree with this. Petrol at £10 a gallon will help remove the current rash of unsafe cars on the road which are normally driven by the not so well off. Its about time motoring went back to being an elitist activity and not a right for all.
John Wilson, UK

This is simply a tax raising proposal rather than a serious environmental suggestion. The government has continued to build more roads, but still sees fit to tax motorists. Until the government puts forward serious travel alternative then it cannot expect people to give up the use of their cars. Cycling is not an alternative for those who have to commute long distances.
Paul, Northampton, UK

My car is essential for my work. That is simple. I still believe that increasing fuel duty is ok. I don't want to pay more, but if a few people were put off those short journeys they should be walking or riding a bicycle for the roads wouldn't be so busy either. Sadly, the slow pain of a couple of pence on a litre doesn't register. The tax should be in one lump each year so that it is felt. Part of the MOT should establish on a sliding scale a road tax value based on mpg and emissions. If you get 80mpg and the emissions are clean you pay £10 if you get 8mpg with filthy, but legal, emissions you pay £2000.
Simon, York, UK

This week, the UK became a net importer of crude for the first time, also a treacherous position to be in
Andrew, London
In the absence of an ideal system where people are charged according to emissions, petrol consumption, distance, number of people in the car, time of day and trunk of road used, then yes, duties on petrol should continue to increase until condition on our roads and of our environment improve. Not only should the revenues be used to improve public transport, but the incentive for car manufacturers to make more and cheaper fuel efficient cars will be heightened. This week, the UK became a net importer of crude for the first time, also a treacherous position to be in.
Andrew, London

I work at Heathrow, there is no public transport from the south coast to the airport. Why should I pay more? I am already going to be hit with a congestion charge at some point now they want to increase fuel duty. No, this is not right. I am fed up with paying more and more because I work. Fuel protests? They will not have seen anything like it if they do introduce it. The country will come to a stand still.
Peter Strudwick, Chichester

Silly, greedy, selfish, spoilt little children who want a nice planet but won't do anything to help it happen. Future generations (if there are any) will look back and call you cursed.
Dave Hands, Birmingham

We need a good public transport system first, and not just in London! I can't get to work by public transport. Fuel tax will never make it possible to, ever. If they really believe this rubbish they spout, let's see them walking to work and using buses!
Alec Wood, Hartlepool, UK

If you want people off the roads make public transport more affordable and reliable
Geoff, Romford UK
Spiralling the cost of Petrol and running cars will do nothing to solve the problems. My son and I have been working in Chelsea for the last 3 weeks, we have been forced to try all types of transport. The longest journey took 4.5Hrs return due to signal problems on the District Line. A similar length journey in Hanover City in Germany costs only 4 euros return and there is free parking at the tram stations or adjacent streets. Everyone uses it! If you want people off the roads make public transport more affordable and reliable. If the Germans can do it, why can't we? Until then the Scooter wins hands down.
Geoff, Romford UK

Absolutely not. Earlier this year the Government, Gordon Brown, were suggesting they may hold off increasing duty on petrol to offset the dramatic rise in oil prices. Unfortunately the Government now realise they need the revenue to pay for Iraq so this "Environment Audit Committee" comes out of nowhere (ever heard of them before) to give the Government some backing to increase petrol duty in the guise of criticising them. Very clever manipulation, which the Government should not be allowed to get away with.
David R, Plymouth UK

Who is this going to impact the most? Can you see the rich 4 x 4 SUV drivers really battering an eyelid at an increase in fuel duty? No! The worst off in society will feel the pinch the most. I can see new class distinction developing here - those that can afford to drive and those that can't.
Dan, Poole, UK

Surely the Government would be better investing money into the public the transport system to make in an efficient, easy and reliable thing to use as it is in most places on the continent. Then maybe people would be willing to give up using their cars to commute. Why take the easy option and hit fuel again ?
Alistair, Plymouth, Devon

This simply won't deter motorists from using their cars. Putting the odd penny or two onto the price of a litre of petrol still works out cheaper than taking public transport to work for a lot of people. If the government really wanted to cut carbon use, then they should use this extra revenue to subsidise public transport for all.
James Clarke, Hertford, UK

Yes, we should have a system where the polluter pays. If higher costs dissuade people from using their cars then that is good.
James Dingwall, Bristol, UK

Why is the only option for consideration charging more for petrol? Might it not be easier to tax those cars that have higher emissions to encourage them to service their vehicles and ensure that they run as efficiently as possible? This might then help the environment instead of being a simple money raiser as proposed.
Becky, London

How about a tax on Breathing, this would reduce CO2 Emissions. With less people breathing there would be more air for the Idiot MPs to turn hot. The idea that putting up the price of petrol will reduce emissions is lunacy.
Michael Topping, Leyland, Lancashire

The public transport infrastructure doesn't cater for the modern mobile workforce that does flexible hours
Colin, Bristol, UK
With the big shift to a non-permanent workforce, a lot of people setting up their own businesses there is a massive need for more people to travel to their places of work. The public transport infrastructure doesn't cater for the modern mobile workforce that does flexible hours. So, until there is a practical, quick, efficient and safe alternative to using cars then the car (and fuel for it) is a necessary tool of work. Tax it by all means, but watch everything else increase in cost as business travellers and transport companies recover the costs from their customers. I already have to charge more for working in London, simply because I can no longer rely on the rail network to get me there in time - I travel the day or evening before, so incur additional time (which costs), additional accommodation (which costs) and spend less time with my family (which erodes my quality of life). Can we please have an outbreak of common sense soon?
Colin, Bristol, UK

Well done the MPs. Have they thought this through? They lead a sheltered existence. How does the poor agricultural worker in N Wales or Yorkshire manage with even higher fuel tax. He may well be already on the bread line and may well live where there is no alternative transport. Perhaps the London centred MPs will advise him to catch the tube instead!
Peter Bowman, High Wycombe Berks

What world do these morons live in? I have lived and worked in various countries in Europe over the last 15 years and never anywhere has fuel been more expensive than in UK. Over the past 10 years in France it has never been less than 12-15p/litre cheaper for petrol and diesel has been up to 25p cheaper per litre not gallon! - and there is no road tax in France or Germany!
Derek Smith, Ayr, Scotland

I think people would be more prepared to pay extra if they felt it made a difference. 2p on a litre that went directly to alternative fuel research (or subsidising more eco-friendly cars) seems a lot more palatable than another cash grab for the treasury.
Duncan, UK

This government seems hell-bent on pushing a greater tax burden onto the ordinary road user
Adrian Powell, Pontypool, Wales, UK
If there was a viable alternative to personal transport, then higher prices may be an option , but this government seems hell-bent on pushing a greater and greater tax burden onto the ordinary road user, and in so doing, raising the cost of living for us all.
Adrian Powell, Pontypool, Wales, UK

How many of the Environmental Audit Committee uses public transport let alone alternative greener transport. All these government committees should be made to practice what they preach
Kay, Rotherham

I'm tired of hearing the same old rubbish time and again. Petrol tax rises do not work in a country that has no viable alternative to the car in 90% of cases. All they do is line the pockets of a government bent on wasting our money on so many pointless causes - but perhaps that's what they want...
Les, Salisbury

This comes hard on the heels of the government scrapping the extension to the Manchester metro and light rail schemes in Hampshire and Leeds. So much for joined up government. The real motive - to raise ever more from the motorist - is transparent.
Jeff, Leeds

Public transport goes nowhere near these places!
John, Lancashire
Before MPs price car drivers off the road there has to be a cheap and practical alternative. Already local councils are building new workplaces out of town with limited car parking spaces which are too small to open doors if someone has parked next to you. Why? Because it is a requirement of a successful bid for Euro funds. The thinking is that people will be forced to use public transport. But guess what? Public transport goes nowhere near these places! Come on MPs - put your thinking heads on first!
John, Lancashire

We do need petrol - but we should all make an effort to use less. My Uncle Paul carries a push bike on the roof of his car, drives to the edge of Manchester city centre and cycles the rest of the way. Should we all follow his example? I say 'Yes'.
Garry Pryor, Manchester

The technology already exists for cars that run on water, Mercedes recently created an A-class that costs $300,000.00 using fuel cell technology. The world's decision makers are holding back developments that may bring this cost down though, as they control the oil reserves and need to sell all of it first, no doubt soon we will find out that water(oceans) belongs to Shell and Texaco etc.
Mike, Stoke-on-Trent

How about a tax on breathing, this would reduce CO2 emissions. With fewer people breathing there would be more air for the idiot MPs to turn hot. The idea that putting up the price of petrol will reduce emissions is lunacy.
Michael Topping, Leyland, Lancashire

My car has been in the garage for a week and with no courtesy car available I've found it darned hard work to get around a small town like Burton on Trent just using public transport. Had to resort taxis and walking to get to work and the supermarket due to unreliable, bus services. No point taxing people off the road until the public transport system is attractive to use. God help those who have no car.
Iain Wakefield, Burton on Trent, Staffs

We are far too dependant on oil
Matt, Cambridge, UK
The duty should be increased, but only if the extra money is put entirely into research into alternative fuels and propulsion systems. We are far too dependant on oil, and need to find an alternative as quickly as possible. The sooner that oil-rich countries such as those in the Middle East lose the potential to disrupt the entire world's energy supply and ability to function, the sooner they and we can achieve a reasonable state of peace.
Matt, Cambridge, UK

Increasing tax to reduce road usage is simply saying "the roads are for the rich, poor people go away and use bicycles or something". The right to travel across our own country should be given in equal measure to all UK citizens. It is NOT a luxury.
Chris Harrison, Abingdon, UK

When the price of petrol goes up, do I put less of it in my car? No, I do not, I have to make sacrifices elsewhere. As already mentioned, using public transport means greater cost, but more importantly to me, it is more time consuming. Yes, oil reserves are running out and something needs to be done, but to keep taxing the motorist is not the answer.
Mark, Wilts

All goods should reflect their true costs. At the moment the price we pay for petrol does not reflect the huge environmental impact of car driving. An increase in duty should be linked clearly to a sensible integrated transport strategy that gives people an incentive to use less damaging forms of transport.
Oliver Smith, Haslemere, Surrey

Yes, why not? It seems like a perfectly sensible idea to me. While we're at it, why doesn't the government employ random tax collectors so that people can be stopped in the street and have their wallets emptied while they wait? Those without any money can be made to walk on a big hamster wheel that will power the House of Commons.
Terry H, UK

Public transport at least needs to be a cheaper alternative
Edd, Macclesfield
We need a viable alternative to our transportation needs before we again victimised for using our hard-earned cars. If you live in a large city and can use buses and tubes to get around then fair enough. But for someone living in a remote Scottish town, for example, the car is the only solution. Public transport at least needs to be a cheaper alternative - I unexpectedly had to attend a funeral in London last week and was told it would cost £160 to get there and back from Cheshire in a day, using the car cost £30 in petrol - there's clearly no incentive to use public transport at the moment
Edd, Macclesfield

I think we should tax our parliament each time the lobotomised lot waste our money with ultimately redundant committee proposals that never address the real issues.
Matt, Chelmsford, UK

Its interesting to note that the people advocating a rise in fuel prices are those that live in London where there is a relatively good public transport system that is more effective than the car. However for the rest of the country, especially the rural communities public transport does not offer a viable alternative to cars.
Mike, Elgin, Scotland

The oil companies currently hold countless patents for good alternative energy vehicles, purely so that they can't actually be made by anyone. If this had been prevented then we'd already be using all these great ideas, and petrol would be on the way out. International governments need to address this because oil is dirty and causes wars.
Daley, Sheffield, UK

Another misguided or misinformed bunch of people who are trying to run the country. With modern technology, cars nowadays produce less emission than ever before. If this tax goes ahead, those that should pay the most will be buses and other forms of public transport. I think they got it wrong again
Mike, East Sussex

Increasing the price of petrol discriminates against poorer people
John M, LyneMeads, UK
Increasing the price of petrol discriminates against poorer people whether it's in the running costs of a car or increased fares on public transport. Petrol price increases should be targeted at wasteful, excessive and unnecessary use. More could be done to encourage people to live closer to their work or in locations which didn't require a car for everyday movement. Isn't it also time to encourage alternative fuels such as alcohol which could be produced in sufficient quantities to meet most of our needs by using set-aside land and unnecessary crop land (i.e. crops which could be grown more cheaply in the Third World) to provide the organic material for alcohol production.
JohnM, LyneMeads, UK

There is no tax on food because it is an essential part of living. Well, petrol is an essential part of living too (mine is mainly used to go to work), so it too should not be taxed. Or maybe the government would like me not to go to work and therefore not contribute income tax and claim benefits instead?
Adrian Mugridge, Chester, UK

Talk about one thought and only one. Let's get car manufacturers to put the correct technology in all cars to cut emissions.
Gerry, UK

Considering that Oil/Petrol is a finite resource, and perhaps more so than we imagined considering the Shell fiasco, surely it is only right that we should treat it so and charge a premium for its usage. At the same it might be an idea to charge at least some VAT/duty on aircraft fuel and stop people treating the likes of Ryanair like an intercity bus service.
Michael, London

The public simply will not opt for over-priced, stressful and unreliable public transport
Adam Hermanowski, West Sussex, England
The public simply will not opt for over-priced, stressful and unreliable public transport just because fuel prices are hiked up again. This is yet another scheme to punish motorists for wanting ease of travel and independence. Would the said MPs care to divulge where this extra cash would be going once they get it? Taxes are increasing in every direction, and not a lot of improvement in health, education or public transport is the result. Is it naive to say the money will end up in the pockets of those who dreamt up this new recommendation?
Adam Hermanowski, West Sussex, England

We don't need petrol. Diesel engines can run on cooking oil. The government don't seem to say much about this, maybe it's because there's too little tax in it for them.
James, UK

Of course petrol is cheap in real terms. For most journeys, going by car is the cheapest method. This is especially true if you have an old car that's cheap to insure, and one that you don't have to worry too much about depreciation on. These are usually the cars that pollute the most. If I were to travel from London to Manchester today by train, it would cost me £91 for a standard open single ticket. The same journey by car would probably cost me £30 or less in petrol. I also get the convenience of travelling at the time I choose, and the car takes me door to door. Until public transport is made cheaper, I'll continue to drive.
Rhodri Richards, London, UK

These MPs must be complete idiots. Not everyone lives in a large town or city with plenty of available public transport. Many of us live in rural areas and using our cars is not being lazy, but essential. Cars and the roads should not be the playthings of just the rich.
Colin Wheeler, Ashley Green, England

They've been upping fuel duty for years and car use has risen and risen so clearly it doesn't stop people using cars. The only people this will hurt is your average working wo/man trying to make ends meet on a pittance of a salary, yet who has to travel into work because he/she can not afford to live close to their town of work. I'd vote them out if we had a reasonable alternative...
Simon Shone, Southampton

If taxes are cut we get lazy and use the stuff up quicker,
Rupert, London, UK
Oil is a limited commodity. The petrol price should always be kept as high as politically possible to encourage us to be efficient and enable other taxes to be reduced. If taxes are cut we get lazy and use the stuff up quicker, the way the Americans do, and then have to fight wars for more. Petrol prices are still not very high in historical terms, as evidenced by the number of absurd SUVs wallowing about.
Rupert, London, UK

Maybe it would be easier to tighten ownership and restrict parking, stop people converting garages to living accommodation and restrict parking in urban terraced inner cities, crush old bangers with no tax and insurance and tier the road tax so big gas guzzlers are expensive to own not cheap to run.
Mark, W. Mids, England

This is just an easy cop-out. What about making the alternatives to the car more attractive, like a public transport system which actually works? Raising the duty on fuel has everything to do with swelling the Government's coffers and nothing to do environmental issues.
Steve Cahill, Sandy, England

Simply from going to work and visiting my fiancée (we currently live apart) my monthly petrol bill runs to about £200 a month. That's 2/5ths of my mortgage! I wouldn't call that cheap in 'real terms', whatever they are....
Chris, Northampton, UK

I can see Mr Brown rubbing his hands together with joy
Stuart, Reading
We have one of the highest rates of tax in the world for fuel. I can see Mr Brown rubbing his hands together with joy - more money. Instead of increasing tax, why not give tax breaks to those people who don't use their cars so much.
Stuart, Reading

Increasing duty on fuel will help in making Britain seek alternatives to oil-based fuel and might just help in the battle of the bulge too.
Gus, London, UK

Quadruple it! Eventually those lazy drivers will have to get off their fat behinds and start to walk.
Hugo, Liverpool, UK

How about a tax on second Jaguars, perms and ministerial cars that drive you the 300 yards to the office instead?
Dean, Maidenhead, UK

At the moment I don't think it is justifiable as the price of petrol is certainly going to rise in the short, medium and long term anyway due to increased demand for oil on a global scale, increasing tension in the Middle East, a state of anarchy in Iraq, etc. All of which means the price of petrol is going to rise steeply without a duty increase.
Colin Wright, UK

Before they take this measure, I would like to see the government make substantial increases in grants for research into alternative fuels so that our reliance on oil cannot be exploited any more and so that vehicle emissions are cut.
TB, Spain

No, duty on petrol is high enough. I would only support an increase if ALL the tax raised from petrol was spent either on improving the roads, or improving and subsidising public transport. At the moment people drive either because they have no alternative (particularly outside of cities) or because it's cheaper, faster and more convenient than public transport. We already have incredibly high taxes on fuel and it's not stopping people from driving so obviously a different approach is needed.
Fiona, Dumbarton

Strange, I didn't think the emission level of petrol was determined by its price! When will the government learn that we will continue to use cars unless there is a viable alternative? I can get a bus to work but it would take me an extra hour, or I could take a train but that would double my costs. As my employer won't let me stay at home all the time I have no choice but to take the car. Making petrol more expensive won't change that in any way.
Andrew, Baldock, Herts

'Relatively cheap' - what does that mean ? Relative to what? My understanding is that it is broadly in line with the rest of the EU. Compared to many other countries, the price is exorbitant. 80% of the cost of petrol in the UK is tax anyway, surely that is more than enough.
Martin, High Wycombe

So in "real terms" petrol is too cheap? With a fuel bill now more than my mortgage, which "real world" do these people live in?
Tim, Cambridge

Rather than hit the taxpayer once again, why doesn't the government start to put pressure on car manufacturers to start using hybrid engines and other technologies that cut down the emissions of cars? This would probably have a far greater benefit to the environment and at the same time to our pockets.
Matthew, Bradford

I completely disagree with this ludicrous idea. Petrol is expensive enough already. I am sure I speak for most motorists when I say we are fed up of fuel tax rising all the time. It's about time we paid the same the rest of the continent pays for petrol. As has been said before, in the 21st Century a car is a necessity not a luxury.
Christian, UK

MPs...aren't they the ones who all get free first class rail passes?? Oh yes, and free parking at BAA airports?? Oh, and free chauffeur driven cars if they are at ministerial level?? So it's ok for me to pay more while they ride around in the lap of luxury at my expense?? Seems fair...NOT!!
John R. Smith, UK

Should petrol be made more expensive in order to help the environment?
4779 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed

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