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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 17:14 GMT
Brown freezes fuel duty
Gordon Brown and petrol pump
Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced plans to freeze fuel duty and to cut road tax for lorries.

Mr Brown unveiled a total package of transport tax changes which he said was worth the equivalent of a 4p cut in duty per litre of fuel.


Taxing foreign lorry drivers up to our level will not help manufacturing or the people of this country

Haulier Roy Masterson

The chancellor's measures to help the motorists and hauliers who brought the UK to a near standstill in September, was the focus of most attention in his pre-Budget report.

He needed to put together a package which would persuade hauliers, farmers and ordinary motorists not to go ahead with threatened nationwide protests at the end of this week.

Greener fuels

But the early reaction from hauliers was that the measures did not go far enough.

Haulier Roy Masterson described the measures as "very, very poor... It goes nowhere to addressing the imbalance that the British people suffer in relation to the rest of Europe".

Mr Brown, who said he would not risk higher interest rates by bringing in huge tax cuts, said: "I recognise and I understand the very genuine concerns that motorists and farmers have."

His speech outlining his plans for next March's Budget included a range of measures for hauliers, farmers and owners of cars with engines below 1500cc.


I recognise and I understand the very genuine concerns that motorists and farmers have

Gordon Brown

It also included a cut in duty on the more environmentally-friendly ultra-low sulphur diesel and ultra-low sulphur petrol - both of which he predicted would be .

Mr Brown said he was bringing in a one-year fuel duty freeze from April 2001 - and would extend it for a further year if the price of oil remained high in April 2002, he said.

Brit disc

The vehicle excise duty (road tax) paid for lorries would be cut by an average of 715 per vehicle, with a large number seeing their bill falling by 2,000.

Mr Brown also proposed the introduction of a so-called "Brit disc", which foreign lorries would have to purchase to be able to drive on British roads.


I don't think this will be enough

Haulier Jim Jordan

There was also financial support for scrapping and replacement of older lorries.

For farmers, road tax will be scrapped for all tractors and agricultural vehicles.

He also extended the 55 road tax rebate for cars smaller than 12000cc to all vehicles below 1500cc.

The concessions gained a mixed reaction from hauliers.

Jim Jordan, of Jordan's Transport, welcomed the Brit disc proposal but concluded that overall: "I don't think this will be enough".

But Robert Burns, one of the main protesters in the demonstration at a BP oil refinery in Scotland, said the changes were the best he and his colleagues could have expected.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Virginia Eastman
"The Chancellor has taken some of the heat out of the fuel debate"
David Handley, Peoples Fuel Lobby
"We're not happy"

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