Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Oil prices: Are they too high?

Saudi Arabia has announced it will increase its oil production in a bid to keep the price of crude down. They say they want to see the price of a barrel of oil at 25 dollars, down from the current price of 30 dollars per barrel.

Oil prices have trebled in the last 15 months, and the increases have quickly found their way to petrol pumps. Consumers in the US and the UK are up in arms about it and the pressure is mounting on politicians to do something to lower prices.

Saudi officials fear that unless prices come down, customers could start switching to other fuels. But would this be such a bad thing? After all, it was the oil crises of the 1970s that gave us fuel-efficient cars.

Could this price hike encourage investment and research into other forms of energy? Or should Western governments be doing all they can to keep oil prices low?

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


Your reaction



Obviously, the citizens of the UK are being ripped off!

Helen Sharratt, Canada
The price of fuel has risen in Canada from 57 cents to 77 cents a litre, which most Canadians think is outrageous. However, the price of fuel in the UK is more than double that amount. Road tax and all other running costs are also much less in Canada. Obviously, the citizens of the UK are being ripped off!
Helen Sharratt, Canada

If Labour, Conservatives or any other party want to win an election all they have to do is cut 30% tax off prices at the pump.
Simon, UK

I am a woman with three children under 5 years old, living in the countryside where public transport is virtually non-existent. I am also married to a disabled person who finds it physically impossible to get onto a bus or train. I would like to ask Tony Blair when he plans on giving disabled people some kind of subsidy on their petrol prices as they are unable to use any alternative. It is all very well making my husband feel bad for not working (not his fault) but if you take away his only means of transport, how on earth is he supposed to FIND work? If the Government refuses to drop the price of petrol, they must seriously consider some sort of subsidy for disabled/ elderly people and those who live in the country!
Jenny, England

Until alternative energy sources are widely available, petrol prices should be kept to an affordable level. These kind of prices are nothing short of hijacking and ransom!
Nauman, UK

I ride a motorbike which uses less fuel than a car and takes up less road space. If the Government was serious about reducing pollution it would be promoting this mode of transport. Sadly though it looks as if it is yet again just another way of raising extra revenue.
Dave Maycraft, UK



If more people could work and live in the same building, the need for transport would be reduced

Jeffrey Kraus-Yao, USA

The complaints about the high cost of fuel result from the separation of work and home. If more people could work and live in the same building, the need for transport would be reduced. I have lived and worked a few times in the same building and it saves a lot of time being able to travel to work just using the elevator. Building codes could be changed to encourage multi-use buildings and reduce the need for transport.
Jeffrey Kraus-Yao, USA

I would like to see more support for cycling to work, not only in terms of infrastructure, but businesses need to provide cycle parking, lockers for changing as well as showers wherever possible.
Jason Cole, England

People say UK oil prices should be as low as they are in America. They're forgetting that the US produces a third of all the pollution in the world, much of it from that "wonderfully cheap" US gasoline.
Mike Foster, England

The UK is fast becoming a joke in Europe. We pay more for just about everything, we are taxed to the hilt and to cap it all, we earn less than most other developed countries. The petrol tax is just plain outrageous. I took the easy route, I left the country.
Shane, US, ex UK

Those who complain about the tax on fuel and demand that it be brought in to line with other European countries need to consider one important aspect of their demand. Other European countries manage to keep their prices low by taxing single people at up to 50%. Thus, they pay for the high level of health spending and pensions that we demand our government pay for.
Jim, UK



I say keep petrol prices high, but introduce cleaner fuels

Stephen Crisp, UK

I have just returned from a holiday in France, and every petrol station sold liquid petrolium gas at a price of about 30p per litre. When will the UK Government encourage the sale of clean fuels?? I say keep petrol prices high but introduce cleaner fuels.
Stephen Crisp, UK

I fail to see why cyclists escape taxation. They use the road, their bikes are made from metal and rubber, and they generally have little or no insurance.
G. Rothmans, England

We can hardly expect the OPEC countries to keep prices low when they see Western governments piling on taxes which equate to up to ten times or more what the producers get for crude. The surprising thing is that the crude price is not $100 or $200 per barrel instead of 25 or $30.
Brian, UK

I am another person who will be DUMPING THE PUMPS on 1st August. Why is our fuel cost comprised of 75% tax and where does this money go? Yet another indirect tax that is so much lower in the rest of the world. Why do we put up with it in the UK?
Clive, UK

A number of respondents have stated that people should live closer to work. For most people, this would mean moving house every time they change jobs. Also, moving closer to your workplace often means moving further away from family, friends, schools and your spouse's place of work, so this is hardly a practical suggestion. High transport costs are in no small way responsible for the recent boom in the housing market as well.
Peter, UK

I'm fed up with people whining about petrol prices. It seems that most cars I see on the road only have one person in them and research shows that many trips are less than a mile. I've never owned a car and survive perfectly well walking, biking, taking the bus, train or taxi and if I need to go away at the weekend, I just rent a car. I suspect a lot of car use is down to plain laziness. Perhaps if fewer people used their cars, fewer Americans (and alas increasingly Britons) would be so obese.
Nick Strugnell, US (ex-pat Brit)



To be honest, I don't see myself going back to public transport for a long, long time

Vinny Parker, UK
I used to commute to my place of work every day (for three years) using public transport (bus and train). It may have been greener - but the buses were usually late and the trains either didn't turn up, or when they did it was like being on a cattle train. Now the two of us use a car (unleaded) and to be honest, I don't see myself going back to public transport for a long, long time.
Vinny Parker, UK

Many people claim that they are forced to use a car to get around because of the poor public transport where they live. In this age of choice and the freedom to live wherever they want, perhaps they should move to an area where the public transport system is better - like close to town and city centres. It is the large suburban sprawl that is the South East that is at the root of the problem. The population density is not dense enough to sustain a decent, viable public transport system but dense enough to cause traffic congestion and environmental problems. The car has given people the freedom to live further out of cities and we are now facing the consequences of this migration.
Neil, UK

The Government seems to be missing a basic fact. A major contributor to economic success is MOBILITY, which still has to happen whatever fuel type is used. By making fuel more expensive, the economy suffers, which affects everyone.
L. Wood, UK

Well, I was thinking of using public transport more, but now Mr Blair says that if I don't buy petrol and don't use my car then he'll have to sack teachers and nurses. Could he make up his mind, please?
John Curran, Denmark



The cost of petrol does discourage excessive car usage, or else the complainers wouldn't be complaining

Neil, UK
Most of the recent increases in the price of petrol have been a result of increases in the price of crude oil, partly due to supply restrictions in the Middle East and partly due to political turbulence. The increase in duty is marginal in comparison. The UK does not (for the most part) have ear-marked taxation. Therefore, all the taxation raised from all sources go into one large pot from which the public sector is funded. A reduction in petrol duty would therefore require (a) a reduction in public spending on education, health, transport, etc or (b) an increase in other forms of taxation. The cost of petrol does discourage excessive car usage, or else the complainers wouldn't be. Petrol duty is an effective way of making public transport and alternative energy sources more appealing - both of which benefit the environment.
Neil, UK

The market in crude is not a free one. OPEC meet to discuss production quotas. They actually planned for this price increase. If they were private companies they would be locked up for it.
Andrew Witham, UK



Our whole society has been geared up for the car and away from public transport and highly local services for decades

Andrew, UK
The problem isn't just cars vs. the rest. Our whole society has been geared up for the car and away from public transport and highly local services for decades. Doing without the car means that the whole structure of society needs to revert to a modernised version of pre war Britain when people could not afford cars.
Andrew, UK

It is outrageous that Tony Blair is punishing motorists with excessive fuel prices in order to fund education and the NHS, which we all use. Why should motorists pay more for these services than others who drive fewer miles. I am all for improving health and education but we should all be paying for it via income tax.
Mike, UK

Petrol is one of many things that are far too expensive in the UK, The government treats the public like mugs. If you work and pay your way to just get clobbered with more and more taxes, direct and indirect.
David Penfold, England

Gordon Brown should reduce fuel tax by at least 5p a litre. He could easily reclaim this (and more) by slapping an immediate tax on aviation fuel. The most environmentally destructive form of transport is still effectively being subsidised!
A. Fripono, UK



During the last price crash, oil companies started shedding staff like trees shed leaves in the autumn!

Alexander Pinkerton, Scotland
I think the point that everyone misses while they're moaning about the price of petrol is just how many people in the UK are employed by the oil industry! During the last price crash (when oil hit $10 a barrel) companies started shedding staff like trees shed leaves in the autumn! Did anyone spare a thought for them?
Alexander Pinkerton, Scotland

I bet the fuel companies are looking forward to the huge expense of adding an extra digit to their forecourt banners when fuel prices hit the 100p mark. Perhaps they should consider adding an extra digit whilst they are at it just in case this government win the next general election. When will we learn?
Jon Procter, United Kingdom

I live in a city which once had a comprehensive railway network reaching all the towns and villages from where thousands of motorists now drive to work here every day. Successive governments have, over the years, destroyed the public transport system which would have alleviated some of today's congestion. Perhaps the government should start thinking more about the future and stop trying to persuade us to use non-existent public transport whilst making car owners pay ridiculous amounts of taxation for the mess which they have got us into.
Rob, York, UK

Two scenarios:1. Drop a pedestrian in the middle of London and tell him to find his way home. He can, probably within a couple of hours. 2. Drop a pedestrian in the middle of a field in the country and tell him to go home. Not possible within a couple of days. A bit contrived, but hopefully the people who think the high tax is a good idea will realise how difficult it is for those of us in the country to get around without the use of a car.
James Hughes, UK



Far better to reduce the fuel tax and increase the rate of Income tax to redress the balance

Simon Wilson, England
Fuel tax is the easy way to raise revenue for the government because we all need to use our cars as there is no viable alternative transport system. Far better to reduce the fuel tax to mirror European levels and increase the rate of Income tax to redress the balance. Let's all get back to 28 or even 33 pence in the pound.
Simon Wilson, England

Petrol isn't priced highly enough! We pay at the pump now, but 15, 20 years down the line when climate change really kicks in, we will pay the balance in full. Folk in vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh will bear much of the cost for us, though they burn a fraction of the fossil fuel. Like all of us that travel, I know how poor public transport is. How dangerous cycling can be, and the pleasantries of city rush hour traffic. We need alternatives meeting all transport/energy needs, and we can start to provide them using this vast haul on petrol tax. That would only be fair.
Vicky Dunn, UK

It's about time the Government reduced the tax on petrol & diesel. I don't think they have any idea just how much bad feeling there is about this rip off in the UK yet again ! I would like to know if there is a way of putting pressure on the Government to take action NOW?
Andrew Mackenzie, England

Another point about taxing people out of their cars and onto buses: 1 bus produces 125 times more pollution than 1 car (UK Government's figures). 1 UK bus holds at most 76 people. So a busload of people still produces 1.6 times as much pollution as 76 cars with one person in each.
Paul B, UK

The last time petrol prices shot up we were precipitated into a recession. Surely the same thing will happen again. If so the government should take action NOW to preserve jobs by cutting petrol taxes.
Andy C, UK

Well, as I started this whole debate, I thought I'd better add my 2pence worth. Firstly, as many of you have pointed out, there simply is no alternative to the car for many people. Public transport will not get any better whilst it's run by private companies for one simple reason : shareholders. Secondly, the 38billion raised in tax off the motorist each year *should* be put back in to the roads and transport infrastructure. As it is, Tony Blair admitted last week that the tax raised from motorists is actually propping up policing and the NHS. Third, the suggestion that lower fuel prices would increase traffic is ludicrous - traffic levels have been increasing year on year despite high fuel prices, so lowering them will have no effect on traffic levels - they will always rise. Finally, Blair should take a leaf out of the American's book on this one. Several states have now dropped the state fuel tax (around 28%) in order to lower the price to the consumer until the underlying supply cost goes down. The US government are taking it so seriously that they're considering ditching the 18% federal tax too for the time being. Sadly, I don't think that the moneygrabbing Labour government we're all suffering under would ever consider the voters to be their number one priority. Instead, they're simply interested in making a fat stack of cash for themselves, and then hoarding it in the mistaken belief that it will win them the next election. Well it's about time they stopped hoarding it, and started spending it on policing, public transport, and the NHS.
Chris Longhurst (Boycott The Pumps), England

How about some kind of action over housing to get people living closer to where they work instead of building more offices in the same towns - action on public transport to make it cheap and reliable and then we won't even want to drive to work!!
Alan Greep, England

Approximately 30% of all car journeys involve running children to school and doing weekly shopping. If as in the US many more school busses were provided, with adequate supervised routes to ensure the safety of these services, many roads would be less congested, children would be safer, and emissions would be reduced. Large supermarkets should encourage home delivery or provide bus services to the public.
DAVE, UK



Rather than blame governments, the public should be blaming the motor industry

Richard Dawes, UK
Why focus on the cost of petrol? The continually increasing numbers of vehicles with high capacity engines and four wheel models is a contributory factor. After the fuel price hikes following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, a constant buzzword used in vehicle advertising was low fuel consumption. Over a ten year period from late 80's to late 90's the cost of fuel fell, and the latest generation of vehicles are in most cases 'gas guzzlers'. Rather than blame governments, the public should be blaming the motor industry for no longer making fuel-efficient vehicles.
Richard Dawes, UK

It is people who chose to live in "non-urban environments" and must therefore commute long distances to work in their cars who are causing excessive oil consumption, polluting the air and, step by step, encouraging the government to pave England's countryside with tarmac. Reversing the trend will cause pain for these people. It must. They have to live closer to work.
Richard, United Kingdom



Current taxes should be spent on making roads safer for cyclists

Paul Yardley, England
Obviously the tax is not high enough. Look at the growth of 4-wheel drive gas-guzzlers, out-of-town shopping and people moving to live in villages. I am fed up of hearing the 'I live in the middle of nowhere and have no alternative' line. If you CHOOSE to live more than 10 miles from work don't complain to me. I live in Milton Keynes and cycle to work daily. If every town had as good a cycle path network this would be a viable alternative for everyone. I would scrap the annual road tax and further hike petrol tax to compensate, thus punishing excessive car usage. Current taxes should be spent on making roads safer for cyclists and providing more cycle paths.
Paul Yardley, England

If filling stations advertised their prices with the oil price and tax separated, eg Petrol 22p per litre, Tax 66p per litre, then it would bring home to everyone just how much this government is ripping us off.
Bryan, UK

Remember the last time the British people felt ripped off like this? The poll tax. Remember what that did for Mrs Thatcher, Mr Blair?
Mark Emeny, UK

Having looked through all the responses, one question has not been asked - how can the government 'do something' about public transport ? The last government privatised the lot, so how can the likes of RailTrack, StageCoach, Connex be persuaded to build more track, lay on more services, buy new coaches etc. Rail passenger numbers ARE rising, but this does not seem to produce the desired results. Should we re-nationalise the railways and buses? At least then they would be more controllable by government policy?
Simon R, UK



I will be boycotting the pumps on August 1st and displaying my car sticker with pride!

Pete Moore, UK
Speaking as an IT contractor who has already been targeted for more tax by a Chancellor intent on crippling the UK IT industry, it's just one tax increase after another. I will be boycotting the pumps on August 1st and displaying my car sticker with pride!
Pete Moore, UK

I travel 12 miles to work every day. By public transport, it would take an hour and a half and cost 5; by car it takes 25 minutes and costs about 1. Add that to the fact that my local bus service is full of rude drivers, abusive gangs of lads and people smoking heroin in the back seats, and you can understand why public transport is not my cup of tea at the moment. There is comic relief in this situation though - the Americans are up in arms at having to pay $2 a gallon - the scandal of it! They should be glad they're not forking out $6 a gallon instead.
Gillian White, Scotland



He would do well to remember what happened to Thatcher when she levied an unfair tax on the population in the belief that her own position was unassailable

Jon G, UK
A tax that is as highly focussed as petrol duty should have specific and attainable results, currently there are none. There is no more room on peak-time public transport services in the cities and outside urban areas, services are far too infrequent for people to be able to rely on them. Blair's claims that the fate of the NHS and the education system are based solely on fuel duty revenues, indicate only that the PM believes that the population at large has a single digit IQ. He would do well to remember what happened to Thatcher when she levied an unfair tax on the population in the belief that her own position was unassailable.
Jon G, UK

Matt from Norway has some grand alternative ideas: Walk (for 15 miles to work? - For short journeys of a couple of miles or less, I frequently do), run (ditto), bike (in my suit? - good one), scooter, motorcycle (these burn fuel too), bus (one bus every hour), train (15 miles from home, 20 miles from work), tram (non-existent where I live), underground (also non-existent), river-taxi, ferry (I live nowhere near the river), park'n'ride (which involves driving), car-sharing, car-pools (detours to pick up other members rack up higher mileage than just going to work!). If the alternatives were viable, useable, reliable etc, I'd love to use them! Where I live there is NO ALTERNATIVE.
Paul R, UK

Tax on fuel is far too high in this country. Although I don't use the car unnecessarily I still need to fill up once a month. The cost has gone from 40 a month to nearly 70. That's just since the Labour government. I do try to cycle wherever possible, but with two young children and a lack of safe cycle paths, I find it difficult.
JN, England



When oil prices increase, so does the amount of tax on each litre, where does this extra go? Certainly not on public transport.

Al Priest, England
When oil prices increase, so does the amount of tax on each litre, where does this extra go? Certainly not on public transport. I would like to use public transport to get to work, but the only possibility is buses which run at times only between my work hours so I couldn't use them. Why doesn't the government introduce strict tax fencing to ensure that 100% of tax taken from motorists goes into the transportation system?
Al Priest, England

An earlier comment suggested that people should transfer from car to bus. However a typical bus emits about 125 times more PM10 particulates than a catalyst petrol car, and around 40 times more N0x. Particulates are carcinogenic and contribute to about 8000 deaths a year, and N0x contributes to acid rain and harmful ground-level ozone. This proves that taxing fuel to get people out of their cars and onto public transport for environmental reasons is ridiculous. The figures above are all from the Government's DETR website.
Nathan, England



Definitely - DUMP THE PUMPS on 1st August.

Murray, England
Blair,Prescott & Brown have been happy to use their excessive tax on petrol to fund their growth plans while claiming "no tax increases". Originally they thought they could ride on the back of a "green" message and claim they were hitting "the wealthy car owner", but they overlooked that in UK everyone loves their car and the freedom it provides but, unlike the US, Tony's team thought they could use petrol as their "cash cow". How wrong -- guess the spin lads got this wrong too ! Definitely - DUMP THE PUMPS on 1st August. Tax should be dropped by 1% per month until the price is around 50p per litre. That still gives the government around a 100% return on actual cost. Not bad -- more businesses would be VERY happy with 20% margin !
Murray, England ( ex NZ/USA)

We all know that in the UK we pay the highest prices for petrol in Europe. What is obscene is the suggestion that any reduction in tax will affect education and health care. Here we go again - the old political emotional blackmail. When will we as a people learn, at some point a government must keep its pledges.
Gerard Drummy, England



a Government which taxes petrol highly has a vested interest in bad public transport

G Jones, Europe
Has it been mentioned yet that a Government which taxes petrol highly has a vested interest in bad public transport? The revenue earned by a single journey by bus is far less than that gained by the use of a car. Hmm, so there is a large financial disincentive for Government to support public transport.....this explains a lot of the poor investment for so many years and a country hooked on private cars. The fuel tax escalator just makes it worse. Another of those lovely paradoxes of life.
G Jones, Europe

It is about time we come up with other forms of fuel other than petrol and diesel. Petroleum prices will continue to increase so long as it remains the only means through which we can meet our transportation needs. The fuel price situation here in Ghana is just too bad - prices are increased anyhow, anytime. If there is any other means of fuelling our cars, oil prices will drop and stabilise.
Patrick Alandu, Ghana

With the increasing fuel prices and the proliferation of internet technologies, we are heading for a society where no one leaves their home except the pizza delivery guys.
Claire, UK

What real incentive does the UK Government have in reducing the cost of fuel, when they receive so much income from keeping the prices high? They will always blame those nasty Saudis for being so money grabbing!! What will happen now that production is going to be increased? Will the UK consumer see any, let alone significant, reduction in the cost at the pumps? In your dreams!!
Tim Bird, Saudi Arabia



If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Matt, Norway
The petrol price reflects the market's (that's 'our') willingness to pay at the pump. The oil price reflects this too, to an extent. It's market driven, so the idea of 'too high' is a bit meaningless; there is no 'right' oil price. Personally, as an exploration geologist, I think it's great. As for 'I'd love to leave my car at home, but there's no alternative', what nonsense. Walk, run, bike, scooter, motorcycle, bus, train, tram, underground, river-taxi, ferry, park'n'ride, car-sharing, car-pools. Stop whinging about public transport and do domething to support it. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
Matt, Norway

Today there is more tax on a litre of petrol than the same litre cost four years ago. And that's before oil prices went through the roof. The main reason for the current (and future) prices is the government's money-addiction. And don't believe it's just Britain. Here in the Netherlands the treasury welcomes every price increase in Germany and Belgium. They can put up prices without more people going over the border to fill up.
Ben, Netherlands



Just what exactly is the alternative to using a car?

J Ayres, UK
If the chancellor thought that a certain price was sufficient to discourage petrol use at the last budget, why then can't fuel increases come out of the tax instead of raising prices at the pumps? The government claims to be family friendly, yet I make the 275 mile trip with my wife and 3 children to visit the rest of the family less and less often because of the expense. There is no realistic public transport alternative for us. Trains and buses would also be too expensive, and they use fuel as well. My elderly parents live in a rural area where there is no public transport, no shops, no post offices, no banks. Just what exactly is the alternative to using a car?
J Ayres, UK

Fuel prices in the UK are ridiculous when compared with the rest of Europe. Even Ireland is 20p a litre cheaper (taking into account the exchange rate) and drivers from the north driving into the Republic can buy at these prices. The rest of us cannot. Its about time the government actually did something to help the majority of people with cars and businesses that rely on transport. If they cannot provide a decent public transport system they should not be preventing people from using their cars by constantly hiking the price.
James Dickson, UK

Ever heard the term "captive market" Well that's what has happened to the travelling public in the UK. You run down public transport over a 30-40 year period, (close 8,000 miles of railway, rip out all the tram networks in your major cities). Build lots of roads and sell the idea to the British public of some motoring utopia, freedom, flexibility, etc, etc. Then when people have no alternative but to use the car, watch the millions roll in road and petrol tax. Rip off complete!
Roy, UK



We need to ensure that we aren't reliant on oil

AH, UK
I think there definitely should be more investment into new technologies. Sooner or later the supplies of oil will start to run dry, and what will happen to the price of oil then? We need to ensure that we aren't reliant on oil, as there are many other forms of energy we can power, for instance, our cars with. At the end of the day it's just a game of politics with no regard for our future generations.
AH, UK

The UK pays far too much tax on fuel. The Labour government should cut this immediately to be in line with Europe. Give the lottery income over to the health service instead of crackpot schemes and we would have the best service in the world at no cost on taxes.
Kate, UK

What price grid-locked cities, a depleted ozone layer and increased levels of asthma. Public service vehicles should be provided with tax-free fuel reducing the cost to the users and hopefully assisting the transfer from car to bus.
Gerry, Scotland



Motorists - dump the pump on August the first and make your voice heard

Anne Peck, UK
The increase in the basic price of petrol is bad enough but it is compounded by the ludicrous amount of tax we pay on each gallon - that's what we should be protesting about in the UK. In the USA they are up in arms about paying $1.70 a gallon - we pay over $7.00!! Motorists - dump the pump on August the first and make your voice heard.
Anne Peck, UK

I think the Government should be forced to cut taxes on fuel. I live one and a half miles out of a village in a rural area and I have 2 children under 4. I do not have access to public transport and therefore need a car, but find it increasingly difficult to meet the running costs. Higher fuel prices hits those people who need cars the most - the elderly and disabled and those with young children.
Rachel O'Brien, England

Until there are some real alternatives to cars etc. what can we do? The government should be reinvesting all the extra revenue from oil taxes into public transport and alternative fuels.
We all know that oil won't last forever and that we've got to clean up the environment. It will only get worse before it gets better.
Philip Humphries, England



By reducing the number of unnecessary journeys and walking (or cycling) every now and then you will not notice the price increases

Mark Hull, UK
The oil price increase over the past 15 months represents merely a recovery following a particularly bad spell when prices were tumbling. Rather than get angry about oil price increases, change your life for the better. How many people jump in the car to just nip down the shops which are only a 5 minute walk away. By reducing the number of unnecessary journeys and walking (or cycling) every now and then you will not notice the price increases, have a healthier lifestyle and help save the environment.
Mark Hull, UK

There's a lot talked about zero emission vehicles. People should take a step back and realise how electricity is generated. Fossil fuels, or nuclear power are the only viable options at the moment. Only solar power is 'zero emission', and not really viable in the UK, is it?
Fuel tax is unfair, and could contribute to Blair being voted out, unless he acts on it.
Gervaise Dawson, England



Oil prices wax and wane, duty on petrol and diesel only ever goes up!

Nigel, Scotland
Oil prices wax and wane, duty on petrol and diesel only ever goes up! The Government talks of an integrated transport system, but I can't see it happening. Where is all the money going? "Rip off Britain" indeed!
Nigel, Scotland

If there is any merit in having a high pound surely it is that we can buy imports like crude oil more cheaply. This of course, should result in cheaper fuel costs to the consumer. In fact when compared to countries in the Euro zone we have the highest fuel bills. We have all the disadvantages of a high pound without the advantage of it in this regard.
Bernard Cunningham, England.

Contrary to popular opinion - you are not forced to pay high prices for car fuel. My car runs on LPG, which is half the cost of petrol and cleaner for the environment too.
Tom, Farnborough, UK

We should do whatever it takes to put the motor car in mothballs so that we can all breathe fresh air.
David de Vere Webb, UK

If I had an alternative means of transport to get to and from work that was clean, convenient and inexpensive I would happily use it. Increasing the tax on petrol further would still make my car considerable cheaper than using the UK's slow and dirty rail network. Besides which, I wouldn't mind paying the present rate of petrol tax if I thought for a minute that it was being spent on improving roads, public transport or alternative clean fuel sources.
Steve Haskey, England



Governments need to keep the price high to avoid excessive damage to the environment

John Nevitt, UK
The biggest percentage of the price at the petrol pump is tax. Governments need to keep the price high to avoid excessive damage to the environment. This is especially true in the USA, where gas prices are low by European standards and where distances covered are far greater. However, the taxes raised must be used to make public transport more attractive. The majority of car journeys involve one occupant, the driver, which is selfish. Public transport benefits the many not just the few.
John Nevitt, UK

If anything the oil prices are far TOO LOW! Given the already visible impact of global climate change caused by the very wasteful use of fossil fuel in this country and elsewhere, there is clearly not sufficient incentive for oil to be used efficiently. Global climate change is the most important issue facing humanity and little else really matters when considered in comparison.
Simon Tompsett, UK

It's not the oil prices that are too high in this country, it is the tax which is nearly 800%. This is really making us feel the pinch. If cars were electric does that mean that our electricity bill would be subject to 800% tax?
Paul Atkins, UK

I would love to be able to switch to an alternative fuel car and tell Mr Blair where he can put his duty on petrol, but I have yet to find a viable alternative except LPG and the conversions are expensive.
Roger Wilkinson, UK



I would be delighted to leave my car at home if the government provided a reasonable, accessible public transport system.

Gary Dale, England
Taxation of fuel is the real killer, not just the cost of crude. I would be delighted to leave my car at home if the government provided a reasonable, accessible public transport system. This government is so hell-bent on destroying the fabric of the country that it's almost treasonable. Unfortunately there's no alternative.
Gary Dale, England

What is a big contrast in the US is that prices rise and fall with the oil price but in the UK they just go up. Oil has been at its present price in the past 20 years but UK petrol at the pump was cheaper then. So the UK petrol price must be little to do with the price of oil and more to do with taxes and profit. The price of oil is not too high but its how it's controlled and taxed to the consumer you need to look at.
K. Jackson, USA ex UK

As a disabled driver I am pretty well restricted to using a car for my mobility so the hike in petrol prices is hurting badly. The government must reduce the tax burden before people like myself are crippled financially.
Pyers Symon, UK



When will the government learn that they are there to serve us, not to rip us off?

Paul, UK
Why is it that the motorist is funding the NHS and schools through obscene taxation on petrol? Surely this is a responsibility of all tax paying citizens of the UK. Slash the tax on petrol and put it where it belongs, on Income tax and NI contributions. We can all then pay our fair share! Stop penalising the motorists. When will the government learn that they are there to serve us, not to rip us off? They had better learn soon, elections are coming.
Paul, UK

What hypocrisy! Yes, the government gives large cash incentives for car manufacturers to build cars here and wants us to buy cars but don't drive them! Or is that please drive them so that we get money from drivers.
It is a mixed message the government has and isn't a 'green tax' as they say but more of a way to line the governments pockets using motorists' money but able to cut 1p off tax for political gain. I couldn't see this rip off happening in France for instance, at least Dick Turpin wore a mask! Come on Hague, Blair is ripe for defeat - cut duty big style for fairness sake!
Neil, Scotland



The rise in the price of oil is an ideal opportunity to develop better public transport systems and exploit renewable energy sources

Richard, UK
The rise in prices will be a good thing in the long term if it leads to a drop in the amount of fossil fuels being used. The rise in the price of oil is an ideal opportunity to develop better public transport systems and exploit renewable energy sources.
I am happy that fewer people can afford to use their cars, I think more people should stop. It may be a slight inconvenience for people now but it will benefit people in the future.
Richard, UK

I am sick to death with these people putting the price of fuel up in any other name that what it actually is, DAYLIGHT ROBBERY! it costs me nearly 60 to fill my tank up. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE! It's time something is done.
Gus Scott-Exley, UK

It seems completely absurd to increase the price of petrol for cars given that these increases will force people to use a public transport system that is over expensive and out of date. The government seems to have got its message confused as to the desire for green transport and the need to generate revenue for the treasury.
Paul Beaton, UK



What alternative does someone like myself have other than to use a car? I live 12 miles from the nearest town and 36 miles from my place of work

Sarah, UK
What alternative does someone like myself have other than to use a car? I live 12 miles from the nearest town and 36 miles from my place of work...we have 2 buses per week through the village (excluding the school run)...any suggestions the government has of how I can get around to do shopping (we do not have a village shop and the post office has closed) or get to work I would be more than pleased to hear!
Sarah, UK

I live in SW London When I last visited a friend who lives in a different part of SW London the train journey took 45 minutes. The taxi home took 7 minutes. In the face of this people will never stop using their cars!
Peter B, UK

Disgusting is all I can say! I understand that something needs to be done about the environment but this amount of tax is out of order. What exactly does this money get spent on? The millennium dome, garden parties for the Royals! Lets get our priorities right, if the taxes are increasing show us where the extra money is being spent!!
Josie, UK



The self-righteous pro-car brigade drive infuriate me - but not as much as a government who are taking the entire country for idiots

Dave Topham, UK
We must remember that the fuel escalator was introduced a long time before this government came to power. It's the fact they've done nothing about it that's a disgrace. The claims that it's justified to pay for environmental measures and improvements to public transport is scandalous - I've travelled all over Western Europe on public transport of all types, and ours is the worst, without question. Outside London, the system is almost unusable in many parts of the country.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a motoring evangelist (I bike to work), and the self-righteous pro-car brigade drive infuriate me. But not as much as a government who are taking the entire country for idiots.
Dave Topham, UK

The real cost of oil is bourne by those people whose lives and land are ruined by the politics of oil in Africa, Central/South America etc. See the story of Shell verses Ken Sirowara of Nigeria.
Rob, England



If the Government does reduces tax on petrol will people be willing to pay more tax elsewhere to compensate?

David Pancott, UK
Don't forget that this Labour government has stopped the Tory petrol tax escalator which raised tax on petrol over and above inflation year after year. If the Government does reduces tax on petrol will people be willing to pay more tax elsewhere to compensate? The money generated from the tax on Petrol doesn't just go into in a pot, it's used to run our country.
David Pancott, UK

What happened to the markets being left to run themselves, is that not the mantra of free market economists? For me it highlights the double standards of market intervention. For instance in many parts of the world, if not most the cost of many items such as drugs, are far too high. Why is there no 'intervention' to force the drugs companies to reduce the cost of medicines?
Zafar, England



Let's not talk about a 2p drop per litre, it should be a 50% drop in the tax.

R Clarke UK
Petrol prices are far too high. Let's not talk about a 2p drop per litre, it should be a 50% drop in the tax. Since when does a drive a car fund the health services. If that is the case then a tax should be introduced for walking and riding a bike.
R Clarke UK

Why don't have less dependence on petrol? Why is the UK Government not supporting and encouraging more use of alternative fuel cars? Could it be because they can't meet their budget requirements unless they have the stealth tax of the petrol duty? Why is California so far ahead of the UK in electric vehicles? And why are the car companies so happy to tell us there is no demand for NICE (No Internal Combustion Engine) cars in the UK, when they are falling over themselves to develop zero-emission vehicles for the US?
Matt Bryant, UK

Whatever the reasons behind the high price of petrol it must surely make us think about whether we need to use our cars for some journeys. It will probably also encourage people to buy cars with smaller engines. This can only be good news for the long term health of the nation.
Chris Singer, England

Well I hate to buck the trend but I welcome anything that forces motorists to think twice before using the car. As a pedestrian living in a city centre the car brings nothing but misery and encourages laziness and environmental insensitivity. Oil is a finite resource and the sooner we switch to alternatives the better it will be for everyone.
A Wood, UK



So now Blair is trying to blackmail the British into accepting his shoddy management on public funds?

Matt, Netherlands
So now Blair is trying to blackmail the British into accepting his shoddy management on public funds? Disgraceful. With the British economy going from strength to strength? God forbid there be a slump in the world economy, where would they find the money to run a sub-standard service then?
Matt, Netherlands, ex UK

The fuel duty in this country is ridiculous. Either scrap annual road tax or keep fuel duties the same or reduce the tax on fuel. I do wish that Mr Blair would for once stop insulting the electorate's intelligence by claiming that schools and hospitals would be hit? Surely, the ambulances, day-care minibuses and school minibuses require fuel? Or is there a secret government alternative fuel for these vehicles?
Rob, UK

If Blair is telling us that the NHS is funded by duty on petrol then what will happen to our Health Service when we all leave our cars at home and take public transport like Blair keeps telling us to do? Should we then smoke and drink more, as I'm sure he'll tell us that if duty were cut on cigarettes and alcohol then the nurses won't get a pay rise.
Graeme, England

All this talk of the euro - surely the core of the problem of inward investment is the high value of the pound? There are easier ways of lowering the pound than joining the euro! Is this another example of faulty thinking diffused through the political and commercial world by government/commerce hysteria?
Bob Eddlestone, England

As long as people continue to buy cars that in North America only get 15-20 miles per gallon at best how can petrol be too expensive! I suggest that those that drive such inefficient cars pay even more per gallon for their fuel and those that drive smaller more efficient cars less per gallon.
Peter Brewer, Canada



British Government, please slash petrol prices and stop being greedy

Louis Kabbani, UK
British Government, please slash petrol prices and stop being greedy. If it makes the UK a healthier country, why do we have the most expensive petrol prices in the world but rank only 18th for national health?
Louis Kabbani, UK

There is no justification for the current high taxation on fuel other than environmental concerns. However, the Government of this country seems to think that this gives them "carte-blanche" to keep raising prices without investing any of this money in public transport or alternative fuel initiatives. The Prime Minister's veiled threat to reduce education and health spending if we, the public, insist on reduced fuel taxation is contemptible.
Justin Gardner, UK

The price of fuel will never come down because the Government will continue to taut price increases as "Actions to save the Environment", whilst the Inland Revenue takes its 614% tax windfall.
Lee Sibbald, UK



One should never forget that most of the price of petrol paid by the consumer is mainly composed of duties and taxes

Claudio G, Cantadore, Italy
One should never forget that most of the price of petrol paid by the consumer is mainly composed of duties and taxes. The Prime Minister's argument that lowering taxes on fuel would reduce state income is entirely facetious. Higher crude prices mean that the public pays more but the amount taken by taxes, which is a fixed percentage, increases as well. Therefore, saying that if the percentage of taxes is slightly lowered the nation cannot pay for the health service, is grossly misleading.
Claudio G, Cantadore, Italy

The obscene level of taxation on motor fuel in this country is a disgrace. Anyone, like myself, who does not live in an urban environment, has no choice but to run a car. I live in Essex, but am 12 miles from the nearest railway station. There is no connecting public transport. It represents an unfair tax on going to work, on going to school - a tax on travel for any reason. For Blair to suggest that the education or health services will suffer if fuel tax is reduced, is blatantly nonsense.
John Keen, UK

It doesn't matter how much or how little oil costs, this cost is only a very small fraction of what we pay at the pumps. If the high price of petrol over the last few decades has not yet prompted extensive research and investment in alternative fuels, it is difficult to see what will. Given this lack of commitment on alternative fuels on the part of the Government, one cannot help wondering just how much of a problem global warming really is, if it indeed exists as anything more than an excuse for extorting high taxes from us.
Peter, UK



I work in the oil industry and think it is disgraceful that the UK slaps a 600% tax on all oil produced in the North Sea

Carl Wheeler, England
The price of oil in recent months hasn't really affected the price seen on the pump - the Government has. I work in the oil industry, and think it is disgraceful that the UK slaps a 600% tax on all oil produced in the North Sea. If this tax was lowered, the pump price would decrease too.
Carl Wheeler, England

Petrol and the vehicles that use it have been used as a scapegoat for the Government's inaction and stupidity for too long. There is no evidence that such things as global warming are occurring and it is about time the Government admitted this and dropped the duty on petrol. The argument that schools and hospitals will suffer is total rubbish. If the idea is to stop people using petrol then where will the money come?
Ian Thomas, England

Oil prices are far too high at the moment. I, like many other motorists, would love to be able to use an integrated, fast, efficient and clean public transport system. However, until the Government installs an extensive public transport system which can provide a viable and practical alternative to using the motor car, they are simply placing an unbearable financial burden on many individuals who have no alternative but to use a car.
Sandy, Scotland

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

04 Jul 00 | Business
Opec disarray over Saudi oil boost
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Links to other Talking Point stories