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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 11:25 GMT
Fuel protesters attack 'profiteering'
Shell and police
Record profits for Shell despite the blockades
Fuel tax protesters have condemned Shell's record profits of more than 2bn for the last three months, but are continuing to blame the government for high prices.

Andrew Spence, a County Durham farmer and regional representative for the People's Fuel Lobby, accused the oil companies of "profiteering on the back of British industry".

The government and the oil company bosses are in it together

Haulier Ken Harvey
"There is nothing wrong with companies making profit, but if these fuel companies are making this sort of profit then what sort of windfall is the government making from fuel taxes?

"These profits are scandalous but at the moment it is fuel taxation which is the one and only item on the agenda," he said.

Mr Spence said protesters would not be deflected from their aim of forcing a reduction in fuel duties.

Windfall tax

Gary Russell, organiser of the Dump the Pump campaign, said he wanted to see a fairer way of taxing the oil companies rather than the end users.

The real remedy to the problem of higher fuel prices lies with the government

Geoff Dossetter, Freight Transport Association
"There should be some sort of windfall tax that the Treasury could impart on them that would help the beleaguered motorist," he said.

Haulier Ken Harvey, who runs a family business in Greater Manchester, described Shell's profits as "disgusting", but added that "the government and the oil company bosses are in it together".

"The government don't want the prices on the forecourt brought down because that will mean less VAT. We are paying a tax on tax."

Another haulier from Manchester, Roy Masterson, said that as a businessman he would be very happy with profts of 2bn but his quarrel was still with the government.

"This announcement is going to come as an annoyance to the fuel protesters, but we are campaigning against the government not them."

Government 'takes most'

Mr Masterson said he would like to see a uniform tax levy across Europe and differences in the price on the forecourt and bulk buying ironed out.

And Geoff Dossetter, head of external affairs at the Freight Transport Association, said it remained the government's responsibility to lower taxes.

"I think that whilst the price of oil is obviously of enormous interest to all users of petrol and diesel, the fact is that the Government take between 75% and 80% of pump prices in tax.

"The real remedy to the problem of higher fuel prices lies with the government. It has far more influence on them.

"As I understand it the oil companies make very little in terms of retail operations, and more of their loot from actually getting it out of the sea," he said.

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | Business
Shell posts record profits
24 Oct 00 | Business
Profits surge at oil companies
02 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Straw outlines blockade battle plan
01 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Fuel protesters 'like cornered rats'
01 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Blair mounts fuel offensive
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