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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 15:42 GMT
Blair: No more fuel concessions
Fuel protesters
Blair rules out more help for fuel protesters
Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted that there will be no more concessions to fuel protesters in the wake of Wednesday's mini-budget.

Following up Mr Blair's remarks the transport minister Lord Macdonald has revealed that the 'Brit disc', a key part of government plans to help the haulage industry, may not be introduced for up to two years.

Earlier Mr Blair told delegates at the chief nursing officers' conference in Brighton that the government had done its best for motorists and hauliers.


We cannot and will not reverse the choices we have made for stability

Tony Blair
Speaking as a convoy of trucks set out for London from the north east of England as part of their campaign for fuel duty cuts, Mr Blair said further measures could put at risk the nation's economic stability.

He said "We did what we responsibly could to help motorists and hauliers on Wednesday but we did it in a way that did not risk either economic responsibility or put at risk economic stability, which helped business and our mortgages, or our programme of investment.

"We have chosen the path of investment and I say to the fuel protesters and others we understand your concerns and we are happy to carry on in dialogue with you, but we have done as much we responsibly can."

Stability

The prime minister insisted that his government would not reverse economic decisions geared to the country's stability.

He said: "We cannot and will not reverse the choices we have made for stability, not boom and bust, and investment in our public services, not cuts.

"Because these are the best long-term choices for Britain's hard-working families."

Tony Blair
Blair stands firm

Meanwhile, transport minister Lord Macdonald has been spelling out further details of the government's 1bn package of measures for the haulage industry.

He said the new 'Brit disc', which is designed to extract a toll from foreign trucks entering the UK, will also apply to British trucks.

But British-based hauliers would receive a substantial reduction in their road tax, adding up to an overall saving.

The system is going out to consultation and will not come into force for another two years, he added.

And even then it may only apply to the heaviest lorries in the fleet.

"The Brit disc will maybe only apply from 38 tonnes upwards. This is what the consultation is about," Lord Macdonald told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

"Up at that end you have got people paying 3,000 to 4,000 a year (in road tax).

"That is why the billion pound package is increasingly well-received by the haulage industry."

He said a haulage company paying 20,000 a year in road tax might expect a 10,000 rebate this year and the equivalent of an 8p cut in the price of diesel next year.

The decision by fuel protesters to go-ahead with their convoy comes as public support has dropped markedly since their last wave of protests in September.

Organisers of the convoy have also been given warnings from the police that drivers face charges if they travel too slow en-route for London.

See also:

09 Nov 00 | UK Politics
08 Nov 00 | UK Politics
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