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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
War puts off fuel tax rises
Fuel pumps
Fuel duty will not rise in October either if the world situation stays the same
Motorists have been given relief from further rises in fuel duties - for the time being - after the chancellor decided to postpone increases because of the effect of the Iraq war on world oil prices.

In his Budget, Gordon Brown said a planned 1.28p tax rise on every litre of petrol and diesel would now not happen until 1 October.

Vehicle tax will increase in line with inflation by 5 and will be frozen altogether for lorries and motorcycles.

Motoring groups welcomed the moves, but urged Mr Brown not to raise fuel duty at all until public transport was improved.

Motorists will not accept more taxation without better transportation
Edmund King
Announcing his transport tax package, Mr Brown pointed to the "high and volatile level of oil prices as a result of military conflict in Iraq".

That problem meant he was postponing the tax rises by six months - "and if the current international uncertainties and volatility remain, I will not proceed with the change at all".

He also announced a new tax rate for the cars which cause the least pollution - 110 less than the standard charge for a vehicle licence.

And he said tax on bio-ethanol fuels would be cut by 20p per litre from the start of 2005.

MPs on the Commons transport committee this month complained that the green benefits of bio-fuels were not being fully recognised in the tax regime.

Public transport calls

Motoring groups were generally happy with the immediate transport tax changes, but urged caution for the future.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: "We welcome the freezing of certain taxes but we urge the government not to increase fuel duty until there is a firm commitment to improving public transport.

"Motorists will not accept more taxation without better transportation."

The AA was pleased with the freeze on fuel duty and hoped there would not increases in October either.

A spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the chancellor has put up vehicle excise duty, but a freeze on insurance premium tax is good news for motorists."

The Freight Transport Association called the fuel duty freeze "welcome and sensible".

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