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Conservative leader, William Hague
"It should be properly debated in the House of Commons"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Demands for recall of Parliament
picketing farmers
Welsh farmers read about the havoc they are causing
Tony Blair is facing demands to recall Parliament to debate the "national emergency" of the UK's fuel crisis.

Tory leader William Hague was asked by his backbenchers to issue a formal request that Parliament be recalled, six weeks early.

This is the Labour government's poll tax

Tory John Redwood
And the prime minister came under attack not only from protesters and Conservatives, but also his own backbench.

Mr Blair cancelled a series of appointments in the north of England - including a major speech on the economy - to return to London because of the crisis.

He is holding emergency talks with ministers to consider how serious the crisis could become for the government.

They will also consider whether to use the emergency powers invoked to ensure fuel for fire, police and ambulance services.

Questions asked

Tory MP Gerald Howarth said: "It is inconceivable that the government should be talking about invoking emergency powers, and perhaps putting soldiers on the streets, without even consulting Parliament.

Motorists queue for petrol at Swadlincote, South Derbyshire
Drivers are having to queue for hours
"In these circumstances, Parliament should be recalled.

"I have been round my local petrol stations and overwhelmingly people are in sympathy with the hauliers and some are asking, what is Parliament doing about it?"

Mr Howarth's colleagues MPs Roger Gale and Christopher Gill also demanded the recall of Parliament.

Mr Gale said: "Blair's government, his chancellor and his deputy prime minister have allowed a situation to develop to the point where emergency services are running out of fuel, where children cannot get to school and where people cannot get to work."

He said his constituents, particularly those who were disabled and rely upon their cars heavily were suffering, while ministers salted away billions in an election war-chest.

He said he had contacted Mr Hague's office to ask him to request a recall.

'Give in now'

John Redwood, head of the Conservatives' parliamentary campaigns unit, urged the government to slash petrol prices by around 5p a litre.

We need to demonstrate clearly that mass protest is listened to, is understood but is not capitulated to

David Blunkett
He said: "This is not giving in to strikers and law-breakers. This is just common sense, responding to a mass democratic campaign that we have been running for many months.

"This is the Labour government's poll tax. They would be wise to give in now before the problem spirals completely out of control."

One of Mr Blair's own backbenchers added to the government's woes by joining the criticism.

Labour MP Austin Mitchell hit out at its "Churchillian stance of 'we shall never surrender'."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The real problem is the panic-buying and I think that is compounded by the Churchillian stance of 'we shall never surrender', because that is an incentive to take the government on and take Tony Blair on and wipe the smile off his face, particularly when everybody knows they do have the money."

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See also:

12 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Blockades illegal, ministers warn
12 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Fuel crisis tests Blair's leadership
11 Sep 00 | Business
World 'faces oil crisis'
12 Sep 00 | Europe
Fuel protests build across Europe
12 Sep 00 | Wales
Fuel crisis in Wales deepens
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