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 A/V REPORTS
Dr Daniel Graham from Imperial College
"Six pence is a substantial decrease in price"
 real 56k

The BBC's Richard Bilton
"The price of fuel clearly matters, the issue is how far up voters place it in their list of priorities"
 real 56k

Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 13:33 GMT
Mixed response to Tory fuel tax plans
Fuel protests
Fuel protests last autumn nearly brought the UK to a standstill
Conservative proposals to cut fuel tax by 6p a litre has come under fire from environmental groups.

But the plan was welcomed by leading UK motoring groups including the AA.


It's encouraging that politicians are beginning to realise that they can't keep putting prices up

Automobile Association
The pledge to slash tax on fuel forms a key part of William Hague's newly published manifesto and is widely seen as an attempt to capitalise on discontent over the cost of petrol in the UK.

That discontent spiralled into demonstrations last September, although fuel campaigners involved in those protests have dismissed the Tory proposal as "not enough".

Launching his party's manifesto on Thursday morning, Mr Hague said the 6p cut would be introduced in the first Budget of a Tory government.

John Coxon, a member of the People's Fuel Lobby, said: "It's a move in the right direction, but it's not enough to help businesses that are really struggling.

"Cutting it 6p is nothing really. They should be taxing the oil companies and their vast profits. BP make 1 million an hour.

"That way we could get lower prices. We need 20p off a litre at least."

John Edmonds, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "Why should the taxpayer effectively subsidise the oil giants' greed for profits?

"If petrol prices are to come down, Mr Hague's friends in the oil companies should pay for it rather than passing the burden on to schools, hospitals and other vital public services."

Economic sense?

Professor Andrew Oswald, an academic from Warwick University who specialises in energy said the environmental toll caused by vehicles meant that motoring should be made more expensive.

"I'm negative about it. It doesn't make economic sense.

"For one thing, petrol is not all that expensive - it's the same as it was in the 1980s in real terms.

Environmental group Transport 2000 also attacked the move, saying cutting tax on fuel was "a recipe for traffic jams".

The organisation's director, Stephen Joseph said: "The Tories talk about freedom: this tax cut would give motorists the freedom to join whichever traffic jam they choose."

However, a spokesman for motoring group the RAC Foundation said motorists would welcome "any reduction in fuel duty but they needed to see it as a "wider package of improvements to the roads and traffic management".

For the AA, Richard Freeman said: "It's encouraging that politicians are beginning to realise that they can't keep putting prices up and expect to be popular. The Conservatives have obviously realised that."

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