Tory MPs press Cameron over impact of fuel prices

DAVID Cameron is under pressure from his own MPs to ease the pain of rising fuel prices on rural areas amid warnings of a "huge impact" on the countryside.

Senior backbencher Anne McIntosh challenged the Prime Minister in the House of Commons yesterday to bring forward plans for a rebate on fuel in rural areas more reliant on transport and oil for heating.

The Government said in last year's Budget it would consider such a move, but although it has since announced plans for a pilot scheme in the Scottish Highlands – with up to 5p a litre discount on petrol and diesel – a scheme has still to be devised.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post today, Thirsk and Malton MP Miss McIntosh challenges Chancellor George Osborne to "come good" on the policy saying the Government has a "unique opportunity" to help rural areas.

Her call comes amid rising pressure in recent days for the Government to fulfil a manifesto pledge to introduce a "fuel duty stabiliser", which would cut the amount of petrol duty taken by the Treasury when oil prices are high in order to ease the impact on motorists. Nationally, the average price of petrol has reached 127.7p a litre with haulage companies and people reliant on their car feeling the pain.

The Federation of Small Businesses is among those organisations pressing for the stabiliser to be introduced and a growing number of Tory MPs are also signing up to motions calling for the policy to be introduced in a reminder of the political volatility of an issue which led to massive protests under Tony Blair.

Questioning David Cameron in the House of Commons yesterday, Miss McIntosh, who chairs the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, said: "Given the rural nature of North Yorkshire and the impact of record prices both at the pumps and for household fuel, will the Prime Minister look again at the Chancellor's undertaking in June to introduce a fuel stabiliser and, more especially, at a rebate for remote rural areas such as North Yorkshire?"

Mr Cameron, who has said previously he does not want to raise false hopes over the stabiliser because of the complexities of the idea, said the Treasury was looking at it.

"Clearly there is a case for saying that if it can be shown that the Treasury benefits from extra revenue as the oil price rises, there should be a way of sharing that with the motorist who is suffering from high prices," he said.

He added: "We have looked at a rebate for rural areas, and some progress was made in the Budget on that issue."

Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies is among those MPs backing two motions tabled in favour of the stabiliser, and Skipton and Ripon Tory MP Julian Smith said rising fuel prices were causing "major challenges" for small businesses in North Yorkshire.