Fuel costs : Peter Peacock criticises Liberal Democrats for watering down pledges

7 July 2010

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock has criticised the Liberal Democrats for watering down pre-election pledges to tackle fuel costs in the region, and potentially preparing to abandon them.

His comments came after Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney acknowledged the impact increased VAT announced by the Coalition Government at Westminster will have on fuel costs.

Mr Peacock wrote to local Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander when he was Secretary of State for Scotland asking him to clarify a Coalition Government commitment to investigate measures to help with fuel costs in remote rural areas, starting with pilot schemes.

In his letter Mr Peacock asked Mr Alexander for clarification on the wording of the commitment, whether there was an actual agreement to start some pilot schemes or whether the commitment was to investigate the possibility of having pilot schemes.

He also asked for further details about the schemes.

Mr Peacock has now received a letter from Michael Moore, who was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland after Mr Alexander became Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Moore replied: "Our Programme for Government has a commitment that we will investigate measures to help with fuel costs in remote rural areas, starting with pilot schemes.

"While you have posed a number of important and relevant questions in your letter, work is just beginning on this project, and I hope that we will be in a better position to clarify some of the details shortly."

Mr Peacock said: "Mr Moore’s reply fails to give a guarantee of even a pilot, let alone a full blown scheme, and fails to clarify the situation.

"This is very disappointing in view of all the Lib Dems’ pre-election rhetoric on being committed to bringing down fuel costs.

Is this another of their policies destined for the dustbin, along with opposing the very VAT increases they have now supported and that are actually putting up fuel prices? "

Mr Peacock asked the Scottish Executive in Holyrood on Thursday what it considered would be the impact on fuel costs in Scotland of the 2.5% VAT increase.

Finance Secretary John Swinney replied: "Those of us who represent rural Scotland in particular are entirely familiar with the scale and burden of fuel costs.

The overwhelming majority of the cost of a litre of fuel is related to taxation."

 

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