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Maude: Voting Labour is a one way ticket to higher fuel prices

Speaking at today's Conservative party press conference, Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude:

"A Labour Government on June 7th would be a one way ticket to permanently higher fuel prices.

"We have already shown how Labour's plans to spend more than the country is earning means petrol at £6 a gallon.

"Labour would lock Britain into a Europe-wide regime of high fuel taxes.

"Today in Brussels The Council of Industry and Energy Ministers is discussing a Green Paper entitled "Towards a European Strategy for the Security of energy Supply".

"It states:

"A more harmonised Community framework of taxation on energy products is needed prevent distortion of competition". (p57)

"It goes on:

"Lack of harmonisation in energy taxation can lead to distortion of competition between Member States." (p63)

"Backing that up is a formal Communication from the European Commission on "The European Union's Oil Supply". Among other things it states the following:

"Piecemeal tax cuts are not fully compatible with European law … Upward harmonisation of tax rates between Member States is therefore unavoidable". (Page 14, Communication on 'The European Union's Oil Supply', October 2000.)

"And Labour agrees.

'We are certainly arguing, within the European Union, for high minimum rates of fuel duty across the European Union.' (Patricia Hewitt, HC Debs, 27 April 1999, Col 243, emphasis added).

"So Labour agrees with the European Commission that there should be high minimum rates of fuel duty across the European Union. High prices for road users. High taxes levied on those who rely on their cars for their livelihoods. This is coupled with the other elements of Labour's attack on the right to drive that Bernard Jenkin will be outlining later today.

"Instead of tax competition to encourage enterprise, Labour offers tax harmonisation to stifle business.

"Only the Conservatives will cut the tax on fuel by 6p a litre to make life easier for the British people."

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