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Hague: We Will Cut the Fuel Tax

It is now beyond dispute that this Labour Government wastes vast sums of money - and we have the scandal of the Millennium Dome as a monument to that.

"It is now beyond dispute that this Labour Government does not tell the truth - and we now have the Chancellor's lies over Formula One as proof of that.

"And it is now beyond dispute that this Labour Government does not listen.

"Tens of millions of people want the Government to listen over fuel taxes. It is because they won't listen that those people have come to view this Prime Minister as arrogant and out of touch.

"He would not listen to our road hauliers and our farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed by the highest petrol prices in Europe.

"He would not listen to hard-pressed families and businesses who have been remorselessly punished by the Chancellor's stealth taxes.

"He would not listen to a whole nation that said to him: we have been taxed and taxed and taxed, and now enough is enough.

"And still today, despite everything that has happened, he is not listening.

"Tony Blair is still more interested in blaming everyone else for what happened. Instead he should say sorry for his stealth taxes.

"Incredibly, Tony Blair still thinks spin is the only answer.

"Last Wednesday, when he said things would be all back to normal within 24 hours: spin was his only answer.

"On Thursday, when he implied that he would cut fuel duties and was then swiftly contradicted by Gordon Brown: spin was his only answer.

"On this Monday, when he said the Government would take extra emergency powers: spin was his only answer.

"And yesterday, when he was forced to concede that the Government would not take extra emergency powers: spin was his only answer.

"A Prime Minister who thinks vague hints about possible tax reductions will reassure millions of anxious people, or who thinks that the only solution to last week's problems is for Government to take more power, has become the embodiment of being out of touch and arrogant.

"I want the people of this country to know that there is one Party - the Conservative Party - that wants to give them better value for their taxpayers' money.

"One Party - the Conservative Party - that wants to find ways of reducing their taxes.

"One Party - the Conservative Party - that actually listens to them.

"The Liberals aren't listening. Charles Kennedy says he wants a real-terms freeze in fuel tax - which means increasing the duty every year.

"The Government say they have already listened. But the Chancellor makes it clear in interview after interview that the stealth taxes are here to stay.

"So now the British people know that if they vote for either the Labour Party or the Liberals, the high fuel taxes remain.

"Today the Conservative Party offers them an alternative - lower fuel taxes. We will cut taxes on petrol and diesel. We will give a helping hand to hard-pressed families who are being punished at the pump. We will help protect the jobs of farmers and road hauliers, and all others who depend on the road for their livelihoods. The cut we propose is moderate and achievable. It is a step in the right direction.

"Cutting fuel duties follows logically from everything we have said and campaigned on and voted on in the last three years. We have voted against the last two Budget increases in fuel duty because we said they were excessive. We have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures in high streets across the country with our anti-petrol tax petition. We were the first to apply the term 'stealth taxes' to the devious tax raising methods of a devious Chancellor.

"One of the reasons for bringing our fuel duty proposals forward is because the people of Britain should have a choice. That is what democracy is all about. I want the people to pursue their legitimate desire for lower taxation on election day and through the ballot box.

"In a moment, Michael Portillo will give the details of our proposal

"Between now and the next election, the Chancellor has the opportunity to reduce taxes. If he can he should; if he won't we will.

"Cutting fuel duties is part of a much wider tax cutting agenda for the next Conservative Government. We will have other proposals to cut tax. For at the coming election, tax will be one of the hottest issues.

"We will cut taxes not just because we think it is the right thing to do for our economy, not just because we believe in a smaller state, but also because, unlike the Labour government, we have faith that the people of this country know better than any politician how best to spend the money they have worked so hard to earn.

"We are going to campaign from now until that election for the people's money to be spent more wisely, for the tax burden on hard-working families to be reduced - and these announcements today mark the beginning of that campaign.

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