07:20 Tuesday 1st February 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: Fed up with the current price of petrol? Fed up with being ripped off at the pumps? Fed up with putting £60/£70 worth in your car? Fed up with seeing the price go up and up and up? Well so is our MP Stewart Jackson, so much so that he’s written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne asking him to review the Conservative Party Manifesto pledge for a fuel duty stabiliser. It comes as the price of petrol is at a record high, oil is going through the roof, over $100 a barrel, and around Peterborough many stations now over £1.30 a litre. It really is hard for your every-day folk. Morning Stewart.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you breaking ranks here?
STEWART JACKSON: No. I’m doing the right thing, I think, in lobbying the chancellor ahead of the March 23rd Budget. And I think there’s a very good chance that he’s going to listen to the huge welter of opinion, whether it’s from the Federation of Small Businesses, from the Institute of Directors, CBI, others, as well as back-bench MPs, and people such as myself, who are saying that essentially, I think we really do need to look at whether we can bring in a fuel duty stabiliser. And in any event, a fuel duty increase later in this year would be very bad news. On top of the fact that we’ve had instances as you will know recently of domestic heating oil companies bumping up the prices in the cold snap.
PAUL STAINTON: Profiteering.
STEWART JACKSON. Profiteering, quite immorally, in the last few months. And that’s now subject to the inquiry as I understand by the Office of Fair Trading. And I do think you’re absoilutely right. In terms of petrol and diesel, 62% of the product price goes in tax. And if we are to grow the economy out of recession, and into a period of growth, we really need to look at something which for most people is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, if they’ve got to go to work and go about their normal daily life.
PAUL STAINTON: If I may be George Osborne for a minute, I may be so precocious, he’s just going to come back to you and say, well if we don’t get the money there, we’re going to have to get it from there.
STEWART JACKSON: Yes. I think you’re absolutely right. And he’s got to look at public expenditure again. Because I don’t think it’s the basis of growth to be clobbering the average family with tax increases, and we’ve got to look at public expenditure again. You’ll be bored rigid hearing me say it, but it’s nevertheless true, we’re having to do this because of the disastrous economic legacy of debt left by Labour, but nevertheless that’s not helping people who’ve got to get to work. And you’re quite right, they’re spending £60 or £70 filling the tank in their car. I think it’s quite legitimate for me to say to George Osborne, look, you need to look at this again, because of the historically high prices by comparison with European countries. And the price of fuel is an imprtant component in economic growth and the viability sometimes of small businesses, particularly in the Peterborough area, where people are very heavily dependent on their cars.
PAUL STAINTON: The financial management of this country is on a tightrope at the moment, isn’t it? If you put interest rates up to curb inflation, that could push us into a double-dip recession. If petrol prices go too high, companies won’t be able to afford to trade and bring us out of recession. It’s a very very fine balancing act that anybody in charge of the finances at the moment has got to tread.
STEWART JACKSON: Yes, you’re absolutely right. It’s a very big challenge. I wouldn’t be so apocalyptic and pessimistic as you about it, because I do think if you look at some areas, manufacturing growth is the highest for over ten years, I think now. And obviously we’re seeing some job growth in parts of the country. In Peterborough yesterday we saw the BGL Group looking to expand.
PAUL STAINTON: But nevertheless the last set of GDP figures were very disappointing, weren’t they?
STEWART JACKSON: They were disappointing, but David Cameron and George Osborne said that it’s never going to be an easy road. It’s going to be pretty bumpy, the way out to growth. But I do think we should be resolutely focused on cutting taxes, cutting regulation for business, and making sure the ordinary working family has the best chance, doesn’t pay too much tax. And I think we have some flexibility with the fuel duty, and that’s why I’m lobbying. And I hope that George Osborne is sympathetic. I lobbied him about Capital Gains Tax before the last Budget, and he listened, and I believe he’ll listen again on this issue. Becuase it is vital for local people in Peterborough.
PAUL STAINTON: Quickly, before I let you go, can I get your view on Street Watch, this scheme to put volunteers on the streets of Peterborough, patrolling their areas? What do you make of that?
STEWART JACKSON: Well it’s quite an old idea. If you remember a number of years ago, the Parnwell residents were involved in that in Heron Park. And that got some criticism from the then Mayor Ray Pobgee. But anything that enables local residents to work with the police actively to tackle criminals and crime and put bad people, offenders, behind bars, I think is a good thing, and I wish it success. It will never replace the powers of fully-trained police officers, but it will show that the community is serious about tackling crime, and I support it.
PAUL STAINTON: Stewart, thank you for that this morning. Stewart Jackson supports the new Street Watch scheme, and is lobbying Chancellor George Osborne about the fuel stabiliser, to try and bring down the price of petrol for you, me and a dog named Boo.