It’s been a busy month around the Houses of Parliament for our sector, with most of the activity targeting this month’s Autumn Statement. The proposed fuel duty rise has been the focus of much of the attention, with calls for its postponement coming from several different directions most notably, of course, from the PRA (see News Extra, page 10). Early in the month Labour’s motion to delay the duty rise was defeated, but an interesting debate was held, during which a lot of good arguments were raised about the squeeze on the nation’s finances. MPs described how low- and middle-income families were being the hardest hit; that prices were rising higher than wages; small businesses were struggling; and that the economy was still fragile all of which made it exactly the wrong time to hike up fuel costs. Robert Halfon MP suggested we needed a long-term settlement for cheaper petrol. He said the motion proposed a three-month oil rush, which would lead to motorists being hammered with a 7ppl tax rise in April 2013. The only way to get the long-term settlement, he said, was to work constructively with the government and look at reform and how we could permanently lower fuel duty.

Later in the month supporters of the FairFuelUK campaign, including the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association and the RAC, addressed a panel of MPs at the Houses of Parliament. The event was organised so MPs could hear first hand how high fuel prices and fuel duty were affecting consumers and businesses. Chaired by Halfon, it addressed an audience of cross-party MPs and confirmed that fuel duty has become a mainstream political issue.

Both the ACS with its Heart of the Community Seminar and Palmer and Harvey with its Shop Health Summit also held great events in and around Parliament last month, engaging with MPs. Let’s hope all this activity leads to an early Christmas present! Season’s greetings to you all.