Fuel price hikes risk sending UK into ‘de facto lockdown’, Tory warns ministers

Former minister Robert Halfon said parents will soon no longer be able to afford to take their children to school.

17 March 2022

Britain is heading for a “de facto lockdown” caused by soaring fuel prices, ministers have been warned.

Conservative former minister Robert Halfon said parents will soon no longer be able to afford to take their children to school while workers will struggle to get to work.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he would have further discussions with Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the issue.

Speaking at transport questions, Mr Halfon told the Commons: “In Ireland it’s a very happy St Patrick’s day because they’ve cut fuel duty over the past week.

“I thank (Mr Shapps) for what the Government has done on the fuel duty freeze, but the fact is motorists are paying £1.60-plus for their petrol and their diesel.

“We’re heading to a de facto lockdown where parents can’t afford to take their kids to school, where workers can’t afford to commute by car and have to stay at home.”

He asked if the Transport Secretary would “make appeals to the Treasury to cut fuel duty in the spending round next week”.

Coronavirus – Tue Dec 1, 2020
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps in Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Shapps replied: “After 12 years of fuel (duty) freeze, the average family has saved something like £2,000 as a direct result of his excellent campaigning.

“I will have further conversations, of course, with my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it will be for him to decide on the next measures.”

Elsewhere at transport questions, Labour said more train services need to be returned to pre-pandemic levels to avoid a “car-led” transport recovery from Covid.

Shadow transport minister Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said: “Industry data that I have seen shows that while passengers are packing onto overcrowded trains there are 51,000 fewer services running trains than there were pre-pandemic.

“So, with more people returning to rail, and to ensure that we don’t have a car-led recovery, will the minister commit here right now to restoring the services that they have cut? And if not, why not?”

Transport minister Robert Courts replied: “Following the Williams-Shapps review we have announced the creation of Great British Railways. That will create a truly passenger-focused service for the UK but I have already mentioned the £96 billion that has gone into the Integrated Rail Plan as well as the Restoring Your Railways programme.

“This is a government that is focusing on getting passengers into rail wherever possible.”

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