Brown fails to stop fuel protests
By Johann Tasker
FURTHER fuel protests will go ahead, despite a pledge from Chancellor Gordon Brown to freeze fuel duty and scrap excise duty for farm vehicles.
The chancellor unveiled his plan to abolish vehicle tax charges for tractors and other agricultural vehicles during his pre-Budget statement.
Mr Brown told the House of Commons on Wednesday (8 November) that his statement would address “specific and immediate concerns” regarding fuel.
“In addition to freezing red diesel duty at its current rate, I also intend in Budget 2001 to abolish vehicle excise duty on tractors and agricultural vehicle,”
But farmer David Handley, spokesman for Peoples Fuel Lobby, said Mr Browns promise didnt go far enough to meet the demands of fuel protestors.
“This government today has done nothing. Nothing whatsoever.”
The Chancellors proposals are understood to be equivalent to an 8ppl cut in fuel tax. The scrapping excise of duty on tractors is worth 40 a year.
But Andrew Spence, spokesman for the Farmers For Action, of which Mr Handley is chairman, said further fuel protests would go ahead as threatened.
A “slow drive” convoy of vehicles driven by farmers and hauliers will set off from Tyneside at 9am on Friday (10 November), he told Farmers Weekly.
The convoy will take four days to reach Hyde Park, where a mass rally of fuel protestors will take place starting at noon on Tuesday (14 November).
Other farmers, however, said that the governments concessions were a step in the right direction and indicated that there should be no more demonstrations.
Brynle Williams, the Welsh farmer who issued the original 60-day deadline for the government to reduce fuel tax, said there would be no return to blockades.
Mr Brown also revealed plans to bring in a “British disc” which will charge foreign companies and lorries for driving on British roads.
Vehicle excise duty rate for lorries will also be cut from next year, giving the average haulier a saving of 715 a year, he told MPs.