Barton MP Martin Vickers speaks in Commons debate on fuel duty
Barton MP Martin Vickers has called for a planned fuel duty rise to be cancelled or postponed for a long period of time.
But he told opposition Labour MPs to "get their act together" after a call to delay January's planned 3p per litre rise until April.
Labour's call came three weeks before Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement, which could include fuel duty measures.
The Labour motion to delay the rise until April was defeated by 282 votes to 234.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
The issue was debated by MPs in the House of Commons last night (Monday, November 12).
Speaking in the debate, Mr Vickers said: "It is a pleasure to take part in a debate that has featured knowledgeable and passionate speeches.
"I make no bones about it: what my constituents want - what I want - is the postponement and preferably the cancellation of the increase.
"It is not unknown for oppositions to jump on bandwagons.
"My honorary friend the Member for Tamworth (Christopher Pincher) referred to that but it is strange when an opposition do so to abandon their own policies.
"The wheels have come off this bandwagon.
"Effective opposition is hardly evident this evening.
"What we are hearing is, 'We don't like our policy that we introduced. We'd like you to postpone it for three months'. Is that positive opposition?
"Clearly, Labour members are going to have much more time on their hands to consider how to build effective opposition.
"I remind the House that already, thanks to the actions of this Government, petrol is 10p a litre cheaper than it would have been had Labour's increases been introduced.
"My honorary Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon), who has done some sterling work on the issue, mentioned that the cost of living is not just about fuel.
"It is about energy and a host of other things.
"The proposed increase goes to the heart of those cost of living issues.
"I represent a predominantly working-class constituency where the average wage is about £20,500.
"That is £3,000 less than the average for the Yorkshire and Humberside region.
"We have had a few setbacks in recent weeks, most notably the 500 redundancies at Kimberly-Clark in Barton-upon-Humber, but there is growth in the local area.
"In particular, the road haulage industry represents an important part of the local economy.
"It is based around the Immingham-Stallingborough area and it is vital to the local economy.
"Many speakers have mentioned being out on the periphery.
"Cleethorpes is a peripheral area. The surrounding hinterland is rural and many of the people who live there work on the Humber bank, a considerable distance away.
"There is no doubt that the tax in question affects them greatly."
Jake Berry, Conservative MP for ******dale and Darwen, then said: "In ******dale and Darwen, we have a rural hinterland.
"We are a working-class constituency and we have low wages.
"We are already paying the 3p fuel tax because our fuel is 3p more expensive in Tesco in Rawtenstall than it is in the adjoining town.
"Will my honorary friend say what experience he has in his constituency of this rural disparity in fuel prices?"
Mr Vickers replied: "I thank my honorary friend for his intervention.
"Yes, the situation that he describes in his constituency is very similar to mine.
"However, it is welcome that North Lincolnshire Council, which is Conservative controlled, is particularly mindful of the impact of motoring costs and is at present considering the possibility of extending free parking, which has been an issue in the local area.
"That shows how local authorities can help to boost the local economy, particularly the high streets.
"When I was preparing for this debate, I skimmed through the debate that we had about a year ago, to which I contributed.
"That debate took place before the Chancellor made a previous reduction.
"I noticed that I referred to fairness.
"I caution the Government again that it is rather dangerous always to talk about fairness.
"Of course all policies are intended to be fair.
"I am well aware that the Government want to be fair, but human nature being what it is, a policy is fair only if it benefits us.
"If it benefits our neighbour, we tend to think it is unfair. I urge the Government to reflect that when they talk about these issues.
"It matters not whether our constituents are white-collared, blue-collared or dog-collared, for that matter.
"They are all hit by fuel increases.
"The Chancellor may already have made his decision, but if not, I urge him to reflect on the contributions that have been made this evening.
"It is a vital subject, which will not go away.
"The idea that the Labour party has proposed tonight, that we abandon the rise or cancel it for three months, is nonsense.
"If the opposition are trying to tempt Conservative rebels into the Lobby, they should at least have a positive view and suggest three years, rather than just three months. It is pathetic."
Robin Walker, the Conservative MP for Worcester, said: "I thoroughly agree with my honorary friend that the opposition motion is massively unambitious.
"Does he agree that the research we have seen from FairFuelUK shows that we should actually be cutting fuel duty, rather than freezing it or postponing an increase?"
Mr Vickers said in reply: "My honorary friend makes an important point.
"I have certainly studied the FairFuelUK report.
"Indeed, the all-party group on fair fuel, which is chaired by my honorary friend the member for Harlow, has done considerable work on it and I urge the Government to reflect on its recommendations.
"I know that the Government have listened to the debate.
"Their amendment makes it clear that they want to do more to help with the cost of living, but who could disagree with that?
"What we actually want to see is some positive response from them.
"I know that they are not going to announce this evening what will be in the autumn statement, but we are three weeks away from something that could have a decisive impact on the local economy, certainly in my constituency, and a real impact on hard-working households there.
"I will conclude by saying to the Labour party, "Get your act together."
"I will certainly be supporting the Government in the Lobby this evening and know that is in the best interests of those I represent."
Shadow economic secretary Cathy Jamieson had earlier opened the debate for Labour.
She said the current state of the economy meant it was the wrong time to increase fuel costs.
She said: "In the here and now petrol is 15p a litre higher than at the general election.
"It's 5p a litre higher than in the summer when the Government last deferred a rise, and let's remember that the Chancellor took that decision following pressure from this side of the House."