Fuel prices hit record highs

IN A week in which oil prices have fallen, petrol and diesel in Suffolk has continued to rise - hitting new record highs.At some stations today petrol was £5.

IN A week in which oil prices have fallen, petrol and diesel in Suffolk has continued to rise - hitting new record highs.

At some stations today petrol was £5.31 per gallon at the pumps, and diesel £5.95.

New figures released by the AA showed just how different it is in the rest of Europe - with only Norway, widely recognised as the most expensive place to live on the Continent, seeing much higher prices than the UK.

Belgium, Germany, Holland, France and Austria are all cheaper than Britain.

In some states - such as Luxembourg, Hungary, Spain, Switzerland and Estonia - petrol and diesel are still below £1 per litre.

On average petrol is around 20p per gallon cheaper abroad, and diesel up to 40p per litre less.

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In America petrol is 50p per litre (£2.29 per gallon) and diesel 58p per litre (£2.63 per gallon).

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has faced protests from truckers over the high prices this week and increasing criticism from the public, convinced the government is cashing in on the high prices by reaping more taxes.

Today ten Labour backbenchers urged him to “strike a new deal with the motoring public” by cutting fuel duties when oil prices rise and scrapping his plan to apply new green levies on polluting cars to vehicles which are already on the road.

Former transport minister Stephen Ladyman said the old fuel duty escalator, which pushed petrol taxes up by more than the rate of inflation, should be dumped and replaced by a “duty moderator”, which would allow reductions when high prices at the pump boost the Treasury's VAT take.

Dr Ladyman warned that ministers must recognise Labour voters are also motorists and are more likely to ditch the party than give up their attachment to their cars.

He said: “Motorists understand the need to raise money from fuel duty but they don't believe the fuel duty escalator and recent changes to road tax are fair.

“So let's start the process of striking our deal with the motoring public by scrapping the fuel duty escalator and replacing it with a duty moderator that recognises that when the price of fuel goes up the Exchequer's VAT take increases and the rate of fuel duty can go down.

“Second, a 'green' tax that you cannot avoid by changing your behaviour is not a 'green' tax, it's just a tax. So, in future, changes to excise duty aimed at encouraging people to drive cleaner cars should never bite on vehicles already on the road but always to new vehicles.”

Should the government take action to cut fuel prices? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk