Government powerless over oil profits

TODAY'S astonishing news about oil company profits is bound to provoke anger among motorists around the world - it is little surprise that furious truckers have taken to the streets of London to protest.

TODAY'S astonishing news about oil company profits is bound to provoke anger among motorists around the world - it is little surprise that furious truckers have taken to the streets of London to protest.

As BP and Shell reported profits of £7 billion for just the first three months of the year, motorists who have seen the cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps have the right to be furious.

But the news also puts the government in a very difficult position - and shows its impotence in dealing with worldwide economic conditions.

There must be a temptation to hit the British-based companies with a windfall tax - but that would just put them at a disadvantage compared with American giants like Exxon (Esso) and Texaco and could encourage them to move their headquarters abroad.

The price of fuel has been going up steadily all year - our weekly fuel price check has chartered how the cost has increased and gives motorists the opportunity to find the cheapest price.

The problem faced by motorists is that demand for oil is increasing across the globe, especially as the world's two biggest countries in terms of population, China and India, become more industrialised.

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They are now seeking to buy more and more oil - and as any GCSE economics student knows increasing demand pushes up prices.

Faced with these global pressures there is little that the British government can do to ease the plight of motorists in this country.

As prices go up, VAT increases - and it might be possible to reduce excise duty, or at least not increase it, to reflect that.

But of course the government does need the oil revenues to spend on its public sector commitments like the NHS, new schools and free bus fares for pensioners.

So while many people will be outraged by what they see as profiteering, there really is little the government can do to address the problem of high oil prices . . . and higher profits.

However we will continue to do our bit - Suffolk fuel stations are taking note of our surveys and watching their prices in an effort to attract as many drivers as possible.

WHEN the Evening Star launched our Air Fair campaign, we pointed out how the increasing number of jets was destroying the tranquillity that has made Suffolk so special for generations.

Now the Campaign to Protect Rural England has highlighted the threat to the peace of the countryside in a new report.

Hopefully their voice will be heard by the ministers in Whitehall who will finally take action to try to ensure that the peace of the quiet areas of this country is not ruined forever.

AS THEY try to discover and deal with the wartime German bomb which washed ashore at Felixstowe, the Naval bomb disposal experts have become an item of curiosity in the Suffolk resort.

However we should not forget that they are very brave service personnel who are dealing with 500kg of live explosives.

Their work is difficult, like searching for a object in the bottom of thick soup - they deserve the thanks and respect of the whole community as they work to ensure the bomb is finally found and dealt with.