Poll 'auction' on as Tories pledge to cut petrol prices
Move will be funded by increased taxes raised from oil companies
The cost of a litre of petrol in the UK would be cut by about 10p if oil prices remain high, under Conservative plans to be included in the party's manifesto.
David Cameron will propose temporarily cutting fuel duty to protect motorists from the impact of rising oil prices.
The move would be funded from the increased taxes the British government raises from other levies on oil companies when wholesale prices rise.
During the past few weeks, the cost of petrol has risen to a record high, averaging £1.20 (€1.36) a litre. This has been caused by the cost of a barrel of oil rising to $85 (€63) and the pound falling against the dollar.
Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, recently decided to push ahead with above-inflation increases in fuel duty. Duty will rise by 3p per litre over the next year.
The "fuel duty stabiliser" is the latest Conservative tax policy designed to help hard-pressed families.
However, it is likely to prove controversial when oil prices fall, as fuel duty will rise again.
The details of the fuel scheme -- including the price at which petrol will "stabilise" -- would be the subject of a consultation launched soon after a Conservative election victory.
A senior Conservative source said yesterday: "We are very straight with people. This is not a tax giveaway -- instead it is a sensible, balanced policy that protects families from big increases in the oil price.
"When the oil price rockets, the tax falls and the petrol price at the pump stays stable -- and vice versa when the oil price falls."
Edmund King, the president of the AA in the UK, welcomed the policy and warned that high fuel prices could threaten Britain's economic recovery.
"It is right that political parties are addressing the problem of fuel duty now we have record prices at the pumps," Mr King said.
The Conservatives will unveil their manifesto tomorrow. The theme of the document will be "We're all in it together" and many of the policies will stress that Britons must take responsibility for their actions and their communities.
In the foreword to the manifesto, Mr Cameron will say: "There is no law that says we must accept decline. We have the energy, the ideas, the ambition to get Britain back on track. And that includes everyone in Britain, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances. If we join together, if we act decisively and move forward with optimism, we can start to fix the economic, social and political problems that threaten the nation.
Other policies to be included in the manifesto include:
- Giving people the right to see a GP seven days a week and in the evenings.
- State officials' right to enter homes would be limited.
- People will be offered the opportunity to buy cut-price shares in high street banks that have been largely nationalised.
l A scheme to offer work placements to 100,000 teenagers. The youngsters would spend six months with a tradesman and would be allowed to claim benefits -- plus they will be paid an extra £1 an hour.
- The prospect of a "death tax" to pay for care homes will be explicitly ruled out.
Speaking in the west midlands, Mr Cameron said: "What you will see from the Conservative manifesto is a clear recognition that real change isn't just governments producing manifestos, it is recognising we are all in this together. Real change comes when you work together with people and the whole country comes together and that's what you'll see from us. (© Daily Telegraph, London)