Hexham MP Guy Opperman urges David Cameron to cut fuel duty

David Cameron has been challenged to cut fuel duty by a North East MP, as Conservatives began their annual conference

Hexham MP Guy Opperman
Hexham MP Guy Opperman

David Cameron has been challenged to cut fuel duty by a North East MP, as Conservatives began their annual conference.

Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham, issued the plea as he joined Conservative MPs, activists and Government Ministers for the event in Manchester.

Cutting the fuel tax, which currently stands at 57.95p a litre for unleaded petrol or diesel, would help people struggling with the cost of living, particularly in rural areas, he said.

The Government has already frozen fuel duty and is looking at proposals to introduce a cut in specific rural areas such as Northumbria, based on a scheme already operating in islands off the coast of Scotland.

Mr Opperman said: “If I had one request for the Chancellor it would be that as the economy improves, he cuts fuel duty. That is the number one expense for many people in my constituency, where a car is a necessity in their lives. It would also be a measure that businesses tell me would help them enormously.”

He also welcomed plans set out by David Cameron, the Conservative leader and Prime Minister, to introduce a new tax allowance for married couples worth up to £200.

Mr Opperman said: “On the married couple’s tax allowance, this was in the manifesto in 2010 and whilst we haven’t been able to do it until now, I’m pleased that we have been able to support marriage and satisfy the commitment that we made.

The £1,000 transferable tax allowance will benefit four million couples from 2015, but couples where either partners earns the higher rate of tax will be excluded.

Conservatives also revealed that new state-backed mortgages to help increase home ownership will be available from next week – three months earlier than originally planned.

The mortgage guarantees will allow buyers to acquire a newly-built home or an existing property worth up to £600,000 with a deposit of only 5%.

The scheme aims to boost mortgage availability by reducing the risk for lenders because the Government takes on the risk of default when it guarantees a proportion of a loan.

It will see the state offer guarantees totalling up to £12 billion on £130 billion of high loan-to-value mortgage lending.

Mr Cameron believes that will help solve the skewed market that means people on good wages struggle to buy even modest properties because they cannot scrape together the massive deposits needed to find a mortgage.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced plans to change the law to stop local authorities using CCTV cameras to record illegal parking, to help put an end to “aggressive parking policies are harming local high streets and local shops”.

Nine million parking fines are now issued every year by town halls in England.

Mr Pickles said: “The last Labour Government told councils to hammer hardworking people with higher parking charges and unfair parking fines. By doing this Labour hurt living standards, and undermined local high streets and shopping parades. We want to rein in these over-zealous and unfair rules on parking enforcement, so it focuses on supporting high streets and motorists, not raising money.”

Other policies set out at the conference include scrapping cautions for violent, sexual and drug offences.

The crackdown will stop thousands of offenders who commit some of the most serious crimes escaping “with just a slap on the wrist”, the Tories said.

New guidance will be issued immediately to ban rape, manslaughter, robbery and other shocking crimes being dealt with by a simple caution unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Last year nearly 500 cautions were issued for the most serious offences, defined as those that would automatically be heard in the Crown Court if they went to trial. But the conference begins as Labour enjoys bounce in the polls at the expense of the Conservatives, according to a new study.

The YouGov poll put Labour on 42 per cent, the Tories on 31 per cent, Ukip on 13 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on nine points.

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