Brown: no 'quick fixes' on fuel duty

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The Independent Online

Chancellor Gordon Brown declared today there would be no "quick fix" in response to nationwide protests over the price of petrol and calls for a cut in fuel duty.

Chancellor Gordon Brown declared today there would be no "quick fix" in response to nationwide protests over the price of petrol and calls for a cut in fuel duty.

The rapid increase in the price of crude oil, which triggered the past six days of protests, showed the need for stability rather than a "lurch" in policy, he told the Trades Union Congress in Glasgow.

The Government was determined to make sure that oil flowed from terminals to petrol stations without interruptions from blockades or barricades.

"This we will do," the Chancellor said.

Mr Brown said the Government would not "lurch" between quick fixes on the one hand and stability on the other.

"We should steer a course of stability. Short termism was the old way."

It would be the "worst type of short termism" if the Government shifted its policy on fuel duties because of the recent increase in world prices.

"We will listen, but we will not fall for the quick fix of making a tax policy this afternoon. We will continue to make tax policies in the Budget."

The Chancellor said if the Government did respond to the current pressure to cut prices it would "do nothing" to help achieve its policy of full employment.

The Chancellor told the TUC: "It is precisely because there is volatility in oil prices that we should resist any lurches in policy or return to the old short-termism of the past - instead we should steer a course for long-term stability.

"Our first duty is to ensure that oil flows from the wells to the refineries and to the petrol stations to the consumer and this we will do without interruption by barricades or blockades."

The Government was also insistent that it did not want to lurch between budgets from one policy "quick fix or soft option" to another based on uncertain prices and unknown revenues.

"Such short-termism is the old way that brought us the stop go, boom bust economy, the ups and down of the past and this I will not endorse."

Mr Brown said it would be the "worst of short-termism" to make a lasting cut in fuel duty in the face of the protests which would have to be paid for later.

"So we will listen but we will not fall for the quick fix and the irresponsible short-termism of making tax policy this afternoon because of blockades this morning.

"We will continue to make policy as we have done - in budgets and I believe the British people value long-term stability.

"It does nothing for full employment or growth to return to the short-termism of policy lurches that brought us boom and bust in the past."

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