Conference backs call for cut in fuel duty

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Tony Blair has suffered a crisis of judgement, a crisis of management and a crisis of trust over his handling of the fuel blockades, the Tories said yesterday, backing a motion to cut the cost of fuel "immediately".

Tony Blair has suffered a crisis of judgement, a crisis of management and a crisis of trust over his handling of the fuel blockades, the Tories said yesterday, backing a motion to cut the cost of fuel "immediately".

The opposition Treasury spokesman, Richard Ottaway, said the Government was "taken by surprise" by the complaints of ordinary people. "They were out of touch. They weren't listening. They didn't listen to our road hauliers and our farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed," he said. "They didn't listen to hard-pressed families and businesses... They didn't listen to a nation that said enough is enough."

Michael Portillo, the shadow Chancellor, has already said a Tory government would cut fuel by at least 3p per litre.

Earlier Archie Norman, the spokesman on the environment, transport and the regions, said local councils would be given stronger powers to control the number and style of new homes built. Under Labour, England was becoming a "country of uniformity - of identikit houses".

Mr Norman said the Tories would scrap national house- building targets. "We will roll back the power of the central state." The "best" councils would be given independence from regulation, with guaranteed funding. "They will be citadels of independence," he said.

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