Alexander to lobby for fuel discounts in remote areas
A fuel discount scheme available on some UK islands including the Isles of Scilly could be rolled-out to remote mainland areas, according to Treasury chiefs.
Yesterday, while on a visit to Cornwall, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he was thinking about lobbying the European Commission over the issue.
It is nearly a year since the 5p off a litre of fuel discount scheme was unveiled and if Mr Alexander is successful in Europe, remote parts of Devon and Cornwall could benefit.
Mr Alexander said it would be at least a year before "any progress" would be seen on the subject.
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In the meantime he said he was keen to hear from any parties wanting to put forward a case for the discount.
He said: "I am looking at the moment at whether a case can be made to Brussels to allow a delegation for some of the most remote mainland areas in the UK as well.
"The process is a complicated one, and there's a very high hurdle in the sense that we have to be able to persuade the European Commission and get all of the other 26 member states to vote for it as well.
"I can't make any promises at this point, but I am working on whether a justification can be made that is on the same basis as the justification for the islands.
"I understand there are areas in Cornwall that want to make the case and I am sure through their elected representatives that can be presented. The case for the islands was made on the significant extra costs of delivering fuel to those areas.
"I'm not sure whether we will be able to do that [for the mainland] but I will certainly have a jolly good look at it."
The Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister was talking to the press at a hotel in Newquay following a lunch with local business leaders.
He has to make another round of cuts amounting to £10billion and has already stated it will involve no reduction in welfare spending – other departmental budgets are poised to shrink.
While hospitals, schools, overseas aid and the equipment side of the defence budget will be protected, all other departmental budgets face cuts.
Yesterday he refused to be drawn on whether or not military-related jobs in the South West were under threat.
When asked about taxing second homes Mr Alexander said he thought it was a good idea.
He said: "I think it's fair second home owners contribute to the local services they use.
"I think it's a sensible suggestion."
Afterwards he made a visit to the Newquay Enterprise Zone.