Thursday, 5 July 2012

West Briton Column - 5 July

Armed Forces Day is an annual opportunity to show our appreciation for our armed services and the vitally important work they do on our behalf. Over the past months, as a member of the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme I have spent time with the Navy and have learned first hand of the immense dedication and skill of all those that serve. I am proud of what they achieve for our country.

The esteem in which our armed services are rightly held is in stark contrast to the dreadful state of affairs with another British institution, our banking system. I know many decent and hard working constituents employed in local branches of banks will be as dismayed as I am with some of their leaders' lack of responsibility, even morality, and the damage that their lack of leadership is causing to our economy and national reputation. Parliament has supported the Government's urgent and widespread reform of regulation and no doubt in the wake of recent mis-selling and interest rate fixing revelations, will urgently explore what more can be done.

For our economy to prosper we need a good banking system. Financial services contribute a great deal of income and employment and when working well enable investment in enterprise and trade. While regulation is important, as well as the prosecution of those that commit a crime, we also need our financial institutions to look to their own codes of conduct, governance and incentive systems.

As regular readers of this column know, a feature of my work in Parliament is highlighting the high cost of living of my constituents. I take every opportunity to raise the issue of the higher costs we pay in Cornwall for day to day essentials such as fuel. For months I have been pressing Ministers to use any savings in budgets to bring down fuel bills and help families and small businesses.

I was delighted that the Chancellor listened to my representations and agreed to scrap the proposed 3p increase in fuel duty, due to come in on August 1st. This will be funded by savings made by increased government efficiency. This means that fuel prices this summer will be 10p per litre lower than they would have been under Labour.

This action on fuel bills forms only a part  of the Government’s wider support package for motorists, which has also seen fees for MOTs, driving tests and licensing frozen and support given for a further £1 billion investment in our roads.

This good news on fuel prices is good news for Cornwall’s wider economy- our many businesses that depend on road haulage to transport their goods will feel the benefit of lower fuel prices. The Government’s actions on fuel mean that between 2011 and 2013 the average haulier will have saved £4,900 on fuel costs, savings which will be passed onto customers.

My efforts to secure savings on day to day essentials continue, I will be hosting an event on the 15th August on Lemon Quay on how you can reduce your heating bills. Please come and join me.

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