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Westminster Column


There are so many things on at the moment in Westminster that I thought it might be useful if I covered a few issues this week rather than just one.

I know the high cost of fuel is of great concern to many of my constituents who rely on using their cars. On 26 June, the Government announced further support for motorists by delaying Labour’s planned Fuel Duty rise scheduled for 1 August, until 1 January 2013. In addition, we cut Fuel Duty last year and have avoided two year’s worth of rises planned by the previous Government.

This Government has done more to support motorists than any other. Last year we abolished the pre-existing Fuel Duty Escalator, replacing it with a Fair Fuel Stabiliser, which will limit any Fuel Duty rises when the international oil price rises above £45 a barrel. I also wanted to assure you that the Chancellor will be pressing large petrol retailers to make sure the recent drop in the international oil price is passed on to consumers at the pump.

The decision to delay the rise in Fuel Duty is the right action to help families with the cost of living, businesses and the broader economy. By the end of this year hard-pressed families will have saved £159 on filling up the average family car.

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Last week the Prime Minister set out the Conservative vision for welfare, proposing a two-part approach: treating the causes of poverty at source and recognising that in the long-term only work beats poverty.

The welfare gap in this country, between those living long-term in the welfare system and those outside it, has sent some incredibly damaging signals – it should never pay not to work. The time has come to go back to first principles; to have a real national debate and ask some fundamental questions about working-age welfare which will go beyond this Parliament.

Welfare as a real safety net which benefits those who have no other means of support or have fallen on hard times will remain a priority. This will sit alongside the Government’s commitment that pensioners will continue to have access to universal benefits.

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My Conservative Councillor colleagues and I have always fought to protect Sutton Coldfield’s Green Belt. It was Conservative Councillors who ended speculation on Peddimore when they were in office.

Now one of Labour’s first moves in Council has been to refuse to guarantee to continue this principled protection of our Green Belt. Sutton’s Conservative Councillors will be keeping a very close eye on this in the months ahead.

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Finally, I was delighted to see the Education Secretary refer to Arthur Terry School as one of the “very best educational institutions in the world”. Head Teacher Chris Stone and the many staff who work at Arthur Terry have worked tirelessly and are now helping to shape education in the region by providing support to failing Schools as well as providing teacher training for new recruits.



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