Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Brown: Rising price of petrol could BENEFIT motorists

8th July 2008

Enlarge Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown predicted the high cost of oil would speed up development of affordable hybrid cars

Gordon Brown today risked enraging motorists by suggesting they could benefit from the soaring price of petrol.

At the G8 summit in Japan, the Prime Minister predicted the high cost of oil would speed up the development of affordable hybrid cars.

He pointed out that a new generation of eco-friendly vehicles would also be exempt from road tax.

"The combination of the car licence and petrol prices could, if we develop new technology, be to the benefit of car drivers,' he said.

'These hybrid cars, as we are finding with discussions in America and Japan, are cars within the range for families  -  not just for a few but cars that the ordinary family would think of buying.'

Mr Brown insisted he wanted to see petrol prices drop to a 'reasonable level'.

But motoring groups warned of a backlash from drivers over his comments.

Paul Watters, of the AA, said: 'Motorists are already suffering from very high prices.This just piles on the pain.'

Shadow Treasury minister Justine Greening said: 'The reality is that for many people, a new car is simply beyond their means and they will be stuck with the car they've got.'

Meanwhile, Mr Brown, who has urged people to cut back on food waste, sought to play down the lavish meal, comprising of 19 dishes, laid on by the Japanese hosts at the summit on the island of Hokkaido and attended by the leaders' wives.

Asked about the dinner, which drew criticism from aid charities, the Prime Minister said: 'It seemed to me to be three courses; I don't know quite why it's been described as larger. Obviously I would not support any unnecessary expenditure.'

A Downing Street spokesman added: 'He recognises he was in Japan, hosted by the Japanese government and therefore he would eat Japanese food.'

Anti-poverty campaigner-Bob Geldof stopped short of criticising the meal  -  which featured caviar, winterlily bulb and summer savoury  -  but attacked the G8 for failing to meet the promises made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005.

'Many of us are not content, they promised, they wrote out their names on a contract, between the rich and the poor and that promise must be kept,' he said.

He stressed that the G8 should be by now halfway to meeting its Gleneagles targets on helping Africa, but was only 14 per cent of the way there.

The presidents and prime ministers of America, Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Russia did toughen their stance on climate change but were accused by environmentalists of failing to make any significant progress.

The G8, which last year agreed only to 'seriously consider' a 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050, said today that it would 'consider and adopt' the target subject to a new international climate change agreement.

But interim targets would only be on a country-by-country basis, allowing the US to avoid having to sign up to any particular goal over the next 20 years.

The group of leading industrialised nations also agreed to stick to a 2005 pledge to double international aid by 2010, despite fears they could drop it in the face of the credit crunch.

Mr Brown announced a multibillion- pound investment in malaria nets, fighting infectious diseases and education in developing countries.

The world leaders also issued a bleak picture of the global economy.

'We express our strong concern about elevated commodity prices, especially of oil and food, since they pose a serious challenge to stable growth worldwide, have serious implications for the most vulnerable, and increase global inflationary pressure'  the leaders' statement said on the second day of the summit.

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