A number of the issues being raised by the public are either specific to London, or would be a responsibility for Scottish local authorities. However, I am aware there are concerns on the taxation of fuel – which remains a matter reserved to Westminster for the time being. The SNP have long campaigned for fairer and more transparent taxation of fuel. Last year in advance of the Budget, we joined with FairFuelUK to oppose any hike in fuel duty at a time when the pockets of families, particularly those in rural communities that depend on a car, are squeezed. I am pleased that my SNP colleagues and I were successful in pressuring the Chancellor to keep fuel duty frozen on that occasion.
In this year’s Finance Bill, my SNP colleague Roger Mullin MP tabled an amendment that would have established a fuel duty regulator – a mechanism that would have stabilised fuel prices and made increases or decreases in the fuel price fully transparent. I am disappointed that the Tory UK Government did not take the opportunity to support our amendment. Nevertheless, my SNP colleagues and I remain committed to more transparent taxation of fuel.
It is important to also have regard to air pollution and for Government to take effective action to reduce pollution. The UK Government have failed to produce an Air Quality Strategy, which shows an alarming lack of urgency on a major public health issue. At present in Scotland, the SNP Scottish Government is committed to making Scotland’s air quality among the best in Europe and we are currently meeting both domestic and European air quality targets across much of Scotland. In 2013 the Scottish Government also published the electric vehicle roadmap, “Switched on Scotland”, which sets out our vision to significantly reduce emissions in Scotland’s towns and cities.