Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Fourth Special Report

Appendix I

Letter from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury

As you are no doubt aware I have taken over responsibility at the Treasury from Patricia Hewitt for road fuel taxation matters. Consequently it falls to me to respond to your report about the impact in Northern Ireland of cross-border road fuel price differentials.

Can I say that coming fresh to this subject I was struck by the thoroughness of your enquiry and the balanced nature of your conclusions and recommendations. It is obviously a difficult area with no easy answers so I appreciate all the more the positive way you have approached the issues. These were brought home to me on 7 October when I met the Petrol Retailers Association including the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of their Northern Ireland Committee, both of whom have filling stations near the border.

I attach a Memorandum that responds to each of the conclusions and recommendations summarised in paragraph 69 of the report. Not all of these were addressed to the Treasury but a combined response has been prepared picking up as far as possible those addressed to others, mainly the Department of Economic Development. The Memorandum has therefore been agreed with the Northern Ireland Economic Minister, John McFall.

    I hope you will find this satisfactory.

    I am copying this letter and Memorandum to Margaret Beckett, Leader of the House.

12 October 1999

Stephen Timms MP

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Prepared 28 October 1999