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Osborne hits back over fuel prices

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George Osborne said he refused to take the blame for rising petrol prices, during a visit to a Cheltenham firm

George Osborne said he refused to take the blame for rising petrol prices, during a visit to a Cheltenham firm

George Osborne said he refused to take the blame for rising petrol prices, during a visit to a Cheltenham firm

Chancellor George Osborne has refused to take the blame for rising petrol prices - rejecting claims by world oil producers that taxes were responsible.

Mr Osborne said drivers in the UK were "paying the price" for mounting oil prices and Downing Street said "non-tax factors" were mostly driving the cost at the pump.

He hit back after Opec secretary general Abdullah al-Badri told drivers to "blame your government" if they were unhappy at paying more to fill their tanks.

"Don't blame Opec, blame your government. It's not because of the price of oil; it's because of taxes," the head of the body, which represents 40% of world oil production, said.

Prices hit record levels again this week despite a fall in wholesale costs which the AA pointed out had seen pump prices fall in other European countries such as France and Germany.

On February 1, the average UK price for petrol was 128.65p per litre 133.38p for diesel, putting pressure on Mr Osborne to cancel a 1p duty rise due in April.

The Chancellor repeated his pledge to examine that option and said the Government continued to look into the introduction of a "stabiliser" mechanism to iron out big price fluctuations.

"Oil prices around the world have gone up a lot in recent months and you see that in many countries and, of course, unfortunately British drivers are paying the price for that at the petrol pump," Mr Osborne said when asked about the Opec head's comments.

"We want to see concerted international action to try and get the oil price down and the G20 is looking at that," he said during a visit to a high-tech manufacturing firm in Cheltenham.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said: "Clearly if the oil price goes up, that is going to impact on the price at the petrol pump. If you look at the recent rises in petrol prices, the majority of the increase is accounted for by non-tax factors."

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