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MP issues fuel poverty warning


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A group of backbench MPs is willing to take the Government "right to the line" to help those struggling to pay their fuel bills, former welfare minister Frank Field has warned.


The outspoken backbencher called on ministers to introduce a package to help people in fuel poverty, saying a windfall tax could be one option.


And Mr Field likened the situation to the rebellion over the abolition of the 10p rate of income tax - which he led - arguing the Government should realise its backbenchers are dedicated to helping those worst off.


He told Channel 4 News: "The real danger for the Government is that, with the 10p rebellion, in which you kindly said I led, the leading was merely putting on to the circuit an email and the response was automatic and overwhelming by Labour MPs...


"Now the lesson the Government ought to draw from that, is that when it comes to protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in our community, while the Government obviously shares backbenchers' concerns about this, they do now have a group of backbenchers who are prepared to take the Government right to the line to ensure that a package is delivered."


The comments come just days after it emerged more than 70 Labour backbenchers have signed a petition calling for the introduction of a windfall tax on energy companies to help hard-pressed families.


They want Prime Minister Gordon Brown to claw back some of the huge profits made by the firms at the same time as domestic energy bills have been soaring.


Several utility firms have announced further price rises of up to 30% in recent weeks, a prospect Mr Field said people would find scary.

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