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Revealed: Real cost of petrol is now as high as in wake of Suez Crisis when supplies were rationedHouse of Commons says prices now are equivalent to the fall-out of the 1957 fuel shortages triggered by stand-off with Egypt
Tory MP Robert Halfon calls for crackdown on 'oil cartels'Ministers to publish a study in January into demise of petrol stations after 285 close in two years
12:30 GMT, 24 December 2012
Petrol prices in 2012 are 'broadly equivalent' to those during the Suez crisis, House of Commons researchers said
Petrol prices are now as high as in the wake of the Suez crisis when petrol was rationed, shocking new research suggests.
In the last 100 years, the cost of filling up a car has only been higher in the wake of the First World War when the petrol pump was still a novelty on the high street.
New research by the House of Commons library lays bare how prices at the pumps have soared.
Drivers in 2012 now pay as much in real terms as 1957, when the country was gripped by severe shortages after Egypt nationalised the key trading route of the Suez Canal.
Using 2011 prices as a baseline, research shows drivers are paying 124.8p a litre in 2012, the highest level since 1957, when petrol cost the equivalent of 132.7p.
But House of Commons researchers say the figures are within the margin of error – and prices today can be ‘seen as broadly equivalent to those during the Suez crisis when petrol was rationed and duty was increased by 40 per cent’.
It means fuel costs today are higher in real terms than the sharp spikes seen after the oil shock in 1973, when Arab oil producers imposed an embargo on fuel exports.
Petrol is also more expensive in real terms than during the World War Two rationing and the 101.2p cost which triggered fuel protests in 2000.
The only time petrol has been higher was when records began in 1920, when motoring was the preserve of the wealthy and petrol cost 159.6p in 2011 prices.
Punished at the pumps: Research published by the House of Commons library shows how, in 2011 prices, petrol now costs as much per litre as in the wake of the Suez Crisis in 1957
Historic high: Petrol prices in Britain are as high now as when British forces were deployed to the Libyan desert to prepare to invade Egypt, after the Suez Canal, a key trade route for fuel, was nationalised
HOW SUEZ CRISIS DROVE UP PRICES
The Suez Canal was a crucial trade route for British ships to reach the rest of the Empire.
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Tory MP Robert Halfon called for a crackdown on 'oil cartels'
Luke Bosdet, spokesman for the AA, said: 'In 1957 we were talking about the Suez Cris.
'In 2012 we are talking about the UK family crisis. One was miles away and the other is happening on the streets of Britain.'
Ministers are now investigating the impact of the closure of hundreds of petrol stations on prices, with drivers in rural areas forced to travel further to fill up their tanks.
In April 2010 there were 8,884 petrol stations open in the UK, but by August 2012 it had fallen by 285 to 8,599.
Energy minister John Hayes will publish a report on the retail fuel market in the New Year, which will examine the ‘implications of reductions in the number of petrol filling stations on the security of supply and resilience of the downstream oil sector’.
Nick Clegg this month admitted the soaring cost of living was the key concern of voters which the government had to address.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: 'They care about how they’re going to pay their bills, the price of petrol, the prices of gas and electricity, the price of food, whether their kids are going to get a job, whether their kids are going to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder.
‘And those are the things against which we’ll be rightly tested in 2015.’