The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is also conducting an enquiry into the smuggling of fuel. The temptation of fuel at up to £1 a gallon cheaper in the Republic even proved too much for one of the Government's own departments, which began refilling south of the border. The Western Education and Library Board's decision to send 40 of its 300-strong fleet of school buses four miles across the border from its base in Londonderry instantly saved it £2,000 a month in fuel bills. The practice was soon brought to an end.
Ulster Unionist William Thompson MP demanded in the House of Commons to know what measures are being taken to combat the illegal importation of petrol and diesel from the Republic. Labour MP Patricia Hewitt, responded on behalf of the Treasury, saying: 'The Government recognises that the illegal importation of petrol and diesel across the border into Northern Ireland is a serious problem which disadvantages legitimate traders.
'HM Customs is taking the lead, acting in conjunction with other authorities, including the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in deploying resources and actively mounting investigations against those involved to counter the threat posed to the revenue and to the Northern Ireland business community.'