Plans to offer temporary visas to 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to help ease supply issues are "too little" and "too late", said Marc Fels, director of the HGV Recruitment Centre.

He told BBC Breakfast: "Every additional driver that is coming into the sector at the moment is going to be of benefit.

"But I feel this is too little, because the numbers coming in, 5,000, is not going to make a very large dent on the 90,000-100,000 that we are perceived to be short.

"And too late because we have been understanding these problems have been coming as early as April this year, so we are moving into October and only now are the Government coming up with these solutions when this has been an issue since April."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said if motorists only fill up their cars with fuel when needed, then there would be no need for the type of queues currently being seen at petrol pumps.

Speaking to Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, the Cabinet minister said: "I think the important thing to know is that within the country, at the six refineries and 47 storage facilities, there is plenty of fuel, there is no shortage of fuel within the country.

"So the most important thing is actually that if people carry on as they normally would and fill up their cars when they normally would, then you won't have queues and you won't have shortages at the pump either.

"It is not like we don't have fuel in the country, we do need to just ensure people are filling up when they need to fill up rather than thinking, 'I better go and fill up now just in case I need it next week or the week after'."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps blamed a trade association for the haulage industry for "sparking" the supply "crisis" through "irresponsible briefings" to the public.

Although Mr Shapps did not name the group, the Mail on Sunday reported a Government source stating the Road Haulage Association was "entirely responsible for this panic and chaos".

Asked whether the Government had ignored warnings for months about an upcoming shortage from the food and drink industry, Mr Shapps told Sky's Trevor Phillips: "Not true - we have already doubled the capacity so it's not true that nothing has been done.

"Let's not pretend this is a UK-specific problem, it's not. In Europe, for example in Poland, the shortage is 123,000 drivers, so there isn't just one simple new point to axe off, there isn't one simple solution to this, but we have, despite having had shortages, managed to ensure that petrol was still getting to petrol stations, food getting to the shops.

"I'm afraid there has been some pretty irresponsible briefing out by one of the road haulage associations, which has helped to spark a crisis, and that's very, very unhelpful, it's counterproductive.

"I know that they're desperate to have more European drivers undercutting British salaries, I know that's been their ask all along.

"We actually think that it's important that this country can train people, that people can do a proper day's work, that they're paid properly for that work, and that the long-term solution cannot be undercutting British salaries and having a constant vicious cycle of not being able to train people here and employ them on decent salaries."

Providing temporary visas is only "one part" of solving the HGV driver shortage, according to Grant Shapps, who said the Government's package of measures aims to solve the "bottleneck" of testing wait times caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Transport Secretary told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "(The package) is not just those visas, which is very short term, it is also the big bottleneck where there are plenty of people who know how to drive a lorry but where they need to get tested or re-tested; the DVSA - that's the testing agency - has had this massive restriction.

"You might say, 'well, why haven't you acted on that post-Covid?' Well, in fact we have. We reopened that testing back in April, we've managed to double the capacity, partly by using freedoms we've got outside of the EU to change the way the driving tests work, to get more capacity to get more tests through.

"Bringing in the Army will be a very significant assistance there as well and that way we can get more people tested and on to the roads.

"So visas is only one element of it, testing is very much front and centre.

"And then, of course, there is this appeal for people who already drive to realise that actually the salaries now for driving lorries has gone up tremendously. We think that is a good thing, we think there have been too many years of people being undercut to do a decent day's work, and the fact people will be paid properly in this industry is something that will help in the long term, and is actually what is required to have this industry sustainable in the long term without having to constantly import labour, which is what has happened up until now."

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Queues continue to build outside petrol stations across south Essex

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called the fuel shortage a "manufactured situation" created by a road haulage association.

Speaking to Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, the Cabinet minister said: "We need to ensure that people are reassured now that this rather manufactured situation has been created, because there's enough petrol in the country."

Asked who manufactured the situation, he said: "There was a meeting which took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting in which one of the haulage associations decided to leak the details to media, and that has created, as we have seen, quite a large degree of concern as people naturally react to those things.

"The good news is there is plenty of fuel, the bad news is if everyone carries on buying it when they don't need it then we will continue to have queues.

"Sooner or later everyone's cars will be more or less filled up, there won't be anywhere else to put fuel. It's not like the toilet roll crisis at the beginning of the pandemic where people could stockpile it, therefore it will come to an end.

"We just appeal to people to be sensible, fill up when you normally would. We've got this big package in place today in order to help alleviate the pressure and we ask people to do their part."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there is a "systemic problem" in the hiring of HGV drivers as they are largely from the same demographic.

Speaking to Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, he said: "We need to look to the sectors involved to make sure they are training up the next generation in haulier drivers.

"It's 99 per cent male, it's average age 55, there is a systemic problem that the Government is very keen to help the sector on, but the sector will also need to help recruit people in and train people and help improve standards in those sectors.

"In other sectors there are already schemes that help people to come in to say, pick fruit, as a seasonal role.

"We believe that we should be training people in this country and that people should be able to earn a decent wage in this country, and that is absolutely at the heart of the Government's approach."

The Transport Secretary refused to rule out bringing in the Army to drive fuel tankers.

Grant Shapps, asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show whether the Government planned to bring in Army drivers, said: "We will do whatever is required.

"The Army are going to at the moment make sure we are testing HGV drivers, that's where the bottleneck is."

The minister asked the public to "do their part" in only refilling their cars when needed, calling current forecourt queues "an unnecessary situation".