Labour looks to capitalise as George Osborne feels the pressure to delay fuel-duty rise
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 08 November 2012
George Osborne, the Chancellor, is under mounting pressure to shelve a 3p a litre rise in fuel duty due to take effect in January.
The Labour Opposition will on Monday table a Commons motion calling for the increase to be postponed until April at a cost of £350m to ease the squeeze on hard-pressed families. It hopes to attract support from Conservative backbenchers, who have been pressing the Chancellor to act.
Although Labour looks unlikely to defeat the Government, its move will be seen as an attempt to grab a share of the credit if Mr Osborne delays the fuel price hike in his autumn statement on December 5.
Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said last night that the money could be found by clamping down on tax avoidance. He cited a growing problem with employment agencies forcing workers to become employees of an umbrella company to limit their tax and national insurance payments while boosting travel and food expenses. These scams are believed to cost the Treasury between £650m and £1bn a year.
Mr Balls said: “Acting now would give some relief to millions of motorists. Petrol now costs an average of £1.36 per litre. That’s 5p higher than in the summer when George Osborne U-turned and agreed to Labour’s call to postpone August’s fuel duty rise. And it’s 15p higher than it was at the general election.”
He added: “Now is not the right time to hit the economy with another tax rise on small firms and people on low and middle incomes. The Government needs to act and clamp down on those avoiding paying their fair share of tax so that millions don’t have to pay more. And I hope MPs from other parties will join us next week in pushing them to do so.”
Today Robert Halfon, the Tory MP who has led demands for a freeze in petrol duty, said the Government should fund the move from the proceeds of the 4G mobile phone spectrum sale. He told the Commons that the auction would raise up to £3bn, more than enough to scrap the fuel duty rise twice over.
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
- 1 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 2 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 3 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 4 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
- 5 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
'Santa Claus' dead: John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...