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.
- 1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Tony Abbott tells Europe to 'stop the boats' like Australia as migrant crisis continues
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
£19000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Executive is re...
£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company was established in ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...