OPPOSITion is mounting to a proposed 3p per litre hike in the price of fuel which is scheduled to be introduced in January.
Fuel campaigners say the price rise will be particularly hard hitting in the Highlands and Islands and the north of Scotland, where motorists are already paying a premium at the pumps.
Increasing fuel prices in January will mean real hardship for consumers and put further pressure on an already fragile economy, say opponents - who argue the increase, already postponed twice, should be postponed again.
SNP transport spokesman Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “People in Scotland are fed up facing the highest fuel prices in Europe, and now the UK government are complicit in a further hike of the price of petrol. It is a disgrace.
“This price hike is particularly hard on households in rural Scotland, who travel miles every day and rely heavily on their car.
“A staggering 60 per cent of the price of petrol is disappearing down the Treasury black hole. The public realise the UK government are the biggest culprits in this highway robbery.
“The Tory Lib coalition cannot deflect all the blame for prices on to oil companies or suppliers when 60 per cent of the cost goes into government coffers. Action to cut the cost of fuel is within their hands.”
Labour MP Cathy Jamieson called for cross party support for a Labour motion to postpone the fuel increase, which is tabled to be heard in Parliament on Monday.
“It cannot be right that this out-of-touch government is handing a tax break to 8,000 millionaires while middle and lower income families are hit with a fuel duty rise,” she said. “That is why Labour is calling on the Chancellor to cancel January’s planned 3p rise in fuel duty – at least until April. This could be funded if the government clamped down on tax avoidance schemes used by employment agencies, potentially saving taxpayers up to £1 billion.
“We will put this to a vote in Parliament on Monday. Labour hopes that MPs from all parties will stand up for their constituents and back our call”
Campaigners from FairFuel UK claim allowing it to now go ahead in January could lead to 35,000 job losses and hit economic growth.
Former haulier and campaign founder Peter Carroll said: “Currently the amount of tax people pay on fuel is close to 80 per cent when you take into account duty and VAT. For the good of the economy we have got to postpone the 3p rise which is due to be introduced in January.”
He said many people in Scotland are already paying over the odds for their fuel because of premiums charged by distributors to people in remote areas.
There were rumours that a number of back-bench Conservative MPs are planning to break ranks to vote against the rise in fuel duty, saying it was one of the most frequently aired concerns of constituents.
Some said the windfall received by the government by selling off the 4G frequency should be used to offset the cost of capping fuel duty.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has proposed the motion to postpone the rise on duty, saying it will create hardship for small businesses and people on low to middle incomes.