THE GOVERNMENT last night faced down a Labour bid to further delay the planned 3p rise in fuel duty, disappointing motorists but fending off a backbench rebellion.
The motion, which would have pushed the rise back from January to at least April, was defeated by 282 votes to 234, resulting in a healthy margin of 48, and came following a groundswell of public support for a delay in the rise.
Labour had called for yet another delay in the rise, saying it would be “wrong” and harm growth chances.
But it was quashed by Tory backbenchers’ decision to vote against the motion – against earlier suggestions they might ally with Labour – instead hoping the chancellor will push back the rise in next month’s Autumn Statement.
The Treasury defended the government’s position by saying it had already kept fuel price rises 10p per litre below the plans set out by the previous government in the fuel duty escalator.
This was abolished in 2011 by George Osborne, who set out plans for an alternate system, which would have led to a 3.02p rise in fuel duty in January this year, but Osborne postponed the rise in last year’s Autumn Statement, as well as cancelling a further 1.92p hike that had been planned for August.