THE SNP have called for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to rethink a proposed 3p rise in fuel duty which is planned for August.
Gordon MSP and First Minister Alex Salmond made the call in the wake of price increases which recently saw petrol and diesel hit all time highs.
Previous years have seen Chancellor George Osbourne postponing or reducing threatened fuel rises; however, he confirmed at the last budget that fuel duty would rise by 3p on August 1.
Motorists have benefited in the past week from a drop in crude oil prices, which have led to cuts of around 3p a litre at the pumps. However, petrol and diesel remain expensive commodities in the north-east of Scotland - with residents in Ellon and Inverurie paying dearer at the pumps than they would in the city. The nationalists have previously campaigned for a ‘fuel price regulator’, which would lower taxation on fuel in times of high crude oil prices. Figures released by the European Commision this month indicate that the proportion of tax levied on fuel by the UK Treasury is among the highest among all EU members - at 58.6% for unleaded and 56.8% for diesel. To put this figure into perspective, motorists in countries including Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain - heavily indebted nations badly hit by the ongoing downturn - each pay significantly less than British motorists.
Mr Salmond said: “For families in rural constituencies like Aberdeenshire East, driving is a necessity, not a luxury, and the soaring cost of fuel is having a huge impact on household finances.
“The SNP is leading calls at Westminster for the UK Government’s 3p rise in duty to be scrapped. The SNP is also tabling amendments to the budget to bring in a fuel duty regulator.
“It is highway robbery for the UK Government to plan a further 3 pence rise when we already face the highest fuel taxes in Europe. If Westminster will not act, the powers should be passed to the Scottish Parliament so that it can. If Scotland has control of fuel duty, the SNP government will introduce a fuel duty regulator to lower prices now.”