A bid to delay a planned fuel duty rise this January has been defeated in the House of Commons.

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It came as pressure today has been growing on chancellor George Osborne to abandon the government’s controversial 3p-a-litre increase.

This evening, a House of Commons vote was defeated by 282 votes to 234, giving the government a 48 vote majority.

Opposition Labour MPs had been calling on the government to delay the tax hike until at least next April, claiming families and businesses are in desperate need of some good news from the exchequer.

Shadow chief secretary to the treasury Rachel Reeves said: “With our economy so fragile and prices still rising faster than wages, it would be wrong to go ahead with another tax rise on families and businesses.”

The campaign group FairFuelUK previously said it believed the tax hike could will raise only £800 million, compared to Treasury projections that it would bring in £1.5 billion. It could also cost as many as 35,000 jobs, it said.

The group campaigned at parliament today ahead of the debate and vote in the Commons, which finished just before 10pm.

Its spokesman, broadcaster Quentin Willson, said: “The momentum building up behind FairFuelUK’s call to see this damaging 3p rise scrapped is becoming unstoppable.

“The Treasury appears to be listening. We welcome Labour pushing on this issue. Consumers are currently paying an eye-watering 80p-per-litre in combined fuel duty and VAT.

“This is socially unjust and adding another 3p in tax doesn’t make sense for economic recovery and deficit reduction.”

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman declined to comment on whether the Government might back down on the 3p fuel duty rise, saying only that it was a matter for the Chancellor.

He said: “The government obviously recognises that the cost of petrol is a significant part of day to day spending and that is why the government has listened to the views of consumers and motorists and acted over the past two years by delaying or cancelling planned rises.”

How will the proposed tax hike affect you? Contact reporter Chris Hill on 01603 693892 or email chris.hill@archant.co.uk.

To see what our local MPs, businesses and rural campaigners have been saying, see tomorrow’s papers.

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