Bloomberg News

Osborne Considers U.K. Fuel-Duty Delay as Labour Pushes Revolt

November 12, 2012

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne may delay an increase in duty on gasoline planned for January as the opposition Labour Party seeks to provoke a rebellion by Conservative lawmakers over the issue.

Labour will press for the delay in a vote in the House of Commons later today, seeking a second U-turn from Osborne on the tax since March. Robert Halfon, a lawmaker from the chancellor’s Tory party, said he’s received assurances from the Treasury that it will consider a delay, while the Treasury wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“I am going to vote with the government” against the Labour motion, Halfon, who last week considered voting with Labour, said in a telephone interview. He said he believes ministers “are in strong listening mode.”

Labour lawmaker Ed Balls, the party’s spokesman on Treasury affairs, is using the non-binding motion to demand that Osborne put back from Jan. 1 to April the increase of 3 pence (4.8 U.S. cents) on a liter of gasoline. The increase had been due to take effect in August, before Osborne postponed it in the fourth of a series of policy reversals in June.

A spokesman from the Treasury, who declined to be named to comply with rules governing public servants, said the government has listened to the concerns of motorists and that it recognizes that the cost of fuel takes up an increasing part of household spending.

June’s postponement cost the Treasury 550 million pounds and was paid for by savings from government departments. Any further delay would be announced by Osborne in his autumn statement to Parliament on Dec. 5, one of two dates in the parliamentary calendar when he changes tax and spending policy.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gonzalo Vina in London at gvina@bloomberg.net; Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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