Pressure mounted last night on Chancellor Alistair Darling to use a windfall from North Sea oil returns to cancel a 2p-per-litre increase in fuel duties this autumn.
The call from the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland followed claims by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce that the windfall amounts to £505million — about the same as the cost of axeing the duty increase.
The proposal ran into a similar rejection to the one that the SNP got in a debate in the Commons.
Exchequer Secretary Angela Eagle dismissed windfall claims as “a myth”.
The Scottish Federation of Small Businesses said the Budget forecast for revenue from the North Sea was based on an assumed oil price of $84 (£43) per barrel.
It said that, according to accountancy firm Grant Thornton and tax expert Maurice Fitzpatrick, for every $4 (£2.05) increase in the price per barrel, the Treasury receives an extra £1.5billion.
Scottish policy convener Andy Wilcox said: “High fuel prices are crippling small business owners in every sector.”
SNP Westminster Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie, MP for Dundee East, who was forced to withdraw his proposal for extra help in remote rural and island areas and for haulage businesses in the Finance Bill committee debate, said he plans to reintroduce it.
He said: “In just six weeks, the Treasury has coined in a windfall in excess of half a billion pounds, while hard-pressed motorists are reeling from the price at the pumps.”