The Government has been condemned by motoring and business groups after denying that the rising price of oil had led to a multi-billion-pound windfall for the Treasury.
Ministers have provoked more anger when pleas to drop a proposed 2p per litre rise in fuel duty, due on April 1, were rejected earlier this week.
AA president Edmund King believes the price rise could generate as much as 4bn in taxes, thanks largely to the huge price rises in crude oil. He accused the Government of being 'disingenuous'.
The director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, also objected to the plans, adding: 'The Government has received billions of pounds of unexpected revenue from recent high oil prices, which negates the need for the extra money set to come from the 2p rise in April.'
However, treasury minister Angela Eagle has denied these allegations and said, 'The Government rejects the notion that there is a windfall, because any increase in VAT receipts from the retail sector is not by design.'