A discount in the price of petrol and diesel on the Scottish islands and the Isles of Scilly could and should be increased, an MP has suggested.

The discount scheme, which was introduced in March, gives motorists a 5p per litre reduction in duty.

But following a meeting with Treasury officials, Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil, who is the SNP transport spokesperson, said the government could increase the discount to 7.5ppl.

Politicians, government officials, fuel retailers and suppliers met at the Scottish Office in Glasgow to discuss how the discount was working.

MacNeil told BBC Alba: “We found out from a civil servant at the Treasury in London that the rebate was costing something like £3.3m a year.

“It was due to be costing £5m a year, so the derogation could go up to 7.5p and still cost £5m.”

“This move would be a great help to motorists and hauliers currently suffering from the Westminster Government’s no growth austerity programme, which we all know is simply not working. It would have no additional cost implications, but would make a big impact on Scotland’s hard pressed rural communities.”

Fuel prices in the Western Isles are already in the spotlight after the OFT announced last month that it had launched an investigation into the distribution of road fuels in the Western Isles of Scotland by GB Oils Limited.

The discount scheme applies to the Hebrides, Northern Isles, islands in the Firth of Clyde and the Isles of Scilly.

In December, the Treasury said it would examine whether the rebate should be extended to other rural areas on the mainland. There is a proposal to extend it to parts of Cornwall and the north-west Highlands.

The European Commission would have to approve any change to the scheme.