The government has postponed the planned 2p a litre rise in fuel duty - due to come into force in October. The move, announced by the Chancellor Alistair Darling, is the second delay to the planned rise. The government originally planned to introduce the increase in April, then postponed the date until October 1. But following widespread pressure from

motorists and truckers, the implementation date has now been put back another six months, until next April.

Darling said the global credit crunch and sharp rises in world oil prices had pushed up prices at the pump, adding the move was designed to help struggling motorists.

The decision came the week before the Glasgow East by-election, where Labour is defending a majority of more than 13,000.

The RAC Foundation said Darling’s announcement provided “light relief” for drivers, but warned it did not go far enough. It stated: “The Chancellor still has plans to raise over £2 billion from the motorist through changes to motoring taxes and VED announced in Budget 2008.

"The Government must carry out an urgent ‘root and branch’ review of motoring taxes. The current system is failing motorists by charging them more and more for increasingly poor levels of service. The difference between taxes taxen from the motorist and investment returned to the road network has soared over four hundred percent since the mid 1970s. Today, the Government takes four times as much from the motorist (£31.2bn) as it spends on the roads (£8.2bn).”

Sheila Rainger, the organisation’s head of campaigns, added: “The Chancellor has pulled a populist rabbit out of the hat by scrapping the 2p rise, but this is a drop in the ocean compared to the extra £2 billion that the Treasury intends to take from the motorist over the next two years.”