Businesses based in remote areas such as Devon and Cornwall should get a fuel duty discount to offset eye-watering prices at the pumps, an MP has told ministers.
The call, by Westcountry MP George Eustice, came as the Government was faced mounting pressure to ditch a 3p-a-litre rise in fuel tax in the New Year.
Politicians from across the divide yesterday demanded ministers scrap the planned hike to help families and businesses struggling to fill their petrol tanks.
A backbench motion, debated yesterday and signed by more than 100 MPs, called on ministers to take firm action.
And MPs last night unanimously passed the motion calling on the Government to consider a "price stabilisation mechanism" to tackle rising fuel costs.
As MPs heard how rural areas are hardest hit by increases, Mr Eustice, Tory MP for Camborne and Redruth, proposed a remote areas "fuel duty rebate".
He said firms "specifically located in peripheral regions like Cornwall" should get a chunk of the tax back.
"I don't think it should be beyond the wit of man," Mr Eustice said in the Commons. "It could be a very powerful regional policy." Sarah Wollaston, Tory MP for Totnes, added there is a "compelling case" for Chancellor George Osborne to stop the 3p rise. She told colleagues a car is not a "luxury but an absolute necessity" in the countryside, and warned of the damage the hike would cause Westcountry industry.
Dr Wollaston cited the extra £24,000-a-year the rise will cost Ivybridge, Devon-based recycled tyre manufacturer Bandvulc, which uses more than 500,000 litres of fuel annually.
She told MPs: "It's just one example of a family-run manufacturing business producing local jobs with a sustainable product that wants to stay in Devon but knows it would make economic sense to relocate part of their businesses to Eastern Europe as part of the fuel duty rise."
But the motion was "watered down", critics claimed, compared to an e-petition signed by 100,000 people, which triggered the debate.
Halting January's 3p rise in petrol duty was not mentioned in the motion. Critics argued this explained why the Government did not insist Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs voted with the Government and against the motion.
But Former South West Minister Ben Bradshaw called for immediate action. The Labour MP for Exeter said: "Hard pressed motorists should not have to wait until January for nothing more than a freeze in duty.
"They should get 3p off a litre now. That is what Labour's proposal to reverse January's VAT hike would deliver. Cutting VAT also has the advantage of not just helping motorists but everyone and giving our stagnant economy the boost it so desperately needs."
Anne Marie Morris, Conservative MP for Newton Abbot, said the car is "often a necessity to get from A to B" in rural areas.
Adding low-income workers, small businesses and families are struggling to fund the cost of £1.34-a litre for unleaded petrol, she said: "The Government has taken much needed action in this area, but I believe we need to go further. I would like to see planned increases in fuel taxation cancelled, the introduction of a price stabilisation mechanism and consideration given to introducing a rural rebate scheme in our more remote areas." The Government wants to trial plans for a 5p-a-litre fuel cut for remote areas on the Isles of Scilly, and many hope it will be rolled out to rural Devon and Cornwall if it proves successful.
Stephen Gilbert, Lib Dem MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: "For a rural community like Cornwall, the cost of fuel can act as a real barrier for people to get to work, access vital services and visit family and friends.
"The coalition has taken action, scrapping Labour's fuel duty escalator, cutting fuel duty and introducing a fair fuel stabiliser. But we do need to more to reduce the cost of motoring."
In an apparent olive branch, it was reported that Downing Street was considering scrapping the planned excise rise.
But Treasury minister David Gauke said the Government would have to press ahead with planned increases unless money could be found from other areas.
Mr Gauke said: "Of course we will listen to these concerns, but there isn't an easy answer to this, there isn't some great pot of money. We are going to have to take difficult decisions."