Nearly a third of members of the UK Parliament have signed a petition to get beer tax rises scrapped.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said today (31 March) that 198 MPs from across the political spectrum have so far signed a Parliamentary Motion to 'Save the Great British Pub'.

It is hoped MPs' support will aid the BBPA in its campaign to prevent a further tax rise on beer in this year's Budget, due to be announced on 22 April.

The 'Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub' campaign, which is partly led by the BBPA, today issued an appeal in the Sun newspaper, asking readers to text Chancellor Alistair Darling.

Around 2,000 pubs have closed since the Chancellor increased beer tax last March, resulting in 20,000 job losses over the last year, the BBPA said earlier this month.

Research by Oxford Economics, examining the impact of last year's 18% leap in excise duty for beer, wine and cider, as well as a double-digit rise for spirits, forecast that up to 80,000 jobs could be lost across the drinks industry over the next five years.

It said that the two beer tax increases in 2008 placed an additional GBP520m (US$743m) cost burden on the sector.