The Government’s approach to tax rises has been criticised as “not the Conservative way” by Dorset Tory MPs – as one warned against “flirting” with a windfall tax on energy companies.

Speaking in the House of Commons as MPs debated the Government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead for a third day, South Dorset representative Richard Drax said high tax and high spend is not the way to cope with a “struggling economy”.

Meanwhile, Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope called on the Government to oppose windfall taxes, describing them as a “simplistic solution”.

Opposition parties have called for the Government to impose a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies to help relieve cost-of-living pressures.

Former minister Sir Christopher said: “The Government needs to show a lot more conviction in expressing its opposition to windfall taxes.

“They are a simplistic solution which always end up hurting the ordinary people who work in this population hardest. So I’m against windfall taxes.”

He added: “When I was first elected in Christchurch 25 years ago, I would never have been able to contemplate that (we) would have a Conservative government presiding over the highest levels of taxation in a generation and with inflation raging at 10 per cent.”

Sir Christopher added: “Yet there’s talk, even from some of my Conservative colleagues, about new tax increases, so-called windfall taxes. Describing a tax as a windfall tax doesn’t make it any less of a tax.

“I’m concerned that the Government still seems to be flirting with the idea of ever-higher taxes despite all the evidence that windfall taxes would be a further disaster.”

Mr Drax told the Commons: “Unbelievably, we, the Conservative Party, are presiding over the steepest taxes since the 1940s and the highest sustained spending levels since the 1970s.

“This is not the Conservative way. Nor is it the way to cope with a struggling economy.”

He added: “This week, the Bank of England warned of impending recession and 10% interest rates driven by high energy prices. These are difficult times.

“But every cloud has a silver lining. And, as Conservatives, this is the time to be radical, to return to our vote-winning philosophy of less state, low taxes and sound public finances.”

Mr Drax said the Chancellor must fulfil his role but the promise of tax cuts in two years will be “too little, too late”.

He added: “We will have lost the electorate who, burdened by high taxes and debt, will turn to a ruinous socialist government; one possibly in coalition with the SNP – the ultimate nightmare scenario.

“I accept that legislation on its own cannot solve the cost-of-living crisis, which to a large extent has been caused by events outside the Government’s control.

“But we do have the power to cancel the increase in national insurance, remove VAT from domestic fuel and reduce fuel duty even further.”