A host of MPs have thrown their weight behind the campaign to bring back empty rates relief across the country.

More than 120 have signed commons motions against the tax – including 60 backbench Labour MPs - urging the prime minister to scrap the levy on empty shops, offices and warehouses that was introduced in the April Budget 2007.

Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, Kent has called the levy ‘the politics of the madhouse.

‘We are imposing a policy that was dreamed up years ago under very different economic circumstances and introduced on All Fools Day this year at the start of what we now know to be a deepening recession,’ he said.

‘In the Wonderland that this Alice Minister inhabits there are clearly queues of shopkeepers and manufacturers waiting to pay rent for premises.’

Conservative MP for Essex, John Whittingdale said: ‘I’ve encountered a number of constituents who are suffering. I can understand the government’s initial argument that it was a measure intended to prevent property standing empty and to encourage new tenants to be brought in, but while there may have been a case for this in a buoyant market, in the present climate it is highly unrealistic.’

And Bob Russell, Lib Dem MP for Colchester, echoed the MP’s concerned and said said: ‘These properties are not empty because of a lack of effort; there are examples across the UK of commercial property owners who would love to find tenants for their properties.’

While pressure is mounting on Gordon Brown to scrap the tax, business secretary Peter Mandelson maintains that the tax is good for small businesses and tenants as he believes it will bring rents down.

To join 3,000 other signatories in a petition against the tax, go to http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/emptythreat