§ (1) In addition to any other duties imposed by law in respect to motor spirit, there shall be charged, levied, and paid on a licence to be taken out by any person who desires to be supplied with motor spirit a duty at the rate of sixpence for every gallon of motor spirit with which he is authorised to be supplied by the licence.
§ Provided that—
- (a) any person using motor spirit for purposes other than supplying motive power to a motor car or motor cycle or for supplying motive power to any motor car or motor cycle in respect of which duty is not payable under Section eighty-six of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, shall be entitled, in accordance with Regulations made under this Section, to an allowance or re-
750 payment of the whole duty payable under this Section in respect of a licence authorising the supply of that motor spirit; and
- (b) any duly qualified medical practitioner or registered veterinary surgeon using motor spirit for the purpose of supplying motive power to a motor car or motor cycle kept by him, while it is being used by him for the purposes of his profession, shall be entitled, in accordance with Regulations made under this Section, to an allowance or repayment of half the amount of duty payable under this Section in respect of a licence authorising the supply of that motor spirit.
§ (2) A licence shall be in such form, and shall be issued in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by Regulations made for the purposes of this Section by the Board of Trade, and the Regulations may provide for the use of different forms of licence according to the purpose for which the supply of motor spirit is required, and every licence shall specify the amount of motor spirit authorised by the licence to be supplied to the holder.
§ Regulations may provide for the surrender of any licence under this Section authorising the supply of motor spirit, and for any consequent repayment of duty.
§ (3) Nothing in this Section or in any provisions supplemental to this Section shall apply to the supply of motor spirit to licensed dealers for the purpose of sale to customers.
§ (4) In this Section, "motor spirit," has the same meaning as in Part VI. of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910.—[Mr. McKenna.]
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he cannot do something to assist the owners of private motor cars who are using them for public work? I know there is a subsequent Clause which exempts cars used solely for Government work, but that does not meet the case, as the bulk of the privately-owned cars are 751 not used entirely for Government work. They are used largely for Red Cross work and by the Headquarters Central Division of the Special Constabulary, who provide all cars for work in connection with Zeppelin raids. Again, they are used for recruiting work all over the country, and are so used voluntarily. I cannot help feeling that in imposing this tax on the users of these motor cars so employed the right hon. Gentleman is not taking sufficient account—he was not here on the last occasion when I raised the question—of the enormous amount of voluntary work which has been so very freely done and given by the motorists of the country during the last eighteen or twenty months. Some account might be taken of that. It is a little hard that, as a reward for all the work which motorists have voluntarily done, the right hon. Gentleman should propose this additional tax upon them. I ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the real purpose of this tax is to stop the use of cars, or to raise revenue? We are entitled to know that. If the purpose is to stop the use of cars, it would be very much better that the right hon. Gentleman should have the courage of his opinions and should take the necessary steps to stop their use. What effect will this have? It enables the rich man to go on using his car as much as he likes, while it prevents the less well-to-do man and the poor man—there are many men owning motor cars to whom this tax will be an appreciable item—from using their cars. If the desire is to raise revenue, the poor man and the rich man are equally liable to taxation, but if the desire is to stop the use of petrol, all the Clause does is to prevent the moderately poor man from using a motor car, while the rich man can use his as much as he likes. I am sure that that is not the intention of the right hon. Gentleman.
Motorists do not object to taking their share of war taxation. We are anxious to do our part, but we have done so much voluntarily that the right hon. Gentleman ought to give us some recognition. Those men who have placed their cars at the disposal of the public are entitled to some recognition for what they have done. I told the Committee on the last occasion that I could produce evidence from every county throughout the country as to the work done, and I gave certain figures in regard to certain counties. I am not 752 going over all those again this afternoon. On that occasion I mentioned a Northern county and a Southern county. On this occasion I will mention a Midland county, not to show what is being done, but to show what is the view of the local authorities as to the assistance motorists have given. Take the county of Leicestershire. There is a large general hospital in Leicester. Ten thousand cases have been moved to or from that hospital in the eighteen months ending the beginning of April this year. That has been done through the voluntary agency of the owners of private motor cars. In addition to that, 5,500 wounded soldiers have been taken out to various entertainments by the owners of private motor cars. We tried to find out the view of the public officials and those responsible for the local government in the different neighbourhoods as to the action of motorists, and I would ask leave of the Committee to mention these facts because of the absurd and cruel aspersions constantly cast upon motorists in regard to the way in which they use their cars, suggesting that they are using them for pleasure purposes in time of war. The Colonel in Command of the district, from a military point of view, says that he has seen the attacks made upon them, and he knows what everybody has done to help the hospital and help his recruiting work in every way. The secretary to the Recruiting Committee authorises one to say that he has always had fifteen or twenty cars at his disposal for recruiting purposes whenever he wanted them. The county director of the Red Cross testifies to the same extent. The Mayor of Leicester, who would be in a better position than anybody else to say what has been done, states:As Mayor I am in an exceptional position to form an opinion. I have been astonished at the willingness of motorists to assist in public work.The Chief Constable of Leicester testifies to the assistance motorists have given to the police of the borough, and the Chief Constable of the county testifies to the way in which motorists have placed themselves at the disposal of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman can have all these letters if he likes.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
As he does not dispute it and is prepared to give a concession to those motorists who place the 753 whole time of their cars at the disposal of the Government, I suggest it is not outside his great ability to provide some scheme by which concessions might be made to those motorists who place nearly the whole time of their cars at the disposal of the Red Cross Hospital or the military authorities.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid the hon. Member was not here yesterday. If he had been, he would be aware that we had a long discussion which dealt with that question on the Clause dealing with relief in respect of Motor-car Licence Duties, when the Committee decided that the word "exclusively" should remain.
§ The CHAIRMAN
So far, certainly. The hon. Member appeared to me to be surveying the whole ground. On this Clause the sole question is whether such or other exemptions should be extended.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
As a matter of fact, I was in the precincts of the House yesterday, but I was unable to be here when the Clause was under discussion. I will not press the matter, but will ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider it. It may be impossible to give the necessary abatement with regard to the Licence Duty, but it is possible to create a scheme, when dealing with the question of Petrol Duty, to ease the burden on the shoulders of those who lend their cars for public purposes. I would only ask one other question, namely, when may we expect the Regulations and when the tax will come into operation? At present there is a great deal of uncertainty on this point, and everybody is wondering whether they ought to get their licences now.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LOUGH
When we were dealing with the Resolution the right hon. Gentleman gave us some very clear information with regard to two or three matters which I do not think are fully provided for in the Clause. This is a new class of duty which is to be paid on the licence. I wish the right hon. Gentleman would 754 give us some more information about the form of the licence. Will it contain a time limit, or will it be a blank licence to run on for any time? If the licence has a time limit, as was hinted, what arrangement will be made with regard to those cases in which the quantity of petrol specified is not entirely used? I would ask my right hon. Friend also to consider this great difficulty which may arise. Sometimes breakdowns occur and the consumption of petrol is greater than was expected. Suppose a man has only a few gallons on his licence and is caught on a long and important journey when he has run out, can it be explained what provision will be made? Then I should like to ask, will the exemptions provided in the Licence Duty also be granted in the case of the Petrol Duty? It strikes me that the Clause is really rather strict and does not cover all the cases that ought to be covered. Perhaps there is provision elsewhere for trade cars and the numerous points which were mentioned last night on the Licence Duty. Will these all be entitled to similar exemption?
§ Mr. McKENNA
With regard to trade cars, the words "or for supplying motive power to any motor car or motor cycle in respect of which duty is not payable under Section 86 of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910," mean that trade cars are to be excluded from payment, including omnibuses. It means that cars in respect of which duty is not payable under Section 86 include trade cars, omnibuses, or commercial cars, and they will be excluded from Licence Duty under this Clause'. My right hon. Friend next asks me about what is to happen when a motorist finds that he has exhausted the amount to which he is entitled when he is in the middle of a journey and cannot get home. I am afraid he will have to find a friend who will give him motor spirit upon his, the friend's, licence. He will not be able to buy any more, therefore I should warn all motorists who are running to the end of their licensed amount to remember that they must not go greater distances than the remaining spirit will carry them. With regard to the time limit, I am unable to say anything at present. I do not know whether the licence will be for three or six months or for a year, or what period it may be, but the Regulations are to be prescribed by the Board of Trade. I cannot say anything about them at present because it is 755 necessary that we should have the result of the census which is now being taken before any Regulations can be made as to the use of petrol. It may be, as the result of the census, that the motorists of the country are so moderate in their demands that every demand will be able to be met. I do not anticipate that.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Suppose that the demand is really moderate in the case of a given person, will he be allowed to have the moderate amount of spirit for which he has asked or will he be averaged with people whose demands are excessive? There are people who really use motor spirit very moderately and only for really essential purposes. If they send in their moderate demand it is rather hard that they should have that cut down because some other person uses a very excessive amount.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I assume, though I have no authority to speak on the subject, that no applicant will receive a larger amount of petrol merely because he has asked for a larger amount. I assume that everyone's case will be, so far as possible, judged on its merits. The penalty that any person pays who asks for a larger amount than he is likely to use will be that he will have to pay Licence Duty in respect of the whole amount for which he asked, although he gets the money back at the end of the time if he hag not used it; but no person will get more, merely because he asked for it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is not quite my point Supposing a certain person asks for ten gallons a month—a very moderate amount—and supposing the majority of other people ask for fifty gallons, will an average be struck, and the person who asks for ten gallons only get five because other people are cut down?
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, it will not be in proportion to the demand. It is no general proportion to what people ask. Every case will be judged upon its merits.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I assume any Committee would naturally give a person who has got a necessary use for his car more petrol than a person who uses his car merely for pleasure. Then the hon. Member (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) asked whether 756 the purpose of this tax is to put an end to the private use of motor cars or whether it is to raise money. Those two alternatives are not necessarily exclusive. The unnecessary use of a motor car is injurious to the State, but the payment of money is beneficial to the State, and it may be that the degree of unnecessary use is small while the degree of payment of money is high, and the State on the balance may get more advantage from the payment of the money than disadvantage from the use of the motor car. We have, therefore, endeavoured to put on the use of a motor car a financial penalty which will make up to the State for the injury which the State might suffer by what I might call the unnecessary use of the car. It cannot be said that the tax is purely for revenue, and it cannot be said that it is purely to suppress motor cars. It is something of both. With regard to the relief from this tax of cars used for purposes such as the work of the Red Cross Society, I am afraid we shall have to adhere to the rule that no relief of any kind can be considered unless the car is exclusively used for Government purposes or for State purposes of that kind. We cannot allow every person to assess himself. The tax will come into operation, I assume, when the census is taken, but the Petrol Committee cannot act until they know what the facts of the case are.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider one case which may possibly arise? In the case of doctors, suppose the supply which they are authorised to purchase is exceeded, would it not be possible to issue a licence under which, in the case of special exigencies and for the public good, that supply might be in certain cases increased? I know that this difficulty has arisen not from any limitation upon the purchase, but because the petrol was not obtainable, and in the last period before it was obtained medical attendance has absolutely been stopped in some country districts. I have had reports from medical officers repeatedly that they could not obtain it. It would be still harder if, even when the supply is forthcoming, they are told, "No, however urgent the case is, however necessary your attendance at a great distance, you cannot purchase this because you have already had your whole supply for a month." Would it not be possible to give a special permit which might be used only by a professional medical man for purposes of public interest?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman's observations are very much in point, but I think the matter will have to be considered by the Petrol Committee of the Board of Trade. I think it ought to be brought home to their minds.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Sir W. BEALE
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to add the following paragraph:—
(c) Ministers of religion, farmers residing at a distance from a station, and other persons who under special circumstances to be defined by Regulations require motor spirit for a motor car or motor cycle used for purposes defined by such Regulations to be such as to bring them within this Sub-section, may be authorised by such Regulations to claim and may be allowed relief from a portion (not exceeding one-half) of the amount of duty payable under this Section in respect of such amount of the motor spirit as shall be specified in the licence to be allocated to that particular purpose."
I have no intention of going behind what was said yesterday in connection with the Motor Licence Duty. I perfectly recognise the unwisdom of attempting to exempt classes of men, because you do not know how far you might go, but it occurred to me that there are undoubted cases which might be met in another way without any objection of that sort. I notice that already in the next Clause which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes there is evidence that they do anticipate that a special purpose may be indicated on the licence, and it does not seem to me to be impracticable, and seems to be a thing which would remove a grievance which, in the case of ministers of religion, might very well be met by putting on the face of the licence that a certain amount of the spirit was allocated to a specific purpose and a kind of use which was shown to be of national importance, and that for that amount, and that amount only, he might be relieved. I suggest only partial relief, and I should leave it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put in what variation he likes as to the amount. But I ask him to take this opportunity of having a Clause which will give some elasticity so that relief can be given to certain people. Of those people, I think 758 ministers of religion stand first. Their case was fully gone into. It has come within my notice that during the War very many ministers are taking the work of others in parishes at a considerable distance from their residence. They chiefly use motor cycles. They are not people who own motor cars of their own. I have had many representations made to me of the hardship the Motor Duty would be to them, but in regard to the Spirit Duty, I think relief might be given in this way. Another class is that of farmers specially circumstanced in this way, that their horses have been commandeered and they have bought up cheap or second-hand motor cars to tide them over the difficulty. The paragraph as I have framed it would enable that matter to be met. The people who grant the licences will very easily be able to deal with any specific ease. If a minister comes and says, "I have to go once or twice a week to-such a district, and I want to have enough spirit for that purpose at half-price," they could easily verify whether that is reasonable or not, and if only that much is allowed to him no harm would be done. Take, again, the case of the farmer. If they know he is a long way from a station, and has to go into market twice a week, it will be very easy to specify quite, a reasonable amount on which he might have relief from the Motor Duty. There are other cases which may be dealt with if they turn out to be of the same nature. Of course, the whole subject may be defined and limited by Regulations. I do ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can see his way to adopt some Amendment of the kind I have moved. I apprehend that it would be practically easy to do it, and it could be done justly without running any risk of the Treasury losing any substantial amount of money. Subsection (4) of the next Clause which is to-be moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer provides that a person shall not use motor spirit with which he is authorised to be supplied for any special purpose by his licence for any other purpose. If he abuses or attempts to abuse any such concession he will be liable to a heavy penalty under the Clause. I am not wedded to the particular words of my Amendment. I have tried to make the Amendment general, and, I think, that a reasonable concession made on these lines would be much appreciated. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot accept my Amendment as it stands, I would ask him 759 to consider whether he could not, by the drafting of other words, meet a really deserving object.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Montagu)
The arguments which my hon. and learned Friend has addressed to the Committee are very similar in purpose to the arguments which were addressed to the Committee on another Clause last night. I have very little to add in regard to the cases of ministers of religion. I hope the Committee will realise that we are discussing this Clause in the middle of a national emergency. There is a great shortage of petrol in this country, and if my hon. and learned Friend had seen the figures which I have seen on this subject he would realise how important it is not to stop the consumption of petrol, but to limit it as far as possible. Immediately one listens to arguments which leads one to sympathise with hard cases, one gets upon the slope of concession, on which there is no stopping. I would draw my hon. and learned Friend's attention to his own Sub-clause, which is drawn in such a way that it contemplates an absolutely indefinite extension to any other person under special circumstances. Where are the Committee or the Board of Trade or the Treasury going to stop in giving exemption under a Clause of that kind? When you come to consider particular cases, the hon. and learned Gentleman has suggested that the portion of petrol issued to a particular person that has been used for a particular purpose may be exempted from a portion of the taxation. Imagine the case of a farmer filling the petrol tank on the back of his car and going into the market of a particular town, and then going off to lunch with a friend, a mile or a mile and a half distant from the market town. How is he to tell which part of the petrol in his tank is used for going to market, and how much is used for going to lunch?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I am not suggesting that anybody would willingly deceive the State, particularly if they were subject to a penalty, as they are subject to a penalty under this Clause, but I am suggesting that quite innocently they might do that, and that you could not work such a Clause. When you come to the case of farmers who live far from a railway station, I would 760 point out that, in the first place, this particular moment is not the moment to suggest to the House of Commons particular exemptions and concessions to farmers, who are, on the whole, very prosperous at the moment. Secondly, I would point out that when you rent a farm you have to pay rent according to the facilities for marketing your produce. The further from a railway station your farm is, presumably, other things being equal, the lower the rent. That is a fact which has to be borne in mind. I do submit that when you look at the proposed concession in its individual application, it is not of particular advantage, and when you consider the concession at large it does away with the whole reason for imposing the tax at all, and on these grounds we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. G. LAMBERT
I think my right hon. Friend has been a little hard upon the farmer. When he says that farmers who live at a very considerable distance from the station have taken their farms at a lower rent, I agree that probably that is the case, but he must recollect that at this time of national emergency the farmers have had their horses taken from them by the military, and they are unable to get from their farms to the station. That is a reason which, I think, should induce the right hon. Gentleman to accept the elasticity contained in my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment. He can adopt his own regulations. As my hon. Friend says, you do not lay down a hard and fast line. I may not speak generally of ministers of religion in Devonshire, because they have not such long distances to travel, but I do know in that county and in other counties where farmers live ten or twelve miles from a station, and it is very hard upon them that after they have had their horses commandeered, they should now have to pay an extra Petrol Tax in order to use the small cars which they have to use, and which they have been obliged to buy for the purposes of their business because their horses have been taken. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secretary whether they cannot accept some form of elasticity in regard to this matter, instead of laying down a hard and fast rule. You give a concession of one-half to the doctors, and one-half to the veterinary surgeons, and surely you can give it to men who have been absolutely damaged by the State taking away their means of carrying their produce to market. My 761 right hon. Friend (Mr. Lough) reminds me that trade cars are exempted. If trade cars are exempted, why should not an agriculturist who is using his car specially for his trade, and for his trade only, not have an exemption?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I assume that if a business man uses his car for trade he is exempt. I have no sympathy whatever with joy-rides. I have no sympathy with the use of cars and the utilising of petrol at the present time for pleasure rides, but I do ask that agriculturists should not be placed in a worse position than a trader, more particularly when his means of taking his produce from his farm to the market have been taken from him by the Government. What objection can there be to allowing regulations to be made to give some form of elasticity so that relief may be given in deserving cases? I hope that the Treasury will relent in regard to this very important matter.
Sir HASTINGS DUNCAN
I should like to speak a few words on behalf of a very small class who are affected by this tax. I refer to the surveyors of local authorities, who as a condition of their engagement have undertaken to keep a motor car. These men are to a large extent in receipt of small salaries, and they have been hard hit by the increase in the cost of living, like everybody else. They are also hard hit by the increase in the Income Tax, and now they have this extra tax put upon them under conditions that they cannot avoid, especially at this time when they have the roads to survey, and they are expected to visit them, when labour is short, and very often unskilled. I do appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the case of these men for relief in regard to this burden, which is a burden we never expected to have to bear when they undertook to keep a motor car.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
There are some ministers of religion in very large country parishes who have to use their motor ears largely in professional work. In regard to farmers, there are men who use their vehicles chiefly in the conduct of their trade, but not exclusively. For instance, they may take their family to church, and that would debar them from the relief which is given to trade cars. We have been informed that trade and commercial cars are exempt from this increased tax. Here we have a 762 kind of car which is used as to nine-tenths of the oases for trade, but because it is used now and then for a joy ride, as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lambert) describes it, the owners are excluded from the concession given to cars used exclusively for trade. From the point of view of equity, and that is all we ask for, there should be in the regulations provision whereby these-exceptional cases may be dealt with by the Petrol Committee. It is not a big concession. These people do not want to get out of paying their fair share towards the cost of the War. They are paying heavily in Income Tax, and in the increased cost of living, and while they do not wish to shirk their duty, they do desire that in regard to these trade cars, by means of which they are doing their best to keep up trade which is absolutely essential for the cost of the War, they should receive some consideration, because this tax means a handicap upon their trade. All we ask is that cases should be dealt with on their merits, and I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has shown a desire to deal fairly with all cases, will consider this one favourably.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Almost every motor car in the country is used at some time or other for the purpose of the owner's business. How are you going to distinguish between the use of a motor car by a banker, which takes the banker to the station in order to bring him to his office in London, and the use of a motor car by a farmer which takes the farmer to the station in order that he may conduct his business? The sole dividing line must be as to whether the car is exclusively used for trade or not. The moment the owner of the car is allowed to judge for himself how much he may use the car for his own pleasure purposes, so that he may be free from certain taxation, if he uses it in part only for his pleasure and in part for business, we get on a slippery slope which leads to destruction. You must have a fixed line. If a farmer uses his car exclusively for taking his goods to market it is a market car—it is a trade car.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
That is quite clear. Assuming that a farmer conveys his produce by motor wagon, the agricultural produce would come under the definition of trade?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Certainly. I have no hesitation in giving a straight answer on that point. If the car is exclusively used for business, it is exempt.
§ Mr. WATSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the word "agriculturist" is used in the Act itself, "trade or agriculturist purpose "?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am much obliged to the hon. Member for reminding me, and that strengthens my point. It is quite clear that the Committee will be well advised not to give any exemption and concessions except to those which are exclusively used for trade.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I know a case of a country parson with a very large parish who has got a motor cycle which is never used except by himself for the sole purpose of administering his parish. Would he get an exemption?
§ Mr. McKENNA
No. This man would not enter into a bond or undertaking that if there was a labourer whom he wished to see he would not go a mile on the motor cycle to see that labourer.
§ Sir W. BEALE
As it is obvious that the 'Government will not accept the Amendment, I am perfectly willing to withdraw it. Reference has been made to the point that you would not know whether the owners of these cars might use them for some purpose of pleasure or for something irregular; but this really does not arise, because the point of the thing was that it would be known in the locality to what extent the vehicle would reasonably be required for he purposes of trade or profession and duty would be allowed only on that. I trust that the Treasury may reconsider the matter from this point of view, in order to meet at least the cases of ministers of religion and other very hard cases.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg to move to add to Sub-Section (1) the following paragraph:(c) Allowance shall be made in any subsequent licence for any spirit not used before the date on which any licence runs out, and if the spirit is not required the amount paid for duty shall be refunded.The object of this Amendment is to cover the promise that was made yesterday. I submit the Clause does not do this clearly. It is not clearly stated in the Clause that where duty has been paid on a licence, and the petrol is not used, it shall be allowed for in any subsequent licence or the money shall be refunded. An attempt is made to do it, but it is not properly done in the Clause. As this is a new form of duty 764 altogether I do not think it would have been so readily accepted yesterday but for the promise of my right hon. Friend that the point would be covered. The first Sub-section imposes the duty and then there j is a provision for duty to be allowed in certain conditions. I submit that that is the place where this proviso should be put in. It is not done there. An attempt is made to do it in the second part of Sub-Section (2) and the word "may" is used instead of "shall." I admit that that is a small point, but the Sub-Section refers to the surrender of a licence. A licence may not be surrendered; there may be no intention of surrendering it, and the words which I suggest should be added, or in some other way it should be made perfectly clear that as regards the balance under a licence on any amount not used tile duty should be refunded. The Chancellor ought to remember that this is different from all other duties, which are paid when the thing is actually consumed. He is now charging a heavy duty on something before it is consumed.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend's ingenuity will find Amendments to any Clause, and Amendments for which he could advance very plausible arguments, but we have already provided in the Clause for the very thing for which he asks us to provide. It is true that we have not provided for it as specifically as he wishes. The reason is quite obvious. We do not at present know what the nature of these licences is going to be, and for obvious reasons. While we do know what the supply of petrol is likely to be and what our estimated shortage is going to be, we do not know, until we have got the census return, what the demand is going to be. We cannot tell, therefore, in relation to demand and supply, whether we shall have to issue licences for a short period or for a long period, again according to the prospects of demand and supply. Therefore, we say, Regulations may provide for the surrender of any licence under this Section authorising the supply of motor spirit, and for any consequent repayment of Motor Duty; and on behalf of the Treasury we make a public statement that we will repay duty in respect of any petrol which has not been used for which a licence has been issued. This Clause is taking the place of the Clause which authorised additional Licence Duty which has been paid in toto,whether the petrol was used or not, and for which there would 765 be no refund. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Clause as it stands.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause added to the Bill.