HC Deb 16 March 1916 vol 80 cc2261-2
82 and 83. Mr. CHANCELLOR

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether his Department is treating for purposes of revenue a road-sweeper as a pleasure car; (2) whether he is aware that on each of two motor road-sweepers purchased by the Shoreditch Borough Council to meet the shortage of labour and reduce the cost of street cleaning the Customs authorities are endeavouring to charge £220 duty on the ground that, not being otherwise specified in the Finance Act, 1915, a road-sweeper must be classed as a pleasure car and is liable for duty as such; and whether he will instruct Customs officials that necessary, useful, and economical articles not used for pleasure must not be taxed as pleasure vehicles?


I am advised that motor road-sweepers are motor-cars, within the meaning of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, and that none of the exemptions in that Act apply to them. They are, therefore, legally taxable. I understand that the facts as stated in Question No. 83 are approximately correct.


Is there no means of getting over this discouragement of local authorities to practise the economy which is being preached?


Strictly, without a change of the law, I do not think there can he any means of getting over it. Of course, if I had the sanction of the House in relaxing the law in this rather absurd case I should be glad to do it.


Has the right hon. Gentleman not the option of suspending application for these sums?


No, Sir; I could not do it without the sanction of the House. It is one of those mistakes and oversights that frequently occur.


Is it not an illustration of the wisdom of a scientific tariff?


Has the right hon. Gentleman received a letter from the City Corporation, asking that this duty should not be imposed, on the ground of the great usefulness of these sweeping machines, and in view of the fact that they are in no way pleasure cars?