§ (1) The duties on licences for mechanically-propelled vehicles (in this Act referred to as "vehicles"), imposed by section thirteen of the Finance Act, 1920, as amended by this Act, and the excise duties on licences for carriages imposed by section four of the Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1888, shall, as from the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, be levied by county councils in accordance with provisions to be made for the purpose by Order in Council.
§ (2) Subject to the provisions of this Act and of any Order in Council made under this section, every county council and their officers shall, as from the said first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, have within their county for the purpose of levying the duties aforesaid (in this Act-referred to as "the said duties"), the same powers, duties, and liabilities as the Commissioners of Customs and Excise and their officers have with respect to duties of excise, and to the issue and cancellation of licences on which duties of excise are imposed, and other matters under the Acts relating to duties of excise and excise licences, and all enactments relating to those duties and to punishments and penalties in connection therewith shall apply accordingly.
§ (3) Every county council shall, subject to the provisions of any Order in Council made under this section, have as respects the said duties and licences the powers given by the said Acts to the Treasury for the restoration of any forfeiture and the mitigation or remission of any penalty or any part thereof.
§ (4) The duties levied by a county council under this section shall be paid into the Exchequer in such manner and in accordance with such directions as may be contained in any Order in Council made under this section.
§ (5) Provision may be made by Order in Council under this section for enabling the Minister to give such directions to county councils as he thinks necessary for securing uniformity of administration and otherwise for carrying the provisions of this Act and of any such Order into effect, and it shall be the duty of county councils to comply with any directions so given.
§ (6) An Order in Council made under this section may be revoked, varied, or amended, by a subsequent Order so made.
§ General Sir IVOR PHILIPPS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words, "in accordance with pro- 2624 visions to be made for the purpose by Order in Council."
I put down this Amendment in order to enter a protest against the growing custom of legislation by Orders in Council, which takes away powers from this House, and, in this particular Bill, really leaves all these important matters of road transport in the hands of the Minister of Transport.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Mr.Neal)
I understand that my hon. and gallant Friend does not intend to press this Amendment, and my remarks on it, therefore, need only be brief; but I think that if hon. Members will look at the provisions which are to be made by Order in Council, they will find that they are really matters which are quite suitable for that form of treatment, and are not, in fact, legislation. In order to meet the views which were expressed on the Second Reading, we have issued as a Command Paper a preliminary draft of the Order in Council which we propose to make under this particular Section. It is not, perhaps, in the final form in which it will be submitted to His Majesty in Council, but I think that a perusal of it will relieve my hon. and gallant Friend and other Members of any suspicion that there is any attempt here to usurp the proper and legitimate functions of Parliament.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir F. BLAKE
I beg to move in Subsection (5), after the word "Minister" ["enabling the Minister to give"], to insert the words "after consultation with the county councils."
This is an Amendment which constantly comes up when Bills affecting the county councils are concerned. I think it is a perfectly reasonable Amendment and one that anyone can understand a council whose administration is affected specially by Orders in Council would desire to have put into the Bill. We very gladly recognise that hitherto the Minister and all those associated with him have kept in the closest touch with the county councils, but unfortunately we cannot be sure that the present Minister and those with whom he is acting will be always there, and 2625 therefore, as this is a matter of Orders in Council, and that when matters are dealt with in this House the county councils cannot express their view, we ask that the same good relations which have been established and hitherto maintained between the new Ministry of Transport and the county councils should be preserved and that before making these Orders in Council they should consult the county councils.
§ Mr. NEAL
I am very sorry I cannot accede to the very kindly expressed request of my hon. Friend, but we have anticipated him in this matter, and in drafting the Order in Council we have availed ourselves of consultation with the County Councils Association, but my hon. Friend has recognised that that has been the policy of the Ministry throughout when dealing with county councils. It is not expected that these Orders in Council will have to be made more than once though they may be renewed from time to time.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir F. BLAKE
I beg to move in Subsection (5) to leave out the words "and otherwise" ["uniformity of administration and otherwise"] and to insert instead thereof the words "in the collection of such duties."
The expression "and otherwise" is so wide that we hope to get some explanation from the Minister as to what it means. We do not quite know what is included in it.
§ Mr. NEAL
There are a number of matters which are not strictly necessary for securing uniformity of administration, but which are necessary for carrying the provisions of the Act into force. When my hon. Friend has an opportunity of looking at the draft orders he will see exactly what they are and I think he will agree that they are perfectly innocuous.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (5), to insert new Sub-sections—(6) Before any Order in Council under this section is made notice of the proposals to make the Order, and of the places where copies of the draft of the Order can be obtained, shall be published in the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Gazette, as the case may require, and in such other manner as may be necessary to ensure publicity.2626(7) Any Order in Council shall be forthwith laid before Parliament and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Order is so laid praying that any such Order may be annulled His Majesty may annul such Order, and it shall henceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything done there under.While I agree that Orders in Council may perhaps reasonably be made in regard to administrative points such as these, I still think the House ought to reserve to itself the right we have had in previous Bills latterly of insisting on these Orders being laid on the table of the House. The words of the Amendment are taken directly from provisions inserted by the House in the Ministry of Transport Bill of last year in regard to Orders in Council which that Act gave the Minister power to make. It is only right that if we should give the Minister power to make certain Orders in Council, he should at least lay them on the table of the House, and publish them in the London, Edinburgh and Dublin Gazettes in order that everyone may know what they are, because they are to have the force of Statutes made by the House, and I can see no possible objection to incorporating in this Bill the same sort of words that the House of Commons put in the Transport Act last year.
§ Mr. NEAL
I hope my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press the point. As a general principle I am not disposed to quarrel in the least with the desirability of submitting draft Orders in Council to the consideration of Parliament, but in the present case we have endeavoured to meet it in the way which I intimated on the first Amendment. The Finance Act becomes operative as from 1st January next. The Orders in Council which are to be made under this Clause are nothing new. They follow on the lines of Orders in Council which were made with reference to the petrol duty, and it is quite obvious that it will be impossible to take any proceeding such as laying them on the table of the House, and waiting for the assent of Parliament and get them operative by 1st January. Under these circumstances, and having regard to the nature of these Orders, and that we are following strictly the precedents with reference to the matter, I shall be grateful if the hon. baronet does not think it necessary to press this.
§ Sir I. PHILIPPS
I am sorry the hon. Gentleman cannot see his way to meeting us. I did not press my Amendment be cause I hoped the Government would be able to accept this, which is a most necessary matter. If in this instance it is necessary that the Order in Council should be passed so as to become operative by 1st January, and therefore we should not have full time to lay it before the House in the ordinary way, would he consider the introduction of an Amendment by which any future Orders in Council would be laid. I appreciate very much the courtesy with which the Minister of Transport met us in supplying us with copies of draft Orders in Council which we asked for on the Second Reading, which goes a long way towards meeting my difficulty, but I think we ought to be covered in future Orders in Council.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
These licences are to be collected by county councils, and it may be that there will be difficulties in getting these duties collected by county councils in Ireland. I do not want to raise political questions but it is at least possible that some county councils in Ireland may refuse to collect the duties on behalf of the Imperial Government. I understand payments are going to be made out of the General Road Fund for the benefit of the roads in Ireland. I think it would be only right that the payments out of the Road Fund to Ireland should be limited to the amount of taxation received from Ireland. I do not think the same would apply to Scotland because a great deal of the, traffic on the Scotch roads is English people travelling in order to have the benefit of the salubrious atmosphere of the Highlands Therefore it is perhaps fair that Scotland should have the excess out of the Road Fund of the amount which Scotland contributes. Rut I think there should be some understanding in regard to the amount proposed to be given from the General Road Fund 2628 for Irish roads, particularly in view of the possibility of some Irish Councils not collecting their necessary quota. I do not propose to press the Amendment, but I should like the hon. Gentleman to give it very careful consideration., and to see whether he can either make some statement now, or give us some undertaking that the matter shall be considered before any grants are made out of the Road Fund.
§ Mr. LINDSAY
I quite agree with what the hon. Baronet said generally, but I really must protest against his suggestion as to the financial position. I do not want to introduce politics, but if say the Kerry County Council decline to act then would it be fair that the money should be withdrawn for the Antrim County Council? I suggest in this matter the right hon. Gentleman should not deal with Ireland as a whole but in parts.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
The point raised by the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) is one which is before us and I will ask the House to provide for alternative machinery in the case of Irish local authorities which decline to act. On the other point this has only significance until the Home Rule Bill comes into effect. I would press the hon. Baronet not to endeavour to obtain statutory limitations to the amount contributed to Ireland. It cannot last very long, and in the past it has been limited quite satisfactorily on the lines suggested. It would cause very great difficulty now in the present disturbed condition if we were to lay down a position dealing differently with roads which are continuous from one county to another. We will deal with the other point.
The right hon. Gentleman has opened up rather an important issue. He says that the Home Rule Bill is going to bring this question to an end and I think the House is entitled to know how. Under the Home Rule Bill will the licence duties of mechanically propelled vehicles be considered a part of the general volume of taxation which goes into the British net? If so how are you going to distinguish between what is justly paid to Ireland and what ought to be kept in this country?
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.