§ Where any persons are, whether by virtue of any Act or otherwise, liable to pay any sums, by way of mileage charges or other annual payments, in respect of the use of any road by their vehicles, the Minister may, on an application by those persons in that behalf and after considering any objections made by any person interested, suspend, modify, or determine the liability to make the payment, as he shall think fit.
§ Sir F. BLAKE
I beg to move, after the word "any" ["objections made by any person interested"], to insert the words "council or".
§ Amendment negatived.2700
§ Sir F. BLAKE
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the wordsProvided that the power conferred on the Minister by this Section shall not be deemed to extend to any sums now or hereafter payable by any persons, whether by virtue of any Act or otherwise, and whether in one sum or by annual or other instalments, by way of charges for the adaptation, alteration, or reconstruction of any road used by their vehicles.There are good reasons why in the introduction of this motor taxation, mileage rates should cease, but the County Councils' Association do not see why that should apply in the case of adaptation charges, that is, charges which are made for the purpose of assisting in the reconstruction necessary to render roads fit for carrying heavy traffic. These charges should still be made, because we understand that the proceeds of the new taxation will go almost entirely in repairs, and adaptation work is still being carried on. The Government itself makes considerable subventions for the purpose. In a neighbouring northern county they have made a large subvention to the county council to enable the county council to reconstruct their roads, and in certain places the corporations which are running motor vehicles have entered into arrangements with the county councils when the vehicles are run outside their areas that they shall contribute towards the cost of reconstruction of the roads, so as to make them fit for carrying the heavier traffic.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. NEAL
I am not quite sure that the words of my hon. Friend's Amendment will deal with the case he has in mind, even if it could be accepted by the Government. I am afraid it cannot be accepted. The Amendment refers to payments in a lump sum or by annual or other instalments. The class of case which the hon. Member has in mind is not generally covered by the mileage charge or an annual payment, but by a lump sum. That is a matter which I suggest for his consideration if he desires to press this question further. The situation dealt with in Clause 10 is one of considerable importance. It deals with any Act of Parliament which imposes upon local authorities, when they wish to run motor vehicles outside their own area, the burden of a mileage charge. I understand from my hon. Friend that he, and the county councils he represents, realise that the scheme of the proposed new taxa- 2701 tion is that that class of charge should disappear. The Minister has very carefully considered whether he should seek, by specific words in the Clause directed to the purpose, to invite Parliament to repeal legislation which has that effect. There was a good deal to be said for that point of view, but ultimately it was thought wiser to deal with it in the way now suggested. My hon. Friend has given an instance, and there may be others where it might not be just wholly to abrogate the charge. Therefore, Clause 10 is drawn with a view to putting upon the Minister the judicial function of considering applications on their merits, and suspending, modifying, or determining the liability to make payment as he shall think fit. We realise that there is a substantial difference in character between a mileage charge and one of these charges by way of a lump sum payment or otherwise which may be part of a bargain or a statutory provision for the maintenance of roads. We think it wiser not to attempt by mandatory words to limit the discretion of the Minister, who will be acting in a judicial capacity. He will consider the whole of these cases on their merits. In that event he will not forget that there is the difference to which my hon. Friend has called attention. Under these circumstances, I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.