§ (1) For the purpose of Section thirteen of the Finance Act, 1920, and the Second Schedule to that Act, the expression "tramcar" shall not include any vehicle used on tram lines other than a tramcar used for the conveyance of passengers.
§ (3) For the purposes of paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule to the Finance Act, 1920, a vehicle shall not be deemed to be used otherwise than solely for the conveyance of goods in the course of trade by reason only that it is used for the conveyance in the course of their employment of persons who are in the employment of the person keeping the vehicle.
§ (4) Where a licence has been taken out as for a vehicle to be used solely for a certain purpose and the vehicle is at any time during the period for which the licence is in force used for some other purpose, the person so using the vehicle shall, if the rate of duty chargeable in respect of a licence for a vehicle used for that other purpose is higher than the rate chargeable in respect of the licence held by him, be liable on summary conviction to a penalty of an amount not exceeding three times the difference between the duty actually paid on the licence and the duty payable on a licence appropriate to a vehicle used for that other purpose or twenty pounds, whichever amount is the greater.
§ (5) Where a hackney carriage is a vehicle of the class mentioned in paragraph 1 or paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule to the Finance Act, 1920, it shall be charged with duty under paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, as the case may be, and not under paragraph 3 of that Schedule.2686
§ Sir E. GEDDES
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "tramcar" ["expression 'tramcar'"] and to insert instead thereof the word "vehicle."
May we have an explanation of this? It seems to make the Clause ridiculous. Tramcars are liable to a 15s. duty; vehicles are liable to a far heavier duty, and if the word "tramcar" is left out and "vehicle" put in, all vehicles used on the tramway lines will be affected. What is in the mind of the Minister?
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. NEAL
This is a drafting Amendment. The Clause must be read in connection with Section 13 of the Finance Act, 1920, Schedule 2, which lays it down that the expression "tramcar" shall not include any vehicle used on the tramlines other than tramcars used for the conveyance of passengers. That seems to be rather contradictory, and the Amendment proposes to substitute the word "vehicle," the effect of which would be that the only vehicles running on tramlines which would be subject to the 15s. duty would be passenger-carrying cars.
Is it the wish of the Government to withdraw from tramway companies the right to use their own tramlines for breakdown cars which now only have to pay the 15s. duty? I am told that on the London County Council's tramway undertaking there are something like twenty cars used for the repair of the tram track or for carrying water or sand on slippery days or for other purposes in connection with the undertaking, and if this goes in without amendment it will mean that all these vehicles which now only pay the 15s. duty will have to pay between £20 and £30. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us what is his real object. Is he going to make some further provision to exempt these vehicles from the operation of the higher licence duty? I quite see it is reasonable to limit the duty to passenger cars, and to those used for the purposes of the undertaking, and to shut out from its benefit any commercial vehicle which in the future may make arrangements with the tramway undertaking to carry goods or to be used for commercial purposes. I hope the object is not to throw any further burden on the companies.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I should like to know if the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, to leave out the word "tramcar" and insert "vehicle," will prevent the consideration of my Amendment, which proposes to insert the words "or solely for the purposes of the tramway undertaking." I think those words cover the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend, and would permit the tramway undertaking to carry along its lines vehicles carrying, not passengers, but workmen necessary for the execution of repairs on the line, and so on.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words, "or solely for the purposes of the tramway undertaking."
It is well known that in addition to tramcars the companies run several electrically propelled vehicles entirely on the tram lines for the convenience of repair and construction, and the carrying of materials and workmen employed in connection with the tramways. These vehicles do not use the roads at all. They are not used for the purpose of conveying passengers, and there seems to be no reason why they should be liable for the duties imposed under Section 13 of the Finance Act of 1920. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to make it perfectly clear, by accepting this Amendment, that tramway companies will not be handicapped or penalised in regard to vehicles that are used for the ordinary purposes of the undertaking, such as executing repairs.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that the hon. Member's Amendment is covered by the words which have just been agreed to, and the effect of which is that the only vehicles which come within the taxation of the Finance Act are vehicles that carry passengers. It seems to me now to exclude both the repair wagon and the material wagon. I will, however, put the Amendment before the Committee, in order that the point may be made quite clear.
§ Mr. NEAL
If I may say so, Mr. Whitley, you have dealt with the point very clearly. I am sorry that, in the 2688 desire to be brief, I did not make my explanation quite clear. If my hon. Friends will look at the Finance Act, they will see that the duty is attached to a vehicle—there is no taxation on anything but a vehicle. If the vehicle is a tramcar, a duty of 15s. attaches to it. By the Amendment which has just been agreed to, we have said that a vehicle which is used on a tram line and is liable to duty shall be nothing other than a tramcar for the conveyance of passengers. In other words, as the matter now stands, every vehicle running on the tram lines is exempted from duty except the passenger-bearing vehicle. My hon. Friend's Amendment would exclude any ether class of vehicle owned by a tramway undertaking and not running on the lines. For the purposes of their undertaking they have, for instance, lorries run by petrol, and the Amendment would exclude these.
I am afraid that the hon. gentleman's explanation still does not make the matter clear to me. It takes the breakdown car out of the class of vehicles referred to in the second schedule of the Finance Act; but, if it is taken out of that class, presumably it is transferred to the class of vehicles which pay a higher duty and do not run on tram lines, and are non-commercial vehicles.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the point is quite clear. If the words require any alteration, I would suggest the substitution of the word "except" for the words "other than."
It may be my stupidity, but I do not understand whether these vehicles are to pay any duty at all.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
As my name is associated with this Amendment, may I say, Mr. Whitley, that I think your suggestion would be better. I think it conveys the meaning more clearly.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Further Amendments made: In Sub-section (1), leave out the words "other than," and insert instead thereof the word "except."—[Mr. Neal.]
§ Leave out Sub-section (2).—[Sir W. Joynson-Hicks.]
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (4), after the word "shall" ["the person so using the vehicle shall, if the rate of duty chargeable"], to insert the words "if such person is proved to be cognisant of such other use."
Some such words as these are necessary, because, if a full licence is taken out for a vehicle of a certain class, and someone else uses that vehicle for a different purpose, he is liable to an enormous penalty, without, apparently, having any means of knowing what the original classification of the vehicle was. For instance, supposing that I were staying with my hon. Friend, and that he owns a traction engine, and that, wanting to get to the station in a hurry, I go on the traction engine—I am leaving out the question of speed limits. In that case I am using the vehicle for a purpose for which it was not registered. I am not, on that occasion, a person learned in the law—there is no necessity for me to know the law when I am staying with the hon. Gentleman—and I am unwittingly putting myself in the position of incurring an enormous penalty under the provisions of this Clause.
§ Mr. NEAL
I am quite unable to accept this Amendment. As a matter of verbal criticism, I think the words suggested by my hon. Friend should be inserted before the word "shall" rather than after it; but from the point of view of substance it is quite inconceivable that any person should use a vehicle in the manner suggested without being cognisant that he was using it for a purpose for which it was not licensed. The licence is on the vehicle. If it is a hackney carriage, it is marked as a hackney carriage, and if a person uses it for any other purpose he is cognisant of the fact. I think that, if my hon. Friend 2690 did as he suggested, he would have ceased temporarily to be a person learned in the law. This Bill provides a scheme under which it is difficult to understand how a person could lawfully and properly use a vehicle for any other purpose than that for which it is registered. It is extremely important, from our point of view, to prevent the taking out of licences at a lower rate, and the subsequent use of the vehicle for purposes which carry a higher duty. I do not think that there is anything very serious in my hon. Friend's objection, I trust that he will not find it necessary to press the point.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Viscount CURZON
May I ask one question? It is stated that in Subsection (2) of Section 13 of the Finance Act, 1920, the word "using" shall be substituted for the word "keeping." I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would state what exactly is the Ministry's definition of the user of a motor vehicle. Is it the driver?
§ Major HAMILTON
Is it not the case that we have omitted Sub-section (2) in which that occurs, so that the question of the word "using" does not come in?
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.