HC Deb 27 April 1931 vol 251 cc1407-8

I have reviewed in my search for revenue the whole field of taxation, both direct and indirect, and after careful consideration I have come to the conclusion to increase the duty on oil. The present rate of duty is 4d. per gallon, and I propose to raise it as from to-morrow to 6d., an increase of 2d. The consumption of oil has steadily increased since the duty was imposed in 1928, despite the rise in the price of petrol by 4¼d. per gallon which then occurred and a further subsequent rise of 2¼d. which took place in March, 1929. Last September, however, the price was reduced by 2d. per gallon, and a further similar reduction was made again only last month. I am told, with what authority I do not know, that the trade is only awaiting the introduction of the Budget to make a still further reduction in the price of petrol. The proposed increase in the duty will, therefore, still leave petrol no dearer than it was before March and lower in price than it was before last September. The price will indeed be slightly less than it was after my predecessor imposed the original duty of 4d. In these circumstances, I do not anticipate that the tax will appreciably affect consumption, and I estimate that it will yield me exactly the sum I still require, £7,500,000 in the current year and over £8,000,000 in a full year.

I have never liked the Oil Duty. I withdraw nothing that I have said about this duty, but I find the tax in existence and fruitful in its yield, and the stern necessity of the present emergency, and that alone, compels me to make use of it for the time being. I should regard this addition of 2d. as having a claim for remission when we are in a position to remit taxation. I can think of no Customs or Excise Duty, an increase of which would cause less hardship and, moreover, judging from the Press fore- casts of new taxation there would be general disappointment if I did not increase this duty.