HC Deb 30 June 1931 vol 254 cc1094-6

Section thirteen of the Finance Act, 1928 (which relates the licence duty on articulated motor vehicles) shall have effect as if for the words "be treated as if they together formed a single vehicle and that vehicle were a vehicle used for drawing a trailer," there were substituted the words "be treated as if—

  1. (a) the vehicle and trailer together formed a single vehicle; and
  2. (b) in any case in which the aggregate weight unladen of the vehicle and trailer exceeds five tons, the vehicle were a vehicle used for drawing a trailer."—[Mr. Herbert Morrison.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This is the old form of the articulated motor vehicle drawing a vehicle on four wheels. A considerable number of what are known as articulated vehicles are now in use, whereby, instead of the trailer having four wheels, it has only two, the front of the vehicle being connected with the motor power vehicle in front. It is, however, moveable according to the requirements of the traffic. The vehicle is taxed as if it were a full motive power vehicle and in addition as if the vehicle were drawing a trailer. The position we desire to lay down is that if the weight of the vehicle is less than five tons it should be counted as one vehicle, although it is articulated, but if it weighs more than five tons, then the vehicle will pay the extra tax because of the additional weight and the damage that is done to the roads. The purpose of the Clause is to safeguard the small vehicle carrying less than five tons. It does not alter the position in regard to the larger vehicle.


I bog to move, in line G, to leave out paragraph (b).

We are most grateful to the Minister of Transport for this new Clause, but we do not think he has gone quite far enough. Section 13 of the Finance Act, 1928, says: Where a mechanically propelled vehicle used for drawing a trailer has the trailer attached to it by partial super-imposition, the vehicle and the trailer shall, for the purpose of determining the rate of the licence duty chargeable under the Second Schedule to the Finance Act, 1920, be treated as if they together formed a single vehicle. I noted the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the five-ton vehicle, but I would ask him whether he could not give this concession to vehicles of that weight. If a trailer is going to be super-imposed upon a forward vehicle which is drawing the vehicle I do not think you will really get very heavy vehicles at the back, because the back vehicle has part of its weight carried on the front vehicle, and consequently the trailer part cannot become very heavy. Consequently, you will have very few of these single two-wheeled trailers at the back. They are, however, very useful and are being used increasingly at the present time. They can be easily detached and arranged. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give this further concession.


I beg to second the Amendment.


The Amendment is not only an extension, but is hardly consistent with the main purpose of the new Clause. The primary purpose is to meet the case of the growing number of articulated vehicles of lighter weight, and, in particular, what has come to be known as the "mechanical horse." It is a useful vehicle and discharges a useful function. It is a type we wish to encourage, because the damage to the highway is not so great. But we cannot break away from the general principle in the Finance Acts that when you have heavy vehicles they should pay a higher tax. We do not feel that it is possible to break down altogether the existing practice that when you get a vehicle above five tons it should pay a heavier tax because of the damage it does to the highway. The real purpose of the new Clause is to give some concession and some encouragement to the smaller type of articulated vehicle. I hope the hon. and gallant Member will not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.