HC Deb 25 April 1933 vol 277 cc52-3

The next item concerns a new Customs charge on heavy hydro-carbon oils. At present there is a duty on light oils, mostly petrol, of 8d. a gallon. The Committee may remember that since its inception in 1928 this duty has been imposed in form upon all oils. but in the case of heavy hydro-carbon oils there has been a rebate of the full duty, so that these oils have been exempt. That device has produced a rather curious legal effect, because as they are nominally subject to the duty they are therefore free from the imposition of a duty under the Import, Duties Act. That is an anomaly which I propose to rectify. I propose to reduce the rebate from 8d., the full amount of the duty, to 7d., which will, in effect, subject these heavy oils to a duty of Id. a gallon. In order to secure for the revenue a duty on the very large stocks of oil now held in the country I propose to supplement the Customs duty by an Excise duty of 1d. per gallon upon all stocks of heavy petroleum oils exceeding 10,000 gallons. The oils that are mainly affected are fuel oil, gas oil, Diesel oil, lubricating oil and kerosene. All these oils are now totally exempt from duty. I have received very strong representations from the coal industry, supported by the gas and electricity supply industries, and by the railway companies that in the interests of the British coal and allied industries I should review what they regard as an anomalous position. I am not unmindful of what happened in 1928 when a duty on kerosene was suggested, but that duty was a duty of 4d. a gallon, and I am only proposing a duty of ld. a gallon. Moreover, I submit to the Committee that the introduction of the Import Duties Act, which has changed our whole fiscal system, has at the same time changed the situation in regard to this matter. I do not see that any complaint from any user of kerosene can possibly arise from the very modest proposal that I am making. I should add that oil shipped as stores or bunkers on foreign-going ships will, following the usual practice, be free from duty and that the exemption now given to fishing boats and lifeboats for petrol will automatically extend to kerosene or any other form of heavy oil they may use. I estimate the yield in a full year at £2,300,000 and this year, including the supplementary one day Excise, I put it at £2,000,000. That proposal will take effect as from six o'clock this evening.