HC Deb 19 June 1933 vol 279 cc614-6

10.44 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 17, line. 10, at the end, to insert the words: Provided that, as respects a vehicle used solely within the area of a local authority by that local authority, or by any person acting in pursuance of a contract with that local authority for the purpose of cleansing or -watering roads, or cleansing gullies, the said Section 13 shall continue to nave effect as if this Section had not been enacted. The difference between the wording of the Amendment, and the Amendment which I first put upon the Paper, is that it confines the exemption to vehicles belonging to local authorities used for road cleansing or road watering and is not extended to vehicles used for the collection of refuse. The Salter Commission devised certain duties for road vehicles. The reason for the imposition of those duties was to equalise competition between road and rail, and the vehicles which I ask to be exempted are not such as come into competition with rail at all, for they are really used for sanitary purposes, for the cleansing or watering of roads or cleansing gullies. Consequently they do not wear out the roads and most of them move slowly on them. The payment of the tax would go into the Road Fund, and therefore would be available for repairing the roads, and it really would be a tax on these vehicles imposed upon the towns upon whom the bulk of these sanitary services fall. Already under the Act of 1920 fire engines kept by local authorities, ambulances and certain road vehicles are exempt, and it is only fair that that exemption should be extended to vehicles used for cleansing or watering the roads.


I beg to second the Amendment which has been so ably put by my right hon. and gallant Friend. The case has also been put very cogently before the Minister of Transport by the Association of Municipal Corporations. Therefore, I hope that this very modest Amendment will be accepted by him. It is very extraordinary that while the taxes payable under the Road Fund go to the upkeep of the roads, these very vehicles instead of using or damaging the roads help to keep the roads in good order by cleansing them and watering them. This tax is a form of double taxation upon the vehicles, and we hope that a concession will be granted.


In the Committee stage an Amendment was moved extending the privilege asked for in this Amendment to vehicles owned by local authorities. I resisted that Amendment and the Committee supported me on, the ground that it went much too far and that the test of what tax should be paid was not the ownership of the vehicle but its user of the road and the damage it did to the road. The right hon. and gallant Member had earlier on the Order Paper an Amendment in more extended form than this, which I felt to be too wide as some of the vehicles included in it did make considerable user of the road. The Amendment in the form in which he moves it now is extremely limited in its application. The vehicles to which it applies are those which of necessity must be of special construction for this special purpose, and the mere fact of that construction as well as the fact of the purpose for which they are used necessarily limit the amount of user of the road. I have had the opportunity of meeting a deputation introduced by my right hon. and gallant Friend and I was convinced by them that the amount of road work which these vehicles do is extremely small and the amount of damage to the road, which must be met from the fund, is also small, and that there is a good case for relieving them of the extra taxation imposed in this Bill, which is imposed according to the amount of user of the road and the damage done. The amount which this concession will cost to my right hon. Friend although difficult to ascertain accurately, is small—something like £20,000. In these circumstances, I am in a position to accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Ordered, "That further Consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."

Bill, as amended, to be further Considered to-morrow.