§ Section twenty-two of the Finance Act, 1921, which provides for the issue of licences for mechanically-propelled vehicles for periods less than a year shall have effect in its application to a vehicle chargeable with duty under paragraph 5 of the Second Schedue to the Finance Act, 1920, as amended by subsequent enactments, so that the rate of duty for the period of one quarter of the year shall not exceed twenty- 555 five per cent. of the full annual rate of duty, and any order made or to be made by the Minister of Transport for the purposes of the said Section twenty-two shall be read and have effect accordingly.—[Mr. Peto.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 7.5 p.m.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This is a Clause to help the small owner of a lorry who cannot afford to pay the whole year's taxation on this enormously increased scale at the beginning of the year, and would prefer to pay in quarterly instalments. The Clause is a very reasonable proposition, considering the great increase in taxation which the Government are placing on these owners. I do think the Government might make this concession and enable such owners, instead of paying the whole year's taxation straight away, to pay quarter by quarter. I am very sorry the Minister of Transport tells us that he has got an immovable heart. I cannot help feeling that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here, his heart might be more movable. I would urge the Minister of Transport to remember that he is not only applying this tremendous burden of taxation to the motor transport industry, but that he is coupling it up with a Bill, now under discussion upstairs, which is putting a heavy burden on the motor industry. Solomon overtaxed his people and they turned to Rehoboam who said, "My father has chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." I would appeal to the immovable heart of the Minister and ask him, instead of trying to chastise this industry with scorpions, to give us this small concession.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
I beg to second the Motion.
I have little hope, after the reception of the last Clause, of securing any concession, but I do wish formally to Second this Motion.
§ 7.8 p.m.
I will not follow the hon. Gentleman into his Biblical allusion, but I would point out that the basis of his Motion, if not his whole argument, was on the grounds that we are greatly increasing this taxation, and that we might give this Clause in return. I would 556 point out that the increase in taxation, which we are making in this Bill, is confined to goods vehicles, whereas the Clause would not only extend to them but to ordinary private motor cars subject to no increase of tax at all. Parliament has recognised that some provision should be made for the man who wishes to take out a licence for less than a year. It is possible now to take out a quarterly licence, provided a small surcharge, which has been reduced in recent years to 10 per cent., is paid. The result of the hon. Gentleman's Clause would be simply to abolish the surcharge, for which reason I am afraid I am bound to oppose the Clause, and thereby prove to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he who hopes for little is not disappointed.
The financial effect of the annual loss of surcharge would be a considerable amount—£350,000. I have also to take into account the effect which these quarterly licences, without any surcharge, might have upon the manner in which licences are taken out. If there were no advantage in taking out a yearly licence, there might be an effect upon the amount of the receipts in the first quarter of the year in which yearly licences are taken out. The amount might drop by as much as £3,000,000 in that quarter. That is the quarter which comes into this financial year, and there might thereby be a loss of £3,000,000 to the fund for this particular financial year. That would be a loss which it would be quite impossible for the fund to bear. A further loss, which cannot be calculated, might arise owing to the fact that the licence duties would be paid at a later date, and the fund would lose interest on them. Sympathetic as I may be with the hon. Gentleman's appeal, acceptance of the Clause would impose a large financial burden on the fund. In these circumstances, it is impossible to accept it.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Clause. I do hope, now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister are sitting together, they will consider this Clause and other Amendments with regard to road transport, and do something for the industry in the next Budget. They should try to reduce some of this heavy taxation by next year.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.