HC Deb 18 June 1940 vol 362 cc3-5
3. Mr. Levy

asked the Secretary for Petroleum whether it is proposed to reduce the petrol ration; and whether rationing of lubricating oil is contemplated?

4. Mr. Leach

asked the Secretary for Petroleum whether his attention has been drawn to the large number of private motor cars at seaside and pleasure resorts, in the principal shopping centres of towns and cities, and on the routes from residential suburbs to business quarters; and, in the national interest, will he take steps to reduce the petrol available for domestic and pleasure purposes?

The Secretary for Petroleum (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

With the permission of the hon. Members concerned, I will answer Questions 3 and 4 together.

Mr. Leach

I do not give that permission.

Mr. Denville

On a point of Order. What is the procedure in such a case?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister had better put it the other way round, the second Question first.

Mr. Lloyd

The House will be glad to know that, as a result of action taken by the Government before and since the war, our supplies of petrol are at present very satisfactory. Substantial economies in the civil consumption of petrol have already been made by rationing, and this automatically secures a corresponding economy in lubricating oil. I have recently issued a new Rationing Order, designed to check abuses in the use of petrol, and I am proceeding with the appointment of inspectors to aid in this purpose. In view of these facts, I do not propose at this moment to make a further general reduction in petrol allowances, but I would emphasise that it is vital that all petrol users should cooperate to the full in the strict observance of the Rationing Order.

Mr. Leach

What does the Minister mean by the abuse of petrol? Is joyriding an abuse; is going to a racecourse, in the circumstances of the day, an abuse; is taking your best girl out an abuse? Is the Minister satisfied that he has adequate power at this moment to deal with wasteful expenditure of petrol by private users?

Mr. Lloyd

It is not an abuse to use the limited amount of petrol allowed in the basic ration for purposes of reasonable recreation, but it is an abuse to use petrol given on a supplementary allowance for purposes for which it is not given. In regard to that, I have powers, and I intend to use them. Prosecutions will be taken in proper cases, and I am appointing inspectors for that work.

Mr. Levy

Is my hon. Friend aware that a number of manufacturers engaged on national work who are using motor transport find that they have absolutely insufficient to do this work of national importance, and that they still see this colossal amount of joy-riding and the wastage of petrol, which ought to be controlled in some manner? If there is ample petrol, give this transport which is used for national service sufficient quantities.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

Is my hon. Friend aware that certain A.R.P. ambulances are being driven simply to charge the accumulators? I will give him the details.

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly look into that. With regard to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Levy), no issue of petrol for domestic purposes in the basic ration in any way prejudices the issue for national purposes.