HC Deb 06 November 1945 vol 415 cc1065-7
19. Sir G. Fox

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what are the total stocks of petrol in this country capable of being used in road vehicles; the monthly consumption of such vehicles in 1938 and at the present time, respectively; and what has been the import per month of petrol over the past three months.

Mr. Shinwell

I could not give this information without disclosing particulars of military requirements, but I may say that stocks of petrol available in this country for civilian consumption are now somewhat lower than the figure for 27th September quoted in my reply to the hon. Member's Question of 9th October.

Sir G. Fox

Is it not time that this plea of military security stopped now that we are at peace? What is the Minister trying to hide? Why not give us the figures?

Mr. Shinwell

I assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I have nothing to hide. It never was the custom to disclose military requirements before the war, and it is not intended to do so now.

20. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many gallons of petrol were saved during the last week in September due to restrictions in travel imposed on taxicabs and privately owned motor cars; and what percentage this saving represents on the total petrol consumed throughout the country during that same week.

Mr. Shinwell

Removal of the present restrictions on the movements of taxicabs and private hire cars would lead to an increase in the numbers of such vehicles in operation. It is, therefore, not possible to estimate the savings of petrol resulting from the restrictions.

Sir T. Moore

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Three weeks ago the right hon. Gentleman gave me a categorical undertaking that he would give roe this information if I put a Question on the Order Paper. The Question has been on the Order Paper ever since, and now I claim your help in trying to get the information.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of Order. It has nothing to do with me. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has Parliamentary ways of raising the matter on the Adjournment, if necessary.

Sir T. Moore

Is the Minister aware that he seems to know much less about his Department now than he did before he took office?

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. and gallant Gentleman may rest assured that what I have learned, I will disclose in due course.

25. Mr. Turner-Samuels

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the fact that there is now no likelihood that such information will be of any use to our former enemies, he is prepared to give figures of the military needs of petrol and the fullest information as to the demand and available supplies of petrol.

Mr. Shinwell

In the special circumstances of this country it has not been the practice at any time to disclose information about military needs and supplies of petrol, and I would not be justified in departing from this practice.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Will not the Minister take into account that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction about this matter among the business community; and does he not think it desirable to take them into his confidence, and satisfy them that there will be greater supplies of petrol available to them for business needs?

Mr. Shinwell

I have already given the House, in reply to Questions, particulars of the petrol available for civilian consumption. There is no reason to believe that trade has been impeded because of petrol rationing

21. Captain Baird

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what increase there has been in the consumption of fuel by commercial users since the basic ration was reintroduced.

Mr. Shinwell

The relaxations which my right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport has been able to make in the rationing restrictions on commercial goods vehicles have led to an increase in the total consumption of these vehicles amounting to about 6 per cent. since last June.

Captain Baird

Can my right hon. Friend give the reason for the increase?

Mr. Shinwell

We are very anxious to stimulate trade, and transport enters into it.