HC Deb 06 March 1947 vol 434 cc633-4
44. Air-Commodore Harvey

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will now consider taking off the petrol ration, to alleviate the transport difficulties which now exist.

Mr. Shinwell

No, Sir.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Does not the Minister consider it is about time that this House and the people were given the real reasons why petrol cannot come off the ration? Will the Minister consider taking it off for six months to assist the people in industry and to make amends for some of the Minister's shortcomings?

Mr. Shinwell

I have given the reason several times. I repeat: the reason is that we have not sufficient dollars to import more petrol.

Mr. Grimston

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recollect that a week or so ago, in answer to a supplementary question put by myself, he informed the House that both the Dominions of Canada and South Africa were off the ration? Having regard to the fact that he also informed the House some time ago that, were it not for the fact that the Empire had to be treated as a whole as regards petrol supplies, there would be enough for us from sterling sources, why is this country left in an inferior position to other parts of the Empire?

Mr. Shinwell

The Union of South Africa have been off the ration for some time because they are able to afford the dollars. As regards other parts of the Empire, they are still on the ration.

Captain Marsden

Will the Minister prevail upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the amount of dollars spent on tobacco, and to make that amount of money available for petrol?

Mr. Shinwell

No doubt my right hon. Friend will take note of that observation.

Mr. C. S. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that petrol is now off the ration in France? Can they afford dollars?

Mr. Shinwell

It does not follow that because petrol is off the ration in France, everybody who wants petrol can get it.

Mr. Assheton

How many civil servents would be if petrol rationing were abolished?

Mr. Shinwell

About 1,000.

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