HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1877-9
1. Mr. Anthony Nutting

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether in view of the difficulties for the public in general and for the tourist trade in particular, occasioned by the ban on basic petrol, he will consider restoring the basic ration at an early date.

18. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has now any statement to make on the reintroduction of a basic petrol ration this year.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Gaitskell)

I will answer these Questions by referring the hon. Members to the reply which I gave on 22nd January to the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Amory).

Mr. Nutting

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very serious effect which the ban on basic petrol is having on hotels, and that that effect has been considerably increased by the partial removal of the ban on Foreign travel, as will be seen from the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of many hon. Gentlemen in all quarters of the House. Will he reconsider the matter?

Mr. Gaitskell

I am probably more aware of public feeling in this matter than most other hon. Members since a large number of citizens take care to inform me of their views, but I am also very conscious of the drain on our dollar and cold reserve.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the delay in making up his mind on this matter has done almost as much damage as the original disastrous decision?

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider more sympathetically applications from working men who use motor cycles to go to work when the distance they have to travel is more than seven miles and no public transport is available?

Mr. Gaitskell

It is hardly possible to answer in general terms a question of that kind, but if the hon. and gallant Member has any particular cases into which he wants me to look, I shall be happy to do so.

12. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the cost to the taxpayer of administering the ban on the basic petrol ration.

Mr. Gaitskell

The cost of additional staff and overtime since the abolition of the basic ration is approximately £10,500 per month.

Mr. Bossom

Does not the Minister recognise that this is one of the most unappreciated wastes of public money?

Mr. Gaitskell

No, Sir, it is not a waste of public money.

33. Mr. William Shepherd

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give an estimate of the saving in sterling that has been effected by the abolition of the basic petrol ration, including the extra allocation to private and public users, based upon the coupon validity of 1½ gallons, and on a coupon validity of ½ gallon.

Mr. Gaitskell

The saving in sterling from the withdrawal of the basic ration excluding other economies is estimated to have been about £150,000 a week during December. Had there been a basic ration of one third of the rate previously in force, this saving would theoretically have been reduced by about one third.

Mr. Shepherd

Is it not obvious that the amount being saved is a miserable one compared with the dislocation to the life of the country through the withdrawal of the basic petrol ration?