HC Deb 24 October 1949 vol 468 cc996-7
32 and 37. Mr. Norman Bower

asked the Minister of Supply (1) whether officials of nationalised industries are permitted to buy their cars through the official pool without payment of Purchase Tax;

(2) what has been the total expenditure in the years 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949 to the nearest convenient date on motor cars for Government Departments and nationalised industries.

36. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply to what extent officials of nationalised industries are permitted to buy private cars through the car pool run by his Department; and whether such cars carry the usual Purchase Tax.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Neither nationalised industries nor their officials buy cars through my Department. The values of motor cars bought by the Ministry of Supply for all Government Departments in 1946, 1947 and 1948 are, in round figures, £942,000, £692,000 and £343,000 respectively. Up to the end of August, 1949, the value is £270,000. The total number of cars delivered from the end of the war to the end of August this year for use by Government Departments represents only 1.8 per cent. of the total deliveries of cars to the home market in the same period.

Brigadier Head

In answer to Question 32, will the Minister state whether or not officials of the nationalised industries are permitted to buy their cars without payment of Purchase Tax?

Mr. Strauss

We have no responsibility. I have certainly no responsibility for the nationalised industries and we do not purchase the cars for these industries.

Mr. Beswick

Does the Minister's reply mean that there is absolutely no truth in the leading article in the "Sunday Express," and in view of the fact that it enunciated in that article that officials of the nationalised industries were buying cars less Purchase Tax and selling them at a profit, may I ask whether any apology or any correction has been sought?

Mr. Strauss

Certainly all the information and facts in the article, as far as I am able to check them and as far as I am responsible, were absolutely wrong and I very much hope the "Sunday Express" will publish this correction.

Mr. Erroll

Can the Minister say whether civil servants are allowed to purchase cars through his buying facilities?

Mr. Strauss

That is one of the allegations made in the leader, and there is not one word of truth in it.