HC Deb 22 June 1950 vol 476 cc1631-53

(1) For the purpose of calculating the duty of excise chargeable under section six of the Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1949, in respect of a mechanically-propelled vehicle of a description specified in paragraph 2 of the Fifth Schedule to that Act, being a vehicle registered under the Roads Act, 1920, or that Act, the following paragraph shall be substituted for the said paragraph 2, that is to say—

"2. Other vehicles—

If registered under the Roads Act, 1920, or this Act

£ s. d.
Not exceeding 7 horse-power 7 10 0
Exceeding 7 horse-power 10 0 0."

(2) This section shall come into operation on the first day of January, nineteen hundred and fifty-one.—[Mr. Boyd-Carpenter.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I beg to move "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The anomaly which we seek by this Amendment to correct arises, as I am sure hon. Gentlemen are aware, from the Finance Act, 1947. The Committee will recall that that Act provided that a car first registered before 1st January, 1947, should be taxed at a rate of 25s. per horsepower, but that any car first registered after that date should be taxed, regardless of horse-power, at a flat rate of £10. The existing position was ascertained as recently as possible by a Question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) who asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many motor cars registered before 1947 are now licensed; and what would be the total loss of revenue involved if they came under the £10 tax.

The Financial Secretary replied: The latest figure for September, 1949, is about 1,789,000. I would invite the attention of the Committee to the fact that that is a good many months ago. He added: As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on 25th April in reply to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), the loss of revenue if they were all taxed at £10 would be about £6 million in a full year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1950; Vol. 476, c. 32.] This issue, as hon. Gentlemen will recall, has been raised on a number of previous occasions, and, in fact, it was raised on a Finance Bill under which the present situation was created—the Finance Act of 1947. It is perhaps significant that even on that occasion the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, when replying to an Amendment substantially similar to this, said: … it is a pretty safe bet that at some date in the not far distant future the Amendment which has been put down by my hon. Friend will be adopted. I am making no promise—it would be wrong to do so—for next year. … When the amount has shrunk a little over a few years it will be an obvious point on which pressure might be brought to bear, and which eventually, when it becomes sufficiently cheap to meet, might be met."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th July, 1947; Vol. 439, c. 2276.] A Debate also took place on this issue on the Finance Bill of last year, when substantially the same Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) and seconded by the then hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge), from the benches opposite. I hope the fact that the charge of this Amendment has now passed from the sluggish waters of the Ouse to the more vigorous stream of the Thames will not cause hon. Members opposite to change their minds. I may also express the hope that the competition which took place between hon. Members last year as to the vintage of their cars will not be repeated this year, if only for the reason that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss) would inevitably win. What is more important, and perhaps a little more relevant, is the fact that in last year's Debate the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) said frankly that this was an anomaly, and in saying that indicated no more than that it was an anomaly that it was not proposed to remedy that year.

We must all agree that this is a curious anomaly. I do not want to weary the Committee with examples, but it is the fact that if any hon. Member is fortunate enough to own a big new car registered since 1st January, 1947, he pays taxation at the rate of £10 a year, whereas if owns, for example, an elderly Morris 12 registered before that he pays tax at the rate of £15. The fact that this is a completely arbitrary distinction will be better appreciated if hon. Members recall that it is not even the date of the car which governs the tax, but the date of registration. This aspect of the matter is vividly illustrated by an advertisement in the "Evening News" tonight—"Vauxhall 25 h.p. saloon, 1939, first registered 1947, £10 tax." It is perhaps not relevant to read the rest of the advertisement, other than to add that it is blue in colour, ex-Ministry, and fitted Masteradio. It is a curious illustration of the anomaly of this system that the identical vehicle, built in the identical year, would have carried tax at the rate of £31 5s. if it had been registered within eight years of construction.

It is not only the obvious unfairness between individuals which is material to this issue. There are also the somewhat unfortunate social consequences. All hon. Members will agree that it is valuable that car ownership should be as widely dispersed throughout the community as possible, and that it should not be the sole perquisite of any social class or income group. Many of us have seen in America the admirable development in which a large proportion of industrial workers go to work in motorcars, and provide for their employers one of the most difficult of their problems in finding parking places. I know all hon. Members would welcome such developments here, but it is, of course, precisely upon such economically marginal motorists that this particular impost falls most heavily at the moment, because it is naturally the person of limited means, who has acquired an elderly car. Therefore, he has to bear a heavier rate of tax.

11.15 p.m.

I always find that specific examples are really more helpful in these matters than general assertions, and by way of illustration I should like to give one example of a skilled worker in a Midland town. He is the proud possessor of a 12 horse power Wolseley car, and I have seen the bill for running it. It amounts to £48 for the year, of which over one-third goes in this particular tax. I would add by way of further emphasis that, as it is the practice for obvious reasons for the weekly wage earner car owner to tax his car quarterly, it, of course, attracts a slightly heavier burden of tax by reason of the fact that the quarterly payments are rather more than one-quarter of the annual rate.

There is another aspect of the unfairness of the matter, and that is the unfairness inside the same income group between the people who can afford to obtain one of these new cars and have been able to get one, and those who can afford a new car but cannot get one. The State must accept a certain responsibility for that state of affairs. Hon. Members are aware of the fact that for the benefit of the export trade the number of cars allowed to come on to the home market has been deliberately restricted by Government policy. I am not concerned—and, indeed, I should be out of order if I were—with the merits of that matter, but with the consequences of the matter, which is that a large number of people would normally possess post-1947 cars and thereby obtain the benefit of the concession of the Finance Act, 1947, but have been unable to obtain that concession because of this interference with the normal flow of new vehicles to the home market. That was very well summed up recently in a letter to "The Times" by the secretaries of the motoring organisations, in which they stated that the effect of this was that the public were denied new cars in the national interest and then penalised for not having them.

There is a new factor in the situation this year, on which I put considerable weight, and that is the fact that by an earlier Clause of this Bill this Committee have imposed a greatly increased Petrol Duty. That not only imposes—I am not arguing the merits of the matter—a general increased burden on the motoring community, but it imposes in particular a special burden upon the people who already suffer from the anomaly which this Amendment seeks to remedy, because old cars of medium or large size are the heaviest in petrol consumption, and, therefore, inevitably involve the owner in paying a larger share of the additional impost on the petrol than is the case with those who own more efficient and more modern machines.

There is a further argument. According to the answer which I understand was based on last September's figures, the cost of this concession would be in the neighbourhood of £6 million. It will be in the minds of the Committee that even since the increased Petrol Duty was announced in the Budget, the yield has been increased substantially by the abolition of the petrol ration, and in a smaller degree by the consequential abolition of the licensing duty at half rates. If my calculation is right, the whole of this concession would come to no more than a quarter of the additional revenue, which was not certainly in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer even as recently as when he introduced his Budget.

I appreciate that when increased revenue becomes available there will be many claimants for distribution, but I strongly urge that there is a powerful claim that at any rate some of that extra revenue should go in the direction of relieving the burdens on that section of the community from whom the whole of the increased revenue will come—the motoring public. It is fair to suggest that where a larger revenue even than calculated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer has become available from this particular source, one-quarter of that additional revenue might reasonably be used to relieve what the Financial Secretary last year frankly admitted to be an anomaly.

There is another argument, which I hope will appeal to the Treasury. Unlike almost every other tax concession which we have been debating during the last five days, the cost of this concession, if made, would diminish and not increase as the years pass. In the ordinary course of events, notwithstanding the restriction to which I have referred, new cars will come into circulation and old ones will go out of circulation for one reason or another and the cost, therefore, if it be £6 million on the figures of last September, would become substantially less as the years pass.

Therefore, it seems to me that throughout the five days in which we have been discussing the details of the Finance Bill, there has been no better opportunity afforded to the Government to deal with the rectifying of an anomaly at so little permanent cost. It is in the hope that the Government will see fit to remedy this state of affairs, which on merits no one so far as I know has sought to defend, that I beg to move this new Clause.

Mr. J. Lewis

I intervene only for a moment because in the last Parliament I seconded the Amendment to the Finance Bill which sought to establish a £10 flat rate of tax. What the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has not mentioned in his speech is the purpose of that Amendment, which was to enable the motor car industry to standardise and produce motor cars suitable for the export trade. It was claimed at that time that engineering principles were being made subordinate to fiscal policy, and it was felt that the imposition of a £10 flat rate tax would enable larger cars to be built to a standard design to help the motor car industry to export.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman has telescoped the arguments of debates in two separate years. If he reads the Report of the Debate in 1947, the flat rate on new cars was introduced for the reasons rightly given by him, but in 1949 he supported this Amendment with arguments which, though better expressed than those I have used this evening, which are substantially the same as mine.

Mr. Lewis

The original intention was to ensure that cars registered after a certain date were all of a type and kind suitable for the export market. Cars registered before 1947, like hon. Members of this House, are getting older every day, and it is reasonable to suppose that in a year or so only a small number of cars registered before 1947 will be in use. I have a much higher regard for the efficiency of the motor car industry than hon. Members opposite possess. I think the hon. Member for Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett) will support my contention that, in fact, in a few years time there will be fewer cars registered which were built before 1947.

Sir P. Bennett

As my name has been mentioned, may I inform the hon. Gentleman that preparation is in hand for spare parts to be made for old cars for many years to come, as very few new cars are coming on to the home market. There are less than one-half of the number of cars now coming on to the home market than were coming on to the market in 1938. There is also an untapped demand for one million new cars, so that the old cars will continue to be used, and spare parts are being used to keep them in operation for a very long time until that is met.

Mr. J. Lewis

It is not possible to manufacture old cars, but spare parts have to be made to keep old cars running just as old machinery, which has been established for many years, has to be maintained by the use of spare parts. I do not see the force of the argument made by the hon. Member for Edgbaston. The fact remains that we do know that by next year or the year after there will be substantially fewer old cars on the road than there are today. To my mind, as the original proposal was to introduce a flat rate of tax for new cars so that they should find a ready market in the export field, I see no justification for making a concession on this occasion.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

I am not sure how the observations of the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Lewis) will be received by the Treasury Bench, but I should like to remind the Financial Secretary what his hon. Friend said in the course of the Debate a year ago: There is the further point, the older the car the more petrol and oil it uses, and it costs more in repairs to maintain and run than does a new one. The export drive makes it relatively difficult to obtain more cars today in a short period, and, therefore, people are bound to keep their old vehicles whether they like it or not."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1949; Vol. 466, c. 892.]

Mr. J. Lewis

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is drawing any conclusion from what was said a year or so ago, I would point out that a year has passed since then and many more cars have been built. By next year many more cars still will be built.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

The hon. Gentleman strengthens the case for this new Clause every time he rises. But we do not wish to rely entirely on his observations made a year ago, relevant as they were then. Although 12 months have passed, the moving finger has written, and hon. Gentlemen can end the quotation. We, who have put our names to this new Clause, have grounds for cautious optimism as to the outcome of our advocacy this evening.

First of all there is the strength of our case, so admirably deployed by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). Secondly there are the altered circumstances compared with 12 months ago, which we believe have greatly strengthened our argument. Thirdly, I would put the far more yielding and accommodating attitude of His Majesty's Government compared with last year, and the concessions we have had. I see the right hon. and learned Solicitor-General is taking notes; I hope he is going to reply because we associate him with concessions, and I notice, too, that the Financial Secretary has an agreeable expression on his countenance at the moment.

11.30 p.m.

Then we are greatly encouraged by the fact that a London evening newspaper with leftward leanings, which on at least one occasion in the past showed remarkable accuracy in prophesying the Budgetary proposals of the Government, has set forth its view that a concession is to be made on this particular matter. There is a fifth reason which has seated itself on the Treasury Bench since I prepared these few notes, in the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power, the motorists' friend on a former occasion in connection with the Petrol Duty. He has seated himself in proximity to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, so as to be on the bridge when the concession is made.

For all these reasons, we on these benches believe the Government are going to find themselves tonight able to alter the attitude which they took up a year ago. Higher costs and maintenance expenses must, of course, fall as a result of other Budgetary proposals. It may well be we believe—and my hon. Friend behind stressed this point—that the cost of the concession may be less if granted tonight than would have been the case if it had been given on 27th June last year, when this matter was previously discussed, for reasons given by the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Lewis) this year—and I think he gave the same information a year ago on that point at least.

Mr. J. Lewis

Less next year.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

And, of course, progressively that is likely to be the case. Without wishing to be guilty of repetition, I would press the Financial Secretary on this, because there is the strong reason in the form of the windfall which has descended on the Treasury since the introduction of the Budget—a windfall of the order of £20 million or £25 million. We have referred to this matter more than once during the Committee stage of this Bill. We were told on one occasion, I think by the hon. Gentleman himself, but it may have been by the Minister of State for Economic Affairs, that there were other uses for this windfall. He used the argument more than once, just as he argued that the Income Tax concessions would not be possible if the Petrol Duty were reduced. In view of the fact that we were told that this concession was likely to cost £5,500,000, we withdrew our proposal last year.

It does not seem to us very much to ask, that some 25 per cent.—I do not think it would be more—of the windfall from petrol should be used for relief of the motorist on the lines suggested by this Clause. I am not going to detain the Committee longer. I believe the case stands strongly on its own feet, and I hope the Government are going to finish a good day's work by making a very sensible concession to an important case by yielding this new Clause to us.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton (Brixton)

This new Clause is not without merit, even though it is being moved this year by hon. Members opposite. If I claim some paternal interest in the proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Kingston - upon - Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), it is due to the fact that on two previous occasions, in 1947 and in 1949, I spoke in favour of a fairly similar proposition. I hope that my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will not consider me unduly obstinate in speaking three times in support of this concession.

I know that the question of cost is a factor which must be taken into account, but I am puzzled; and what puzzles me is this. In 1947, when the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was arguing this matter in the Committee, he pointed out that the cost of the concession would amount to some £5,500,000. In 1949, we were told by the Financial Secretary that the cost of the concession would be £5,750,000, and that it would cost £5,500,000 in 1950. As the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames has pointed out, the latest figure seems to indicate that the concession would cost £6 million.

Where are all these old cars coming from? They are emerging, apparently, like Phoenix, and coming on to the road and, so to speak, inflating the amount which it will cost the Government if they should make this concession. I do not understand it. Perhaps the Financial Secretary, when he replies, will explain why it is that, notwithstanding that old cars become decrepit and fall out of use, the cost of the concession seems to go up from year to year.

I do not want to say anything more on that aspect of the matter, except to point out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1947, said that this was a point on which pressure might be brought to bear, and that eventually it might become sufficiently large for it to be difficult to resist. I hope the Financial Secretary will say that he can make some concession on what, the longer it continues, becomes more and more anomalous and indefensible as time goes on. I hope that he will not use the argument that the alleged increase in the amount which it is going to cost is the difficulty, or that, even if he can dispose of those figures, he will not use the other argument that because new cars pay Purchase Tax, and the old ones never did, this differentiation should continue.

Notwithstanding the Purchase Tax on the new cars, this £10 concession does not date back to the year when Purchase Tax was first introduced on to cars; that was in 1941. Why then, should not the £10 rate be extended to all cars which have run since 1941. That is logical. Certain cars were bought with Purchase Tax on the price, and others were not, and I do hope that the Financial Secretary will find it possible to make the concession which we seek tonight.

Mr. Higgs (Bromsgrove)

One point which occurs to me is that which has just been raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton). There is this mysterious growth of cars which ought really, one would think, to disappear year by year. Can the Financial Secretary say if this year's figure of £6 million is larger because it is calculated against the present rate of duty as compared with the half-duty cars which drew only the standard ration? If that be the case, then there would be an entirely false comparison. When this anomaly was introduced, it admittedly created an injustice for a commercial reason which, in the opinion of the House at that time, over-weighed the political reasons which are an injustice in themselves.

Having regard to the fact that this has been argued in previous years, the most material consideration is the way in which alteration has taken place in the last 12 months. In particular, since the commercial reasons remain as sound as ever, the sense of injustice of those who labour under this anomaly may have increased. In the first place, those who move among motorists know quite well that as the new cars come on to the market at the high cost they are today, the old cars are getting increasingly into the hands of people of modest means. Those who could well afford to pay the higher rate of tax are getting less and less among the owners of the older cars. Meanwhile, the privileged class, who do not suffer from the anomaly, grow larger and larger. Then, of course, many people managed in the past to tax an old car at the reduced rate because they used only the basic petrol ration, and that has now gone. That may make an increased hardship.

Then again, there is the higher price of petrol. But what has not been mentioned, when we come to consider the sense of injustice added to that higher price, is the fact that one can—the question of cost apart—have as much petrol as one likes. That means money has become for the first time more than ever the limiting factor upon motoring. That is why the injustice which this anomaly creates weighs more heavily this year than last year. There is another small point which will weigh with those who will have to pay this higher tax. Those who can afford new luxury cars of the most expensive class have received a concession on the Purchase Tax this year. It is another little thing that those who take an interest in the cost of their motoring will notice when they consider the hardships under which they labour.

It is worth mentioning in passing, because it is a class of the community which exists in considerable numbers, that there are, as time goes on since the war, an increasing number of people who for one reason and another live a considerable distance from their work. Those amongst them who can afford cars at all, including working men, have to have cars of the pre-1947 vintage and they are labouring under this difficulty. These people are increasing in numbers. There are more of them every year who travel to and from their work in old cars, and they are the sort of people who should be encouraged to have cars, not only because it is right they should have them, but because the fact they travel by car makes it easier for them to work better, to do the extra few minutes, and not to have to down tools and rush for the bus queue the moment the hooter goes.

Lastly, I think it must be mentioned again that every year there is this increasing factor of the higher cost of repairs to the old car. Repair bills amongst those whose cars are pre-war are very substantial considerations and it is upon these cars, as has been pointed out, that this tax falls most heavily. This sort of injustice may have been argued in previous years, but to every one of them there is a small percentage added with the passage of time. Above all, we have this year the great burden of the roving eye of the Chancellor of the Exchequer falling upon the motoring community. We are asking for a concession to be given to those who have borne the greater part of the burden and to those who have had opened up to them a vista of motoring with unlimited petrol and who suddenly find the limitation of their means becomes the limitation of their motoring.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Lyttelton

I only intervene for one minute because there is one point I should like particularly elucidated by the Financial Secretary. We were told in the Debate on Purchase Tax on commercial vehicles that this was a "fiscal weapon," which was intended to deter the demand for new commercial vehicles in order that they might be diverted into the export market.

The extremely tendentious and pretentious nature of this argument can be seen in regard to new cars. Everybody agrees that the export of new cars is equally necessary; so that if we followed the Treasury argument for commercial vehicles we would expect to see some advantages given to those called upon to use their old cars, with the increased cost of their maintenance and petrol consumption, in order that the "fiscal weapon" might be provided to stimulate the export of new cars and reduce the pressure of demand upon cars in the home market.

Of course, the truth is that there is nothing in the Treasury argument about commercial vehicles. They simply change their minds as it suits them, Clause by Clause. Now as the result of this there is the ridiculous anomaly by which a man with, say, an old Ford utility car, pays £27 a year tax, and the owner of a new 25 horse-power car pays £10. The effect is to increase the pressure on the new car market and to debar by every fiscal means open to the Treasury the desire of people to continue to use their old cars—and that at a time when, with another part of Treasury policy, the supply of new cars to that market was reduced.

The hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) asked what the cost of this concession was going to be. I am told the reason why there are more old cars on the road paying the old horse-power tax is chiefly due to the Ministry of Supply and other Government Departments who have collared the new cars for their own use at controlled prices and who have sold junk at enhanced prices to the public. What are we to think of "fiscal weapons" which are used in entirely opposite directions, not to suit the economic situation, but to suit the arguments of the Treasury Bench?

Mr. Jay

I think the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) introduced rather more heat than light into the argument. He purported to see some inconsistency between the policy of a 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax on commercial vehicles in order that we may divert the supply to the export market, and our maintaining the present system of taxation on passenger cars. But the answer to that is, of course, that we have now in force a 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax on passenger cars which naturally falls on new cars only, and, judging by the export record of the motor industry in new cars in the last three years, that Purchase Tax has had a very salutary effect.

The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) made the very best of his case, as we should expect, but he did not convince me that a case has been made out for making this concession this year. I will give three reasons why he failed to do so. First of all, may I just say this. He quoted again the £23 million of revenue which has accrued to us since the Budget as a result of the derationing of petrol, but he did not metion—though I think the hon. and gallant Member for Bristol, North-West (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) did—the fact which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Economic Affairs has already explained, that, unhappily, the equivalent burden of extra expenditure has already accrued since the Budget statement was made. The principal items in that are the increased National Assistance scales, the double taxation agreements and one or two other items. Since my right hon. Friend spoke we have, of course, made the further concession of the conversion of the lorry tax to a chassis tax, which will cost a further £3 million this year.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

I do not want to interrupt the flow of the hon. Gentleman's argument, but is it not the case that the increased National Assistance scales were announced a full fortnight before the derationing of petrol? They were not budgeted for, therefore, because of the windfall.

Mr. Jay

They were announced earlier but were not included in the Budget estimate and were not, therefore, relevant to the calculations then made. I have been asked why it is that the number of cars licensed before 1947 has increased in the last two years and why the cost of this concession is, as a result, going up. The reason, fairly evidently, is that with the gradual increase in the petrol rationing and, finally, with derationing, many people have thought it more worthwhile to register their cars and put them back on the roads. This has had, however, the rather surprising and unexpected result that the cost of this concession has risen over the last two years and not, as most people foresaw, fallen. The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, totally wrong—I do not know whether he was serious in suggesting it—in stating that the increase in the number of old cars has something to do with the Ministry of Supply buying new cars. That is, of course, an infinitesimal proportion of the total number of cars as I think the right hon. Gentleman knows.

I said that I would give three reasons why this does not appear to us to be the right occasion on which to make this change. First of all, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. J. Lewis) said, the alteration introduced in 1947 was designed not to give relief to some particular section of the taxpayers who were in need of it but to enable the industry to make changes in motor car design which would, it was hoped, result in increased exports. The main purpose, as I think the hon. Member for Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett) would agree, was to enable the industry to concentrate on fewer types and, therefore, increase its hold on the export markets. Judging by the record of the industry since then, that schemes has been magnificently successful. Of course, for that purpose it was not necessary to alter the system of taxation on old cars. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West, said, one cannot manufacture an old car any more than one can make next year's speech this year.

If the argument is to be that this change should be made now, it must be argued on a basis of need and not of production and exports. When we shift to that ground we have to make the case that this is the first priority for taxation relief on grounds of need, in competition with all the other claims for relief that there are before us. Secondly, we cannot leave out of the argument the fact that whereas the old car pays a higher annual tax, the new car pays Purchase Tax when it is bought. There is, therefore, some rough justice between the new car and the old car. I agree that it is rough, but we cannot get perfection in these matters.

The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames quoted a letter in "The Times" on this subject. He omitted to mention two other letters in "The Times" which I think illustrate the fact that there are two points of view on the question of whether it is the owner of the old car or the owner of the new car who is suffering an injustice. I will read the first: I heartily support the argument"— of another correspondent— against the horse-power tax in his letter in your issue of June 15th but I would adduce a further argument against this monstrous injustice. The older the car the quicker it will consume 3s. petrol and the owner is thus penalised twice over, notwithstanding that many, like myself, have had a new car on order for three years or longer. That letter came from Aberdeen.

The second letter came from London, W.1, and read as follows: Your correspondent must, in complaining of the 'monstrous injustice' of the horsepower tax, remember the monstrous burden of the purchase tax on post-war cars. The tax, until recently, on the 'fortunate' owner of a post-war Rolls-Royce was about £2,000, and this burden has now been reduced to about £1,000. It will take your correspondent many years to contribute so generously to the Exchequer. So there are two points of view about this, and each side thinks the other is comparatively suffering from an injustice. Therefore, it is probable on the whole that there is a certain amount of rough justice between the two.

Mr. John Hay (Henley)

Is the point then that because there is injustice to both sides that should mean justice on the Government side?

Mr. Jay

The hon. Gentleman has not followed the argument. Because each side thinks there is injustice being done to them the probability is that there is fairness between them.

Thirdly, I think the essential argument is this. If we have £6 million to concede this year to one or another section of the community, is this really the first priority claim upon us? I do not believe it is. Indeed, among the many pressing claims for increased Government expenditure which have been laid before us by the Opposition in these last few months and weeks I can think of quite a number which have as good, if not better, a claim for £6 million of relief. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley), whose absence we particularly regret at this hour of the night when he was always at his best, made this point with admirable clarity last year. Speaking of a possible concession of £5½ million—it was this figure then—he said: … if the Financial Secretary to the Treasury were suddenly to go off his head … and offer me my choice of any object I liked, on which I could secure a reduction of £5½ million per annum, I should not feel able to give this priority."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th June, 1949; Vol. 466, c. 897.] I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in that pronouncement, and therefore I must ask the Committee to reject this Clause.

Mr. Leather (Somerset, North)

I should like to answer some of the extraordinary arguments which the Financial Secretary has put to us. In a great display he has taken arguments given in 1947 and chalked them off in 1949, and vice versa. He has also treated us to the extraordinary spectacle of being the only holder of the office of Financial Secretary in the last three years who has tried to defend the tax while his predecessor in former years admitted the anomaly.

Mr. Jay

The hon. Gentleman must not twist my argument as far as that. I never said it was not an anomaly. I said it was not the right year to make a change.

Mr. Leather

I can only suggest to the Committee that that is another example of the hon. Gentleman's rough justice. It seems to be remarkably rough, and precious little justice. He also tried to twist, to use his own phrase, words of the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), by telling us that the Purchase Tax on cars was a great fiscal weapon responsible for the success of the motorcar industry in reaching its marvellous export figures. That is nonsense. Purchase Tax has nothing whatever to do with it.

12.0 midnight.

The Minister of Supply says, "You export your cars, or else." He does not ask anything about the tax, and if the manufacturer does not export the Minister puts him out of business. To seek to justify the argument that the tax is a fiscal weapon is nonsense. This is another one of those taxes that come under the heading that the Chancellor of the Exchequer summarises in his own delightful word "disincentive," and particularly to those classes of the community we all want to help.

Mr. Churchill (Woodford)

A non-un-disincentive.

Mr. Leather

I stand corrected by my right hon. Friend. I should like, if I may, with due respect, to get that on the record under my own name—a non-un-disincentive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us a great deal about extra work, incentives to work harder, encourages us to produce more, and tells us to save more. To the skilled worker, the chap on the shop floor who is prepared to work a little harder, is not a car the kind of thing he would like to save for? Why make it difficult, if not impossible, for him? Many people who do make the effort find, when they have had the car a few months, that they have bitten off more than they can chew, and they are in the hands of the finance boys who have the mortgage on the car.

Hon. Members opposite are great people for talking about exploitation and all the rest of it. I work in a factory for my living. I come out of the factory. I have a 12 h.p. pre-war car. I am paying £13 to £15 tax. I cannot afford to buy

another car. The boss drives off in a brand new Bentley or a Rolls, and it only costs him half what it costs me. Who is exploiting whom? I suggest to hon. Members opposite that that cut went home a little bit, because they know how weak that ground is. They are responsible. They are taking the extra money out of the working man's pocket. They are responsible for the disincentive, for the lack of the will and the desire to save. [Interruption.] I am delighted to see that so many hon. Members opposite are going to support us in the Division Lobby.

Mr. Lyttelton

I think it is time we came to a Division on this Clause. In the course of my comparatively short Parliamentary life I have never heard arguments so tenuous as those advanced by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He is the only one since 1947 who has attempted to justify a tax of £10 on a new 30-horsepower car and of £30 on a 15-year-old car of the same horsepower. He has given the most extraordinary argument that because the Government have made two mistakes the right thing lies between the two. The whole argument is perfectly nugatory, and the time has come when we should divide.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 278.

Division No. 44.] AYES [12.7 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Brooke, H. (Hampstead) Deedes, W. F.
Alport, C. J. M. Browne, J. N. (Govan) Digby, S. Wingfield
Amery, J. (Preston, N.) Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Dodds-Parker, A. D
Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Bullock, Capt. M. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M
Arbuthnot, John Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E. Drayson, G. B
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A. Drewe, C
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Carr, L. R. (Mitcham) Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)
Astor, Hon. M. Carson, Hon. E. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.
Baker, P. Channon, H. Duthie, W. S.
Baldock, J. M Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Eccles, D. M.
Baldwin, A. E. Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead) Eden, Rt. Hon. A.
Banks, Col. C Clarke, Brig T. H. (Portsmouth, W.) Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter
Baxter, A. B. Colegate, A Erroll, F. J.
Beamish, Maj T V H. Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Fisher, Nigel
Bell, R. M. Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.) Fort, R.
Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston) Cooper-Key, E. M. Foster, J. G.
Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport) Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)
Birch, Nigel Cranborne, Viscount Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D, (Pollok)
Bishop, F. P. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)
Black, C. W. Crouch, R. F. Gammans, L. D
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Crowder, F. P. (Ruislip-Northwood) Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)
Boothby, R. Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (Finchley) Gates, Maj. E. E.
Bossom, A. C. Cundiff, F. W. George, Lady M. Lloyd
Bower, N. Cuthbert, W. N. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.) Gridley, Sir A.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Davidson, Viscountess Grimond, J.
Brains, B. Davies, Nigel (Epping) Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. de Chair, S. Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W De la Bère, R. Harden, J. R. E.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D
Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.) Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight) Savory, Prof. D. L.
Harris, R. R. (Heston) McKibbin, A. Scott, Donald
Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield) McKie, J. H (Galloway) Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)
Harvey, I. (Harrow, E.) Maclay, Hon. J. S. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Hay, John Maclean, F. H. R. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Head, Brig A. H. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Smithers, Peter H. B. (Winchester)
Heald, L. F MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Smithers, Sir W (Orpington)
Heath, Col. E. R. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Soames, Capt. C.
Higgs, J. M. C. Manningham-Buller, R. E. Spearman, A. C. M.
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Marlowe, A. A. H. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Hill, Dr. C. (Luton) Marples, A. E. Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)
Hirst, Geoffrey Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) Stevens, G. P.
Hogg, Hon. Q. Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.) Steward, W. A (Woolwich, W.)
Hollis, M. C Maude, J. C. (Exeter) Storey, S.
Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Maudling, R. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Hope, Lord J. Mellor, Sir J. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Molson, A. H. E. Studholme, H. G
Horsbrugh, Miss F. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Summers, G. S.
Howard, G. R. (St. Ives) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Sutcliffe, H.
Howard, S. G. (Cambridgeshire) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S (Cirencester) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Nabarro, G. Teeling, William
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nicholls, H. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Nicholson, G Thompson, K. P. (Walton)
Hurd, A. R Nield, B. (Chester) Thompson, R. H. M (Croydon, W.)
Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Nugent, G. R. H. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Hyde, H. M. Nutting, Anthony Tilney, John
Hylton-Foster, H. B. Oakshott, H. D. Touche, G. C.
Jeffreys, General Sir G Odey, G. W. Turton, R. H
Jennings, R. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Vane, W. M. F.
Jones, A (Hall Green) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Vosper, D. F.
Kaberry, D Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)
Keeling, E. H Osborne, C. Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Perkins, W. R. D. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Lambert, Hon. G. Pickthorn, K. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Lancaster, Col. C. G Powell, J. Enoch Waterhouse, Capt. C.
Langford-Holt, J. Prescott, Stanley Watkinson, H.
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Leather, E. H. C. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. Webbe, Sir H. (London)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Profumo, J. D White, J. Baker (Canterbury)
Linstead, H. N Raikes, H. V. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Llewellyn, D. Rayner, Brig. R Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton) Redmayne, M. Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Remnant, Hon. P. Wills, G.
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Renton, D. L. M Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Longden, G. J. M. (Herts, S. W.) Roberts, P. G. (Heeley) Wood, Hon. R.
Low, A. R. W. Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.) York, C.
Lucas, Major Sir J (Portsmouth, S.) Robson-Brown, W. (Esher) Young, Sit A. S. L.
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Rodgers, J. (Sevenoaks)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Roper, Sir H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Ropner, Col. L Brigadier Mackeson and
McCallum, Maj. D. Ross, Sir R D. (Londonderry) Major Wheatley.
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Russell, R. S.
Acland, Sir Richard Booth, A. Cooper, G, (Middlesbrough, W.)
Adams, Richard Bottomley, A. G. Cooper, J. (Deptford)
Albu, A. H. Bowden, H. W. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Cove, W. G.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Brockway, A. Fenner Crawley, A.
Awbery, S. S. Brook, D. (Halifax) Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.
Ayles, W. H. Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Crossman, R. H. S.
Bacon, Miss A. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Cullen, Mrs. A.
Baird, J. Brown, George (Belper) Daines, P.
Balfour, A. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Darling, G. (Hillsbero')
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Burton, Miss E. Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)
Bartley, P. Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Callaghan, James Davies, Harold (Leek)
Benson, G. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Beswick, F. Champion, A. J. de Freitas Geoffrey
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Chelwynd, G. R. Deer, G.
Bing, G. H.C. Clunie, J. Delargy, H. J.
Blackburn, A. R. Cocks, F. S. Dodds, N. N.
Blenkinsop, A. Coldrick, W. Donnelly, D.
Boardman, H. Collick, P. Donovan, T. N.
Driberg, T. E. N Keenan, W. Richards, R.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich) Kenyon, C. Robens, A.
Dye, S. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. King, H. M. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Edelman, M. Kinley, J. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Edwards, John (Brighouse) Lang, Rev. G Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly) Lee, F. (Newton) Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Lever, N. H. (Cheetham) Shurmer, P. L. E
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.) Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Ewart, R. Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Fernyhough, E. Lindgren, G. S. Simmons, C J
Field, Capt. W. J. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Slater, J.
Finch, H. J. Longden, F. (Small Heath) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) McAllister, G. Snow, J. W.
Follick, M. MacColl, J. E. Sorensen, R. W.
Forman, J. C. McGhee, H. G. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir F
Freeman, J. (Watford) Midlines, J. Sparks, J. A.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mack, J. D. Steele, T.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Gibson, C. W. McLeavy, F. Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Gilzean, A. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Stross, Dr. B.
Gooch, E. G. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Sylvester, G. O.
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Rossendale) Mainwaring, W. H. Taylor, H. B (Mansfield)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Grenfell, D. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Hudderfield E.) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Grey, C. F. Mann, Mrs. J. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Manuel, A. C. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)
Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange) Mathers, Rt. Hon. George Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Gunter, R. J. Mellish, R. J. Thurtle, Ernest
Hale, J. (Rochdale) Messer, F Timmons, J.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Middleton, Mrs. L. Tomney, F.
Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.) Mikardo, Ian Turner-Samuels, M
Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne V'll'y) Mitchison, G. R. Usborne, Henry
Hamilton, W. W. Moeran, E. W. Vernon, Maj. W. F
Hannan, W. Monslow, W. Viant, S. P.
Hardman, D. R. Moody, A. S. Wallace, H. W
Hardy, E. A. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Watkins, T. E
Hargreaves, A. Morley, R. Webb, Rt. Hon. M (Bradford C.)
Harrison, J. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Weitzman, D.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Moyle, A. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Hayman, F. H. Mulley, F. W Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Murray, J. D. West, D. G.
Herbison, Miss M. Nally, W. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Neal, H. While, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)
Hobson, C. R. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Holman, P. Oldfield, W. H. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Oliver, G. H. Wigg, George
Houghton, Douglas Orbach, M. Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B
Hubbard, T. Padley, W. E. Wilkes, L.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly) Wilkins, W. A
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Willey, F. T (Sunderland)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pannell, T. C. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.) Pargiter, G. A. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Paton, J. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pearson, A. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pearl, T. F Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Poole, Cecil Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Popplewell, E. Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)
Janner, B. Porter, G. Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)
Jay, D. P. T. Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Wise, Major F. J.
Jeger, G. (Goole) Proctor, W. T. Woods, Rev. G. S.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.) Pryde, D. J. Wyatt, W. L.
Jenkins, R. H. Pursey, Comdr. H. Yates, V. F.
Johnson, James (Rugby) Rankin, J. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Rees, Mrs. D.
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S) Reeves, J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Reid, T. (Swindon) Mr. Collindridge and Mr. Royle.
Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Reid, W. (Camlachie)