HC Deb 05 December 1956 vol 561 cc1380-410

9.59 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry Brooke)

I beg to move, That, as from six o'clock in the evening of the fourth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-six, there shall be an increase of one shilling a gallon in the rate of the duty of customs on hydrocarbon oils, and the rates of the excise duties on hydrocarbon oils, petrol substitutes, and spirits used for making power methylated spirits, and of the rebates of the customs and excise duties on hydrocarbon oils (which under the relevant enactments depend on the rate of the customs duty on hydrocarbon oils) shall be increased accordingly; And any Act giving effect to this Resolution may include provision relaxing, in view of the increase in the said duties, any limitations imposed by virtue of conditions attached to a road service licence under section seventy-two of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, on the fares chargeable for the carriage of passengers in public service vehicles, or imposed by virtue of a charges scheme under Part V of the Transport Act, 1947, on the fares chargeable by the London Transport Executive. And it is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1913. I hope that the Committee will not think me discourteous if I am brief. At this stage of our discussion on this proposal I suggest that brevity has very special merits, for this reason, if for no other. As recently as yesterday my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer described at some length the broad considerations of economic and budgetary policy which led him to propose an increase in the fuel tax. Very soon we shall be discussing the details on a Bill, which will be quite -short, but it cannot be printed or published until this Resolution has been agreed to in Committee here and on Report. It is our intention to bring in the Bill tomorrow night and, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said yesterday, it is proposed that it might be read a Second time next Monday, the remaining stages being taken later next week.

There will, in this way, be an opportunity, which we shall welcome, within the very near future to discuss this proposal both in its broad aspects and in its detail. Tonight, therefore, I might be trespassing on the patience of the Committee if I did more than remind it that the proposal in this Resolution is to increase the duty on petrol and other light hydrocarbon oils and derv by 1s. a gallon from six o'clock yesterday evening.

Beyond this bare fact, there are two points of interest which I particularly wish to mention. It is impossible to make concessions by way of rebate from the increased duty to any class of consumer. Nevertheless, I am very much aware that there is one group, in particular, whom the Committee would wish, if possible, to shield from hardship, namely, disabled persons, whether ex-Service pensioners or civilians, who depend for getting about on a motor invalid tricycle or other vehicle.

For technical reasons, it would be impossible to give them relief from the tax as such, but my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland propose to increase the allowances which they make towards the running costs of invalid vehicles used by disabled persons in such a way that hardship may be avoided.

My second point relates to what are properly called public service vehicles, to which, perhaps, for the sake of brevity and clarity, I may refer as buses. Quite clearly, the increase in the duty will increase the operating expenses of bus undertakings. Road passenger operators, including municipal undertakings, are generally operating on small margins of profit, and all of them could not absorb all of this increased cost.

They are not in a position to increase their charges except through a procedure laid down by Statute which, in most cases, takes several months. Procedure taking that length of time is obviously quite inappropriate to the present situation, when we are taking immediate action to deal on a temporary basis with a temporary emergency. For that reason, we are proposing to provide in the Bill authority for road passenger vehicle operators to make strictly limited and temporary increases in fares without the necessity to go right through the usual procedure. It would certainly be reasonable to expect that the operators, in deciding by how much they ought to increase their charges, will take fully into account any operating factors resulting from the present situation which tell in the opposite direction.

I thought I should mention these matters, as they are new. Having done that, I do not propose to add anything more now to what my right hon. Friend said yesterday, which will be very fresh in the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen. We do not in any way shirk discussion on this Resolution, and I shall, of course, be very glad to deal with any points which may be raised in the course of debate. I would, however, submit that it may be for the general convenience of the Committee if we do not find it necessary to spend very long on this Resolution tonight, because within the next few days there will certainly be opportunity to discuss the whole matter with the advantage of having the Bill in front of us, and, if I may humbly say so, at a more convenient hour of the day.

Mr. John Howard (Southampton, Test)

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether taxis are included in the provision which he says refers to buses? Have the taxi operators an opportunity to make immediate application to put up their fares?

Mr. Brooke

They are under a rather different form of control. No change in the law would be necessary if taxi fares were to be increased. I will certainly deal with that later.

Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)

I agree with the Financial Secretary that this would not be the occasion for a full-scale debate on this very important matter. There will be other occasions—I think that the Lord Privy Seal told us that the Second Reading of the Bill is to be on Monday—when we can cover the whole matter at length. There is another reason why we should not debate this matter very much tonight. That is the actual form of the Bill, because although the Chancellor has gone out of his way to say that he is not introducing an autumn Budget or an interim Budget, he is in fact doing that.

I understand the Chancellor's reluctance to call it an autumn Budget, after his rather scathing remarks about the Lord Privy Seal's autumn Budget last year. In practice, this is just as much a supplementary Budget as the one introduced by the Lord Privy Seal in October last year. The effective part of that supplementary Budget was the Purchase Tax which raised taxes by the annual rate of £75 million. The Chancellor's present proposal will raise taxes at the annual rate of £90 million. It is indeed a bigger alteration to our fiscal system than that contained in the previous autumn Budget. In practice, this ought to be called Finance (No. 1) Bill. We are really debating a Budget Resolution before a Finance Bill. It is, of course, not customary to debate such a Resolution at length or for the Opposition to state its main views on the merits of the matter at that stage.

There is one point which I consider of some urgency. I take it, from the statement which the Chancellor made yesterday, that the extent of the fiscal changes depends upon America granting us a waiver on the interest payments on our debts, because he was assuming in the context of the general statement which he made about the balance of payments the difficulty that we were in and the run on gold reserves. I take it that if America did not agree to the waiver he would have to consider further and more considerable fiscal changes. In that case it is unfortunate that there should still be on the Order Paper a Motion criticising America in open and frank terms, signed by nearly half the Members of the Chancellor's party. I think it would be in accord with the Chancellor's appeal to everybody, with which we agree, to do everything possible to defend the £ that that Motion be taken off the Order Paper before we discuss the Second Reading of the Bill.

The Chancellor appealed to all of us to save the £, and we agree with that and will, for our part, do everything we can to help save the £ whether we are in Opposition or whether it should come to us to be in office. We have, however, very grave doubts about the relevance to our economic situation of the proposal which the Chancellor is to introduce in the Bill. It is bound to be inflationary. The changes to be made in the statutory law to enable bus undertakings to raise fares shows how quickly inflationary anything that affects the cost of transport is bound to be. We agree very much with the proposed change to help disabled people who have vehicles, but, of course, there may be similar changes that we shall want to make in that direction. We will, of course, consider the general merits and details of this proposal very carefully when we get the Bill before us, and we will want time to deploy our arguments on the main theme and to consider and draft Amendments.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Can there be any merits in it?

Mr. Gordon Walker

I was using the term "merits" in an entirely colourless sense, which includes demerits.

Obviously, we cannot declare our opinion until we have seen the Bill, but we have the gravest doubts about whether this is a wise or relevant act, or, indeed, whether it is not really bad because it is getting in the light of a lot of other things that ought to be done instead.

With that general expression of our opinion, until we see the Bill, I would advise my hon. Friends on this side that it would be wise not to go at great length into the merits or demerits tonight and to keep our main fire for Monday on Second Reading.

Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

There are only two things I should like to say. The first is a small point as to whether it is possible not to increase taxation on home-produced fuel. The purpose of these proposals is to limit the consumption of fuel, but it should also have the effect of developing any home sources, and I trust that it will be possible to find a means by which home-produced oil fuel will not suffer this extra taxation.

The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) made an ill-advised statement about the waiver. I am opposed to asking for a waiver from the United States of America, and I hope it will not be asked for. I hope, therefore, that these arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman will not arise.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Is the right hon. Gentleman in favour of that Motion remaining on the Order Paper? All I asked for was its withdrawal.

Mr. Elliot

The right hon. Gentleman was begging that the waiver should be granted.

Mr. Gordon Walker

I did not say that. I said that I assumed that the Chancellor, in making these proposals, was counting on the waiver being accepted by America. I said nothing else about it, except to say that the Motion on the Order Paper did not fit in with that view of the Chancellor and that it ought to be withdrawn.

Mr. Elliot

That is what I was arguing against. I am not in favour of asking for a waiver. [Interruption.] I have opposed my Front Bench before on various points, and I am quite willing to put this case forward whether it is agreed to by the Front Bench or not.

To go at this moment to the United States asking for a waiver would be to put ourselves on the wrong foot entirely in the great arguments which are about to take place. As the whole House knows, I was not in favour of the original Motion. Indeed, some of us put down a counter Motion of our own. That argument does not enter into it.

Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)

Would the right hon. Gentleman apply the same argument concerning oil from America?

Mr. Elliot

I do not see that that has anything to do with the matter. We are talking of asking for a relief from interest payments which are due, and I was saying that I was not in favour of that. I am sticking to one point at a time. The point has been raised tonight, and I am merely taking the earliest possible moment to say that I hope my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not ask for a waiver from the United States.

The Chairman (Sir Charles MacAndrew)

The right hon. Gentleman is going beyond the terms of the Motion.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

Further to that point of order. What we have tonight is technically a Budget debate on a Ways and Means Resolution under the auspices of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1913, to give effect to what was, in effect, a Budget statement yesterday. Whereas we all recognise that it is usually customary that we debate the last of a series of Resolutions, which is a wide one, talking of changes in fiscal policy, I submit that there are abundant precedents that on a Ways and Means Resolution a wide debate could take place even though the outstanding Resolution—in this case, the only Resolution may be very narrow.

Erskine May, if I read him aright, suggested that in 1929 the whole debate took place on a Resolution dealing with the tea duty. It will be in the recollection of this Committee and of yourself, Sir Charles, that in the Election Budget of 1955 there was no general Resolution standing open, because, of course, the Government's desire was to preclude debate on the Finance Bill. Again, on the autumn Budget of last year, which was the precursor of this one tonight, the whole of the debate took place on one of the outstanding Ways and Means Resolutions, which was a very narrow and technical point. On that occasion, Sir Charles, you did not yourself in any way prevent us having a Budget debate.

Having said that, may I reinforce the plea of my right hon. Friend that we should debate these matters more conveniently next week? However, I wanted to make the point, since this may be a precedent for further Budgets slipped in by the back door, that there should not be a strict Ruling from the Chair which, I submit, is quite contrary to that given on earlier Budget debates.

The Chairman

I have listened to what the right hon. Gentleman has said with great interest, but what will be in order on the Second Reading of the Bill when it comes forward I would not now, of course, like to say. But this Resolution deals only with hydrocarbon oils and I think that we ought to confine ourselves to that matter at present.

Mr. Wilson

I have made it clear, Sir Charles, that I do not feel that we ought to have a long debate, but I think that an important precedent is involved here in case the Government leave on the Order Paper a very narrow Resolution dealing with hydrocarbon oils and thereby hope to preclude the whole debate. I submit that this Resolution is exactly parallel to the 1929 Resolution on the tea duty and to those in the Budget debates of April and October, 1955.

The Chairman

I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that on the occasions which he recited there were several Resolutions before the one left over. On this occasion, we are dealing with only one Resolution, and I think he will agree that when we are dealing with only one Resolution we can deal only with that. On this occasion, it is down for debate as the tea duty Resolution was also left over for debate.

Mr. Wilson

I think there is a point here which affects the rights of the House and which ought to be cleared up. I apologise to the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), with whose views we sympathise and from whom we would like to hear more in a moment. Erskine May says that there is nothing before the Committee, but the last Resolution—

The Chairman

In this case, it is the only one.

Mr. Wilson

I apologise, Sir Charles, if I am raising a point on which you have not had an opportunity of taking advice.

The Chairman

I know all about it.

Mr. Wilson

In that case, Sir Charles, I hope that you will elucidate the point to the Committee and will give the necessary instructions, because what has happened in previous debates is that all the Resolutions to which you referred, those other than the last, will have been agreed to by the House. Therefore, there is one Motion before the House. That is the position. This Resolution before the House is the only Resolution and, therefore, the last one. It is the last, it is also the first. In page 770, Eskine May says: … during the subsequent days in committee on the budget resolutions there is nothing formally before the committee but the last resolution—generally that for the purpose of amending the fiscal law…. Then there is footnote (q) which says: In 1929 the resolution for the repeal of the tea duty was used for this purpose. There is nothing in Erskine May or in Standing Orders to say that this rule is varied in cases where there is only one Resolution. The Chancellor seems to be muttering something. I am sure that his advice would be useful to the Committee.

The Chairman

It is quite simple. If a thing is last and there is only one, it is also first.

Mr. Elliot

May I say that I fully appreciate the strength of your Ruling, Sir Charles, and intend to submit myself to it? I do not think that the point taken by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) is fully valid. This in the usual way is the Financial Resolution to a Bill, and it cannot be claimed that it is in any way a supplementary Budget or any kind of Budget. I hope to have the opportunity of developing the topic I raised later. I am sure your Ruling is right, and I submit myself to it.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, south)

Sir Dennis—[Laughter.] Those of us who understand what is behind that slip can laugh more than others. I regret the slip, Sir Charles.

We have received advice from both sides of the Committee the logic of which is that we should not take our opportunity to raise questions on this Motion. I understand that the Motion is that from which the Government derive their authority to increase the price of oil from six o'clock last night, but it would be wrong for us to acquiesce in that without making a few observations about it. I want to place on record not only my opposition to the proposal, but also the opposition of a large number of my hon. Friends.

Since the end of the war, even during the war, industry has responded to appeal after appeal. Local transport committees have run great risks and municipal transport undertakings have run into losses in making their contribution towards the avoidance of inflation. Now they are faced with this increase. It is very discouraging to those who have made such a magnificent contribution. On behalf of many of my hon. Friends, and many people engaged in local authority activity and in large-scale industry—I mean undertakings employing between 20,000 and 30,000 people, where large transport services must be provided at the works' gates every morning and evening—I say that we ought to have opposed this Motion tonight.

Mr. James Simmons (Brierley Hill)

I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the fact that Ministry of Health motor tricycles are to have special consideration. Will 8 horse-power cars for limbless men—double amputation cases—be included? What is the position of disabled men who do not use motor-propelled vehicles, but who use public transport and who will be heavily handicapped by the increases in public transport fares throughout the country? In many cities, including Birmingham, disabled men receive free passes on local authority transport.

I wonder whether the appropriate Ministry—the Ministry of Health, or the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance—could find a way of providing the same coverage for all leg-disabled men using both privately-owned and municipally-owned transport. It would be a very small concession. I understand that local authorities estimate that £5 a year covers the cost of a free pass for a legless disabled ex-Service man. Could that provision be extended to cover those who will be hit hard by the increase in fares due to the petrol tax? While the Minister is thinking about that, will he consider the old-age pensioners as well?

Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)

I am astonished at the suggestion of the Minister that we should set on one side all the elaborate legislation which Parliament set up some years ago to protect the travelling public against undue increases by public transport authorities. Both privately-owned and municipally-owned authorities have to go through a whole series of processes at the moment. They have to publish the application in notices and proceedings, and go through various other procedures, and time has to elapse between each of those steps before their application is finally heard by the Traffic Commissioners and authority is given to make an increase.

The Government are now apparently prepared to set on one side all this elaborate machinery, which has worked for the past twenty years, in order to get them out of a difficulty. It was only recently, under the 1953 Act, that the party opposite sought to compel the British Transport Commission to secure licences of this kind through these licensing courts, to protect the public against undue increases. Now they want to concertina the necessary procedure into a few days so that municipalities will find it easier to obtain increases. In fact, they are doing this to get them out of their difficulty.

In the case of some services the number of miles per gallon obtained by double-decker buses running on fuel oil on heavy routes is very small. The Chancellor's estimate of an increase of one-fifth of 1d. yesterday will be ridiculed by municipal authorities and every public transport organisation in the country. It will cost a good deal more. Workmen's fares will have to be increased substantially to meet the extra cost.

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to prevent the demand for increased wages which is bound to arise he will find himself in considerable difficulty. He is not prepared to make a sacrifice in relation to the proportion of the revenue which he will derive from the tax; he now suggests that we should set on one side all the elaborate machinery set up under the 1930 and 1933 Acts in order to get him out of a difficulty. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) that we should not accept the Motion without opposition.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

I want to oppose the Motion and to say that I am rather surprised that the Minister did not take the opportunity to tell us the reason for it. I suppose he is assuming that we will understand the necessity for it from the Chancellor's statement yesterday, but that statement did not give us the real reason and the Financial Secretary has not explained it tonight.

I want to know why this exorbitant tax has been put on petrol and hydrocarbon oil. Is it because the Government want the general public and industry to use less oil? Is it, on the other hand, because the Chancellor is anxious to save dollar expenditure? Or is it because he is hoping to recoup the losses—I think they amount to £6 million a month—caused by a decline in the consumption of petrol?

10.30 p.m.

The Foreign Secretary recently confessed to me that there is oil and petrol available for sterling. He also confessed that in Western Germany—good luck to them—there is no petrol rationing, and that they do not have to pay an extra tax on petrol. I am pleased to know that Western Germany is in that position. But I am told the reason is that they have Rumanian and Russian oil and petrol. When I asked the Foreign Secretary to find out whether we could have some Rumanian and Russian- oil and petrol, he did not attempt to go into the question. Are we paying an extra 1s. because we have to have oil from the Middle East? If that is the reason, the Chancellor should attempt to get oil from other sources.

The right hon. Gentleman has not explained the real reason for this increase. If it is to cut consumption, let us have the rigid enforcement of rationing. Otherwise, the Chancellor's statement that he wants to stop inflation is ludicrous. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that the cost of living would rise by one-third of one point, but I am sure he knows that is not in accordance with the facts. There are a thousand-and-one things involved in the increase. It will result in an increase in the cost of bread deliveries. Moreover, most modern bakeries use oil to fuel their fires, and bakers are anticipating a further increase, in addition to the increase which the Chancellor has imposed.

I am told that there are a number of other commodities, such as fruit and vegetables—in fact, almost every item to be found in a housewife's basket—that will go up in price. Surely the Chancellor does not want to see that? If he does, there is only one alternative, a number of wage increase applications which the trade unions will have to place before the employers. If that happens, we shall find ourselves priced out of the markets.

I do not wish to criticise the people of West Germany, but they have already taken some of our markets and they have been successful in undercutting our prices in the world markets. If we find that the prices of our products are going up, because of this 1s. tax, and the Germans have no extra tax to pay and are getting all the petrol they want, we shall again fall short of our overall production at a time when the only way out of our difficulties is to increase production. Since the beginning of the Suez crisis there has been a fall in the production of cars and car accessories. There is a fall in production, and unemployment, in that industry. One of the large motor manufacturers announced today that they have to stand workers off on short time, or to dismiss them.

The Chancellor will lose not only the production of cars, thus adversely affecting the export trade—which is bad enough—but Purchase Tax and P.A.Y.E. from workers now on part-time, or unemployed and drawing the dole. These losses will not help him to get the £6 million per month.

If the Chancellor wants money there are a thousand-and-one ways of getting it much better than the way he is suggesting. It would be out of order for me to suggest putting a 1s. on the surtax. No hon. Member on this side of the Committee would object to a suggestion of even to 2s. on it.

The Chairman

I, for one, would object to it, because it would be out of order.

Mr. Lewis

I thought it would be, Sir Charles. I would ask the Chancellor to look at other methods than the 1s. increase in tax.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) has raised the question of disablement cars. We are all very pleased that disabled ex-Service-men are to get relief. There are probably hundreds of thousands of men and women who are not actually disabled but are getting the benefit of a car or tricycle from the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. There are thousands of ex-Service men who are not fully disabled but must use private transport, because it is dangerous, difficult or inconvenient for them to use public transport.

I know of some with a 30, 40 or 50 per cent. disability pension who do not get cars or tricycles, but because they have something wrong with them they cannot use the Underground or public transport. They have to use their own cars, often at great expense to themselves. Now they cannot afford to run them because of the terrific increase in price, although they must use them to get to work.

The Chancellor should look at this matter. Let him find out from the Ministry how many disabled ex-Service men, irrespective of the amount of their disablement, are using cars in this way. A man may have chronic asthma or bronchitis, perhaps from fighting in Suez, and be unable to use public transport. These men have bought themselves cheap cars in order to get to and from work, although it is true that in the process they may use those cars at week-ends. I suggest the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance should get into touch with those pensioners, ask whether they use those cars or other private means of transport, and assist them over their difficulty. At the moment, they do not get assistance from the Ministry, but surely it is possible for the Ministry to grant them some relief if it can be shown that they use such vehicles.

Then there are those registered by the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance as industrially injured. Of necessity, some of them have to use their private cars and other vehicles. Surely they should have an opportunity of claiming relief from this tax.

My last word to the Chancellor is, please try to ascertain from the West Germans, the Rumanian Government or the Soviet Government, whether, as I understand that no dollar exchange is involved, they can supply us with the oil and petrol we need. If that were the case there would not be the need for rationing at all nor for this 1s. increase. If there were no need for rationing and the 1s. increase, there would be no need for us to be here discussing this Motion.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

First, may I say how much I agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) and how much I hope the Government will give sympathetic consideration to these people.

I wish to refer briefly to an aspect of the matter which I think the Chancellor did not mention, and to which I refer only now because I believe this is the only point in the proceedings at which I can make reference to it. It is brought out if one looks at the first part of the Resolution, which says: …as from six o'clock in the evening of the fourth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-six, there shall be an increase of one shilling a gallon … In some contexts the wording is so familiar to us that we fail to notice just how extraordinary it is, but "shall be" is future tense. Lt is very unusual to use the future to refer to yesterday evening. We ought to look at what we are doing. At present this is not an Act of Parliament; it is only a Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means. It gets the force it has by virtue of an Act of Parliament we have not only not yet passed, but the text of which we have not yet even seen and which cannot be brought in yet.

That is not the only degree of retrospection. Not only does this get its legal force from an Act which is not yet passed, but it gives legal force to something which the Chancellor said orally yesterday. We are in the position that the Chancellor can by word of mouth alter the law, we give it legal force the following day by a Resolution, and give that Resolution legal force the following week, or in a few weeks' time, by passing an Act of Parliament.

It will be said that there is nothing unusual in this as we do it in the Budget. Certainly Ways and Means Resolutions passed on Budget Day have the force of law straightaway under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, but there is not quite so much further retrospection usually as we have here. All the Resolutions but one are passed on Budget Day and only a few hours elapse between the moment the change in the law comes into operation and the moment we give it our approval in Committee of Ways and Means. Only one of those Resolutions as a rule is left, and that is in most general wording to be passed on subsequent days.

Two points arise from this. The first is that if we accept this procedure at all and regard it as constitutional, it can only be by analogy with what we do on Budget Day; and that brings out the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) that, constitutionally, this is a supplementary Budget. We are using exactly the Budget procedures.

10.45 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) was surely in error in saying that this was the Financial Resolution of a Bill. The Financial Resolution of a Bill is passed after that Bill has been read a Second time. This is a Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, on which a Bill is to be based, and the only parallel for that is on Budget Day. This is, therefore, a supplementary Budget, a miniature Budget, if one likes—a one-Clause Budget, one might say. If it is not a Budget, then it is a most scandalous illegality.

It is only by putting it in the same class as a Budget that, constitutionally, one can justify the proceedings at all. And even if one does put it in the same class as a Budget, this rather startling conclusion follows. It is all very well to have this double retrospection, with an Act of Parliament casting its beneficent shadow on the Resolution, and the Resolution going back further still and giving the force of law to what the Chancellor said yesterday. It is all very well to have that done once a year, at a recognised time, when the whole of the community knows that it is liable to be done, and when the date on which the Budget is to be introduced is made known to the country some time beforehand.

It is one thing to have this extraordinary, retrospective procedure adopted at a regular, fixed, accepted time. It is quite another thing if the Chancellor is to be able to pop up at the Box in any month of the year, on any day of the week and alter the law by word of mouth. It was, I think, King Richard II who claimed that the laws of England lay in his mouth. I would ask the Chancellor to consider the subsequent history of that monarch, when he abandoned the position he held at the time when he made that claim. He did not end up in another place, but somewhere quite different—in another place, but in a very different sense of those words.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

Jolly good.

Mr. Stewart

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his words, which encourage me to go on to say—

Mr. Macmillan

Worthy of the President of the Oxford Union.

Mr. Stewart

But perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will now address himself to the serious point that here presents itself. This is a supplementary Budget, and while, as I say, it is one thing to have a regular Budget once a year, or, perhaps, to have two Budgets a year—a spring and an autumn one—if we are really to have a Budget at any time the Chancellor likes to come to the Box, it is straining the constitution about as far as it will go.

Now, it has been commonplace in the arguments of the Conservative Party that it is the champion of the rights of Parliament, and that it is we on this side who want to give excessive delegated powers to Ministers. There has never been an instance, I think, when the Government have been allowed to go to the full end of the constitutional tether as strikingly as this—that one not only uses the procedure whereby a mere Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means is to have the force of law, but uses it retrospectively—so that the mere word of the Chancellor—not at a regular time of year, but at any time he likes—can alter the laws of England.

If hon. Members opposite agree to this, let no Conservative hereafter ever pretend that he has conscientious or constitutional scruples about delegating into the hands of Ministers powers that properly belong to Parliament. If hon. Members opposite swallow this, they are not in a position in future to object to any kind of delegation of Parliamentary power.

Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)

I shall support the Government in this proposal with a very heavy heart, and I shall do so simply on the assurance given yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and repeated tonight by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that this is a temporary measure to meet a temporary situation.

I am, however, forced to the conclusion that this is just one more example of the wrong economic thinking by the latter-day economists in the Treasury. It seems to me that they will never learn that increased taxation is by its very nature inflationary. We have been trying to drum that fact into successive Chancellors of the Exchequer since 1945, and yet with every year that has passed, with every financial crisis, new taxes have been imposed and the result has always been more and more inflation.

This will have effects far beyond the mere £30 million which my right hon. Friend told us yesterday would be the result so far as the Treasury is concerned. Today all over this country industrialists are marking up their prices as a result of increased freight charges which will be a minimum of 5 per cent. There will be a considerable increase in expenses incurred by industry, by commercial travellers, in distribution of foodstuffs and of raw materials generally, which inevitably must be passed on in increased prices to the consumer.

The most serious part from industry's point of view, however, is that this inevitably puts a permanent cost on production which limits our possibilities of competing in export markets, and the Treasury economists have really got to face the fact that increased taxation will have the most serious effects upon this nation's economy over the years; there has got to be a completely new thinking within the Treasury if the country is going to survive as a viable economic unit.

Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)

I hope that the plea which the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) made has not been vitiated by his disagreement with the Front Bench in a matter which I understand is out of order. The plea which he made is in relation to the indigenous hydrocarbon oil industry, a matter which I should like to raise now in view of the answer which the Chancellor gave to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) in relation to this point yesterday.

It can hardly be said that this is a matter of constituency pleading, since in neither of the constituencies of the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove or of myself is shale oil produced. Nor is it fair to claim that it is a parochial point because the bulk of shale oil is produced in Scotland. T think it is reasonable to consider this at this juncture.

The Chancellor said to my hon. Friend that the 50 per cent. concession granted in 1953 to the indigenous hydrocarbon oil industry would be continued within this Resolution, and it would therefore mean that instead of 1s. a gallon being the increase in tax it would be 6d. a gallon. May I point out that this was precisely the so-called concession which we got in 1953 and which, although it has benefited many of the workers in the industry in a transitory manner, has not really meant the succour of the industry itself.

For example, since the concession was granted in 1953, the tonnage production ran at 104,000 tons, and at the present time we are running at the rate of 79,000 tons, which means that we are losing possibly a quarter, or perhaps a third, of the actual production of shale oil in this country. I submit that 10 million gallons of oil in these days can hardly be sneered at. It may well be a drop in the bucket of oil resources which the country requires, but it can hardly be sneered at as a matter which does not require the consideration of the Treasury. Even a temporary burden of a tax of 6d. a gallon on this industry for the next four months can well mean the difference between the survival of the industry as it is presently constituted, and its development as it ought to be. The fact is that the industry is having a series of close-downs at various pits, and already we have seen the closure of two important ones.

I suggest that it is very wrong of the Treasury, on rather curious arguments, as it seems to me, to claim that here is a so-called concealed subsidy and suggest that because the tax is reduced by 50 per cent. the industry must therefore be receiving a subsidy of a kind. The industry is still paying a tax which is retarding its development and causing it to decrease its production, which will, as the years go by, steadily bring about the extinguishment of production of hydrocarbon oils in this country.

I join with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove in his plea that this industry ought not to be sacrificed. The Treasury must think again and give this concession, even in this temporary situation, because we can temporary situation, before we can raise the matter in the April Budget.

Mr. J. Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) say that the only reason he supported this Measure was that he accepted an assurance from his right hon. Friend that it was only temporary. I would remind him that from his own benches we were told the other day that the only member of the Front Bench of his party who could be believed now was the Foreign Secretary. We do not go even so far as that. I would ask him to hesitate before he accepts any assurances from his Front Bench.

Having regard to his contention that all taxation is inflationary, I fail to see why, because this is said to be only temporarily inflationary, it should attract his support. I hope he will think over this matter during the week-end and be prepared to support our opposition to the Government's Bill on Monday.

We gathered from the Minister, when this increase in the duty on petrol was announced, that the main reason for it was that, because of the smaller amount of petrol being consumed, there was a considerable loss to the Treasury. We understood that they are trying to make it up by putting a higher duty on the petrol which is now being used. I should like to ask whether the Treasury has considered that, in as much as this higher price is being paid for petrol, in the main, by business people for business purposes, the extra tax which would be secured on the petrol will be written off the tax which would otherwise have been secured from business profits which will now be turned to the purchase of petrol. I wonder whether the Chancellor has taken that into account in assessing the extra 1s. That is merely a matter of arithmetic, but I should like to be assured on that.

My next question relates to a matter which I raised at Question time today, in regard to which I did not get a satisfactory reply. It relates to the continuance of the existing rate of road fund licence taxation and motor insurance.

I understood from the replies that there is to be no modification, although motorists are being driven off the roads for the greater part of the time in which they would normally use their cars. They are to be allowed to use their cars for only some two or three days per week, or, according to the capacity of the car or the amount of work to be done, for some 200 miles per month. Nevertheless, they will be forced to continue to pay the same rate of insurance premium, although, quite clearly, they will not be running the same kind of risk because they will not be using their cars so much and the dangers on the roads will be very much reduced.

The insurance companies will be able to continue their charges. I know the Exchequer has no direct influence over the insurance companies, but I was rather disappointed by the peremptory dismissal of the suggestion that the Treasury might at least make an appeal to the motor insurance companies to make some modification during this period.

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Gordon Touche)

I am afraid we cannot pursue the subject of insurance in this debate.

Mr. Hynd

I did not intend to pursue it further, Sir Gordon.

I want now to come to the subject of motor vehicle taxation, which is within the province of the Treasury and which is in the same category in these circumstances. Here again, for the same reasons, it is desirable that the Treasury should make some special modification of the Road Fund tax for the current period.

The Minister, in replying to the Question I put forward today, suggested that there was no need for this, because if a motorist did not use his car for a period he could send in his log book and have a remission of tax. If, however, a motorist is being allowed petrol for 200 miles a month, surely he will not have to send in his book every second or third week and claim a remission for one or two weeks. If he did, I do not suppose he would get it.

11.0 p.m.

Therefore, when a motorist is not only being prevented from using his car, by deliberate Government policy, over the greater part of the period for which he would normally use it, but is having to continue to pay the same insurance for a lesser risk but is now having to pay more in the increased tax on petrol for the restricted use of the car, surely it is only fair that the Treasury should consider whether during the period whilst the rationing of petrol and the increased tax operate, there should be a special remission of taxation. In spite of the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary this afternoon, I hope that the Chancellor will seriously consider this, because it is really an imposition upon the ordinary motorist.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

I do not intend to detain the Committee for more than a few minutes. I certainly do not intend to go into what my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) called the merits of the tax, which he defined as including the demerits. I should like, however, to say a brief word on the procedural aspect that was raised earlier, particularly with reference to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart).

I have no doubt that whoever replies—and I hope that either the Chancellor or the Financial Secretary will say a word in reply to the points raised by my hon. Friends—will deal with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham on the question of retrospection. I have no doubt that the Financial Secretary will say that the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1913, gives power to levy taxes retrospectively. All the same, this is—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree—unusual.

The usual position is that after a Budget speech the Resolutions are put the same evening, except the one that is left open for debate, and they come into effect immediately that same evening. The difference on this occasion is that the Chancellor made his statement after Questions yesterday in the House, not in Committee of Ways and Means. For obvious fiscal reasons, the tax came into effect last night and it is only tonight that the Committee is being asked to validate what was announced by the Chancellor yesterday. That is unusual. No doubt there may be precedents for it and perhaps the Financial Secretary or the Chancellor will tell us about them. Nevertheless, it is a relatively unusual thing that the Committee is being asked to do to vote a very large sum of taxation in this retrospective way. Traditionally, whatever party has been in power, the House has always disliked retrospective taxation provisions, and, therefore, this is a point on which the Financial Secretary should comment.

I know that it would have been difficult for the Chancellor to have proceeded in any other way once he had decided upon this increase in the tax. He could only have done it, I think, by making his statement in Committee of Ways and Means yesterday. That would have meant giving notice to the House that we were going into Committee of Ways and Means and that might have caused quite a lot of concern in various places had it been known that the Chancellor was to make a statement in Committee of Ways and Means. It might have raised hopes or fears of what the Chancellor was doing. It might have had a quite serious effect, not only on the internal situation, but internationally. Therefore, we understand why the Chancellor has chosen this method. Nevertheless, it is a most unusual one and we hope it will not be followed too often in the future.

With regard to the other procedural point which I raised, I will not pursue it now. I think it is a matter which everyone concerned would wish to look into, and it may well be found that there are precedents in that case also.

Before I sit down, however, I should like to say one last thing about the substance of the Ways and Means Resolution. Our attitude to it has been stated by my right hon. Friend at the beginning of this debate. It is true that we informed the Chancellor that as far as we were concerned, we would advise our hon. Friends not to attempt to turn this into a large-scale debate. It would have been quite within the competence of this Committee to have gone on all night on this Resolution. After all, we are being asked to vote £30 million taxation in four months—a rate of nearly £100 million a year—so it would have been quite proper for the Committee to do so, and some might say that we are failing to discharge our duty as the House of Commons in dealing with this taxation in such a perfunctory manner.

Nevertheless, I am sure it was for the convenience of the House that we should not have taken this Ways and Means Resolution at the time that would have been suggested, namely, this afternoon, because I am sure the House wanted to debate the foreign affairs Motion, and it would have been a pity to have spent an hour or two on a Ways and Means Resolution in the afternoon. To that extent the Government readily fell in with our proposal for tonight's discussion.

But I can tell the Chancellor that there were many hon. Members who wanted to make a major speech on this tonight, and I and other of my right hon. Friends played our part in persuading them that there there would be ample opportunity next week on the Second Reading, and on subsequent stages. I understand that it will be necessary to take each stage of the Bill on separate days, as it is a Bill originating in Ways and Means. So we shall have some opportunity for saying what we really think about this tax.

My right hon. Friend made plain that we are reserving our fire on the tax for next week. This does not mean—and the Chancellor must not assume—that we in any way support the tax. I said yesterday in the House that we would sup port any appropriate measures to strengthen the £, and I think it is the duty of Members on all sides of the House. But on Monday we can tell him what we think about this particular measure which is the first he has put forward. Because we shall have that opportunity, I am joining with my right hon. Friend in advising my hon. Friends not to oppose this Ways and Means Resolution tonight on the understanding that we shall say exactly what we think about it in the debate next week.

Mr. H. Brooke

In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). I will gladly fulfil the promise I gave at the beginning to seek to answer any point raised in the debate. He took up the argument used by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) about the constitutional aspects of this. If I understood the hon. Member aright, he said that we must keep the Ten Commandants but can always break them at Budget time. I do not altogether agree with his constitutional ruling on these matters.

I can assure the hon. Member that there is nothing unconstitutional in what we are now doing. Nor is it a fact that because this Resolution is retrospective by some 28 or 29 hours it proves that this is an autumn Budget. It is perfectly practicable at any time to bring in a Ways and Means Resolution of this character which operates from a previous day. It would be ridiculous for the Chancellor to come to the House and say he was proposing that the petrol tax should go up—or, indeed, any other indirect tax—but that it should go up at some subsequent occasion, by which time it would be possible for the Committee to agree to a Ways and Means Resolution.

I was asked if there were precedents. In fact, no less a person than Sir Stafford Cripps once produced a Ways and Means Resolution which was retrospective for a period of not one day but twenty-six days. So if there had been a sin in this we should be committing only one twenty-sixth of the sin. But I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no sin in it whatever. That other occasion was on the Profits Tax.

The hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) asked for the reasons for this increase. They were given succinctly by the Chancellor yesterday. His first reason is that he wishes to safeguard this most precious commodity by additional taxation as well as by rationing. Indeed, he wants to stimulate economy within the ration, and I hope that hon. Members on both sides, recognising the oil position, will accept, however much they dislike this proposal, that that is a perfectly logical and reasonable thing to do.

The secondary consideration he has in mind is that in his Budget forecast the oil duty was estimated to bring in £340 million. It became clear that with these restrictions on oil supplies—which as hon. Members know will not start operating on 17th December, for we have all been conscious of them for some time already—the yield, if there were no change in the duty, would fall to about £310 million this year. If the policy embodied in the Resolution is enacted by the House, the Budget revenue will be restored to the original figure of £340 million.

Mr. Lewis

The Financial Secretary has missed my point. My point is that there is no necessity to restrict consumption or have an increase in tax because—and the Foreign Secretary has not denied this—supplies are available in Russia and Rumania. The Chancellor shakes his head, but the Foreign Secretary said that he knew about that. West Germans are in fact in the very happy position of having no rationing and no extra tax, because they are getting oil supplies from Russia and Rumania. I am suggesting that instead of putting 1s. on the tax the Chancellor should get supplies in the same way as the West Germans.

Mr. Brooke

Those are big questions and I am not the Minister of Fuel and Power. What I can say definitely is that there is a shortage of oil in this country at present, and I should think that even the hon. Member will recognise that the temporary closing of the Suez Canal and the breaking of the Syrian pipelines would necessitate very strict restriction for the time being on oil supplies to consumers in this country.

Mr. Lewis

Will the Financial Secretary answer my question? Will he do something about getting oil supplies from other sources?

Mr. Brooke

Those are larger issues which it is possible to debate on other occasions. We are having a debate on the whole international situation and breaking into that today in order to pass this Resolution.

Mr. J. Hynd

Has the Chancellor taken into account the counter-effect of the losses incurred on business allowances claimed for the higher price of petrol charged to business expenses?

Mr. Brooke

I am giving the yield of the oil duty. It is perfectly true that any tax on oil has its effect on the yield of Income Tax and Profits Tax. What I am giving to the Committee are the straightforward, "clean" figures of the yield from what is technically known as the Hydrocarbon Oil Duty.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) and the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) spoke of Scottish shale oil. I think that the Resolution mentions these indigenous oils generally. The position is, as the Bill will make clear, just as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said yesterday, that the existing preferential margin of 1s. 3d. a gallon in favour of these indigenous oils, including Scottish shale oil, is being preserved.

The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) referred to that part of the Resolution which concerns the control of bus fares.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that these oils will have exactly the same increase as imported oils?

Mr. Brooke

That is so. I thought that there was some misunderstanding about that. I thought that the hon. Member for Greenock misinterpreted what my right hon. Friend said yesterday, and I thought it desirable as quickly as possible before the Bill was introduced to elucidate what the real intention was.

Mr. Ross

There is no preferential treatment in this increase for this indigenous oil?

Mr. Brooke

No. The duty on the indigenous oil will go up by 1s., but the preference margin will remain at 1s. 3d.

11.15 p.m.

In an interesting speech, the hon. Member for The Hartlepools protested against the idea that the Bill might contain a relaxation of the present statutory provisions which govern the procedure through which bus undertakings—including municipal undertakings—have to go before they can raise their fares. I hope that when he sees the Bill and considers this matter further he will reach the conclusion that the Government's decisions are not unreasonable. The statutory procedure is a very carefully planned one to make sure that everybody is properly protected, but it is without any doubt planned to deal with long-term or permanent changes in conditions and costs and not with temporary ones.

It seems to me perfectly clear that if a bus undertaking were to go through the normal statutory procedure in order to claim an increase in fares because of this extra cost a final decision might hardly be reached and promulgated until some months after the temporary emergency had passed away and the tax had been lifted. I cannot see that anybody would regard it as sensible or reasonable if some months after the tax imposed by this proposal were removed again the bus fares in a certain area were to go up because by then permission had been given and the bus undertaking needed a certain period in order to make good the loss it had sustained. I do not think that the House of Commons could impose a situation like that upon the country.

Mr. D. Jones

Surely when Parliament decided to make this provision it did so in order to make quite sure that the interests of all sections of the community were protected. If difficulty arises it should be for the Government to carry the responsibility, and not for them to remove that protection. It can be done in another way.

Mr. Brooke

I would ask the hon. Member to study what we are proposing in the Bill. If he has another way of doing it, let us hear what that way is. What I am explaining tonight is the reason—which I hope commends itself to hon. Members generally—why we felt that it would be an absurdity if the appropriate tribunal came to a decision some months after the extra shilling had been removed that it was reasonable for bus fares in a certain area to be raised on account of the temporary extra tax.

Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

Will the bus operators have to prove their case anywhere at all? If they so determine that their increased costs warrant it, will they be allowed immediately to put up their fares according to their own balance sheet and without reference to anybody else?

Mr. Brooke

With respect to the hon. Member, I think the best plan would be to allow the Government to have this Ways and Means Resolution without which they cannot publish the Bill and promulgate its proposals. These are matters which can be discussed with absolute propriety when we consider the Bill, but I think I should be getting out of order if I now went into great detail about a Bill which it is impossible for us to publish until the Committee and, subsequently, the House, has agreed to this Resolution.

Mr. R. E. Winterbottom (Sheffield, Brightside)

Presumably the hon. Member is indicating that in the Bill, to which he cannot refer in detail at present, there will be some provision for the raising of bus fares. Will he give an indication to the House that in the Bill itself the temporary nature of that increase will be made clear, and also give an undertaking—because the increase in petrol charges is of a temporary nature—that immediately it becomes obvious that the petrol difficulty has been eliminated the temporary tax will be taken off the Statute Book?

Mr. Brooke

I will certainly give an undertaking that the Bill's provisions will be temporary, and certainly the provisions in the Bill relating to bus fares will be temporary. I cannot give an undertaking that the right to raise fares will necessarily end on the very day that the tax is removed. Obviously, it may not be possible to raise the fares for some days after the tax has come into operation and one must have these matters fairly arranged. But I will give an absolute assurance that there will not be the right to maintain the increased fare in perpetuity simply because the right to impose it has been gained in this way.

Mr. Winterbottom

And that applies also to the tax on petrol?

Mr. Brooke

I am talking about the shilling extra impost which we are now proposing.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) for what he said about the arrangements we are planning to make for disabled people. I am sure he will realise that we cannot introduce all kinds of new schemes which have not been practicable hitherto for this temporary provision. We are seeking to provide for the cars issued to a limited class of severely disabled people, war pensioners, including those with double leg amputations whom he mentioned, and also tricycles issued to the less severely disabled and others. In fact, as the hon. Gentleman knows, there is a system of, shall I say, financial assistance, and the proposal is that it should be extended because of the extra cost involved. I think that these are the main matters which have been raised—

Mr. Lewis

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that I raised a point about those pensioners who receive a Ministry of Pensions allowance and who may of necessity have to use their cars. Is it not possible, by the production of their log books, for them to get some allowance, even if it is only for the 200 miles basic petrol?

Mr. Brooke

I am afraid that I cannot hold out any hope that there will be any arrangement made in respect of this temporary tax which has not been possible in relation to the existing tax, which is at the substantial amount of 2s. 6d. a gallon.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton. Test (Mr. J. Howard) asked about taxis, and I think it right that I should say a word about that. In the Metropolitan Police district taxi fares are fixed by an Order made by the Home Secretary, and outside fares are fixed by the local authorities. In that case the increase cannot take effect until the byelaw sealed by the local authority has been confirmed by the Home Secretary. I gave a brief reply the moment the point was raised that no new legislation is required here because there is not the same very lengthy procedure as exists with the bus companies.

My right hon. Friend and I are obliged to hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have not sought to prolong this debate bearing in mind that we shall have a full day's debate on the Second Reading on Monday. I felt sure that our proceedings would be slightly protracted as soon as the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said that when he used the word "merits" he often meant "demerits," which indicates how difficult it is to reach complete understanding in this House of Commons about anything. But we seem to have reached a reasonable understanding tonight, and I hope that we can pursue this matter—

Mr. Jay

May I ask whether this shilling is put on white spirit as well as the matters concerned in the Resolution?

Mr. Brooke

The shilling is put on exactly those commodities which at present bear the hydrocarbon oil duty.

Mr. J. Hynd

I raised the question of the remission of road tax. Could the Minister deal with that before he concludes?

Mr. Brooke

I gave the hon. Member a firm answer yesterday, and I must give him an equally firm answer now. If members of the public respond to my right hon. Friend's appeal to economise in petrol by not using their cars at all, they need not pay any licence duty. I cannot hold out any hope whatever of any special reduction in the duty during this period.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That, as from six o'clock in the evening of the fourth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-six, there shall be an increase of one shilling a gallon in the rate of the duty of customs on hydrocarbon oils, and the rates of the excise duties of hydrocarbon oils, petrol substitutes, and spirits used for making power methylated spirits, and of the rebates of the customs and excise duties on hydrocarbon oils which under the relevant enactments depend on the rate of the customs duty on hydrocarbon oils) shall be increased accordingly: And any Act giving effect to this Resolution may include provision relaxing, in view of the increase in the said duties, any limitations imposed by virtue of conditions attached to a road service licence under section seventy-two of the Road Traffic Act. 1930, on the fares chargeable for the carriage of passengers:, in public service vehicles, or imposed by virtue of a charges scheme under Part V of the Transport Act, 1947, on the fares chargeable by the London Transport Executive. And it is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act. 1913.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow: Committee to sit again Tomorrow.