HC Deb 06 May 1957 vol 569 cc622-5
28. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Pay-master-General when it is proposed to end petrol rationing.

29. Captain Pilkington

asked the Pay master-General whether he will now make a further statement on petrol rationing.

36. Mr. Hunter

asked the Paymaster-General whether he is yet in a position to give the approximate date of the ending of petrol rationing.

Mr. Maudling

As I said on 30th April, a statement will be made as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the position remains as stated in my reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) on 15th April.

Mr. Davies

When will "as soon as possible" be? Does not the Paymaster-General appreciate that petrol rationing today means nothing at all? People have their coupons for four months, and, as they are convinced that rationing will come to an end in a short time, they are using as many of them as they feel it desirable to do. When is the right hon. Gentleman going to bring this farce to an end? Can he give one convincing reason why petrol rationing should continue?

Mr. Maudling

The Answer to a subsequent Question will show that, far from being a farce, petrol rationing has effected, and is still continuing to effect, considerable economies.

Captain Pilkington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that practically every country in Europe has stopped rationing and that we are the only one to continue it?

Mr. Maudling

Whatever other countries in Europe do, Her Majesty's Government must consider what is the prudent course to take for this country. As I explained on a previous Question, we do not think it is wise to dispense with rationing until we can be sure of a reasonably steady flow of supplies to this country.

Mr. Hunter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that lack of information concerning the end of petrol rationing is causing deep concern in industry and commerce and to seaside resorts, prospective visitors being uncertain whether to book holidays a long distance from London?

Mr. Maudling

I quite appreciate the inconvenience that this is causing. The Government would be very glad to be able to bring petrol rationing to an end, but it would be most unwise to announce the end of petrol rationing until we can be certain about the position, and it would be equally unwise to make prophecies which could not be fulfilled.

Mr. B. Taylor

Is there any truth in a Press statement published over the weekend that petrol rationing will cease during the next fortnight?

Mr. Maudling

I see many speculations in the Press. I should have rather a busy time if I were to comment on all of them.

32. Captain Pilkington

asked the Paymaster-General how many instances of garages selling petrol without coupons have been reported to him.

Mr. Maudling

Three, Sir.

Captain Pilkington

Does that mean that reports in the Press were a gross exaggeration of the true state of affairs?

Mr. Maudling

I should hate to say that reports in the British Press were gross, but there might have been an exaggeration.

53. Captain Pilkington

asked the Paymaster-General to what extent the rationing scheme has so far enabled petrol to be saved.

Mr. Maudling

In the first nineteen weeks of rationing, deliveries of petrol by the oil companies to dealers and customers whom they supply direct were some 650,000 tons lower than the estimated normal for the period.

Mr. Hayman

Will the Paymaster-General bear in mind that petrol rationing is affecting the tourist industry in my constituency very considerably, that at the moment hotels are taking people at about half the rate at which they took them last year and bookings for the summer season are down by 35 per cent.? Can he do something to bring petrol rationing to an end soon?

Mr. Maudling

That question is a little remote from the Question on the Order Paper, but it is one of the reasons why we are anxious to get rid of petrol rationing as soon as possible.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage of petrol is being saved at present? Is it not a fact that, in view of the imminence—or believed imminence—of the end of petrol rationing, people are using their coupons and not economising in the use of petrol and, in consequence, no petrol is being saved by private motorists?

Mr. Maudling

No, Sir. The figures for the last four weeks, to 25th April, show that the saving continued at the rate of 15 per cent.

Sir P. Agnew

As petrol rationing cannot be stopped altogether, will my right hon. Friend consider making a substantial increase in the amount of petrol available, such as by doubling the value of coupons?

Mr. Maudling

That is the sort of suggestion which I am sure my noble Friend will keep in mind.