HC Deb 09 June 1959 vol 606 cc804-5
37. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the official estimate that there will be about 12½ million road vehicles registered in this country by 1969, he will give an estimate of what will be the revenue from motor fuel tax, licence duties and purchase tax for each year until 1969, on the assumption that no reductions are made in the said taxes.

Mr. Amory

The revenue from these duties is affected by a variety of factors and it would not be realistic to make estimates for them for ten years ahead.

Mr. Davies

Since it has been possible to estimate the number of vehicles likely to be on the roads in 1969, surely it is possible to make some estimate of the amount of revenue which will be derived from motor vehicle and fuel taxation? Is it not the fact that, however rough an estimate is made, there will be seen to be a very great increase in revenue from this source? Does not the Chancellor of the Exchequer consider that the maximum of £60 million which is now being spent on the roads is quite pitifully small in comparison with the £800 million of tax which will come from this source?

Mr. Amory

Factors other than the number of vehicles are involved—the type of vehicle, fuel consumption, average mileage and whether the additional vehicles on the road are new or second-hand. It would be possible to make an estimate, but I do not think that it would be possible to make one which would be sufficiently accurate to be of value. I estimate that over the years ahead there is likely to be a substantial yield from fuel duties at present rates. However, as the hon. Member knows, expenditure on the roads this year is a substantial increase over the expenditure of previous years. At this stage, I would not care to estimate future levels of expenditure.

Mr. H. Wilson

Since figures anything like these will obviously put a very great strain not only on cross-country roads but on streets in big towns and cities, and since the Government's relaxation of import restrictions for motor cars means that we must expect to see many more of these American monstrosities or our roads, would not the Chancellor agree that there is now a very strong case for relating the tax on automobiles to the floor area occupied by the car in question?

Mr. Amory

I will take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested. I think that that is rather a new one. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would describe more fully exactly what he means by the floor area occupied by the car.

Mr. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I rather carelessly expressed myself? Is not it obvious that the important factor is the amount of road space taken by a car, not only on the open road, but more particularly in parking areas in big towns and cities? Will he therefore consider relating the tax to the actual road space occupied by vehicles, so that the bigger vehicles will pay a heavier rate of tax than the present uniform tax and smaller vehicles a lower rate of tax?

Mr. Amory

I will take note of that suggestion.