HC Deb 11 June 1959 vol 606 cc1333-6

In paragraph (g) of subsection (1) of section seven of the Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1949 (which exempts from duty invalid vehicles which do not exceed five hundredweight unladen), the word "seven" shall be substituted for the word "five".—[Mr. Ridsdale.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)

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

I hope that this new Clause will not detain the Committee for more than a very short time. Its object is to help those people who use the newer type of invalid chair, which is about 105 1b. heavier than the earlier model and by virtue of its extra weight does not conform with Section 7 (1, g) of the Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1949, which exempts from duty invalid vehicles which do not exceed 500 1b. unladen. The weight of these invalid chairs has been increased by 105 1b. because of the new design which brings more comfort and greater safety to their users. An automatic clutch and automatic transmission have been introduced.

Because of these changes the new carriages do not conform with the present legal definition of invalid carriages. This means that the owners of these vehicles cannot take them out with a Group L driving licence and have to pay £5 a year Road Fund tax because of the extra weight in the design. These cars are bought by invalids quite extensively out of their own resources.

I am sure that it would be the wish of both sides of the Committee to help these invalids as much as possible. I suggest that the best way we can do this is to help them as they have been helped in the past and to raise the limit of exemption from paying tax. I have suggested a limit of 7 cwt. although I realise that 6 cwt. would cover the present position. It is simply that I want to make sure that we do not have to bring in amending legislation if there should be any alteration in design.

I wish to help those invalids who are buying the new chairs now. The change is one which could be made at very small expense to the Treasury. I assure the Committee that the new Clause is well worth accepting and would be a means of giving a tax remission to a very deserving section of the community.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. Richard Nugent)

I can help the Committee, because I can substantially accept the principle of the new Clause which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale). It is true that in recent years, due to various technical improvements in invalid carriages, the weight has risen above the 5 cwt. originally laid down in the 1930 Act. The result is that as my hon. Friend has said, the total additions now amount to about 105 1b. The new limit suggested by my hon. Friend of 7 cwt. is rather more than is needed. A 6-cwt. unladen weight would be sufficient to meet the case, as my hon. Friend himself recognises.

If the Committee is agreeable, I will ask my hon. Friend to withdraw his new Clause on the understanding that, on Report, we will put down a new Clause which will raise the limit of the unladen weight to 6 cwt. and so give effect to my hon. Friend's intention.

Mr. H. Wilson

The whole Committee will be glad to hear the accommodating spirit of the Government. We could have got a lot further a lot earlier had they been equally accommodating on some more important new Clauses earlier in the day. When we on this side saw the new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) we thought it was a good proposal and we compliment him on his decision to put it on the Notice Paper. I may even encourage him—or discourage him: I do not know—by telling him that if it had not been accepted, we would have helped him by forcing the matter to a Division, but whether he would have been with us in the Lobby I do not know. However, that does not arise.

We are glad that the Government have been accommodating. This enables us to dispose of the new Clause with even greater speed than might otherwise have been possible. I am sure that I join with the hon. Member for Harwich in thanking the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for so clearly and readily accepting the Amendment.

Mr. Ridsdale

I thank the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) for what he has said and my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for accepting the principle of the Clause. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Amory

I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

The Committee has got through a good deal of work today and this seems to me to be a reasonable hour for hon. Members of the Committee to retire to rest. I own that we have not got quite as far as I would have liked tonight, but all the same, I think it would be a good plan for us to acknowledge that we have made substantial progress today in an agreeable atmosphere. I suggest, therefore, that we might now adjourn tonight and meet again on the Bill on Monday full of vigour and, I hope, also full of a determination that we shall complete our labours at a reasonable hour that day.

Mr. H. Wilson

In supporting the Chancellor's Motion, I also hope that on Monday we shall meet in a spirit of greater accommodation than the right hon. Gentleman has shown in the earlier stages of this debate. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we have made substantial progress today, more than in many past years for a long time, but I also agree with him that we have not made as much progress as some of us hoped we would at the beginning of the day. That was due to the rather long debate we have on Entertainments Duty. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that issue, it is a matter which involved many constituencies and, accordingly, many hon. Members wanted to make speeches.

I do not see any reason why, on Monday, the new Clauses should not be dealt with with reasonable despatch. The majority are in the names of hon. Members opposite and members of the Liberal Party. They raise important questions and I hope that they as well as those in the names of hon. Members on this side of the Committee will be dealt with reasonably quickly. Without looking too far ahead, it is probably the hope of hon. Members in all parts of the Committee that we can end the Committee stage on Monday at a reasonable hour. I can tell the Chancellor that, at any rate, that will be our hope.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.