HC Deb 19 November 1959 vol 613 cc1342-3
57. Mr. J. Hill

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of revenue to the Treasury derived from tax on shale oil in the Lothians in 1958–59; and the estimated tax revenue for 1959–60.

Mr. Barber

The revenue in 1958–59 was about £650,000. The revenue in 1959–60 is expected to be of the same order.

Mr. Hill

In view of the rising unemployment in this area and the decline in the shale-oil industry, will the Minister give some direction to allow for redevelopment and create more employment in this part of Scotland, which has been very badly hit?

Mr. Barber

The hon. Gentleman will understand that I cannot say anything about the future, as the whole question of the level of hydrocarbon oil duties is a matter for the Budget.

Mr. Lawson

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that, since it is now the expressed Government policy to help parts of the country such as this, by a little remission of taxation some tangible proof of the Government's intention could well be given in this case?

Mr. Barber

It is fair that the House should know that the Excise duty applicable to this oil is 1s. 3d. a gallon less than the main Customs hydrocarbon oil duly. The duty structure already affords the industry a very high degree of protection and assistance.

Mr. H. Wilson

It is not much good talking about waiting for the Budget, since in the debate on the 1958 Finance Bill the Chancellor gave a very clear pledge that something was to be done to help the industry in the following Finance Bill, but nothing was done. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the industry is really declining—and in an area of heavy unemployment—and will he emphasise these facts to his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Barber

I will certainly do that. I realise the difficulties that this area is having.