HC Deb 01 June 1961 vol 641 cc451-509
Mr. Mitchison

I beg to move, in page 32, to leave out lines 33 to 38 and to insert:

3. Farmers' goods vehicles 12 cwt. 10 0 0
12 cwt. 16 cwt. 10 10 0
16 cwt. 1 ton 11 0 0
1 ton 2½ tons 11 0 0 0 10 0
2½ tons 3 tons 14 0 0 1 0 0
3 tons 16 0 0 0 10 0

The Schedule contains the rates which are proposed for, among other things, farmers' goods vehicles. The object of the Amendment is to insert in the Schedule the rates which are at present operative under the 1949 Act. Accordingly, the effect of the Amendment when the Government accept it and the Committee carries it will be to leave farmers' goods vehicles in their present position.

Something has already been said about the position in relation to farmers' goods vehicles, and I do not wish to take up an undue time by developing the matter. But I suggest to the Committee that there is a particularly strong case in respect of these vehicles.

We heard the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard) quite rightly explain-

ing that it is bad policy and bad sense to put a tax of this sort on farmers and then expect them to get it back in the Price Review. That is a thoroughly unsound and confused way of trying to deal with matters. If this increase is made and nothing more is done about it, the farmers will be justified in saying that the costs of farming have gone up by exactly the amount of the increase, whatever other increases or decreases there may have been, and to claim accordingly.

What we are dealing with here is not in general a question of crowded roads nor of the form of the tax. It is probably the simplest of all the categories of vehicles which we have to consider. Horses are not yet taxed. A farmer who uses a pair of horses over his farm would not have to pay tax on their shoes or on anything else to do with them. Yet, if in carrying out the ordinary principles of modern farming he uses farmers' goods vehicles either there or for carrying his produce to market, he will by this Clause not only pay tax but will suffer an increase in taxation.

I have heard no reason given for this. We were told that the Clause as a whole was an integral part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Budget. That may very well be—I am not at the moment concerned with that—but I see no reason why there should be complete unanimity in the Clause, and, indeed, we were told on Second Reading that there was not a complete similarity between the increases in taxation in every case. I think that the figures given were that in some cases it was 18 per cent., in others 25 per cent., and so on. I can see no reason whatever why farmers' goods vehicles should suffer this increase.

In addition, there is the general point about any taxation of this kind on farmers What we are taxing in this instance is the tools of the farmers' trade, as it were, and the result is bound to be that at any rate some of that increase, however much or little it may be in this case, will be passed on to the consumer and contribute to increasing the price of food. If, again reverting to something said in connection with the Clause as a whole, the farmer happens to farm in a remote area, the costs of his transport, including the cost of this increase, will be passed on, and will form a considerable amount of the ultimate cost to him of what he has produced and is taking to market.

From every point of view, I can see no real case whatever for this increased tax on farmers' goods vehicles at the moment, whatever may be said about it in connection with the ordinary private car. I do not, of course, withdraw a word of what was said in the previous debate or what was implied in our dividing on the Clause as a whole. We are here asking the Committee to take out this class of vehicles.

I often wonder how hon. Gentlemen opposite manage with their constituents in rural areas when they come to matters like this. It is just conceivable, of course, that farmers do not read all the debates on the Finance Bill with the care that they no doubt direct to growing crops. Perhaps they have not the time to do so, and it may be that hon. Gentlemen opposite escape in that way, but if they did read our debates I wonder what the farmers would say to themselves when they read that the Tory Party, so many of whose Members represent rural areas, trooped through the Lobbies to increase the tax on farmers' goods vehicles. I myself would find it rather shocking.

Do not hon. Members opposite feel that they have a moral duty to confess to their constituents what they have been doing on this afternoon in early June; going through the Lobbies to put up the cost of using farmers' goods vehicles—

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

The glorious first of June.

Mr. Mitchison

I think the hon. Gentleman said something, but as I suffered the great misfortune of not carolling exactly what he said, I cannot answer him.

I repeat—and I do not wish to take up more time—that whatever may be said about the merits of the Clause as a whole, there is no reason for this increase. It will either be suffered by the farmer and passed on to the consumer in higher prices for agricultural prices or, if that is not the case, what has been taken from the farmer by the Exchequer will be taken out of the consumer by a rise in prices at the next Annual Price Review. It is on those grounds that we ask the Committee to reject this increase. The words in the Amendment, I repeat, merely adhere to the present rate of duty on farmers' goods vehicles.

5.0 p.m.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Anthony Barber)

As the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has rightly said, the effect of this Amendment would be to restore the vehicle excise licence duty on farmers' goods vehicles to their pre-Budget level. I was a little surprised that in deploying his case the hon. and learned Gentleman did not, as far as I can recollect, say a word about the exceptional position that existed before the Budget and still does exist in relation to the duty paid on these vehicles. Before making up its mind on the Amendment, the Committee ought to know of this special position.

There are special rates of licence duty for farmers' goods vehicles that date back to 1928; indeed, the rates have been virtually unchanged since 1933, which is a period of nearly 30 years. I should like to give the Committee one or two examples of the position. For an unladen weight of 1 ton the rate of duty on these vehicles is £13 10s., which represents a concession of 25 per cent. when compared with the normal goods vehicle rate of £18. At 3 tons, the duty is £19 5s., which means a concession of 55 per cent. compared with the £42 paid in respect of an ordinary goods vehicle. At 5 tons, the duty payable is £23 5s., and there the concession amounts to no less than 72 per cent., compared with the £84 paid in respect of normal goods vehicles. Further, as I think the Committee will remember—although I do not want to go into this in detail—farmers already enjoy a very special concession on farm tractors, paying only a nominal rate of £2 10s. a year for a licence.

The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the Price Review and was quite right in thinking that the cost to the agricultural industry of the increased vehicle licence duty will be taken into account along with any other cost changes at the next Annual Price Review. The increase in vehicle excise licence duties is, as my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary said in the previous debate, a general one of 20 per cent. The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned fairly that the rates varied somewhat, but I would remind him that the only reason for that variation from the general figure of 20 per cent. is ease of administration; in other words, the figures are rounded either up or down in order to make administration easy.

These increases are applied to vehicles of all descriptions, except for certain invalid carriages, ambulances and so on—and they do not apply to buses and coaches, which were dealt with recently. Farmers' goods vehicles, as I have indicated, already enjoy specially low rates—and rates that have been virtually unchanged for nearly thirty years—and, in any event, the increased cost will be taken into account at the next Annual Price Review—

Mr. Jay

Is it the hon. Gentleman's argument that if any tax has remained unchanged for thirty years it should therefore be increased?

Mr. Barber

Most certainly not. All I am pointing out is that it seems to me that if one is considering whether or not this is an undue burden it is relevant to study the history of these duties. If, for example, the duty had gone up in each of the previous five years, I think that the right hon. Gentleman would have had an argument for saying that we should not have made a further increase this year. It is a consideration that should be taken into account. With that in mind, and bearing in mind also the fact, as I have said, that any increase in cost will be taken into account at the next annual Price Review, I do not think that the Government are making an unreasonable proposal. I must therefore ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

I was very distresed to hear my hon. Friend say three times over that the Government hope to restore this cost to the farmers at the Price Review. Many horticulturists, particularly apple growers, own goods vehicles and their difficulties are never put right at the Price Review. They cannot be. Time and again the Government say privately—or, as my hon. Friend did a moment ago, publicly—that they will do what they can to improve things for the farming community at the Price Review, but that cannot be done for horticulturists. I should therefore like to ask him whether, even at this late hour, he cannot think particularly about their position.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

Representing, as I do, a very large number of farmers, I found the Minister's reply rather unsatisfactory, and when I come to explain it to the Conservative farmers of South Ayrshire I fear that I shall find difficulty in putting up a reasonable defence of the Minister. It is quite true that there are certain concessions for farmers' tractors and agricultural vehicles. I do not see that there is any necessity for the Minister to make any elaborate apology for that, because the more we encourage farm mechanisation the less will be the necessity for employing manual labour.

These 30-year-old tax concessions on tractors have certainly helped forward what those of us who represent agricultural constituencies must realise is a very important development. We are all for increased mechanisation, but I should like to know to what extent this taxation will apply to tractors and mechanical vehicles engaged in potato lifting. That has always been a very sore point in agricultural areas.

I was for many years a member of the Ayrshire County Council, where we had this perennial question of whether schoolchildren should or should not be employed in the ardous work of potato lifting. It was a very serious matter for those people who thought that the education of the children should have priority over the interests of the potato growers.

I frequently said that it was rather strange that although we had been able to develop many intricate mechanical devices and machines in many parts of the economy, we were told that it was not yet possible to get a mechanical potato lifter. I understand that there have been steps forward in that direction—whether or not as a result of my numerous speeches and my attempts to instigate this particular activity, I do not know. Be that as it may, now that there is the possibility of the development of a mechanical potato lifter dragged by a tractor, along comes the Minister with this increased tax. I would not call that encouraging the farmers to proceed further with the mechanisation of potato lifting, and doing by machines work now done by the drudgery and exploitation of school-children—and especially the poorer children—

The Temporary Chairman (Sir Samuel Storey)

I think that the hon. Gentleman is getting wide of the Amendment. A potato lifter is not an agricultural goods vehicle.

Mr. Hughes

I was merely asking whether these new machines were classified in this way. I submit, Sir Samuel, that I did not expect to get that assurance from the Chair.

The Temporary Chairman

I did not give the hon. Member any assurances. I called his attention to the fact that he was going wide of the Amendment, which deals with agricultural goods vehicles—but not with potato lifters.

Mr. Hughes

Surely a tractor that drags a potato lifter might be classified as an agricultural goods vehicle. I was merely asking for an assurance from the Minister. I do not usually get such help from the Chair. However, I would like the Minister to tell me whether, if this Amendment were accepted, it would be welcomed by the farmers who wish to increase mechanisation on their land.

Does not the Minister think that the National Farmers' Union, for example, will be greatly indebted to the Opposition for moving this Amendment and that South Ayrshire will be indebted to their hon. Member for putting their point of view on this question?

Mr. Gower

I wish merely to comment on what my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has just said. It was a legitimate argument for him to call attention to the already low rate of this tax and the fact that it has remained low for such a long time. I disagree with hon. Gentlemen opposite who do not think that that is a valid argument. It is, I submit, an extremely material argument.

Since the Parliamentary Secretary went on to say how small these increases are—and hon. Gentlemen opposite will not deny that they are very small indeed—I urge hon. Members to look at the proposed Amendment and at the original Schedule. They will notice that, in most cases, the increase is about £1 10s. per annum on such vehicles. Hon. Gentlemen cannot contend that that is a severe impost on the industry.

Mr. Hughes

It is 20 per cent.

Mr. Gower

That may be so, but the Parliamentary Secretary went a stage further in his reply. He said, in effect, that the increase, small as it is, will be taken into account at the Annual Price review. [Interruption.] I cannot reply to all the interventions at once.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)


Mr. Gower

It is not nonsense because, as the hon. Gentleman must be aware, the Annual Price Review takes account of all the material circumstances, of which this is merely one.

Mr. Ross

I appreciate that they are taken into account. That does not mean that the increase will be made up. It may be, as has always happened to farmers, they will be asked to carry a considerable percentage of the increased costs, of which this may be one.

Mr. Gower

But even accepting the hon. Gentleman's argument as it is, the worst that could happen is that a small percentage of this already small increase will be borne by the industry.

We all know that the increase per vehicle will be very small. We know, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, that it has remained low for many years. I think my hon. Friend said that it has remained unchanged since 1933, or perhaps 1928. As I say, the worst that can happen is that some marginal part of this very small increase may be disregarded in the Annual Price Review.

Mr. Jay

The hon. Gentleman has not grasped the point that the Annual Price Review does not apply to the horticultural industry.

Mr. Gower

I intended to deal with that subject, because that is a special case. I was dealing with the general case as it affects farmers as opposed to horticulturists. This increase is so modest and so slight, and in view of the assurances that have been given by the Parliamentary Secretary, I should not have thought that the Opposition would have felt it necessary to press this Amendment to a Division.

5.15 p.m.

On the other hand, I feel that the Parliamentary Secretary may agree that a point of considerable validity has been made out about the position of the horticultural industry. While I agree that it may be extremely difficult to differentiate, I wonder if my hon. Friend can say whether he will give further attention—even at this late stage—to this particular problem covering a relatively narrow but nevertheless important field.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

I cannot claim to represent the wide farming and agricultural interests which my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) so notoriously represents in the House. As usual, I speak only in the public interest.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) opened this debate by saying that he found it surprising that hon. Members opposite who claim to be the custodians of the agricultural industry were showing little interest in the imposition of this new tax. My hon. and learned Friend wondered how they could salve their consciences; how they were able to troop through the Lobbies with so little sign of protest and vote for this part of the Chancellor's Budget.

The Parliamentary Secretary, in his reply, revealed why hon. Members opposite are so acquiescent. The reason has already come out in the debate. The reason why hon. Gentlemen who are supposed to represent agricultural interests are so acquiescent is that they have had an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary that this fresh instance of taxation will be taken into account when the Annual Price Review takes place. But I must point out that my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) asked what was the meaning of the words "taking account of this new tax". Hon. Members are entitled to an answer to that question. The Parliamentary Secretary should tell us whether, in fact, the whole of this fresh impost will be taken into account or just a part of it, say 50 per cent. of it. He should indicate exactly what he means.

Naturally, the clearer the Parliamentary Secretary makes his case the greater will be his dilemma. If he says that 100 per cent. of the increase will be taken into account when the Annual Price Review takes place, then there is no reason why he should not accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) does not seem to realise that his speech represented powerful support for the Amendment, because he said that only a tiny fraction of the tax will be left over to be borne by the agricultural community and that the bulk of it will be taken into account at the Annual Price Review. In that case the hon. Member for Barry should not have very much objection to the Amendment.

But there is a constitutional reason why this Clause should be amended. If benefits are to be given to the agricultural community, it is better that it should be known precisely what are the benefits. It should be made known to the whole community that special provision is being made to assist the farming community in this respect. They should be able to recognise exactly what is happening instead of being faced with the existing muddle of things being taken into account at the Annual Price Review and things not being taken into account. Therefore, no case has been presented why the Amendment should not be accepted.

Even the arguments used by the Parliamentary Secretary could equally be used in favour of the Amendment. He said that the present low rate has been maintained for nearly thirty years. Why has the farming community, in various Budgets, been given this special advantage? Some hon. Members think that the farming community is treated much more lavishly and generously than many other industries. The coal industry, for instance, does not get any of the benefits given to the farming industry. The Committee has recognised, for one reason or another, that special benefits should be given to the agricultural community—and that is why this system has gone on for thirty years, despite the eagerness of Chancellors, year after year, to find means of closing gaps and loopholes and to deal with anomalous situations. Therefore, for thirty years it has been the accepted view that if we are going to give these particular benefits to the farming community then the whole House of Commons should know about the matter and that it should be apparent in the Budget itself.

What the Government are really saying by rejecting this Amendment—which gets the Government out of a hole into which they would get by rejecting it—is, "Instead of making it clear that special provisions are made on behalf of the farming community we now want it taken out of the Budget and put into the field of the Annual Price Review." That will make it more difficult for the House and the country to understand exactly what are the benefits and the subsidies given to the farming community.

There are many hon. Members who believe that if the country knew how large and persistent over many years has been the amount of subsidies which the Government have been prepared to give to the farming community it might want to examine it in greater detail. What the Government are proposing, instead of clarifying the situation, will muddle it up.

Mr. Gower

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He is really implying, although he has not actually said it expressly, that if the Amendment were accepted that clear position would obtain. But the tax already exists, and the only difference now would be that it would be very marginally increased. Therefore, the clear position which the hon. Gentleman is describing exists now.

Mr. Foot

I could not reply to the hon. Gentleman without repeating the whole of the argument which I have already made. The hon. Gentleman has repeated what he said before. What I was seeking to say was that the situation has been clear for thirty years that the agricultural community in this respect has a special advantage. What the Government are saying is that they do not want it to be clear any longer that the farming community is having this advantage and that they want to muddle it in the Annual Price Review.

I am asking the Minister to tell us exactly how much of these new taxes will be taken into account when we have the Annual Price Review and what it amounts to in terms of money. Let him tell us clearly now so that we may know what we are voting for. If he is not prepared to tell the farming community and this Committee the exact amount of money involved, then he ought to accept the Amendment. In doing so he would be much fairer to the Committee as a whole and would be ensuring that a situation which has been tolerable for thirty years, at any rate on the basis of its equality, should remain for another twelve months.

Sir D. Glover

I do not propose to detain the Committee for more than a few moments on this matter. I had no intention of speaking on the subject—

Mr. Willis

The hon. Gentleman has not heard the argument.

Sir D. Glover

I have heard every word that has been said.

Mr. Willis

The hon. Gentleman was asleep on the bench.

Sir D. Glover

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I have followed the whole argument.

I believe that there is a great deal to be said for the argument put forward in support of the Amendment. I think it wrong to bring in an increase in taxation and at the same time to say that, in fact, farmers will have the increased taxation taken into account in the Annual Price Review, thereby leaving only the horticulturists, who are not covered by the Annual Price Review, to suffer the increased burden.

It is only the first line in the Amendment that affects nearly every horticulturist—the amount goes up from £10 to £12 in the Schedule—because all the larger items of equipment are certainly used by the agriculturists and not by the horticulturists. Could not my hon. Friend do something even at this late stage so as to ensure that the horticulturist is saved from this burden by reducing the tax on the 12-cwt. vehicle from £12 to £10 as it was before? In that case, the horticulturist would be saved the increased taxation and the agriculturist, on the other hand, would be saved it because it would be taken into account in the Annual Price Review.

The one segment of the population in the countryside which has found it increasingly difficult year by year to make ends meet is that of the horticulturists. Horticulturists are not protected by guaranteed prices. They suffer the competition of imports, and if there is any class in the countryside which is having difficulties it is certainly not the agricultural community but the horticultural community. I shall be grateful if my hon. Friend will look particularly at the first line of the Amendment with a view to seeing whether horticulturists could not be spared this tax. As I say, the farmer will avoid it because it will be taken into account at the Annual Price Review.

Mr. Ross

I hope that the Minister will think again about this matter. He has shown himself, I think, sensitive to the damage which might be done to farmers and farming by this increase. If he is really sincere about avoiding this damage being done there is only one way in which he can do it, and that is by accepting the Amendment. It is no good saying that the matter will be taken into account at the Annual Price Review. It will mean that all the increases will be lumped together, this one as well as the others, and that a balance will be struck regarding what should be given to farming generally and what should be given in support prices and the rest. But there is no guarantee that, even if the whole matter is taken into account, the benefit would fall upon the individual farmer bearing the burden.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is quite right when he talks about the farmers in his area. I represent farmers in Kilmarnock. That area covers 300 square miles of upland farming as well as probably the richest pasturage in Scotland. We produce a tremendous amount of milk. Anyone who knows anything about the Annual Price Review knows that the one thing that the Government are not prepared to do is to give very much support nowadays to increasing milk production. Indeed, there has been a cutting down in relation to it, and that is likely to continue. But these farmers are still going to be hit by this tax and, in relation to any account taken of it in the Annual Price Review, they are not going to get any help.

If the hon. Gentleman really wants to ease the burden on the individual farmer the only way for him to do it is to reconsider the Second Schedule as a whole or to accept the Amendment, if he is not prepared to remove the offending part of the Schedule altogether.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)

I disagree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and other hon. Members who have spoken on this side of the Committee. I am against the Amendment because I think that the farmers gat far too much already. I do not see why we on this side of the Committee should defend them and try to get them a bit more. In any event, even if this tax is imposed, the farmers are going to get it back under the Annual Price Review, so what difference does it make?

Why are we wasting our time defending an industry which receives £250 million a year of taxpayers' money? I cannot see any logic in that at all.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my hon. Friend aware that a large part of that £250 million goes back to the agricultural workers by way of guaranteed wages?

Mr. Hamilton

The agricultural worker is not all that enthusiastic about the guaranteed wage. He receives a much lower wage than the average industrial worker, and the sooner he is brought up to the scale of the industrial worker the better. My hon. Friend should remember that the Scottish farmers receive more in subsidies than they pay in wages.

Mr. Hughes

I quite understand my hon. Friend's indignation. We heard it in the Scottish Grand Committee. While it is true that some farmers get subsidies which may seem unjust, the fact remains that we could not do away with the agricultural subsidy without dealing a devastating blow to the agricultural worker.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. Hamilton

We can pursue this in Scottish Grand Committee. My hon. Friend and I have had these differences before, but he maintains his position and I maintain mine. But I object to my hon. Friends on the Front Bench putting down an Amendment supporting an industry when politically we do not get very much out of it. Why waste our time on these people?

There is another Amendment on the Paper dealing with local authorities' vehicles and seeking to exempt them from tax or to reduce the tax on them. Will the tax be taken into account when the general grant is assessed for local authorities? Perhaps when we reach that Amendment the Minister will tell us. But there is an Amendment dealing with showmen's goods vehicles, and showmen do not have a price review or a general grant. They will have to pay.

I would point out that this tax will be paid by small and big farmers alike but that, generally speaking, the Price Review benefits the big farmer rather than the small farmer. In other words, if this tax is taken into consideration in the Price Review, the money being repaid to the farmers will go to different people from those from whom it was taken.

What is a "farmer's goods vehicle"? I do not know the definition. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire was in difficulties with the question, "When is a potato lifter a goods vehicle?" I do not know, and I do not think he knew. He was helped out by the Chairman, although I do not think the Chairman knew either.

I object to my own party putting down this kind of Amendment to help people who have never helped us.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) has attacked me on the assumption that this is my Amendment. It is not my Amendment.

Mr. Hamilton

When I referred to the Front Bench I meant the Labour Party Front Bench, not the Front Bench below the Gangway, where my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is sitting.

Mr. Hughes

There is a great difference between the geographical position of the two Front Benches, although ideologically they are united, which is not unusual. I hope that if the Amendment is taken to a Division my hon. Friend will not neglect to vote for the official Opposition Amendment, moved by the Front Bench, because he believes that it belongs to me.

My hon. Friend is prejudiced against the farming community. I take an objective view of it, because I represent a large number of the members of the farming community. I am sorry that the suggestion should have been dragged into the debate that the Price Review and the subsidies to agriculture are not justified in the interests of the national economy. I suspect that there was a hint of this argument in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), with whom I usually agree. We must keep it in mind that the structure of the agricultural subsidy system was introduced by a Labour Government. The defence of it is that if we cut away the subsidy there would not be enough money available in the present state of the agricultural economy to maintain the wages of the workers even at the present low level.

Mr. Hamilton

I have never said that I object to farming subsidies as such. My objection is that they are going to the wrong people. Hon. Members opposite always maintain that public money ought to go only to people who need it most and on the basis of a means test. What I have said in Scottish Grand Committee and what I say now is that I should like to set up a National Assistance Board for farmers with me as chairman.

Mr. Hughes

That is rather too revolutionary for me to swallow immediately. I like to examine these proposals which come from West Fife.

I ask my hon. Friend not to allow what I think is his natural indignation, because some farmers get very large subsidies, to influence him against the structure of the subsidy, which has raised the wages of farm workers in Ayrshire and Fifeshire to the highest level they have ever reached. I do not want him to throw the baby out with the bath water, or to throw out the subsidy scheme because he thinks that farmers are getting away with something.

Dr. Baraett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

I am in almost entire disagreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton). I have not many farmers in my constituency; indeed, there is only one. For that very reason, I can speak as a townsman versus the countryside.

Townsmen today are not as old-fashioned as is my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West. They remember very well that when times were bad and when agriculture was at a low ebb it was not very good for those who make manufactured goods because agriculture could not afford to buy from us.

As time has passed and we have seen increasing prosperity in the countryside, those who manufacture goods for the agricultural community—pottery or tractors of machinery or clothing or shoes-have found that they inevitably get a share in that prosperity. For reasons of this kind the townsman is neither jealous nor envious of the fact that those who live on agriculture, our farmers, and those who assist, our agricultural labourers, for the first time perhaps since Elizabeth I are getting a fair crack of the whip.

For reasons such as this, I support the Amendment. I think that my hon. Friend had his tongue in his cheek a little when he was speaking, although I find his desire that he should be chair- man of an Assistance Board which would help the farming industry somewhat attractive. I am sure that if he were in that position he would carry out his responsibilities as gravely and as judicially as anyone else in the country. I am all for this Amendment, and I hope that it will be carried.

Mr. Barber

I think the Committee agrees that this has been a revealing debate, but I do not wish to cause embarrassment and I will pursue that no further.

The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) asked about the definition of "farmers' goods vehicles" referred to in the Amendment. The definition is in the Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1949 and is: 'farmer's goods vehicle' means a goods vehicle registered under this Act in the name of a person engaged in agriculture and used on public roads solely by him for the purpose of the conveyance of the produce of, or of articles required for the purposes of, the agricultural land which he occupies, and for no other purpose". The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) gave the example of an agricultural tractor, but I do not think that that will be covered by the Amendment. It is dealt with separately in the Schedule. Subject to further inquiry, I do not think that a potato lifter would be within that definition. Neither of the instances which he gave is within the ambit of the Amendment.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What is the position of a lorry which is taking to market or to the salesman the potatoes which have been lifted by the potato lifter?

Mr. Barber

That is most certainly within the ambit of the Amendment.

Mr. Hughes

That is the vehicle which I had in mind.

Mr. Barber

I am sorry. I thought that the hon. Member was referring to the potato lifter. The lorry carrying the produce to market would be within the ambit of this Amendment.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) asked whether it would be possible for me to give the Committee the specific amounts which would be taken into account at the next Annual Price Review. I am afraid that I cannot do that. Indeed, if he considers the way in which the Price Review has operated ever since its introduction he will realise that it is impossible for me to say more at this stage than that this being one of the costs of production together with all the others it will be taken into account in the fixing of that Review. It would be quite impossible for me to go any further than that.

Mr. Jay

The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), when coming to the rescue of the Economic Secretary, assured us that all but a tiny fraction of this tax would be recouped under the Price Review. In those circumstances, could not the Minister assure us that at least 50 per cent. will be recouped—which would be much more moderate than what his hon. Friend suggested?

Mr. Barber

No. I cannot go further than I have. We talked at great length on much the same point in reference to the increase in heavy oil duty, and the right hon. Member will remember that on that occasion it was not possible for us to go any further. I do not wish to delay the Committee by taking up more time on that point.

Mr. Ross

Does the Minister agree that the help given under the Price Review does not fall equally among all farmers?

Mr. Barber

That is certainly so, but it is the only practicable way of giving help. I am sure that the hon. Member will agree with that.

I now turn to the question of horticulture, which was raised by some of my hon. Friends. It is true that horticulture does not come within the purview of the Price Review. But these increases—certainly in respect of those engaged in the industry in a small way—will be very small indeed, because of the concessionary rates which will still apply to those who use farmers' goods vehicles within the definition that I have mentioned.

I can give two examples to illustrate the position. A 1-ton lorry previously paid a vehicle excise licence duty of £11, and it will now pay a duty of £13 10s.—an increase of 50s. A 2-ton lorry previously paid a duty of £13, and it will now pay £15 15s.—an increase of 55s. That is some indication of the increase involved. My hon. Friend the Member for Barry made a valid point in saying that these increases will be very small. I therefore hope that the Committee will come to a decision on this point. I regret that I cannot give any undertaking that this matter will be considered further at a later stage.

Sir D. Glover

Why should these matters be taken into account in connection with the Price Review for agriculturists when horticulturists get no relief?

Mr. Barber

Because all the costs of production of a farmer are taken into account in the Review whereas, as my hon. Friend knows, the Review does not apply to the horticulturist. But the increased cost resulting from the minor increases in licence duty will be taken into account just as any other change in the cost of production is taken into account.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Mitchison

I do not think that I have ever heard a Government put up a more feeble defence on what is rather a minor Amendment. All we are asking for is that the increases in vehicle licence duties should not be applied to farmers' goods vehicles. That is the only question. The first defence put forward was that the farmers have always had specially favourable treatment. What connection that has with the increase I entirely fail to see. The question is whether the rates they pay ought or ought not to be increased at the moment. In any case, that answer is not strictly true, because if we take the smallest type of vehicle which is in great use by horticulturists it will be discovered that the rates, if paid on a farmer's goods vehicle, were £10 under the old dispensation and will be £12 under what is now proposed. Those were exactly the rates for other goods vehicles, which is the general category both in the Schedule to the 1949 Act and in the Bill. In that case, at any rate, there has been no special preferential treatment.

I agree that there has been in the case of the larger vehicles, although the Minister made it appear considerably larger than it is. I will not weary the Committee by going into all the comparisons between the former and the present Schedule.

The Minister said that it was only a small increase. We also had the Barry calculus, which indicated that it was all right, and that all the farmer would have to pay would be a tiny proportion of a very small increase. That cannot be the case. I had the most engaging mental picture of the Price Review floating before my eyes. I saw the farmers, and also the representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture—the Economic Secretary and the Financial Secretary—hand-in-hand. They were saying to the farmers, "Our right hon. and learned Friend put a tax on heavy oil. That will have to be taken into account." The sheet got whiter and whiter, and they added, "Our right hon. and learned Friend also increased vehicle licence duties for farmers. That will have to be taken into account." I wonder what happens when the hard-boiled gentlemen who represent the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Farmers' Union come down to the actual figures. Do they take into account an increase of this character when they are trying to settle the price of barley or oats? I do not believe it is possible. That would be a minimal factor.

The answer about the Price Review question is quite simple. The prices promised under the Review are a combination of two things. First, there is an element of subsidy, which is ultimately paid by the Treasury, and in that respect what the Chancellor is doing is to give with one hand and take away with the other—and being the Chancellor he makes sure that he does the taking away first and the giving afterwards, thereby obtaining an interest-free loan from the farmer in the interval. I cannot imagine anything more foolish in a case of this kind.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) pointed out, it is quite unfair. The result is that a farmer who, because of the character of the ground he is farming, uses a considerable number of tractors to produce the barley or oats for which he gets paid,

will suffer more from this tax, and will not get the difference back in the Price Review. This tax on agricultural vehicles will fall differently in different places and in respect of different farmers. That element is not taken into account.

Secondly, the greater part of the price agreed at the Price Review is paid by the consumers. Here I turn to my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton). Neither he nor I wants the prices charged for food to consumers to be raised unnecessarily.

If the result of refusing this Amendment is to be higher prices at the Price Review and the greater part of those higher prices to be paid by consumers, all the hon. Gentleman is doing is to perform the old, old Tory trick of taking away something and then claiming great credit for giving back part of it afterwards, because the rest of it will be charged to the consumer. In the interests of cheaper food, both for people in the country and for people in the town, we put down this Amendment to ensure that subsidies and prices should not be unduly and unnecessarily increased, even by a small amount at this moment.

When we did so we had, of course, well in mind that it was not a large amount. This is the taxpayer fork on which Chancellor after Chancellor is caught in every Budget debate. He says the amount involved is very small. Why not concede it? That is the answer, and that is the answer in this case. In the interests of the consumer and of prices and to prevent the Government taxing in the first place in order to give back part afterwards in an unfair and ridiculous fashion, we propose to test the opinion of the Committee in the Division Lobbies.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 199, Noes 125.

Division No. 182.] AYES [5.51 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bell, Ronald Bourne-Arton, A.
Aitken, W. T. Bennett, Dr, Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John
Allason, James Berkeley, Humphry Boyle, Sir Edward
Arbuthnot, John Biggs-Davison, John Braine, Bernard
Ashton, Sir Hubert Bingham, R. M. Brewis, John
Atkins, Humphrey Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Barber, Anthony Bishop, F. P. Brown, Alan (Tottenham)
Barlow, Sir John Black, Sir Cyril Browne, Percy (Torrington)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Bossom, Clive Buck, Antony
Bullard, Denys Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Pym, Francis
Burden, F. A. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (SaffronWalden) Hastings, Stephen Ramsden, James
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Rawlinson, Peter
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Hiley, Joseph Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Channon, H. P. G. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Rees, Hugh
Chataway Christopher Hocking, Philip N. Renton, David
Chichester-Clark, R. Holland, Philip Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Hollingworth, John Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Cole, Norman Hopkins, Alan Robertson, Sir David
Collar, Richard Hornby, R. P. Robson Brown, Sir William
Cooke, Robert Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Roots, William
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hughes-Young, Michael Seymour, Leslie
Cordeaux, Lt-Col. J. K. Iremonger, T, L. Sharples, Richard
Corfield. F. V. Jackson, John Shepherd, William
Costain, A. P. James, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Coulson, J. M. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Craddock, Sir Beresford Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Smithers, Peter
Critchley, Julian Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Kitson, Timothy Spearman, Sir Alexander
Cunningham, Knox Lambton, Viscount Speir, Rupert
Curran, Charles Leburn, Gilmour Stevens, Geoffrey
Dalkeith, Earl of Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
d'Avigdor-Coldsmid, Sir Henry Lindsay, Martin Studholme, Sir Henry
Deedes, W. F. Linstead, Sir Hugh Talbot, John E.
de Ferranti, Basll Litchfield, Capt. John Tapsell, Peter
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Teeling, William
Doughty, Charles Longden, Gilbert Temple, John M.
Drayson, G. B. Loveys, Walter H. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
du Cann, Edward Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Duncan, Sir James Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Duthie, Sir William McAdden, Stephen Turner, Colin
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) McLaren, Martin van Straubenzee, W. R.
Elliott, R.W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Vaughan- Morgan, Sir John
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Vickers, Miss Joan
Errington, Sir Eric Maddan, Martin Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Farr, John Markham, Major Sir Frank Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Finlay, Graeme Marlowe, Anthony Walder, David
Fisher, Nigel Marten, Neil Walker, Peter
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Wall, Patrick
Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Mawby, Ray Ward, Dame Irene
Gammans, Lady Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Gardner, Edward Montgomery, Fergus Webster, David
Glover, Sir Douglas More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Morrison, John Whitelaw, William
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Goodhew, Victor Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Gough, Frederick Nugent, Sir Richard Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Gower, Raymond Oakshott, Sir- Hendrie Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Grant, Rt. Hon. William Osborn, John (Hallam) Wise, A. R.
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cmdr. R. Page, John (Harrow, West) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Green, Alan Page, Graham (Crosby) Woodnutt, Mark
Gresham Cooke, R. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Worsley, Marcus
Grimston, Sir Robert Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Gurden, Harold Percival, Ian
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Pike, Miss Mervyn TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Pitman, I. J. Mr. Noble and Mr. G. Campbell.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Pitt. Miss Edith
Ainsley, William Diamond, John Houghton, Douglas
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dodds, Norman Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Driberg, Tom Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Benson, Sir George Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Hunter, A. E.
Blyton, William Ede, Rt. Hon. C Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Janner, Sir Barnett
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Boyden, James Evans, Albert Jeger, George
Brockway, A. Fenner Fitch, Alan Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Chapman, Donald Galpern, Sir Myer Kenyon, Clifford
Chetwynd, George Ginsburg, David Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Cronin, John Grimond, J. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Crosland, Anthony Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) MacColl, James
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hamilton, William (West Fife) McInnes, James
Darling, George Hannan, William McKay, John (Wallsend)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hayman, F. H. McLeavy, Frank
Deer, George Herbison, Miss Margaret MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Holman, Percy Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Manuel, A. C. Rankin, John Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Reid, William Thornton, Ernest
Mellish, R. J. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Thorpe, Jeremy
Mitchison, G. R. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Tomney, Frank
Morris, John Robertson, John (Paisley) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Moyle, Arthur Ross, William Wade, Donald
Oliver, G. H. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Wainwright, Edwin
Oram, A. E. Skeffington, Arthur Warbey, William
Owen, Will Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Weitzman, David
Paget, R. T. Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Small, William White, Mrs. Eirene
Parker, John Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Peart, Frederick Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Willey, Frederick
Plummer, Sir Leslie Stonehouse, John Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Prentice, R. E. Stones, William Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Strachey, Rt. Hon. John Woof, Robert
Probert, Arthur Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Proctor, W. T. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Purgey, Cmdr. Harry Symonds, J. B. Mr. J. Taylor and Mr. Lawson.
Randalt, Harry Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)

6.0 p.m.

Mr. H. Wilson

I beg to move, in page 32, to leave out lines 39 to 43 and to insert:

4. Showmen's goods vehicles 12cwt. 11 0 0
12 cwt. 16 cwt. 12 2 6
16 cwt. 1ton 13 5 0
1 ton 1¼ tons 13 15 0
1¼ tons 13 15 0 1 2 6
The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

I think that it would be convenient to discuss with this Amendment the Amendment to page 35, line 11, to leave out "12" and to insert"11".

Mr. Wilson

I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee to dispose of these two Amendments together, Sir William. We do not want to protract the proceedings unnecessarily, but, having voted against Clause 5 standing part of the Bill, it is important to subject the Schedule to some degree of scrutiny.

I think that it is the more convenient to take the Amendment together because, although we have tabled this Amendment, we feel more strongly about local authority vehicles, which are covered by the next two Amendments. When it comes to a Division, we hope, Sir William that you will show some flexibility, if that is not an impertinent expression of hope. We shall probably feel more strongly about the local authority items than about this one.

These figures go only half-way to making good the Chancellor's increase in tax. Our other Amendments seek to restore the tax position of the vehicles in question to the position they held before the Budget. In this item we have thought it right to put it down about half-way.

I am sure that the Committee may want to know more about this, because there may be some doubt in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite as to what is, and what is not, covered by showmen's goods vehicles. It was thought originally that it might apply to the Prime Minister's car, but, although I do not dispute the ingenuity of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), to whom we are once again obliged for the draft, it has not been possible to include that form of transportation. Others thought that as it did not apply to all the Prime Minister's cars, perhaps it applied to the mauve one in which he went round during the General Election, or perhaps the open vehicle in which he took President Eisenhower around immediately before the election. I would regard myself as out of order if I referred to the Prime Minister's car in any detail, because, unfortunately, all that we can get into order are showmen's goods vehicles. The Amendment, therefore, does not include even the bicycle of the Minister of Transport.

If we had had a brief from the Showmen's Guild, which, for some reason, does not seem to have arrived—I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite have received one; it has not been received by hon. Members on this side—we might have been able to cover more. I am speaking as an amateur in this respect; one who admires some of the showmen on the Front Bench opposite, and I speak, as will be seen, completely unbriefed and unversed.

All I know about showmen's goods vehicles is that between fairs they tend to clutter up the highway. If one tries to pass them, they seem to get bigger and bigger, and longer and longer. They are obviously essential, because if they were not there cluttering up the highway it would not be possible to move fairs from where they are one week to another place the following week. Although it is probably extremely rare for hon. Gentlemen opposite to go to these fairs, I assure them that many of my hon. Friends have derived great benefit at various times from attending fairs of this kind. These fairs are becoming modernised and have "Dodgems" and that sort of thing. These have to be transported about the country and for that purpose vehicles are needed. These vehicles tend to be inordinately

5. Local authorities' watering vehicles which are electrically propelled. 1¼ tons 6 0 0
1¼ tons 2 tons 6 0 0 2 6 8
2 tons 3 tons 13 0 0 15 0
3 tons 4 tons 16 0 0 16 0
4 tons 5 tons 19 4 0 12 0
5 tons 24 0 0

At present, we are discussing the two Amendments to which I referred earlier.

Mr. Wilson

I agree that what you say, Sir William, corresponds with a notice which appeared in one of the corridors this morning, but I thought that representations had been made to you, in the interests of speed, that, as there Amendments raise similar points, we should debate with these Amendments the Amendments dealing with local authority watering vehicles which are electrically

6. Local authorities' watering vehicles which are not electrically propelled. 12 cwt. 10 0 0
12 cwt. 16 cwt. 12 10 0
16 cwt. 1 ton 15 0 0
1 ton 2 tons 15 0 0 2 10 0
2 tons 2½ tons 25 0 0 1 10 0
2½ tons 3 tons 28 0 0 2 0 0
3 tons 4 tons 32 0 0 1 12 0
4 tons 5 tons 38 0 0 1 4 0
5 tons 48 0 0

and the Amendment to page 33, line 13, to leave out "7 0 0" and to insert, "6 0 0". It is for the Committee to decide whether that is convenient.

long, and they attract the rate of tax set out in the Bill, which we seek to amend to a slightly lower figure.

I gather that the Economic Secretary will reply to the debate. If he can satisfy us about the social justice and economic relevance of this increased impost on showmen's goods vehicles, I would be prepared to offer a fifty-fifty chance that we would not test this in the Division Lobby. It is, therefore, up to the hon. Gentleman to excel himself in the case he puts before the Committee on this question of showmen's goods vehicles, because I feel that he, at any rate, will have had a brief.

The other two classes of vehicles are covered by the guidance you have given to the Committee, Sir William.

The Deputy-Chairman

I think that perhaps I should help the Committee. It was intended to discuss with this Amendment the Amendment to page 33, line 11. There will be a separate debate on the Amendment to page 32, to leave out lines 44 to 48 and insert:

propelled, and local authority watering vehicles which are not electrically propelled.

The Deputy-Chairman

We can discuss whatever is convenient to the Committee. I see nothing against discussing the two Amendments at present under discussion at the same time as the third Amendment to page 32, the Amendment to page 32, to leave out lines 49 to 55 and to insert:

Mr. Barber

I am in the hands of the Committee. I would have thought that it would have been preferable to consider showmen's goods vehicles separately from local authority watering vehicles, because different considerations apply. For example, I think that one of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends referred to the general grant and said that he wished to have an answer with regard to local authority watering vehicles. However, as I said, I am in the hands of the Committee.

The Deputy-Chairman

That being so, I think that we had better stick to the original idea, particularly as the order for taking the Amendments was exhibited in the Lobby.

Mr. Wilson

No one is happier than we are at the outcome of this consultation. We were only trying to help the Chancellor get his Bill through more quickly, but if the Government Front Bench want to deal with it otherwise, so be it. It is such a shocking Bill that it fills us with nausea when we look at it. We therefore wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible. As I have a feeling that the speeches of the Economic Secretary on these Amendments will become tediously familiar before we dispose of them, I thought that it would be for the benefit of the Committee to roll all his speeches into one. However, we understand his difficulty. He has read the brief on showmen's goods vehicles, and not the brief on the following Amendments. We will, therefore, give him more time during the debate to catch up with his other brief.

In view of what you have said, Sir William, I must withhold from the Committee any powerful observations which might have occurred to me, or which I was hoping would occur to me, about local authority watering vehicles which are electrically propelled and those which are not electrically propelled, and deal with showmen's goods vehicles.

I have indicated to the hon. Gentleman, who is obviously bursting to speak on this Amendment, what he should do. He has a powerful speech prepared. We must not delay his speech by reference to watering vehicles. He is bursting to get at us, and after a number of my hon. Friends have joined in the debate I am sure that we shall be delighted to hear what he has to say. I have given him the maximum possible incentive to indulge in brilliant rhetorical persuasion by saying that perhaps we will not vote against him if he makes a good case.

Mr. Gower

In a most amusing and entertaining way, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) has spoken effectively against his own Amendment. It proposes a reduction in the proposed duty which, in most cases, would be very small proportionately, about £1 per annum on such a vehicle. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that despite the harsh impact of this impost, these vehicles are getting bigger and bigger and inordinately long. So, apparently, the existing impost is no disincentive to their increasing in size.

This is a legitimate business expense for showmen and, therefore, the effect of the duty, and certainly the effect of this marginal increase in it, will be insignificant.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am sure that the hon. Member would not want to misunderstand my argument. I welcome the fact that he seems already half converted to what I was arguing earlier, that taxation of road vehicles should bear some relation to their length and size and should not be a flat-rate tax. The hon. Member says that these are very large vehicles and the tax very small. He is obviously coming round to the view which I expressed concerning the taxation of private cars.

It would be out of order to pursue the point further, but the hon. Member is now making the point that this is a legitimate business expense that the Chancellor will allow for deduction against Income Tax and Profits Tax in so far as these showmen are assessed for those taxes. Is that the point the hon. Member is making?

Mr. Gower

I was not making the point that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would allow it. I merely stated that it was a legitimate business expense for which any showman would be able properly to claim and to set against his profits. To that extent his Profits Tax would thereby be reduced.

Dr. Stross

The hon. Member is speaking about profits and saying that it would be possible for a showman to ensure that he gets back this increase in tax. Suppose, however, that it is a non-profit-making organisation. Has not the hon. Member given thought to the fact that showmen who are non-profit-making—operatic companies, and so on—have to use vehicles of this type to take their furniture with them when going from town to town? They might well be included. If so, how does the hon. Member's argument apply?

Mr. Gower

I am doubtful whether they would fall within that category, because operatic societies are not properly described as showmen. The hon. Member gave them their proper description. They are operatic societies using the vehicles to convey apparatus and costumes which they use. They are not showmen in the sense in which that word is usually understood. Not by any remote extension of the word could it include an operatic society.

Mrs. Slater

Would not the hon. Member agree that the Theatre in the Round and Century Theatre have to take their props around with them and that they are part of their organisation? Would they not be included?

Mr. Gower

If the hon. Lady refers to the definition of "showmen" in any standard dictionary, she will find that it applies to something of a particular description.

Mr. H. Wilson

Perhaps I may help the Committee by reminding hon. Members what a showman's goods vehicle is. It is defined—I am sorry to cut out half the brief of the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower)—in the Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1949. which states that 'showman's goods vehicle' means a showman's vehicle which is a goods vehicle and is permanently fitted with a living van"— whatever that might be— or some other special type of body or superstructure, forming part of the equipment of the show of the person in whose name the vehicle is registered under this Act". It specifically distinguishes between a showman's goods vehicle and a showman's trailer, because the latter means a trailer drawn by a showman's goods vehicle and used solely for the purposes of his business by the person in whose name the vehicle is registered under this Act". This must be further distinguished from a showman's vehicle which, in contradistinction to a showman's goods vehicle or a showman's trailer, means a vehicle registered under this Act in the name of a person following the business of a travelling snowman and used solely by him for the purposes of his business and for no other purpose". In other words, when we tabled the Amendment in terms of showmen's goods vehicles, we substantially narrowed the scope of the debate. I apologise for that. Obviously, under the definition of "showman's vehicle", we could have included the Prime Minister's car.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Gower

What the right hon. Gentleman has said underlines my suggestion that operatic companies would not be included. I do not think that the hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) has ever seen a vehicle of such a society, used for pulling around its property, with living accommodation behind.

Mrs. Slater

Yes. I have.

Mr. Gower

I revert to my suggestion that this would be a legitimate business expense for the kind of showman described in the Amendment and that as such it would be a trivial matter in his annual training. To that extent, I cannot feel that the Amendment is a serious one. I cannot believe that this is a case of tremendous importance, or that it has particular merits over and above the case of other vehicles. There are many vehicles which have greater merit, and I hope that the Committee will reject the Amendment.

Mr. M. Foot

The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) seems to be playing a curious rôle in these debates. Every time that the Opposition put down an Amendment to a Clause, the hon. Member says either that the new impost levied by the Government can be passed on, so that it will not matter at all, or that it is such a small amount that nobody need take any account of it. Every time he says that, the hon. Member does not seem to realise that he is emphasising either how unnecessary it was for the Government to have made their original imposition or that the situation can be simply remedied by adopting what has been proposed from this side of the Committee.

If the hon. Member is to continue this rôle throughout the proceedings, what he has said may penetrate eventually to the Government Front Bench. The hon. Member has done it with great irony and subtlety. In effect, he has said that what the Government are proposing is superfluous and that the simplest way to remedy the situation is that the Opposition's proposals should be adopted.

I rarely differ from my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) even by a hair's breadth on economic matters, but it seemed to me that he showed at least a certain element of flippancy in moving the Amendment. It may be that the reason he did so was that his mind was clouded, which it rarely is, on this occasion partly by the particular category of showmen whom he had in mind. That is rather hard on the other showmen, because the Amendment is designed to deal with full-time professional showmen.

My right hon. Friend should not be muddled with questions about what might be the position of the amateur showmen whom we know on the Government Front Bench. Therefore, it is proper that the Amendment should be seriously considered, particularly as my right hon. Friend stressed that the case of the genuine showmen is rarely defended in this House. It may be that they do not have a showmen's guild and have not circulated to us the kind of memorandum that we get from other organisations—

Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)

They have an organisation.

Mr. Foot

I am glad to hear it. Indeed, the fact that the Showmen's Guild has not gone to the lengths of wasting so much paper to bombard us as other organisations do should not be counted against them. The showmen's case should be considered on its merits even though they have not gone to the length of circulating Parliament with their case.

In replying to the Amendment, the Economic Secretary has put himself in difficulty by his case on the previous Amendment, when he said that although the Government are making this new impost, the people who might suffer from it—the farmers—do not need to worry very much because it will all be taken account of in the Price Review. At least, the hon. Member suggested that a great part of it would be taken account of in the Price Review.

The showmen have no annual price review to which they can turn. Therefore, the only defence which the hon. Gentleman offered in respect of the previous Amendment cannot be offered in this case. It is a pity that, in referring to the previous Amendment, the hon. Gentleman did not try to treat it on its merits. He would then have been in a better position to put the argument on this Amendment.

The other argument which the Economic Secretary advanced on the previous Amendment was that the farmers have had the relief for about thirty years and that that was one reason, he thought, why it should be altered now. I am not quite sure what his information about showmen's vehicles is. I hope that he will explain what has been their position during the last thirty years. It would be very hard on showmen if the Economic Secretary were to show less diligence in examining what has happened in their case than he has shown in considering the interests of farmers. Perhaps the showmen have not such a large vested interest in the country, and perhaps they do not carry so many votes, but they have as much right to have their case considered as anyone else has.

I assume that the principal category of showmen involved are those who provide fairs up and down the country. In my view, they render considerable service to the community. I am not quite sure what economic terms one would use to describe it, but I imagine that, if one examined how much of their expenses was involved in their vehicles, one would find that it was probably a higher proportion than could be found in any other section of the community.

In the cost of maintaining the fairs which we see throughout the country, probably the largest portion of all is the amount which has to be paid for vehicles. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about meat for the animals?"] There may be other expenses which are quite heavy and other activities which have expenses in respect of vehicles almost as high as the expenses of showmen. Of course, this is the kind of information which the Economic Secretary will have at his elbow. He will be able to tell us all about it. I shall be very interested if he tells us of any other operation which has to bear such a high proportion of its costs in relation to its cars and vehicles. Looking at the matter from the commonsense point of view, it seems plain that this tax will fall, relatively, more heavily on showmen than on any other section of the community which has a similar tax inflicted upon it. If I am not right in that, I hope I shall be corrected.

Why should not there be special relief for showmen? As I have already said, farmers have their escape through the Price Review. Everyone knows that the Price Review is very much mixed up with politics. When the Government consider whether they will give farmers relief from the imposts they are imposing under the Budget and when they discuss the Price Review, political interests are not absent from the discussion.

I do not say that the Price Review is determined in direct consultation with the Conservative Central Office, but I am sure that such influences do affect a Tory Government in the amounts which they give under the Price Review. We are not all innocents here. We know that the Price Review for farmers is not left solely in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture, but there have to be consultations with the Leader of the House in all his various capacities before it can all be settled.

For showmen, no such reference to an annual price review is possible. Moreover, the showmen are in particular difficulty in passing on the tax to the public. In regard to the previous impost, it was argued very powerfully that, of course, the extra tax would be likely to be passed on to the consumer. This is not so easy for showmen. If a man charges 6d. for a ride on the "Dodgems", he cannot suddenly start charging 6¼d. for a ride on the "Dodgems". The whole brunt of the tax will have to be borne by the showmen. It is all very rough on them.

I hope that the Economic Secretary will at least be able to show the Committee that, before the Government decided, after all these years, to go ahead and impose this special tax on showmen, they went into all these matters carefully and did not just "cook up" some ideas to offer against the Amendment when it was put down. I hope that he will show that, before taking the action they did, they considered all the possibilities and all the likely results of what they were doing in relation to this section of the community.

It is often said by Chancellors of the Exchequer, "If we give relief to one section of the community, we shall have to give it to many others as well". Perhaps the Economic Secretary will resort to a defence of that kind. One can always be sure that the Treasury has a very poor defence for something which it does when it says, "If we give this just relief in this case, we shall have to apply justice to others as well". I hope that the Economic Secretary will not resort to that device in this case.

One can hardly think of a section of the community more easily isolated than showmen. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Prime Minister?"] When my hon. Friends revert time and time again to the position of the Prime Minister, they blur the issue. There is a difference between the professional showman and the amateur showman.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is my hon. Friend entitled to make these attacks on the professional ability of the Prime Minister without giving the right hon. Gentleman notice?

Mr. Foot

I was not making any attack on the Prime Minister. I was defending the legitimate showmen from the slur cast upon them by my right hon. Friend this afternoon. It is sad that he should have stooped to use this occasion to try to pretend that there is any comparison between those who are engaged in a perfectly legitimate occupation for the gaiety of the nation and those who are engaged in activities which I shall not describe lest I be in difficulties with the Chair. I hope that no more will be heard of the amateur showmen whose names have been introduced to confuse the issue.

I am concerned that the Government should impose an extremely heavy tax on a section of the community which is quite inoffensive. Showmen have not deserved it. They have not landed the Government in their economic difficulties. They are not the sort of people who pay Surtax. They probably do not pay very much taxes at all. They will not receive the reliefs that the Chancellor is giving in his Surtax concessions. Showmen make an excellent, honourable and traditional contribution to the welfare and gaiety of the nation. Their rights should not be brushed aside, but should be treated seriously and fairly, being given every consideration even by a Government who are determined to stamp out the gaiety of the nation in other ways.

I hope that the Economic Secretary will realise that he could perfectly well accept the Amendment without involving himself in difficulties about watering vehicles or anything of that kind. If he did accept it, showmen in Hampstead Fair and other fairs throughout the country would throw up their hats and say that this Government are at least doing something on their account. I dare say that there would be celebration throughout the country as a result of the Government's generosity.

When I saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer coming in, I thought that he might deal with this Amendment himself. He can still decide to do so. I hope that he will make himself the hero of the fairs throughout the country. He has only to make one generous gesture to them. He is not making any other generous gestures at this time, except, of course, to his particular friends the Surtax payers. He can easily be fair and generous to a section of the community which would not dream of paying Surtax at any time.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. H. Hynd

It is unfortunate that my hon. Friends have introduced the question of political showmen, especially in the absence of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro).

I have become more and more puzzled at the arguments used on these Amendments. On the one hand, we are told that the farmers will be all right because they will be reimbursed in the Annual Price Review. Then the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) tells us that the showmen will be reimbursed through Income Tax relief. His argument seems to be that what they will lose on the swings they will gain on the roundabouts. That seems to me to be an argument that no tax should be levied at all, because if the Treasury pays the tax in one way or another, why impose it?

This is a special case, because showmen's vehicles are tools of their trade. We have always attempted to give special consideration to what are broadly described as the tools of the trade. Surely the showman's vehicle is a tool of his trade and an essential part of his business, something which he cannot do without. I believe that that is the strongest argument for asking for special consideration in his case. I take pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

Mr. John Diamond (Gloucester)

I wish to make one point and to ask one question.

We are all deeply indebted to my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) for the very well-informed way in which he put forward the Amendment. As a result, we know the definition of showmen's goods vehicles which involve living accommodation. Therefore, I should have thought that the first point which stands out—I am sure that the Government Front Bench will give their attention to it—is that, since it involves living accommodation, it is the last suitable subject for additional taxation. I hope that the Economic Secretary will deal fully with that point.

The question which I wish to ask concerns a matter in which the Economic Secretary and I are interested. I am a director of Sadler's Wells and the hon. Gentleman is a Treasury Minister. Sadler's Wells receives a very large grant from the Treasury, although not directly. It is done through the Arts Council. The reason why it receives a large grant is that it is responsible for the whole of touring opera in the country. A number of my hon. Friends and I are interested to know the extent to which the Amendment might affect Sadler's Wells.

The costs of touring and of carrying heavy equipment for heavy opera are very great. The cost of lodging is also very great. The costs will get greater, because they have recently been the basis, quite properly, of an increase in wages and salaries. I am not certain whether this practice holds good in other similar dramatic and operatic societies, but it might well hold good in future for Sadler's Wells that living accommodation and transport may be combined.

We wish to know, therefore, to what extent this particular statutory definition is interpreted in practice. There is always a statutory definition, but the thing which matters is how it is interpreted by the Inland Revenue and by the Customs and Excise. Does a vehicle which carries equipment of this kind in touring opera and which provides accommodation, but not permanent living accommodation, while it is touring come under this heading and would it not be wrong to increase the tax on it?

I repeat that the Treasury is also interested in this matter. As I say, costs will go up, and although, naturally, Sadler's Wells is not reimbursed for these costs, it wishes to keep them down as much as possible, having regard to the large amount of public money involved. I therefore hope that the Economic Secretary will deal with the two points which I have raised concerning increased taxation on living accommodation and assistance to the Arts.

Mr. Barber

The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) invited me to make a powerful oration on this very important matter and then proceeded to deal in such masterly fashion with the legal technicalities, particularly the definitions, that I do not think hon. Members will expect me to devote so much time to the Amendment as I might have done. With his usual quiet persuasion, the right hon. Gentleman put the case for show people of all types. I was only surprised that he did not declare his interest.

The right hon. Gentleman was correct in saying that the effect of the Amendments is to cut the proposed increase of 20 per cent. in respect of showmen's goods vehicles to about 10 per cent., and to cut the increase in respect of vehicles used for drawing showmen's trailers. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) expressed the hope that in this case, as in the previous case, I would be able to give him some information about the history of this matter. I do not wish to delay the Committee long, but I should point out once again that for nearly thirty years showmen's goods vehicles have enjoyed special rates of licence duty. They will still enjoy special rates of licence duty under the Bill.

Let me give one or two examples of the way in which it will work. The concession is a substantial one. At one ton, a showman will pay £14 10s. a year as against the general rate of £18 10s.; at three tons, £24 5s. as against £42 generally; and, at five tons, £34 5s. as against £84 generally. These are concessions of 20 per cent., 40 per cent. and 60 per cent. respectively. Concerning the second Amendment, which deals with showmen's goods vehicles drawing a trailer, in all cases this will mean an increase of only £2—from £10 to £12 a year. When compared with the duty paid in respect of ordinary goods vehicles drawing trailers, this is a very real concession. The proposed increase in respect of one-ton showmen's goods vehicle is only £2 10s. a year, for a two-ton vehicle £3 5s. a year and for a three-ton vehicle only £4 5s. a year.

The hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) referred to the question of the definition of a showman's goods vehicle and to the observations of his right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can have heard exactly what his right hon. Friend said. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that it was defined as a vehicle which is a goods vehicle and is permanently fitted with a living van or"— this is the important point— some other special type of body or superstructure, forming part of the equipment of the show… In other words, the definition is not confined to a goods vehicle permanently fitted with a living van but includes a vehicle which is permanently fitted with some other type of body or superstructure.

In answer to the specific point raised by the hon. Member for Gloucester concerning a particular company, I can only say that I am sure that he will appreciate that, without knowing the details of the type of van, it is impossible for me to give him an answer. I stress that, even with these very modest increases in the duty on showmen's goods vehicles, there will remain very substantial concessions in respect of them and that they will remain in a specially privileged position.

Having explained the reasons for my right hon. and learned Friend's proposals, and in the light of what the right hon. Member for Huyton said at the outset, I hope that on this occasion he

5. Local authorities' watering vehicles which are electrically propelled. 1¼ tons 6 0 0
1¼ tons 2 tons 6 0 0 2 6 8
2 tons 3 tons 13 0 0 15 0
3 tons 4 tons 16 0 0 16 0
4 tons 5 tons 19 4 0 12 0
5 tons 24 0 0
The Temporary Chairman (Mr. W. R. Williams)

It may be for the convenience of the Committee if we also take with

6. Local authorities' watering vehicles which are not electrically propelled. 12 cwt. 10 0 0
12 cwt. 16 cwt. 12 10 0
16 cwt. 1 ton 15 0 0
1 ton 2 tons 15 0 0 2 10 0
2 tons 2½ tons 25 0 0 1 10 0
2½ tons 3 tons 28 0 0 2 0 0
3 tons 4 tons 32 0 0 1 12 0
4 tons 5 tons 38 8 0 1 4 0
5 tons 48 0 0

and the Amendment to page 33, line 13, to leave out "7 0 0" and to insert "6 0 0".

Mr. Wilson

I shall not detain the Committee long on this Amendment, because I think the point is perfectly clear. We are proposing to remove the proposed increases in taxation from local authority watering vehicles and to leave those vehicles, from the tax point of view, exactly where they were before the Budget was introduced. I do not think that I need worry the Committee with detailed figures, but I can assure hon. Members that the figures on the Notice Paper restore the rates already in force under the previous legislation. I do not think, either, that I need take long in making the case for the exemption of watering vehicles from the operation of the Schedule.

Watering vehicles are obviously an essential part of local authority services, whether they are electrically propelled or not. We all know what they are used for. They are defined in the appropriate Act in terms which, in layman's language, mean that they are used for washing streets or washing gulleys and they are obviously essential for public health and hygiene. I cannot understand why the

will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment to a Division.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. H. Wilson

I beg to move, in page 32, to leave out lines 44 to 48 and to insert:

this the Amendment to page 32, to leave out lines 49 to 55 and to insert:

Government think it necessary to put a tax on them. Clearly, this means either an increase on the rates or some tinkering about with the grant. It is bound to fall on the public in one form or another. Local authorities will not cut down their expenditure on watering vehicles because of the tax. They will just increase the cost of local authority services.

If there were a parallel in our Finance Bill debates with this proposal, it would be one which we debated at length on the 1955 autumn Finance Bill, when the then Financial Secretary, now the Economic Secretary, used to wax eloquent at all hours of the night in support of proposals to increase tax on dustbins, another local authority item of essential equipment. We all remember the hon. Gentleman's speeches on that occasion. They did not add anything. We knew perfectly well what had happened. The Chancellor had decided to increase Purchase Tax over a wide range of goods. He had probably not realised that dustbins were included. He took the decision. The Department went to work, and there were dustbins, as large as life, and the Financial Secretary had to defend the tax. I do not suppose for a moment that the present Chancellor knew that he was taxing local authority watering vehicles when he rose to speak on Budget day, and now a Minister has to be put up to defend it.

Obviously, it is an oversight. If the Financial Secretary will say, "This is one of those things. We are prepared to withdraw it", we will let the matter rest there. If he accepts the Amendment, we do not propose to pursue the matter further, or to be vindictive about it. It is a mistake. All he has to say is, "For the sake of completeness we had to put them in and that is why the tax is there." We have already heard the Economic Secretary argue about the special dispensation given to showmen's vehicles. There is a case for doing this for watering vehicles.

6.45 p.m.

Nobody buys a watering vehicle just for the fun of it. It is not the sort of thing one buys because one is feeling rich and wants to splash one's money about. I do not know any individual, however extravagant, who possesses a watering vehicle. The Financial Secretary is looking excited. I do not know whether he has one. It is the sort of thing a local authority buys to wash the streets. It is absolutely essential and one either has one or does not have one. If an authority has one, it has to pay this increased tax and then recover that tax by putting up the rates. Then the Chancellor will go to the Tory Party conference and bemoan the extravagance of local authorities in public expenditure.

The Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1949, defines a local authority's watering vehicle as, a goods vehicle used solely within the area of a local authority by that local authority,"—

There is no question of crossing local authority frontiers here— or by any person acting in pursuance of a contract with that local atuhority, for the purpose of cleansing or watering roads or cleansing gulleys".

It could not have been put more clearly than that. It is an Act of the Labour Government of 1949, and, in passing, I would draw attention to the clarity of the drafting. Everybody knew straight away when I was reading it what it meant. There was no misunderstanding at all, unlike some parts of the present Finance Bill.

I hope that the Financial Secretary will be man enough to say that these vehicles should never have been included. I hope he will say that it was an accident and a piece of excessive bureaucratic zeal and that he is accepting the Amendment. We can then pass on to the next Amendment with mutual satisfaction.

Mr. Willis

The remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) are very important, particularly for the large local authorities. They have to buy a number of these watering vehicles. I do not know whether the Government will tell us once again that this increased tax will be almost offset by an addition to the general grant. We have had that excuse before. It strikes me that we are adding to the burdens of local authorities. As everyone knows, they are already overburdened and we should not unnecessarily increase the demands on the local rates.

There is also the point that it will require some of the large towns, and I think particularly of Glasgow and Edinburgh, to make another contribution to some of the county areas, because these vehicles are mainly used in the large towns. If the tax means increased expenditure for those large local authorities and if a sum in respect of it is added to the general grant, a local authority will find that though it has to meet the increased expenditure it does not necessarily receive the increased grant, because that grant is divided among all the local authorities on the basis of quite a different formula.

Therefore, whilst Glasgow or Edinburgh might pay a considerable amount in extra taxation, Orkney and Shetland, Sutherland and Caithness and other counties would receive the benefit of the increased grant. I have no objection to those counties receiving the increased grant, but there is a limit to their receiving it at the expense of large towns or of densely crowded counties such as Lanark or Midlothian. The increased tax, therefore, seems unfair from that point of view, apart from the serious considerations put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton.

As he said, it must have been an oversight to include these among the vehicles to be taxed, and I trust that the Minister will say that the Government have no intention to proceed with this proposal and that, convinced by the weight of argument against it, they will withdraw it and bring the matter to a close.

Mr. George Jeger (Goole)

One question which I should like to put to the Minister is to what extent these watering vehicles are used throughout a year. If one casts one's mind back to last summer, one realises that local authorities must have sent their watering vehicles out very rarely, if at all; there was no need to, the water came from elsewhere. Therefore, the watering vehicles were standing in the yards and garages of local authorities and they had already paid a certain amount of tax on them. If the tax is increased on these vehicles, it would seem that local authorities will waste an even larger amount of the ratepayers' money on taxing vehicles which will have very little use.

I wonder whether it has been worked out exactly how much a day it costs each local authority to send out one of these watering vehicles. If it were sent out only three or four days a year, it might be a very expensive operation if the cost of the vehicle, the amount of taxation and the cost of the man who operates it were added together and then divided by the number of days upon which the vehicle was used. It would be a very expensive operation indeed. Yet, local authorities must have these vehicles. They are essential to health and hygiene, to lay the dust and clean the gulleys. The least the Chancellor could do would be to exempt the local authorities from any increase in the taxation which is levied on private vehicles.

During the main Budget debate, the Chancellor was good enough to indicate to the nation that anyone earning less than £5,000 a year was in rather dire straits. The people, other than local authorities, who buy these watering vehicles may well be in receipt of £5,000 a year. They have probably already spent as much as they can on luxuries and then decide that a watering vehicle is something which they had not got and which they should have as a status symbol. I have no objection to private individuals who buy watering vehicles paying a higher tax on them, but I think that local authorities which have to have watering vehicles for the benefit of local welfare, health and hygiene should have the benefit of a reduction in tax or indeed of no tax at all upon vehicles. I hope, therefore, that the Chancellor will accept the Amendment.

Mr. M. Foot

One matter on which the Minister who is to reply may like to comment is the fact that there seems to be a rather curious selection by the Government of the speakers who are to reply to the various Amendments. The previous Amendment that we were discussing proposed a tax on gaiety and therefore we were confronted with the lean, puritanical figure of the Economic Secretary. We are now discussing a tax on cleanliness and we get the jovial, cavalier figure of the Financial Secretary to deal with it. It seems a curiously appropriate way in which the Government have arranged the matter.

I wish to put one question to the Financial Secretary. It was said when we were discussing the impost on farmers' vehicles that the farmers would be able to recoup a large part of the amount under the Annual Price Review. Will the Minister tell us that local authorities will be able to recoup at any rate a part of the imposition included in this tax from some of the arrangements which are made with the Government, and if not, why not?

Sir E. Boyle

I hope that I am no better or worse than the average hon. Member in taking up points made in Committee, but I could not gather what conclusion I was expected to draw from the point made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) about cleanliness. May I say to the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) that I think that it was the present Minister of Housing and Local Government who replied to the debate about dustbins in 1955, but I feel that the debate this afternoon was a very happy echo of those debates.

Since 1933 there have been special rates of licence duty for the types of vehicles we are discussing in this Amendment. That was the year of the very important Local Government Act, which was really the charter of local government until the Act of two or three years ago.

My right hon. and learned Friend does not think that it would be right to exempt local authority watering vehicles altogether from the increase that has been made in the motor duty. But I can tell the Committee—and I am not sure whether this is appreciated by all hon. Members—that the extra duty that will be payable in respect of local authority watering vehicles as a result of this Clause will be rather small.

If one takes an electrical vehicle of 1 ton, before the Budget the tax paid on it was £6 and after the Budget it will be £7. For 2-ton vehicles it was £13 before the Budget and £16 after the Budget. For non-electrical vehicles of 1 ton it was £15 before the Budget and £18 after the Budget. For non-electrical vehicles of 2 tons it was £25 before the Budget and £30 after the Budget. For trailers, both for 1 ton and 2 ton vehicles, the payment was £6 extra before the Budget and £7 extra after the Budget. So, while I entirely recognise the burden of any increase, which is something which we should certainly bear in mind, in the taxation of local authorities, I do not think that any hon. Member on either side of the Committee could dispute that these vehicles are still receiving fairly strong preferential treatment.

Speaking as one who, when at the Ministry of Education, was responsible for laying heavy extra burdens on local authorities—because whether one had a percentage or general grant system local authorities had to pay between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the extra cost of education—I do not think that the figures I have given represent a great extra burden on local authorities.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. H. Wilson rose

Sir E. Boyle

May I, first, answer the question put by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)? The answer is that local authority expenditure on watering vehicles is not relevant expenditure for the purposes of the general grant. The reason is simply that cleansing is not one of the relevant services covered by the general grant. But, of course, this expenditure may have a marginal effect on the amount of the rate deficiency grant which is, in effect, a percentage grant to certain poorer local authorities on the whole of their net expenditure. The answer to the hon. Gentleman is that this will not be relevant expenditure for the general grant, but it could have that effect on rate deficiency grants where these grants are paid.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman has given figures about various types and sizes of watering vehicles, the rates paid on them before the Budget and the rates which will be paid as a result of this Schedule. He was trying to say that the increases were not great. But will the hon. Gentleman look at his own figures? Is not it a fact that the figures he has given in respect of all vehicles of more than 1 ton, at any rate from the 2-ton level upwards, bear a greater increase even than the increase for private cars?

I think that I heard the hon. Gentleman say that for a 2-ton vehicle the payment, which was previously £13, was now £16. which is an increase of £3. That is greater than the proportionate increase for private cars. The same would be true regarding really heavy vehicles, where there is an increase from £20 to £25, and figures of that kind. I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that the proportion is greater than for private cars. If so, how can he argue that these are small increases?

Sir E. Boyle

In percentage terms, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, there is an element of rounding-off in these proposals. I can give him the percentage figures. For electric vehicles of 1 ton or 2 tons, for all weights, the percentage increase will be between 16½ per cent. and 25 per cent. For the non-electric vehicles it will be between 18.7 per cent. and 21½ per cent. None the less, I thought it reasonable to give the Committee the exact figures, because I do not believe that these proposals will impose an unreasonable burden on local authorities.

For the reasons that I have given, my right hon. and learned Friend does not think that it would be right to exempt these vehicles from the increases made in the Budget. I believe that these vehicles still receive pretty concessional treatment. I do not consider that the proposals we are making are unreasonable from the point of view of local authorities doing this service, and so I invite the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

Can the hon. Gentleman explain on what principle the local authority watering vehicles which are not electrically propelled apparently bear a duty almost twice as high as the duty on those water-ing vehicles which are electrically propelled? What is the esoteric basis for this fascinating distinction?

Sir E. Boyle

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at my figures tomorrow, he will find that in percentage terms there is not as big a difference as he makes out.

Mr. E. C. Redhead (Walthamstow, West)

I have listened with growing astonishment to a succession of Government spokesmen who have been talking about the increases in various categories of vehicles. I am becoming increasingly amazed at the tendency to dismiss every item as being a purely modest tax increase which, therefore, does not matter very much. If that be the argument, I suggest that correspondingly it ought to be argued whether it is worth while occasioning the degree of irritation that tax increases of this character produce.

It is true that the classical argument every time a tax is increased is that it is only a little increase. But that argument is plausible only so long as we look at a particular increase in isolation. When dealing with local government vehicles in this category it is fair to point out that this is one further burden to add to the many burdens which this Government have placed on local authorities. For that reason it is an increasing cause of irritation.

In his Budget statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer, referring to the general increases over the whole range of these vehicle licence duties, concluded with the postscript:

"…these increases will enable me to face with greater equanimity the steadily increasing burden of expenditure upon the roads."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th April, 1961; Vol. 638. c. 818.]

That postscript has already been seriously criticised in its general application. But whatever its validity may have been in general I wonder whether it may be fairly said about local authority watering vehicles which, after all, exist primarily not to make use of the roads, but to enable local authorities to maintain the roads in good order, and in a state of cleanliness.

Where is the justification for adding even this modest increase to the taxation on a vehicle required for the purpose of maintaining roads in a good state? Surely it cannot be argued that these vehicles make heavy demands on the roads. On the contrary, they are making a worthwhile contribution to the necessitous maintenance of roads in a good condition.

On the grounds advanced by the Financial Secretary that these are but modest increases, I urge that they are so modest as to be a complete irritation and unnecessary. In fact, as was said by my right hon. Friend, when proposing the Amendment, they flow from the fact that the Chancellor desired to increase this range of duties for revenue purposes by about 20 per cent., and adapted and adopted the existing Schedules with no regard for how the increases would fall. We do not think that an adequate case has been made out to resist this Amendment and, therefore, we shall divide the Committee.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 176, Noes 108.

Division No. 183.] AYES [7.5 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Coulson, J. M.
Aitken, W. T. Browne, Percy (Torrington) Craddock, Sir Beresford
Allason, James Buck. Antony Critchley, Julian
Arbuthnot, John Bullard, Denys Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Ashton, Sir Hubert Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Cunningham, Knox
Atkins, Humphrey Burden, F. A. Curran, Charles
Barber, Anthony Butler. Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Dalkeith, Earl of
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Dance, James
Bell, Ronald Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Berkeley, Humphry Channon, H. P. G. Deedes, W. F.
Bingham, R. M. Chataway, Christopher de Ferranti, Basil
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Chichester-Clark, R. Digby, Simon Wingfield
Bishop, F. P. Cole, Norman Doughty, Charles
Bossom, Clive Cooke, Robert du Cann, Edward
Bourne-Arton, A. Cerdeaux, Lt-Col J. K. Duncan, Sir James
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Corfield, F. V. Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Boyle, Sir Edward Costain, A. P. Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Litchfield, Capt. John Sharples, Richard
Errington, Sir Eric Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Shepherd, William
Farr, John Longden, Gilbert Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn
Finlay, Graeme Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Skeet, T, H. H.
Fisher, Nigel Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McAdden, Stephen Smithers, Peter
Foster, John MacArthur, Ian Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Gammans, Lady McLaren, Martin Spearman, Sir Alexander
Gardner, Edward McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Speir, Rupert
Glover, Sir Douglas Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Stevens, Geoffrey
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Maddan, Martin Studholme, Sir Henry
Goodhew, Victor Marten, Neil Talbot, John E.
Gough, Frederick Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Tapsell, Peter
Gower, Raymond Mawby, Ray Teeling, William
Grant, Rt. Hon. William Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Temple, John M.
Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. Montgomery, Fergus Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Green, Alan More, Jasper (Ludlow) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Grimston, Sir Robert Morrison, John Turner, Colin
Gurden, Harold Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Nugent, Sir Richard Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Vickers, Miss Joan
Harris, Reader (Heston) Osborn, John (Hallam) Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Page, John (Harrow, West) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Page, Graham (Crosby) Walder, David
Harvie Anderson, Miss Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Walker, Peter
Hastings, Stephen Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Ward, Dame Irene
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Percival, Ian Watts, James
Hiley, Joseph Pike, Miss Mervyn Webster, David
Holland, Philip Pitman, I. J. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hollingworth, John Pitt, Miss Edith Whitelaw, William
Hopkins, Alan Price, David (Eastleigh) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Hornby, R. P. Pym, Francis Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Hughes-Young, Michael Quennell, Miss J. M. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Ramsden, James Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Iremonger, T. L. Rawlinson, Peter Wise, A. R.
Jackson, John Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
James, David Rees, Hugh Woodhouse, C. M.
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Renton, David Worsley, Marcus
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Langford-Holt, J. Robson Brown, Sir William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Leburn, Gilmour Roots, William Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Seymour Leslie Mr. J. E. B. Hill.
Ainsley, William Hilton, A. V. Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Holman, Percy Randall, Harry
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Houghton, Douglas Redhead, E. C.
Benson, Sir George Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reid, William
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Hunter, A. E. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Butler, Herbert (Hickney, C.) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Ross, William
Chapman, Donald Jeger, George Skeffington, Arthur
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Crosland, Anthony Jones, Dan (Burnley) Small, William
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jones, Elwyn (West Ham S.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Darling, George Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Snow, Julian
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Deer, George Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Stonehouse, John
Diamond, John Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Stones, William
Dodds, Norman Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Stross, Dr.Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John MacColl, James Swinger, Stephen
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. McInnes, James Symonds, J. B.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McKay, John (Wallsend) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) McLeavy, Frank Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Evans, Albert Mcpherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Fitch, Alan Manuel, A. C. Tomney, Frank
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Mitchison, G. R. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Morris, John Wainwright, Edwin
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moyle, Arthur Warbey, William
Galpern, sir Myer Oliver, G. H. Weitzman, David
Ginsburg, David Oram, A. E. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Oswald, Thomas White, Mrs. Eirene
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Owen, Will Wilkins, W. A.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly) Paget, R. T. Willey, Frederick
Grimond, J. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Parker, John Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Peart, Frederick Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hannan, William Prentice, R. E.
Hayman, F. H. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Herbison, Miss Margaret Probert, Arthur Mr. Lawson and Mr. Cronin.

Amendment proposed: In page 32, leave out lines 49 to 55 and insert:

6. Local authorities' watering vehicles which are not electrically propelled. 12 cwt. 10 0 0
12 cwt. 16 cwt. 12 10 0
16 cwt. 1 ton 15 0 0
1 ton 2 tons 15 0 0 2 10 0
2 tons 2½ tons 25 0 0 1 10 0
2½ tons 3 tons 28 0 0 2 0 0
3 tons 4 tons 32 0 0 1 12 0
4 tons 5 tons 38 8 0 1 4 0
5 tons 48 0 0
—[Mr. H. Wilson.]

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 170, Noes 110.

Division No. 184.] AYES [7.15 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Glover, Sir Douglas Percival, Ian
Aitken, W. T. Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Allason, James Gough, Frederic Pitman, I. J.
Arbuthnot, John Gower, Raymond Pitt, Miss Edith
Ashton, Sir Hubert Grant, Rt. Hon. William Price, David (Eastleigh)
Atkins, Humphrey Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Pym, Francis
Barber, Anthony Green, Alan Quennell, Miss J. M.
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Grimston, sir Robert Ramsden, James
Bell, Ronald Gurden, Harold Rawlinson, Peter
Berkeley, Humphry Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bingham, R. M. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Rees, Hugh
Bishop, F. P. Harris, Reader (Heston) Ronton, David
Bossom, Clfve Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Bourne-Arton, A. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macolesf'd) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon, John Harvie Anderson, Miss Robson Brown, Sir William
Boyle, Sir Edward Hastings, Stephen Roots, William
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Seymour, Leslie
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Holland, Philip Sharples, Richard
Buck, Antony Holtingworth, John Shepherd, William
Builard, Denys Hopkins, Alan Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Hornby, R. P. Skeet, T. H. H.
Burden, F. A. Hughes-Young, Michael Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hutchison, Michael Clark Smithers, Peter
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Iremonger, T. L. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Jackson, John Spearman, Sir Alexander
Channon, H. P. G. James, David Speir, Rupert
Chataway, Christopher Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Stevens, Geoffrey
Chichester-Clark, R. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Studholme, Sir Henry
Cole, Norman Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Talbot, John E.
Cooke, Robert Langford-Holt, J. Tapsell, Peter
Cordeaux. Lt.-Col. J. K. Leburn, Gilmour Teeling, William
Corfield, F. V. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Temple, John M.
Costain, A. P. Litchfield, Capt. John Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Coulson, J. M. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Craddock, Sir Beresford Longden, Gilbert Turner, Colin
Critchley, Julian Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby van Straubenzee, W. R.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Vickers, Miss Joan
Cunningham, Knox McAdden, Stephen Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Curran, Charles MacArthur, Ian Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Dalkeith, Earl of McLaren, Martin Walder, David
Dance, James McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Walker, Peter
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Macmilian, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Ward, Dame Irene
Deedes, W. F. Maddan, Martin Webster, David
de Ferranti, Basil Marten, Neil Wells, John (Maidstone)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Whitelaw, William
Doughty, Charles Mawby, Ray Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
du Cann, Edward Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Duncan, Sir James Montgomery, Fergus Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Elliott, R.W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Morrison, John Wise, A. R.
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Errington, Sir Eric Nugent, Sir Richard Woodhouse, C. M.
Farr, John Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Woodnutt, Mark
Finlay, Graeme Osborn, John (Hallam) Worsley, Marcus
Fisher, Nigel Page, John (Harrow, West)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Page, Graham (Crosby) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gammans, Lady Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Gardner, Edward Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Mr. J. E. B. Hill.
Ainsley, William Hayman, F. H. Probert, Arthur
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Herbison, Miss Margaret Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hilton, A. V. Randall, Harry
Benson, Sir George Holman, Percy Redhead, E. C.
Blyton, William Houghton, Douglas Reid, William
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hunter, A. E. Robertson, John (Paisley)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Ross, William
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Skeffington, Arthur
Chapman, Donald Jeger, George Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Small, William
Crosland, Anthony Jones, Dan (Burnley) Snow, Julian
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Darling, George Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Stonehouse, John
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stones, William
Deer, George Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Swingler, Stephen
Diamond, John Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Symonds, J. B.
Dodds, Norman MacColl, James Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John McInnes, James Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. McKay, John (Wallsend) Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McLeavy, Frank Tomney, Frank
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Evans, Albert Manuel, A. C. Wainwright, Edwin
Fitch, Alan Mitchison, G. R. Warbey, William
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Morris, John Weitzman, David
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Moyle, Arthur Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Oliver, G. H. White, Mrs. Eirene
Galpern, Sir Myer Oram, A. E. Wilkins, W. A.
Ginsburg, David Oswald, Thomas Willey, Frederick
Gordon walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Owen, Will Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Paget, R. T. Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Panneil, Charles (Leeds, W.) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Grimond, J. Parker, John
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Peart, Frederick TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Prentice, R. E. Mr. Lawson and Mr. Cronin.
Hannan, William Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this Schedule be the Second Schedule to the Bill.

Mr. Redhead

In so far as the Schedule gives effect in detail to Clause 5, which the Committee has already approved, I do not imagine that the Committee will want to spend a long time upon the Schedule, but I should like to express some concern at the manner in which the increase in the vehicle licence duty has been brought about in these circumstances.

Given the circumstances in which the Chancellor had made up his mind that he wanted increased revenue under this general heading, I still have a strong feeling, which I expressed a little while ago, that what was done was merely to say, "We want a 20 or 25 per cent. increased revenue from this particular source," and then, lock, stock and barrel, to adapt the existing Schedule, as we now have it here, with the modifications that are requisite to give effect to that purpose, with, as the Financial Secretary has said, a rounding up or rounding down here and there to make a tidy table.

I should have thought that the Chancellor might have taken a look at the Schedule in detail, and decided whether the provisions to which reference has already been made, which, in very large part, are reflected in this Schedule, were not now ripe for review in the changed circumstances. After all, it is the 1949 Act from which the original provisions flow, and I should very much like to know whether it was seriously considered when this decision was taken whether the Schedule, with its various categories, about some two dozen altogether, could not be simplified to bring about a simplification in administration.

I should like to know, for example, seeing that this duty is collected not by the Customs and Excise Department, but by the county authorities, whether any consultation has taken place with those authorities. It occurs to me that having a Schedule of this description and length, with these various categories and varying kinds of rates of duty under the different headings, it must be an increasing complication to undertake the collection, and a further complication when the figures are altered, as we are altering them in this Schedule.

For that reason, it might be expedient to have an early opportunity of consulting the county authorities. All the Chancellor has to do is to ask these authorities, which have the work to do, whether some simplification and modification of the Schedule as a whole might not be expediently undertaken at this stage in the history of this duty.

I leave my question at that point in the hope that the Government will be able to explain their intentions for the future. I am sure that the burden of a Schedule of this kind, in administration and collection costs alone, must outweigh even the advantage of the increased rate of duty which is being applied under some of these headings under the Schedule, which we have already been assured ought to be acceptable because they are of such a trifling character.

Mr. Barber

The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead) has made certain very fair points about the contents of this Schedule. I do not think that he would expect me again to go over the ground deployed by the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary when they gave the reasons for this general increase of 20 per cent. Indeed, they were referred to only a short time ago, when we were debating whether Clause 5 should stand part of the Bill.

However, I can assure the Committee that we gave careful thought to the various items and categories referred to in the Second Schedule, For example, the hon. Gentleman will have noticed that excluded from the general increase

are buses and coaches, for the reason that a concession was made to them in the Finance Act, 1959, and that it would have been ridiculous to increase the duty for them on this occasion. On the other hand, I think that I am right in saying—although I have not been able to make inquiries in the time available—that there would have been no consultation with the authorities, because this represented an increase in taxation.

I have noted what the hon. Member said about the terms of the Schedule, and I agree that some of the phraseology in it and the various categories raise difficulties for someone like myself. I wondered what was meant by special categories of bicycles which are electrically propelled,

and I have not yet solved that problem, although there may be one or two of them in museums. I will draw the Chancellor's attention to what the hon. Member said about consulting the authorities to see whether it is desirable to improve this Schedule on any future occasion on which we deal with it. The hon. Member will not expect me to go further than that in the absence of my right hon. and learned Friend, and I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will take note of the hon. Member's comments.

Question put, That this Schedule be the Second Schedule to the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 175, Noes 109.

Division No. 185.] AYES [7.31 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Channon, H. P. G. Erring ton, Sir Eric
Aitken, W. T. Chataway, Christopher Farr, John
Allason, James Chichester-Clark, R. Fisher, Nigel
Arbuthnot, John Cole, Norman Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Ashton, Sir Hubert Cooke, Robert Foster, John
Atkins, Humphrey Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Gammans, Lady
Barber, Anthony Corfield, F. V. Gardner, Edward
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Costain, A. P. Glover, Sir Douglas
Bell, Ronald Coulson, J. M. Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Craddock, Sir Beresford Goodhew, Victor
Berkeley, Humphry Crltchley, Julian Gower, Raymond
Bingham, R. M. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Grant, Rt. Hon. William
Bishop, F. P. Cunningham, Knox Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.
Bossom, Clive Curran, Charles Green, Alan
Bourne-Arton, A. Dalkeith, Earl of Grimston, Sir Robert
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Dance, James Gurden, Harold
Boyle, Sir Edward d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Deedes, W. F. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Browne, Percy (Torrington) de Ferranti, Basil Harris, Reader (Heston)
Buck, Antony Digby, Simon Wingfield Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Bullard, Denys Doughty, Charles Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric du Cann, Edward Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)
Burden, F. A. Duncan, Sir James Harvie Anderson, Miss
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hastings, Stephen
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Holland, Philip Morrison, John Stevens, Geoffrey
Hollingworth, John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Studholme, Sir Henry
Hopkins, Alan Nugent, Sir Richard Talbot, John E.
Hornby, R. P. Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Tapsell, Peter
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Osborn, John (Hallam) Teeling, William
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Page, John (Harrow, West) Temple, John M.
Hughes-Young, Michael Page, Graham (Crosby) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Iremonger, T. L. Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Turner, Colin
Jackson, John Percival, Ian van Straubenzee, W. R.
James, David Pike, Miss Mervyn Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Pitman, I. J. Vickers, Miss Joan
Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Pitt, Miss Edith Vosper Rt. Hon. Dennis
Langford-Holt, J. Price, David (Eastleigh) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Leburn, Gilmour Pym, Francis Walder, David
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Quennell, Miss J. M. Walker, Peter
Litchfield, Capt. John Ramsden, James Wall, Patrick
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Rawlinson, Peter Ward, Dame Irene
Longden, Gilbert Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Watts, James
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Rees, Hugh Webster, David
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Renton, David Wells, John (Maidstone)
McAdden, Stephen Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
MacArthur, Ian Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
McLaren, Martin Roboson Brown, Sir William Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Roots, William Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Seymour, Leslie Wise, A. R.
Maddan, Martin Sharples, Richard Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Mapp, Charles Shepherd, William Woodhouse, C. M.
Marten, Neil Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn Woodnutt, Mark
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Skeet, T. H. H. Worsley, Marcus
Mawby, Ray Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Smithers, Peter TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Montgomery, Fergus Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood) Mr. Finlay and Mr. Whitelaw.
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Speir, Rupert
Ainsley, William Hamilton, William (West Fife) Prentice, R. E.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hannan, William Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hayman, F. H. Probert, Arthur
Benson, Sir George Herbison, Miss Margaret Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Blyton, William Hilton, A. V. Randall, Harry
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Holman, Percy Redhead, E. C.
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Houghton, Douglas Reid, William
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hunter, A. E. Robertson, John (Paisley)
Chapman, Donald Hynd, H. (Accrington) Ross, William
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Skeffington, Arthur
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jeger, George Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Crosland, Anthony Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jones, Rt- Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Small, William
Darling, George Jones, Dan (Burnley) Snow, Julian
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Deer, George Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Stonehouse, John
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stones, William
Diamond, John Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Dodds, Norman Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Swingler, Stephen
Driberg, Tom Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Symonds, J. B.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John MacColl, James Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. McInnes, James Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McKay, John (Wallsend) Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) McLeavy, Frank Tomney, Frank
Evans, Albert MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Fitch, Alan Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wainwright, Edwin
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Manuel, A. C. Warbey, William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mitchison, C. R. Weitzman, David
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morris, John White, Mrs. Eirene
Galpern, Sir Myer Moyle, Arthur Wilkins, W. A.
Ginsburg, David Oliver, G. H. Willey, Frederick
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Oswald, Thomas Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Owen, Will Willis E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Paget, R. T. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Grimond, J. Parker, John
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Peart, Frederick TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Lawson and Mr. Cronin.