HC Deb 08 June 1961 vol 641 cc1525-8

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Bell

I wonder whether this Clause will apply to the hiring of vehicles by companies. Surely it will restrict the claim which they can make on even the casual hiring of a Rolls-Royce car for a special occasion. That is my understanding, but I may be mistaken. As I understand, the exceptions made in Clause 23 do not cover this point. If a company which owns a cheaper car, nevertheless, for a special occasion, thinks it expedient and proper for the purposes of its business to hire an expensive car it would not be entitled to claim the cost of hiring it, but only such proportion of the cost of hiring it as is governed by the difference between the cost of the car hire and £2,000. It is a really complicated provision, but that is as I understand it.

I wonder whether I may ask another question which is really germane to these three Clauses, and that is whether there is an element of retrospection in them, whether they apply, for example, to the annual depreciation of a car costing more than £2,000—

The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Order. I hope that the hon. Member will not broaden the course of the debate to include the three Clauses. We are concerned now only with Clause 22. The other two have been passed.

Mr. Ronald Bell

I appreciate that, Sir William. The point I was making about the element of retrospection was really one of a general character. I certainly will not pursue it if you think it has no application to this Clause. Perhaps my hon. Friend could indicate whether this is so or not.

Sir E. Boyle

The point which my hon. Friend has just raised comes more properly, I think, on Clause 23.

As to the question of casual hiring, we shall see how this works out in practice. Representations have been made to my right hon. and learned Friend about this matter. I would rather say nothing more at the moment, but we shall see how it works out in practice and whether any further action is required. I would rather not go beyond saying that tonight.

Mr. Ronald Bell

I am grateful, of course, for that, but if there is some doubt as to the meaning of this, and if I am right in thinking that it does apply to casual hiring on special occasions when a company thinks it a proper and necessary expense to hire a car for its business, could my hon. Friend give consideration to that between now and Report, to see whether an amendment should be made to the law, because if I am right in thinking it does apply to casual hiring, then, after all, we are really leaving to administrative discretion what should not be to administrative discretion at all, but should be stated in the Bill itself?

Sir E. Boyle

My hon. Friend's description of how the Clause operates is perfectly correct. I cannot, on behalf of my right hon. and learned Friend, give any undertaking to put down an Amendment about this, but we will certainly look at the matter between now and Report.

Mr. Diamond

In view of what has just been said, I think that I had better say a few words which I would not have otherwise bothered to address to the Committee. It will be recollected that Budget day was 17th April. I have in my hand an advertisement which appeared in The Times on 20th April; that is to say, it must have been inserted within two days following the Budget.

It starts off: Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Daimler, Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Aston Martin, Alvis. It fairly makes one lick one's lips to pronounce the names of these delightful cars. It goes on: New or used. This is the moment to consider contract hire, now the most beneficial form of business transport. It took precisely two days for this enterprising private enterprise firm to look at the Budget speech and to draw attention to the fact, the attention of everybody who read the advertisement in The Times, that this contract hire was the way out of the provisions which the Chancellor had announced in the Budget restricting the purchase of cars or the use of bought cars for business purposes. The way out was to hire a car.

Unless we have a Clause of this kind, and a very stiff Clause of this kind—that is the only reason I am delaying the Committee for this one minute—we shall have more and more enterprising advertisements appearing and, as some hon. Member said, driving a Rolls-Royce completely through the provisions of this Clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.