HC Deb 23 March 1961 vol 637 cc569-71
37. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what, for 1961, is the estimated total taxation revenue derived from vehicles and vehicle drivers; and what, for 1961, will be the total Government expenditure on roads.

Mr. Barber

The latest available estimate relates to the financial year 1960–61. The figures are £645 million and £108 million, respectively. In addition, it is estimated that some £94 million will be spent on roads by local authorities, not counting about £25 million on lighting.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Is not the road user paying far more than his fair share of taxation? Would it not be very wrong to add tolls to the existing burden? Will the Treasury do what it can to speed up the creation of a proper road system in the country?

Mr. Barber

The question of tolls is another matter, but, as my hon. Friend realises, there is no connection between expenditure on roads and revenue derived from the road user. The revenue goes into the common pool and the amount spent on the roads depends on the assessment of the priorities having regard to the various demands on the country's economy.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Will my hon. Friend remember that the original idea behind the Road Fund was to create a fund which would be made use of to provide the roads of the country? May I repeat what my hon. Friend said, that it would be quite wrong for the Government to extract additional revenue from road users by means of a toll?

Mr. Barber

I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend will take note of that.

Mr. Jay

Will the hon. Gentleman inform his hon. Friends that the Road Fund has been abolished?

Mr. Barber

I assume that my hon. Friends realise that it was abolished in, I think, 1956.

Mr. J. T. Price

To give a proper perspective to this Question, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that over 70 per cent. of vehicles on the roads are chargeable wholly or in part to business accounts and that to conclude that this is taxation revenue is quite misleading because a great deal of the taxation revenue is never in fact received by the Treasury, as it is given back in allowances under Schedule D?