HC Deb 20 May 1965 vol 712 cc1825-41
Mr. Donald Box (Cardiff, North)

I beg to move Amendment No. 38, in page 7, line 35, at the end to insert: or are used for the carriage of samples or goods in the ordinary course of a trade. This Amendment is intended to permit the initial allowances to be retained in respect of cars owned or used by those salesmen, agents or traders, most of whom are in the smaller income groups, who rely for their livelihood on the use of those cars to carry samples or other goods. The people who do this fall, I think, into three categories.

First, there is the small trader who uses his car to deliver goods to his customers. We are all familiar with the milkman, the greengrocer, or the butcher, who may be seen around our towns, sometimes delivering his goods either from a utility vehicle or from the boot of his car. These tradesmen deliver their goods in this way and do so to provide a very personal service to their customers. For this service, coupled with the knowledge of what their customers require, and dealing at competitive prices, they manage to earn a reasonable living, usually by working for themselves.

Secondly, there are a number of professional buyers whose job it is to go from company to company and bring back engineering samples, mainly required for submission to research departments or the approval of their managements. In the third category there are manufacturing agents who represent no one single firm, but a number of manufacturers. It will be realised that they often carry a wide range of samples from those manufacturers. This category are often self-employed and work on a commission basis.

The fourth and largest category is that of the travelling salesman, better known as the commercial traveller. I understand that there are 35,000 commercial travellers in the country today. The overwhelming majority of them use their own cars in their work. I also understand that about a third of them are self-employed. It is probable that the commercial traveller of today is the direct descendant of the frock-coated, top-hatted gentleman of years gone by who arrived at his destination by train and was met by a man with a barrow. His samples were transferred from the train to the barrow in skeps and then taken for inspection by the customer. That form of transportation was just as vital then as the car is today to carry the samples of the salesman.

It follows that if there are no samples there is possibly no sale and from that would follow very little in Purchase Tax, lower Income Tax revenue and lower motor tax. The logical conclusion might be considerable unemployment. The need for this salesman to carry samples is recognised by the Ministry of Transport. Despite the fact that it has strict regulations about change of user or change of construction of cars, the Ministry makes a special concession to these travellers. It allows them to remove seats and put some sort of structure under the roof of a car so that they can carry furs, clothes, or whatever they may be selling.

As commercial travellers, on average, do about 2,000 miles a month—24,000 miles a year—and usually carry samples weighing about 20 lb., some of which are small but heavy and others bulky, it is obvious that they need a car which is roadworthy and reliable for the job. The traveller's car has to be renewed far more frequently than the ordinary car used for private or business purposes. More than three-quarters of commercial travellers' cars are changed annually.

12 m.

It is also considered that two years is an absolute maximum life for a travellers' car. I think that the removal of the initial allowances covered in this Clause will be a definite discouragement to the annual changing of these cars and I fear that this will be detrimental to the safety factor, to say nothing of the detrimental effect on the motor industry and the reduction in Purchase Tax to the Treasury. Even allowing for the increase in car hire which is undoubtedly taking place at present the same general conditions apply. The cost of hiring is bound to be increased and there is an added disinclination to renew cars on an annual basis.

I suppose that the intention of Clause 13 is either to prevent or discourage the use of business cars for pleasure. Is this justified in the case of commercial travellers? Most of them, after a hard week's driving, are so tired when it comes to the weekend that they are only too glad to put their car in for servicing and perhaps put their feet up and relax.

Allowing for the fact that there must be some cases when they use these vehicles for their private and personal use, it is surely possible for some disallowance to be made, as is made in the case of many other business cars. Of the large number of categories I have mentioned the largest section is undoubtedly the commercial traveller. They not only have to carry samples to the customer, but they often pack their car with samples when they are setting up a stock room in an hotel, or a local hall. The Ministry of Transport recognises the need for this and the police also co-operate in being fairly lenient when they find these cars parked, packed with samples. They try to be as co-operative as possible.

If the Ministry of Transport and the police are co-operative in this matter, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will also be as helpful and co-operative and will accept the Amendment.

The Deputy-Chairman

Before I call the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) I should say that it would be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 302 with this Amendment, in page 7, line 35, at end insert: or are vehicles for which an F licence is required".

Mr. Hirst

I think that my hon. Friend (Mr. Box) has put the arguments extraordinarily well. I am a bit long in the tooth nowadays in my sales experience. I was for many years a commercial traveller in the chemical trade and regularly I did about 56,000 miles in two years. I assure the Committee that the last thing I wanted to do was to use a motor car for pleasure. I was sick and tired of the blinking thing long before the week was over. It is, in that sense, in quite a different category. It is a vehicle for business purposes being used for trade in a recognised calling. If you are to be a good salesman in most trades you have to have your samples where the customer wants them.

I cannot accept the basic thinking of the Labour Party in this matter. In fact, I accept practically none of its thinking on this matter at all. Assuming that there is anything in this matter of initial allowances for cars it cannot possibly, in all fairness, apply to a section of people such as commercial travellers, buyers and small business people. There are many of these self-employed people, whose car is, in fact, one of the engines of war of their trade.

I think that I know enough about the peculiar workings of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have studied them from both sides of the House for some years. They are very peculiar people and their minds work very peculiarly, but by and large I cannot believe that they have honestly got down to this and what it meant when the decision was taken. I do not want to be rude, but I honestly do not think they did. I think that I know what they are getting at. I do not think that they meant to include this great number of people who carry on a sound line of business and who are not very well paid. They are better paid than they were in my day. Many of them work entirely on commission. Having a car is an essential part of their life.

I see that there is now a change of batting on the Treasury Bench. I hope I shall be forgiven for saying that that is welcome. The Financial Secretary has worked very hard. He has been studying his briefs, but he has been very dull as the day has progressed. Although the crease is worn out, I am grateful for the change in batting. I know the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary very well, and they both know me. They know that I shall not expect too much from them. However, there is a possibility that the Financial Secretary has thought this matter out and that we shall not get the same dusty brief as we have had all afternoon.

I want to be pleasant about this. Whatever the case may be, I am sure that the Financial Secretary must see it. We do not want it to be rejected. "Reject" briefs are two a penny from the Dispatch Box. We want a sympathetic approach on a matter which greatly affects the livelihood of many people who have to work very hard. I work very hard in Parliament, but I have never worked so hard in my life as I did when I sold things in the 1920s. I know what it means. I have sympathy with commercial travellers, and I hope that the Government will show some sympathy for them, too.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Amendment No. 302 relates to vehicles with an F licence. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) that the Government have not thought this matter out carefully. If I understand the Clause correctly, F licence vehicles will be deprived of the initial allowance. These vehicles include farm vehicles and dual-purpose vehicles. These are the tools of the farmer's trade. Lord Mitchison, the former Member of Parliament for Kettering, criticised in this Chamber, the imposition of a tax on these tools of the farmer's trade. It seems that the Government have forgotten that criticism. They are imposing a further cut which will bear hard on an industry which already has to bear enormously increased costs.

In an earlier debate I drew attention to the increased costs the industry would bear because of the increase in the licence duty. Now the Government are taking away a small concession from the farming industry. This places an increased burden on the industry which at this moment, after the treatment it has received from the Government in the Price Review and in the Budget, is unwarranted.

I ask the Government to reconsider this proposal and try to inject a little sanity and reasonableness into the debate. I ask the Chief Secretary or the Minister without Portfolio, whoever is to reply, for once to have a little charity in his heart and, forgetting the sterile brief he holds in his hands, to give justice where it is due and give the farming industry this small concession which is necessary for the well being of agriculture.

Sir Rolf Dudley Williams (Exeter)

I hope that I shall not be interrupted too much, otherwise I may have to address the Committee for rather a long time. It is not my intention to intervene for more than a very short time, but I wish to refer to Amendment No. 38, which we are discussing with Amendment No. 302, because for some time I was the president of the commercial travellers' association of Exeter. Therefore, I have a particular interest in looking after the difficulties which commercial travellers experience from time to time in plying their trade.

I certainly hope that we shall find that the Chief Secretary is kindly disposed towards the first of these two Amendments. This is the Amendment which refers to the motor car or vehicle "used for the carriage of samples or goods in the ordinary course of a trade."

Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

What about the farmers?

Sir Rolf Dudley Williams

I will come to the farmers later in my speech. I was intending to leave the Committee shortly, but I was not fortunate enough to persuade an hon. Member on the Government side to come with me.

I wish to speak on behalf of this sorely pressed section of our society, the commercial travellers. It seems to me that without any doubt, anyone who uses a vehicle in the course of their ordinary trade for the carriage of samples or goods surely should be allowed the appropriate allowances. I think that we are all aware, those of us who have any experience of the distribution of goods by commercial travellers, of the great difficulties and competition they invariably face.

It would be monstrous if this Amendment was not passed and we found that commercial travellers were not allowed their initial allowances. I really cannot understand what possible thinking can lie behind a Chancellor of the Exchequer who does not automatically put such allowances as these into the Bill. It seems to me that if they are not to be given the initial allowances they are being most unfairly treated as compared with many professions and businesses which are given such initial allowances.

I hope that this Amendment which we are now discussing should at least find favour with the Minister without Portfolio, who, I understand, is to reply to the debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine) asked me to refer to the problems of the agricultural industry. I have great sympathy with this industry. I certainly hope that Amendment No. 302 is also acceptable to the Treasury. I do not propose to enlarge on it to a very great extent unless I am pressed, as many of my hon. Friends have already done so, but I certainly wish to give them my support. In particular, I hope that Amendment No. 38 will be accepted.

The Minister without Portfolio (Sir Eric Fletcher)

I can assure the Cornmittee that the Government are by no means unsympathetic to the activities and energies, and the contributions made by commercial travellers and the traders of whom we have heard to our economy generally. But I am sure that the hardships which we are told they will suffer unless this Amendment is pressed and carried have been very greatly exaggerated.

I am sure hon. Members will appreciate that there is not really any great hardship being suffered by commercial travellers if in fact they are not able to obtain the benefit of the initial allowances. In particular, in the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) who moved this Amendment, those of them who are in the habit of changing their cars every two years will hardly suffer at all because all commercial travellers will get the full benefit of the capital allowances.

12.15 a.m.

If the commercial traveller changes his car every two years, the full value will be allowed in two years and the difference between the value to him of that capital allowance without the initial allowances, and that with initial allowances, is merely marginal. The whole cost of the vehicle will be allowed in two years, and the difference in what he will have to pay is very small indeed.

Motor cars, other than hire cars, have always been treated in a different category in respect of capital allowances from, for example, plant and machinery. They have never had the benefit of the investment allowance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks it only appropriate that in this Budget motor cars, except in the special categories referred to in Clause 13, should no longer have the benefit of the initial allowance. Hon. Members will appreciate that Clause 13 takes away the initial allowance except for cars. … of a type not commonly used as private vehicles and unsuitable to be so used or are provided wholly or mainly for hire to or for the carriage of members of the public in the ordinary course of a trade. It is perfectly appropriate that such vehicles as taxis, vans, lorries, trucks and buses should have the benefit both of the investment allowance and the initial allowance.

Sir Rolf Dudley Williams

The Minister refers to the definition … not commonly used as private vehicles … Dozens of my friends use vans as private vehicles. How can one say that a van should attract an initial allowance, but an estate car for the conveyance of a commercial traveller's products should not? The definition is appalling.

Sir Eric Fletcher

I do not know about the hon. Gentleman's friends, but very few of mine ride about in a van. [HON. MEMBERS: "Snob."] It may be that the hon. Gentleman's friends also ride about in lorries and buses.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

What is wrong with that?

Sir Eric Fletcher

Nothing at all, but there is a clear distinction between motor vehicles such as lorries and charabancs and buses on the one hand and saloon cars on the other. The hon. Member for Exeter (Sir Rolf Dudley Williams) may not agree that it is reasonable that initial allowances should no longer apply to estate cars or station wagons, but one has to draw the line somewhere.

The Amendment suggests that initial allowances should be preserved for those who use cars for the carriage of samples or goods in the ordinary course of trade. This would provide considerable administrative difficulties, because it would be difficult to tell to what extent the car was being used for purposes of that kind as distinct from purely personal purposes. In addition, it must be obvious to the Committee that it would be most unfair to give a privilege to persons of that kind and deny it to others carrying on professions. Doctors and other professional men regularly use their cars for the purposes of their profession and it would be a most unreasonable discrimination to deny them the benefit of an initial allowance if we gave it to commercial travellers and traders.

Once one makes an inroad of the kind proposed by the Amendment into the general principle of the Clause, it will become impossible to know where to stop, and the effect of the Amendment, if pursued to its logical conclusion, would be to nullify the whole purpose of the Clause.

Mr. Box

The hon. Member referred to the administrative difficulty. Does he not appreciate that many cars used by businesses throughout the country get a certain disallowance to the extent to which they are used for private purposes? If it can be done for businesses all over the country, why cannot it be done for commercial travellers?

Sir Eric Fletcher

The administrative difficulty is only one of the arguments which I am using for urging the rejection of the Amendment. It must be obvious that with the ordinary motor car it would be very difficult in the vast majority of cases to decide to what extent the car was being used for carrying samples around and to what extent it was being used for purely personal purposes. Even persons who used motor cars for purely private purposes might say that they occasionally carried samples around. I am sure that, on reflection, hon. Members opposite will recognise that the object of the Clause, of denying initial allowances in respect of the ordinary motor vehicles used for pleasure generally, will not be achieved if inroads of the kind suggested by the hon. Member are made into it.

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) and the hon. Member for Exeter also spoke on the second Amendment. Again, a clear distinction of principle is involved. Amendment No. 302 suggests that there should be excluded from Clause 13 those vehicles for which an F licence is required. An F licence is a licence referred to in paragraph 7 of Schedule 4 of the Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1962, and is the licence required for a farm goods vehicle. The Committee should appreciate that many of the vehicles covered by the description in the Amendment—those which have F licences—are automatically excluded from the effect of the withdrawal of the initial allowance because they are not vehicles commonly used as private vehicles or even suitable to be used as such.

Mr. Peter Walker (Worcester)

Does not the Minister agree that if the great majority are included, all should be included?

Sir Eric Fletcher

I think that it is right that these farm vehicles, some of which are so clearly farm vehicles that they cannot be used for any other purpose at all, should continue to have the initial allowances. For example, expenditure on new farm lorries and vans will continue to earn relief both in respect of the initial and in respect of the investment allowances, and so will expenditure on Land Rovers, which come within the category of farm vehicles pure and simple. But it would be unreasonable to extend that concession, in the Government's opinion, to such vehicles as estate cars, station wagons and similar vehicles, because, as everybody knows, vehicles of that description can and frequently are used for private purposes.

Mr. Hirst

What is the difference between a farm wagon and a wagon used by a commercial traveller for carrying samples?

Sir Eric Fletcher

I thought that it would be wearying the Committee if I gave an elaborate description of the distinction. I assumed that most hon. Members at present in the Committee were familiar with them.

One of the objections to the Amendment is that the F licence is not clearly defined, and the only specific definition of it is in paragraph 7 of the fourth schedule of Vehicles (Excise) Act, 1962. The really substantial objection is that a great many vehicles which attract an F licence are included in the initial allowance relief.

Sir M. Redmayne

The hon. Gentleman may say that it is hard to define what an F licence covers but, at the same time, what we are really concerned with are those vehicles which are the tools of the farmer's trade and, more than in any other industry, the farmer uses his car—what we call his private car—as a tool of his trade. That is the substantial point of the Amendment.

Sir Eric Fletcher

The farmer has various tools for his trade, such as lorries, vans, and station wagons, which he uses partly as a tool and partly for purely personal purposes. If we extend the relief of the initial allowance for that kind of vehicle we should merely be perpetrating an injustice on the professional man such as the doctor who uses his private car as a tool of his trade just as much as the farmer who uses his car partly as a tool of his trade and partly for personal reasons.

Sir M. Redmayne

Not for the carriage of goods.

Sir Eric Fletcher

It is not fair to draw a distinction based on the carriage of goods. I suppose that a doctor carries some of the instruments of his profession about in his car, and the degree to which the commercial traveller carries goods is to some extent compulsory, and to some extent accidental. In one trade, samples are absolutely essential. A wide range of samples may have to be carried, but in another, a very little or perhaps none. That distinction is not a real one.

Sir Rolf Dudley Williams

I want to get this straight. If a doctor employs a van to go on his rounds he would have the initial allowance—is that so? Because, if it is so, it should be well-known to the medical fraternity that the doctor so using a van will be allowed the initial allowance. Could the hon. Gentleman answer that specifically?

Sir Eric Fletcher

I do not know of any doctor using a van for professional purposes. I think that the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir Rolf Dudley Williams) is reducing the debate to a farce by suggesting that that kind of consideration should be taken seriously.

Mr. Norman Miscampbell (Blackpool, North)

The hon. Gentleman may say that, but if a veterinary surgeon uses a mini-van, would the allowance then apply? There is nothing farcical about that.

Sir Eric Fletcher

If that is a serious question, the answer is this; and it shows the difficulty of trying to draw a line. The precise answer is that mini-vans are sub judice at the moment—[Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but there are, in fact, negotiations proceeding with the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to decide whether a mini-van comes within the category to which an investment allowance is available. Until that matter is decided, it is not possible to say with precision to what extent a mini-van falls on one side of the line or the other.

Mr. Miscampbell

I would not stick to a mini-van. Any old van will do.

Sir F. Bennett (Torquay)

A non sub judice van.

Sir Eric Fletcher

I think that the Committee will agree that enough has been said to show that it would be quite impossible to draw the line at the point suggested in the Amendment without allowing the Clause to drift into a position of complete absurdity. I must, therefore, ask the Committee to resist the Amendment.

12.30 a.m.

Mr. Peter Walker

My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) said that he was looking forward to a new batsman on the wicket. After the way the Minister faced up to the bowling, being bowled out by almost every ball——

Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)

On a point of order, Sir Samuel. Is it in order for hon. Members to come into the Committee in their nightshirts?

The Deputy-Chairman

It is not out of order, but it is not customary.

Mr. Walker

The Minister's reply was even worse than the replies we have had throughout the day from the rather tired Treasury team. Almost all that the hon. Gentleman proved was that there is good reason why he should be a Minister without a portfolio. The other thing he proved was that he has no friends who own vans, in trying to suggest that there is any justification for this provision which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) said, has adverse effects on commercial travellers, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) said, adds to the general difficulties of the farmers.

The real effect of the Clause is to allow less allowance in the first year, things balancing out eventually when the vehicle is sold. In the first year, the small businessman will pay more than he otherwise would, and so will the commercial traveller and the farmer. If his business is expanding, if he is using overdraft facilities, he will be that much more "in the red"; and under this Government that is a very expensive state of affairs. Worked out on the

basis of the present level of the Bank Rate and the amount of borrowing which the small businessman will have to do, the effect is exactly the same as though the Chancellor had used the regulator, putting another 10 per cent. on top of the 25 per cent. Purchase Tax on vehicles of this type.

It is no excuse to offer administrative difficulties as the reason for not doing as we suggest. The Government are introducing a Finance Bill which will cause more administrative difficulties than any Finance Bill in our history. Obviously, the Minister without Portfolio was put up to answer the debate because the Government did not want the Treasury team to have to defend such a bad case. In the short term, the Treasury benefits. In the long term, it does not. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Government do not expect to be in charge of the Treasury for very long.

As no case has been put by the Government and we have yet a further example of the Government putting a burden on the small businessman, on the family business, on the farmer and the business community generally, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will divide the Committee.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 109, Noes 140.

Division No. 123.] AYES [12.35 a.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Curran, Charles Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lione[...]
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Dance, James Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Atkins, Humphrey d'Avigdor-Goldstnld, Sir Henry Higgins, Terence L.
Balniel, Lord Dean, Paul Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Batsford, Brian Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hirst, Geoffrey
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Doughty, Charles Hornby, Richard
Berry, Hn. Anthony Emery, Peter Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Eyre, Reginald Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)
Bossom, Hn. Clive Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen) Hunt, John (Bromley)
Box, Donald Foster, Sir John Iremonger, T. L.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Gardner, Edward Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central) Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)
Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry Glover, Sir Douglas Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Glyn, Sir Richard Kershaw, Anthony
Bryan, Paul Coodhew, Victor King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Buck, Antony Grant, Anthony Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bullus, Sir Eric Gresham-Cooke, R. Langford-Holt, Sir John
Buxton, Ronald Grieve, Percy Longbottom, Charles
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Loveys, Walter H.
Chichester-Clark, R. Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) McLaren, Martin
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Gurden, Harold Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain
Cooke, Robert Hall, John (Wycombe) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Harvie Anderson, Miss Maude, Angus
Cordle, John Hastings, Stephen Meyer, Sir Anthony
Crowder, F. P. Hawkins, Paul Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Miscampbell, Norman Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Roots, William Walters, Dennis
Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Scott-Hopkins, James Weatherill, Bernard
Neave, Airey Sinclair, Sir George Webster, David
Page, R. Graham (Crosby) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) Whitelaw, William
Peel, John Summers, Sir Spencer Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth Talbot, John E. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pitt, Dame Edith Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Prior, J. M. L. Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.)
Pym, Francis Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Quennell, Miss J. M. van Straubenzee, W. R. Mr. Ian Fraser and Mr.Jasper More.
Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin Vickers, Dame Joan
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Abse, Leo Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)
Alldritt, Walter Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Allen, Scholefleld (Crewe) Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.) Palmer, Arthur
Atkinson, Norman Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Parker, John
Beaney, Alan Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Parkin, B. T.
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Jackson, Colin Pavitt, Laurence
Boston, T. G. Janner, Sir Barnett Perry, Ernest G.
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Prentice, R. E.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.) Jeger, George (Goole) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Rankin, John
Boyden, James Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Redhead, Edward
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Rees, Merlyn
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Johnston, Rusell (Inverness) Reynolds, G. W.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury) Jones,Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W.Ham,s.) Richard, Ivor
Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R' ter & Chatham) Robinnon,Rt.Hn.K.(St.Pancras,N.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Lawson, George Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Leadbitter, Ted Rose, Paul B.
Crosland, Anthony Ledger, Ron Rowland, Christopher
Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S. Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Dalyell, Tam Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Short,Rt.Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'Hampton,N.E.)
Diamond, John Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Dodds, Norman Lipton, Marcus Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Driberg, Tom Loughlin, Charles Solomons, Henry
Dunnett, Jack McBride, Neil Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McCann, J. Steel, David (Roxburgh)
English, Michael MacColl, James Stonehouse, John
Ennals, David MacDermot, Niall Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Ensor, David Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S' land) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) Mackie, John (Enfield, E.) Swingler, Stephen
Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.) Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Taveme, Dick
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Marsh, Richard Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Floud, Bernard Mason, Roy Tomney, Frank
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Mayhew, Christopher Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mellish, Robert Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ford, Ben Mikardo, Ian Wallace, George
Freeson, Reginald Millan, Bruce Weitzman, David
Garrett, W. E. Molloy, William Whitlock, William
Garrow, A. Morris, John (Aberavon) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Ginsburg, David Mulley,Rt.Hn.Frederick (SheffieldPk) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Murray, Albert Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hamling, William (Woolwich, w.) Newens, Stan Zilliacus, K.
Harper, Joseph Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Hazell, Bert Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Heffer, Eric S. Ogden, Eric Mr. W.Howie and Mr. Charles Grey.
Horner, John O'Malley, Brian

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

12.45 a.m.

Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

Before we part with this Clause I would be obliged if the Minister would give attention to a small point which I wish to raise. The Minister is well aware that the Clause is based on Section 16 (3) of the Finance Act, 1954, with which, I am sure, he is very familiar. A difficulty which has arisen in construing that Section is one which has been put to me by one of my constituents, who says he is having difficulty with the inspector of taxes in construing the way in which that subsection is meant to be read, and, in particular, with regard to a Ford Thames 7 cwt. van and a Bedford 12 cwt. van.

The point, which he puts succinctly, is that he has been having difficulty with the Inland Revenue over claims for investment allowances on certain delivery vans which unquestionably are used wholly and exclusively for the purposes of a trade. The view which the Inland Revenue are taking appears to be that delivery vans … are of a type which are now considered to be commonly for private purposes and are suitable to be so used. In my view this simply is not true. However, apart from the case of Bourne v. Auto School of Motoring (Norwich) Ltd."— with which the Minister will certainly be familiar— which dealt with saloon cars fitted with dual controls, the matter has not been tested before the courts. The point I should like the Minister to consider is in what my constituent goes on to say: It seems obvious that, since the wording of Clause 13 of the Finance (No. 2) Bill is identical to that of the proviso contained in Section 16(3) of the Finance Act, 1954, the inspector's present attitude towards investment allowances on trade vans is likely to be followed by a similar attitude towards initial allowances. From what I have read it does not appear to be the intention of the Government that tradesmen should be penalised in this manner and the only sure way of preventing this seems to me to be to clarify the situation by amending Clause 13 of the Bill to specify more clearly which vehicles are intended to be excluded from initial allowances and possibly by introducing an Amendment to the Finance Act, 1954, to deal with the situation with regard to investment allowances. I will be obliged if you would give this matter your attention. So perhaps I could ask the Minister to do just that and let me know what he thinks would be the right thing to do in the circumstances.

Sir Eric Fletcher

The hon. Member is quite right. The language of the Clause is taken from Section 16 of the Finance Act, 1954, and was deliberately taken from Section 16 of the Finance Act, 1954, because that has become accepted and generally understood, and it would lead to considerable confusion if any other form of language were adopted in the Clause. Obviously, I am not familiar with the circumstances of the hon. Member's constituent's complaint, or with the correspondence his constituent has had with the inspector of taxes. But I shall be happy to look into it and write to the hon. Member.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.