HC Deb 25 June 1973 vol 858 cc1133-4
41. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Lord President of the Council what steps he is taking to increase the one shilling per mile allowance for motor cars for Members of the House of Commons having regard to additional costs, caused by inflation since December 1971, including value added tax; whether he has now studied the revised Royal Automobile Club recommended mileage rates, revealing considerable increases in 1971–72; and whether he will ask the Services Committee to re-examine these matters.

Mr. Prior

I have noted the RAC recommendations on mileage allowances. So far as the rate of the Members' allowance is concerned, it is already within the terms of reference of the Committee to consider this matter.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the RAC's latest figures reveal a mileage allowance which is about 40 per cent higher than the present Members' allowance, or a mileage allowance at the rate of approximately 7p per mile? Having regard to the fact that the matter should now be reviewed, as it was last reviewed in December 1970, will not my right hon. Friend consent to other right hon. and hon. Members and myself appearing before the Services Committee in order to bring it up to date in the matter so that it may make further representations to the House?

Mr. Prior

My hon. Friend will realise that there are difficulties. It is extremely difficult to isolate the mileage allowance from other Members' allowances. It would clearly raise difficult issues at present. I do not dispute the RAC figures. The allowance we had in 1970 was slightly more generous than that for civil servants, and although it is now slightly behind I do not think that we are far out. If hon. Members feel that the 5p per mile is not enough, they are entitled to claim the additional cost of running their cars against tax as a tax allowance. To that extent, the situation is certainly by no means desperate, but if it is raised by members of the Services Committee, we shall consider it.

Mr. C. Pannell

The Lord President has just spoken about other allowances. I should imagine that other allowances were matters for the Boyle Committee. I do not know of any others that fall under the Services Committee except the motor car allowance. Does the right hon. Gentleman have it in mind to refer to the Boyle Committee any of the inequities in the present system, such as allowances for London Members, which I think are absolutely unjust?

Mr. Prior

No, Sir. It has been the Government's view that the Boyle Committee would look at these matters once in the lifetime of a Parliament, and that we should stick to that procedure. Although the car allowances are not strictly in the same category, it would be difficult for outsiders to understand why we alter the car allowances more often than we consider other allowances.