HC Deb 29 April 1974 vol 872 c748
4. Mr. MacFarlane

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will introduce regulations designed to prevent the hoarding of petrol stocks by retailers in the event of a further rise in the price of petrol.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Gavin Strang)

No. The enforcement of any such regulation would not be practicable.

Mr. MacFarlane

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but does he not express concern at the possibility of this kind of thing happening? The attendant publicity gathers momentum when a price rise is imminent. Many of my constituents, as well as others, have experienced this kind of problem with retailers who open late and close early when a fairly drastic price rise is imminent.

Mr. Strang

The last price rise was due to value added tax but the situation mentioned by the hon. Gentleman may have happened to a limited extent in the case of previous price rises. There is, however, no practical way in which the Government can take action, and the current allocation scheme restricts to some extent the degree to which garages can do this sort of thing.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Does not my hon. Friend intend to do anything at all about this matter? There is a great deal of concern among motorists that, immediately a price rise is announced, many garages still persist in the practice of making excessive profits by selling their old stocks at the new prices. Surely my hon. Friend has to do something about this.

Mr. Strang

I understand the concern on this matter and I assure my hon. Friend that the Government attach importance to the attitudes which are being expressed, but he must appreciate that it would be very difficult indeed for the Government to police any means of stopping this practice.