HC Deb 25 November 1974 vol 882 cc19-20
16. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what statutory powers he has to ration petrol.

Mr. John Smith

The necessary powers to introduce petrol rationing are contained in the Fuel and Electricity (Control) Act 1973.

Mr. Tebbit

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has decided to ration petrol through the price mechanism? How is petrol so different from all those other everyday necessities of life which the Chancellor is subsidising instead of allowing to be rationed by the price mechanism?

Mr. Smith

If the hon. Gentleman does not understand the difference between petrol in regard to its scarcity and its price and some other commodities, he has much to learn.

Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson

What action do the Government intend to take to help the small retailers in this trade? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the special maximum price controls rather than the normal operations of the Price Code are having a desperately serious effect on small garages and many may go out of business unless something is done?

Mr. Smith

Any question of price increases will be a matter for application to the Price Commission, and the matter can be taken further in the light of the commission's findings.