§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ridley
I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 12, leave out '25' and insert '15'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this amendment we may take the following: No. 3, in page 2, line 22, at end insert:'or(c) shall apply to the first fifteen gallons of light oil purchased in any one calendar month by the owner of a registered private motor vehicle for the purpose of propelling that motor vehicle, provided the main place of residence of the owner is situated more than two miles, by the shortest route using public highways, from any area which—
and the exception specified in this paragraph shall be limited to fifteen gallons for any one person'.
- (i) as a local government area in England or Wales before 1st April 1974 was a London borough, county borough, borough or urban district, or
- (ii) as a local government area in Scotland is a city or burgh, or
- (iii) as a local government area in Northern Ireland before 1st October 1973 was a county borough, borough or urban district,
§ Mr. Ridley
It is a pleasure to me to return to the Finance Bill debates, having with the greatest of difficulty kept myself firmly seated during the afternoon and evening debate so far, and having had particular difficulty in not rising to the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) who was rash enough to intervene a little earlier. I hope that he will intervene in this and other debates because he adds colour to all that we do and say in this House.
This amendment was not discussed directly in Committee, although the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall), who, I hope, will speak to Amendment No. 3, has put down an amendment which is not dissimilar from the amendment which was discussed by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) on the question of an allowance.
§ Mr. Lawson
Where is he?
§ Mr. Ridley
The hon. Member is not finding it easy to attend. Liberals have many commitments, and my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) is quite wrong to suggest that there is anything wrong in his absence, because there are plenty of other Liberals who can carry on the debate in the absence of the hon. Member.
The question here is what should be the rate of tax on petrol. The Government propose a 25 per cent. VAT as a surcharge both on the price and on the excise duty on petrol, which brings the price up to its very high level of about 72p, 73p or 74p a gallon, depending on which grade one purchases.
It is a curious consideration that just when people were expecting the Arabs to bump up the price of petrol to unprecedented heights the price has gone up to unprecedented heights—but it is not the Arabs who have put it up; it is the Government. A very large proportion of the price—more than half—is now tax, and we cannot blame the Arabs for that. We can only blame the Chancellor for his goings-on.
I should like to examine the economic justification for the Government's doing this. If it is proposed that we should reduce imports of oil and do it by taxation of oil, it seems odd to single out petrol for that particular burden, because petrol represents only 14 per cent. of a barrel of crude oil. The other 86 per cent. goes as fuel oil, lubricating oils, and so on, which go into industry. It is an anomalous and curious position for the Government to take when they are prepared to subsidise electricity—which burns a great deal of fuel oil—to the tune of £1,000 million a year, and at the same time to heap the tax on to petrol. It does not seem to me to be a logical way of reducing oil imports, if that is, indeed, the motive of the Government.
The absolute price of petrol is about the same in this country as it is in the major European countries, but it already represents a far higher proportion of the average wage. Although our petrol prices are similar to those in Germany, France and Spain, we pay much more for petrol, as a percentage of the average wage, than people in those countries do. There is 1173 no doubt, therefore, that petrol is being singled out as a means for particularly onerous treatment of the British motorist.
I see on the tape tonight that a statement made by a Treasury spokesman—one of those curious people who never come out into the open and say who they are—has made clear that the Government are thinking about abolishing the road fund licence duty and increasing the price of petrol still further by taxation to compensate for the revenue lost on the road fund licence. The talk is of another 15p on the price of petrol.
I do not think that there is much sense in the motor vehicle tax—an odd sort of tax which takes £25 a year from each motor vehicle owner, as though that were not an expensive tax to collect. I have no great love for that tax, and I agree that it would be better to substitute petrol taxation for it.
I am reminded here of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North in Committee that there should be a five-gallons-a-month ration for everyone, at a lower price, which would have had the effect of giving a subsidy of £125 a year to every vehicle owner. But that was effectively demolished in Committee as a typical Liberal suggestion, which found no friends. However, the Government are now being more subtle if they intend to do what it is said they have in mind, namely, simply to abolish the road fund tax and increase the price of petrol still further. But such a move would at once bring petrol to about £1 a gallon by the time VAT and all the other things were added. That would be far too high, and there is no economic justification for it.
Before I come to the economics of the matter, I should refer to Amendment No. 3, in the name of the hon. Member for Goole, whose basic suggestion is that country dwellers should have 15 gallons of petrol a month at a lower rate. He does not say quite what the lower rate should be—admittedly, it is difficult to draft—and, although it might in principle be desirable, it would be appallingly difficult to work in practice.
All this business about the main place of residence of the owner being more than two milesby the shortest route using public highways1174 from the nearest urban district that was, would cause a little altercation, I am sure. It is hard enough to remember the present local government boundaries, let alone the previous boundaries, or what would be the shortest route by public highway to get two miles away. I am sure that it would all be rather difficult, and, what is more, other people's speedometers never seem to read the same as mine.
Moreover, I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's amendment would meet the case. A lot of people who live in the country may not need the concession. Equally, there are a lot of people living within two miles of an urban district that was who should jutifiably have it. I cannot, therefore, regard that as the right way to go about the highly desirable objective which the hon. Gentleman seeks.
From a constituency point of view, I entirely support the hon. Gentleman's objective. My constituents would all benefit. We have no urban district borough or county borough within miles of my constituency, and I am sure that they would all support it. Nevertheless, I cannot think that it would be either right or fair to go about it in that way.
Why is there this pressure from country districts for cheaper petrol? The immediate answer is that the price of petrol is too high. Those who have to live by motor cars, shop by them and go to work by them, those who have to do their business by means of road transport, whether they live in the country or the towns, will automatically find themselves completely disadvantaged by the high price of petrol. The right remedy is to stop loading the burden solely on petrol. My preferred solution would be that we should place a tax on the import of crude oil and that we should take some of the burden off petrol and put it on to fuel oil. It is crude oil we buy, not petrol. The petroleum statistics make it clear that if we were to cut 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. of the petrol consumed in this country it would not affect our take of crude oil. We need that amount to keep the factories and the power stations running, and we should need to buy just about as much as before the cut.
I now go further and examine the economic basis for this whole policy. We talk about the oil deficit and the non-oil 1175 deficit. There is a different attitude towards the oil deficit as compared with the non-oil deficit. The oil deficit is not our fault, or the fault of Ministers. It has nothing to do with this country; it just came up and hit us and we do not have to feel any guilt about it. On the non-oil deficit, however, which relates to such things as caviar, Japanese television sets and Mercedes cars, we may have a certain amount of responsibility and perhaps we should do something to reduce it. All this is totally fallacious thinking. It is all one deficit, and it is hideously big. We must address ourselves to controlling not just one part of it or one product out of which it arises.
If we have a deficit of £4,000 million, which is about the figure for the current year, we trace it to the fact that last year the Government had a deficit of about the same amount on its domestic borrowing requirement. If a Government print £4,000 million and give it to the British people, it follows that the people will spend it, that the goods will not be available in this country, and that they will spend it on importing goods from abroad. Here I pay a tribute to the Labour Party—one of the few that can be paid to it. Labour Members may go home tonight feeling secure in their political wisdom as a result of what I am about to say. It is that the Home Secretary, who used to play such a prominent part in our economic debates in 1969 and 1970, actually abolished the domestic deficit borrowing requirement and made it into a surplus. Hey presto, we had a surplus on current account a year later.
It follows, as far as I can see, that the Government's policy on the borrowing requirement, which we were discussing in the last amendment, is reflected in due course in the country's import bill and in the trade gap. If the Government think we are spending too much on imports, whether it be on oil or anything else, all they have to do is to reduce the domestic borrowing requirement and in due course they will find that the balance of trade will improve. I suspect that they know that to be true as well as I do.
If, therefore, these are the true facts—sketchily and briefly though I have put them in my desire to help the House to make progress through my self-restraint— 1176 why is it that the private motorist has to be clobbered? Why does he have to pay more than 70p a gallon for his petrol—a figure which might increase to £1 if the rumour on the tape turns out to be true? Why does the whole brunt have to fall on the private motorist? It is of no economic benefit to the Revenue that it should do so, since it could raise its money in more orthodox across-the-board methods. It is of no benefit to the balance of trade—which is mainly due to the Government's profligate economic policies—nor, so far as I can see, to the road programme, road safety, or any of the other highly desirable objectives which the Government may have in mind.
The answer is that in the mind of every good Socialist there is a thorough dislike of the private motorist. There is a hatred of the man who gets into his car, drives to work, leaves his car there and drives home in the evening. He does not fit into the mind of the planner who lays out tube lines, trains, buses and what is called public transport—those vast, empty charabancs which are trundled through the northern cities of our country. As people will go in their cars, because it is more convenient in every way and more sensible for them, they must be stopped. That is the argument. Therefore, we see the ruthless application of a policy of pricing them out of the market. The price of petrol is forced up to try to force people out of their cars and back into the empty public transport.
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says about the private motorist, but the curious thing is that all Ministers, top civil servants and heads of industry go to work in cars. There are 50 more cars at the disposal of Ministers and top civil servants than there were a few years ago.
§ Mr. Ridley
The right hon. Gentleman must agree that there is a difference. One must be fair. A Minister's car, a top industrialist's car or a civil servant's car is not paid for by the private individual; it is paid for by the Ministry or the industry concerned. Therefore, the position is not the same as that of the ordinary person who has to pay out of his private income to go to work in his own car. The situation is exemplified in Russia, where the only people who 1177 are allowed cars are the top commissars—the top members of the Communist Party—because it is essential for them to travel. The hon. Members for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) and Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Bates) are laughing. They are quite happy in this debate, because they will both have cars. So will the Chief Secretary and other Labour Members. It is the ordinary people in my constituency and my hon. Friends—
§ Mr. Sedgemore
Representing Luton, West, I assure the hon. Gentleman that if I had my way every citizen would have a car.
§ Mr. Ridley
I welcome a convert. I have always thought that the hon. Gentleman was tactile material. He is beginning to show that he is responding to the arguments to which he had to listen during those 160 hours of debate in Standing Committee. I think that with a little more patience he will once more become a reasonable citizen, prepared to understand how these things work.
I ask the House to accept the amendment and cease to persecute the private motorist on grounds which have nothing to do with economics or the saving of fuel, which have no economic justification or rationale but which are part of the desire of the Socialist and bureaucratic mind to make people's travelling habits conform to the way in which public transport runs. Those who believe in individual freedom, whether it is affected by the capital transfer tax or by the matter of transport, would be well advised to address themselves to bringing down the price of petrol, so that ordinary people can go about their business in motor cars if it suits them, without being priced out of the market by a Government who insist on planning every aspect of our lives.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
I support the amendment. I am the more moved to do so by the reports over the weekend and today about the Chancellor's intentions with regard to the price of petrol.
I genuinely believe that the Treasury as a whole, including the Ministers in charge of it, have no appreciation of what life is like in those parts of the country with no public transport. It must be remembered that in recent years public 1178 transport in many of the areas that some of us now represent was subsidised by the Treasury in one form or another. There were the social grants in respect of railway lines that have now been closed, and so savings have been made by the withdrawal of those grants. There were grants for public bus services also now being reduced and probably to be reduced still further with the rearrangement of the rate support grant. Already the Exchequer is considerably relieved of expenditure that it has incurred hitherto in order to maintain some form of public transport in the rural areas.
On top of that, the Treasury now comes along with these indiscriminate proposals. In principle, I do not oppose conservation measures, but these proposals are indiscriminate. The Government seem totally unaware of the true effect of an increase in VAT, both that allowed under the Bill and that projected in various leaks circulated in the newspapers in the last couple of days. An increase will cause serious hardship in rural communities.
Is the Treasury aware that the distributing oil companies in Britain are now imposing minimum delivery quantities on the petrol stations, which means that many of the smaller petrol stations are going out of business? Thus, in addition to the hardship that is caused by VAT, petrol is becoming unobtainable from many of the smaller stations.
I cite an example from my own constituency. It happens to affect me directly. The valley where I live is 25 or 30 miles long from the burgh town to the remote hillsides. Until a few weeks ago, there were two petrol filling stations, one seven miles and one about 20 miles from the town. Neither is now able to supply petrol. The oil companies imposed quantity limits below which a premium was charged. The profit margin that a small retailer could obtain does not meet the interest charges on the money that has to be borrowed to pay for a petrol delivery.
This is a serious social problem, not an economic problem, that the rural communities face. This is already one of the consequences that has occurred in the past few weeks of the imposition of the VAT surcharge. The serious Government proposal that has been widely circulated 1179 today—the story is on the tapes again tonight—that the Government are considering the abolition of the £25 excise tax and proposing a still further imposition of petrol tax instead would further drive the rural communities into total despair.
It is no good the Chancellor applying his own experience from Leeds or London to the communities of which I speak. Many people who commute long distances to work from the rural areas will simply have to go on the dole in order to be better off, because they will be unable to afford the cost of travel to work. For them there is no public transport. It is no good saying that this is a conservation measure designed to force people to use public transport. It cannot be used if it does not exist. Farmers in the remoter communities will find it difficult to get employees and their families to live in such areas simply because of the cost of living there.
I appeal to the Treasury to think again about this VAT imposition. The two-tier petrol pricing system that they are studying will make no sense if they keep this indiscriminate measure. It must be a measure biased in favour of the rural communities if they are to survive as we have known them.
§ Dr. Edmund Marshall (Goole)
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) referred in his closing remarks to the need for some kind of two-tier pricing system for petrol which was biased in favour of rural communities. I suggest that this is exactly what Amendment No. 3 standing in my name is designed to effect. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) referred to a number of details in my amendment. I shall deal with his comments in the course of my speech.
There is in the rural areas a particularly severe need for social justice for the motorist. It is not necessarily the rich motorist, but rather the motorist of modest means who depends on his own car, often an old vehicle which needs a lot of maintenance and repair, to get to and from work, to the shops and other places of public business. Regrettably there are increasingly large areas of the country where public transport is conspicuous by its absence, where people are 1180 dependent on their own means of transport.
This amendment will enable a motorist living in a rural area to have 15 gallons of petrol each month on which VAT would be levied at the old rate of 8 per cent., rather than the new rate of 25 per cent. To that extent the steep rise in the cost of petrol would be mitigated.
I recognise that one difficulty in formulating such a proposal is to define exactly what we mean by a rural area. I find it impossible to do this perfectly. There has been an attempt to do it in the amendment by reference to the old local government areas of England and Wales and to the corresponding areas in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Although the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury may have difficulty in remembering what the boundaries were, they are at least on the maps and people can refer to them and work out the exact distances that they live from what was the nearest London borough, county borough, borough or urban district under the local government system before 1st April 1974.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
While I recognise the inability satisfactorily to define "rural area", may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman does not on the other hand recognise that the old local government areas were not very helpful and that, for instance the Lake District or a large part of it was defined as an urban district? Is he aware that the top of Helvellyn by that definition would not have qualified for rural relief? Is that not a reason for supporting the first of these two amendments?
§ Dr. Marshall
I recognise the difficulty the hon. Gentleman raises. Conversely, there are many areas which were rural districts and which are largely urban in character. I recognise that the definition of a rural area given in my amendment is not perfect. If someone can provide a better definition I am prepared to listen to him. I am merely putting forward the best definition I have so far been capable of making.
Let me say a word about the practical application of the amendment. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury said that it would be difficult to apply. I suspect that officials in the Inland 1181 Revenue would look in some horror on the idea of having to issue coupons just for motorists in rural areas. They would not want to take the initiative in supplying such coupons. Surely an easier method of implementing the proposal would be to put initiative upon the motorist, and for him to be able to reclaim the extra VAT—the difference between 8 per cent. and 25 per cent.—that he will have paid on the first 15 gallons of petrol bought each month.
The procedure for doing that would simply be to make available application forms for the private motorist to complete and return, on either a monthly or a quarterly basis, to the Inland Revenue for the return of VAT. On that form he could give all the details necessary to substantiate his claim. He would need to return the receipts for the petrol he had purchased and at least on the first occasion that he made a claim he would need to include his vehicle's registration book.
To meet the point made by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, if there are people in rural areas who feel that they do not need this help—perhaps the hon. Gentleman is one of them; I do not know where his main place of residence it—they need not send in an application form.
§ Mr. Ridley
Will the hon. Gentleman say what he means by "main place of residence"? Is it where one does not pay capital gains tax on one's house? What has the hon. Gentleman in mind? My main place of residence is in the country. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman's main place of residence is.
§ Dr. Marshall
My main place of residence is in an urban area. I can therefore immediately disclaim any personal interest in the amendment. "Main place of residence" is a term which occurs in at least one other place in tax legislation.
My amendment is not beyond the bounds of practicality and I hope that it will be considered by those who are thinking about possibilities of two-tier petrol pricing. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to tell us more fully what the Government's policy is on two-tier petrol pricing. On 19th December 1182 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated in answer to a Question that the Government were considering such a scheme, but since then no information has emerged from Government Departments. It seems that the Government have turned their back on the idea of petrol rationing and that they are instead trying to use various mechanisms involving the pricing of petrol. If the Government are to be effective, they had better act soon.
§ Mr. Lawson
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
§ Dr. Marshall
I am about to finish.
§ Mr. Lawson
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down—
§ Dr. Marshall
No. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has been a Member long enough to realise that hon. Members who wish to intervene must wait for the Member speaking to give way.
I hope that in reply my right hon. Friend will be able to tell us the Government's policy on this problem. My amendment represents one way of dealing with it.
§ Mr. Lawson
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down—
§ Mr. Speaker
Sir John Hall.
§ Sir John Hall (Wycombe)
I support the amendment so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), partly because of my concern about the burden of tax borne by so many people and partly because of my anxiety on hearing tonight for the first time of the proposals which the Government apparently have in mind to remove the present vehicle tax and instead to increase the tax on petrol. Against that background the Government should make clear exactly what is their policy for petrol and fuel tax as a whole.
It has been suggested that the Government might have in mind the discouragement of the use of petrol so as to save on our import bill, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury said, the proportion of petrol in every imported barrel of crude oil is comparatively modest, so that we should not achieve much import saving by increasing the price of petrol. Motorists who depend on their cars and 1183 to whom a car is an essential part of daily life will continue to use their cars despite the price of petrol. All that will happen is that they will demand ever-increasing wages to meet the cost.
If, on the other hand, the Government's purpose is to discourage the use of private vehicles, they are not likely to achieve that unless they take far more effective steps to improve public transport. Three years ago the Select Committee on Expenditure submitted a report, which was debated by the House, suggesting how public transport facilities could be improved to a point at which more people would be encouraged to leave their cars at home, especially commuters, and instead to use public service facilities. If the Government have something of that kind in mind, the first essential is to concentrate on improving public services and not to discourage the use of cars by the imposition of a penal petrol tax.
In my constituency, which is just over 30 miles from London, many areas are without transport facilities. It is odd to reflect that within such a comparatively short distance of a large city such as London there are people living in hamlets and villages who have no transport except for their private motor vehicle. I live in a hamlet in which there is no bus connection to the nearest town. People with no private car either have to beg a lift or to walk three miles to the nearest bus route to get to the neighbouring main town. That applies to many areas within easy reach of main cities.
The Government do not appreciate the extent to which ordinary people rely upon the use of their cars. Where a family has one car the wife will often drive her husband to the station in the morning and thereafter she is dependent on the car to do her shopping and to take her children to school. Without it she would be completely housebound and would be unable to continue to live in that area. The effect of increasing the cost of travel in country areas will be to drive people into the towns and to make it even more difficult for people to live in rural areas. I beg the Minister to have this in mind in considering the tax.
1184 Apart from supporting the amendment, which is designed to reduce the existing tax, I hope and pray that there is no truth in the rumour that the tax is likely to be increased. I hope that the Paymaster-General will categorically deny that there is any truth in the statements that have been made to the effect that he intends to increase the petrol tax.
§ Mr. Grimond
I rise to support the amendment. This is a serious matter in the north of Scotland and in my island constituency. People have to use private transport to get to work, or to get to market, which for the farmer is the equivalent of getting to work. There is no question of cutting down on pleasure, nor do these people have any transport provided for them by their employers.
In answer to a Question I was told that the number of Government cars had risen by 50 in recent years and there was no proposal to reduce the number. We have all this oil crisis and so on, yet the Government do not intend to reduce their transport by one vehicle. What is more, they have public transport at their disposal. How many Ministers come to work in London on public transport? But at the same time, it is supposed that people in Orkney and Shetland and in the North of Scotland who have no public transport should walk to work. We have to remember that there is no tax relief against the cost of getting to work in a car.
It may be argued, why do they live so far from their work? The answer is that there is no other housing. If people are prevented from moving about the country in the North of Scotland and in my constituency, living there becomes totally uneconomic. The result will be large additions to already long housing lists or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) said, people will prefer to go on public assistance. The situation is nearing the point where in areas of low wages it pays people to be on the dole rather than to pay this constantly increasing rate for petrol.
I want also to support what was said by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury about the general thinking behind this proposal. It is ill-conceived 1185 both from the point of view of national economics and from that of the countryside. When I regularly meet Ministers travelling on the tube lines in London, I shall believe that there is something in the argument about public transport. Even then, I shall expect the Government to provide some public transport in constituencies such as my own.
§ Mr. Evelyn King (Dorset, South)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on his amendment and on the way in which he moved it. I hope that he will press it to a Division, because clearly it is of great interest to many constituencies.
This is part of the growing discrimination against the countryman by the townsman. It exists in the case of rates and in that of wage levels, and nowhere does it exist more than in the case of transport.
I say again what I said last week in the House. It is now some four years since I first wrote to the then Minister about the possibility of mini-buses, postal buses and other forms of assistance to rural transport. I received a very charming letter back recommending all these ideas. I wrote again last week and I received practically the same letter back. But in the four years nothing has happened.
This amendment provides us with an opportunity to remedy the injustices which exist. They are injustices based upon a pattern of the past which no longer obtains. My mind goes at once in my own constituency to the nuclear station at Winfrith, which is in the depth of the countryside. When it was first proposed, there was much opposition to it. One of the conditions upon which it was decided that it could be erected was that there should be no conurbation around it. It was said that the thousands of people who worked there in modern conditions, with easy means of transport, could scatter in the surrounding villages and live in Weymouth, Bournemouth, Poole and travel daily to their work. Those were conditions which employees at Winfrith accepted and, perfectly fairly, they thought that they would last for their working lives. Suddenly, they find that buses have been removed wholesale. The railway from Swanage to Wareham has disappeared altogether. More rail closures are threatened. The one and only 1186 means of transport to get to work, the motor car, is being priced out of their means.
I appeal to the Minister to understand this difference between the townsman and the countryman of which the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) spoke. In a dozen different ways the countryman is being penalised. The countryman's wages are being reduced by this means in a way in which the townsman's are not.
I instanced Winfrith. I could have instanced the Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland and a dozen other rural centres of employment where employees will soon endure great hardship. This amendment may or may not be the best way to reduce that hardship. But the time has come when transport must be made easier for countrymen and rural dwellers.
I have no doubt. I am sure that the Minister has no doubt. Therefore, I hope that the hon. Member for Goole will press his amendment to a Division. It may be that he will win.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)
I should like to follow what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. King) by congratulating the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on raising the difficult problem of a two-tier price structure for petrol. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his courage in going into this subject, because he has discovered the difficulties of trying to produce any practical and fair method by which it can be put into practice.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman's motives, because he has a constituency which is very much like my own, with constituents who appreciate the need for economy in the use of fuel but who feel that the present use of the price mechanism in the blunt way in which it is being used is unfair and that there are sections of the population which are much more adversely affected by the price mechanism than others and there is no rhyme or reason in the way in which it applies.
The hon. Gentleman has chosen to try to define the rural areas of England—a substantial part of my constituency comes into that category—to give a special reduced tax ration of petrol in those areas. 1187 I regret that, having looked at the amendment, I have to say that although it would benefit parts of my constituency, it highlights the problem of a two-tier petrol system because as soon as one starts defining various tiers—in this case geographically—one creates fresh unfairnesses and anomalies.
The hon. Gentleman has used the old local government boundaries, irrational as they were, as a basis for the amendment. That may make a great deal of sense on the ground in Goole, but if he looks at a map of Nottinghamshire he will see that it does not. I should have to explain to the inhabitants of Ruddington and Tollerton that they do not qualify for a special allowance, whereas similar villages a mile away would get the 15 gallon reduced rate. The hon. Gentleman's method of choosing a geographical distinction is not accurate. I also find it difficult to see how drawing any geographical boundaries will meet the case.
I echo all that was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South about the problems of rural areas, but there are unfairnesses within the urban areas, too. If there is a two-tier petrol system, one has to try to direct it to the individual needs and circumstances of motorists. A geographical division does not meet the point. In urban areas the worst affected are those on shift work who live in areas where there is a good bus service for most of the day but not at the time when they have to go to work. They find that petrol at 75p a gallon is intolerable. To raise the price to £1 a gallon would have a significant effect upon their living standards and income.
There is another important distinction between motorists which determines how badly affected they are by the present increase in prices. The price increases introduced by the Government have badly affected the wholly private motorist who is running his car out of his own taxed income. A high proportion of motorists are not in that position. They run a car for which they receive an allowance for petrol, and probably the car itself is provided by an employer. Using the price mechanism to try to ration the use of petrol causes hardship to that one section of motorists alone who provide their own cars and receive no outside 1188 help. I see difficulties with a two-tier system, because using geographical limits is not fair. The shift worker cannot be coped with, and it is difficult to distinguish between the genuine private motorist and the man who has a car and petrol provided by his firm.
There is a further snag in all these schemes, and that is that any system which gives 15 gallons a month to those within whatever category one chooses is somewhat unfair in the assistance that it provides. If the amendment were to be accepted, in my rural area those who would benefit most would be those who made limited use of their cars and the 15 gallons a month enabled them to cope with shopping in the nearest village and making a few other journeys.
What about the people in the more remote villages who need their cars to enable them to get to work and who find a journey of 50 miles a day by no means unusual travelling to and from the nearest city. They would exhaust their allowance in nine days and find that they were much less advantaged from the hon. Gentleman's proposal than those with much less cause to be affected in the same villages as themselves.
Having said all that, having congratulated the hon. Member for Goole, and having gone through what seemed to be the difficulties of his proposal, I come back to where my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) began. What unites my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Goole is the discovery that when one tries to use extra rates of VAT and the crude price mechanism on petrol as a method of conserving fuel and as a method of curing the balance of payments deficit one has to bear in mind that it is an acutely unfair way of trying to solve the problem.
We may well have reached the stage, even if past increases in the price of petrol might have been justified, where to go much further would be intolerable. This nation has to cut its oil imports and its fuel bill. It probably has to encourage public transport and some lessening of the use of the motor car. However, if the rumours in the Press are correct and we are to go on to £1 a gallon, we shall reach a stage where we shall be fiercely penalising an unfairly chosen section of the population. I trust that this debate will 1189 produce a reply from the Paymaster-General which will assure us that the Government realise that the use of VAT on petrol has gone as far as it can possibly be taken.
§ Mr. Michael Latham (Melton)
Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. King), I cannot congratulate the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on his amendment. However, I congratulate him on the force with which he presented it. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) in that the right way to deal with the problem is by acting on the VAT element rather than by the sort of scheme which the hon. Member for Goole advanced.
My first point concerns the effect on people living in rural areas. In my constituency the town of Melton Mowbray has a level of commuting by car similar to that of the constituencies in Kent. There is not enough work in Melton so the people have to drive to Leicester or use the inadequate bus service. If they drive to Leicester it costs them, given the present price of petrol, £4.50 to £5 a week. That is a substantial amount. It is within the Government's power to accept Amendment No. 2 and to help my constituents. I hope that they will feel able to do something of that sort.
I believe that any two-tier pricing system should be resisted not only because it is unfair but because it is unworkable. The hon. Member for Goole did not mention the effect on the garages which have to sell the petrol. One of my reasons for being unhappy about the substantial increase to 25 per cent. of VAT on petrol was that the burden fell most heavily on the garages. That should be firmly put on the record. The result of the proposals of the hon. Member for Goole as regards a two-tier pricing system would be an increased burden upon the garages. The Motor Agents' Association Limited has made it clear that it sees no reason for its members to implement such a scheme. It would involve them in considerable expense, enormous administrative costs and problems for which they are not qualified.
I hope that when Ministers consider a two-tier pricing system they will talk to the people who would have to operate it 1190 rather than merely announcing a decision. That is what happened shortly before Christmas. They allowed oil prices to be increased and imposed a 48-hour freeze on the price of petrol at the pumps. That meant that most garages ran out of petrol very quickly. That was an example of nonsense within a Department. It is essential that the Government take some constructive action to help rural dwellers with the price of petrol. It is essential that that help is offered now. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury has put forward a constructive proposal which I hope the House will approve.
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)
I am surprised and shocked to hear the latest rumours of a further increase in the price of petrol. I am shocked for two reasons. First, I am shocked because this means in effect rationing by price. That is a very un-Socialist course of conduct. I hope the Government are aware of that. Secondly, am I not right in thinking that before the General Election just over a year ago the Leader of the House was calling for a decrease in the tax on petrol? Am I not right in thinking that the Prime Minister joined in the chrous? What a U-turn we are about to have if these rumours are true.
What will happen to the country areas? I have every sympathy with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). In my part of North Wales the situation is similar to that in Scotland. We have works in the middle of my constituency that are very remote indeed from the nearest towns. If the price of petrol goes up as envisaged, there will be workers in my constituency paying at least £2 a day for petrol to travel to and from work. The conclusion will be migration from the country areas to the towns, exacerbating all the problems of housing and so on.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), I cannot imagine what is in the Government's mind as the ultimate purpose of this. I can only agree that what they want is far more public transport and the disappearance of the private motorist. I would warn them that the public transport system is not prepared to cope with the abolition of the private motorist.
§ Mr. Nott
It is not the intention of the official Opposition to reduce the Government's revenue when, as a result of their profligate public spending, they face a mounting borrowing requirement, but we certainly believe that the principles behind this clause deserve scrutiny and some of the strong criticism which has come from this side. In this respect, this short debate and, more significantly, the debate in Committee, have done a great deal to shed further darkness on the Government's ideas for energy-saving. The debate on energy the other day also did nothing to shed light on the Government's intentions.
The clause embodies a crude method of rationing petrol by price, but for the amount of energy that it is likely to save it will cause a significant suffering to the disabled and the elderly, to rural areas and to particularly low income areas without public transport. There is already severe distress among people who need cars to get to work, to take children to school and to shop in nearby villages. For what? I understand that petrol accounts for only 14 per cent. of the total energy consumption. Since the major users of petrol will be able to treat the VAT as an input tax, the total energy saved will be very small.
The clause will have the most arbitrary effects. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) made the valid point that we are heaping the price on petrol all the time while continuing to subsidise power generation, which consumes fuel oil, which is by far the major proportion of our oil imports, in vast quantities. I must agree with my hon. Friend, who moved the amendment in an admirable way, that the Socialists have a persecution mania about the private motorist. When last in office, they continually increased purchase tax on vehicles and when we came into office we continually reduced it. Now the spiralling cost of private motoring is starting once again under another Labour Government.
It is true, as the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said, that the margin between the incentive to travel to work and actually earn a wage and to stay at home on social 1192 security benefits in the rural areas has now narrowed almost to nothing.
Hon. Members opposite advocate a two-tier pricing system. I find it very hard to believe that the solution of the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) to the very real problems he has described is the right one. Anything bureaucratic, involving ration books and more civil servants, and increasing burdens on the small garage owner, is likely to appeal to the Socialist mind, but it can hardly appeal to the Opposition. To get the benefits of a two-tier system into the hands of those who deserve them—my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) gave an example of those in urban areas who work on a late shift—is a very difficult task.
I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not comment on the distinction between the oil deficit and the non-oil-deficit. I rather agree that we have heard a little too much about the oil deficit. When shall we start hearing about the timber deficit and the caviar deficit? They are all part of the same overall deficit on the balance of payments. However, we want to press ahead with the consideration of the Bill.
In conclusion I want to stress one or two points. There is very grave concern about the massive increases which have been placed on the price of petrol, and there is no real understanding—certainly in the rural area which I represent—of what the Government are intending to do. There are rural areas with virtually no public transport left. My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. King) made the point on that matter extremely well. In Cornwall—if I may be so bold as to mention that admirable country, nation, or county—the cost of travelling to and from work by car is the greatest single matter of concern at present, apart from inflation itself.
As has been mentioned, the disposable income of ordinary people in the rural areas has suffered dramatically as a result of this measure. It can quite easily be substantiated that the adverse social effects of this clause far exceed its economic benefits.
I sum up this short debate by saying that this very large increase in VAT is 1193 discriminatory; it hits some of the weakest sections of the community; it will encourage rural depopulation, and will cause considerable hardship among elderly motorists. Many of our constituents have said to us recently that the one thing they thought they would enjoy during retirement was a little motoring. Now the elderly pensioner living on a fixed income is hardly able to enjoy that pleasure at all.
I hope that the Paymaster-General will give a substantive answer indicating the Government's understanding of the concern felt in the rural areas. We shall listen to what he has to say with great interest and concern.
§ Mr. Dell
In these two amendments we have two proposed ways of dealing with an undoubtedly difficult and serious problem. That is the problem of people who have to make extensive use of cars, notably in rural areas but also in other circumstances. But it appears, at any rate in the view of the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott), that both of the methods are unsuitable for the purpose. I agree with him that both methods are unsuitable. The hon. Gentleman said that he did not intend to deprive the Government of revenue, which would be a consequence if the first of these amendments were accepted. He said that he found the second amendment bureaucratic and unsuitable.
In addition, there has been the general economic argument, advanced particularly by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). Associated with all this has been a certain amount of typical verbiage, which we get occasionally from right hon, and hon. Members of the Opposition, about persecution manias on the part of Socialists about the private motorist and so on. I do not notice it. That sort of argument does not advance the case that the Opposition are presenting.
One of the matters which has evidently stimulated some of the concern expressed in the debate has been comment in the Press about certain proposals which it is stated the Government are considering. I wish that right hon. and hon. Members would wait until decisions are announced before accusing us of unsuitable policies. In answer to the hon. Member for 1194 Wycombe (Sir John Hall), I cannot make any statement about the matter.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) commented on the problem of minimum deliveries imposed by the oil companies. I shall be happy to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy to look at this point and see whether we can make any comment.
§ Sir John Hall
Would not the right. hon. Gentleman agree that the point of raising these matters before a decision is announced is to ensure that a decision is not announced?
§ Mr. Dell
I thought that the hon. Gentleman had that in mind in raising the point. I was referring to the bitterness of his accusations rather than to the cautionary words that he thought it right to utter.
The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury advanced a general economic argument which, fortunately, he did not take to its absolutely logical conclusion. There is one point in his amendment which the hon. Gentleman did not argue, namely, why he is proposing a reduction from 25 per cent. to 15 per cent. I should have thought that the logic of the argument he presented was that it should be a general VAT rate reduced to 8 per cent. I can only take this moderation on his part in presenting his argument to represent a compromise between his wish to reduce the VAT rate and his wish not unduly to increase the public sector borrowing requirement. Although the hon. Gentleman did not inform us that that was the reason for his moderation, I take it so to be.
The hon. Gentleman accused the Government of being illogical in increasing the price of one form of energy but continuing to subsidise electricity. The Government have indicated their intention and policy to end the subsidising of electricity.
§ Mr. Lawson
§ Mr. Dell
The Government have announced their intention. A 30 per cent. increase is now being considered by the Price Commission.
The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury also attacked this proposal on the ground that the price of petrol was 1195 higher in Britain as a percentage of the average wage than it was in certain European countries. That may be true. The absolute price is certainly lower than it is in many European countries. On the other hand, I regret the fact, and I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman with his views would accept the fact, that it is, unfortunately, impossible to relate prices to the wealth per head of the population. The question we have to consider is whether this proposal is right on its own merits and not whether it changes the relationship between the price of a certain commodity and the average earnings in Britain.
The hon. Gentleman argued about the irrelevance of the distinction that is so often drawn between the oil deficit and the non-oil deficit. We have to pay for both. That does not mean that it is not right in certain circumstances to take differential action in respect of one particular part of that deficit that has been forced upon us by the increase in the price of oil.
Of course, the first objective of the increase in VAT on petrol has been to encourage economy in the use of petrol. I do not deny that the results of this measure are likely to be small, but the whole policy of energy conservation consists of bringing together a series of small savings with the intention of their together having some significant effect on the total problem. This helps with energy conservation. It helps, therefore, with the balance of Payments problem even if only to a small degree.
There seems to be some sign that the use of the price mechanism in this way has led to some reductions in the consumption of motor spirit. For example, the Institute of Petroleum Retailers last December said that sales of motor spirit were down 4.4 per cent. or nearly 168 million gallons in the first nine months of last year compared with the corresponding figure for 1973. That may have been due to various factors, but among them I suggest is likely to have been the imposition of the 10 per cent. VAT on road fuel last March. More recently there have been figures in the national Press suggesting that 3½ per cent. less petrol has been purchased in Britain since the price increase in December. Therefore, 1196 there are savings; they may not be massive savings, but they are nevertheless of significance.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
Is not petroleum a very small proportion of the total amount of oil used? Does this mean that there is a significant saving in the use of fuel oil in this country?
§ Mr. Dell
Yes. I have said that I am not claiming that the savings as a result are large, but I pointed out that the whole programme of conservation consists of a number of actions taken by the Government which will lead to savings which, although small, will become appreciable in the total.
The first objective of this measure is to encourage economy in the use of oil and so help the balance of payments. The second objective is to raise money and assist with the public sector borrowing requirement, on which hon. Members opposite so frequently comment. I know that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury tried to meet this point by suggesting in the amendment that was not selected that there should be an increase in VAT from 8 per cent. to 9 per cent. But as it was not selected, I hope he will not tonight suggest imposing an even heavier public sector borrowing requirement on the Government. There is a serious practical objection to his proposal. If this amendment were passed, we would need to refund the difference between 15 per cent. and 25 per cent. since 18th December. I do not know how that would be done. It would create a serious practical problem.
My hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) nevertheless raised the point of the impact of this increase in VAT on rural communities, and he said that there was a considerable problem with which he wished to deal. Many hon. Members have indicated that there are practical problems in what he proposed, and I think he appreciates that this is so. He himself suggested some ways out of these practical problems that had been put to him.
For example, one way in which this suggestion of his might be tackled would be by issuing coupons to eligible persons for the 15 gallons. That could lead to abuse, and he therefore came to the conclusion that that was not a suitable ways 1197 of proceeding. He suggested as an alternative that the motorist himself could reclaim the sum of money which he had paid for the 15 gallons. I suggest that that still would be open to abuse. His proposal would assist better-off people as well as others, and it would particularly assist people with two houses, one in an urban area and one in a rural area, and who would no doubt choose from which address they bought their petrol.
Nevertheless we are considering a two-tier system, as the House knows. My hon. Friend asked whether I could give any further information on that. I am afraid that I cannot give any further information at present. The consideration continues.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
In the interests of brevity, I did not intervene in the debate. At the same time as the right hon. Gentleman is giving consideration to the idea of two-tier pricing of petrol to resolve the admitted difficulties of rural areas, would he consider a much more simple solution, which is to make essential travel to work expenses liable for tax purposes? This would provide a flexible system and would enable the Inland Revenue authorities to allow such necessary travel work. In addition, it would not raise possible problems of definition which would arise with other two-tier systems.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Dell
That proposal has been considered many times and I believe has been rejected by the Conservatives as well as by this Government.
It has been announced that the Government are considering this problem. My
§ right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has said that consultations are going on with the bus companies and with local authorities to see in what ways the Government can help in relieving the problem which undoubtedly exists. In addition, there are the new bus grants and the relief of bus fuel tax which are contributions to dealing with this problem.
§ I am not suggesting that we have solved this problem. The speeches from both sides of the House have shown that not to be the case. The consultations of the Secretary of State for the Environment are continuing and I hope that they will show results which we can present to the House.
§ I reject my hon. Friend's proposal on the grounds of practicality. I reject that of the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury first, because of its cost, secondly, because of the impracticality of refunding money which would be due, and, thirdly, because it would be contrary to the Government's policy for energy conservation. I hope therefore that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury will withdraw his amendment and that my hon. Friend will not press his. If not, I must ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to vote against the amendment.
§ Mr. Ridley
In view of the inordinate length of the reply and in a desire to make progress, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 54, Noes 275.1201
|Division No. 116.]||AYES||[10.48 p.m.|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Brotherton, Michael||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Corrie, John||Latham, Michael (Melton)||Spence, John|
|Costain, A. P.||Lawrence, Ivan||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Crawford, Douglas||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Durant, Tony||MacCormick, Iain||Thompson, George|
|Emery, Peter||McCusker, H.||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Macfarlane, Neil||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Watt, Hamish|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Molyneaux, James||Welsh, Andrew|
|Fry, Peter||Morgan, Geraint||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Gower Sir Raymond (Barry)||Mudd, David||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Grylls, Michael||Penhaligon, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hawkins, Paul||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Mr. A. J. Beith and|
|Henderson Douglas||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Mr. David Steel.|
|Abse, Leo||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Marquand, David|
|Allaun, Frank||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Anderson, Donald||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Archer, Peter||Ford, Ben||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Forrester, John||Meacher, Michael|
|Ashton, Joe||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Fraser John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Freeson, Reginald||Millan, Bruce|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)|
|Bates, Alf||Gilbert Dr John||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Ginsburg, David||Molloy, William|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Golding, John||Moonman, Eric|
|Bishop, E. S.||Gould, Bryan||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Gourlay, Harry||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Boardman, H.||Graham, Ted||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Booth, Albert||Grant, John (Islington C)||Moyle, Roland|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Grocott, Bruce||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Hamling, William||Newens, Stanley|
|Bradley, Tom||Hardy, Peter||Noble, Mike|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Harper, Joseph||Oakes, Gordon|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Ogden, Eric|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Hart, Rt Hon Judith||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Hatton, Frank||O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian|
|Buchan, Norman||Hayman, Mrs Helene||Orbach, Maurice|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Ovenden, John|
|Campbell, Ian||Heffer, Eric S.||Owen, Dr David|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hooley, Frank||Padley, Walter|
|Cant, R. B.||Horam, John||Palmer, Arthur|
|Carmichael, Neil||Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Park, George|
|Carter, Ray||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Parker, John|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Huckfield, Les||Parry, Robert|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Pendry, Tom|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Perry, Ernest|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Cohen, Stanley||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Coleman, Donald||Hunter, Adam||Prescott, John|
|Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jackson Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Radice, Giles|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Janner, Greville||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Corbett, Robin||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Jeger, Mrs Lena||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Cronin, John||John Brynmor||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Cryer, Bob||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. (Whiteh)||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Roper, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Davidson, Arthur||Judd, Frank||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Kaufman, Gerald||Rowlands, Ted|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Kelley Richard||Ryman, John|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kerr, Russell||Sandelson, Neville|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Deakins, Eric||Kinnock, Neil||Selby, Harry|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Lambie, David||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Lamborn, Harry||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Lamond, James||Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)|
|Dempsey, James||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Doig, Peter||Leadbitter, Ted||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lee, John||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Sillars, James|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lipton, Marcus||Silverman, Julius|
|Dunn, James A.||Litterick, Tom||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dunnett, Jack||Loyden, Eddie||Small, William|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Luard, Evan||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Snape, Peter|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Edge, Geoff||Mabon, Dr J. Dickson||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||McCartney, Hugh||Stallard, A. W.|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Stoddart, David|
|English, Michael||Mackenzie, Gregor||Stott, Roger|
|Ennals, David||Mackintosh, John P.||Strang, Gavin|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Maclennan, Robert||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.|
|Evans, John (Newton)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Swain, Thomas|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||McNamara, Kevin||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Madden, Max||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Magee, Bryan||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Flannery, Martin||Marks, Kenneth||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Watkinson, John||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Tierney, Sydney||Weitzman, David||Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)|
|Tinn, James||Wellbeloved, James||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Tomlinson, John||White, Frank R. (Bury)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Torney, Tom||White, James (Pollok)||Woodall, Alec|
|Urwin, T. W.||Whitehead, Phillip||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)||Whitlock, William||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Walker, Terry (Kingswood)||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ward, Michael||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Watkins, David||Williams, W. T. (Warringon)||Mr. Laurie Pavitt.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.