§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE EARL OF LYTTON)
My Lords, this Bill is rendered necessary by the new system of taxing road vehicles. which was introduced by the Finance Act of this year. Instead of a petrol tax as hitherto a horse-power or weight tax was introduced by that Act, and it is. necessary for the Ministry of Transport to have powers to collect and use the money which will become available on January I when the petrol tax ceases. The Bill follows the recommendation of the Departmental Committee on the Taxation and Regulation of Road Vehicles of last March. The registration of identification and number plates and marks, and the form and construction of vehicles and their use upon roads, are already the subject of Departmental Regulations and it is not proposed. to depart in principle from this system in the Bill.
All that the Bill does is to provide for more efficient and simpler methods of collecting the duty and of reorganising and co-ordinating the existing powers over road vehicles, to secure the proper registration and record of vehicles, and to prevent evasion of taxes. That being so, your Lordships will probably agree that all I need do at this stage is to refer very briefly to one or two clauses in the Bill. The Bill introduces no new principle, and as it was passed through the House of Commons without a Division at any stage I think I may claim for it that it is am uncontroversial Bill.
Clause 1 provides that the duties on licences as from January 1 next are to be, levied by County Councils. The effect of this will be to substitute for the present dual procedure of registration with one authority and payment of tax to another, a combined system under which one form will be filled up and the registration of the 579 licence for the vehicle will be automatically effected on submission to the county council of that form with the amount of the duty payable. Clause 3 establishes a road fund in place of the road improvements grant which was previously administered by the Road Board; and, taken together, the effect of Clauses 2 and 3 will be that the whole of the proceeds of the licences will be paid into the Exchequer and the balance, after the deduction of a sum of approximately £600,000 payable to the local taxation accounts in England and Scotland, will be carried to the Road Fund for the construction, maintenance, and improvement of roads. It is estimated that the new duties will produce about £8,000,000 per annum.
Clause 5 prescribes the procedure for obtaining licences. These licences will in future have to be affixed to and exhibited on all vehicles in the manner to be prescribed by Order in Council. Clause 6 provides that in future the vehicle will have to be registered in the county in which the owner resides, and imposes penalties for allowing the number plate to become obscure. Clause 10 makes provision for the issue of a general license to a manufacturer or dealer, so that he will not be required to obtain a separate license for each vehicle in his establishment. The only other Clause to which I need make reference at this stage is Clause 13, which deals with the registration of vehicles. Registration books in the form of folding cards will in future be issued to each license holder. They will contain his name and address, and it is intended that they should be kept by the owner apart from the card. It is hoped that this new system, by which the license will be attached to the car and the registration book will be kept by the owner, will not only be a convenience when a car changes hands, but will also be a precaution against the theft of motor-cars. The Bill contains a number of miscellaneous provisions, but I do not think it is necessary at this stage to refer to them. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved accordingly and, on Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.