HL Deb 29 April 1969 vol 301 cc670-2

2.33 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing may I say that I have no personal interest in this Question as I live near a convenient main-line railway station.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the cost of running a car of average size is intended to be covered by the present allowance of 4½d. per mile which Peers may claim after using their car in order to attend the House.]


My Lords, we congratulate the noble Lord. The Answer to his Question is, no particular proportion. The allowance is intended to cover the cost of petrol alone, which it still does.


My Lords, would it not be more convenient and appropriate if the House followed the normal practice in business and, I believe, in the Civil Service, where the basis of the recovery of cost of travel bears some relation to the total cost?


My Lords, this matter has been discussed on a number of occasions and if the noble Lord wishes to go further into it I would refer him to the Answer to a Starred Question on May 16, 1961, by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. Since then, there has been the Report of the Lawrence Committee which put forward proposals which were debated fully in this House, and it was thought that this was the most convenient way to deal with the matter. But, obviously, I am very willing to listen to any views noble Lords have, although perhaps this is not the moment to debate the matter.


My Lords, does not my noble friend think that, as prices have gone up since the 4½ guineas was fixed, and some of us travel 300 miles to come here every week and have to pay for lodgings in a hotel, the allowance ought now to be reconsidered?


My Lords, I understand that my noble friend's supplementary question relates to the expenses allowance, which I regret to say is another matter. I have, however, taken note of what he has said.


My Lords, does not my noble friend agree that if 4½d. was the correct sum to cover the cost of petrol in 1961 it cannot be so to-day?


, I am happy to say that every question I have so far been asked I had in fact anticipated. There is, of course, some substance in my noble friend's point, and it may not have escaped the attention of noble Lords that this matter has also been considered in another place. Indeed, I should mention that my noble friend Lord Beswick has been in touch with the Leader of another place where they have the same arrangements in regard to petrol allowances.


My Lords, having a considerable interest in this matter, because since my railway was removed I have to motor some 50 to 60 miles to get anywhere near either a railway or an airport, may I ask the noble Lord whether he could speed up these inquiries since I can assure him that 4½d. does not cover anything like the cost of motoring 100 to 120 miles every time one has to catch a train?


My Lords, I must stress to noble Lords that this allowance is intended to cover the cost of petrol alone. This was the decision to which Parliament came. I understand that the noble Baroness is much more concerned with the return journey; that her car has to be driven home so that it may be used when she is not using it herself. Whether her allowance covers the cost of petrol depends on the size of her car. If she travels in a mini, it should more than cover the journey both ways.


My Lords, can the noble Lord tell us by how much the purchase tax on petrol has increased since the rate of 4½d. a mile was first fixed?


My Lords, I thought that this question might be asked and I decided that it went too far wide of the original Question to need a reply.