HL Deb 21 October 1981 vol 424 cc756-7

2.52 p.m.

Viscount Sidmouth

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that coaches make an adequate contribution by way of licence fees towards road costs.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, in looking at this matter it is necessary to take account not only of vehicle excise duty, which is what the noble Viscount, Lord Sidmouth, has particularly asked, but also of the contribution made by coach and bus operators through fuel taxation.

On that basis the Department of Transport estimates that in the present financial year buses and coaches will pay £139 million in taxation, of which £4 million is in licence fees. This is before any rebates of fuel duty payable on stage carriage operations, which amounts to £100 million. Road costs attributable to them both will be about £80 million. Separate figures for coaches are not available, but, based on a number of assumptions, the Government believe that coaches cover their road costs.

Viscount Sidmouth

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Would he not agree that it still is anomalous that a heavy goods vehicle of 9 tonnes pays over £1,000 in excise licence duty whereas a coach or a hackney carriage of similar weight pays only £50 to £60?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, it has been for a long time now the practice of Governments to allow this vehicle excise duty concession to stage services and also to coaches, and it is particularly difficult to separate the two.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, could the noble Earl oblige the House with the calculations which he uses in arriving at his assumptions, not necessarily now but perhaps in reply to a Question for Written Answer?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I shall be very happy to. The figures were actually provided in answer to a Question for Written Answer in July, which may help the noble Lord.