§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)
I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 2, line 6, at the end to insert:on oils for sale otherwise than in Scotland and at the rate of two shillings and ninepence on oils for sale in Scotland".
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Samuel Storey)
We can discuss with this Amendment, Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. Amendment No. 5 is also selected for a Division if required.
§ Mr. Noble
The purpose that lies behind the Amendment is twofold. First, it has obvious merit particularly for those who happen to live north of the Border, and, secondly, it is designed to test the sincerity of the Government's many 118 speeches and pledges to help those outlying parts of the United Kingdom and also to help Northern Ireland, as Amendment No. 5 shows.
As will be seen, a good many of my colleagues from Scotland are here tonight, in spite of the fact that we have to fight this particular battle on St. Andrew's night, a night when many Scotsmen find perhaps more attractive things to do elsewhere than in this Chamber.
I have tried to elicit from the Treasury some figures relating to the petrol duty and its effects on Scotland, but without any outstanding success. I was told in a Written Answer last week that no separate figures could be produced showing how much petrol was needed in industry in Scotland, though the figure that I was given for the total duty likely to come from petrol in Scotland under this Clause was about £8 million.
119 Nor could the Chancellor of the Exchequer give me any breakdown showing the division of petrol and light hydrocarbon oils between industry, private motoring and other purposes in Scotland and England. The United Kingdom breakdown which I was able to get showed that industry probably uses a little over half, private motoring about one-third, and the balance goes for Government and public transport purposes. I suspect that "Government", in this sense includes local government.
I think that there is very little doubt that anybody who knows the position in Scotland, with much greater distances and with comparatively sparse public transport services, knows that any tax of this sort is bound to fall a good deal more hardly on Scotsmen than in places of greater congestion and better public services. In fact, one can see the general picture clearly if one takes the constituency represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party, who is not in his place at the moment, and looks at the concentration of cars in the Island of Orkney. There, we have a bigger concentration of vehicles per person than in any other part of Europe.
This can be seen in the Highlands and other areas, where there is also an above-average concentration of motor vehicles per person and I think that it demon-states clearly in these areas, not that there is great wealth—I do not think that anybody who knows the Highlands and Orkney and Shetland regards them as places of great wealth—but that the necessity for private transport is very great because there are no alternatives.
I suppose that it will be agreed by both sides of the Committee that the priority at the moment for any Government, in Scottish affairs certainly and in Northern Ireland also, must be to try to get more jobs for our countries. However impatient we have been, I think that there is no doubt that over the last 12 months the position has been steadily improving as unemployment figures, published month by month have shown. So far, the contribution of the Government to the well-being of our country has been to increase Income Tax, to put a large increase on stamps and, by this Clause, to increase greatly the duty on petrol. In addition, last week we had a very steep rise in Bank Rate.
120 It would be out of order to discuss Income Tax, stamps and Bank Rate when considering this Clause, but I suggest that those things, plus the duty on petrol, which is mentioned in the Clause, have been deliberately chosen as extra taxation the bulk of which falls on industry. It is bound to have a greater effect on our industrial enterprise in Scotland, as most things of this sort have had in the past, than on the rest of the United Kingdom.
There is another important factor when considering the problem of petrol tax related to industry. In discussing with industry the possibility of moving to Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom, or moving out of the centre of Scotland to other parts of Scotland, that the main reason for refusing to budge has been the extra cost of petrol which would kill the competitive nature of the industry concerned.
Often, in past years, I have discussed this excuse—it is an excuse—with leaders of the industry concerned. It was not always a valid excuse. Often it was offset by cheapness in other respects, certainly not excluding the very special incentives given by the last Government. None the less, this cost of transport has been as an excuse, valid or not, a major deterrent to many industries staying in Scotland. This fear, which has been freely expressed, has now been powerfully reinforced by the direct action of the Government, as it was described in one of the newspapers over the weekend, "with ruthless inefficiency".
Even if one takes the figures which the Treasury was able to give me, this will cost in the region of £8 million to the people of Scotland in a full year. If one assumes, therefore, that somewhere a little above £4 million will come directly from industry, which is inevitable, one sees that it is bound to slow down the expansion and ideas of expansion that a great many industries have because they will not have the money to back up their ideas. In terms of the normal Board of Trade figures for new jobs, one can convert that £4 million or a little over into 3,000 or 4,000 jobs which will be lost to Scotland.
The tourist industry will be very much affected. We have hundreds of miles of wonderful scenery in Scotland and 121 tourists are coming year by year in increasing numbers. This year it was estimated that the industry brought to Scotland as a whole about £100 million and that about £20 million of that came to the Highlands. There is no doubt that if the Government would accept this Amendment, as I am certain they ought to, it would be a much more powerful incentive to bringing an increased number of tourists to Scotland than any equivalent amount of money they could spend on advertising, however excellently it was devised.
In our basic industries in the countryside, forestry, I suppose, is one of the few still to use a number of horses. They do not require petrol or light hydrocarbon oils. But the Forestry Commission is building new roads through the woods and those roads are designed so that the timber can come out by lorry and tractor. Once the timber is out of the forests there is a very considerable haulage charge when it is going to sawmills, or, as a great deal will now go, to the pulp mill which is being built at Fort William. Forestry also will suffer an extra cost, although a great deal of it will fall directly on the Government because of the operations of the Forestry Commission.
Petrol and diesel oil is used on farms. Without any doubt there is a much greater quantity of petrol and diesel oil used in transporting animals from the farm to the market in Scotland than in other parts of the United Kingdom, again because of the very considerable distances which have to be travelled. I do not speak of the extra cost to local authorities and Government Departments. I am sure that some of my hon. Friends will say something about that. It must be well known and must have been estimated by the Government when they took the decision to put this extra cost on to petrol.
There is another major priority after the priority of getting jobs to Scotland. It falls into two sections. The first is the cost of living in rural areas. That is very closely linked with the second, which is the depopulation of those areas. That has been the subject of criticism both by my hon. Friends and often by hon. Members on the Government side. I think it absolutely apparent that there are certain things in the cost of living in rural areas which will be most directly affected 122 by this extra cost of petrol. In most of our areas there are very few, if any, buses. All food is delivered to the houses and cottages by vans. Practically all the goods leave by lorries. Probably the salvation of the rural areas has been the very large increase in the number of private cars.
There is a curious paradox that, on the whole, people will stay in these areas if they have a means of getting away from them. If workpeople can be provided with small garages and perhaps a little help to subsidise the buying of a cheap secondhand car and they can get to the nearest town, perhaps once or twice a month, to do their shopping, meet their friends and go to the cinema, a football match or whatever they fancy, they will often stay quite happily in a rural area. Apart from this there are few things in the rural areas today which make them cheaper to live in than towns.
In the old days housing was much cheaper in the rural areas than in the cities and towns, but that is not so today. I am sure that if he looks at council house rents in Argyllshire, Dumfries and elsewhere the Secretary of State will see that rents there are higher than for council houses in Glasgow and other cities. This advantage is no longer available to people living in rural areas.
During the last week or so we have had an opportunity of discussing in the House the question of giving pensioners living in big cities the means of getting cheap bus fares during off-peak hours so that they could do their various ploys, whether for business or pleasure, about the town. There are no such provisions in the country. It is difficult to see how there could be. In the country, the opportunity for elderly people to get about is in 90 per cent. of the cases provided by a neighbour "giving them a hurl." Taxis are very expensive.
In the country an extraordinary amount of self-help has been built up. It is of great value to old people. For these reasons, a cheap second-hand car and the ability to move around in it has been of much benefit in a rural area. I would not say that this is to be spoiled or ruined, but it will be put into considerable jeopardy by the extra cost of petrol because such cars are not owned 123 by people who have a great deal of money.
In my part of Scotland, to go to a cinema probably involves a return journey of 100 miles and a considerable amount of petrol is used for quite ordinary business. This is true of the mainland, but how much worse off are people who live on the islands? I have never had the opportunity of buying any petrol in the constituency of the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan). Hospitality in that constituency is so great that one is always motored around and not allowed to pay for petrol. In my constituency petrol on the Isle of Islay costs 6d. more than it costs on the mainland. On other islands the extra cost varies; sometimes it is 4d., sometimes 3d., sometimes 6d. People living on the islands are already penalised above the level of those on the mainland and they do not have a particularly good road system or anything very special for the money they have to spend.
I know very well—perhaps I should say that I suspect very much—that the Chief Secretary will tell us with a great deal of certainty that it would be impossible to have different prices for petrol in different parts of the United Kingdom. He may say that there would be the problem of the boundary line and that people would cross the line to get a fill-up of petrol more cheaply perhaps for only a few miles of motoring.
This is, of course, I admit, an administrative difficulty but in the past it has been got over in one form or another. I remember when we were subjected to having pink and white petrol. There were pumps where one could buy one or the other. In areas one could buy only the pink because the distances were too great for white petrol. This was not a problem of price, but of coupons.
It is also true—and I think that the Chief Secretary will admit this—that, for a great many years, the petrol companies themselves have operated deliberately regional variations in petrol prices according to distances from their depots. I do not say that it represents a jump of as much as 6d. per gallon from one point to another, but there are different prices and petrol gets steadily more expensive as one 124 goes away from the main centres of distribution.
If that is possible, I cannot believe that it is beyond the powers of the Chancellor, of the Secretary of State, of the Chief Secretary and others to work out a system by which petrol, instead of getting more expensive the further one goes from the distribution centres, gets cheaper, and if the Government promise to introduce something of this sort we will not insist on their sticking to the exact amount of 6d. at any one place.
I would also ask the Chief Secretary particularly to consider the case about the islands, because it is difficult, and it is becoming increasingly difficult, to keep young people in the islands. This is certainly very largely due to the extra cost of living and, indeed, to many other things as well. If the Chief Secretary goes to the islands—I hope that he may from time to time, for they are delightful places—he will find that probably the most universally condemned practice there is the practice of adding to the normal cost on the mainland. Whether that is fair or not, I do not know. Of course, distances are great and the cost of distribution of food in the islands is heavy. The hon. Gentleman would give a great deal of real pleasure to the people living in these islands if he could consider this problem.
Every Conservative and Unionist Member from Scotland has signed this Amendment, because in these 40 days of office not one single thing has yet been done by the Government to help Scotland's problem. But a great deal has been done to hamper Scotland. It may well be that the Secretary of State should have our sympathy. I am certain that my right hon. and hon. Friends would not mind giving him some sympathy, although we very seldom got any from him.
I know very well that he has a considerable problem in persuading his colleagues that what Scotland needs at the moment is special treatment and not just to be treated as a level part of the United Kingdom. This proposal by the Government is not simply one of equal misery nor one which is very popular among hon. Members opposite. It is a measure of special misery for Northern Ireland and Scotland and areas in England and Wales where similar problems of distance apply. I hope that the Government will accept 125 the Amendment, if not in the terms stated then at least in the spirit of petrol and of St. Andrew's day.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
I shall not put a case against the speech of the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble). He made an excellent argument in 90 per cent. of it; but I have often heard him put the case against that speech when he was Secretary of State. I shall say nothing to the contrary of the spirit of his speech but never was the proverb so apt thatThe devil was sick, the devil a monk wou'd be;The Devil was well, and the devil a monk he'd be.It is becoming almost a clichè now, hut the right hon. Gentleman's Government had 13 years of mounting majorities and, one would have thought, complete responsibility to do something about the very things he now blames on the present Government in the middle of the mess which he and his right hon. Friends left behind. He blames my right hon. Friends for not being able to put this right after 13 years' delay. The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that sort of thing. He is playing politics.
§ Mr. Noble
I would not deny that this is playing politics, but the hon. Member is playing politics rather more freely because the last Government, particularly in the final two or three years, took several actions giving special fiscal attention to Scotland. That is what his party said they would do and I am encouraging the Government to live up to their word.
§ Mr. MacMillan
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is encouraging them, even if it is a political post mortem. It is always good to know that we will have his support in any measures we take to help the Highlands and Scotland. At first sight, we find it difficult to support this Measure. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer found it difficult to put forward. But it will confer benefit on a larger number of people than those in the Highlands and Islands the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. The proposal is directed at a very special purpose and will confer much benefit on a very large number of people, not only in the country as a whole but in the areas we represent.
126 I remember the right hon. Gentleman's advice not long after he took office. It was not that the Government and the nation should bestir themselves and give high priority to Highland development, but that the Highlands must wait until other areas were developed, and then he could give them his attention.
§ Mr. Noble indicated dissent.
§ Mr. MacMillan
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Perhaps it is his memory that is at fault. I would attribute it to his memory and not to his intelligence. When he was at the zenith of his achievement—I am sure that it was that—he said that the Highlands must wait and have patience. He said that the Government must deal first with industrial areas. Yet he knew that the problems of the north of Scotland were very much more urgent in many respects and in special respects. Indeed, he now asks that they should receive special treatment.
He divided the problems up and spoke of pink and white petrol, which was the product of war-time conditions. He should also recall the exorbitant price of petrol which was the product of the Conservative Government's folly at Suez. One is not supposed to talk of Suez but one is bound to come back to it when thinking of petrol for the Highlands and Islands. At no time did petrol cost more than when the nation was represented by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends at the time of Suez.
I do not remember any right hon. and hon. Members opposite raising their voices in protest against the effect of that on the Highlands and Islands. I did not hear them criticising their Government for the action which resulted in that situation. Petrol increased in price then by much more than it will under this legislation. No one wants this increase. The Government certainly do not. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman does not suggest that the Government are doing it out of ill intent. He himself accepts it but does not want it to apply so heavily in Scotland. If this Amendment falls, then he has another to prevent the increase falling on the Highlands.
But one cannot just divide Scotland from England nor the Highlands from the rest of Scotland. It is not so simple. 127 The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Orkney. There is no comparison between conditions there and conditions in parts of Shetland and the Western Isles, where there are so many different problems. He could have mentioned, however, that in the Isle of Lewis we have much the same situation as in Orkney.
In Lewis we have a large number of vehicles of all kinds. I agree that it is not through opulence but through necessity. Many people would have preferred the village bus if it had continued to operate. The right hon. Gentleman is answerable for that as well. This is, after all, one of the biggest problems of transport both in his constituency and mine and, to a large extent, throughout the rural areas.
The right hon. Gentleman had before him for a very long time two reports of committees set up by his Government—the Jack Committee and the Kilbrandon Committee. What action did he take to implement a single recommendation of either committee in order to help solve the problem of Highland transport? He took none. Now he is worried about the effects of increased fuel costs upon building in the Highlands and Islands. But it was not because of oil and petrol that, ineptly, a few weeks before the election, he drastically cut the school building programme in the Highland counties.
The right hon. Gentleman talked of house building costs and, of course, these have gone up. But they have gone up not because of petrol costs—although, of course, they are affected by everything—but because of his Government's policy in making it dearer and dearer for local authorities to borrow in order to build. It is as simple as that. The Highland local authorities will say that to bring this into the argument about petrol tax is not sensible. What is the right hon. Gentleman to get out of this? He had opportunity as well as responsibility and he very largely threw those opportunities away.
I do not dispute that any increase in petrol tax will hit the Highland areas and Scotland generally. Even the degree with which the impact is felt may vary between parts of the Highlands and the Lowlands of Scotland more than between the Indus- 128 trial Lowlands of Scotland and parts of industrial England. It is extremely difficult to zone these things and to have demarcation lines and so on. I know that there was zoning of petrol, but that was a distribution arrangement of the petrol companies and was not related to taxation.
I supported most of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but I was sorry that he did not say that this increase will affect areas like Barra and North Uist, unless they are cushioned against it, areas which year after year have been unable to get the supply of electricity from the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. We got no help from the right hon. Gentleman about that. The Board wanted to give it, but he prevented it. It is not because of the cost of petrol that several islands are without electricity. Every year that went by, capital costs mounted and the right hon. Gentleman made it almost impossible for himself to go to the Treasury and justify these things because of the piled up expenditure which had come from all his delays and so-called economies. The Hydro-Electric Board uses diesel oil in the Highland areas and will be affected by these increases, but the right hon. Gentleman himself made little contribution in that direction when he had responsibility.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there were many things to fight for—more houses, more roads, more schools and cheaper transport—but when he was in office he had nobody to fight for these things. We were not fighting him, but urging him on and inviting him to do these things more quickly and to show more signs of progress. He had every opportunity and all the power and support he wanted and no opposition. If that is not failing, I do not know what he would measure to be a failing.
In these islands, about which his bowels of compassion are now melting, the right hon. Gentleman has seen the price of bread go up to nearly 1s. 6d. The price of milk in areas which do not have their own independent supplies is to go up to 1s.—an increase proposed before the election, I should say, in case it is attributed to us—and he knows that these are absolute necessities not only for old-age pensioners, but for everybody in these areas. He has seen prices going up and up, the price of tea doubling and 129 almost trebling and the price of every other necessity increasing almost year after year. Only now, relieved of opportunity and office, does he come along to criticise other people for not having done in 40 days what he failed to do in 13 years, not to mention the centuries before that. The right hon. Gentleman now has the impudence to be censorious at this stage.
The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right to refer to depopulation. Of course I know that this increase will be difficult for any area and that any such difficulty will hasten depopulation. There is nothing in my experience as a Hebridean, born in the Western Isles and living there in my boyhood, nothing which has stuck in my memory so poignantly, as the sight and sound of the things done when the migrant ships were taking people away by the hundreds in the middle twenties of this century after a hundred years of Tories and Liberals. The depopulation went on throughout that time, and it began again in 1951.
By 1950, for the first time for nearly 100 years, there was a halt—perhaps only temporary, but we hoped continuing—in the drift from the islands and for the first time the figures were reasonably static. We hoped that, with a continuance of the policies which brought that about, Highland depopulation might have been halted for all time and the tide swung in the other direction. However, within 18 months depopulation had started again and thousands upon thousands of people had to leave the area through the years of the Tories' affluent society, through the years of the benevolent policies which the right hon. Gentleman did not pursue when he was in office. When it comes to depopulation, no Highland laird and no Tory ex-Secretary of State should open his mouth but in a confessional sense and with a sense of shame.
Like the right hon. Gentleman and many others, I want to see something done about the Jack Report and the Kilbrandon Report and something done to assist the bus services in the Highlands and Islands and other rural areas throughout Scotland, and England and Wales. It is perfectly true that any increase in the cost of fuel is bound to make the problem more difficult, but I hope that this will be only a temporary measure, or that some special relief is 130 to be accorded to make the problem easier and not more difficult. I am perfectly well aware of the overwhelming considerations which compelled my right hon. Friends to take the measures now being criticised. If it were not for the purpose at which they are aimed, I myself would be much more critical than I am.
I agree with 90 per cent. of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but he knows perfectly well that the benefits will flow in greater measure, in relation to population, to the Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland and the Highlands than any other region of Great Britain, because relatively we have an older population and more people dependent on unemployment benefit, thanks to himself and his hon. Friends, more people on National Assistance and other social service benefits, than almost any other part of the country. The right hon. Gentleman must know that in the Western Isles alone we have nearly 4,000 people receiving only National Assistance or whose income or benefits have to be supplemented by it. I do not think that he is happy about that, but he is now free of responsibility for it and I can understand that he is happy about that.
These benefits have to be paid for. The people of the Highlands will certainly be critical of any increase in Income Tax, or in the tax on petrol, hydro-carbon oils and so on. But they will have the intelligence to appreciate that the cost of these benefits has to be paid. It will be highly irresponsible for the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends, especially with their record, to vote against providing the means to give benefits which will greatly raise the standard of living of people in an area where it is low enough generally, but where for the old and the unemployed it is even lower. I think that the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) is uncomfortable in his seat.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I was only waiting in the hope of following the hon. Gentleman, because he has made a number of remarks which require answering.
§ Mr. MacMillan
He seemed to be so uncomfortable that I thought that I would put him out of his misery. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is to follow me, for that will give me more confidence in presenting my arguments now. I am almost exactly at the end of my speech.
131 The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten one or two small things. In our 40 days, as against the 13 years of Tory rule, we are at least firmly committed to the setting up of a Highland Development Board. The Liberal Party can join us in congratulating ourselves on that.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. James McInnes)
I find great difficulty in relating anything that the hon. Gentleman is saying about the Highland Development Board, unemployment or housing to the Amendment.
§ Mr. MacMillan
Thank you, Mr. McInnes. I appreciate your difficulty, but if you had allowed me to continue I should have been able to relate my argument to the Amendment.
I am hoping—indeed we are committed to this—that one of the priorities in the responsibilities laid on the Highland Development Board will be a review of transport in the Highlands and Islands and that it will be given the task of producing an integrated, co-ordinated transport service by sea, land, rail and air. This has been ignored by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. We have not completely forgotten the Beeching Report. Suppose that lines had been whipped away under the Beeching Report. The problem facing us tonight would have been infinitely greater. The already inadequate roads would have been further overburdened with oil-burning and petrol-burning vehicles of all kinds. We have talked about congestion. Imagine the congestion which would have resulted if the railway system in the Highlands were demolished and everything were thrown on the 10 per cent. of roads in the condition in which the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends left them while they were developing the industrial South first.
That is the only reference which I propose to make to the Highland Development Board at this moment. Transport will be one of its priority tasks and, I hope, one of its most successful. Transport is a matter to which it will have to address itself from scratch. So little appears to have been done in the way of serious study into the co-ordination of Highland transport that it will take up 132 a lot of the Board's time—perhaps more time than it should. We will have the legislation in the near future, and I hope that it will be passed with the help of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends.
I agree with what the right hon. Member said about the importance of tourism in the Highlands.
§ Mr. George Y. Mackie
Is not the hon. Gentleman adopting exactly the same attitude that the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) adopted for so many years? Is he not in fact excusing the actions of a largely English Government for English conditions because he is a member of the Labour Party, and is he not putting the same arguments as the right hon. Member for Argyll put for so many years?.
§ Mr. MacMillan
The hon. Gentleman forgets that the Labour Party has a very large majority in Scotland—and that goes for Wales. The failure lies with the English in not electing a majority of Labour Members. But that is another point. The hon. Member must be content in the knowledge that even if we had a Scottish Parliament it would have a vast Labour majority. We will argue that point later.
I agree that tourism is a valuable industry, and the Highlands have a valuable share in it. Here, too, we have pressed for years and have offered all sorts of constructive suggestions with little effect for improving conditions for the reception of tourists, the roads over which the tourists travel and all the other things essential basically to the development of the tourist industry. To a large extent, the increase in tourism in the Highlands is fortuitous. People who went to Scotland took in the Highlands in their visit, just as some people—Americans and Canadians in particular—take in London in a European package tour. Had the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends properly used the years which the Tory locusts instead have eaten, I am sure that the tourist industry would have developed at an even greater rate and that many of his own complaints today would have been behind him.
To say that after only 40 days the Government have done nothing in this matter is an absurd comment to make. While it is eminently flattering, it is unrealistic. But at least there has been a 133 full adumbration of the legislative programme proposed for Scotland for the first year, including the Highland Development Board. [Interruption.] I am not excusing the Government. The right hon. Gentleman cannot know my political and Parliamentary past, or he would not have made that comment. He is only just starting in opposition. I had it 30 years ago. I am sure that in every speech that he makes over the next 10 years—
§ The Temporary Chairman
I must ask the hon. Gentleman to confine himself strictly to the Amendment.
§ Mr. MacMillan
I am sorry, Mr. McInnes, if you regard the right hon. Gentleman as an irrelevance in the Committee, but there it is.
We are 90 per cent. with the right hon. Gentleman in his advocacy on the technical question of how far one can zone taxation in the same way as one zones pink and white petrol. This is a matter which involves all sorts of highly technical and difficult problems. I agree with him that one can legislate for areas. Whether one can do that within the ambit of a tax of this sort is rather another matter. That I am not at all sure about, and no one has either proved or disproved this argument. It would be interesting to hear what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has to say on this.
I do feel, however, that the one thing which my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Minister of Transport, who still has a responsibility in this matter, and the Chancellor should address themselves to is the whole question of the rural bus. I am talking now of the recommendations of the Jack Committee's Report and the Kilbrandon Committee's Report. These have been unforgivably neglected. Samples taken in different areas are scarcely needed at this time of day. We can get all the evidence from responsible people, motorists, pedestrians, bus companies, all over the Highlands and Islands. If these two Reports had been implemented, if they were implemented now, that would greatly mitigate the impact of the greatly increased costs in respect of petrol, though I must say that had they sufficient bus services the people in the Western Isles would never consider running cars through the villages.
134 I largely agree with so much that the right hon. Gentleman said, but I must say that it would have come better, with more dignity, and also more convincingly, from somebody else.
§ Sir W. Anstruther-Gray
I can at least agree with the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) that the increase in the petrol tax makes the problems of Scotland more difficult. Apart from that, I approach this Amendment not from the point of view of the Highlands and Islands, as he does, but from the point of view of Berwick and East Lothian, and I should like to follow the line which my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) took in moving the Amendment—as he did with great competence, if I may say so—and, first, in emphasising the blow which it is to industry in Scotland.
The estimate of £8 million of total cost, if it is correct, means more than £4 million will have to be found by industry in Scotland, and that may well amount to 3,000 or 4,000 jobs being lost. My right hon. Friend mentioned the tourist industry, he mentioned forestry, and he mentioned agriculture. I myself received a reply to a Question stating that the increased tax would add £200,000 to the annual cost of Scottish agriculture.
I should like now to come from those general considerations to the personal considerations of my constituents, because it is very clear that they personally will be hit by this tax and hit more severely than people in other parts of the United Kingdom. Certainly, the rural areas of Scotland will suffer a great deal from this 6d. increase. The will feel it more than town dwellers who can get good bus services—and if one comes to London one can get a very good underground service, too, where the petrol tax does not apply.
In my constituency, Berwickshire, to take one of the counties, the number of motor cars is such that—with the possible exception of the Isles of Orkney—it has, I think, as high a ratio as that anywhere else in the country. The ratio is one car to every five persons, as compared with the United Kingdom average of one to seven. Many of my constituents have to use their cars to get to work, to take their children to school, and to get to the local town shops. It does not stop 135 at that, but the things which they want to buy in the town have to be brought to the shops by road, by vehicles using fuel which will bear this tax. At every point this will raise the cost of living.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether there is any public transport in his constituency?
§ Sir W. Anstruther-Gray
Yes, I can. In many cases public transport is woefully deficient. I am not happy on the political issue, particularly on the subject of Dr. Beeching and trains, but I see that the Secretary of State for Scotland is present, and although I am aware that it comes under his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport perhaps more than under himself, I should like to leave it in his mind that, politics apart, I would be more than grateful to him and to the Government if they could make sure that East Linton Station, which I have sought to keep open, is kept open in spite of what has been decided in days gone by against the wishes of the local Member. I am giving the Secretary of State for Scotland and his colleagues a chance of doing better, and we will see whether they do.
There are also buses, but the bus services in these sparsely populated areas are inadequate. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) has a good deal of experience of Scotland, and he must be aware that although there may be a service once a week, or something like that, the general daily service that is required by people in the outlying parts of Berwickshire and East Lothian finds a great necessity in the private motor car, and I am protesting that this tax will hit them much more severely than it will hit other people in the country.
I should like now to ask a question which perhaps the Minister in charge of the Bill can answer. In a rather depopulated area it is found necessary for some of the mills in my constituency to draw upon a wide area to bring their labour to the spot because there is not enough local labour near at hand. Those mills make a practice of organising a private bus service which collects people from their homes in the morning and takes them back in the evening. Will such buses be allowed to take advantage 136 of the rebate which I understand is proposed for other bus services? I hope that the Minister will be able to give us a satisfactory and encouraging reply.
In making my speech I am thinking of my constituency, just as the hon. Member for the Western Isles was thinking of his. I do not want to suggest that it is only the outlying rural areas which are to be hit by this tax. In parts of East Lothian I have a very acceptable dormitory area for people working in Edinburgh. It is entirely to the good of their health that they should come out and spend the night in East Lothian, and all depends on being able to get back to Edinburgh for their work the following day. All these people will be hit by this distressing tax, and we do not stop at that.
In the whole of East Lothian there is not a pit left working since the National Coal Board took charge, and yet many miners live within the constituency. They now have to travel outwith it to pits some distance away. This, again, will be a cost in petrol to be borne either by themselves, or in the cost of production, and however this cost is borne it will tend to raise the cost of living.
If there was one thing that we could all agree about in present-day Britain I would have thought it was that we wanted to stabilise the cost of living. Earlier today we have been talking about taxation and pensions, but surely the stabilisation of the cost of living should rank very high in the eyes of the Treasury Minister. Here he is imposing a 6d. tax which, at every turn, can have no other effect than to increase the cost of living. I beg him to desist, at least in relation to Scotland.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin
It may be that I formed a wrong impression of the speech of the right hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) when he began. I felt that everyone in his division must move about everywhere in motor cars. That was why I rose to intervene and ask him whether there was any public transport in Berwick. He admitted that such a facility exists.
None of my hon. Friends would deny that the tax is bound to have some effect upon industry, agriculture and the movement of people who use either private cars or public transport. But we are told 137 by the Government—and I am sure that no hon. Member opposite disputes the statement—that they are going to attempt to ensure that the impact of the tax on public travel is greatly modified. If that is the case, the right hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian has grossly inflated all the difficulties which will befall his constituents.
I do not blame him for putting his case in the terms in which he put it, because we know that all hon. Members are interested in their majorities when they face their electors. The right hon. Gentleman got a very great fright at the last election. I believe that he is now seizing this opportunity to improve his stock when the next appeal to the electors comes along.
As I have listened to hon. Members telling us what the effect of this 6d. will be on this person and the next person I have wondered exactly how many people will really pay the 6d. when it comes to the bit. What sections of the community will have to pay it out of their own pockets? What sections will not be able to pass it on? The right hon. Gentleman instanced a whole lot of people who will pass the tax on to someone else. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee could name those sections which will not be able to pass it on. They are the people who have the real cause for complaint. The rest will simply slide it on to other backs.
The logic of the argument of hon. Members opposite in opposing this tax is that they are prepared to make the old-age pensioners, the sick and the injured suffer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Of course they will make them suffer, for the simple reason that if hon. Gentlemen who have been speaking had been in the Chamber earlier they would have heard the Chancellor say that one reason for the imposition of 6d. on the petrol tax was to ensure the increase in pensions for the old, the sick and the injured. My right hon. Friend has to get the money from somewhere, and that is one source.
§ Mr. Noble
I listened to almost the whole of the last debate and nearly every hon. Member opposite who took part in it said that the whole of the increase in Income Tax would be used for pensions. We now hear that the whole of the proceeds of the increased tax on petrol will go to paying for old-age pensions. I have 138 no doubt that we shall hear the same thing about the surcharge, and so on. I wish that hon. Members opposite would make up their minds what the money is to be used for.
§ Mr. Rankin
It is no use the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) trying to make a point out of that. He knows perfectly well if the Government have to pay out money they must get in money. The petrol tax is one way to get it and Income Tax is another. I say that those who resist the increase in the tax are prepared to penalise the old people, the sick and the injured for some particularly selfish purpose of their own. I wish to return to—
§ Mr. George Y. Mackie
How can the hon. Member say, on the one hand, that this tax will be passed on to the poorer sections of the community, which is what he said a moment ago, and, on the other, say that most of the tax is for pensions?
§ Mr. Rankin
—with sufficient care. I said that the tax, for the most part, would not, as was said by the right hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian be paid by industrialists and agriculturalists, it would be passed to other sections of the community. Those were the exact words I used, and if the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland is going to interrupt, he must show at least that he has been listening to what was said.
I turn now to the former Secretary of State for Scotland, the right hon. Member for Argyll, who shows an unusual interest in the welfare of Scotland. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman had been as lively in defending the interests of Scotland when he had the power to do something as he is now that the power has gone from him. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman visualises what would happen if the proposed increase of 6d. was removed. Suppose the Minister said that he would take off the 6d. as is asked in the Amendment. Where should we go? [HON. MEMBERS: "Scotland."] We should go back to the 2s. 9d. tax and to the status quo.
139 In the Highlands of Scotland and in Scotland generally we should go back to Inverness, with a falling population; we should go back to Argyll, with a falling population; we should return to Sutherlandshire with a falling population—to the Western Isles, with a falling population. We should go back to the situation under Toryism, a situation which hon. Members opposite had in their hands to cure, or help to cure, for 13 years; and at the end of that time the only county in Scotland which showed an improvement in population was the County of Caithness. That is the record which the hon. Gentleman wants us—
§ The Temporary Chairman
Order. We are not dealing with the record of anyone. We are dealing with the Amendments on the Notice Paper.
§ Mr. Rankin
I tried to visualise what would happen if the Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Member for Argyll were accepted by my right hon. Friend. Surely that is quite a pertinent part of the argument—what would happen if this were accepted. We would go back to a status quo which I merely tried to picture, a status quo of falling population in the counties in the Highlands—with one exception, where a different step was taken. Nothing was done.
§ Mr. Rankin
Just a second.
So far as observable factors were concerned, nothing was done in any other part of the Highlands of Scotland.
§ Mr. Johnston
I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but is he arguing that Invernesshire, Caithness, and so on, will benefit from the increase in the cost of petrol?
§ Mr. Rankin
We will leave that to the next part of my argument. [Laughter.] Yes—I am not finished. I am merely seeking to visualise what would happen if the 6d. came off. We go back to a status quo of declining industry and falling population in the Highlands, with one exception, and we will go back to a policy which is designed to withdraw more and more people from the Highlands by the creation of this great central plan of development in the centre of Scotland. It is bound to act as an attract- 140 tion to the population of the Highlands, just as Glasgow, when it was a growth centre in Scotland, drew people from every part of the Highlands into the city. My own constituency to this day shows a bigger Highland population than many parts of the Highlands themselves.
These are the things that would happen if the right hon. Gentleman gets his way. If he does not get his way, and the tax remains, then, in my view, it will do very little in the way of inconveniencing the Highlands of Scotland. The impact of this 6d. tax will do little to disturb the Highlands as they are at present. That is my view of the tax. When the right hon. Member talks about the Highlands, I wonder what he means by "the Highlands". Does he stop at the seven crofter counties? Does he leave out of his plan the Island of Arran and the Island of Bute?
Does he not know that the Island of Arran is not so far south as part of his own division of Argyll, which is part of the Highlands? The Island of Arran is further north than the Campbeltown end of Kintyre of his own division, yet it is not regarded as part of the crofter counties; nor is Bute; and yet Arran suffers from all the economic disabilities that Argyll suffers from—the cost in transport of petrol. The fact is that in Arran people will have to pay not only the 6d., but also the additional cost of transport, and all that is additional to the price of petrol. So that if there is a disability in this, why does the right hon. Member leave out the Island of Arran and the Island of Bute? Does he limit the crofter counties to those he knows? Does he cut out those counties which live by crofting to a very large extent simply because they do not come within the mystical seven?
I have covered most of the points on which the right hon. Member provoked me. I was also provoked by the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian and one or two sympathetic interrupters in the halfway party. I believe that when the decision is taken some hon. Members opposite will either support the Government or will abstain on this decision to impose the tax. This is a decision taken not because we love taxes, but because at this particular time this increase is necessary. There is nothing permanent in it. In my view, 141 it is a temporary tax. [HON. MEMBERS: Oh."] I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have a word to say about that, but, in my view, it is a temporary tax and in that mind I support it.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) made a cogent speech when he moved the Scottish Amendment. It was an excellent speech, well argued, and I agreed with every word of it. If he had substituted "Northern Ireland" for "Scotland" throughout, I should have been even more filled with enthusiasm.
All hon. Members who have spoken, including two hon. Members opposite, made a cogent case for accepting all these Amendments. The hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan), whose approach was a shade oblique and historical, arrived in his heart at the fact, that, if carried, the Scottish Amendment would be a good thing for his constituency. Whether he supports that view in the Lobby remains to be seen.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
I said that it would be a good thing for some and bad for others, and that those who were in most need ought to have consideration in anything which we did.
§ Captain Orr
I thought that was what the hon. Member said, and I gather that he included his constituents in those who should have consideration and that he would therefore probably support us in the Lobby.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) asked what would happen if the Scottish Amendment were carried. The answer is that his constituents would have the best St. Andrew's Day they had had for a long time. If he voted for us they would cheer him to the echo.
§ Captain Orr
The third Amendment exempts Northern Ireland from the rise in the tax. Hon. Members opposite seemed to suggest that there might be some administrative difficulties about the Border in dealing with Scotland, but in Northern Ireland we are dealing with an entity which has a very clearly defined administrative boundary and which probably would not present the difficulties 142 which hon. Members opposite envisage for Scotland.
During the General Election the Northern Ireland Labour Party produced a document called "Signposts for the New Ulster", which I have no doubt hon. Members opposite have studied. There are three statements in it with which I profoundly agree—probably the only ones with which I agree. They say, for example:For years Northern Ireland has suffered higher unemployment and lower average earnings than the rest of the United Kingdom.They then say:The prosperity or decline of Ulster depends on decisions on fundamental economic and financial policies taken in London.They add:Northern Ireland exports some 80 per cent. of her products; for many of these raw materials have to be imported from Britain and elsewhere. Freight services, both by sea and air, and their charges, are extremely important.I agree with all those things. The difficulty is that in the Labour Party document the whole emphasis and implication was that once a Labour Government were at Westminster, Northern Ireland would get even better special treatment.
Indeed, in the letter of the present Prime Minister to Northern Ireland candidates at the election he said just that. I do not remember his precise words, but they were something very like that—that we could look forward to better, special treatment. One of the purposes of tabling the Amendment is to discover what this special treatment is to be.
§ Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)
My hon. and gallant Friend, with his usual relevance, quoted from a document issued by the Northern Ireland Labour Party. Ulster farmers have been hard hit by the petrol tax. As it might affect our attitude to the Amendment, can my hon. and gallant Friend say what the document said about agriculture?
§ Captain Orr
It says nothing about agriculture. This was one of the things I noted during the election. However, if I were to examine the document in all its aspects I would, no doubt, be ruled out of order.
As I was saying, one of the purposes of the Amendment is to inquire just what are the special arrangements Northern Ireland will have, because they are relevant to the effect of the petrol tax. To 143 understand the background of the effect of this on Northern Ireland one must realise two things which are essential for growth in Northern Ireland and for dealing with our economic problems and attracting new industries. They are, first, a steady and rising level of investment, and, secondly, the ability for industry to cut its costs to the minimum.
We have in Northern Ireland our natural disadvantages. There is an absence of indigenous sources of power and raw materials and, to offset that, the costs of our industries must be pared to the very bone. The present policies of the Government since they came to power—and I say this in no party political spirit—the 15 per cent, surcharge which we will be discussing later, the raising of the Bank Rate to 7 per cent., together with the uncertainty about the capital gains tax and the proposed corporation tax have the effect in Northern Ireland—and this is all I will say about them—of making further investment there difficult. They will have the effect in the end of producing a gap in industrial development. At present, there are industries in the pipeline. They will come along. But the time will come when, if the present policies are continued, the effects will be felt in Northern Ireland.
It is essential that nothing is done to increase our costs, but the petrol tax is one case in which the costs of industry in Northern Ireland are bound to be affected. We want to know from the Government if they accept the argument that costs to industry in Northern Ireland will rise. If so, will they accept the Amendment? If not, what do they propose to offset the rising costs to help us and to keep the pledges they made during the election?
The Amendment does not deal with the most serious aspect of the rise in the petrol duty. That is the cost of cross-channel freight and the costs within Great Britain of getting raw material to Northern Ireland and exporting our products from Northern Ireland. It is impossible to devise an Amendment which would safeguard the interests of Northern Ireland and at the same time not destroy the whole concept of the duty over the rest of the United Kingdom.
144 We have voted against the duty itself. We voted against the Budget Resolutions and we shall undoubtedly vote against this Clause in due course. But suppose the petrol duty is retained for the whole of the United Kingdom. How do we safeguard the situation in Ulster? I think I am right in saying that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has argued that the petrol duty is deflationary. He went out of his way to say that the measures in this Budget were deflationary. I hope he recognises that while deflation may be admirable in the present circumstances for the economy of the United Kingdom, it is certainly not admirable for the economy of Northern Ireland. The very last thing we want there is deflation.
§ Captain Orr
And in Scotland, but certainly Northern Ireland in particular is the one part of the country where deflation is not wanted.
We want to know what the Government are going to do. We have made an estimate—I understand this is approximately right—that so far as the internal costs in Ulster are concerned, the Treasury expects to get in one year revenue amounting to £2.3 million from the extra duty in Northern Ireland. We do not know whether or not the Government, or the Northern Ireland Government on their behalf, have made any estimate at all of the breakdown of this £2.3 million—how much of it is supposed to be drawn from private and pleasure motoring, and how much from industry, production and distribution as a whole. We should like to have the breakdown if the Minister could give it to us. Perhaps he will be able to get it for me later on.
We have had one figure from the Ministry of Agriculture. We understand that the extra cost to the farming community will be of the order of £200,000 in one year. I think that when one looks around Northern Ireland and observes the uses of petrol, one comes to the conclusion that that is a considerable underestimate, but perhaps the Minister will say more about it later.
Even if one concedes that the man who uses his motor car purely for pleasure and private purposes should bear his share 145 of the burden that falls on the motorist in other parts of the United Kingdom—althougt one can make a good case for maintaining that he should not do so in Northern Ireland when one takes into account the tourist trade and such factors—one is left with a substantial portion of this £2.3 million, probably anything up to £1½ million or £1¾ million falling as a direct burden on the cost of industry in Ulster.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
I do not know whether my hon. and gallant Friend has considered the Report of the Preliminary Results of the Rural Transport Surveys. I know that none of the figures relates to Northern Ireland, but in the various counties which were mentioned in that Report less than 25 per cent. of private motoring was for pleasure or such purposes.
§ Captain Orr
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. That is what I would have guessed the situation to be. I should, however, like the Minister to give me any kind of breakdown he may have, or to say whether the Treasury has made any estimate about it at all.
It would be overstating the case to say that 6d. on the cost of petrol, £1½ million on the cost to industry in Ulster, would necessarily be catastrophic, but it is very dangerous because, taken with the other measures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has claimed to be deflationary, the effect upon Northern Ireland if the measures are continued and not, as the hon. Member for Govan said, temporary—will be that at about this time next year there will be a considerable drop in the number of extra jobs found in Northern Ireland. We would have a very dangerous unemployment situation about this time next year.
I ask the Minister to look at this carefully. We are not suggesting that our Amendment is itself necessarily the best method of offsetting the ill-effects of the tax. We are not absolutely wedded to it, but, unless he can tell us in some detail that some measures are to be taken and can spell out what they are, and unless we are satisfied that they are all right, we shall have no hesitation in availing ourselves of the right to a separate Division on this Amendment.
In Ulster we are perfectly prepared, with the rest of the United Kingdom, to take our fair share when deflationary 146 measures become necessary, but we are not prepared to bear an unfair burden. This would be an unfair burden because when costs of transport rise, as my hon. Friends from Scotland have so well said, deflation is always most severe in the fringe areas, in Northern Ireland and other places.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
It has been truly said that a Liberal has very few in the Committee whom he can properly describe as his hon. Friends. Nevertheless, I found it quite surprising tonight to be in agreement to a considerable degree with hon. Members on both sides. I found the remarks of the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) such that I could largely agree with them, and I found the remarks the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) made about the right hon. Member such that I could agree with them, too.
In moving this Amendment, which seeks to offset the harmful effects of the Bill on certain areas, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the right hon. Member for Argyll did a great service to the Committee, but some of the things he said were the purest humbug. That is the only word properly to describe them. I do not remember very clearly, but I recall that in 1952 petrol tax was raised from 1s. 10½d. to 2s. 6d. by the then Conservative Administration and there was no mention of regional variations. In 1961 there was the increase from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d., and there was the intervening period with the 1s. rise at the time of the Suez operation, to which the hon. Member for the Western Isles has already made reference.
Something surprising seems to be happening on both sides of the Committee. Arguments are being brought forward from the Conservative benches which we have deployed in their very teeth for many years. We have arguments on the other side of the Committee even from the natural-born rebel the hon. Member for the Western Isles defending his Government yet saying what a splendid Amendment this is which the right hon. Member for Argyll moved and, for another 10 minutes, explaining why, although he agrees with it, he will not support it. He was using what appeared for him to be a very specious argument.
147 I say this also to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) because, so far as I understand, it was never stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the purpose of the petrol tax was to enable the payment of social security benefits to be made. That was something which the Income Tax increase was designed to do.
§ Mr. Rankin
Is the hon. Member to tell us that the 6d. increase on Income Tax is put into one drawer at the Treasury and the 6d. from the petrol tax is put into another drawer? How does he distinguish between them?
§ Mr. Johnston
I am in no position to tell the hon. Member; I merely have to go on what the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us. Most of the remarks of the right hon. Member for Argyll bore close similarity to the maiden speech I made last week. It seems that the prime objections which could be brought against the Amendment are purely technical ones about it being difficult to implement. I think the hon. Member for the Western Isles remarked that no one has either proved the argument or disproved it. I want to know if anyone is to try. We should start trying now to effect regional variations and to make allowance for the difficulties which areas of sparse population suffer.
The hon. Member for Govan was very wrong when he said that an extra tax on petrol will do very little to disturb the Highlands. I think it will do considerable harm, certainly in my constituency and in the North-West, and it is harm which could be avoided. Judging by what hon. Members opposite have said about the Highland Development Board, they seem to indicate their interest in developing the Highland area. For successful development of the Highland area we need cheap transport communications. The increase in the petrol tax will inevitably affect agricultural and industrial costs and the cost of living.
We all know how easy it is for the small shopkeeper to put on an extra ld. The increase in the cost to him may be 2½d., but he decides to charge 3d., passing the cost on to the ordinary public which suffers in that way. In my constituency the problem of administration is very difficult. The county centre is a Inverness, but 66 miles away is the growing 148 area of Fort William and there is a constant coming and going, so that even the administrative costs of the county council will be exacerbated by this increase in the tax on petrol.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
When the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) was speaking, he was kind enough—because he is a very kind man—to suggest that perhaps I was in a mood of some discomfort, and he offered me the chance of interrupting him. In fact, my posture was a reflection not of discomfort, but of astonishment, an astonishment which increased when I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin).
We have heard yet again the repetition of the great excuse—that it is very wicked of us to oppose the increase in the petrol duty for Scotland because the money is to be ingathered to pay the increases in retirement pensions. The hon. Member for Govan, dashing the tears away from his eyes, said that if we did not let the tax go through the old folk of Scotland would not be able to get their pensions.
Exactly the same sort of argument was advanced by Labour Members earlier tonight, when we were debating the 6d. increase in the standard rate of Income Tax. That, too, was to pay for old-age pensions. The fact is that the increase in the pensions for the most part will be covered by the increase in the National Insurance stamp. The public must recognise that. In his Budget statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, speaking of the increase in the pension rates, said:These improvements must be paid for … National Insurance contributions will, of course, have to go up …When the Chancellor dealt with oil duty, there was not a word in the whole of that section of his speech about using that money for old-age pensions.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the benefits will be paid for from the increased income going to the Exchequer?
§ Mr. MacArthur
Certainly, but hon. Gentlemen opposite have been saying that the one great purpose of the increase in petrol duty was to pay for the increase in old-age pensions. What I am saying is that they cannot have it three ways. They 149 cannot say that petrol duty is paying for the increase, that the 6d. on the standard rate of Income Tax is paying for it, and that the increase in the cost of the stamp is paying for it.
Mr. Malcolm MacMillian
Surely the hon. Gentleman agrees that all three, along with other sources of income, are the means of paying for this increased social benefit. Surely there are not separate compartments. Obviously, in practice, one does not take the proceeds of one tax and put it in one box and say that that will pay for one increase and put the increase in Income Tax in another box and say that that will pay for another increase, and so on.
§ Mr. MacArthur
No, but the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Govan said that the purpose of this increase was to pay for the increase in the old-age pension. The increase in the petrol duty, the increase in the standard rate of Income Tax and the increase in the stamp are all highly inflationary taxes and, added together, they will pay for the increase in the pensions three times over.
One of the reasons for the increase in duty is the abolition of prescription charges, a step which at least one of the Iron Curtain countries has seen to be retrograde, for it is now introducing a prescription charge, appreciating the economic risk which attends such liberalization.
§ Sir D. Glover
I want to be helpful to my hon. Friend. In his statement on the increased pensions contribution, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Treasury contribution to the increased pensions was £15 million; but 6d. on Income Tax and 6d. on petrol will raise far more than £15 million.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for underlining my argument.
The fact is, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said, that the petrol dutywill exercise an appreciable and immediate disinflationary effect …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th November, 1964; vol. 701, c. 1032–7.]It is that which I should now like to examine, but before doing so perhaps there is one thing on which I can agree with the hon. Member for Govan. I was very glad to hear him stress that Arran 150 and Bute were Highland islands. We have to try at last to sort out just what the Highlands are.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman said that. I remember mentioning this in my maiden speech, early in 1960. The hon. Member for Govan got up immediately afterwards and congratulated me and said what a good idea it was. I am very glad that he got this good idea from me. My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Scotland wrote to me and accepted this argument in the context in which I was applying it—the application of the Fraser plan. I therefore take credit for this, and it should not go to the hon. Member for Govan.
The Highlands, in the administration of State affairs, are regarded as synonymous with the seven crofter counties. This is a convenient administrative division, but it is not a fair division. I would hasten to show the relevance of the argument to the Amendment by pointing out that the second Scottish Amendment relates to the Highlands and that I am trying to define the Highlands. I suggest to the Committee that in this Amendment, and in other matters, too, the definition of the Highlands should be extended to cover the true Highlands. One has only to look at Scotland to see the Highland line. It is visible—a distinction across the country there for all to see. It is extraordinary that some of the highest reaches of land in the kingdom are excluded because they do not happen to fall within the convenient Scottish Office definition.
§ Mr. Rankin
Does not the hon. Member realise that the geological fault goes through Perthshire? He speaks of the Highland line. Ought he not to include Perthshire?
§ Mr. MacArthur
Certainly I do. I include the whole area north and west of Blairgowrie. Those who wish to call on the hon. Member for the Western Isles and enjoy some of the hospitality for which his constituency is so famous—if they have that curious wish—will set off on the road to the Isles and will pass Loch Rannoch, Loch Tummel and approach Lochaber before the Scottish Office recognises that they are in the Highlands.
151 In his Budget statement the Chancellor said that the purpose of the increase in petrol duty was disinflationary. If that is so, then I join my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down South (Captain Orr) in saying that the purpose of the duty is completely irrelevant to the needs of Scotland. There is no cause for disinflationary action in Scotland. The country's economic position does not require disinflationary action, whether in the form of an increase in the petrol duty or in the form of an increase in the Bank Rate.
All these measures impede growth in Scotland. It is growth that we must encourage and growth that the previous Government went all out to get. The people of Scotland will see in the present Chancellor of the Exchequer the 1964 Hammer of the Scots. He has dealt two blows to our country from which it will take us a long time to recover.
I believe that the effect of the increase in duty in Scotland will be inflationary and not deflationary. Already we have seen the evidence. Within a day or two of the increase being announced, road haulage rates went up by 5 per cent. A few days ago, in my constituency, the retail price of delivered milk went up by ½d. a pint to compensate for the increase in the cost of delivery. This is inevitable, because the distances to be covered in delivering any consumer requirement in the far north and centre of Scotland are far greater than in the more crowded constituencies of the South.
I tried to find out what was the average road journey in Scotland but the figure cannot be obtained. Simply as an indication, and no more than that, of the extra length of journey, I would point out that for every lorry in Scotland there is twice as much road as for every lorry in England. This is an indication that a lorry on its journey is likely to travel much further than is the case south of the Border.
Transport costs are an enormous element in Scotland. The cost of the duty increase undoubtedly often will be passed on to the public and so be completely inflationary. There are, however, other examples where the cost cannot be passed on.
One product for which my constituency is justly famous is seed potatoes, which 152 are often carried by road. This year British Railways, quite rightly, went after the business by offering very attractive transport rates, but, alas, they were not able to provide the wagons needed to carry the potatoes that they wanted to carry, and so many merchants had to send them by road. The increase in the cost of delivering seed potatoes by road is about £2 for the round trip to the Midlands and £3 to the south of England. The total annual increase per lorry over the six active months of seed and ware potato delivery is about £130. The costs of one merchant in my constituency will go up by about £1,000 a year as a direct result of the increase in petrol duty.
This year, the cost cannot be passed on because so many potatoes are being delivered at a contract delivered rate. Who can doubt that in future the housewife will have to pay more for the potatoes which she buys in the shops?
A further concern of mine is this. When industry considers a move to Scotland, one of the disincentives is transport costs. Industrialists fear that by setting up in Scotland they will have to pay very much more for the transport of their products to the conurbations in which they sell them. Under the Conservative Government, we were successful in encouraging much new industry to come to Scotland. I was glad to learn from the Minister of State, Board of Trade this week that up to the end of October this year, under measures of the Conservative Government, £63 million had been made available for new industrial development in Scotland and that since last year's Budget nearly 2,300 applications had been received in respect of new industrial development as a result of the benefits of that Budget. This is a great advance.
Just as we are reaching a critical stage in Scotland's industrial development, the Government slap on a tax which is a positive disincentive to new growth. This is a critical moment. I do not use the phrase lightly. We have at last achieved a major industrial break-through in Scotland. During the past year, for the first time, our rate of new employment growth was greater than that in the rest of Britain.
§ Mr. MacArthur
If the hon. Gentleman doubts that, I refer him to paragraph 13 153 of the White Paper "Development and Growth in Scotland, 1963–64", Cmnd. 2440. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] If hon. Members press me, I will read it. It says:Final employment figures are not yet available for mid-1964, but provisional estimates suggest that there has been a rise of at least 11,000 in the number of employees in employment in manufacturing industry alone between mid-1963 and mid-1964, a rise of 1.6 per cent. compared with a rise of 1.3 per cent. in the same period in Great Britain as a whole.This fact has enormous significance for Scotland, because under the Conservative Government we at last achieved this great break-through—[Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh at this, but it is of fundamental importance to their constituents and to mine.
§ Mr. MacArthur
It is at this very point that the Government introduce not only an increase in the petrol tax, but an increase in Bank Rate—two measures which will inevitably hold back the growth of Scotland.
There are 37 or 38 Scottish Labour Members who are not even here to listen to this critical debate. Where are they? It is shameful that they are not here. They should have been here to hear this argument, and to support us in the Division Lobby when we try to crush what is for Scotland a retrograde and damaging measure.
§ Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)
I wish to support this Amendment for a variety of reasons. It has always seemed to me a quite wise thing so to adjust the tax system as to meet the needs of geography and the various regions within the United Kingdom. There is no fundamental or overriding reason why the taxation system should be the same in all areas. I know that this idea was objected to by the Treasury for many years, but the objection was finally undermined when my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) in his Budget two and a half years ago brought in the special depreciation and other allowances which have been such a help in Scotland —[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Clark Hutchison
That action of my right hon. Friend was a tremendous benefit to Scotland and has resulted in many new industries coming to our country and inquiries from other industries which may come.
In considering this increase of the fuel tax it must be remembered that in many outlying parts of Scotland fuel costs more than in more central areas, or in England; and any increase is bound to make it more difficult for Industry to go to the Highlands and other areas where all hon. Members, I suggest, wish to see it established. Scottish industries and companies in general have to face higher transport costs than those in the South and nearer to centres of mass markets.
As for road haulage, this fuel tax cannot be absorbed by the companies concerned. I happen to be connected with road haulage and I can tell the Committee that although transport companies may be very efficient, and often are, and are able to compete, and to save costs on all sorts of things like the turn round of vehicles, administration, and routeing, they are quite incapable of absorbing any additions there may be in the costs of vehicles and costs of fuel. These must be passed on to the consumers, and that ultimately will result in dearer goods. If the Government wish to see costs going up in Scotland and goods costing more, then one way of making sure that this happens is to put on the fuel tax.
I turn to one or two other points. This tax will not apply to the railways—to diesel locomotives; but what about the road vehicles which British Railways own? I refer to parcels vans, and the maintenance vans which go out to look after the signalling system, telegraphs and telephones, should there be breakdowns. Are these to be affected? If so, there will be a further loss in the Scottish Region of British Railways.
What is the situation for buses and other vehicles owned by town councils and corporations in Scotland? I know it has been said that there will be a rebate scheme for buses, but if there is such a scheme it will cost time and money in extra clerical work. What I wish to know—perhaps the Minister will pay some attention to this point—is whether or not this rebate is to apply 155 to other vehicles owned by corporations, such as maintenance vehicles and refuse vehicles.
Since I have been a Member of this House, Edinburgh Corporation has continually pressed me to do my best to see that the fuel tax is reduced, and I am sure that the electors of Edinburgh will note that it is a Socialist Government who are putting up their costs, and will know what to do at the next election.
During the last Parliament we heard constant exhortations from hon. Gentlemen opposite about the need to help Scotland. Many of those speeches were very good, and I agreed with them, but of all things to do, the worst in my opinion—and the one that harms public authorities, businesses and private individuals most—is to increase the fuel tax. Nobody except a stupid and incompetent Government would introduce such a measure.
§ Mr. Stratton Mills (Belfast, North)
I have examined the Treasury Bench during this debate, and although there have been three, or possibly four, Ministers representing the Scottish Office present all the time, it is a matter of some disappointment to hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland that no one from the Home Office, which is responsible for Northern Ireland, has been present to help us in pressing our needs.
It will be interesting to hear the Government's reply to this debate. I am certain that if the Chief Secretary looks at his brief he will find, as in all Treasury briefs, a hefty section marked, "Administrative difficulties". He may wish to base his argument about Scotland on that point, but I hope he will not use this argument with regard to Northern Ireland for the reasons one of my hon. Friends made clear. There are obvious advantages in being a self-contained area, and different price levels for petrol in Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland have never created any difficulty.
During the last few years there has been a much greater movement towards regional variation in taxation, and in the general approach to this problem. Again, as one of my hon. Friends said, free depreciation has been introduced on a 156 regional basis, and in Northern Ireland there is a subsidy for oil and coal used in industry. This is another example of regional variation, and I could give many others. I hope that the Minister will address his mind to the overall pattern of the Budget, and to the utter irrelevancy of measures of this kind to areas like Northern Ireland.
On 24th November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:The disinflationary effect of the Budget is greater than many people have understood or have said."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1104.]
§ Mr. Stratton Mills
I beg your pardon, Dr. King.
Time and again during his Second Reading speech the Chancellor referred to the disinflationary effects of the Budget. If a madman had escaped in the Treasury, and in the sequence of a James Bond novel had smuggled himself into the Chancellor's room and delivered the Budget which the right hon. Gentleman delivered, he could not have found a more irrelevant piece of machinery for areas of unemployment to bring before the House.
Areas such as Northern Ireland and Scotland, which are struggling to develop and to encourage new industry, will be greatly hit by this type of measure. In fact, to them it is positively unfair, in that the distances which people travel in the prosperous South and Midlands are very much shorter than those which people travel in Scotland and Northern Ireland, owing to the outlying nature of the countryside. I have calculated that an ordinary motorist, doing about 12,000 miles a year in a car which does 30 miles to the gallon, will pay an extra £10 a year in tax. The Government may say that that is not very much, but all these additional burdens are making themselves felt in areas like Northern Ireland.
Following his 1961 Budget my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) thought fit to use the money collected in Northern Ireland from the regulator tax for public investment purposes in that country. I suggest that the Chief Secretary should 157 consider whether this type of duty cannot be used similarly for public investment in Northern Ireland. I ask him to give an assurance that this issue will be discussed with the Northern Ireland Government.
§ The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Diamond)
After a most interesting and fairly full debate, I think that it would be convenient if I were to tell the Committee what the views of the Government are on this group of Amendments, which are of considerable importance and have been argued with lucidity and force by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.
The purpose of the three Amendments is very clear, and it is one with which no one would disagree. The purpose is to encourage development in certain areas. The reason why neither my hon. and right hon. Friends nor I would attempt to disagree with that purpose is that the need for development in certain areas is very great, and has been for a long time. It is a measure of the circumstances which we find ourselves facing that we have to deal with these matters, and that there is so much interest in this debate. I take it as a great compliment to the Government that most hon. Members opposite have based their case on the assumption that we should have done in 40 days what they should have done in over 4,000 days. It is natural that we should work ten times as fast: working a hundred times as fast is a little challenging—but we will do our best.
Let us get the case absolutely clear; the reason for these Amendments are the circumstances which we find as a new Administration taking over. There is no disagreement among us that help is required; the question is: how can we best help? The method suggested in the Amendments is one which does not find support on this side of the Committee. The main reason is that which was put forward by the Conservative Government whenever there was a measure which increased petrol duty. The Conservative Government never—I repeat, never—attempted any kind of regional differentiation, because they knew that it was impossible for all practical purposes. There is no difference between this Government and the Conservative Government on that fact; it is for all 158 practical purposes impossible to institute regional differentiation.
The impossibility is admittedly greater in the Highlands than in Scotland generally, and greater in Scotland than in Northern Ireland, but in all cases it is an impossibility. It is impossible, because of the wording of the Amendments. We never draw too much attention to that in these debates, because in Committee we can always alter the words if we desire. But the wording draws attention to the question of oil for sale. Our attention is being directed to the sale, and not to the use of the oil, not to the region where the oil is to be used.
I should have thought that what is in the minds of the supporters of the Amendments is the place where the petrol is to be used. This is administratively unworkable, because the duty is collected at the point at which the petrol leaves the bonded warehouses which are widespread, and there is no means whatever of identifying a particular gallon of petrol as it leaves a bonded warehouse with the use to which it is to be put, which is the whole purpose of this group of Amendments.
I recognise the point raised by the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills), but it is not possible to identify it in the case of Northern Ireland because of the border difficulty. It was obviously difficult in relation to the Highlands of Scotland. Listening to the debate it became perfectly clear that there is no definition of the Highlands which is acceptable to both sides of the Committee. In Ireland, this would not be possible, because a great deal of the petrol for Northern Ireland comes from warehouses in Great Britain and it is not possible to identify it at every point.
The first point, as has been recognised by every Government, is that it is not possible in this way to do what it is sought to do. There is the further obvious point of exploitation; it is so obvious that it needs only to be mentioned to be understood. It is the attempt at exploitation by persons on one side of the border to buy petrol in a cheaper area—if there were a cheaper area—and using it in an area for which it was not intended. There is no possible way to stop that from happening.
What we are concerned with is not the purpose of these Amendments, but 159 the method of achieving it. By far the better methods of achieving regional development are those which my right hon. Friend the First Secretary is concerned with, in the development of economic affairs and the proposals which he has already brought before the House. He has indicated the lines which we are adopting. It would not be right for me to go into them in great detail, but they are fundamental and profound, and are concerned with the economy and its development in these areas. That is the way in which this should be done, not by administratively impracticable and unworkable arrangements relating to some indirect taxation.
The hon. Member for Belfast, North was wrong when he attempted to say that there were precedents for what is being suggested. There are not. There are precedents for dealing by a regional method with direct taxation, but there is no case of any kind where indirect taxation has been dealt with differently in different regions because of the administrative situation. The point I wish to make—it is something that we should accept and understand—is that we are anxious to achieve what all the hon. Members who have spoken and have put their names to these Amendments are anxious to achieve, but the method proposed is not workable and is not a satisfactory method. In attempting to achieve what we all want to achieve the methods of the Government are better.
Before coming to the detailed points I wish to refer to something which has been mentioned before, the cost involved, which is £8 million, so far as Scotland is concerned, and approximately £2½ million for Northern Ireland, a total of £10½ million. Having regard to the pressure of demand on the economy as a whole and the need to make room for exports which is a crying and insistent need—
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Diamond
Which is a crying and insistent need. This shows that one could not, without complete irresponsibility, accept Amendments which had 160 an effect on the demand on our resources of a kind that will arise if £10½ million additional purchasing power were suddently brought to bear, which is what would happen if these Amendments were accepted.
Having dealt with the matter in general, and shown that it is not possible to accept these Amendments, I propose to answer some of the detailed points which have been put to me during the debate. The right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), who opened this debate, referred to the tourist traffic, and nobody is keener than I am to encourage the tourist traffic. He thought that this would be a great deterrent, that people coming from abroad would be deterred by the size of the increase in the petrol tax. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what he said.
§ Mr. Diamond
I am sorry that there is a misunderstanding. I thought that that was exactly what I was saying—that the proposal in the Bill would act as a deterrent, according to what the right hon. Gentleman has argued.
I do not accept this at all, because of its scale. The suggestion is that a visitor from Belgium who pays 3s. 5½d. duty for his gallon of petrol would be put off by our 3s. 3d. a gallon duty. I do not accept that a visitor from Italy who spends 4s. 4½d. duty on his gallon of petrol would be deterred from coming here, where the tax is 3s. 3d. I do not accept that a visitor from France who pays a duty of 4s. 9d. on a gallon of petrol would be deterred from coming here, where the proposed rate is 3s. 3d.
Nor do I accept that an intending visitor from the United States would be put off when he found that the cost of hiring a car and touring around Britain would be one-fifth of 1d. a mile more than he had thought it would be, and that, therefore, he will cancel his trip. These just are not realistic figures. There is no problem whatsoever of that aspect of it.
The question that the right hon. Gentleman further dealt with was that of the rural population and the difficulty of transport, both by bus and by car. 161 I have been impressed, as I have listened to the whole of the debate, with the need which is recognised on both sides of the Committee for more buses for Scotland, particularly in the rural areas. These are the circumstances which derive from the Administration which preceded ours. One must recognise this. There have been complaints by my hon. and right hon. Friends, when on that side of the Committee, for the past 13 years on this very topic. I want to make it clear that it is no part of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to make any more difficult the problem of buses catering for fare stages in the ordinary way.
As has already been announced, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has had preliminary discussions with the bus operators and it is expected that a satisfactory conclusion will be reached to the points which have been discussed and will result in removing, if not the whole, at least a very substantial measure of any possible additional difficulty which is being put on buses as a result of the proposed increase of 6d. a gallon. I have already said that it is an extra one-fifth of 1d. a mile for cars, and I find it difficult to believe that a person who has, as I was told, to travel 100 miles if he wants to go to a cinema, will be put off by having to pay that extra one-fifth of 1d. a mile.
The right hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) referred to the addition to the cost of living. I repeat figures given in the Budget statement. It is regrettable that an increase is necessary, and I have already explained why it is, but the immediate increase in the cost of living is one-fifth of a point. Ultimately, when the cost of this additional taxation has gone right through and come out in the form of prices, it may be as high as half a point.
The answer to those who said that, inevitably, such an increase in taxation means an additional charge at the end of the day is that we are asking that when an additional cost like this occurs, it should not automatically be put on prices and passed to the consumer. What everyone running a business and industry must do is to say, "This is a challenge. I must see by what greater efficiency, by what new thinking and by what new plant I can avoid passing on 162 any of this increased cost". It is not until this attitude is so ingrained in every director and chairman of a business that we shall get a proper attitude to prices. Every worthwhile businessman will accept what I am saying without hesitation.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I shall be interested to know whether the right hon. Gentleman's statement in the Budget about the increase in the cost of living takes into account the increase of ½d. a pint in the delivered price of milk, to which I referred earlier. It is impossible for the milk producer, working on a tiny margin, to absorb an extra cost of this kind in his normal running operation.
§ Mr. Diamond
I cannot accept in a general way that it is impossible for anybody running a business to increase the efficiency of that business so as to absorb a small additional charge which may arise. If one is running a business, the first way in which to meet any increased cost is to ask how one can absorb it without passing any of it on at all. That is the attitude which we must encourage.
The answer to the hon. Member's question, when he asked whether all these things had been taken into account, is, "Yes". The best estimate one can give, taking into account a whole series of stages which will arise, is that when the additional cost has worked all the way through there will be in increase of less than half a point. The immediate increase is about one-fifth of a point in the cost-of-living index. On any of these grounds, therefore, we are entitled to reject the arguments which have been advanced and to accept the duty as a necessary part of getting the economy of the country back on to a proper keel. Does the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) wish to intervene?
§ Mr. Diamond
I recognise that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee want to get on with the Bill. We have been discussing this group of Amendments for over two hours and there are three other Amendments on this Clause alone, and other Amendments, too, which hon. Members wish to discuss.
163 If I could I would give the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) a breakdown of the figures for Northern Ireland, but it is not possible to divide them between this country and Northern Ireland. The complete breakdown of the figures was given during the debate. In broad terms, approximately one-third is in respect of private motoring—not business motoring; a little over 50 per cent. in respect of industry and commerce as a whole; with the balance taken up with minor matters. I have no knowledge whether the breakdown would be on almost identical lines in Northern Ireland, but the hon. and gallant Member can draw his own conclusions from his knowledge of a comparison between the two countries.
We recognise the unemployment position in Northern Ireland. We should do. We drew attention to it from the benches opposite for 13 years. This is part of the process of putting that right. [Interruption.] Indeed it is. We will never be able to deal with the economy of Northern Ireland until the economy of the United Kingdom as a whole is strong and growing again and until we have our balance of payments right. As part of getting our balance of payments right we must—and I repeat "must"—stop some imports coming in and have more exports going out. To provide room for those exports we must relieve part of the pressure of demand in the way we are doing.
These are all logical steps to help deal with unemployment in Northern Ireland, the Highlands, Scotland and elsewhere. Until people are prepared to take a long and responsible view we will make no progress whatever.
§ Mr. Diamond
I hesitate to try your patience unduly, Dr. King, and I recognise that this debate touches on wider aspects although we are dealing with a series of Amendments. The short answer to the hon. Gentleman is a very solid "No, it does not." The Conservative stop-go means putting men off the bench into the street. What we are doing is to keep everybody at work.
§ Captain Orr
Even if we accept the argument that deflationary measures may be necessary for the economy as a whole, and that it is in the interests of Northern Ireland that such measures should be taken, is the Minister not going to say what special measures the Government propose to take for Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. Diamond
We are dealing with a group of Amendments which relate to petrol duty and to the exclusion of it in relation to certain regions. I have explained, against the general economic background, how we are anxious to help. I have indicated the best method of help and I have demonstrated that the method proposed in the Amendment falls far short of being the best method.
I hope that I have dealt with all the points raised in the debate, although I appreciate that I was asked whether the export rebate would cover the additional petrol duty, be it on lorries or whatever the case may be. The answer is that it will, and that it will go the whole way through. The time to cover that will be in regard to the general percentage which is being negotiated. But it cannot possibly have a damaging effect on our exports. It cannot have more than a very minimal effect on the cost of living. It is part of the price that we have to pay to get our economy strong and I am bound, therefore, to ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)
I am glad to have an opportunity to address the Committee on this subject. I abstained from interrupting the Minister, although I felt that he was wrong in certain of the facts he presented, because I am sure that he had no wish to mislead the Committee. Since coming to the House of Commons not long ago I have been glad to see the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland fall from 11 per cent. to its present 5½ per cent.
Although the Amendment as drafted may not meet the wishes of the Committee, I do not see why the Government could not alter it, just as the then Government altered a similar Amendment which I presented two or three years ago when I sought to exempt Northern Ireland from the payroll tax. I remind hon. Members opposite that the then Government listened to the arguments which were adduced, accepted them and then chose 165 their own method of drafting a suitable Amendment. The arguments advanced then are equally applicable today.
As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has elaborated, we in Northern Ireland are suffering from a severe and difficult unemployment problem—more severe even than that which has been mentioned by Scottish Members. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury stated that it was impossible to differentiate in the case of Northern Ireland because a lot of petrol in Northern Ireland comes from depôts in England. I should like him to examine this point particularly, because the duty on petrol brought into Northern Ireland is levied in Northern Ireland and it is quite possible to treat that petrol separately. Therefore, I ask him between now and Report to reconsider the point.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
If it is so simple, why did not the previous Government do this when they increased the petrol duty on a number of occasions?
§ Mr. McMaster
I do not wish to delay the Committee at this late hour. I have shown one way in which the last Government helped Northern Ireland and reduced unemployment in the course of 12 months by 2 per cent. If the present Government can reduce unemployment there by 2 per cent. in the next 12 months it will be very much to their credit.
I should like to direct the attention of hon. Members opposite to a passage in their own White Paper, "The Economic Situation". Paragraph 13 on page 4 states:The Government will foster more rapid development in the under-employed areas of the country.Does this proposal do anything to foster more rapid development in Northern Ireland? I do not think so. I for one could not accept the explanation given by the Chief Secretary. I sincerely ask him to reconsider this point and to see if he can do something more to reduce our very severe unemployment in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd
I do not think the Chief Secretary has made out his case this evening, and I should like briefly to explain why. He was sympathetic to 166 the general theme that we wish to help Northern Ireland, and I am addressing my remarks particularly to the problem of Northern Ireland. He almost gave the impression that if it had been possible to accept our Amendment he might have considered it favourably. He indicated, indeed, that he would not pay too much attention to the actual form of the Amendment. He did not want to dwell too much on any technical explanations in it.
Then the hon. Gentleman argued that because the petrol came from dêpots in this country where it could not easily be distinguished, he felt it was a practical impossibility to deal with the problem. He also said that we on these benches had done so little and that the present Government were having to deal with a situation that they had inherited. I should like to point out that in the matter of coal the last Government dealt with this problem. Coal also comes from dêpots in this country and is indistinguishable. Therefore, if one were to accept the hon. Gentleman's argument, one might say that it was administratively impracticable to deal with the problem. But in spite of the boasts of what the party opposite has done in the last few days and the hon. Gentleman's somewhat derisory comments about us, in fact we solved this problem. It was not an easy problem to solve, nor was it politically easy, because the Treasury is a very powerful Department and the Treasury does not like subsidies
The last Government were able to deal with this problem by means of a subsidy on coal which went to and was used in Northern Ireland. That was for the very reason the hon. Gentleman has mentioned—and to which he is rather sympathetic—that we wished to encourage the industrial development of Northern Ireland. Not only did we deal with the problem about coal, but we put a subsidy on oil for Northern Ireland also.
I suggest that if the hon. Gentleman did not give way so easily to the administrative difficulties to which Ministers find it so easy to give way, he could do the same. In this respect the last Government did not give way. They forced their way through to a solution, and the hon. Gentleman could find a solution to the problem on the lines which we 167 so successfully followed in relation to coal and oil. He suggested that exporters should solve the problem with extra dynamism and find a way through. If he tackled this problem in the same spirit he would find a solution.
§ Sir Knox Cunningham
I do not wish to detain the Committee at this hour for long, but this is a much too important debate for Ulster to leave it without saying a few words. I listened very attentatively to what the Chief Secretary said about administrative difficulties. I am not wedded to the particular terms of the Amendment, but I ask him to accept the spirit behind it.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) referred to the subsidy given both in respect of coal and oil to help Ulster. If a similar method could achieve the same result in this problem it would be a matter of considerable importance to the community in Ulster. It would be important for farmers who of necessity use their cars for business and find costs going up. All this would be of very considerable importance to the Ulster community. These "impossibilities" are not really impossible. The Chief Secretary could find a way of getting round them if he sets his mind to it. He said that it would take £2½ million out of the purchasing power of Ulster. What is that but deflation? What is that if it is not doing hurt and harm to the economy and people there?
If he would not put his mind to these ideas, but try to find a way of alleviating great hardship in Ulster, Ulster and the Committee would be most grateful to him. If he is not to do that, and use his ability in that way, of course we must press this Amendment to a Division.
§ Sir D. Glover
Until the Chief Secretary replied to this debate, I had no intention of intervening. Anyone who intervenes in a debate largely devoted to Northern Ireland and Scotland and does not know those areas is acting with great trepidation. I do so because for two and a half years during the war I slept on nearly every mountain in Scotland. I have never disclosed this in the House because I was afraid of being put on a 168 Scottish Committee. I do know the problems of Scotland.
The hon. Gentleman said that it would cost £10½ million. Living in the lush areas of Gloucestershire and London, he does not know what he is talking about when he speaks about increased efficiency. How can a chap who collects milk from five farms over an area of 50 or 100 miles increase his efficiency by a halfpenny a mile? How does the man who goes over vast distances to collect eggs increase efficiency to meet this on-cost in his Budget? It is obvious that the Chief Secretary does not understand the problems of Northern Ireland and does not appreciate the problems of the Highlands of Scotland.
I point out to the hon. Gentleman that even during the war food was not rationed north of the Caledonian Canal because it was not considered administratively worth while to do so. If it was not considered at that time that there would be a great flood into the rationed areas, does he think that the concession on the petrol duty north of the Caledonian Canal would make many people drive north of the Canal? If the duty did not apply north of the Border between England and Scotland how many people in England would drive over the Border to collect their petrol? On the basis of it costing another 6d. it would not be worth their while doing so, but the total cost to Scotland will be £8 million.
This will be very deflationary in areas where we are trying to increase employment. It will provide a marginal disincentive to expansion of industry. How many people from England will go to collect petrol in Scotland under those conditions? Suppose there were an increase in the number of tourists who went to Scotland.
For years we have been trying to increase the tourist trade which could be helped by this new Administration overcoming the difficulties if they would look at the problem as it is. This is not an administrative impossibility. The Chief Secretary would become very popular if these concessions were made. He would be providing a very big incentive for the continued growth of industry in both Northern Ireland and Scotland, and I therefore ask him to reconsider before it is too late.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Noble
The hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) suggested that it was impudent of me to be censorious. It was staggering to me to listen to him at the end of his speech practically reading from a Treasury brief. When we came to the real Treasury brief, I was sure that it was very familiar to the hon. Gentleman, although not out of his own mouth. He began by saying that for all practical purposes our proposal was impossible, an argument largely demolished by my right hon. and hon. Friends since, and he then proceeded on the other well-known Treasury tack to argue the housemaid's baby case—that it did not really matter because it was only a little one. There was no doubt that he convinced no one on this side of the Committee or, I suspect, on his, that what is disinflationary—a word which the Treasury seems to prefer to "deflationary"—to the tune of £10½ million for these areas of the country where we are trying to get industry going is something which we can shrug off as of no importance.
I call the hon. Gentleman's attention to one short passage from this famous document "Signposts for Scotland",
which he may or may not have had the misfortune to read. Talking of the first consideration of a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer, it says:
We are determined that the money shall come from those who can best afford to reduce their personal expenditure. The restriction on luxury spending and extravagant consumption will both control the inflationary pressures which they bring into operation and release resources of all kinds for necessary development. Scotland will stand to gain more from this fairer sharing of both benefits and burdens just because of our present relatively greater needs.
If the Government had paid some attention to that!
§ We do not complain that they have not put Scotland entirely right in 40 days but that they have taken a great number of positive measures which, on their own admission, damage Scotland and Northern Ireland and that they will make no concessions on this except to talk about a vague plan which they hope one day to bring in, and I will ask my right hon. and hon. Friend to divide the Committee on this Amendment.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 196, Noes 215.173
|Division No. 13.]||AYES||[10.31 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Cole, Norman||Gardner, Edward|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Cooke, Robert||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Cooper, A. E.||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Astor, John||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Costain, A. P.||Gower, Raymond|
|Awdry, Daniel||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Grant, Anthony|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Grieve, Percy|
|Balniel, Lord||Crawley, Aidan||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)|
|Batsford, Brian||Crowder, F. P.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Curran, Charles||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Currie, G. B. H.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)|
|Bessell, Peter||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Biffen, John||Dance, James||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Bingham, R. M.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hastings, Stephen|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Dean, Paul||Hawkins, Paul|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Hay, John|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Box, Donald||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Doughty, Charles||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brewis, John||Drayson, G. B.||Hornby, Richard|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||du Cann, Edward||Homsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Eden, Sir John||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hunt, John (Bromley)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Emmet, Hn. Mrs. Evelyn||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Fell, Anthony||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Buck, Antony||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Jennings, J. C.|
|Chataway, Christopher||Forrest, George||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Foster, Sir John||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Jopling, Michael|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Morgan, W. G.||Stainton, Keith|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Talbot, John E.|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Murton, Oscar||Temple, John M.|
|Kitson, Timothy||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Lambton, Viscount||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon. S.)|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Longbottom, Charles||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lubbock, Eric||Percival, Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Peyton, John||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|McLaren, Martin||Pitt, Dame Edith||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|MacIeod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|McMaster, Stanley||Prior, J. M. L.||Walters, Dennis|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Pym, Francis||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Marten, Neil||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Maude, Angus E. U.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Whitelaw, William|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Martin||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Mawby, Ray||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Roots, William||Wise, A. R.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Russell, Sir Ronald||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Sharples, Richard||Wylie, N. R.|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Shepherd, William||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Mitchell, David||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Monro, Hector||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. MacArthur and Mr. More.|
|Albu, Austen||Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Dunn, James A.||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Dunnett, Jack||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Edelman, Maurice||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Kelley, Richard|
|Atkinson, Norman||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||English, Michael||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Ennals, David||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Barnett, Joel||Ensor, David||Lawson, George|
|Beaney, Alan||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bence, Cyril||Finch, Harold (Bedwelty)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bennett J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Binns, John||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Blackburn, F.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Floud, Bernard||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Boardman, H.||Foley, Maurice||McBride, Neil|
|Boston T. G.||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||MacDermot, Niall|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)||Freeson, Reginald||McGuire, Michael|
|Boyden, James||Galpern, Sir Myer||McInnes, James|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Garrett, W. E.||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Bradley, Tom||Garrow, A.||MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ginsburg, David||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Gourlay, Harry||MacMillan, Malcolm|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Gregory, Arnold||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Grey, Charles||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hale, Leslie||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Manuel, Archie|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Mapp, Charles|
|Coleman, Donald||Harper, Joseph||Mason, Roy|
|Conlan, Bernard||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mikardo, Ian|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hayman, F. H.||Millan, Bruce|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hazell, Bert||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Holman, Percy||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Horner, John||Murray, Albert|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Neal, Harold|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Newens, Stan|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Howie, W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hoy, James||Norwood, Christopher|
|Dempsey, James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Diamond, John||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Dodds, Norman||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Doig, Peter||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Orme, Stanley|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Owen, Will||Rowland, Christopher||Varley, Eric G.|
|Padley, Walter||Sheldon, Robert||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Palmer, Arthur||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Wallace, George|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Silkin, John (Deptford)||Warbey, William|
|Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Weitzman, David|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Pentland, Norman||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Perry, E. G.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Prentice, R. E.||Small, William||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Probert, Arthur||Solomons, Henry||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Redhead, Edward||Spriggs, Leslie||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Rees, Merlyn||Stones, William||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Richard, Ivor||Swam, Thomas||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Symonds, J. B.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Taverne, Dick||Woof, Robert|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Rose, Paul B.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Tinn, James||Mr. Whitlock and Mr. McCann.|
|Urwin, T. W.|
Amendment proposed: In page 2, line 6, at end insert:
on oils for sale otherwise than in Northern Ireland and at the rate of two shillings and nine pence on oils for sale in Northern Ireland."—[Captain Orr.]
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 189, Noes 208.177
|Division No. 14.]||AYES||[10.42 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Dalkeith, Earl of||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Dance, James||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Jennings, J. C.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Astor, John||Dean, Paul||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jopling, Michael|
|Awdry, Daniel||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Balniel, Lord||Doughty, Charles||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Drayson, G. B.||Kimball, Marcus|
|Batsford, Brian||du Cann, Edward||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Eden, Sir John||Kitson, Timothy|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Lambton, Viscount|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Emmet, Hn. Mrs. Evelyn||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Bessell, Peter||Fell, Anthony||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Biffen, John||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Darwen)||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Forrest, George||Longbottom, Charles|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Foster, Sir John||Lubbock, Eric|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Gardner, Edward||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)|
|Box, Donald||Gibson-Watt, David||McLaren, Martin|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||MacIeod, Rt. Hn. Iain|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Glover, Sir Douglas||McMaster, Stanley|
|Brewis, John||Gower, Raymond||McNair-Wilson, Patrick|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Grant, Anthony||Marten, Neil|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Grieve, Percy||Maude, Angus E. U.|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mawby, Ray|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Buck, Antony||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mitchell, David|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Monro, Hector|
|Cole, Norman||Hastings, Stephen||More, Jasper|
|Cooke, Robert||Hawkins, Paul||Morgan, W. G.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hay, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Higgins, Terence L.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Crawley, Aidan||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Murton, Oscar|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hornsby, Richard||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Curran, Charles||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Sinclair, Sir George||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Percival, Ian||Stainton, Keith||Walters, Dennis|
|Peyton, John||Talbot, John E.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Pitt, Dame Edith||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Whitelaw, William|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Temple, John M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Wise, A. R.|
|Pym, Francis||Thorpe, Jeremy||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Martin||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wylie, N. R.|
|Roots, William||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Sharples, Richard||Vickers, Miss Joan||Mr. MacArthur and Mr. Ian Fraser.|
|Shepherd, William||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Albu, Austen||Foley, Maurice||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Freeson, Reginald||Millan, Bruce|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Garrett, W. E.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Garrow, A.||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Ginsburg, David||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Gourlay, Harry||Murray, Albert|
|Barnett, Joel||Gregory, Arnold||Neal, Harold|
|Beaney, Alan||Hale, Leslie||Newens, Stan|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Bence, Cyril||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Norwood, Christopher|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Harper, Joseph||Oakes, Gordon|
|Binns, John||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Orbach, Maurice|
|Blackburn, F.||Hayman, F. H.||Orme, Stanley|
|Boardman, H.||Hazell, Bert||Oswald, Thomas|
|Boston, T. G.||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Page Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K' town)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Boyden, James||Holman, Percy||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Horner, John||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bradley, Tom||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Howie, W.||Pentland, Norman|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Hoy, James||Perry, E. G.|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Probert, Arthur|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Redhead, Edward|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Coleman, Donald||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Conlan, Bernard||Janner, Sir Barnett||Richard, Ivor|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, T. W. (Wrexham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kelley, Richard||Rose, Paul B.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, Clifford||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Rowland, Christopher|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Sheldon, Robert|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Lawson, George||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Leadbitter, Ted||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Dempsey, James||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Short, Mrs. Renèe (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Diamond, John||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Dodds, Norman||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Doig, Peter||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lomas, Kenneth||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Loughlin, Charles||Slater Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Dunn, James A.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Dunnett, Jack||McBride, Neil||Small, William|
|Edelman, Maurice||McCann, J.||Solomons, Henry|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacDermot, Niall||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McGuire, Michael||Spriggs, Leslie|
|English, Michael||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Stones, William|
|Ennals, David||MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Ensor, David||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Swain, Thomas|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||MacMillan, Malcolm||Symonds, J. B.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Taverne, Dick|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwelty)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Mallalleu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Manuel, Archie||Tinn, James|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Mapp, Charles||Urwin, T. W.|
|Floud, Bernard||Mason, Roy||Varley, Eric G.|
|Wainwright, Edwin||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Walden, Brian (All Saints)||Wilkins, W. A.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Wallace, George||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||Woof, Robert|
|Warbey, William||Williams, Mrs. S. V. T. B. (Hitchin)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Watkins, Tudor||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Weitzman, David||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Grey.|
§ The Chairman
I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we take with the next Amendment Amendment No. 7, in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon).
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
I beg to move, Amendment No. 6, in page 2, line 6, at end to insert:Provided that the rate of the duty shall remain at two shillings and ninepence a gallon for hydrocarbon oils used for the propulsion of cars and other vehicles driven by disabled persons.The reason for these two slightly differing Amendments is as follows. This Amendment seeks abatement of the new petrol or fuel tax for vehicles driven by disabled people, irrespective of the source of supply of the vehicle. It would apply to fuel used in a vehicle while it is driven by a disabled person. The vehicle need not necessarily belong to or be allocated to such a person. The sole qualification would be disablement, even to a minor degree.
This would be the ideal, covering this broad and deserving category of people. I acknowledge that it would be difficult to administer and police this concession and to protect the Excise against abuse, but, on the other hand, it would have the merit of being completely fair as between one disabled person and another.
The second Amendment is drawn more narrowly because of the difficulties which I have just explained. It is restricted to those disabled who have been provided with a motor vehicle by the Ministry of Health, either motor cars or motor tricycles. It would exclude a large number of disabled people whose injury was not sufficient to qualify them for a Ministry of Health vehicle, but who find vehicles such a boon in their restricted activities. It would also exclude about 400 severely disabled war pensioners who already receive Ministry of Health grants to adapt their own cars.
It would include 4,250 war pensioners with Ministry of Health motor cars, and also about 500 war pensioners with Ministry of Health tricycles. In addition, it would include 14,300 disabled people, not war pensioners, or possibly a slightly lesser number than that, allowing for some of those people being supplied with 180 electrical as opposed to hydrocarbon fuel driven tricycles.
Some years ago the Ministry accepted that a disabled person probably did an average of about 7,000 miles a year. At a very rough estimate of 50 miles to the gallon—which would be a very small engine, the small capacity engine of the motor tricycle, and that is taken into account—that is the equivalent of 140 gallons per year, and at 6d. extra tax on fuel that comes to £3 10s. in the year. Thus, it is not a very large sum of money which we are disputing here tonight.
There is a respectable precedent for this concession. Some disabled persons at present receive, included in their annual maintenance allowance, a grant to compensate them for the last increase, or one of the last increases, in fuel tax for motorised tricycles, which amounts to £3 per annum for each disabled person.
I fully recognise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer probably could not accept such a wide Amendment as my first proposal, but the second is narrower, and, as I have explained, excludes a large number of deserving disabled people, so I hope that he will make a choice somewhere between the two and make a concession to this very deserving class of people.
§ Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)
I rise to support the Amendment. I do not want to repeat in detail the arguments used by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon). I want to direct the attention of the Committee to a question of principle, namely, what should be our tax policy when dealing with citizens with physical disabilities? The answer, I suggest, is that when a citizen incurs additional expense by reason of his disability, that additional expense should be taken into account when assessing his liability to tax.
To some extent we do that already. We take physical disability into account when assessing a citizen's liability to direct taxation. To some extent we take it into account when assessing his liability to indirect taxation. What we are asking the Treasury to do now is to maintain the concessions which have hitherto been made, and not to allow them to be eroded by an increase in the petrol tax.
181 We could, I think, go further, and I should like to know what the Treasury thinks about this matter. We could say that we will give all disabled citizens the concessions which we now give some disabled citizens in respect of petrol tax. We could give this concession to every disabled driver who has been accepted by his local authority and issued with a disabled driver's badge. These badges are issued following an examination by local medical officers of health. This would ensure uniformity of treatment.
If the Treasury is not prepared to go as far as that, I should like to know why. It seems to me that, simply as a matter of principle, there is a strong case for saying that we should extend the concession which we have already given to people who, by reason of their disability, are required to incur additional expense. We should extend that principle to all persons who suffer from a disability to the extent that they are obliged to use motor transport to overcome their disability. If the Government are not prepared to go as far as this, I hope that they will give us the reasons why. In that event, I hope that they will be prepared to accept the second Amendment, and thereby ensure that the increase in the petrol tax does not place an additional burden upon all disabled people.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
I support what my hon. and gallant Friend said in moving the Amendment. We are dealing with two categories here—the war disabled and the disabled person who receives his vehicle from the National Health Service—and the 14 gallons free issue of petrol each year. We must see that that concession is not eroded. This is an opportunity for us to be a little generous with this category of people.
I feel that the Chancellor should also seriously consider widening the scope of the National Health free grant of petrol to the 2,000 disabled drivers who have elected to use their own cars rather than the single-seater tricycles. It makes a very great difference to a disabled person if he is able to have someone accompanying him to his work, and people who are trying so desperately and so successfully to help themselves should receive this extra help from us.
This is not a difficult concession to make. The garages from which the petrol 182 must be drawn are designated. If the amount were to be increased to 40 or 50 gallons a year there would be no difficulty. The machinery is available. Nothing new will have to be started. I see no difficulties in connection with getting round the use of special petrol, or getting petrol at a cheaper price. The machinery exists. I hope that hon. Members opposite will support my hon. Friends and see that this concession is made to this most worthy group of people.
§ Sir Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Heeley)
I want to raise a point in connection with the human aspect of this problem. I have a constituent for whom we had the greatest difficulty in getting one of these vehicles. He can only just afford to run it. If we impose a duty even of only £3 or £4 a year it might prevent some people from being able to get about as they do at the moment. I cannot believe that the cost would be very great. I listened to my hon. and gallant Friend moving the Amendment. I cannot believe that it is the Government's intention to use this tax to prevent 5,000, 6,000 or 7,000 people—each of whom will otherwise pay about £3 10s. extra a year under this provision—from getting the recreation which they now so much enjoy.
§ Mr. Diamond
I am sure that the Committee will agree with me that these Amendments have been put forward extremely fairly, very persuasively, and, to everybody's satisfaction, extremely shortly, too, for which I and all of us are grateful.
There are two Amendments, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Colonel Maydon) drew attention to the fact that the first was, as he put it, not workable, but that there were many more arguments which could be put forward in favour of the second. I wonder, therefore, if I could deal with the second one first, that is to say, the reduction in duty so far as motor vehicles provided by the Ministry of Health is concerned.
There are no administrative problems here at all. There is none for the simple reason that the provision here is made by the Ministry of Health; it is not and has not been found either possible or necessary to do it through the machinery of a reduction in duty in a Finance Bill. 183 It is made by the Minister of Health, who has adequate powers from the House already to do whatever is necessary.
I cannot say specifically what decision my right hon. Friend will reach. All I can say is that this matter is being considered. The arguments are powerful, and I recognise that there is considerable hope on the part of many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen that they will be found to be persuasive by my right hon. Friend. But I cannot go further than saying that consideration is being given to them, and that my right hon. Friend, as soon as he has finished going into the various technical points concerned, hopes to be able to reach a decision at most in two or three weeks—no more than that.
It is not possible for me—with the greatest sympathy and understanding of the problem—to give a decision on his behalf tonight. I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman and all who are interested in this matter—as I am sure the whole Committee is—understand the position about Ministry of Health cars.
The other Amendment is one which I must ask the Committee to reject, because it just is not workable, has never been found to be workable, and it widens the situation in a way which would be invidious in the extreme. It is not workable because, as I pointed out during discussion of a previous amendment, duty is collected from the bonded warehouses at the time the petrol is issued, and there are no practical means of ensuring that the duty on the petrol goes for the purposes which the movers of the amendment want it to be used for.
Furthermore, there is this real difficulty—and I hope that I will not be misunderstood here—that if one is talking about disabled persons, whom we all want to help, and whose human problems we all understand, and one brings in the question of degree, one is bringing in a very wide class, but excluding people who are suffering equal hardship, though not disability. One is excluding a whole group of people who have no means at all of getting any benefit, and who it would be difficult to say, on grounds of common sense or humanity, should be differently treated.
184 We have already received representations on behalf of country dwellers, workers in places remote from public transport, old-age pensioners, impoverished clergymen and others; I do not put them all in the same category. I ask the Committee to be good enough to bear in mind that the person suffering from a minor disability, by pure definition, is entitled, under this Amendment, to the benefit of the Amendment, and yet is in no worse a position than many other categories who would be excluded.
Having regard to the practical impossibility of dealing with the relief, which is in everybody's minds, in the way proposed here—the impossibility which has been apparent to earlier Administrations and is being confirmed by the present one—and having regard to the fact that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is at the moment considering the technical problems involved in helping the main group which is covered by the second Amendment, and hopes to be able to reach a conclusion in two or three weeks, I hope that it will be unnecessary to press either of these Amendments to a Division.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
The hon. Gentleman has given us his views on the two Amendments. He has pointed out that the first of them is subject to certain difficulties, which I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) is only too ready to recognise. I myself felt that he might possibly go a little further than he did, on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran).
If disabled drivers can be identified for the purposes for which we know they are identified, I should have thought it possible to identify disabled drivers for these purposes, too. I, and no doubt a number of my hon. Friends, are a little disappointed that we did not receive from the hon. Gentleman the undertaking for which we asked. He explained that his right hon. Friend had the power to make concessions in the direction that we would like, but he did not go so far as to give us a definite undertaking that he would make those concessions. While we realise that he has the power and that he is considering the matter, I am doubtful 185 whether my hon. Friends will be sufficiently satisfied with the undertaking that he has given.
We should like to press the hon. Gentleman to give us a definite undertaking that his right hon. Friend will not only look at this point, but will accept the principle of the Amendment and embody it in the action which he has power to take.
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
Could the Chief Secretary give an assurance that at the same time as this examination is made of the general case stated in the second Amendment he will look at the particular case of the 400 or so war-disabled pensioners who, with grant, have adapted their own cars? That should be a fairly easy addition, and a fairly easily designated addition, to the category of people whom he has accepted for consideration. If he can give us that assurance, I will willingly withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. Diamond
I want to make it quite clear, in response to the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) that I cannot do more than I have said. I am sure that he, from his long experience in government, knows that very well.
The hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) has asked whether, if this Amendment were withdrawn, consideration would be given to the points that he has put forward, particularly the one that he has just mentioned, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. I have been asked to give an undertaking that consideration would be given. I give that undertaking unhesitatingly, that consideration will be given. Indeed, I shall draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the whole of this debate.
There is no difference between either side of the Committee as to what it would be desirable to do if it were possible to do all these things, but I want to make it absolutely clear to the right hon. Gentleman that I cannot go further than say what I have said. Consideration is going on. A decision has not been reached, and I certainly cannot say on behalf of a right hon. Gentleman who has not yet reached a decision that a decision has been reached.
186 If I may suggest it to the Committee. I think that the best way of assisting in the matter is not to have a Division. By far the best way, if I may humbly suggest it, of achieving what hon. Members opposite want to achieve would be for the Amendment to be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Wood
I must press the hon. Gentleman once more. While we accept that he cannot speak for his right hon. Friend in this matter and he cannot give us the final decision that his right hon. Friend will reach, we are anxious to make sure that his right hon. Friend will not only give consideration to this matter. We know that he has the power to act and to embody our Amendment in whatever form is available to him, and we must press the hon. Gentleman for an undertaking that his right hon. Friend will exercise the powers he has in this direction towards giving effect to the Amendment.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Diamond
I have listened carefully to the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) and I can only repeat that a decision has not been reached. I do not propose to use words which fog that issue. A decision has not been reached and, that being the case, I cannot say that one has been reached. I can say, however, that consideration of this issue started long before the Amendment was tabled. Thus, it is not a question of consideration being given in the future because consideration of it has been taking place. I am speaking of consideration which was not prompted by the Amendment. I can only leave it to hon. Members opposite to decide, for I cannot, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, give a decision which has not yet been reached.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
The Committee is placed in a rather impossible position. The Chief Secretary is speaking for the Government. We understand that he cannot commit his right hon. Friend, but can he assure us that a decision will be reached before the conclusion of the Committee stage? Alternatively, if he could give an assurance that a decision will be reached before Report, I feel sure that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) will withdraw the Amendment. 187 We would then have an opportunity, if a satisfactory decision were not reached, to raise the matter on Report.
§ Mr. Diamond
No, Sir. I am sorry. The hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) must make his own decision. I will merely reply to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) by saying that, having regard to the likely date of the Report stage and in view of the statements I have made. I regret that my answer must be "No," because there is no likelihood that a decision will be reached within that short time.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
It is disappointing to see how a change of scenery has changed hon. Members opposite. The Chief Secretary will remember—as will his colleagues the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health—how they pressed hard for a number of excellent causes with great determination and how, on many occasions, they refused to be fobbed off with the sort of answer being tendered tonight.
There has been an agreeable and pleasant atmosphere in the Committee throughout the day and I cannot understand why, on this point, the Chief Secretary, who is fully qualified to deal with this matter, will not really deal with it If he were to say to his right hon. Friend, "On the financial side of this, we will see you through," his right hon. Friend would probably find it easy to come to a decision.
This is clearly a matter for decision by the Treasury. It is disappointing to see the Treasury representatives here, together with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who supervises all this work, and yet the Chief Secretary, who is well qualified to give the sort of undertaking we seek, will not give us this undertaking.
After hearing all this rather regrettable equivocation, I think that if the hon. Gentleman does not give a decision it is because he does not want to and not because he cannot. I very much regret that we are faced with what amounts to blackmail, that if we vote against the Government on this Amendment it will prejudice the matter. This concession 188 is something which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee want to be given. Why should he threaten the Opposition in this way when the only means at our disposal is to vote? I do not believe that he has changed so much. Why should he refuse something which I believe he would like to do?
§ Sir D. Glover
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said the other day on another matter of social legislation that the bankers of Zurich did not like it and it had to be withdrawn. This is money provided by the Treasury; can he not get the Committee out of its difficulty?
§ Mr. Hirst
I rise only for a moment to give the Government a chance to think this matter out a little more. I have had a little experience of this kind of thing on both sides of the Committee. There are occasions when it is fortunate if someone speaks for a little time to give the Government time to consider. I know the mind of hon. and right hon. Members opposite on this matter. I have listened for hour after hour to their views on it and I believe that they would like to do something on the lines of these Amendments.
The Amendment we are discussing was the first put down for Committee. There has been such time to consider it as the Government gave. If there has not been a great deal of time for that it is because they have pressed on to Committee so rapidly after Second Reading. That is not our fault, but theirs. If the Report stage is to come quickly that, also, is their fault. Disabled people and others should not suffer on that account nor should the Opposition, in their duty towards them, suffer on that account.
I sincerely hope that these few words, which are sincerely felt because this is a deplorable situation, have given the hon. Gentleman a little more understanding of the feeling of the Committee so that he will adopt a more humane approach to the subject.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am sorry that the Chief Secretary did not respond to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), which seemed a reasonable one. We feel it important not to part with the Bill until there has been a decision on this matter. As, apparently, we are not to 189 be given an undertaking between now and Report, we must register our views at this stage, because our views must, if possible, prevail.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 169, Noes 197.191
|Division No. 15.]||AYES||[11.23 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Fell, Anthony||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Forrest, George||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Astor, John||Foster, Sir John||Mitchell, David|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Monro, Hector|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||More, Jasper|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Gardner, Edward||Morgan, W. G.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gibson-Watt, David||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Batsford, Brian||Glover, Sir Douglas||Murton, Oscar|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Gower, Raymond||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Grant, Anthony||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Grieve, Percy||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Bessell, Peter||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Biffen, John||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Percival, Ian|
|Box, Donald||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Peyton, John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hastings, Stephen||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Brewis, John||Hawkins, Paul||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hay, John||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Higgins, Terence L.||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Martin|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hirst, Geoffrey||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Buck, Antony||Hornby, Richard||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Sharples, Richard|
|Chataway, Christopher||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Shepherd, William|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Stainton, Keith|
|Cole, Norman||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Cooke, Robert||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Jopling, Michael||Temple, John M.|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kilfedder, James A.||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Crawley, Aidan||Kimball, Marcus||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kitson, Timothy||Van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Lambton, Viscount||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Curran, Charles||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Walters, Dennis|
|Dance, James||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Longbottom, Charles||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Dean, Paul||Lubbock, Eric||Whitelaw, William|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||MacArthur, Ian||Wise, A. R.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Doughty, Charles||McMaster, Stanley||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Drayson, G. B.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Woodnutt, Mark|
|du Cann, Edward||Marten, Neil||Wylie, N. R.|
|Eden, Sir John||Maude, Angus E. U.|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. McLaren and Mr. Pym.|
|Albu, Austen||Boston, T. G.||Conlan, Bernard|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Boyden, James||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Atkinson, Norman||Bradley, Tom||Dalyell, Tam|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Barnett, Joel||Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Delargy, Hugh|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Dempsey, James|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Diamond, John|
|Binns, John||Carmichael, Neil||Dodds, Norman|
|Bishop, E. S.||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Doig, Peter|
|Blackburn, F.||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Donnelly, Desmond|
|Boardman, H.||Coleman, Donald||Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.|
|Dunn, James A.||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Richard, Ivor|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lawson, George||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Leadbitter, Ted||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Rose, Paul B.|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Ennals, David||Lomas, Kenneth||Rowland, Christopher|
|Ensor, David||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Sheldon, Robert|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||McBride, Neil||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McCann, J.||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'castle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwelty)||MacDermot, Niall||Short, Mrs. Renèe (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McGuire, Michael||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Floud, Bernard||MacMillan, Malcolm||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Small, William|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Solomons, Henry|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Garrow, A.||Manuel, Archie||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mapp, Charles||Swain, Thomas|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mendelson, J. J.||Symonds, J. B.|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mikardo, Ian||Taverne, Dick|
|Grey, Charles||Millan, Bruce||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hale, Leslie||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Tinn, James|
|Harper, Joseph||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Murray, Albert||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Neal, Harold||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Hayman, F. H.||Newens, Stan||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Hazell, Bert||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Norwood, Christopher||Wallace, George|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Oakes, Gordon||Warbey, William|
|Horner, John||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Orbach, Maurice||Weitzman, David|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Orme, Stanley||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Howie, W.||Oswald, Thomas||Whitlock, William|
|Hoy, James||Page Derek (king's Lynn)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Palmer, Arthur||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frcderick|
|Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Pargiter, G. A.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pavitt, Laurence||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Pentland, Norman||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Perry, E. G.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Prentice, R. E.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Probert, Arthur||Woof, Robert|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Redhead, Edward||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Kelley, Richard||Rees, Merlyn|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Rhodes, Geoffrey||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ifor Davies.|
§ Mr. Callaghan
I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
I do not know, Sir Samuel, whether you will think that much progress has been made, but I believe it to be very little. We have done two out of 25 pages of Amendments, but, being of a sanguine temperament, I assume that we shall probably make rather faster progress in the next two days. I certainly do not think that we want to have an all-night sitting tonight and I imagine that most hon. Gentlemen will share that view. This is probably a convenient time to adjourn.
§ Question put and agreed to.192
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.