HC Deb 30 April 1981 vol 3 cc916-1006 3.45 pm
Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney and Poplar)

I beg to move amendment No. 49, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert— '4.—(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 for "£0.10" there shall be substituted "£0.115".'.

The Chairman

With this we may take the following amendments:

No. 2, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert— '4.—(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 for "£0.10" there shall be substituted"£0.1191".'. No. 48, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert— '4—(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 leave out 'a duty of excise at the rate of £0.10 a litre" and insert "£0.1382 a litre in the case of light oil and £0.115 a litre in the case of heavy oil".'. No. 1, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert— '4.—(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 for the words "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.10 a hire" there shall be substituted the words "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.1382 a litre in the case of light oil and £0.1191 a litre in the case of heavy oil". '. No. 3, in page 3, line 2, leave out from 'for' to end of line and insert `for the words "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.10 a litre" there shall be substituted the words "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.1382 a litre in the case of light oil and £0.1285 a litre in the case of heavy oil".'. No. 5, in page 3, line 2, leave out from '1979' to end of line and insert `for "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.10 a litre" there shall be substituted "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.1095 a litre in the case of light oil and £0.10 a litre in the case of heavy oil".'. No. 7, in page 3, line 2, leave out `"£0.1382" and insert "0.1191"'.

No. 47, in page 3, line 2, leave out '£0.1382' and insert £0.1285'.

No. 42, in page 3, line 2, at end insert `save that in the case of aviation gasoline there shall be substituted £0.0077 per litre'. No. 9, in page 3, line 2, at end insert `except in the case of lead-free light oil when the duty shall be at the rate of £0.0691.'. No. 46, in page 3, line 3, leave out subsection (2) and insert— '(2) This section shall be deemed to have come into force at six o'clock in the evening on 10th March 1981, but as respects the period beginning at six o'clock in the evening on 10th March 1981 and ending at six o'clock in the evening of 5th May 1981 the rate of duty of excise charged by section 6(1) of the said Act of 1979 shall, notwithstanding subsection (1) above, be £0.1382 a litre in the case of light oil, and £0.1382 a litre in the case of heavy oil.'. No. 445, in page 3, line 4, leave out `10th March 1981' and insert `5th May 1981; but as respects the period beginning at 6 o'clock in the evening of 10th March 1981 and ending at 6 o'clock in the evening of 5th May 1981, the rate of the duty of excise charged by section 6(1) of the said Act of 1979 shall, notwithstanding subsection (1) above, be £0.1382 a gallon'.

Mr. Shore

For the convenience of the House, you, Mr. Weatherill, have decided to take with the Opposition amendments those standing in the name of the Leader of the Liberal Party and those tabled by Back Benchers on both sides of the House. I intend to speak, in particular, to amendments Nos. 48 and 49. We shall have a jumbo debate on the proposed increases in taxation on petrol and heavy oil, but that will not prevent us from having separate votes on the main individual amendments.

With one exception, the theme that unites all the amendments is the desire to reduce, in varying degrees, the savage increase in the excise duties that are to be levied on petrol and derv. First, I shall say a few words about the one exception—amendment No. 9—which seeks to halve the proposed rate of duty on petrol in the case of lead-free light oil. Although it is a probing amendment it is an important one, because there are serious public anxieties about the effects of lead in petrol, particularly on the health of young children.

The medical evidence—by no means unanimous—on the matter was submitted to Professor Lawther, and he reported in March 1980 in careful but generally reassuring terms. Shortly after the publication of his report, fresh and more disturbing evidence became available. According to an exchange of letters that I then had with the Secretary of State for the Environment, that evidence was to be carefully reviewed.

Many months have passed since then and it is time that the House was informed of any further conclusions that the Government and their expert advisers have reached. If the evidence has mounted—if the weight of judgment supports the view that there is a health hazard in even a reduced lead content of petrol—I am certain that the House will feel that effective action should be taken. Strong fiscal encouragement of the use of lead-free petrol is the purpose of our amendment, but I wholly concede that other approaches, including direct regulation of lead content, could be equally or more appropriate.

I come to the proposed new rates of excise duty. The arithmetic is unusually simple, as we are invited by the Government in clause 4(1) to increase the duty from its present level of 10p per litre to 13.82p per litre—an increase, according to my mental arithmetic, of just over 38 per cent. That is by far the largest increase that I can recall during my time as a Member of Parliament. It will fall heavily on all car users, both those who, for travel to work and other essential purposes, are obliged to use their cars, and those who choose to use their cars for leisure and other purposes.

The increase also falls--although there may be some rebate on the VAT element—on commercial and industrial users. According to the Red Book and the statements made during the Budget and Finance Bill debate, the Government expect that this year the yield of the increased duties will be about £910 million from the duties on light oil and a further £270 million from the increased duty on heavy oil for use in road vehicles—in sum, a total increase in taxation of £1,180 million. As if that were not enough, the Chancellor further proposes to raise £225 million by the increase in vehicle excise duty.

We oppose those increases because they are a large part of the major fiscal deflation that is so lamentable a feature of the Budget and the Finance Bill. We also oppose the increased tax on derv, because it can result only in a further unwelcome increase in industrial and business costs. Because we believe that the Budget is perversely and wrongly deflationary, I shall not suggest any alternative tax measures to replace the revenue that I hope the Chancellor will lose in our votes tonight. It is a measure of the modesty of our approach that in respect of light oils and derv our amendments allow for the valorisation of duties on hydrocarbon oils. Valorisation is the underlying rationale for the figure of 11.5p per litre, which, in our first amendment, we seek to substitute for the Chancellor's 13.82p.

If I understand correctly amendments Nos. 2 and 1, they simply intend to halve the proposed increase. I think that our approach is more logical, although if our amendment is lost we shall seriously consider the merits of the amendments standing in the names of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) and his hon. Friends.

The major new impost on petrol prices is demand-deflationary. Some people can use their vehicles less, or even do without them altogether, but the majority of motorists, private and commercial, use their cars and vans either for travel to work or for business purposes. They will therefore continue to consume the same quantity of petrol as they did before the Budget and Finance Bill increases. They will have less to spend, and will spend less on other goods and services, and so add to the deflation of demand in the economy.

I note that it is no part of the Government's case that this is a fuel conservation measure. In the debate last year, when a smaller increase in excise duties on petrol was debated, there was a half-hearted suggestion that a fuel conservation objective might also be served but when pressed the then Chief Secretary—now the Secretary of State for Trade—said with his customary candour in Committee on the Finance Bill: It has been suggested that this might be part of some wider energy conservation scheme. It is possible to argue that there is a modest, albeit intangible, energy conservation consequence in what is proposed, but this is essentially a revenue-raising step."—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 20 May 1980; c. 104.] There was no suggestion by the Prime Minister in her somewhat amazing outburst at The Guardian lunch on 11 March, the day after the Budget—when she was infuriated by the criticisms of the Budget made by those in her own party and Cabinet—that fuel-saving had anything to do with the decision. She and the Chancellor had decided on a £10.5 billion PSBR, and the money was to be raised in whatever way they thought fit. The consequence and intention of clause 4(1) is simply to add to the deflation of demand, which is so lamentable a feature for the economy.

Having made the general point about fiscal deflation, which we strongly oppose, I must make the further point that the motorist and road transport generally have been singled out for exceptionally harsh treatment in the Budget. Hon. Members representing rural areas have been particularly vocal in their objections and I have no doubt that we shall hear more of their feelings during the debate.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

Will the right hon. Gentleman concede that those in rural areas are not as disadvantaged as he suggests? If one drives a car in a built-up area one probably gets 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. fewer miles per gallon than if one drives in rural areas.

Hon. Members


Miss Joan Maynard (Sheffield, Brightside)

I disagree with the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst). Speaking as one who represents rural workers, I agree with my right hon. Friend that car users will be hurt by the tax, and those in rural areas, particularly the workers, will be hardest hit. The level of car ownership in rural areas is about 70 per cent., whereas—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Lady must not make a speech.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)

On a point of order, Mr. Weatherill. We represent our constituents. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard) represents a Sheffield constituency valiantly and well, but she does not represent a rural area. That should be put on the record.

Miss Maynard

That is a pretty poor point, bearing in mind that I am sponsored in the House by rural workers. I am trying to make the point that they will be hurt more than anyone else by the increase in petrol tax. Many rural workers cannot get to work without a car, and the tax increase will be the final blow that will put their cars off the road.

Mr. Shore

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard) and the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) have anticipated the point that I was coming to. I want to give as balanced a view as I can of the effects of the taxes on the users of petrol and on different areas.

Rural areas and their representatives have my sympathy on two counts. First, petrol prices vary in different parts of the country. In rural areas, particularly those in more distant regions of Britain, including large parts of Scotland and Wales and areas of East Anglia and the South-West, prices are significantly higher than in the main conurbations. That is within the observation of all of us who travel about our island.

Secondly, in many of those rural areas no satisfactory public transport is available as an alternative to the use of the private motor car. The decay of public transport in those areas is a subject that requires separate and detailed debate, but the fact of its decline is not seriously in dispute, nor is the Government's failure to do anything to arrest it. If people are inclined to work—perhaps these days I should say "If they have the opportunity to work"—they have to use their cars in order to get to their places of work.

The Chief Secretary does not accept those arguments about rural areas. Addressing the Kensington Conservative supper club—of all places—on 26 March this year, he conceded that those living in rural areas: feel that they have to motor longer distances and they are more dependent on their cars. The right hon. and learned Gentleman sought to ingratiate himself with such motorists by saying that as someone representing a rural constituency I am well aware of the strength of that feeling. But he went on to slap down those people by asserting that research that has been done suggests that rural motorists travel on average about 8 per cent. further each year than urban motorists, but, the nature of rural driving means that theitr petrol consumption per mile is significantly lower—perhaps by up to a third. So this would more than cancel out the increased number of miles. I do not know to what research the Chief Secretary was referring, but, although I represent an urban constituency, I am not persuaded that he has properly considered all the relevant facts in the matter.

I emphasise to my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside and the hon. Member for Hendon, North that the case against the massive increase in excise duties is not basically a partial one. It is not confined to rural motorists. It is a case against a savage further imposition of taxes on the consumer and a case against a further massive demand deflation at a time when the economy is reeling under the impact of recession.

In judging the imposition on the motorist there are two further points that we should bear in mind. First, it is not just demand-deflationary. Increased taxes will fall on business and commercial users of petrol and will, of course, be cost-inflationary as well. According to the CBI—I would welcome either a confirmation or denial of this point from the Treasury—about £320 million of the £910 million increase in excise duties on petrol—well over one-third of the total—will be paid by business and commercial users. That will inevitably increase their costs. I do not wish to exaggerate, but it is equivalent to, and totally offsets, all the alleged advantages—advantages that filled so many ministerial speeches in debates on the Budget and the Second Reading of the Finance Bill—that were supposed to flow from changes in the stock relief scheme, totalling £180 million; the increases in the limits of small companies corporation tax, totalling £12 million; the increase in the VAT registration limit, costing £5 million; and the increased initial building allowances, which will cost nothing in 1981–82.

The cost of all those measures is less than the increased costs inflicted on business and commerce by the increase in petrol excise duty alone.

So far I have confined my remarks to the increase in the excise duties on petrol and the increased costs for those who use petrol. I must also say something about derv. In this country, derv is used overwhelmingly, as far as I can judge, by commercial and industrial concerns. Even when allowance is made for reclaiming the VAT element, the increase in duty is very steep—over 17p a gallon.

The Freight Transport Association has supplied some useful figures, which I hope all hon. Members have received, showing how United Kingdom derv prices, and the element of tax within those prices, compare with prices in other Western European countries. It is staggering to see that, following the Budget, the retail price per gallon in the United Kingdom will be 161p. Our nearest competitor in derv prices is the Federal Republic of Germany, where the retail price is 119p. Prices in all the other EEC countries are below that. The price in Italy is only 74p a gallon. Therefore, derv prices are one-third higher in Britain than in Germany and more than twice the level in Italy.

Mr. Tim Eggar (Enfield, North)

Is it not true that when the right hon. Gentleman's party left office there was a differential in favour of petrol—in other words, derv prices were higher than petrol? Furthermore, there was a wider differential then than there is now between the nearest EEC country and Great Britain.

Mr. Shore

It is possible that that imbalance between the two parts of the taxation had something to do with the voting situation in the House at that time and the votes recorded by the Conservative Party. However, I should want to look closely into that before making a considered reply.

There is an astonishing gap between the two. There is no doubt that it is the weight of taxation that makes the main difference. The tax is now taking 83.8p per gallon on derv in the United Kingdom, as against 54.1p in Germany and a mere 13 per cent. in Italy. That is ludicrous. That is why, in amendment No. 48, we have sought to ensure that whatever happens to petrol the Committee will have the opportunity for a separate vote on the new rate proposed for heavy oil.

One of the most extraordinary features of the Government's thinking, as expressed in their fiscal and other policies, is that they apparently have little regard to the price competitiveness of British industry. I detail not merely the increase in derv duty, and how that compares with Europe, but the major increase in usiness costs that the increase in petrol duty will have. Far from setting themselves the objective of reducing costs wherever possible to promote competitiveness—in spite of the other terrible burdens, such as high interest rates and exchange rates—the Government go out of their way to increase the costs placed on British industry. That is a major charge that the CBI and virtually all business organisations make against them.

We are not discussing a one-off increase in petrol duties, after a long period when no change has occurred, because last year excise duties resulted in an increase of 10p per gallon on petrol and in 1979, in the first Conservative Budget, excise duties were raised by 10p. That is a remarkable loading of costs on the motorist and the system of road distribution, which is predominantly the system under which goods move in Britain.

Some hon. Members will remember, probably better than I, because I was otherwise engaged, the fierce debates in 1977 when my right hon. Friend the then Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed an increase in petrol excise duty. There are hardened men on the Treasury Front Bench, as we know, but there must occasionally be a blush on their cheeks—I welcome the Secretary of State for Energy. He has not begun to blush yet, but I am sure that he will, especially if I read his contributions to the debates—when they recall the hyperboles of denunciation that they let loose on the Labour Government for their proposal in that year. I remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of what he said on 9 May 1977: Our complaint is that this is a selective increase in a selective expenditure tax. He continued: It is deliberately biased against those who have no option about the method by which they travel to work. It is deliberately biased against those living in rural areas. It is deliberately designed to have precisely the wrong effect on the reverse yield gap between going to work and staying at home".—[Official Report, 9 May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 937.] He went on to say that he would much prefer to raise VAT than to single out the motorist. He has done so much damage on VAT, and that may be why he does not feel that it would be right to consider that alternative now. Those words were used—that massive onslaught on what my right hon. Friend the then Chancellor had the audacity to propose when he introduced a 5½p increase. My vocabulary does not extend to the denunciation that a 20p increase in tax so richly deserves.

4.15 pm

There has been much talk in the papers about meetings between the Chancellor and his team and some of his Back Benchers. We have been led to believe that, stubborn and wilful as the Treasury team is, they may nevertheless be contemplating some minimum concessions—the old business of throwing a small bone to a hungry dog in the hope that he will be content and that after a little growling he will go back to his kennel. I hope that Conservative Members will not be satisfied by any such gestures made this afternoon, particularly if those gestures are confined to a concession on derv. We are talking about taxation that amounts to £1,200 million this year—one half of which goes in costs and the other half straight on to deflationary demand.

I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will support both Opposition amendments Nos. 48 and 49. If they cannot bring themselves to do that I hope that they will have the courage and tenacity to pursue their own amendments into the Lobbies, where, if they are fortunate, we may support them later.

Mr. T. H. H. Skeet (Bedford)

I have listened with interest to the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore). He referred to the argument used by the Treasury about the comparative performance in urban and rural areas. There is an enormous hole in that argument because four-star petrol in mid-April was priced in North Scotland at 160p per gallon, in Norwich at 152p and in Manchester as low as 149p. Therefore, even if there is an 8 per cent. gain it would be lost in the additional price paid in various parts of the country.

Amendment No. 2 seeks to reduce the increase to lop on derv and petrol. Amendment No. 1 seeks to reduce the increase on derv alone.

This is a time of cumulative burdens on industry and commerce with high interest rates, a strong pound, excessive rates and high energy and transport costs. I have taken two or three examples at random. I can put my case succinctly if I read extracts from two letters that I have received—the first from the Freight Transport Association dated 27 April 1981: The Budget has increased the tax on fuel by a massive 38.2 per cent. &which when coupled with the 15 per cent. increase in vehicle excise duty adds over £300 million to the annual costs of operating goods vehicles. As a result, distribution costs have gone up by between 3 and 4 per cent., a not insignificant amount when one considers that such costs represent, on average, some 16 per cent. of industrial costs. I received another letter on 9 April this year from Wincanton Transport. It read: If additional taxes have to be raised, I believe that it should not be done through increases in taxation which make it more expensive to manufacture products in this country than our competitors can manufacture them abroad. I received many other letters but I confine myself to quoting from two.

I shall make only three points about derv. The tax imposed on derv in Britain is the highest in Europe. That is surprising when Europe covers an area which is our best market. We are unique in Western Europe in that we have indigenous oil reserves.

The right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar quoted prices in pence per gallon. I refer to the other column of the table to which he referred which is even more interesting. It shows the tax take in pence per gallon. The tax take in the United Kingdom is 83.8p per gallon. For our nearest rival, Germany, it is 54.1p. In Italy, which is at the bottom of the list it is 13.1p and in the United States 6.4p. One can see why industry is not in a competitive position and why there is the need for corrective action now.

The huge disparity across the board in prices in the United Kingdom and Western Europe was totally unsatisfactory before the Budget. The 20p on derv has simply aggravated that position.

Seven years ago, during the Lib-Lab pact the duty on petrol and derv was increased by 10p. Eventually 5p was removed from the duty on petrol. It is high time that we restored the balance. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be wise and accede to the proposition that lop should come off derv and that petrol and derv should be priced separately.

Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)

I have heard reports that the Cabinet met earlier today and that there will be a concession on derv but not for the private motorist. Would it not help if the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement? That would make more sense because then we could put den/ out of the way and concentrate on the problems facing private motorists.

Mr. Skeet

That was not a helpful observation. I gave way to the hon. Gentleman to give him an opportunity to put a question to me. His question is for others to answer.

Mr. Evans

Will the hon. Gentleman give way again?

Mr. Skeet

No. I want to economise on time. I want to give other hon. Members the opportunity to take part in the debate.

The price-earning relationship in the United Kingdom is unfavourable. That is apparent from three figures. In the Federal Republic of Germany it takes 25 minutes to earn the price of a gallon of derv. In France it takes 35 minutes and in the United Kingdom 44 minutes. The earning capacity of the people involved is important in assessing comparative advantage.

In the United Kingdom we treat derv as petrol and tax it accordingly. In Europe it is priced against a cheaper product—gas oil. In Western Germany and France there is a greater tolerance towards diesel. In both those markets 10 per cent. of the market is occupied by diesel cars as compared with 1 per cent. in the United Kingdom. The tax on derv in the United Kingdom is tantamount to an anti-diesel car tax.

The natural advantages of the diesel engine have been ignored consistently by Governments. One of the advantages is that its operations are lead-free. The diesel engine is also more efficient than the internal combustion engine. One is about 15 per cent. efficient and the other over 20 per cent. efficient.

I do not know what the Chancellor of the Exchequer will decide, but I can make a suggestion. According to my rough calculations, in a full year the reduction that I suggest will cost him £135 million. He has the advantage of four months to the end of July when the Bill receives the Royal Assent. Therefore, the cost this year will be under £100 million.

I shall tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman how in my opinion he should recover the money. He could tackle the general betting duty. He could put the on-course duty up from 4 per cent. to 6 per cent. and the off-course duty up from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent. That would provide him with the necessary moneys.

I turn now to the subject of petrol. There are several arguments put forward by Government. The first is that as a percentage of the retail price the tax is lower now than it was in the decade leading up to 1973. That of course applies to the United Kingdom. However, the combined duty is one of the highest in Europe. In Italy and Denmark is it higher. France, Belgium, Ireland, The Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany have lower rates. Top of the list is 61 per cent. In the United Kingdom it is 54 per cent. and in the Federal Republic it is 44 per cent.

The other argument is that the petrol price in the United Kingdom is mid-way in the European league.

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

Does the hon. Gentleman concede that the Isle of Wight is nearly at the top of the league and that only Italy is above us? Is he aware that four-star petrol on the Isle of Wight is between 166p and 170p per gallon? It is not the place to buy petrol. In April the price was about 174p a gallon. That is why we gripe against the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Skeet

I agree that the price is high on the Isle of Wight. The hon. Gentleman will have to examine the retailing system to discover whether prices are exorbitant.

The retail price might be mid-way in the European league but the motor tax revenue and oil taxes in the United Kingdom are the highest in Europe. We have indigenus production of oil. The oil from the North Sea is particularly suited for refining into light petroleum distillates and yet the motorist in the United Kingdom has no advantage over his neighbours in Europe who have little oil of their own. That is a remarkable situation.

European comparisons are unfavourable to the United Kingdom since Europeans draw larger salaries. In the United Kingdom the price of petrol is about 154p per gallon. It is about the same in Belgium. However, the gross hurly earnings for employees in manufacturing in April 1980 in Belgium was £3.26 per hour. In the United Kingdom it was £2.42 per hour. Obviously the Belgians can afford to pay a higher price since they are earning more. Workers in the United Kingdom are at a great disadvantage. Earnings in the Federal Republic of Germany were £3.18 per hour and in the Netherlands £3.15 per hour.

The burden in the United Kingdom is also unevenly spread. In Northern Scotland four-star petrol cost 160p per gallon in mid-April. In Norwich it cost 152p in East Anglia 158p to 159p, in Manchester 149p and in Edinburgh 151p to 152p per gallon.

4.30 pm

The only remaining argument that the Government had on this score was the rural argument. Apparently that was derived from a report published by the Open University as recently as 1979. I am afraid that I do not accede to it. In the urban areas we do not really need the car for the simple reason that we can hop on a bus or go on the tube. But when it comes to the rural areas, frequently there are no buses and the use of cars is inevitable.

Mr. Eggar

Would it not be the case that, just as my hon. Friend's rural constituents have to use cars to get to work, so my urban constituents have to use trains or buses? I do not remember him complaining when there was an increase in the cost of fares into inner London.

Mr. Skeet

I fully appreciate the problem. Many years ago I took the opportunity of walking to work. It is good exercise and I dare say I could put the same idea to my hon. Friend.

It is not much good making a broad comparison between urban and rural areas and saying that there is an 8 per cent. advantage for the latter. This is rubbish because of the mileage which has to be covered. In a Scottish constituency there is a vast mileage. In North Cornwall there is also considerable distance. Bedford itself is only 15 miles square but there is a problem there. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Sir W. Clark) lives in Box End in Kempston; it would do him the world of good if he walked to Bedford station.

In my judgment the United Kingdom is well on the way to the £2 gallon of petrol which may be achieved within two years. The high incidence of tax, the need to improve refinery margins and the reduced amount of lead in petrol will all make their contribution. Government policy to cut the lead from 0.4g to 0.15g per litre will lower the octane rating from 97 to 94. This will necessitate expenditure of £400 million on new equipment in order to produce a suitable octane rating. Further, the United Kingdom will have to run an extra 500,000 tonnes of crude oil per year in order to accommodate the change. We know well in advance that if this is Government policy 4p or 5p more will be put on petrol. The county council in Bedfordshire says that the increases in both petrol and derv will add no less than £52,000 a year to its costs. Many local authorities will have similar difficulties.

The Chancellor is well aware that, in a full year, to reduce the increase from 20p to 10p would mean that he would have to give up £455 million. He is also aware, because there is a suitable tabulation, that 1p on the basic rate of income tax would yield £800 million and that 1 per cent. extra on VAT would yield £780 million. I am not going to recommend either of those changes. I am going to refer him first of all to an extract from the Financial Times of 28 April 1981. According to Mr. Leslie Chapman: Between £5bn and £10bn could be cut from annual government spending of £79.2bn if the Government took seriously its efforts to cut waste and improve efficiency in the public sector. This gentleman is not without experience. He is an ex-civil servant who has looked into this. No doubt he should be linked with Sir Derek Rayner so that they might jointly see what should be done.

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington)

Would my hon. Friend give the House some idea of the period over which these savings could be made? Is it not rather optimistic to expect that substantial savings could be made in this area over a period of six to eight months?

Mr. Skeet

Sir Derek Rayner has been operating for some time and he has not been able to accommodate reductions of that order. It would take some years to achieve them. At the same time it is well to know that there is considerable waste in Government expenditure and that this is a problem area on which we should concentrate.

I have noticed that the cash Contingency Reserve for 1981–82 works out at £2.5 billion. The Government are not without cash to meet these requirements if they are assessed as important. But I shall simply be modest and I recommend the following prescription for the raising of the additional taxation. Beer might be increased by 6p a pint instead of 4p, cigarettes by 18p for 20 instead of 14p, spirits by £1 a bottle instead of 60p and wine by 35p a bottle instead of 12p. That would give the Chancellor all that he requires.

I promised the Committee that I would deal with this factually. It may be noted that I have stressed the importance of derv and that I have put petrol in second place. I appreciate that the Government have to collect their revenue in a time of crisis. A month ago I recommended to the Government that this was the time to assess the prospects of industry and commerce. I hope they will take seriously the arguments put forward. On the Conservative side of the Committee there are a number of hon. Members who share my view that something has to be done to help industry because it has had so many charges placed on its back. This levy on derv, if unchanged, could be the final blow.

Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)

The effect of amendment No. 5 would be to abolish altogether the tax increase on diesel and to allow a 5p increase on petrol. The net cost of this would be about £0.85 billion. we recommend this to the Committee, first, because obviously it would help keep down the cost of transport, and, secondly, because the Budget is unnecessarily deflationary and putting this extra money in circulation would help to relieve some of the economic effects that all of us are experiencing in our constituencies.

In Britain we live in a desperately centralised economy. Commerce is centralised and power is incredibly centralised. Indeed, one would not argue that this was completely true, but there is some evidence to suggest that unemployment is proportional to how far an area is from London. In my county unemployment is 16 per cent. It is very high in Wales and in Scotland. There is clearly evidence to suggest that the only area where unemployment is not greatly above the national average is London. This is because the British economy is centralised politically and commercially.

The effect of the Government's proposals to increase massively the tax on transport will increase the disadvantages for those areas which are a substantial distance from London. My area is not that different from other areas which are some distance from London. It is difficult to envisage a single commercial activity which is not dramatically affected because of the great burden of the increased cost of transport, whether it be in agriculture, tourism or mining, and whether it be taking goods to Cornwall or bringing the goods produced in Cornwall to the rest of the country. That represents a massive transfer of taxation away from the centre to the periphery of Britain.

Surely no one would argue that an increase in petroleum and diesel tax is other than a penalty on areas which are far from London. Moving goods is the straight commercial argument, why diesel deserves greater consideration than petrol and the reason why we wish to increase the differential between the two. We have a slightly guilty conscience about what happened to the price of diesel and petrol in 1977 and would like to see that corrected when the opportunity occurs.

Secondary to the commercial effects and the question of centralisation, in the rural areas there is the problem of getting to work. The right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar referred to a reduction in rural transport, but in rural areas there has never been much of a transport system. Until 20 years ago people lived so close to their work that they could either cycle to work or walk, but now that they have to go further to work they go by car. It is not true that people in some of the more remote rural parts of my county have ever gone to work by public transport. There are statistics available to back that statement.

We in the rural areas are in difficulty not because of the demise of public transport but because the areas are rural and people have to travel perhaps 15 or 20 miles to get to work.

The distances are greater than the distances across the constituencies of most hon. Members and would cover perhaps five, six or a dozen parliamentary constituencies.

In these rural areas low pay is a statistical problem analysed from Westminster but a real problem for the people who live there; 25 per cent. of my male constituents earn less than £75 a week. The knock-on effect of the cost of transport is such that the penalty of working is increased. Before the general election I admired the way in which the Tory Party constantly drew attention to the "why work?" syndrome. It was right to do so. But virtually every action the Government have taken since they came to office has made the problem worse, whether by changes in the tax system, marginal fuel costs—

Mr. Martin Stevens (Fulham)

No reference has been made in the debate to the substantial swing back of rate support grant from the cities to the rural districts, so much so that in many rural districts there has been either no rate increase or even a reduction. Will the hon. Member take that factor into account in giving his evaluation of the Government's performance in respect of rural areas?

4.45 pm
Mr. Penhaligon

Whether there has been a swing back of the rate support grant to the rural areas depends on which year is taken as the base. It can be argued that going back for eight years there has still been a transfer of the rate support grant in the wrong direction. I accept that that is a point, and I accept that some areas—not mine, unfortunately—have done quite well out of the change in the rate support grant system. Just going through the figures I can recollect, it is not the poorest rural counties that have benefited most from the change but the more prosperous rural counties near London.

Constituents, whether the Chancellor's or mine, who have no alternative but to use their private transport to go to work are the only ones who pay the full commercial price. The travel to work of constituents who live in London or in other urban areas, or even in rural areas near a reasonable bus service, is subsidised, enormously in some cases. The only people who pay the full commercial price of getting to work, without one farthing of tax rebate or subsidy, are those who are forced to use their private cars in rural areas, and they are among the lowest paid workers. I sometimes wonder whether the Chancellor has any idea of what a really rural area looks like and the distances and costs involved in travelling.

The difference in petrol price between the urban and rural areas does not stand commercial examination. I accept that the necessity to carry petrol a long distance from where it is produced involves extra cost. It cart be argued that the difference in price of one or two old pence a gallon can be economically justified, but not the price differences now between some urban and rural areas of 20p or 25p a gallon—as much as the price of a gallon of petrol not many years ago.

My hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) said that the Australian Government had taken powers to stop oil companies from making these big price differentials and had forced them to keep the price in rural areas similar to the price in urban areas. If such powers can be taken by another Government, surely our Government should look again at this problem.

The suspicion exists in rural areas that the big oil companies are exploiting their local monopoly position and increasing it by gradually closing some of the smaller petrol stations. That cannot be justified on any basis.

Mr. Ioan Evans

The hon. Gentleman is making great play of the difference between rural and urban areas, but is it not right that all those who will be going by car to vote in the county elections on Thursday, whether in London, Cornwall, Wales or the shire counties, will be paying twice as much for petrol as they did before the Government came to office? They are all being affected, although the hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the rural areas.

Mr. Penhaligon

I am not sure that it is quite twice as much.

Mr. Evans

It is.

Mr. Penhaligon

I stand corrected. I am looking forward to the county council elections. My party has a degree of optimism that it has not had for many years. It is a chance for people living in rural areas to express an opinion on what the Government do on the motion we are debating today seven days before polling day.

The British people cannot comprehend how it is that the only industrial country in the Western world which is self-sufficient in oil has not been able to give them a farthing's advantage on the price of fuel. The petrol price in Britain is much the same as it is elsewhere, and the price of diesel is higher than it is anywhere else. The suspicion is that petrol and derv would not be any more expensive throughout the country if we had never found oil in the North sea. I cannot understand how the country can be so foolish as not to be willing to pass on at least a percentage of one of the few God-given advantages we have to the British people. I do not claim that oil and petrol should be priced as thy are in the United States, but is is unfair that the British people should have no benefit at all.

Amendment No. 5, which we support, will abolish the tax increase on diesel and will allow five pence on petrol, at a cost of £800 million. That £800 million will help to correct the over-deflationary aspect of the Budget and, therefore, I and my colleagues commend the amendment to the Committee.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

I hope that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if at this stage I respond to the point made by the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans). Three alternative approaches have been presented by the official Opposition, my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) and the Liberal Party. I propose to address myself primarily to those three main groups of amendments. In effect two alternative approaches are involved. One is the approach suggesting an across the board reduction in the duty on derv and petrol. The Opposition propose a reduction of 12p on both. The Liberal Party proposes a reduction of 15p across the board and 20p in respect of derv. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedford proposes a reduction of 10p in both. As an alternative, the official Opposition and my hon. Friend propose amendments confined to derv alone.

A number of other amendments are also under discussion, including an amendment dealing with lead-free petrol. That was referred to by the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore). I propose to deal with the arguments advanced on those amendments at the end of the debate. At this stage, I intend to indicate the Government's position. I shall do so quite briefly, because this is not the centre of today's debate. We reject the whole of the central analysis offered by the right hon. Gentleman. He proffered it briefly, and I dismiss it with equal brevity.

It is important to consider the road fuel duty increases in the context of the whole Budget strategy, which is designed to restore the health of the economy and to secure a proper balance between spending, taxation and borrowing, and it arrives at a judgment which produces that effect. The Committee will not have failed to notice that in recent months a number of signs have indicated an improvement in the economy in various respects. For example, there have been improvements in the private housing market. In addition, there have been improvements in the forecasts recently reported by the CBI as well as other signs which indicate that our strategy is on course. It is important that we should keep it so.

It is always easy to single out some feature of any Budget's tax proposals for particular criticism, but the proposals cannot be taken separately:they hang together. It is my judgment, and the judgment outside this place, that it would not have been possible to reduce interest rates had we not then taken action to limit public borrowing to the £10.5 billion that we have in mind. The danger of higher public borrowing, particularly on the scale foreshadowed by the right hon. Gentleman, is that it would risk throwing away that improvement in interest rates as well as the prospect of continued improvement in the fight against inflation. In the present context, that inevitably meant the prospect of higher taxes. It resulted in a failure to index personal allowances, which we shall be discussing next week, and it required me to raise no less than £2,400 million from taxes on expenditure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedford has already suggested that there is scope for further increases in some of those taxes. It may be that other hon. Members will make similar suggestions. However, it must be remembered that any proposals for increases of that kind must be set against the impact of such increases on the commodities and industries affected as well as on realistic revenue yielding capacity, which must be balanced.

The Budget raises £500 million from additional taxation on tobacco, £225 million from taxation on vehicle excise duty, £370 million from taxes on beer and about £130 million from taxes on wines and spirits. Even those large increases taken together raise only just over £1,200 million. In order to get the right conclusion to the total Budget, that left another £1,200 million to be found. Obviously, I considered all the options extremely carefully, as I know my hon. Friends would wish me to do. I considered the impact on the community as a whole. I concluded that that sum had to be raised by the taxes on petrol and derv that I have proposed.

I assure hon. Members that all the easy alternatives that have been urged upon me by my hon. Friends in correspondence and discussion, and those suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford today, were considered carefully, as they should be.

As gambling is the least popular vice, probably the most popular alternative was the proposal suggested by my hon. Friend for higher taxes on gambling. However, the total revenue from all gambling taxes is only about £500 million a year. That structure of taxation was considered by the Rothschild Commission when the Labour Government were in power. In the light of that advice, I made increases in the gaming taxes in the 1980 Budget which became effective only from last autumn.

I doubt whether any Chancellor would be reluctant to obtain the maximum amount of revenue possible from gamblers rather than from motorists, but any further large increase in gambling taxes would fail to raise anything like the £1,200 million needed. The general betting duty was considered by the Royal Commission on gambling, which argued that the present rate was already dangerously near the point at which illegal bookmaking would flourish and that to raise it would run a real risk of serious social evils by once again driving gambling underground.

Mr. Peter Temple-Morris (Leominster)

Has any of my right hon. and hon. Friends suggested that my right hon. and learned Friend should raise the taxation on gambling to the extent of £1,200 million rather than a much smaller sum as part of the combination of other measures to raise the necessary money?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Of course not, but those taxes were increased last year after a considered judgment founded on the Royal Commission report. I can assure my hon. Friend that, even in the more modest context which he has urged upon me, there is a real limit to what could be done.

Some of my hon. Friends have made other suggestions which I do not propose to deal with at this stage. Instead, I shall listen to any further comments that are made during the debate before discussing those.

One suggestion worthy of mention is the extension of the car tax to caravans. That would raise only £ 5 million or £10 million, and again one must bear in mind the industrial implications. I would not want to repeat the experience of the caravan industry when the Labour Government were in power, when the then Chancellor doubled the rate of VAT on caravans to 25 per cent. One must take that kind of consideration into account when reaching these judgments.

I therefore came to the conclusion—reluctantly as one would be bound to do—that in order to find the extra £1,200 million I had to look to the duty on petrol and derv. The 20p increase will raise £910 million on petrol and £270 million on derv. The reduction implicit in the Oppositions's amendments of 12p across the board would reduce the total yield by about £750 million. The reduction proposed by the Liberal Party would reduce the figure by about £1 billion. Indeed, it might be even larger if all the Liberal proposals were accepted. In round figures, the amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford would reduce the yield by £600 million.

Any of those alternatives would be quite unacceptable. The increase on petrol was bound to be unpopular, but in my judgment it was necessary and justified in this context.

Sir Frederick Bennett (Torbay)

My right hon. and learned Friend has mentioned various statistics. By how much would the £900 million be reduced if there were a 5p cut in the petrol tax?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

A reduction of 5p on petrol would reduce the yield by some £220 million, which is again a substantial sum.

The tax on petrol is in fact less now than it was in 1950,. 1960 or 1970. As a proportion of the total price of petrol, it is now lower than it was throughout the decade up to the oil crisis of 1973.

The right hon. Gentleman invited me to comment on the conservation argument. I must put forward the proposition that it is a legitimate argument to bear in mind. It was legitimate to restore the proportion of tax as one aspect of a policy to maintain conservative use of energy of that kind.

5 pm

As I believe my hon. Friend pointed out, before the Budget the price of petrol in the United Kingdom was the lowest in the European Community, with the exception of Germany. Since the Budget, the price has come broadly into line with the rest of the Community, and in real terms it is the same now as it was after the 1980 Budget.

As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, higher petrol duty involves, among other things, an increase in business costs. But, again, one must approach that whole area in the context of a Budget that was designed to meet the burdens still facing us in fiscal terms by placing those burdens as far as possible upon consumers and doing as much as was possible within that context to help the business community.

One must point out, for example, that businesses obtain relief on the VAT element of the increase in petrol duty. The effect on business costs must in any case be set alongside the benefits brought to industry by the Budget. There is the £450 million full year relief from the change in stock relief. There are the proposals in relation to energy prices. There is a whole range of tax incentives for new and small businesses. Above all, perhaps, because this is at the centre of the Budget strategy, there was the reduction of 2 per cent. in interest rates at that time, bringing the total reduction to 5 per cent. since last summer.

Mr. Shore

In the balance sheet of benefit and disadvantage that the Chancellor has drawn up on costs to industry arising from the Budget, he quoted the figure of £450 million for stock relief. But that is the total figure. I believe that the additional element in the Budget is £180 million. The CBI as well as Members of the House, would be interested to know how he calculates an additional benefit of £450 million. That is not the CBI's calculation.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The two figures are part of the same story. The first year relief from the changes in stock relief is worth £180 million. The full year relief is worth £450 million. That is the figure which results from the changes in stock relief.

As I have said, that is all part of a Budget centrally designed to keep us on the course to lower interest rates, which industry rightly regards as important.

I also took into account the fact that many aspects of business are unaffected by the increase in derv duty, which applies to vehicles used on the roads, but not, for example, to farm machinery not driven on the roads or to fishing vessels. For ordinary buses making regular stops, the duty is refunded. Oil used in the production of petrochemicals is generally free of duty. The House will also have in mind the further limited degree of duty relief proposed in clause 5.

I am also conscious—and I shall return to this in a moment—of the concern expressed on various grounds by Members representing rural constituencies. Clearly the Government are concerned to do everything possible to maintain the health of the countryside as part of our progress towards a healthy economy. For example, a problem which may properly be described as unique faces glasshouse growers in the horticulture industry as a result of distortions of competition arising from the preferential gas tariff enjoyed by Dutch horticulturists. We have considered that matter carefully in the light of the fact that the European Commission has accordingly sanctioned special measures of assistance to growers in a number of other member States. As some hon. Members will know already, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has today announced a scheme for glasshouse growers in the horticulture industry which conforms fully with the Commission's guidelines, under which a special adaptation aid worth £5½ million in the year will be provided for glasshouse growers in the United Kingdom for one year.

Mr. K. J. Woolmer (Batley and Morley)

If the Government are anxious to overcome the problems of unfair competition through different energy pricing, w are they doing nothing about the problems faced by the textile industry due to the feedstock advantages enjoyed by the American industry? In the light of the decision to which the Chancellor has referred, are the Government prepared to look at this matter again?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I understand the problems faced by the textile industry, not just for that reason. One of the causes of those problems has been the special advantage enjoyed by the competing American industry as a result of their feedstock position. That in itself is a consequence of the energy pricing policy followed until recently by the United States of allowing energy to be supplied to domestic consumers at below world prices.

One of the repeated commitments at world economic summits, renewed at Venice, was an encouragement by all those there represented to Governments and countries to allow their energy prices to move to world economic prices. That is one reason why it would not be right for us to move in the opposite direction, why the Americans, even under the previous Administration, were moving in the direction of proper world economic prices for their energy, and why, under the newly elected Administration, they are moving further in that direction. That is one development which will help in the matter to which the hon. Gentleman has rightly drawn attention.

I now give some special consideration to the question of derv duty.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware of the enormous pleasure and satisfaction that his statement will give, not only to the horticulture industry but to consumers. If the British tomato industry went west, which it was in grave danger of doing, the British housewife, who goes east all too frequently in other sectors, would face a grave danger in respect of future supplies. The Minister has therefore done a very good day's work for horticulture.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. Wells) has been such a consistent champion of that industry that no one could more appropriately present a vote of thanks than he. I am most grateful to him for it.

I turn rather more widely to the question of derv. I would not enthuse at taking advice on this from the right hon. Gentleman, because when the Labour Government left office there was a differential in the opposite direction, with derv bearing a 5 per cent. higher level of duty than petrol. One of the first things that we did was to reverse that. In the light of the various representations that have been made, which were very well re-presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford this afternoon, I have given consideration to the industrial case that can be made for reducing duty on derv. It is true that there is a difference between the positions of petrol and derv in the international price league table, and it is true that our derv price is the highest in the European Community, by contrast with the central position occupied by our petrol prices.

Care must be taken, however, even in the comparisons that were carefully presented by my hon. Friend this afternoon. Retail prices are by no means a complete guide. For example, in the United Kingdom, more than 80 per cent. of derv is sold under contract at a negotiated discount from the standard price compared with the rather smaller proportion marketed in that way in other member States. Moreover, some taxes are rebatable in some countries and not in others. In addition, some countries discriminate against diesel-engined vehicles through their vehicle excise duties. A complex of factors must therefore be taken into account.

Even taking account of all those factors, however, there is little doubt that we have been in the lead. As my hon. Friend pointed out, we have received representations from the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association and other representatives of the industry. The duty on derv now accounts for about 8 per cent. of road freight transport costs. That, in turn, feeds through into other business costs and thus into final prices. A reduction in the duty would therefore be of particular benefit to that industry.

I propose to accept amendment No. 1 in respect of derv. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".] That duty reduction will be of particular benefit to rural areas because transport costs play an important part. Although the reduction does not meet all the points that have been urged on me by my hon. Friends, it will be of particular benefit to rural areas and to the Scottish economy. It will also meet the concern widely expressed about the distribution cost of many commodities, ranging from food for livestock to beer and petrol, which is not unimportant.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

As my right hon. and learned Friend knows, and indeed hinted, every gallon of petrol that is delivered to the pump is carried in a heavy wagon that uses derv. As a result of the tax increases on both derv and petrol, all the oil companies substantially increased the delivery charge to petrol pumps, usually by 6 per cent. My right hon. and learned Friend has wisely decided to reduce the figure for derv. Will he ensure, or use the Government's best offices to try to ensure, that oil companies reduce the surcharge that has arisen on the price of petrol as a result of higher derv costs? Will he try to monitor that and report to us on it?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Several of my hon. Friends are concerned about this issue, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the way in which he has put his point. Petrol and derv prices are only one facet of the concern experienced by the rural community. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy will bear in mind my hon. Friend's point. Indeed, he has already considered that aspect. The reduction in the duty on derv would in itself reduce the haulage costs of oil and petrol delivery industries as well as those of other industries.

Mr. Cormack

May I press my right hon. and learned Friend a little further? It is essential that consumers should benefit from my right hon. and learned Friend's welcome announcement. Steps should be taken to ensure that they do.

5.15 pm
Sir Geoffrey Howe

I fully understand my hon. Friend's point. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has discussed such questions with the oil industry. It is important to remember, as my hon. Friends point out, that retail petrol prices are generally set by the retailer and not by the supplying oil companies. At least to some extent, high prices in rural areas reflect higher retail margins as well as the policies of oil companies. They also reflect the reality of higher unit costs, which are inevitable in rural areas. In rural areas higher wholesale prices are charged in order to help to meet higher delivery and other supply costs.

As far as I can detect, there is no evidence that wholesale prices to rural sites are being used to cross-subsidise urban sites. However, I appreciate the point about higher petrol prices in rural areas and its impact. Petrol is not the only commodity that is more expensive in rural areas. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has had discussions with oil companies and has drawn to their attention the need for them to take account of their social obligations to different parts of the community, and to do so within the context of competition within a market economy.

These matters were the subject of an examination by the Monopolies Commission in 1979 and by the Director General of Fair Trading in 1980. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will want to draw the points that have arisen from this change to the specific attention of oil companies and will keep the matter under review.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman told the House that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has had discussions with the oil companies on this point. Have those discussions led to any conclusions?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The discussions are part of a series of discussions that take place between my right hon. Friend and the oil companies on a number of matters and at a number of times. It would be surprising and wrong if they did not take place. In the same way, the review of trading or monopolistic conditions is undertaken not only by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, when invited to do so, but by the Director General of Fair Trading. My right hon. Friend will know the points raised and will bring them to the attention of the companies involved.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I am sorry to press my right hon. and learned Friend on this matter, but it is of great importance to several of us who have yet to decide how to cast our votes. It is important that the issues should be clear-cut. When the tax on derv was increased by 20p, most of the oil companies immediately put an increased charge of 6 per cent. on their deliveries. They stated that the increase had arisen because of the higher tax on derv. That tax is now to be halved. If oil companies can increase charges in order to reflect the increase in the tax on derv, they should obviously reduce charges when there is a reduction in the tax on derv.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

That is a valid point and I have sympathy with it. However, the reduction from 20p to 10p in the duty on derv will lead to a reduction of a corresponding size in the costs of road haulage to industry. The Government have no power, and given that we have a policy to try to maintain competition, it would not be right to seek powers for that specific end. It is right to ensure that oil companies in this respect, as in any other, should recognise that they are subject to the potential scrutiny of hon. Members, of the Director General of Fair Trading and of other agencies that are designed for that purpose. It is right that the matter should be brought to the industry's attention in this way. However, it would not be right for me to take, or to argue that I was taking, specific powers.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer advise truck drivers who call at pumps on motorways and other roads to tell the attendants serving derv that they want the 10p discount?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

No doubt customers will be aware of the change that I propose to accept. They will not be slow to draw such matters to the attention of their suppliers.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has still not informed us when the measure will take effect. If they are not to take effect immediately—which is most unlikely—what change is expected in revenue?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

If the right hon. Gentleman had waited, he would have heard. The amendment that seeks a reduction of 10p in the duty on derv will take effect on Royal Assent. Until then, the position is governed by the Budget resolution, under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968. Thus, the 20p duty remains in force until the Bill becomes law. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford will realise, that is broadly similar to the procedure followed in 1977 for the reduction in petrol duty. Some consequential technical amendments may be required. If necessary, I shall propose them on Report. The amendment will probably cost £85 million. That is modest compared with the total involved in this clause. It is necessarily modest. As a result, I can accept my hon. Friend's amendment. However, it would be unwise to allow that to be reflected in an increase in public sector borrowing. I shall have no option but to ask people to pay the costs in some other way. There is a range of possibilities to be examined, and I shall also take account of what is said in this debate. In due course I shall bring proposals before the House.

Attention has been drawn to the case for offsetting the cost by lower public expenditure. I need no encuragement from my right hon. and hon. Friends to seek lower public expenditure. I said as much in my Budget speech and also in the public expenditure White Paper. That is one of the matters at which we shall be looking hard in a few months' time in the annual review of public spending for the next year and later years.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of a range of possibilities for raising taxation to cover this £85 million. Since he has had about five weeks to think about the matter since the Budget, will he spell out what those possibilities may include? He has made this measly concession in the hope of gathering a few votes at the county council elections. Would it not be honest to spell out to electors at the same time how they will have to pay for this increase in other ways?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I have made it clear that I shall be considering the discussion on the rest of the clause before coming to conclusions. I have no hostility towards the prospect of further savings in public expenditure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) has pointed out, there is great difficulty in securing offsets from public spending reductions within the same financial year. It is often difficult to make reductions of that kind when the year is under way without involving oneself in bad management, not least because cuts undertaken in that way often tend to fall in the expenditure which it is easy to cut quickly rather than that which should have the lowest priority.

I have no intention of seeking to offset this loss by cutting public sector investment this year. I am well aware of the concern of many of my hon. Friends and others about the levels of capital investment. The Government have sympathy with those who argue for a switch in priorities. That is why we are providing for increased investment by the nationalised industries.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

The Committee will understand my right hon. and learned Friend's point about the need for recoupment. As the margin of error in Treasury forecasts over the years has shown that the figures cannot be accurately gauged, would it not be better to see how the economy progresses before reaching decisions?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

That is a beguiling invitation. If one allowed oneself to aim off for the largest margin of error that has emerged statistically over recent years and always take the comfortable view, one would be aiming off to a disastrous consequence. I must make clear that I shall deal with the matter in the way I have described. We shall give particular attention to the balance between capital and current expenditure in our annual review of public spending.

Mr. Joan Evans

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has had second thoughts on derv, will he not also examine the possibilities about petrol? The alternatives that he has mentioned—gambling, beer and smoking—are luxuries. People are not obliged to spend money on those items. On the other hand, people need to buy petrol to get to work. That is where the right hon. and learned Gentleman is imposing the burden. Why is he taking £2,400 million out of the economy in a recession? Why is he imposing this tax on petrol?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I am sorry that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman. He has sought to make a speech that would be more appropriate in a general debate. It was not an intervention directed to the argument with which I was dealing, nor to any other.

The central point is that it is important for the Government to maintain in a way that is as acceptable as possible the balance of the Budget as originally designed. For that reason, I have given close condideration to the arguments advanced by my hon. Friends and others. We must keep the revenue side of the account in the right position in relation to the other side of the account represented by expenditure. It is right to try to do so in a manner that secures the best results for the economy and for the community as a whole. It is right to consider the impact of what we propose on particular sections of the community, including the rural community. I have taken account of the representations that have been made in reaching my conclusions, which I commend to the Committee.

Mr. John Horam (Gateshead, West)

I welcome the intervention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this point in the debate. It shows a genuine sensitivity to the feelings of the House. His action was also wise, given the fact that what he intended to say had been clearly trumpeted abroad in advance during the past few days. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet), in his opening remarks, seemed to know what would be forthcoming only a short time afterwards. So it was wise in a double sense for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say what he did when he did.

However, that said, the Government's response to the undoubted feeling that exists on the Government Benches as well as on the Opposition Benches has been inadequate, because it does not deal directly with the problem. The main burden of concern expressed by hon. Members, particularly on the Conservative side of the House in the past few weeks, has been the effect on poorer rural dwellers and their cost of living. This is the heart of the matter. There is concern among all parties in the House over the cost of living and other difficulties facing people, particularly those on low incomes in rural areas.

The plight of these people was summarised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself in the debate in 1977. The right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) has already referred to that speech. The situation was clear-cut then. It is worse now. There have been the problems of school transport and school meals. There have been increased costs brought about by Government measures and other measures. Over the last two years there have been cuts in shire county appropriations for public transport in the rural areas. The dependence on the car is far greater now than in 1977 when the right hon. and learned Gentleman went to extremes of hyperbole in his condemnation of a 5p a gallon increase imposed by the then Labour Government.

It is thus hypocrisy for the Government now to come forward with a 20p increase, a rise of 38 per cent. in the tax rate, and then to meet the problem with a concession for the horticultural industry and a concession on derv. Those concessions go no way to deal with the problem met by hon. Members on both sides in their constituencies. Conservative Members know that people in the rural constituencies are not worried about derv or the horticultural industry. They are worried about their own cost of living and, to quote again the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the reverse yield gap between being able to work and not being able to work. The concessions that have been announced fail to go to the heart of the matter.

A more general point arises. The Government say that there are burdens that must be borne. However, those burdens must be borne fairly. Hon. Members heard at Question Time today the evidence that is accumulating of the extent to which increases in taxation have not been fairly shared among the population. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who always goes abroad to make these speeches said, I think, in Geneva that the tax burden overall has increased. The fact is that the burden has increased twice as much for those on low incomes as it has for those on higher incomes. This is part of the general philosophy of the Government. Their philosophy is that burdens are to be unfairly shared. They are not shared across the board. The example we are discussing today falls into that category. The poorer country dweller will still face the high increase imposed in the Budget.

Conservative Members, like all hon. Members, will rightly be concerned about the quality of life in country areas. It has become more difficult for many people, particularly the elderly, to live in country areas. They do not have the resources or the facilities that were once available to them at a reasonable price.

Fewer people are living in country areas. There is still a drift towards the towns. The country needs a reinvigoration of the towns and villages outside the great metropolitan areas. If the rebirth of Britain is to take place, perhaps it should take place in the country areas. Government measures make that rebirth difficult to achieve—indeed, they are setting it back in every way.

5.30 pm
Mr. Allen McKay (Penistone)

Government policies are closing 1,000 primary schools, mostly in rural areas. Some pupils are already travelling between eight and 14 miles to existing schools. The Government's measures not only close schools but increase the cost of transportation to the already depleted educational facilities.

Mr. Horam

The hon. Gentleman' remarks bear on the point that I was making. The difficulty of living a full life in the countryside has increased in many ways during the past two or three years. We were led to believe that the Conservative Party had a special care for rural areas. Many of its Members in the House come from country areas, and relatively few from urban areas. Yet the Government's actions, exemplified today by not changing their view about the 20p increase on petrol, have borne heavily on those whom they allege support them. They will have to explain that policy to their constituents in due course.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

The hon. Gentleman is making a major point about the rural areas. I agree with much of what he says, but surely he will admit that the change in the tax on derv will be a profound relief to farmers. A healthy agricultural industry is at the heart of a healthy countryside.

Mr. Horam

The concession is only a small relief. There will still be a 10p increase, in addition to a lop increase in the last Budget and a 10p increase in the Budget before that. That gives a total increase of 30p. We are concerned with the plight of the less well off in rural areas. Agriculture in general is doing reasonably well, although some parts are doing less well. We should be concerned with the plight of those less well off. I thought that Conservative Members were concerned about that.

Mr. Straw

Figures produced by the National Farmers Union show that farmers use five times as much petrol as derv each year. They use 17 million gallons of derv and 76 million gallons of petrol. The concession will have only a marginal effect on the farming communities.

Mr. Horam

That leads me to my second point. The concession is mean. It will have only a marginal effect. The Government have chosen the concession because it costs little. We must not delude ourselves about that. The Government thought that it would be the best way to buy off the incipient revolt by Conservative Members. They wondered how little they could get away with that would prevent Conservative Members from voting against them. They chose derv because it costs only £85 million. They has the further meanness to defer the concession until the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

Two amendments on the Notice Paper would allow the Government to introduce the concession quickly. That would be a more generous approach to the problem than waiting until the Royal Assent, whenever that may be. That will not happen for some weeks, or even some months. Farmers and the horticultural industry will have to pay that 20p until then simply because the Government are concerned about an additional £10 million on the public sector borrowing requirement.

There is a further point. The arguments on transport grounds for a concession on derv are not that strong. The concession is right across the board. We must consider the arguments about the balance between the railways and the road haulage industry. Some may quote the relative disadvantage of the haulage industry in Britain as regards the cost of petrol in comparison with Europe, but in many respects it has considerable advantages. West Germany heavily regulates its haulage industry so that the railway industry can flourish. We must consider such elements in the broad argument whether we should differentiate between derv and petrol.

The Government's mean approach to buying off a revolt with £85 million goes further. They say that they will offset the cost of the concession in other ways. I hope that the Chancellor will reconsider that. The Budget reduces the public sector borrowing requirement by almost one-third in one year. Yet the Government's forecast of the course of GDP is that it is decreasing by 2 per cent. That is massively deflationary by any standards. We are talking about only a small amount if we compare £85 million with the billions of pounds for the public sector borrowing requirement.

The Government's decision to recoup to the £85 million invites the same fate that was suffered by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) when he was Chancellor. He used the same words as the Chancellor used today when he decided to drop a 5p increase. He said that he would recoup it at a later stage, but it never was recouped. The Chancellor is inviting the same fate by insisting that the money should be offset.

Amendment No. 7 reduces the increase to 10p across the board for both petrol and derv. It has the same effect as amendment No. 2 tabled by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet). We will vote for our amendment. I hope that Conservative Members will vote for their amendment. The two amendments are the only ones that will have any real bearing on the difficulties that we are discussing today.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to amendment No. 47. If my arithmethic is right when converting litres to gallons, the amendment will reduce the increase on petrol and derv by 5p. I shall attempt to reconcile the conflicting arguments between the interests of the general taxpayers and the interests of those who use petrol and derv. My attempt springs from strong feelings, especially in rural areas, about the increase. The difference in the strength of feeling is most marked between those living in rural areas and those in urban areas. That is reflected by the considerable difference in the balance of numbers in the Committee this afternoon. The number of Conservative Members compared with Opposition Members is about four to one. That is a reflection of the concern expressed to my right hon. and hon. Friends who represent rural constituencies.

The more remote the rural constituency, the greater the concern expressed. The problem is that the person in a rural area needs to use a car more than the person in an urban area. He also has greater distances to travel. In the context of the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend, it is important to remember that those in rural areas are more affected by the effects of transportation than anyone else. However, it is mainly the price differential as between rural and urban areas that has caused the particular sense of grievance among rural constituents.

Obviously we have all been thinking hard about the various arguments advanced this afternoon, in which we have been involved intensively since the Budget Statement. I have considered carefully amendment No. 2, which would remove 10p per gallon from the increased price of petrol and derv, which I estimate would cost the Exchequer about £700 million.

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

It would cost £344 million in the remainder of this financial year, after Royal Assent.

Mr. Henderson

My hon. Friend is right. I was talking of the effect in a full financial year.

As a Member representing a broadly rural constituency, I have had to consider the interests of the rural dweller if the House of Commons accepted an amendment that would deprive the Exchequer of £700 million in a full year. In rural areas we are very much concerned to ensure the continuance of services of all forms. We have Ministers in the Scottish Office and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and food who have been especially sensitive to the needs of farmers and fishermen. They have reflected that concern by considerable support for those industries. To deprive the Exchequer of £700 million in a full year could have adverse consequences if we are to continue to ensure that the other special needs of rural areas are fully met.

I am conscious that the economic case for a reduction in the increase of the price of derv is strong. I hope that those who increased their prices substantially as a result of what they said were increases in transportation costs stemming from the increased price of derv announced in the Budget statement will be announcing at least a 50 per cent. reduction in the increases that they introduced so quickly the day after Royal Assent.

In many of our discussions there has been reference to the relationship between prices in Britain and in other member states of the European Economic Community. The price of derv in Britain is significantly out of line with other prices in the European Community. I think that I am right in saying that, by contrast, four EEC countries have higher petrol prices than the price in Britain while only three other member States have lower prices.

To revert to farmers, they transport their produce, which entails the use of derv.

Mr. Dykes

My hon. Friend has taken the money price of petrol and has referred to the cost to the consumer in other European countries. Will he bear in mind that such comparisons must reflect average money incomes? In most other European countries such incomes are considerably higher. In Germany the ratio is 185.

5.45 pm
Mr. Henderson

I accept that important intervention. Another valuable tool in this discussion that has taken place since the Budget Statement is the paper produced by my hon. Friends the Members for Argyll (Mr. MacKay), Galloway (Mr. Lang), Moray and Nairn (Mr. Pollock) and South Angus (Mr. Fraser). It has been an extremely valuable paper. I have no doubt that it had an influence on my right hon. and learned Friend's decision. The arguments that my hon. Friends have adduced set out the facts and put into proper perspective petrol and derv prices. They refer to a number of other problems that are not concerned with taxation. I hope that the Government will take note of these matters, which may lead to further steps being taken to help deal with the specific problems that are facing rural areas when they increase the duty on petrol and derv.

Above all, my hon. Friends have put the spotlight on the oil companies, their pricing policies and the way in which they operate their commercial policies. The difference in prices between rural areas and urban areas owes a great deal to those policies. These are policies which cause prices to be different in urban and rural areas and which lead to other unsatisfactory aspects of trade. The pressure from the commercial policies of the oil companies undoubtedly has the objective of reducing the number of independent people operating petrol stations in rural areas by concentrating benefits offered in their terms and conditions on petrol stations that they run in urban areas.

It should be noted that 90 per cent. of our petrol sales—this applies certainly in Scotland—occur in urban areas. A marginal difference in the price of the 90 per cent. of petrol sales would be far more significant than the heavy on-cost that the petrol companies place upon those who run rural stations, who often provide a much wider range of service to the local community than that which is provided by stations in the large urban communities, which are concerned mainly to take a person's money and to wish him on his way as quickly as possible.

I appreciate what my right hon. and learned Friend said in what I thought was a sensitive speech. However, I hope that he will bear in mind the mood of the House of Commons on this issue in future Budgets and that he will do his best to encourage his right hon. and hon. Friends to do what they can to eradicate the anomalies that have occurred in the petrol supply industry.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

The Chancellor's concession on derv will no doubt be welcomed, although it is not as great a concession as that for which Liberals hoped. It will still leave British industry at some disadvantage. I think that the rest of this speech will cause nothing but dismay. Throughout the rural areas there will be widespread disappointment that he finds himself unable to do anything about the increased tax on petrol.

There were two notable features of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. First, he made no effort to explain how it is that he has changed his view. The views that he expressed about three years ago in the House of Commons were quoted by the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore). The right hon. and learned Gentleman made stringent attacks upon a proposed increase in the price of petrol of 5p a gallon by the previous Labour Goverment. He did not merely say that it was unnecessary to increase the price by that amount at that time. He said that the proposed increase was discriminatory and that it was a bad tax that would bear especially on a section of people who did not deserve that burden. He made no effort today to explain his changed attitude. One can only assume that he was being extremely cynical in 1977 or that he has no deep foundations for the type of Budget that he produces.

It was at a late stage in his speech, and only when he was prodded by one of his hon. Friends in an intervenion, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned public expenditure. He has to find this extra taxation because the Government have failed to carry out their objectives by reducing public expenditure. They have failed to meet their targets.

I wish to speak particularly about remoter areas, rural areas, farmers and the people who live in my constituency, but there is no doubt that the tax is contrary to the Government's general policy of bringing down the costs of industry and helping it to be economic. It affects a wider range of people than those who live in the rural areas.

This year, my farmers and crofters face a decline in their surplus—if they have a surplus at all—of about 20 per cent. or more in real terms. At the same time, they read that civil servants are going on strike because they are offered only a 7 per cent. increase. The contrast is striking. Agriculture is in a serious condition. In my local paper, there are numerous advertisements for farms for sale and crofts to be disposed of. That was not so before the Conservative Government came to office. The Government are supposed to have feeling for and anxiety about what happens in the farming community and rural areas.

On top of the disquiet in farming, there is the extraordinary increase of 20p on the gallon brought in by a party which strongly objected to an increase of 5p. The Treasury should realise that petrol is not the equivalent of beer or cigarettes, that it is not a luxury on which people squander their money. It is not like French scent which people buy for their wives and girl friends when they go abroad. No Chancellor of the Exchequer would dream of putting such an increase of taxation on clothing. It may be argued that some people occasionally take their cars for a joyride, but some people buy clothes which are of better quality than is needed and some might say that they are extravagant. However, no one lumps clothes with whisky and cigarettes as a commodity on to which the Chancellor can slap on another 20 per cent. or so. As has been said again and again, petrol is not a luxury for people who live in the countryside, but an essential.

The contrast in towns has been mentioned several times. Not only is there public transport in towns, but it is heavily subsidised. London Transport is extremely heavily subsidised. There is not only the tax on petrol, but the extraordinary difference between the price of petrol in my constituency and the price in London.

Petrol in my constituency tends to be 15p to 25p per gallon dearer than in London. The Government should consider more closely why that is. Like many hon. Members, I have tended to say that the reason is the monstrous oil companies—the London-based monopolies. However, I am told that that is not so. I have been told—I feel bound to pass this on as I have accused them—that those companies deliver petrol at within a penny of the same price all over Britain. I wonder if that is so. Will the Government ask the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to investigate the whole matter? How does the enormous discrepancy arise—is it because of the smallness of the market, or does it arise from some other cause? We pay 15p to 25p a gallon more than the South. A table has been circulated showing how expensive petrol is in the islands off the coast of Scotland. It demonstrates that difference.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

How much is being paid per gallon of petrol in Orkney and Shetland? That would be interesting.

Mr. Grimond

Some weeks ago in Tyree, people were paying £1.90 per gallon. In Kirkwall-it was more in the outer islands of Orkney—the price was £1.64. In Stowaway the price was £1.68 and in Lewis generally it is £1.71. That is a considerable increase.

Two reasons are given for this increase in tax. One is the extraordinary reason that all prices must be kept in line with one other. That is the nadir of economic fallacy and is curious coming from the Conservative Government. Everything must be made more expensive, or we shall be deprived of our place on the European league table or some such reason. If one wants to keep the price of petrol in line with inflation, it should rise by 8p and not 20p. I defer to our leading economic computer, my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), who worked that out.

If anyone seriously believes that the Western world will be saved by the amount of conservation which will be derived from raising the price of petrol by 20p. He needs his head examined. The question of conservation is important. There are almost illimitable resources of coal in the Western world and in the world as a whole, but I do not deny the importance of oil. However, those conservation needs will not be met by raising the price to such an extent. Something might happen if the price were raised by 200p—agriculture would collapse, among other things, but petrol would be saved. However, that is hardly the result which we want to achieve. Occasionally I feel that the Government are obsessed with a suicide wish and that they are prepared to slaughter productive industry for the sake of a vague notion such as conservation.

In my constituency, it is peculiarly annoying to see vast quantities of oil from the North Sea pass through the islands and to receive no benefits. It is an extraordinary feature of the Government's fuel policy that neither British industry nor the British people feel that they receive any benefit from the resources in the North Sea. They may be wrong—in a sense, they are wrong—but they are always told that the reason why the pound is so strong and why we cannot export is because of North Sea oil and gas. They are told that all the benefit must go to the Exchequer. They have the feeling that North Sea oil and gas are not assets, but drawbacks. I dare say that they are wrong in that, but I feel that it is equally wrong to deny British industry, agriculture, fishing and ordinary people any direct advantage from North Sea oil. Therefore, I would not be content with merely seeing that we are not penalised. I believe that we have a good case for reducing our fuel charges and the basic charges for industry below those in Europe.

The increase is not in accordance with the Government's ostensible policy of helping British industry and farming to be more efficient. It is certainly not in accordance with their policy of helping small businesses. It is a direct impost upon production of a sort which is doing grave damage to the whole economy. It is proving fatal in some rural areas.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I am grateful to you for enabling me to catch your eye, Mr. Godman Irvine, as I am conscious of the fact that I have not been able to spend as much time listening to the debate as I would like, owing to calls of the House elsewhere.

I shall briefly touch on a different subject, to which I understand my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not referred. That matter arises under amendment No. 42, which relates to the duty levied on aviation gasoline. I shall be as quick as I can, as other of my hon. Friends may want to add something to what I have said.

I shall explain the reasons for the amendment. The price of aviation gasoline has escalated in the past two or three years to such an extent that it is now extremely difficult to justify the differential between that aviation fuel and aviation turbine fuel—kerosene—which is much more widely used for commercial purposes and whose price is much greater than that of ordinary motoring petrol, on which the House has spent much time. The average price of aviation gasoline is now about £2.50 a gallon, which the average motorist might find more excessive than the price that he is now expected to pay.

The consequences are considerable and damaging. I support the amendment because I wish to express that fact as forcefully as I can to my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State. I hope that he will be able to devote a little time to responding to the arguments that I shall put to him. They have already been put to his Department.

I have a letter from the private secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the secretary of the General Aviation Manufacturers and Traders Association, which has been making representations on behalf of the many users of aviation gasoline. The reply is a classic "Yes, Minister" letter. It contains all the familiar arguments about genuine problems of administration and the difficulty over arguments about equity. However, the Government's stated view hitherto appears to be that it is difficult to do anything in particular for the sector of aviation that uses gasoline because it covers a wide range of activities, including leisure and sport, and because there are genuine problems of administration.

6 pm

I doubt whether the Government have yet understood the nature of the problem and why it is important. Aviation gasoline is used in relatively small quantities, but the principal users are important contributors to our economy. Business users, including air taxi and general aviation scheduled carriers, take 63 per cent. of the fuel used in this country, flying training accounts for another 25 per cent., and agricultural and other aerial work accounts for nearly 10 per cent. of the remainder. Sport and recreational flying account for only 2.5 per cent., so in advancing the argument I cannot be accused of being frivolous or not having a considerable justification for it.

Because of the high price that our commercial operators are obliged to pay, they are at a disadvantage compared with others operating in the country fortunate enough to be able to use aviation turbine fuel, which bears a much lower rate of interest—in fact, the rate of interest to which the amendment seeks to reduce the rate on aviation gasoline. They are at even more of a disadvantage compared with their overseas competitors, which is particularly relevant for commercial operators who teach people to fly—not merely our own pilots but, in particular, those who have historically come here from overseas for commercial flying training. That trade is estimated at between £12 million and £15 million a year.

I have been into the matter with care. There is considerable danger that most, if not all, of that trade will be lost within the next few months if the prospect is not held out to the industry of a real alleviation in the cost of fuel. My hon. and learned Friend needs only to look at the advertisements in aviation magazines to see that would-be pilots are being invited to do it in Dallas—that is to say, learn to fly. Comparative costs are so advantageous to American flying training schools that unless something is done quickly a great deal of business will be lost to this country altogether.

I have a number of letters.

Mr. Bill Walker (Perth and East Perthshire)

The flying training school in my constituency has advised me that even before the Budget it was losing business to its American counterparts because of the cost of avgas and value added tax, but the situation has now become impossible, which means the loss of millions of pounds in foreign earnings.

Mr. Onslow

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He was kind enough to pass me the correspondence. I have had correspondence from flying training schools elsewhere in the country, one of which is close to my constituency. The burdens placed on flying schools in an already highly competitive international market have caused them to lose business. The may now lose much of what they have retained.

I hope that my hon. and learned Friend can show that the Government take the matter seriously and recognise that there will be no great breach of principle in applying the same rate of duty to whatever type of fuel may be used for the same common purpose—that is, fuelling aircraft whether they burn petrol or kerosene. I hope that he will give encouragement and assurance to an important sector of the British economy to enable it to stay in business and to compete for still more overseas earnings.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

Believe it or not, many Labour Members represent rural areas that have the problems mentioned by Conservative Members. My constituency has five pits and three massive power stations. A job applicant who has no car finds increasingly that he cannot get work, simply because rural bus services have been so decimated that it is almost impossible to travel. People want the power stations to operate on Christmas Day, but there are no buses. The Government expect people to get to work to produce the energy, and yet constantly penalise people by increasing petrol prices while giving no tax allowance when a car is used to get to work. They are making the job more and more difficult.

In the country people without a car find it almost impossible to use the amenities that people in towns take for granted. Some of my constituents have to take a day off work to see the doctor because there is no bus service in the evening. If they leave the surgery at 6.30 pm, the last bus has gone and they cannot get back to their village, eight or 10 miles away. With unemployment at 2½ million, people are scared to take a day off work to see the doctor, so they continually put off getting the urgent attention that they need.

It costs some people in my area £1 to draw the dole. They have to travel six or seven miles to prove that they are eligible for work. It costs them a £1 out of their limited income before they can sign on.

Over the years, rural areas have been the backbone of the Tory Party, but it is the Tories who are stabbing them in the back. Conservative Governments and Conservative councils have taken away rural bus subsidies. In 1977, rural bus services in Nottinghamshire received £1.8 million a year, two-thirds of which came from the Labour Government. In spite of inflation, that figure has been cut to £0.6 million. Bus services across the country have been decimated. Many villages do not have a bus service on Sunday. People may have to travel 30 or 40 miles to visit the mental hospital at Balderton, which involves two or three changes of bus. On a Sunday, it may be impossible to get there. Patients at Rampton do not get visitors because the bus service has vanished.

Where people are prepared to run an old banger because there are no bus services, they are continually under attack not only from the increase in petrol prices but in car taxes. The Royal Automobile Club is the backbone of the Tory Party, but members of the RAC are sending forms to their Members of Parliament asking them to protest loud and long about VAT on cars, petrol tax and the road fund licence.

Many people in villages have to shop by mail order catalogue. Even Christmas shopping is disappearing. Small businesses are being liquidated because their customers cannot get to the towns. In the past, people would go to town to shop on Saturday, but now they go only once a month. They also buy a freezer and stock up with three months' supply of food from the hypermarket in the city, 25 miles away. Small shops in towns are going bankrupt because people cannot afford the cost of travel.

Many small rural bus services are going to the wall because of the cost of fuel and because the Tory county councils will not subsidise them. A man in my area ran a bus on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays into Retford from a small village. For the rest of the time he took children to school, and took people to the illuminations or to see Nottingham Forest play football 30 miles away. However, it was the three days a week—the market day trade—that kept him going. He was losing £2,000 a year, which may seem a trivial sum, though it was not to him. The Tory county council could have picked up £1,400 of that £2,000 from the Government if it had paid £600 towards it, but it refused, because it relishes cutting and cutting. As a result, 500 people lose their bus service, a small business man cannot continue in business, and rural life suffers once again.

People are trapped in the villages. It is all right for the gin and tonic belt, the cocktail people, the solicitors and lawyers who use these areas as dormitory suburbs and drive 20 miles a day to work, but the hard-up farm worker and workers in the rural areas are constantly hammered because of the actions of a party that many of them felt was there to support them.

So far in this Parliament there have been two revolts by Tory Back Benchers on matters affecting the rural areas. One revolt concerned rural post offices, where the whiz kid from Marks and Spencer, Sir Derek Rayner, wanted to pay pensions, social security and unemployment benefits every two or three weeks, which would have closed those post offices. A Back-Bench Tory revolt stopped that, and I am happy about it.

There was the proposal for bus subsidies, with the three-mile limit for schoolchildren. That would have had a tremendous effect, paricularly on Catholic schoolchildren, who travel long distances to school. In the other place the Duke of Norfolk stopped that. That did the Tory Party some good in the rural areas.

Seven days from now there will be county council elections. If Conservative Members have any sense they will join us in the Lobby to defeat the Government's proposals. If they do not, they will be unable to disguise from their supporters in rural areas the hard-nosed, cynical attitude of the Tory Party—the party of the commuters, the suburbs and places such as Reigate, Esher and Epsom, which have handy train services into get people to the City.

The message is gradually getting through that the Tories are not the friends of rural areas. The only way to disprove what I am saying is for Conservative Members to join us in the Lobby tonight.

6.15 pm
Sir William Clark (Croydon, South)

It is interesting to speak after the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), who rather overplayed his hand on petrol and rural transport.

I want to concentrate on strategy. I am sure that everyone welcomes the Chancellor's concession, particularly to the horticulture industry, and the lop reduction in the price of derv. That will have an effect on deliveries and so on, particularly in rural areas. No one, including myself, likes taxes. This is not the only tax in the Budget that I do not like. I do not like the so-called windfall profit tax on banks.

Nevertheless, we must realise that the Government are overspending. It is all very well for Labour Members to say that we have North Sea oil and that we should take advantage of it. We are getting the advantage of North Sea oil in propping up nationalised industries, in our spending on defence and on education, roads, and so on. The money has already been spent. Nevertheless, having taken the North Sea oil revenues we still have a deficit of about £10,500 million—roughly an overspend of £20,000 a minute. Clearly, any responsible Chancellor must try to keep down the borrowing requirement. Before the concessions, the petrol and derv tax increases would have produced about £1,200 million. If the lop reduction amendment is accepted, it will cost the Exchequer between £500 million and £600 million. I cannot see any way of recovering that sum, short of putting up the standard rate of tax by 1p or 1½p.

The derv concession will cost the Exchequer about £90 million. With a contingency of £2,500 million, it might be thought that it could be contained. Certainly, that figure probably could be swallowed in the context of the whole Budget, but I urge my right hon. and learned Friend to make up the concession that he has given on derv by some other form of taxation.

I do not entirely agree with my right hon. and learned Friend on the question of betting tax. Of the £510 million that the betting and gaming taxes produce for the Exchequer, about £110 million comes from the horse racing side, both on and off course, and the other £400 million comes from one-armed bandits, casinos, pin tables and so on. Irrespective of the report that my right hon. and learned Friend mentioned, it would be easy to make up the £90 million by putting a 25 per cent. extra tax on pin tables, one-armed bandits and casinos. I do not think that that would have a detrimental effect. I accept that if dog race and horse race betting are taxed too much, they may go underground, but that argument does not apply to casinos and one-armed bandits. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. and learned Friend will have another look at the betting tax. Whether he does that or finds some other means of raising money, I hope that he will find a way to make up the £90 million that he has conceded in the derv reduction.

Petrol tax is a money spinner—£910 million from a 20p increase per gallon. I do not suggest that I like that, but we Conservatives must remember that although our manifesto said that we would reduce taxes and do what we could, as soon as we could, to reduce the standard rate, the top rate of taxes, and so on, it also stated clearly that in future the incidence of taxation would concentrate more on indirect tax than on direct tax. My right hon. and hon. Friends should not forget that. It is still part of our philosophy, regrettable though it may be that we have to raise this extra money. In my view, it is better to do what we said in the manifesto, namely, to tax spending rather than earnings.

People are, of course, upset by taxation, but let me give an interesting statistic. A survey was carried out on petrol consumption since 10 March, when the 20p increase took place, and I am told that the consumption has dropped by 0.1 per cent. I would not say that that was a massive drop in consumption

My constituency is not a rural one, though it has rural parts, and people there do not like the petrol tax, but, by and large, they realise that the sooner the country starts to balance its books the sooner we will get back to real, sound money.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I agree with my hon. Friend that there is a greater sense of realism in the country, but he is surely wrong to deduce that fact from the drop in petrol consumption of only 0.1 per cent. It will probably soon be a drop of nothing at all, because people will absorb the increase. The point is, surely, that many parts of the country have no choice. The assumption that it shows a greater realism is, with respect, in this instance a little misguided.

Sir William Clark

I do not think that the assumption is all that misguided. After all, people are still buying petrol and getting about.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Because they have to.

Sir William Clark

I accept that they have to get about, but do not let us exaggerate the effect of the increase in petrol tax.

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not reduce the 20p per gallon increase unless he can introduce immediately another tax to produce £500 million or £600 million. Many of my hon. Friends and I believe that our overspending is far too high. We must get it down, If any of my hon. Friends believe that the increase in petrol tax should be reduced, without compensatory taxation being introduced, I remind them that the PSBR would go up to £11,000 million. If we allow that to happen we shall be putting off the day when we can say, at last, that we have sound money and will become prosperous.

Of course, Labour and Liberal Members will press my hon. Friends to vote for the 10p reduction, but the Opposition do not have the responsibilities of government. Many of them would spend, spend and spend again. I remind my hon. Friends that if it were not for this Government the PSBR would be from £3,000 million to £4,000 million higher. The first act of the Government was to cut £3,500 million of the projected increase in the borrowing requirement.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is not the hon. Gentleman assuming that there would have been a similar contraction in our manufacturing base under a Labour Government?

Sir William Clark

In economics, one cannot try to blame only one section, namely, the Government. Every hon. Member knows that the reason why we are not competitive is that for too long we have been paying ourselves too much money for not enough work. Labour Members who try to compare this country with Germany or France do not realise that the Germans and others do not have the same borrowing requirement as we have, and do not have to find £12,000 million or £13,000 million to pay interest on the national debt. That is what is killing us. I welcome the fact that the Government are trying to balance the books.

Mr. Shore

We all too easily assume that we have a proper basis of comparability of our PSBR with that in other European countries. I put it to the House that a large part of our PSBR is simply reflection of the fact that we have a substantial public sector. If that sector were in private hands it would be raising money for investment, and so on, and every hon. Member would approve. We must not allow ourselves to be trapped into a purely national accountancy position.

Sir William Clark

I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman says. He put the point better than I could have put it. It is one solid reason for less nationalisation and more privatisation. We cannot say that we are investing in steel. The British Steel Corporation lost hundreds of millions of pounds last year and we were merely making up the losses, rather than producing assets. That is where the taxpayers' money and the North Sea Oil revenues are going.

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not concede a reduction in the petrol tax unless he has another means of taxation to balance the £500 million or £600 million that will be lost.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

My hon. Friend is repeating an error. A 10p reduction in the increased tax on petrol and derv would have cost £600 million, but the Government will not get the revenue until August, because of the mechanics of the Finance Bill. My hon. Friend must not keep saying that the amount involved is £600 million. Because of the mechanics of the Bill the sum involved is probably less than £400 million.

Sir William Clark

I accept my hon. Friend's strictures. I was speaking on a yearly basis. On an eight-month basis, the figure is between £340 million and £350 million. However, the concession on derv will cost another £90 million, and I am convinced that the Chancellor must replace that sum and not add to the PSBR. In the same way, if the House agrees to a reduction in the proposed increase in the petrol tax, the money lost must be replaced.

I am not convinced that the Government have tackled our public spending with sufficient vigour. Almost every part of the public sector wastes money. If we need a change in policy, we must have it. Of course, the upsurge in the economy will result in the revenue of the Exchequer increasing in the next year or two, but the Government must reduce public expenditure, because we cannot go on with the present level of over spending. The Government have made some inroads and had some success, but we still have a long way to go.

Mr. William Hamilton

It was amusing to watch the reactions of Conservative Members when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was trying to establish peace in our time, or at least peace when the vote is taken.

I was wondering what would have been the reaction of Conservative Members if the boot had been on the other foot and a Labour Government were introducing a petrol tax increase of 20p per gallon. We remember vividly the Tories' reaction when the Labour Government proposed an increased of 5p a gallon. Every Conservative Member, not excluding the present Prime Minister, was outraged. They referred to the devastating effect of a 5p a gallon increase on rural areas.

The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark) makes a fair point when he says that public expenditure must be controlled. The Labour Government tried to control it, with some effect, but it has got out of hand under the present Government, who pledged themselves to savage it. Indeed, public spending will be savaged still further in the next two years, and that will adversely affect the rural areas that Conservative Members claim to represent.

When the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke about his concessions on derv and horticultural heating oil, totalling about £90 million, no doubt he had in mind that there will be local elections in the rural areas of England next week and that £90 million will seem like manna from Heaven. However, the right hon. and learned Gentleman added that the £90 million will be clawed back, though he was less than specific about where the blows will fall.

6.30 pm

Since the Budget the Chancellor has been under great pressure from his supporters to reduce, if not eliminate, the 20p on a gallon of petrol. The Chancellor and his cohorts have been at pains to ask "Tell us where we can get £90 million? Where can we save it or where can we cut?" He had obviously done his sums and put forward several alternatives for saving. In the Treasury he clearly has carefully prepared proposals for finding the £85 million-£90 million. He must be honest. For far too long the House and the country have put up with deviations and wriggling by the Government. They know what the answer will be. Will it be a £90 million increase in National Health Service charges or increases in the price of school meals? We have a right to know where the increase will be.

The Government have already clobbered the disabled, the sick, the poor, and others. I guess that the £85 million will be found from such sources because that has been the Government's record to date. That is my argument against the hon. Member for Croydon, South. Taxation that has been reduced in the past two years has been reduced in favour of the rich. Today's article in The Times spells that out. That article is based on a paper given by the Treasury to the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service.

The hon. Member for Croydon, South could have used the argument that has been used by other hon. Members, that the petrol tax increase might be defended on energy conservation grounds. That was argued in a leading article in The Guardian earlier this week. The Labour Government had different proposals to safeguard energy resources, based on mileages for different cars. That was howled down by the Tory Party. The Labour Government's tax proposals to save energy were much more progressive and less regressive than the present proposals. The charge that my hon. Friends and I make against this tax is that it is regressive because the people who have to use cars and, at the same time, have the lowest income will be hit hardest. Such people use their cars not as a luxury but as a means of getting to and from work, for they live and work in rural areas.

It is a simple sum. Let us assume that a worker in an agricultural area drives a modest 6,000 miles a year—not a large mileage. He gets 30 miles to the gallon. That is 200 gallons times 20p—an extra £40 a year on his overheads, or about 80p a week from an agricultural worker's wage. Such people generally exist on below-average earnings. That is a clobbering for them.

The charge that we make against the Chancellor is coupled with a further argument. If the Chancellor had not been tied to his election promise to cut direct taxation he would have put 1p on income tax, which would have been a fairer and more progressive way of clawing back the revenue that he seeks.

The article in The Times implies that the petrol charge is an additional burden on those on lower incomes on whom the Chancellor has already placed an additional burden. The article has been quoted extensively. It says: The Chancellor has … acted"— that is, since the election— like a Robin Hood in reverse, increasing disproportionately the tax bills of families on low wages and substantially reducing the tax burden of those families in the very highest income brackets. In other words, he has increased the tax burden on the agricultural worker in favour of relieving the City tycoon. The article continues: the tax burden on the majority of wage and salary earners has also risen, with the exception of the highest paid … the typical family man, receiving two-thirds average earnings, will experience a rise in his direct tax burden of no less than 22 per cent. over the period 1978–79 to 1981–82. Well over a third of all adult, full-time workers earn somewhere between two thirds average earnings and the average level. That covers almost every agricultural worker in the country. One has to add those tax burdens imposed by the Chancellor on low-paid families in Devon and Cornwall, the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland and rural England and Wales to the present clobbering of the Chancellor with his 20p.

I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson). He represents the feudal part of Fife. One can draw a line on the map between the advanced radical part of Fife and the rural, feudal area that he represents. He knows the enormous hardship that is caused to the fishermen and agricultural workers in his constituency. They will be watching carefully how he votes. It is all very fine his making the smooth, oily speeches that he is capable of making all the time, but when it comes to the crunch tonight he will loyally join his colleagues in the Government lobby. I hope that the farmers, the agricultural workers and the fishermen in East Fife note the difference between the hon. Gentleman's words and his deeds. They will judge him by his deeds—by how he votes and not by what he says.

Mr. Henderson

The hon. Gentleman should also bear in mind what my constituents will feel when they remember his words—the awful things that he said the Chancellor might do to recover £90 million, and what kind of horrors might be produced if the Chancellor had to recover £1,200 million, which the hon. Gentleman is suggesting.

Mr. Hamilton

I am not sure about the hon. Gentleman's point. I said that the Chancellor could have been fairer to the community as a whole by putting 1p on the standard rate of income tax. That would have been far less regressive. Because he made an extravagant and phoney commitment at the election that he would cut direct taxes he was excluded from doing that.

All the unfairness, injustices and inequities of the Budget and every Budget since the election flow from that—the VAT increase, the petrol tax and the £10 increase in car tax. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) reminded the House that we are discussing not only the 20p increase on petrol but the £10 on the car tax—that is a 16 per cent. or 17 per cent. increase in one go. The rural constituencies are being penalised by their friends in the Tory Party. With such friends, who needs enemies? I hope that when people vote next Thursday they know who their friends are. Their enemies are sitting on the Government Front Bench. There is no sign that the problems are diminishing.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer clutches at straws. He says that the Stock Exchange and the Financial Times index are looking pretty. The CBI changes its mind every week. One day it is optimistic and the next it is pessimistic. The situation will get substantially worse in the next two years, particularly for people in rural areas. Such areas will be turned into rural deserts within months under this Government. Voters must understand where their intersts lie when they vote next Thursday.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

It falls to me to explain to the Chancellor of the Exchequer why it is necessary for him to accept amendment No. 2 which, translated from its technical jargon into English, means reducing by 10p per gallon the tax on petrol as well as on derv. Clearly the Chancellor fails to understand the difference between rural and urban areas. Not for a moment do I say that the petrol tax cannot be onerous in urban areas. I am sure that it can be. However, according to the remarks made by the Chancellor since Budget day, it is clear that he is not fully aware of the difference between the need to use motor vehicles in rural areas and the need to use them in urban areas.

The factors which differentiate rural from urban areas include characteristics of the roads of which the Chancellor seems to be unaware. In many rural areas there are no pavements. That means that pedestrians have to walk along the same road surface as vehicles are driven along. Rural roads are undrained. Usually they are higher in the centre than at the edge. That is the only form of drainage because they do not have sewers.

During a considerable proportion of the year when it is raining, the edges of the roads are flooded, and children walking to school have to walk in the middle of the road. That injects an element of danger which many parents wish to avoid. They do that by using cars to convey their children to and from school, even when the distance is not such that the school is physically out of reach of their children. That is another reason why, even for short distances, people in rural areas need to drive when they could walk if they were in an urban area.

The second factor to which a number of hon. Members have alluded, is the differences in income levels. In many rural areas incomes are substantially below the national average. That is so in Devon and in Cornwall. Therefore, a flat rate increase in tax falls more onerously upon people with smaller incomes.

The problems of travelling to work can be greater in rural areas because of the distances between where people live and where they work. Often the option of public transport is not available. People in towns often have that option, even if for reasons of convenience some people prefer not to take up that option and use their cars instead. In many rural areas no alternative exists.

In Devon the unemployment rate is substantially higher than the national average. It is 1 percentage point higher than the national average. That presents particular difficulties not only for people registering as unemployed but for people looking for work. Motor vehicles are needed for seeking work.

The petrol tax falls onerously on rural areas. It also falls onerously on many economic enterprises. It is a mistake to believe that only private citizens use petrol and that only productive enterprises use derv. The agriculture industry uses 76 million gallons of petrol and 17 million gallons of derv per year. Therefore, if we take 10p off derv only we reduce agricultural costs by 10p per gallon on only 17 million gallons, not 76 million gallons.

6.45 pm

I hope that the Committee will agree to amendment No. 2. I hope that it will do so with the Chancellor's blessing: but if that is absent, we must still agree to it. If we do pass the amendment, the cost in this financial year will be about £345 million. It might be less than that because the Chancellor will get the revenue in the particularly busy holiday months of June and July. The reduced rate would apply to only one holiday month—August. I am being generous in estimating the loss of revenue for a reduction in the tax on both petrol and derv.

The Chancellor has already conceded the case for derv. We are now therefore discussing the implications of a revenue loss of about £266 million in the remainder of this financial year after the Bill receives the Royal Assent in July. There are a number of ways to make up that revenue. I know that the Chancellor is worried about some aspects of the gambling tax. He is worried that the illegal bookmakers and runners might take over legitimate bookmakers' business on which the tax is raised. If he doubled the tax on one-armed bandits he would recover the whole of the revenue that he needs. I have not heard it suggested that one-armed bandits are likely to go underground. It is not clear how they could do that and still attract their patronage.

I might add, in parenthesis, that if the ridiculous distinction between clubs and pubs was abolished, so that pubs had the same freedom as licensed clubs to have one-armed bandits, the revenue would increase, with a great deal of equity to the licensee concerned. That alone would make up the lost revenue.

I concede the Chancellor's overall Budget sums. I am not criticising them but suggesting a positive and much less socially and economically harmful way in which he could get the revenue he needs while still reducing the tax on petrol as well as on derv by 10p.

When the Chancellor increases the tax on petrol by 10p the local garage has to find another £100 of working capital for every 1,000-gallon tank capacity, because the petrol companies do not give credit but insist on being paid on delivery. More and more they also insist on the garage taking a full tanker load, or else they impose quite punitive surcharges for part loads. Therefore, a garage which stocks two grades of petrol with a tank capacity of 5,000 gallons under each petrol pump has to find overnight £2,000 more working capital, out of thin air, when the Chancellor imposes an increase of 20p per gallon.

This is the sort of consideration that we need to bear in mind if we want to maintain the distribution network of filling stations throughout the country, and particularly in rural areas. It may be asked why the people do not buy petrol in the towns, because they use their cars to go there anyway? The short answer is that the filling station is also the local garage where repairs are done. It is necessay for people to have this facility because, especially if they have children to look after, they cannot afford the time to take their car into town and waste a day sitting around while someone works on it.

Rural garages provide a composite service not only to the motorist but to people with garden mowers, and to farmers for their vehicles and machinery. The garages need a certain turnover on their petrol if it is to be economically viable to sell it at all, and if it is to make a contribution towards the general overheads. Sometimes the garage proprietor, who is also the mechanic, has to leave a job to serve one or two gallons of petrol. He is not helped either by some unnecessary regulations and interpretations of them in regard to MOT tests.

All these have acumulative effect. The Rubicon has been reached and Back Benchers have to say "Stop; this has gone too far." That is what amendment No. 2 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) does precisely. It says that the Chancellor has got his detailed judgment wrong and that he needs to correct it, not by altering his macro-judgment of the total amount of money he has to raise, but by raising it differently.

I have put forward a practical way in which he can raise the taxation. If he prefers, he might put ½p on the standard rate of income tax which would actually bring in more than the amount we are talking about. There are several options open to him. I understand why he does not wish to tell the Committee before the end of the debate which of the options he prefers. When the time comes for the Chair to put the question, without doubt many of his colleagues on these Benches will be taking the view that the reduction must be of 10p on petrol as well as on derv. This can only be achieved by going into the Division Lobby in support of amendment No. 2.

Mr. Geraint Howells (Cardigan)

I am grateful for the opportunity of supporting my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). What seems amazing to hon. Members on the Liberal Benches—and probably to the whole electorate and to Members on both sides of the Committee—is the way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has failed to learn anything from his predecessors' mistakes. Knowing of the previous petrol revolt—was it only three years ago?—it is incredible that he should have employed the same tactics of raising tax on petrol and thus severely penalising all rural dwellers. It makes one wonder whether there was a need for any of the amendments that have been tabled. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done his homework properly and looked after the interests of rural dwellers, there would have been no need for us to discuss clause 4.

Reference has been made by hon. Members to the high percentage of unemployed in many constituencies. In Mid-Wales perhaps we are unique in more ways than one. In my constituency of Cardigan over 20 per cent. of the work force are unemployed. Many hon. Members are aware that I represent a county with the highest number of self-employed in the whole of Britan, 31 per cent. We have more small businesses and farmers than any other constituency in Britain.

I feel sorry for the Chancellor because he has had to make a humiliating climb-down in the face of protestations from his Back Bench colleagues. He should have known that it was inevitable. He should have learnt a lesson from recent history. I am sure that many of his colleagues will join us in the Opposition Lobby and vote against the Government's proposals. Even the Tory rebels, in their heart of hearts, must agree that the Chancellor has not gone far enough and that his proposals still penalise unfairly a section of society. Our contention is that the rural economy has already been hit hard enough in the current recession and that the rises suggested by the Government make nonsense of their earlier promises to give a fair deal to rural areas and those who live there.

The farming industry is already suffering badly from rising production costs. As an industry which is heavily dependent on road fuel, using both petrol and derv in order to carry out its work, the increases would inevitably make production costs rise steeply once again and put additional stress on farm budgets which are already under strain, not only in Wales but in other parts of the country.

7 pm

The National Farmers Union calculated that the extra cost of derv, before the concession that was made this afternoon, which would have to be borne by the agriculture industry would amount to about £25 million this year. Farmers are also very bitter that even before the Budget derv was far more expensive than in any country in Western Europe, giving our competitors a distinctly unfair advantage. Also, Britain is the only country in Europe where derv is more expensive than petrol.

It is not just the farmer who suffers from this unfair taxation. Town dwellers often do not realise—this seems to be true of Government finance Ministers as well—that most people have to travel a fair distance to work when they live in the country, and public transport is virtually non-existent. That means that a private car is a necessity, not a luxury, for most people, and that the rural economy is highly dependent on petrol.

The average wage in rural areas is far below that in the towns, and the situation is made worse when there are tremendous price variations within the various price zones. In my constituency, for example, the car driver has to pay lop more for a gallon of petrol than does someone living in London. There is a great discrepancy over the whole of Wales—up to 20p a gallon. I hope that the Chancellor will examine the pricing zones and how prices are being worked out in various parts of the country.

I draw the Chancellor's attention to a letter I received about the Budget from the director of education for Dyfed, Mr. John Phillips. I am sure that many hon. Members who represent rural areas have received similar letters from their directors of education. The letter reads as follows: I have been requested by the education committee to express concern at the effect of the recent substantial increase in the price of petrol. In view of the scattered nature of the schools within Dyfed, the cost of conveying pupils must inevitably be high. The effect of the recent price increase will, however, add a sum of £70,000 to the estimated cost of conveying school pupils for the next financial year. It is also anticipated that the increase will have a significant effect on the general cost of the supplies and services provided by the authority and the county treasurer has estimated that this, together with the increased cost of conveying pupils, will amount to additional expenditure of around £250,000. During the past 18 months the education committee has been closely involved in curtailing expenditure on certain aspects of the education service, and it is, therefore, extremely concerned that, even with its reduced budget, it will be required to find a substantial amount in order to meet the increased costs for transport within the county. I know that our amendment will not be accepted, although it was forcefully put by my hon. Friend the Member for Truro, but I hope that many Tory Members who have criticised the Government and are wondering how their electors in the rural areas will respond to the Government's proposals will join us, with the Opposition, and vote in our Lobby.

Mr. Woolmer

May I draw the attention of the hon. Member to the remarks made by the Liberal spokesman in Committee on the Finance Bill last year when considering the proposed increase in petrol tax? His criticism was that the Government did not go far enough. He went on to say that people had had four years of warning that petrol would become extremely scarce and therefore expensive, and they had to adjust accordingly. Last year the Liberal Party accused the Labour Party of political opportunism in opposing an increase in petrol tax. Does this mean that the Liberals have changed their mind yet again?

Mr. Howells

The short answer is that wise men change their minds; fools do not.

Sir Frederic Bennett

I was so impressed by the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) that my contribution can be even shorter than I intended. I shall limit it to reinforcing two or three of his arguments.

First, however, I should like to make a general point, which has not so far been mentioned in the debate. It is an almost Alice-in-Wonderland, paradoxical situation that we spend a great deal of time using diplomatic, political and other pressures to prevent the OPEC countries from raising their prices because, we say, of the disastrous effect that a rise in oil prices has on the economies of the countries of the rest of the world, including the Third world. We repeatedly go out and visit OPEC Ministers, saying "Do you realise the near total ruin that you have brought to so many countries?" Some of the OPEC Ministers respond; others do not.

I have had a little international experience, and I wish that I could enumerate all the Arab producers whom I know who tease me by saying "You constantly talk of the enormous damage that a rise in oil prices does to your economies and then yor slam on large increases for the benefit of your economy which you say we have irreparably damaged."

All Governments should meditate on this ridiculous paradox. Our debate today and the Government's attitude will be noted in other parts of the world when new pleas are made in the autumn not to wreck our economy by increasing oil prices.

I am glad to speak after the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) because my family home, where I was brought up, is very close to his constituency in Montgomery. In a non-political sense, I am well aware that much of what I say about my constituency of Torbay and about Devon applies also to the part of the world that he represents.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a Freudian slip in indicating the advice that he had received and the people from whom he had received it when, in his Budget statement, he announced the increases he would have to make. He grouped together in one section drink, tobacco and petrol, as though all three were luxuries. He was right about cigarettes and drink—they are genuinely luxuries—but he did not appear to appreciate—with great respect to him I do not think that he has yet appreciated—that petrol is no longer a luxury, any more than food is a luxury. It is an absolute necessity of life.

Apart from the people whom we have already mentioned—the workers, especially farm workers, and the shoppers—I cannot believe that the Treasury experts have given a thought to retired people living in areas where there is no communal transport. It is not a matter of saying "Let them walk down the middle of the road." There are many people who cannot walk any distance in the middle of the road or on either side, whether the weather is dry or wet. There are many people who live in rural areas where there is no alternative to the use of a car. Therefore, for many people petrol is not only an economic necessity; it is a social necessity for a way of life that successive Governments have imposed on those concerned by steps that have converted this country from one relying mainly on communal transport to one that now relies mainly on private transport. It is just as ridiculous to say "Let us go back to the former situation", as it is to say "Everyone should take a long boat and traverse the canals".

The hon. Member for Cardigan knows that in some areas it is a question not of buses being unavailable on Sundays, but, rather, of no buses being available on any day of the week. How will people who collect pensions, visit the doctor and go to the clinic to collect their medicine be able to bear the increase in costs?

The Chancellor again warned of how much revenue could be raised, bearing in mind the law of diminishing returns. However, there is no law of diminishing returns in respect of petrol, except in so far as we inflict further hardship on people. We can stop them from drinking, but we cannot stop them from using a car if they live in an area where no other means of transport is available. His reply to this debate will certainly affect my judgment of the way in which I behave.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Everything that my hon. Friend said makes total nonsense of the Treasury argument that somehow it is all right because in rural areas people get more mileage per gallon.

Sir Frederic Bennett

I quite agree. That is one of the more nonsensical of the suggestions that have been put forward.

I should like to discuss the alternative methods of raising revenue. I have with me a bunch of letters nearly half an inch thick which I have written to the Chancellor telling him that from the very start I did not believe that we could or should cut so many millions of pounds from taxes and thereby raise the PSBR. Every letter that I have written has included suggestions as to how the alternative revenue could be raised. I would not be making this speech if I thought that the PSBR would have to be increased, nor would I be advancing these arguments were I convinced that that was so.

I was obviously delighted about the 10p off derv. However, I would have preferred to have seen 5p off derv and 5p off petrol. I am concerned about the social requirements of the country as a whole. Such a decision would have been better. Ideally, of course, I should have liked 10p off both, but I certainly believe that if this cannot be so he should make some sort of gesture at this time.

I have done my sums, but I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) will correct me if I am wrong. I notice that he has his calculator ready. I calculate that if the duty on petrol was reduced by 5p, the real cost, because of technical Finance Act reasons would be about £130 million. My right hon. and learned Friend said that he was not prepared to lose revenue amounting to £1,000 million or £1,200 million. With respect, no one was asking him to. No such suggestion has been made. I would be content with a reduction of £130 million, matched by corresponding tax increases.

I shall not read out all the letters that I have written to the Chancellor suggesting ways in which that sum could be raised. However, I should like to reinforce one suggestion. Those hon. Members who have clubs in their constituencies are well aware that one-armed bandits are doing extraordinarily well. If they were put into pubs they would do even better. I have never understood why it is more moral to gamble in a club. I have never understood the ethical arguments involved. Indeed, if one-armed bandits were put into pubs it might even reduce the level of drunkenness, because some of the money would go into the machines. However, I divert from the main theme of my speech.

If action were taken on one-armed bandits, to increase substantially the revenue from them, the Chancellor would raise not only the £90 million in respect of derv but the £130 million in respect of petrol. We would avoid the risks involved of driving other gambling activities underground, and there would be no damaging social consequences.

Even at this eleventh hour, I plead with my right hon. and learned Friend not to do something that I am sure he will regret later.

There is a theory among some Ministers that Back Benchers are always wrong. I have been a Member of the House for nearly 30 years, and I can recall occasions when Ministers have subsequently said "You were right after all". I hope that this is one occasion when the Chancellor will not have to say that.

7.15 pm
Mr. Austin Mitchell (Grimsby)

I am so suffused with pleasure at being the third Labour Back Bencher to be called after three Liberals and one member of the "Fun Party", that I cannot follow the hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett). However, I hope that his courage in the Division Lobby has the same high octane rating as the arguments that he mobilised.

I am also concerned that the critics of the increase in petrol tax have locked themselves into the syndrome that there must be a compensatory increase in other forms of taxation if the petrol tax is reduced. There does not, because the whole essence of the argument is that the Budget increased tax too massively and that it was too deflationary in a severely contractionary climate. Therefore, there is no need for any compensation or mobilisation of alternative sources of revenue.

I support amendment No. 49 which seeks to increase the petrol duty in line with the cost of living—an increase of 8p—and amendment No. 48 which proposes another 2p cut in the duty on derv in addition to what the Chancellor has proposed this afternoon. I support those amendments as part of the strategy to cut the tax increases in this disastrous Budget. Taken in conjunction with the increases in national insurance contributions last November, the Budget amounts to what must be one of the largest tax increases ever in British history. It certainly increases taxation as a proportion of GDP beyond the level experienced at the time of the Labour Government. It also increases the proportion of tax imposed on the average income of the average family beyond what it was at that time.

It also does what is routine these days—betrays the promises and expectations held out by the Conservatives during the election two years ago. The most disastrous effect of the Budget's tax increases is that they add a £5½ billion deflation in 1981–82 to an economy which is already in acute depression.

I am aware that Ministers are desperately trying to convince themselves that optimism is around the corner, and that has to be a massive effort because of the refractory nature of the material on which they are working. At times it seems that if they saw the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse they would regard it as a sign of better things to come. The hopes held out by Ministers that the economy is on the turn and that the depression is bottoming out are fallacious because they defy common sense. The economy has drastically cut down on investment. We are facing competitors who are still investing and in many cases still growing. They are making themselves more competitive in a tougher and harder world, whereas we are closing down capacity, scrapping plant, selling off machinery to our competitors, failing to invest and renew and carrying an increased and massive burden of unemployment and unused resources. In those circumstances, how can there be a prospect of competing effectively and recovering in the way in which Ministers hope?

It is inevitable that those who have been in the Treasury for some time will try to stake what remains of their credibility on these prognostications. But it is sad to see the new Chief Secretary, who could distance himself from the disaster that in a sense he has inherited, going out on the same limb. It is even worse to hear the Chancellor using these chimeras and mirages to justify the cut in the duty on derv. He suggests that because there is a possibility of recovery here, which we believe will not materialise, the Government will cut the proposed increase in duty on derv. He bases his case on a hypothetical possibility of recovery which will not materialise because things will get substantially worse.

In that situation, it is vital to reduce the deflationary impact of this disastrous Budget. The Government have locked themselves into a spiral of decline which means in effect increasing taxation and increasing Government spending to finance the unemployment, the depression and the setbacks to nationalised industries that the Government have precipitated. Those are the economics of bedlam, not of any possibility of recovery. The tax increases in the Budget must make the depression and the decline far worse than they would otherwise be.

It may be too much to expect Conservative Back Benchers to agree with that diagnosis, now, but they will agree in a year's time, and in two years' time positively clamouring to agree. Nevertheless, one might at least expect them to be a little more energetic in eating their own words. Only four years ago, I fought a by-election at the very time when the Labour Government proposed an increase of 5p in this tax--one-quarter of the amount now proposed. Going from door to door in Grimsby I discovered how disastrous was the reaction to that. I heard on the radio and read in the press of the hostility of the entire Conservative Party to that increase. It is interesting to look back at the arguments put to me as a candidate fighting an election at that time—the arguments the Conservatives were putting.

The hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) told us that because of that increase in duty The number of cars sold is bound to be fewer … Solihull will suffer, the West Midlands will suffer, and the country generally will suffer".—[Official Report, 30 March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 488.] The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) opposed the increase because the sheer price of petrol is too heavy … This is the sort of tax that one levies on luxuries—a tax in excess of the base value of the product—and I do not believe that we should continue to pile it up. They said all that in 1977 about an increase of one-quarter of that which the Government now propose.

The hon. Member for Barry (Sir R. Gower) declared: This should be a red light to future Governments that they must not take the easy way and soak motorists as Governments of both parties have done in the past."—[Official Report, 9 May 1977, Vol. 931, c. 980–89.] The hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) did not see why any Government should deliberately go out of their way to make it worse. He said: the Government are deliberately adding to what has already been a vast increase in petrol prices … People in rural areas feel, and I agree, that this increase comes on top of what has already been a disproportionate burden on those who do not happen to live in one of the great metropolitan areas."—[Official Report, 28 April 1977; Vol. 930, c. 1616.] The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) now Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food reminded us that in the North-East of Scotland there is often no alternative form of transport … I ask the Chancellor to remember that the car is essential for the person living in the remote areas."—[Official Report, 29 March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 298.] And so it went on. That was the litany that attended a Labour Government proposing to increase petrol duty by a quarter of the amount now proposed by the Conservative Government as their contribution to the deflationary disaster that they are preparing for us. There is, therefore, every case not only for those words to be eaten but for this increase to be voted down.

I must add here what is perhaps a sectional plea on behalf of people in my constituency who will be hit by the increase. A constituency such as Grimsby is peculiarly hard hit by a substantial increase in duty on petrol and, indeed, on derv. It is a somewhat isolated town which is heavily dependent on road transport due to the decline in its bus services. There is a huge surrounding area in which bus services are very bad and people are heavily dependent upon their cars. Many people live in the town and work on the Humber bank some distance away. Most of them travel to the Humber bank factories by car. The increase is therefore a substantial tax on those least able to bear it—those who are struggling to keep a car going because they need it to get to work. The increase hits them very severely indeed.

Moreover, the people of Grimsby already pay effectively 6p extra on every gallon that they buy, due to the insane pricing policy of the oil companies that places a disproportionate burden on such areas. The oil is refined into petrol at a major refinery only a few miles away. It then trundles along in tankers and the people of Grimsby have to pay 6p per gallon more for it than those in most other parts of the country although they are nearer the refinery than anyone else. The price of petrol is therefore already a source of anger and bitterness in Grimsby and represents an extra economic difficulty which, as a development area, Grimsby has to overcome while other parts of the country that do not have that status are not subject to this disproportionate tax. The Government now propose to add a further massive increase.

The people of Grimsby also bitterly resent the increased tax on derv. Despite the cut in that increase proposed by the Chancellor today, it is still a heavy tax on an industry vital to Grimsby, where transport is a major local industry. The industry's costs will be substantially increased despite the cut announced by the Chancellor. Moreover, we are still paying far more for derv in this country than most of our Continental competitors. We shall still be paying far more than the 74p per gallon which is the effective price in Italy, the 97p per gallon in the Netherlands, 98p per gallon in Denmark and £1.11 in France. Yet we send far more of our business by road and make far heavier use of road transport, particularly in Grimsby but also nationally, than those countries. The increase therefore represents an unfair and disproportionate tax on the road haulage industry.

The main reason for opposing the increases for both petrol and derv is the contribution that they make to the deflation that the Government are now carrying through. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, locked as he is in the straitjacket of his own piggy-bank economics, will try hard to achieve these increases, but Conservative Members who may be inclined to vote against the increases should bear in mind the real possibility that he is bluffing. Even one as locked into his straitjacket as the Chancellor may well be bluffing, because there is no need to increase other taxes to compensate for any loss accruing to his Budget strategy by cutting the increase in petrol tax. If he is not bluffing, he certainly ought to be.

If there is a revolt tonight it will be on something which I believe is vital for the sake of the country and indeed for the Conservative Party if it is to have any credibility and any hope of not making the present disastrous economic situation even worse. It will be a warning to the Chancellor that he has gone too far. Enough is enough. It is time to rethink, and to think exactly what this disastrous strategy is doing to the country and how it can be reversed.

7.30 pm
Mr. Peter Mills (Devon, West)

I welcome the opportunity to debate these amendments and the effects of the recent increase in fuel taxation. This is an important debate. I shall not take up the points made by the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell). He made many alarming exaggerations. It does no good to exaggerate in that way. I am a fanner and I see signs of spring in the countryside. I also see signs of spring in the economic world in which I operate in the South-West.

I must be frank and declare an interest. I live in a rural area, and I farm. Indeed, my farmhouse is a mile from the main road. Therefore, the increased tax on fuel affects me personally. The Government do not realise how strongly rural people feel. Rightly or wrongly, people feel that the Government do not understand the difficulties that are experienced in our rural communities. The increase in the tax on petrol and derv has brought those feelings to a head throughout the South-West and in areas such as Scotland.

To be fair to the Government, I should add that many of the difficulties experienced in rural areas have nothing to do with them. We live at a time when things in rural areas are rapidly changing. Social and economic changes are taking place at a fast rate. However much one might like railways to continue as a means of transport in rural areas, it is just not on. It is all very well to subsidise bus services, but few people use them. Sometimes, when I am at a meeting, I ask members of the audience to put up their hands if they have been on a bus or train recently. Few people do so. The difficulties in rural areas are not altogether the result of the actions of this or any other Government. I can only ask the Government not to add to the burdens experienced in rural areas at a time when so many changes are taking place.

I have no doubt that the tax increases on petrol and derv will affect all those living in rural areas. Not only farmers and agriculture will suffer. In many ways agriculture is at an advantage when compared with the retired person or the small industrialist in one of our small towns or villages. Over the past few weeks I have fought to make the Government realise the effect of their actions on the rural scene. I have also fought to get them to realise the effect in towns and cities of the increased tax on derv.

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer for today's announcement. It is interesting that as soon as the increase was made in the price of derv transport contractors increased their prices by 5 or 6 per cent. That is a big increase. We shall be interested to see what reduction will be made. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will give that careful attention. That is also why I fought for a reduction in the tax on derv. Derv is top of the list, because all the goods that go in and out of the South-West are conveyed by diesel. There are few railways left in the South-West, and that is true of other areas. It is interesting that the increase in derv meant that the Milk Marketing Board had to pay millions of pounds more for the collection of milk. That is not a very happy situation.

My next point has already been mentioned, but it must be raised again; I hope that the Secretary of State for Energy will pay careful attention to it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's remarks on petrol companies and the Office of Fair Trading have not been strong enough for me. Much more needs to be done. I hope that it will be clearly spelt out that if the promised reduction takes place we shall expect a reduction in petrol prices. Every gallon is transported by diesel lorries.

Although I have looked into the matter carefully, I am still not happy about the costs of distribution and the other methods that petrol companies can employ to make it difficult for garages to compete in rural areas or to remain in business. I tried to stop an iniquitous practice. Small garages were being paid to fill their tanks in with concrete so that there could be no competition. As a result, people were being forced to go to the big towns for petrol. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will make strong representations to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy in order to ensure that the Office of Fair Trading considers the whole matter.

Some of my Scottish colleagues have produced a good brief on the problems in Scotland relating to petrol and derv. Amen to it. The situation in the South-West is exactly the same. The brief makes the following recommendations: The Director General of the Office of Fair Trading should review the monopoly situation in the field of petrol supply. The Government should review the law on monoply to ensure that it is not too narrowly drawn. The oil companies should recognise their social obligations and review, as a matter of urgency, the structure of petrol prices in order to establish a uniform wholesale price throughout the country. Discounts and the cost of transportation must also be considered. I hope that the petrol companies will not have the nerve to go to agricultural shows with banners and posters saying "We are the friends of the rural area, buy our goods." They must prove to me that they are the friends of the rural scene. I am still not happy about that. The matter must be considered. I hope that an assurance will be given on that.

The question of petrol and the rural car owner is a serious one. For a variety of reasons, depopulation has occurred. If the cost of petrol continues to increase there will be further depopulation of the rural areas.

Mr. Cormack

Does my hon. Friend agree that the resulting depopulation will also create a bad imbalance in the age structure of rural areas? Many of our villages are largely inhabitated by the elderly. If depopulation continues, there will not be any vigorous young people left in the countryside.

Mr. Mills

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend.

I welcome the announcement about the horticulture industry. It will prove a great help and will be of great benefit, and I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for it. It is most important to obtain from the Government a better realisation of the effect of policies and legislation on the rural areas. I am sorry to say that more careful consideration must be given. If I can do nothing more, I can at least put down a marker with the Government. We are not happy about some of the effects felt in rural areas. I should like more confirmation of the Government's determination in these matters. I have already stressed that many factors are outside the Government's control, but the Government should not add to the problems. I hope that they will not do so.

Mr. Dykes

As an urban hon. Member, I have enormous sympathy for the difficulties experienced in rural areas. Will my hon. Friend concede that for urban dwellers such as those in my constituency the day-to-day costs for families are often higher than those in rural areas? A classic example is rates. I am sure that the average rates in my constituency would be three times the average of those paid in my hon. Friend's area. Will he bear those points in mind?

Mr. Mills

I shall certainly bear them in mind. I fear, however, that I should bore the House even more if I were to start to speak of the problems of urban areas and cities. I have deliberately confined my remarks to rural areas.

I hope that the Government will consider asking a Minister to act as watchdog over the whole rural scene. I am not asking for a new Minister to be appointed; I am simply calling for some Minister to be responsible for these matters. We have a Minister to watch over the problems and difficulties of sport. It might be a good idea to have a Minister——

The First Deputy Chairman (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Order. This is not covered by the amendment.

Mr. Mills

With great respect, Mr. Godman Irvine, I suggest that it is. If a Minister watched over the problems and difficulties of the rural areas, he would be able to advise the Government that proposed legislation would have harmful effects. I hope that my remarks are in order.

I am grateful for what my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor has done. We have obtained the 10p reduction that I set out to get. We have obtained the horticulture industry subsidy. I should like the Government to go a little further and to keep a watch on all policies as they affect rural areas. I want a Minister to be made responsible for this supervision. I want a study to be made of discounts and delivery charges for petrol. I should also like a promise that there will not be a further increase in petrol taxation for some time.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

If the Government and the Chancellor have appeared a little inconsistant following the argument that the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself put some years ago about the 5½p increase, that inconsistency is far exceeded by the inconsistency of the Liberal Party. That Party's appeal for reductions in petroleum taxation is totally at variance with the position put by the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) on behalf of the Liberal Party during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill last year. The hon. Gentleman said: It is my view and that of my political colleagues"— we presume, therefore, that it is the view of all the Liberal Members— that the time has certainly come to keep the excise duty, in real terms, abreast of the appalling inflation that has been inflicted on the country. Therefore, I cannot for a moment support the amendment"— that was the amendment of my hon. Friends— and I am surprised and disappointed—as I am sure many young members of the Labour Party will be—that the Labour segment has discarded good, sound conservationist arguments and surrendered to political opportunism".—[Official Report, Standing Committee A, 20 May 1980; c. 89]. 7.45 pm

If we have seen political opportunism in this Chamber tonight, it has come from the Liberal Bench. Their position is totally at variance with what they were saying only 12 months ago. I hope that the millions of the Liberal electorate that we are told exist, will hear of the comments that I have made. That is the real face of Liberalism that we, in the House of Commons, have to recognise.

I congratulate the Chancellor on his change of mind. I speak in favour of amendment No. 49, in the name of my right hon. Friend, that would have raised the price of diesel fuel by 8p whereas the amendment accepted by the Government, or that part of it that has been accepted, will raise it by 10p. There is a difference of £27 million in the position taken by Labour as against the position taken by the Government. On the basis of a total package costing £270 million, we would have ensured that £27 million was available to secure cheaper derv commercial fuel prices in the national industrial interest. I say "the national industrial interest" because I wish to put the debate into a regional context.

I must put on record my objections, on behalf of my constituents, to the petrol price increase. A great number of constituents have written to me stressing their objections. I should like to refer to a telegram that I know has also been sent to hon. Members on the Government Benches but to which none has referred. It was sent by the National Farmers Union in the regions. It reads: Cumbria NFU objects stongly inflationary Budget fuel increase. Gross discrimination against rural areas where higher prices already prevail. That is the view expressed by the National Farmers Union regionally and nationally on light oil products. Conservative Members should have commented on it.

I wish to concentrate on the question of commercial diesel fuel prices. A 10p increase in diesel oil, compared with the 20p originally recommended in the Budget, will fall on all hauliers in the Northern region and, indeed, on all the major economic regions situated a considerable distance from London. When considering commercial fuel oil increases the Government would do well to examine the position of industries in the regions. It costs our industries considerably more to send goods to market. The 10p increase that remains will act as a considerable regional disincentive.

On the question of bulk fuel, I have carried out some research within the last day regarding the distribution of fuel oil from the depots serviced by Shell, BP and a number of other multinational oil companies. It seems that these companies operate a zone system of distribution and that they run a three-tier tariff system. The tier that suffers most includes deliveries to parts of zones in distant parts of the country. My constituency in West Cumbria falls outside the area where favourable discount advantages exist on fuel prices.

The level in the inner zone affecting those in the major conurbations amounts to 29.83p per litre of fuel oil. In the outer zone, it goes up to 29.87p per litre. Under the general zone designation the tariff is based on a rate of 29.91p per litre. This should illustrate to the House that some parts of the country are at a considerable disadvantage under the system of distribution of fuel oil that applies in the United Kingdom. Those figures are based on loads of 15,000 litres, substantially less than the full load that many vehicles can carry. If the haulier buying at those prices is based in a conurbation, he may get further discounts, such as those existing in Manchester or Birmingham, where fuel oil is available at substantially lower prices.

Hauliers in the regions are usually smaller because their markets are smaller. Because they buy smaller quantities of fuel oil it acts against their interests in the purchase price. That is another disincentive to industries to move to the regions. It is a considerable impediment to manufacturing industry.

Motorway pricing also acts against regional interests. For example, the price of diesel at Scratchwood this morning was 175p per gallon. The price at Killington Lake, on the motorway in Cumbria, was 179.6p. That is a 4½p differential. Yet larger quantities of diesel oil are used in the Northern region by hauliers carrying for individual manufacturers taking their products to the markets. There is another disincentive there. If motorway prices are 176p per gallon—or 36p per litre, VAT included—but the purchase price to the garage is at the most 31.74p per litre, VAT included, we must assume that motorway garages carrying diesel stocks are making a profit of between 30p and 35p per gallon. That is appalling. The Chancellor should step in and examine that high level of profit.

British hauliers travelling overseas and hauliers working overseas have an advantage. In Belgium the price of diesel, excluding VAT, is 111p per gallon. In Spain it is 96p, in Italy 71p, in France 111p, in Sweden 78p, in Luxembourg 71p and in Denmark 67p. Yet in Britain it is between 125p and 130p. In a European regional context that acts against the interests of British hauliers and British manufacturing industry. Some have turned that to their advantage. Customs officials at the major Channel ports, such as Newhaven, Dover, Folkestone and Felixstowe, are aware that many hauliers are fitting 500-gallon tanks to their trailers.

If a trailer picks up a load of fuel in Italy at 71p per gallon and drives through Europe the driver will arrive in Britain with 400 gallons of diesel in his tank. Is he told that he must pay duty, or VAT, on that fuel? No. I know of representations made by a certain haulier to the Customs officers at Newhaven, who told him that it was not their business, but a matter for Parliament. If it is a matter for Parliament, it should be raised in this debate.

Hauliers are entering Britain with hundreds of pounds worth of diesel on board. In the case that I quoted, the loss to the Exchequer, calculated on Treasury-take loss, would be about £320. That provides an artificial form of competition, because hauliers with the advantage of travelling abroad can use the fuel on the British domestic market and compete unfairly with those paying the full price at home.

The situation operates especially against hauliers in the Northern region and in Scotland, who do not have the same advantage.

I turn to the effect of cheap diesel prices in parts of Europe. The French, Germans, Norwegians and Austrians allow a certain level of diesel into their countries. If a truck carries more than those levels the Government charge t ax on the additional fuel. The french charge an excess literage tax of £26.83 per 100 gallons and the Germans £45.50 per 100 gallons for any fuel in excess of the duty-free quota. The Germans have a duty-free quota of 11 gallons per truck and the french of 45 gallons per truck.

A disturbing development has arisen in France because of that concession. On the French-Italian frontier, at Cluses, Mont Blanc and the Cenisio Pass, and at the Customs post at Ventimiglia, which joins Italy and France, Customs officers are being bribed by truck drivers. The current bribe rate is £10. If they pay £10, they do not pay tax—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman please return to discussing the amendment?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

To offset some of the increase that the Chancellor has included in the Budget, he should press within Europe for a common commercial fuel price policy. He should introduce a system similar to that which operates in parts of Europe, which have a duty-free quota per wagon with a literage tax on any excess.

I have raised only a few matters of concern. I hope that the Minister who is to reply will take the opportunity to answer them.

Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)

I have no intention of following the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) because we are here to discuss the amendment and not to take ourselves on a world tour examining fuel prices in Continental countries. It has no serious bearing on the debate tonight. It was time wasting by the hon. Gentleman to delay the proceedings of the Committee.

The reduction in the tax on derv announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be welcomed by industry in general, and especially by the rural areas that support the agriculture and fishing industries that are fighting desperately for survival. However, it does not go far enough, which is why I want to deal specifically with amendment No. 2 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet), to which I have appended my name.

The amendment would reduce the price of petrol and derv by 10p per gallon. My right hon. and learned Friend's decision to increase the duty on fuel as proposed in clause 4 will result in an increase of 20p per gallon on both derv and petrol. That is unacceptable to the rural areas. Since the announcement in the Budget statement of 10 March, there has been an overwhelming number of protests from the rural areas on the serious effect that the imposition will have. That applies not only to industry but to farmers, fishermen and the local communities that are entirely dependent upon their own transport to travel to work.

8 pm

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes a considerable interest in the problems of the disabled. Does he agree that the increases that we are discussing are even more grievous in their effect for the disabled? Is he aware that I have received a reply from a DHSS Minister to the effect that it would require an increase of £11 in the petrol allowance for disabled drivers to raise the allowance to the level that was achieved when it was last increased? Does he agree that the problem is considerably worse for the disabled, especially for those who live in rural areas?

Mr. McQuarrie

I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's intervention. As he rightly says, I take a great interest in the problems of the disabled. It is correct to say that the disabled will be more seriously affected than motorists. However, that fact seems to have been overlooked despite this year being the International Year of Disabled People. We should be considering the problems that are insurmountable for the disabled. They cannot help themselves. They have to depend on the help that they receive from the authorities. If the authorities fail to consider them, the disabled will face the difficulties to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred.

In my constituency there is no rail service. There is only a limited bus service. That bus sercice, such as it is, travels throughout the rural areas. The buses stop at almost every farmhouse. On occasions it takes nearly half a day to reach Aberdeen from places such as Turriff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead, which are about 35 miles from Aberdeen.

No one in my constituency considers the ownership of a motor car as a luxury. It is regarded as an essential mode of transport. The increase imposed by my right hon. and learned Friend is regarded as a punitive tax, especially when often the cost of a gallon of petrol in my constituency is from 15p to 20p greater than it is in the cities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.

I must warn my right hon. and learned Friend that he should not underrate the hostility to the increases that have been forced upon rural areas since 10 March. He should not imagine that the original antagonism to the 20p increase is beginning to fade. On the contrary, I assure him that he has witnessed only the early warnings. Such increases add to the price of every commodity which is delivered into rural areas or sent out from them. It makes manufactured goods and agricultural and fishing products more expensive to the consumer in urban areas due to increases in freight costs from the rural areas and reduces the competitiveness of the producers.

These penal increases are forcing many small businesses to close. In my constituency this week a firm operating 14 vehicles is to close with the loss of employment for the drivers and the clerical staff. This is only one of a number of firms that cannot continue because of the increases. That is an example of what is to follow in the months that lie ahead.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

What subsidy does my hon. Friend's county council pay towards the bus services within his constituency? Have the bus services applied for additional subsidies because of the extra costs that they are having to meet as a result of the substantial increases? What would be the reaction of his county council to such applications?

Mr. McQuarrie

If I were at the Dispatch Box, I should be required to say "If my hon. Friend will give me notice of his question, I shall send him the information." The bus company receives a subsidy from the Grampian regional council. I am not aware that it has requested an increase. I imagine that if an increase were requested the regional council would not look favourably upon the application. It has already done its homework on the rate support grant and it has managed to impose only a small additional rate. It would not want an additional commitment to be taken aboard.

Mr. Bill Walker

If my hon. Friend's constituency is similar to mine, he will agree that subsidies do not matter because the buses do not exist.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. That is exactly the position. There are no buses in many parts of the constituency, but constituents have to travel great distances. This morning I received in my mail a letter from one of the social service councils. One paragraph states: As there is very little public transport in our area it is essential for most households to own a car. Only this month the Education Authority have withdrawn school transport in some areas making it necessary for some children to walk almost three miles to the collection point for school transport at 8.05 with a similar walk home in the evening at 16.30—a working day that many adults would claim to be excessive. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury spoke on Second Reading, he said that the Government had considered the alternatives that had been suggested in place of the petrol and derv price increases and had found them too minimal to raise sufficient money to meet that which will be raised from the increased duty on fuel announced in the Budget. It seems that the 20p increase in petrol and derv prices is expected to yield an extra £1,180 million in 1981–82, made up of £900 million from petrol and £270 million from derv. On the basis that the 20p increase has been paid since 10 March and that the amendment is accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the £1,180 million will be reduced to £600 million. Any reduction of the present prices will probably not be operative until 1 August 1981.

If on that date the 20p were reduced to lop, the total amount required would be about £340 million up to the financial year 1981–82. The realisation of such a sum should not be insurmountable. There are some alternatives that would allow my right hon. and learned Friend to obtain the necessary amount to make up the shortfall. I shall suggest once more to my right hon. and learned Friend from where they could come.

First, there is the dog licence. I know that this will attract some interest. My Bill on the subject will be considered on 19 May. The charge for keeping dogs was first devised in 1796. The rate varied from time to time until 1867 when it was replaced by the existing licence, which is now 37½p. At today's prices the cost of the licence should be about £9. The taxpayer lost £1 million last year in the collection of dog licences. This is one area in which there is considerable scope to bring in extra revenue.

There are estimated to be at least 6 million dogs in the United Kingdom. If the fee were increased to £10, the revenue would be about £60 million a year. That money could quite easily be raised; the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is merely required to lay a statutory order as he has responsibility for the issuing of dog licences.

I am sorry tha some hon. Members seem to treat this as a joke. We are looking for savings because of the serious impost on petrol increases which are being made by my right hon. and learned Friend. Some hon. Members represent those who do not suffer the same problems that are faced by constituents in rural areas, but they see fit to make a joke of the issue. It is no joke. If any hon. Member wants to come to a rural area so that he may appreciate the problem, I invite him to do so. Hon. Members should treat the debate as a serious matter and not as a joke.

I would accept that guide dogs for the blind, the handicapped and the elderly and other work dogs should be exempt.

Sir Albert Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

The income from dog licences in England goes to the local authority and not to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What happens in Scotland?

Mr. McQuarrie

If the income goes to the local authority, the rate support grant could be proportionately reduced. The income from those licences would be not much less than the £60 million which I have quoted.

As several hon. Members have illustrated in the debate, there is the gaming and betting tax, which is forecast to raise £510 million in 1981–82. If the duties were raised by only 20 per cent., the additional revenue would be £90 million. I cannot accept what my right hon. and learned Friend has said that, if those duties were raised, it would drive betting underground as the day of the back-street bookie is long past.

I should also like my right hon. and learned Friend to take account of the space invaders machines which are flooding the country and which I mentioned during the Budget debate.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

Impose landing charges.

Mr. McQuarrie

I notice that the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) is making his usual jocular remarks and that he is taking little notice of a serious debate. That is his customary habit in the House. The hon. Gentleman knows little about space invaders; he is a television invader.

It will not have gone unnoticed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that over 80,000 space invader machines are operating in all manner of places in the United Kingdom. There are also 17,300 in private households. It is becoming a national craze, and sadly one which, if it is not checked, will end in tragedy because there have been many instances of young people stealing money to play the machines, the estimated profit on which is £200 per week. As there is no prize money to be gained from those, the Chancellor must have some means of raising the money. I suggest that he imposes an annual licence of £200 for each machine, which would bring in another £18 million as the number of machines in use is increasing daily.

That leaves some other alternatives which are open to my right hon. and learned Friend. such as another 1p on cigarettes, which would bring in £35 million and a further 1p on beer, which would bring in £95 million. An increase of 10p on a bottle of wine would bring in £50 million.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

What about whisky?

8.15 pm
Mr. McQuarrie

The hon. Gentleman and others mention whisky. With respect, many hon. Members are ignorant because they do not realise that in many rural areas, were it not for the whisky distillers, there would be no rural areas. Therefore, we must try not to overdo the tax on whisky. We must ensure that we maintain the rural areas and the areas where the distilleries produce whisky.

Mr. John Townend

My hon. Friend has made a valid point about whisky. Has he not seen in the press that a number of breweries are declaring rural workers redundant? Would he take the same attitude there?

Mr. McQuarrie

In most areas where there are breweries there are alternative methods of employment, whereas in rural areas there are no alternative methods of employment.

I am sure that many other options are open to my right hon. and learned Friend. I have only illustrated enough to him to show that the £340 million which would be required in order to reduce the 20p on petrol and derv to 10p, which is the subject of the amendment, can be raised. The Chancellor of the Exchequer should have a closer look at those alternatives, although it may mean coming back to the House in some cases to seek a new money resolution on the Budget.

There could also be savings in the public sector borrowing requirement which is at present crippling the Government, as I am aware and as I am sure right hon. and hon. Members are equally aware. Because it has not been brought under control, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been forced to make penal increases in petrol and derv.

I have dealt at some length with those alternatives as some way must be found to provide the money if the amendment is accepted. I should like to think that my right hon. and learned Friend will realise that they are put to him in a genuine effort to find ways in which he could give the concessions which the amendment seeks to do. However, I should like to bring to the attention of the Committee the other reasons why there is a strong case for the reduction in petrol in addition to the reduction in derv.

Many of my constituents must travel over 80 miles every day to their place of work, with an average 20p difference between the price at the rural station pump and that at the urban station pump. That will mean an increase in overheads of at least £100 a year, which in no way can be avoided. It has been said that the rural motorist obtains greater mileage per gallon than the urban motorist because of the open roads. That is utter rubbish, as has been illustrated by several hon. Members and as any rural motorist can prove. Additionally, the urban user has the facilities of alternative forms of transport which are not available to the rural user.

Tourism must also be considered. Many rural areas depend heavily on tourism for their livelihood. The penal tax on petrol will drive people away, which can only lead to a greater depopulation of the rural areas. Once the people have gone, they will never return and the villages will be desolate. Surely it is right that we should seek to retain and repopulate the rural areas. Penal taxes will do nothing towards that end.

Even if the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot take the whole amendment on board, I sincerely hope that he will be able to give some hope to the people who cannot fight back and who are totally dependent upon what he can offer. I am aware of the need to control inflation and to conserve energy, but the people in rural areas are not the ones who should be penalised, or who should have to pay the penalty of the failure of the large industries which are being bolstered up by the Government.

It gives me no pleasure to be opposing the proposals of my right hon. and learned Friend because I believe in the Government's present strategy and I fully support their aims. However, I believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was ill advised to place such a heavy burden on all those who live and work in the rural areas. I appeal to him to grant some relief by making the reductions which are called for in the amendment which I commend to the Committee.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarvon)

I follow the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) in that I, too, have a tourist interest about which I shall address the House in a few moments.

It must be clear to the Chancellor from the comments that have been made from both sides of the Committee and from all parts of Britain—from South-West and North-West England, from Scotland and from Wales—that there is widespread opposition to the increases in petrol charges in the Budget.

The local newspaper in my constituency, which is edited by a former Conservative candidate for Anglesey—a man who is not renowned for attacking the Conservative Party—had an editorial on 20 March stating: In primarily rural areas, such as Gwynedd, family life generally has been savagely hit by the latest increase in the price of petrol. The car here, is a necessity—for getting to work, for doing the family shopping, for making sure that a large proportion of our schoolchildren are educated and for a host of other absolutely essential activities. A car in an area such as Gwynedd is essential and is not a luxury. The majority of mileage motored by the resident population represents not luxury miles or leisure miles but miles of essential importance. That is seen from the figures that have been published on car ownership. Counties such as Gwynedd and Powys have a relatively low average per capita income. The last time that figures were published, in my county the average per capita income was 55 per cent. of the United Kingdom average, and yet we have 370 cars per 1,000 head of population and Powys has 437, compared with only 337 in Greater London and 281 in Greater Manchester. In such areas, even though incomes are lower, a car is an essential and not a luxury.

On 15 April I asked the Department of Transport what proportion of the working population travelled to work by car. The figure for Wales was given as 57 per cent., compared with 46 per cent. for England. It is a factor of the topology and the rundown of the railways and bus services, and a car is essential to get to work. In my constituency we have 92 villages. It is a problem for me to visit the villages and for the villages to come to surgeries. More and more people are telephoning in instead of visiting my surgeries.

As in Aberdeen and the other constituencies that we have heard about, in my constituency the cost of travelling to work is becoming prohibitive, particularly when a man's income is fairly low—as in the service sectors. That cost makes a significant difference to the margin between a wage and what people would get on social benefits if they were out of work. That is a fact that the Chancellor must consider.

Clearly there is not much elasticity of demand. After the Budget I did not expect a great reduction in petrol consumption, because it is essential, but I was surprised by the figure given by the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark) of only 0.1 per cent. If that figure is correct, the statement in The Guardian editorial this week—that in the interests of conservation the resultant lower usage of petrol is one argument for the increase in price—is wrong. Even that small reduction will probably work itself out as people get used to the increased cost.

There will be a reduction in the use of a car only where it is a genuine luxury or the use is only marginal, and that could affect the tourist industry. In Gwynedd tourism is 25 per cent. of the economic base. In a comment on the Budget, the chairman of the county council, Councillor Tom Jones, highlighted the concern about the possible effect that the extra cost of fuel will have on the tourist industry in Gwynedd, where it is estimated that over 85 per cent. of tourists travel by car to the county. This could result not only in many of the hotels and guesthouses in the county suffering from loss of revenue but could also have a deleterious effect on the number of small businesses in the area who derive a significant proportion of their annual income from the tourist trade in summer. He is absolutely right. The marginal loss of trade from the loss of tourist traffic could force many small businesses out of existence.

The effect of the Budget increase is much more severe in an area such as Gwynedd, the rural parts of Scotland, the South-West, East Anglia and the North-West than in urban areas. I cannot understand the Chancellor's logic in increasing a tax that has a disproportionate effect on many of our poorest areas. A few weeks ago, when we voted on the Budget proposals, many Conservative Members abstained. They felt that although some increase was necessary it should not be as much as 20p. They believed that the matter could be put right tonight. We have the opportunity now. As the Chancellor has not changed his proposals in relation to petrol, I hope that Conservative Members who previously abstained will vote against the increased petrol tax tonight.

I accept that the reduction on derv is welcome. It is welcome to the agriculture fraternity, and it helps to bring goods into areas such as mine by road. However, whereas it will have an effect on the whole community in the long-term, it does not have half the effect on families that petrol has.

Services in rural areas have been centralised in the nearest town. Small banks have been closed and have gone to a nearby town. Government offices have been closed, rationalised and moved to larger towns further away. Even health clinics and shops have been centralised. The result is that unless people who live in villages can reach the towns easily the rationale for living in a village disappears. The young married people will look for their first home in towns rather than in country villages. That is also true of their lives in social clubs, entertainments and sporting facilities, being centralised.

It was said earlier in the debate that some counties have benefited from the change in the balance of rate support grants. We in Gwynedd lost £4 million between 1974 and 1978 in rate support grant. We got about £2 million back, but that was not enough to make up the balance of what we lost during the 1970s, and certainly not enough to subsidise the bus services, which are rapidly disappearing. Even if those services were given massive subsidies it is doubtful whether we could keep the network that formerly existed.

As the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) said, expressing the Liberal point of view, there are times when people can be wrong and should change their minds. I ask the Chancellor to accept that on this occasion he has been wrong. Even at this late stage, I ask him to change his mind.

Mr. John Townend

As a Member who represents a rural area that contains four seaside towns I am conscious of the serious effect that the large increase in the price of petrol will have on my constituency. I do not like it, just as I do not like any increase in taxation.

However, I shall vote with the Government tonight for the simple reason that I feel strongly that for some time Governments of both parties have been prepared to live beyond their means. They have spent taxpayers' money in providing services that were demanded but they have not had the courage to raise all the necessary money in taxation. I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark) said in this connection.

In Yorkshire there is an old saying that there is nothing for free. If we want to increase old-age pensions every year, spend more money on defence and law and order, and spend more money on youth employment schemes, and if we go on providing hundreds of millions of pounds each year in bailing out the nationalised industries, we must remember that the money has to come from taxation.

Labour Members who do not like to face the hard fact of life, that increases in spending mean increases in taxation, would say "Barrow more". That is what we have come to expect from the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), who seems to think that there is a bottomless well, and that we can spend, spend and spend without increasing taxation. I oppose that point of view. If the Chancellor had not taken the courageous decision to reduce the public sector borrowing requirement from £13½ billion to £10½ billion, it would not have been possible to reduce interest rates by 2 per cent.

In rural areas, the reductions in interest rates were welcome and necessary, because the agriculture industry borrows heavily at present and interest rates are a major cost. The reductions were welcomed, too, by house buyers. In rural areas we have a higher percentage of home owners than in urban areas, and we are looking for further reductions in interest rates.

In view of the effect of the Civil Service strike on the collection of Government revenue, it is fortunate that the Chancellor was wise enough to opt for a reduction in the PSBR. With such a delay in revenue coming in, the situation could have been more difficult had he taken more risks.

I suggest to my hon. Friends who are considering opposing the Government that their opposition cames a little late in the day, because the increases became inevitable after the Government fixed their public expenditure plans before Christmas. At that time, according to many reports—and although we hear much about leaks, there were so many reports that they must have been true—the Treasury asked the Cabinet for a package of reductions in public expenditure of £2 billion. It achieved. reductions of only £1 billion and from that moment the increases in petrol tax became inevitable in the light of the Government's financial strategy. In their battle to bring down inflation, the Government have rightly pledged to reduce public sector borrowing.

Some of my hon. Friends seem to have forgotten that we committed ourselves in our election manifesto to reducing direct taxation. Therefore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not have increased the standard rate of tax, because that would have broken one of our firmest election pledges. The Chancellor was boxed in and he had to turn to indirect taxes.

8.30 pm
Mr. Nicholas Winterton

My hon. Friend is misleading the House and it is wrong that he should do so. It is not true to say that we have not increased taxation; the Government have increased taxation. Not only have we not indexed personal allowances, which we campaigned for in Opposition, but we have increased the national insurance contributions of employees. The overall tax burden under this Government is heavier than that under the previous Government.

Mr. Townend

My hon. Friend could not have heard me correctly. I did not say that we had not increased taxation. I said that we were committed not to increase direct taxation, and we have not done so. We have not indexed the allowances this year, but there has been no increase in the standard or the higher rates.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

National insurance is direct taxation.

Mr. Townend

I do not agree. When the public think of direct taxation they think of income tax.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had no alternative but to turn to indirect taxation. Some of my hon. Friends have forgotten the law of diminishing returns. My hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) said in the Budget debate that those with knowledge of these matters believed that the Chancellor had been over-optimistic about the increased revenue that he will receive from the duty increases on tobacco and alcohol, because sales will fall. If further increases were imposed, as suggested by a number of hon. Members, they might not result in increased revenue.

My hon. Friends who have been criticising the Chancellor should reserve their criticisms for the Ministers who fought so hard in December to protect their own departmental budgets. I have made known my view that the public expenditure cuts should have been greater. The Government were elected on a programme of reducing spending and reducing taxation.

It would have been more politically acceptable if, instead of increasing the tax on petrol by 20p per gallon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had increased the tax by 15p and found the additional £225 million that he would have required by reducing expenditure on overseas aid in the current year from £1,000 million to £775 million, which would still be a not insignificant amount.

I suggest to my hon. Friends that they should support the Chancellor tonight and that later in the year, when the Government once more review public expenditure, they should add their weight to the Treasury's efforts to reduce public spending. Then, in the next Budget, the Chancellor will not be boxed in and, one hopes, he will be able to redress the balance and either leave the petrol tax as it is or increase it by less than the rate of inflation.

I welcome the Chancellor's concession of a 10p reduction on derv. That will undoubtedly help to keep down the cost of transporting goods in the rural areas.

I am also grateful for the interim—I emphasise the word "interim"—aid to the glasshouse industry. A number of growers in my constituency have suffered badly. The matter is before the European Commission. To me, the Chancellor's action is a palliative, not a solution to the problem.

I urge the Chancellor to urge our right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to push this matter as hard as possible at the EEC, so that the unfair competition of subsidised Dutch growers can be ended as soon as possible.

I ask my hon. Friends to think carefully tonight. If the Government are defeated, it will be a great blow to our financial policy when it is beginning to work and when more and more people can see and accept that it is beginning to work.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

Hampshire is represented by a large number of Conservative Members and by one Labour Member—myself. All the rural areas of the county are represented by Conservative Members. I had not intended to speak in the debate until I discovered that not one Conservative Member for a rural area of Hampshire was either in the Chamber or had spoken in the debate. I thought that they would all be here, speaking on behalf of their constituents and supporting amendment No. 2.

Where are they? It is now left to me, a Member who represents an urban area, to speak on behalf of those who live in the rural areas of Hampshire, because no one else is speaking for them.

I agree with the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) that all services have to be paid for and that they cannot be paid for by continual borrowing. That means that any Government who want to provide a good level of services have to produce revenue from taxation. The important question, however, is where one gets the revenue from taxation.

The hon. Member was wrong about direct taxation. Under this Government it has increased. The net effect of not indexing the allowances and of raising the national insurance contribution has greatly outweighted the 3p reduction in income tax introduced in the Chancellor's first Budget.

Mr. John Townend

I think that the hon. Member has misunderstood me. I said that the rates of taxation had not increased. In fact, they have been reduced.

Mr. Mitchell

But what is important to the ordinary person is the amount taken from his pay packet in tax. The amount that is taken has increased. Raising the price of petrol to the extent that the Government suggest, particularly as the world price of petrol—for all the reasons we know—has escalated sharply over the last few years, seriously affects rural areas. Indirectly, it may subsequently affect some urban areas such as mine.

Many people work in the towns in places such as Hampshire. They work in Southampton and live in the rural areas. Over the years, the employment opportunities in the rural areas have greatly declined. People work in the city and at the moment they must have a car because public bus services are rapidly disappearing.

The hon. Member for Bridlington mentioned the law of diminishing returns. If he wants a good example of that law he need look no further than increases in bus fares. The more that one increases fares, the more people are prevented from using buses, the less revenue one collects and the more one has to increase the fares next time. Bus companies have found that there is a limit. Many rural bus services are going out of existence or operating only one or two services a day.

Many people who work in the towns must go by car, because there is no other way. They have to use their own transport. That causes many problems in my town. It causes congestion and parking difficulties. If the price of petrol continues to rise many people will be faced with the choice of either giving up their jobs in town or moving into the town to be closer to their jobs. If they choose that option they will put pressure on the towns for housing and other services. Not only will the country districts suffer; areas such as that which I represent will suffer.

Many more Government Members should have been in the Chamber to support amendment No. 2, at least. The Chancellor says that he must increase the price of petrol in order to bring in revenue. Suggestions for alternative sources of revenue were made by one of his hon. Friends. I shall give him another. Let him put back some of the tax that he took off high-income earners in his first Budget. The theory behind reducing those taxes was to provide more incentive. That has not worked, as many people warned the Chancellor at the time. Let him restore some of the tax at the top level and reduce the tax on petrol. If he does that the whole country will support him.

Mr. Paul Dean (Somerset, North)

The debate is a classic example of Parliament working as it should. There was a long battle to win the principle of no taxation without representation. The interval between the Budget and the Finance Bill has enabled the strong views opposing the tax on petrol and derv to be brought to bear on the Government. To their credit, the Government have listened seriously. The Chancellor made a welcome response today.

The debate has also focused attention on the problems of the rural areas. We often hear about the difficulties in the inner cities and development areas. A great deal of money is channelled to deal with those difficulties. Only rarely do we hear about the problems in rural areas. However, some of the main arteries of village life are being severed. Schools are being closed, shops and sub-post offices find it difficult to survive, and bus services are either declining or disappearing.

The cost of the distribution of goods and services is one of the key factors in the argument about the cost of diesel and petrol. The growing difficulties in rural areas explain the strong opposition to the Government's original proposals. They add to existing anxieties. I mentioned sub-post offices as an example. They are bound to lose business when people can have their pensions paid straight into their bank accounts. Higher fuel costs are going to aggravate the difficulties. Rural post offices must have the opportunity of winning new business and the Government should make good their welcome commitment to maintain an adequate post office network. Many of the possibilities for new business require Government action or the removal of existing restrictions on post office activities. We await action and I hope that we shall have an early announcement from the Government in that regard.

8.45 pm

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has offered the House a package. There is the welcome reduction in derv duty, the assistance with energy costs for glasshouse growers, the examination of petrol pricing, particularly as it affects rural areas, and the general commitment to look more carefully at rural problems. These are welcome as far as they go, but I hope that they are merely the first step in a greater awareness of the problems and the feelings of the countryside. The Conservative Party has always prided itself on being a party of one nation, but we also have to remember that we have deep roots in the countryside, that we draw much of our nourishment from towns and villages, and that we neglect these roots at our peril.

I am disappointed that my right hon. Friend has not been able to offer a concession on petrol similar to the one that he has offered on derv. I respect his arguments and the reason why he has not been able to make the concession. He has met us half way. He has shown clearly that the Government are prepared to listen to powerful arguments from their supporters in Parliament and in the county. Politics being the art of the possible, I am prepared to accept the Government's compromise. Consequently, I shall support them in the Division Lobby tonight.

Mr. Richard Page (Hertfordshire, South-West)

Before speaking about the duty on petrol I should like to say a little about diesel, not only because my right hon. Friend has made a concession to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) but because of the remarks about the lead-free operation and the economy of the diesel engine. On the whole aspect of diesel engines in private cars, if we are to have a differential between the price of petrol and the price of diesel may I suggest that manufacturers are alerted that we are going down this route because we are very short of diesel engines manufactured in this country for use in private cars? Most of the diesel engines for private cars come from Continental manufacturers.

It is a brave hon. Member who recommends an increase in taxation unless it is on something like cigarettes. I am no exception to that rule, but it would be right to look at the increases in petrol duty in its own right and outside the various Budget requirements. I do not propose to go down the path that many of my hon. Friends and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches have gone down in producing their own balancing of the Budget. We have had some interesting and unique ideas, such as a tax on space invaders and an increase in the cost of the dog licence. I must say to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie), who suggested the latter, that if he wants to have a deluge of constituency correspondence that is the right way to go about it. I want to put it on the record that I would not support such a proposal.

The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) said that there was no need to try to hold the public service borrowing requirement at the level anticipated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. I became a Member of Parliament a few months before the hon. Member and I did so because his Government was increasing the PSBR from some £40 billion to £80 billion in that period of five years. In that period the Government created an increase in debt on which we are having to carry the interest burden today. Table 14 in the Red Book estimates the interest that has to be paid as about £11 billion. Surely it must be right to control the PSBR on the lines that we are proposing so that we can reduce the cost of borrowing as a percentage of our gross national product. It is estimated to be 6 per cent. for last year and 4¼ per cent. for this year. As we go further down that line and reduce the amount of interest that has to be paid, we shall have more money to put into our economy.

The right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) touched on conservation and rather lightly dismissed it. The country is just starting to learn the value of energy, and we shall be foolish if we do not develop this appreciation. We can look at the years lost on progressing our nuclear power programme as a disaster. The cheap electricity that France is starting to enjoy is giving French steel plants economic advantage within the Common Market.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

My hon. Friend referred to the great advantage that the development of nuclear power gives to France. Why should not we use our tremendous indigenous resources, namely, oil, to the benefit of the British electorate and British industry? We are failing to do that at present.

Mr. Page

We are failing to do so because we are carrying round our neck like a millstone interest of £11 billion on previous give-aways. The sooner we pay that price, the sooner we shall be able to spend earned money rather than borrowed money.

Mr. John Home Robertson (Berwick and East Lothian)

The hon. Gentleman is determined that money should be paid back in this way, but why should people from rural areas have to pay such an enormous share?

Mr. Page

I wish that I could give a simple answer. The answer is that it cannot be done. We cannot distance ourselves from the problem. We can argue where the burden falls, but the Chancellor has made the decision that this is how the balance will be struck.

The price of energy and the price that we shall be paying for petrol will be broadly in line with that paid in other EEC countries. It might be extremely painful, but it will concentrate our minds and the minds of our vehicle manufacturers. They will produce engines that will be more fuel-efficient, and with a strong home market led by demand for fuel-efficient engines we shall be able to go into the export market. We shall not make money by trying to sell high fuel-consuming engines within the Common Market. We need that form of economic base in the country as a springboard.

My only regret about this large increase in petrol revenue is that it reduces the chance of something being done about the licence centre in Swansea. I have received many complaints from constituents, and I would like to see the money resulting from the increase in petrol tax used to do away with licensing and most of the activities of the licensing centre.

I believe that the decisions today, although painful, will be appreciated in a few years time as we face reality. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) said that we needed to face economic reality by balancing our public sector borrowing requirement, reducing our interest rates and reducing our interest charges. In that way, with our economy under control, we shall be able to move into a far more stable pricing structure.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I begin by commenting on the speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Page) and Bridlington (Mr. Townend). They were absolutely right to say that we must balance our books, and I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor on everything that he has sought to do during his period of office. He has tried to bring economic and financial truth and reality back to our country.

The mistake into which my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington unerringly fell was his reference to that battle in the Cabinet—so well described in such detail in the press—between the big spenders and the Treasury team and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and her Treasury Ministers rightly asked them to reduce their expenditure, but they did not. Consequently, the battle was lost. My difference with my hon. Friend is that the parliamentary party was nor invited, not could it be, to take part in that discussion.

Along with some of my hon. Friends, I seek to go to the rescue of the Prime Minister and the Treasury team by indicating to the big spenders in the Cabinet that they can no longer count on this parliamentary party simply to troop through the Division Lobby to approve the taxation to pay for their increased expenditure.

Although my hon. Friend and I agree on the purpose, the time has come for the parliamentary party to take a small part in this discussion, and this is the first occasion on which we can do so. This Budget must provide the money to finance the decisions which were taken in a series of Cabinet meetings, which increased public expenditure and increased in a manner that I find virtually intolerable the proportion of the gross national income carried by the State while diminishing the proportion of the gross national income held by the private sector.

I have said before that I was elected to reduce public expenditure, but so far we have substantially increased it. I was elected to reduce taxation, but so far we have substantially increased it.

Mr. Dykes

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the main reason why the deficit has overshot all the original targets has been the rise in unemployment and the benefits consequent upon that as well as the fact that revenue has been less than expected as a result of the recession?

Mr. Griffiths

My hon. Friend anticipates me because I was about to mention the reasons. I understand them. When there is an international recession which is no fault of the Government, our nationalised industries will inevitably fall into even greater deficit, and consequently the Chancellor must go to the rescue. He has done so, and the cost has been billions of pounds. Similarly, if an international recession is made worse in Britain by a generation of poor management, bad labour practices and poor Government policies, there will be large unemployment. Once again, the Chancellor will have to go to the rescue of the unemployed, and he has done so.

During the last two years the Prime Minister in particular and the Government in general have fought hard to reduce public expenditure and public indebtedness.

For the reasons that I have given, I do not altogether blame them for their failure so far to do so. I congratulate them on the steadfast way in which they have stuck to that policy. When I consider the detail, however, I have to say this. There are vast areas of our public industries and our public administration where waste is rife and where expenditure can and should be cut. In our local government, our nationalised industries, our statutory agencies and in Whitehall itself, every member of the Conservative Party knows perfectly well that greater economies can and should be achieved.

9 pm

The time has come when the parliamentary party has to blow the whistle and to say to Ministers that if they cannot contain public expenditure they must not expect this party automatically to go through the Lobby three weeks or three months later to provide for the taxation of the people to finance their failure to carry out their promised economic policies. That is the reason—and the only reason—why I find myself for the first time in painful disagreement with my right hon. Friends. It is always difficult for any hon. Member to disagree with those whom he respects, admires and supports. I find it all the more painful having been in Government for some years myself, and having seen how difficult it is for an individual Back Bench Member ever to place his judgment in advance of that of the collective wisdom of the Government, who have available to them all the information, all the expertise and all the sideways vision that they can bring to bear on so many issues of policy, both international and domestic. Such things are not possible for an individual Back Bencher. Not only do I find it painful; if I disagree, it is with considerable humility and hesitation. I do not arrive at my conclusion on this matter with any great sense of certitude. It is a question of striking a difficult balance.

Coming to the amendment, to which my hon. Friends have so ably spoken, I say this. I could justify voting against the increased petrol and derv taxes on constituency grounds. Like many others represented here tonight, my constituency is a large one, with 130 villages, and most certainly my village people are taking a caning. Of course I could justify opposing the Government on constituency grounds. But that is not sufficient reason to oppose a government on a central plank of their policy. I think that every Member of the House—or at least, every Conservative Member—will always have regard not merely to his constituency interest but to the wider national interest. Therefore, in so far as I find myself torn over how to vote on this matter tonight—and I hope that the Chancellor will accept this—it is due to my view of the national interest rather than my view as some kind of tin-pot rural rebel. I am no tin-pot rural rebel. Like my hon. Friends, I am considering this matter on the wider national front.

In my view, the increases in derv and petrol taxes are inflationary, because, as I discovered in three years as a Transport Minister, the cost of transport enters into the cost of everything. It enters into the cost of the ordinary individual's living and into his push for wage increases. Let there be no mistake about it. The trade unions will most certainly push for higher wage increases because their members will have to face increased costs in getting to work.

Secondly, the increases are inflationary because of their impact on the public services.

Local authorities will have to pay a high price because of their garbage lorries, meter inspectors and so on. A vast number of their people also travel round the country on a large mileage allowance from the public purse. The increase is bound to be inflationary for industry. Indeed, the CBI, the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association and virtually every institution that reflects industry's opinion has made that clear to the Government. In addition, it will increase the worst aspect of public expenditure, namely, revenue expenditure.

I was delighted when the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was looking carefully at the balance between revenue and the capital expenditure in the public sector. I understood him to say that if it was possible he would bring forward more capital expenditure on constructive, infrastructure projects in the public sector. I should welcome that. However, neither he nor I would welcome increased revenue expenditure. Yet the increase in the tax on derv and petrol will increase the Government's revenue expenditure. I shall be grateful if my right hon. and learned Friend will answer my next question. In terms of local government, the increase in the price of petrol and derv will have to be met in part by the Treasury, because it will enter into the rate support grant.

Some of my hon. Friends, have, like me, been Ministers with responsibility for local government and have dealt with rate support grant settlements. What is the aggregate amount of rate support grant that will have to be provided to local government to make good the increased costs arising from the higher tax on petrol and derv? Sadly, too my right hon. and learned Friend has to meet the enormous deficits of nationalised industries. Some of them, as has been suggested, are justified but others are not. Some of our nationalised industries are incompetent. Many show a lack of competitiveness. However, if their costs increase—as they almost certainly will—how much will the Chancellor put in to make up the increased deficit that will arise from the higher tax on petrol and derv?

I declare an interest in the police service. No Conservative should apologise for one moment for increasing public expenditure on the Armed Forces or on law enforcement. We undertook to do so in our manifesto and I am glad about that. However, I hope that there will not be further efforts in the next few months to claw back public expenditure from our defence forces. Nevertheless, I suspect that that will happen. Both the Armed Services and the police service will face increased costs as a result of the tax on derv and petrol. How much more does my right hon. and learned Friend calculate that he will have to pay to the Armed Services and to the police service solely to make up for the increase in taxation? It is only fair to the House to point out that the increase, which will have to be paid to nationalised industries, local authorities—through the rate support grant—and to the Armed Services and the police in order to compensate for the higher tax on derv and petrol, will have to be knocked off the revenue that will be received from that increased tax. By now much has never been put plainly before the House, but it will clearly reduce still further the amount that has to be made up if these taxes are to be reduced.

The tax is inflationary, and I regret it. It is also discriminatory. The hour is late and my hon. Friends are anxious to go home. There is no need, therefore, for me to rehearse its impact on the rural areas. We all know that it is harsh. When the Treasury imposes an extra hardship on the rural population it should not make it much worse by the humbug that has been expressed to the effect that those in rural areas get more miles per gallon. It is said that the difference as regards petrol usage, between rural and urban areas is not great.

The argument I would put to anyone in the Treasury who falls for that kind of nonsense is that in the majority of rural areas represented by shire county Members in the Conservative Party it is not only one car that is a necessity. In many areas, two cars are needed. When the husband takes the car to work as he must—there is no alternative way of travelling—his wife and children are marooned. There is nowhere they can go. One effect of higher petrol tax will not be to reduce the mileage of the wage earner. He has no choice. He has to go out in his car. The increase will, however, cause a reduction in the use of the second car and so diminish substantially the quality of life in the countryside. I do not believe that those responsible for digging up this sort of claptrap for Treasury Ministers are living in the same world as my rural constituents.

This tax is inflationary. It is discriminatory. It will add significantly to the revenue side of public expenditure. What should be done? Every hon. Member is his own Chancellor of the Exchequer. I plead guilty to that. All hon. Members are aware that within the recesses of the Treasury there is not simply stubbornness but a great deal of wisdom and knowledge that Back benchers cannot possess. I have concocted my own alternatives to the Chancellor's policy. I have heard today other interesting alternatives, many of them better than mine. I would be the first to admit, however, that hon. Members on the Back Benches, with the limited knowledge available to them, cannot possibly construct an alternative set of figures that will be as competent as that available to the Chancellor.

The Chancellor said in his speech that if he made the derv concession and if he also made the petrol concession—which he did not—he would have to find alternative taxes. I believe that this is fundamentally the wrong approach. The Conservative Party should not be concerned about finding more taxes. It should be finding more economies. I revert to my comment on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington. My disagreement with the Government arises profoundly because I believe that the time has come for the parliamentary party to play its part in achieving sensible reductions in public expenditure which have so far not been achieved. If we do not achieve them, we shall find greater difficulty in winning the next election.

I voted against the Government with the greatest sadness at the end of the Budget resolutions on this point. I made it plain on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill that I would find it hard to support the Government if they did nothing about petrol and derv. I welcome very much what the Chancellor has said about derv today. Indeed, I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend. It is not easy for a Chancellor to make a significant concession of this sort and to have to alter at a late stage the balance of his Budget, or at least the important details within his Budget. I congratulate him on his welcome concession and for his courage, and, also, for his candour. I hope that he will accept that tribute with the sincerity with which it was intended.

9.15 pm

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will help me to decide which way to vote by answering some questions. Will he say precisely why the Government did not table an amendment about the derv concession at the beginning of the debate? With respect, I think that the Chair would have selected it. We could have had a straightforward vote on that matter before coming to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet). I should have preferred that. I do not understand why that was not the case.

I ventured to make a point when I interrupted my right hon. and learned Friend's speech. As every vehicle delivering petrol to every petrol station in Britain will be buying derv at a lower tax rate—10p less—there should be a vigorous effort by the Government to ensure that their concession, made at such cost to them, should be worked through to the ordinary motorist and consumer. I understand my right hon. and learned Friend's point that he does not have the power to do that—and nor should he. I was glad to hear that he has discussed the matter with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. However, that is not good enough for me. Will he prepare a number of exemplifications of the precise reduction that would be possible, taking into account the lop reduction in derv, for 50,000 or 100,000-gallon deliveries of derv to certain specified petrol stations? We could then see transparently and in public what the concession could mean to the price of the petrol at the pump. If my right hon. and learned Friend can go some way in that direction, so that we can see a real consequence and benefit for the motorist as a result of the derv concession, I shall be much happier.

My hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West (Mr. Mills) said that the matter needs to be put in the context of rural policies. During the past year we have achieved a significant improvement in the rate support grant arrangements for many rural areas. I find it sad that we should give to the rural areas through the rate support grant and take it back through petrol tax. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will be able to say, and mean, that the Government have hoisted on board the real resentment in the rural areas about the way in which policies—whether about sub-postmasters, school buses or a variety of other activities—have come to bear on rural folk. I do not necessarily ask for a Minister to be responsible for rural affairs, as my hon. Friend requested, but that the Government should undertake to monitor the problems of the rural areas.

For me, the vote on the amendment will turn largely on what my right hon. and learned Friend has to say about the points that I raised—namely, why the Government did not put forward an amendment, whether my right hon. and learned Friend will ensure to the best of his powers that the concession on derv results in a reduction in the price of petrol at the pump, and whether he will do all that within the context of a more vigorously pursued rural policy.

Mr. Temple-Morris

To use the somewhat colourful phrase of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffths), I rise as an about 80 per cent. tinpot rural rebel. I shall speak about rural areas to a much lesser extent than would have been necessary because of the admirable debate that has been conducted from both sides of the Chamber about the needs of rural areas, which does not need to be repeated.

Nationally speaking, it is surely possible to find the £344 million following the Government's concession. I shall speak to amendment No. 2 specifically. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) referred to £344 million. If I may say so, he made an admirable and succinct speech. It was one of the best that we have heard from him for a long time, and one of the best speeches that we have heard this evening. He was advancing the case for amendment No. 2. He has made it unnecessary for me to say much of what I intended to put before the Committee.

My hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) spoke about the art of the possible. At the time of the Budget debate we were told most emphatically by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to an intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds, that there would be no turn and no change, and that no amendment was possible. We suddenly find that the great art of the possible has led to a 10p concession on derv. The art of what is politically possible—we have all been careful to keep within the context of the Budget in speaking inside and outside the House of Commons—makes a concession on petrol feasible.

I do not speak as one of nature's greatest rebels. I do not relish the prospect of being a rebel. However, grateful though I am for the concessions, as are many of my hon. Friends, they are not sufficient. I hope that something positive will be said when the Minister replies. If it is not, I shall feel compelled, as I am sure will a number of my hon. Friends, to vote against the Government. I am not an abstainer by nature. As I said, I do not relish voting against the Government. However, if we think that the Government have done wrong in a national context—the rural areas are important nationally and, incidentally to the party of Government—it is our duty as Back Benchers to show our feelings clearly.

I wish that the concession on derv had been made sooner. If one is against a Government proposal and a concession is made at a very late stage, the Government are encouraging Back Benchers to speak out both in the Chamber and elsewhere to try to persuade the Government to act. I hope that I am accurate in saying that had we not spoken out the likelihood is that no concessions would have been made.

I turn from derv to horticulture. The Government's concession is admirable. It is long overdue. I am a rural Member and I have put the case to successive Governments. It is somewhat sad that the concession is made at a time when the Government are in a spot of bother because of the temporary awkwardness of people such as myself. We have asked for the concession on glasshouses for a number of years to bring our industry closer to the conditions enjoyed by the Dutch industry.

Many of my hon. Friends have spoken about the price of derv, but the main politics of this issue lies in petrol. There is a great national interest in derv and the increased price is highly inflationary, as is the increased price in petrol. It seems to be suggested that I can return to my constituency to say that I have had a magnificent victory against the Government because they have conceded lop on derv. I represent agriculture. I represent large farmers and small farmers. Some of them are poor and work extremely hard, and some are rich.

I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench to consider my position. Some of them represent rural areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton spoke about taking children to school. I represent the little woman in a little car and the low-wage person in a low-wage area who think that every farmer is extremely wealthy. My constituents will not congratulate me if I return to them to say "Look what I have done for the farmer" when I have done nothing for them. I hope that that matter will be settled in a balanced way by the Front Bench. It is a fool's paradise to think that we in rural areas can be satisfied just with the reduction in tax on derv.

For all this century and for years before, this party was meant to be the political custodian of the majority of rural areas. In a situation such as this, suddenly to say that we will closely consider the problems and affairs of rural areas strikes me as so inadequate as not to be worthy of any further comment from me.

In case I feel obliged to vote against the Government, I wish to put it firmly on the record that I, as other hon. Members, dislike putting other colleagues in difficulties, particularly colleagues in neighbouring constituencies. I also appreciate the position of colleagues who remain loyal. If the Government suddenly give way, they are put in an awkward position in their constituencies. That arises from the parliamentary system.

In a sense, we are all part of the Government, but in that context, those on the Front Bench—the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others in the Government—have a special responsibility to consider the position of Government Back Benchers from the outset. If the Government are wrong, the only control on them at the end of the day, naturally with the help of the Opposition, is the independently minded Government Back Bencher. If the Back Bencher always succumbs to the call to be loyal to the Government and to his colleagues, which many of us have been asked to do, be the Government right or wrong, then in future the Government and subsequent Governments can do exactly as they like. I believe that that is utterly wrong.

We have heard enough about rural areas for tonight. Post offices, shops, churches, schools, transport and other matters have been adequately dealt with. In a rural area the car is not an option but a necessity. We have our full share of unemployment and generally we are low-wage areas. These headlines points that I have mentioned have been adequately covered.

I invite the Front Bench to deal with the financial aspects, as raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Tiverton and Torbay (Sir F. Bennett). On amendment No. 2, it comes down to £344 million in this financial year after Royal Assent. On the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay, were the increase to be 5p on petrol, were an undertaking to be given about that, we come down to £220 million. With that figure, and with public expenditure of about £100 billion, leaving out all the other aspects, a further concession must be possible. We may be losing sight of our own supporters and of the British people.

Are we being so insensitive in Government that we refuse to move, for reasons of no more than governmental and political machismo unnecessarily and insufficiently connected with the economy of this country? If we are to go on forgetting our people, I am afraid that we do not deserve to remain for very long the Government of this country.

Mr. Straw

Before coming to the main subject of the debate, I wish to add a word to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) said about lead in petrol, which is the subject of Opposition amendment No. 9. There has been increasing evidence of he health hazard caused by lead in petrol. Britain has lagged behind other countries in dealing with this, which is the fault of Labour and Conservative Governments. On 19 April, The Observer reported that the Government had decided to reduce lead levels. We were promised that the Government would announce the decision at the beginning of the following month. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer deals with the issue and makes that announcement.

9.30 pm

While Conservative Members are agonising about how they will vote, let me repeat the argument against the 20p increase in the price of petrol and derv, which would have added £715 million to industry's costs. Even after the paltry concession made by the Chancellor today, the cost will still go up by £630 million. It will also add £28 million to farmers' costs. Above all, it will hit families and wage earners not only in rural areas, but also in urban areas.

The Chief Secretary's claim about the low cost of motoring in rural areas has been sufficiently demolished by his hon. Friends, so I need not go into too much detail. Car ownership in rural areas is much higher than it is in urban areas, even though wages are much lower. The average weekly wage last year for all men was £124 in England and £123 in Scotland, but in the rural areas it was between £98 in Cornwall and £106 in East Anglia. Rural wage earners get significantly less. They have more cars than their urban counterparts, not because they are richer but because they cannot get around by any other means. In urban areas the poor, if they are lucky enough to have a job, can use public transport to get to work, inadequate though is may sometimes be, but in rural areas the poor have little alternative but to buy an old banger to get to work. Without one, they may be trapped not only in poverty but also in unemployment.

Urban areas have also been hit by the increased price of petrol and derv. As public transport has declined, wage earners in the town have had to use their cars more and more to get to work. In the past four years, not only in the shire counties but also in the Conservative-controlled metropolitan counties, as subsidies have been slashed and slashed again, bus fares have increased. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) told us that the subsidy in Nottinghamshire had been halved and fares forced up.

In all the gloom, one county shines as an example to the others and shows that it is possible to run a cheap and efficient public transport system. South Yorkshire has kept down bus fares. The cost per mile is only 9p compared with 44p in Conservative West Yorkshire, 25p in Tyne and Wear and 30p in the West Midlands. Conservative Members and the leader of the conservative group on the South Yorkshire county council will claim that the cost of cheap fares has added so much to the rates that jobs have been driven away. However, although unemployment in South Yorkshire has risen, it has done so less quickly than in West Yorkshire, the West Midlands or other Conservative-controlled metropolitan areas.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Coming from South Yorkshire, I uphold what my hon. Friend says. We should not take account of what the Government said yesterday about transport. There have been many cuts, some by the Labour Government—but I hope that that lesson has been learnt. We have repeatedly put our excellent bus service before the people in South Yorkshire—and at the previous election it was the major platform on which we went to the people in South Yorkshire and Sheffield. Our bus service is the only growth area in Britain. It is increasingly admired by Tory areas. It is winning through, and we shall see that more clearly than ever at the next election.

Mr. Straw

As my hon. Friend says, the electors will have their chance to assess the value of the South Yorkshire transport scheme, and of the West Yorkshire scheme. I believe that the South Yorkshire scheme has the greater value.

We object to the 20p increase in derv and petrol duty, not only because of the damage it does to those who use motor vehicles, but on macro-economic grounds. The Budget was highly deflationary and the sucking out of a further £1,200 million by the imposition of these charges will only add to that deflation. If the Government accepted our amendment for an increase of 8p, there would be no necessity for the Government to look for other increases in taxation to offset the £700 million which they claim would be lost as a result of accepting our amendments. Quite apart from the benefit that a cut of 12p in the increase in these duties, from 20p to 8p, will bring to motorists and transport users, there will be a major benefit to the economy as a whole in offsetting part of the savage deflation brought about by the Budget.

I turn to the Chancellor's response to the 28 Conservative Members who failed to support the Government on 16 March and the massive opposition to these increases from both Labour Members and the Government's supporters. Following the increases, even the chintz brigade of the Conservative Party, the women's institutes, issued a political statement against the Government. Few taxation increases in recent years have aroused greater hostility.

The Chancellor announced today that he will reduce the increase in derv from 20p to 10p, but he said that he would delay its implementation until Royal Assent in August, and that the cost would be £85 million. The Opposition believe that that is a mean and derisory concession, and is too little and too late. To some extent, of course, it will help industry, but the Government fail to acknowledge that even industry uses more petrol than derv. According to figures supplied by the Financial Times, industry spends £270 million on derv and £350 million on petrol duty. Farmers use four times as much petrol as diesel—76 million gallons as against 17 million gallons of diesel.

Moreover, the concession does not in any way meet the objections advanced by Tories five weeks ago to the petrol increases. The objections were not to the increase in derv, but to the increase in petrol duty. Of all the Conservative Members who spoke in the Budget debate against the increases in petrol and derv, only one—the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon)—singled out the derv increase. Hon. Member after hon. Member voiced objections to the increase in petrol duty, yet the Government's concession does nothing to reduce the increase in petrol duty. The concession will help rural areas only to a limited extent, because in rural areas, above all, transport costs are the costs of cars.

The public will have to pay for the concession. It may have bought off the Tory rebels, but the public will have to pick up the bill. We do not know how. It is a disgrace for the Chancellor to announce this mean-minded concession and to say that it will have to be paid for—something we do not accept—but refuse to say how. The Chancellor has had six weeks in which to think of ways of paying for the concession if he thinks that it should be paid for by taxation. Even the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) used the six weeks to advantage and produced a list of ways in which the concession could be paid for. The hon. Gentleman proposed that the cost of dog licences should be increased by a factor of 30, from 37½p to £10, which would raise £60 million, or that 1p should be put on the price of a packet of cigarettes or a pint of beer.

We want to know the Chancellor's list. He said that the Government were examining the possibilities.

Mr. Dykes

Do the Opposition favour increasing the cost of a dog licence to £10?

Mr. Straw

I explained five minutes ago that we do not favour imposing any additional taxes to cover the Government's concession. We seek a much larger concession, costing £700 million, and we believe that it should be met from borrowing and not from taxation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that it must be met from taxation and he has a duty to tell us how he intends that it should be paid for.

We want to know whether the cost will be paid by the rich or by the poor. Will the Chancellor find the £85 million by increasing the relatively small burden on the rich, in terms of the higher rates of taxation, or by increasing council house rents or prescription charges or cutting public spending? Let him tell us now.

The hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) made the astonishing assertion that he would support the Government because they had met him half way. The hon. Gentleman cannot add up. The Conservative rebels have demanded a £600 million reduction in the duties. Half of that would be £300 million, and it is a mark of the derisory nature of the Government's concession that it will cost only £85 million. The concession is paltry above all because, apart from its trivial effect on transport costs, it will do nothing to affect the deeply deflationary nature of the Budget.

While we question the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget judgment, the debate may show that he has skills in other areas, not least in judging the courage and backbone of the 28 rebels who refused to support the Government on 16 March. It is clear that it is the right hon. and learned Gentleman's judgment that throwing not even a bone but a piece of mouldy gristle to the rebels baying at him will be enough to get them off his back, and that the concession will be enough to force the rebels to cave in. If that is so, it is not surprising that the Prime Minister writes off the rebels on her Benches as wets—wets by name and wets by nature.

There were no finer words spoken against the inequity of this sort of taxation than those of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer against the 5p per gallon increase imposed by the previous Labour Government. His words bear repetition: This is a selective tax … it is deliberately biased against those who have no option about the method by which they travel to work. It is deliberately biased against those living in rural areas. It is deliberately designed to have precisely the wrong effect on the reverse yield gap between going to work and staying at home."—[Official Report, 9 May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 937.] It is a selective tax, it is a harmful tax and, above all, it is an unnecessary tax. It is inflationary and deflationary at the same time. We shall vote to oppose the tax and the only honourable course for the 28 Conservative Members who failed to back the Government on 16 March is to join us in the Lobby.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

I have sat through the entire debate and, although Labour Members may not like it, I have every intention of putting the point of view of my constituents.

Like most rural dwellers and those representing rural constituencies, I was horrified at the increase of 20p per gallon on petrol and derv imposed in the Budget. I refrained from voting against the Government on the Budget, but I made it crystal clear that I would not support the two increases in Committee. 9.45 pm

Because of the world recession, unemployment is high in my constituency. My constituents intensely dislike being unemployed and they will go considerable distances to keep a job. This morning I received a message from one of my constituents who said that to avoid joining the ranks of the unemployed he and his son travelled no less than 60 miles a day to keep in employment. Therefore, not surprisingly, he asks me to vote against the 20p increase in petrol. I was sorely tempted. Had the Chancellor not accepted the amendment to reduce the tax on derv by 10p, I should have done so. However, he has reduced the tax on derv and in so doing has prevented the steep rise in the cost of living that would have followed such an increase in town and country alike.

The battle against inflation is crucial to our well-being, and to the expansion of our health and education services, pensions and services for the disabled and our national survival. The Chancellor's action today shows that he listens to representations made to him, and I join my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) in thanking him for doing so. There is no doubt that the rural areas have for many years been fighting for survival as living communities. Had not the Chancellor made his concession their plight would have been serious. In the expectation that they will continue the battle against inflation, a battle which we were elected to win, I shall support the Government in the Lobby tonight.

Mr. Farr

I intervene briefly to support my constituents. I welcome what the Chancellor said about reducing the increase in the price of derv, but the reason for my opposition was not so much derv but petrol.

In the rural areas, particularly the more remote places, the price of travelling to get out of the house or the village to go to town has risen steeply. Some of the most effective and tragic letters that I have received from constituents in recent weeks refer to the plight of the elderly, the infirm, children, or people who have to go to hospital. Such people believe that the imposition of 20p on a gallon of petrol will mean that they will be unable to travel.

There are a number of other reasons for my dissatisfaction with what the Chancellor has done. I support his Budget strategy as a whole, but alternative measures should have been used to raise the necessary revenue that is now being raised from petrol duty. In recent years in some of the remoter parts of the country, life has been made difficult under the Conservative Government. The increase in petrol duty is another difficulty, with the threat to school transport, and the attempt to close village post offices. In Leicestershire there are plans to shut 64 rural telephone kiosks. It is essential for some hon. Members, including myself, to register a protest. The people for whom we speak, by inclination and background, are Conservative and for God's sake let us see that they remain so.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) asked why there was no Government amendment dealing with the proposal accepted tonight. The position is dealt with by the amendment that we have been discussing from the outset of the proceedings which earlier I invited the Committee to accept—that introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet).

Two points on the margins of the debate were only briefly touched on. The first concerned the amendment about lead-free petrol tabled by the Opposition. The case for a reduction rests on benefits to the environment and the fewer health risks that could ensue. That must be balanced against the cost of meeting such a change. Any change in the vehicles would take a considerable time to execute. A statement about the Government's policy will be made to the House shortly. I shall say no more about it this evening.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) mentioned the tax on aviation fuel. I recognise the contribution made by the light aviation industry. It provides small scheduled services, air ambulances and crop spraying aircraft. However, the case for a distinction between that industry's tax position and that of other users of aviation fuel is complicated. It would be administratively difficult and would cost about £6 million a year. I am not prepared to respond by saying that I can accept the argument tonight. However, I shall ensure that the case is properly examined.

The main issue is the taxation on derv and petrol. I am grateful to my hon. Friends who have spoken. Virtually all of them gave strong support to the Government's central strategy. My hon. Friends the Members for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Page), Torbay (Sir F. Bennett), Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark), Iancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman), Bury St. Edmunds, Somerset, North (Mr. Dean), Bridlington (Mr. Townend), Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) and Harborough (Mr. Farr) expressed their strong support for that stategy.

We also had the benefit of two speeches from Fifeshire—from the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson). We appreciated the sharp contrast in their speeches. I am grateful for the strong support of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East.

I considered carefully the arguments before these proceedings and in the course of them. I have listened to the arguments closely and have considered them afresh. We can advise the Committee to accept amendment No. 1 tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford. I have been pressed to go further. However, I have reached the conclusion that that is not possible. It is inescapable that a concession of 10p off the price of petrol from 1 August would cost about £300 million. It is not possible to accept such a reduction in the revenue raised by the Budget.

I have considered a number of proposals by my hon. Friends today. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) suggested that we should go so far as to make an increase in the basic rate of income tax. The Government were not elected to raise income tax.

I also considered the suggestions by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington for increases in taxes on beer and tobacco. Difficult considerations are involved and my hon. Friend mentioned them. I also considered the specific series of suggestions made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East. I appreciate that his speech was seriously made and meant.

My hon. Friend suggested that there should be an increase in dog licences. That is not a frivolous suggestion. Dog licences are paid for about 3 million dogs. If we increased the licence to £10 per dog that would be a 28-fold increase which would have some impact on the electors who support my hon. Friend and on the number of dogs in respect of which licences are taken out. It is not realistic to contemplate such revenue from that type of tax change. Similarly his suggestion for a tax on space invaders, which are invading rural as well as urban constituencies, is something well worth considering but it would not begin to offer the sort of sum I was talking about.

The suggestion most strongly pressed upon me by my hon. Friends the Members for Tiverton, Torbay, and Aberdeenshire, East was for a substantial increase in the tax on gaming machines and on other aspects of betting. The fact is that the gaming machine licence duty yields only £18 million and the rates of licence for the principal machines were trebled as recently as 1 October last year. There is no way of looking for revenue of the kind that is necessary from a change in that pattern of taxation. The suggested abolition of the distinction between taxes on machines in public houses and those in clubs raises quite important social issues. Even then it would not be sensible to think that this was a substantial source of revenue of the scale discussed.

I have reached the conclusion that there is no sensible way that I could recommend to the Committee to raise sums of the order that would be necessary if we accepted amendment No. 2, which would involve costs of another £300 million. Of course I recognise, as do all my right hon. Friends, the concern expressed by many hon. Members in this debate for the special interests of rural areas. It is right to remind the Committee that, although I may be a relatively urban Member—even East Surrey contains substantial acres of rolling countryside and several hundred members of the National Farmers Union—my right hon. and learned Friend the Chief Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary represent manifestly rural constituencies. The constituency of the Chief Secretary includes vast areas of North Yorkshire, and nothing could be more rural than that.

The case made by my hon. Friends the Members for Torbay, Fife, East, Aberdeenshire, East, Tiverton, Somerset, North and Harborough on behalf of the rural community is one with which we all have sympathy. As one would expect, the case was made with particular authority by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West (Mr. Mills). We have considered most carefully the points which were made. It is in the light of those considerations that earlier I made the two important announcements—the package of £5½ million in respect of horticulture, and the concession amounting to £85 million in respect of the taxation on derv.

I was pressed by some of my hon. Friends to go further. For example, I was pressed to ensure that the derv reduction was passed through in corresponding price increases and that I would take steps to secure that. There are no powers for achieving that and it would not be right for the Government to seek price regulatory powers to do so.

Mr. Stephen Ross


Sir Geoffrey Howe

I understand that the pricing policy for petrol in rural areas is a long-standing problem which has been considered several times by Secretaries of State for Trade, by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and by the Office of Fair Trading. It would not be right for me to offer any prospect of a change in powers in that respect, but I can assure my hon. Friends that both the Secretaries of State for Trade and for Energy will give close consideration to the points made, including the particular point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds in relation to the consequences of the price changes following on from the duty changes.

I was pressed also to give assurances in respect of the Government's willingness to consider more widely the problems of rural areas. This debate is one of a number that have impressed upon the Government the anxiety of my hon. Friends about that. It is an anxiety which the Government share, and I can give my hon. Friends the undertaking that we shall consider the whole complex of rural issues raised in this and in other debates in the light of the remarks that have been made.

Mr. Ross


Sir Geoffrey Howe

My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris) argued in his cogent speech that we should be thinking as we come to vote in terms of victory for one side or the other as between the Government and certain Members on the Back Benches. It is right for Back Bench Members to represent the interests of their constituencies and for the Government to take account of them, as we have. But we must remember that Front Bench and Back Bench Members on this side of the Committee were all elected on the same platform on which we won success in the last election. We were all elected to restore the health of the economy and to curb public expenditure. We have done that, and we shall go on doing so. We were all elected in support of a policy to control inflation—

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)

And to reduce unemployment.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. The reduction of inflation is at the heart of the policy to reduce unemployment. At the heart of that is the proper control of public sector borrowing.

The debate we have had tonight leads me to recommend the Committee to accept amendment No. 1 and to reject the other amendments. That is essential if we are effectively to control public borrowing and to secure the implementation of the policies on which we were elected. I ask the Committee to proceed in that way.

Mr. Stephen Ross

I wanted the Chancellor to give way, but he did not do so. We have had the most appalling reply from him. He has done nothing for the offshore islands. The price of petrol in the Western Isles is £1.80 per gallon. He should set up an investigation on the margins. He has done nothing to help people living in rural areas. Tory Back Benchers should vote solidly against what he is proposing now.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 263, Noes 316.

Division No. 164] [10 pm
Abse, Leo Dewar, Donald
Adams, Allen Dixon, Donald
Allaun, Frank Dobson, Frank
Alton, David Dormand, Jack
Anderson, Donald Douglas, Dick
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dubs, Alfred
Ashton, Joe Duffy, A. E. P.
Atkinson, H.(H'gey,) Dunn, James A.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dunnett, Jack
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Beith, A. J. Eadie, Alex
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Eastham, Ken
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Bidwell, Sydney Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty English, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Ennals, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Tom Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Evans, John (Newton)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Ewing, Harry
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Faulds, Andrew
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Field, Frank
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Fitch, Alan
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Flannery, Martin
Buchan, Norman Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Campbell, Ian Ford, Ben
Campbell-Savours, Dale Forrester, John
Canavan, Dennis Foster, Derek
Cant, R. B. Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Carmichael, Neil Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Carter-Jones, Lewis Freud, Clement
Cartwright, John Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) George, Bruce
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cohen, Stanley Golding, John
Conlan, Bernard Graham, Ted
Cook, Robin F. Grant, George (Morpeth)
Cowans, Harry Grant, John (Islington C)
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Craigen, J. M. Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Crawshaw, Richard Hardy, Peter
Crowther, J. S. Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cryer, Bob Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Haynes, Frank
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Dalyell, Tam Heffer, Eric S.
Davidson, Arthur Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Holland, S. (L'b'th. Vauxh'll)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Home Robertson, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Homewood, William
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Hooley, Frank
Deakins, Eric Horam, John
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Howell, Rt Hon D.
Howells, Geraint Penhaligon, David
Huckfield, Les Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Prescott, John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Race, Reg
Janner, Hon Greville Radice, Giles
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
John, Brynmor Richardson, Jo
Johnson, James (Hull West) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robertson, George
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Kerr, Russell Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Kilfedder, James A. Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rooker, J. W.
Kinnock, Neil Roper, John
Lambie, David Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Lamborn, Harry Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Lamond, James Rowlands, Ted
Leighton, Ronald Ryman, John
Lestor, Miss Joan Sandelson, Neville
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sever, John
Litherland, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lyon, Alexander (York) Short, Mrs Renée
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
McCartney, Hugh Silverman, Julius
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Skinner, Dennis
McElhone, Frank Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
McKelvey, William Snape, Peter
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Soley, Cllve
Maclennan, Robert Spearing, Nigel
McMahon, Andrew Spriggs, Leslie
McNally, Thomas Stallard, A. W.
McNamara, Kevin Steel, Rt Hon David
McQuade, John Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
McTaggart, Robert Stoddart, David
McWilliam, John Strang, Gavin
Magee, Bryan Straw, Jack
Marks, Kenneth Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Martin, M(G'gow S'burn) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Tilley, John
Maxton, John Tinn, James
Maynard, Miss Joan Torney, Tom
Meacher, Michael Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
Mikardo, Ian Wainwright, R. (Colne V)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Watkins, David
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Weetch, Ken
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Welsh, Michael
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) White, Frank R.
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Whitehead, Phillip
Morton, George Whitlock, William
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Wigley, Dafydd
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Newens, Stanley Williams, Sir T.(W'ton)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Ogden, Eric Wilson, William (C'try SE)
O'Halloran, Michael Winnick, David
O'Neill, Martin Woodall, Alec
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Woolmer, Kenneth
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Wrigglesworth, Ian
Paisley, Rev Ian Young, David (Bolton E)
Palmer, Arthur
Parker, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Parry, Robert Mr. Donald Coleman and Mr. James Hamilton.
Pavitt, Laurie
Pendry, Tom
Adley, Robert Emery, Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Eyre, Reginald
Alexander, Richard Fairbairn, Nicholas
Alison, Michael Fairgrieve, Russell
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Faith, Mrs Sheila
Ancram, Michael Fell, Anthony
Arnold, Tom Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Aspinwall, Jack Finsberg, Geoffrey
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne) Fisher, Sir Nigel
Atkinson, David (B'm'th.E) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fookes, Miss Janet
Banks, Robert Forman, Nigel
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bell, Sir Ronald Fox, Marcus
Bendall, Vivian Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Fry, Peter
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Best, Keith Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Bevan, David Gilroy Garel-Jones, Tristan
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Biggs-Davison, John Glyn, Dr Alan
Blackburn, John Goodhart, Philip
Blaker, Peter Goodhew, Victor
Body, Richard Goodlad, Alastair
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gorst, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gow, Ian
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Gower, Sir Raymond
Bowden, Andrew Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gray, Hamish
Braine, Sir Bernard Greenway, Harry
Bright, Graham Grieve, Percy
Brinton, Tim Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)
Brittan, Leon Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Brooke, Hon Peter Grist, Ian
Brotherton, Michael Grylls, Michael
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Gummer, John Selwyn
Browne, John (Winchester) Hamilton, Hon A.
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bryan, Sir Paul Hampson, Dr Keith
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Hannam,John
Buck, Antony Haselhurst, Alan
Budgen, Nick Hastings, Stephen
Bulmer, Esmond Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Burden, Sir Frederick Hawksley, Warren
Butcher, John Hayhoe, Barney
Butler, Hon Adam Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Cadbury, Jocelyn Heddle, John
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Henderson, Barry
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hicks, Robert
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, Sydney Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Churchill, W. S. Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hooson, Tom
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hordern, Peter
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Clegg, Sir Walter Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Cockeram, Eric Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Colvin, Michael Hunt, David (Wirral)
Cope, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Cormack, Patrick Hurd, Hon Douglas
Corrie, John Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Costain, Sir Albert Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Cranborne, Viscount Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Jopling, Rt Hon Michaei
Dickens, Geoffrey Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dorrell, Stephen Kaberry, Sir Donald
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dover, Denshore Kershaw, Anthony
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward King, Rt Hon Tom
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Kitson, Sir Timothy
Durant, Tony Knight, Mrs Jill
Dykes, Hugh Lamont, Norman
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lang, Ian
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Eggar, Tim Latham, Michael
Elliott, Sir William Lawrence, Ivan
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rees-Davies, W. R.
Lee, John Renton, Tim
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rhodes James, Robert
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Rifkind, Malcolm
Loveridge, John Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Luce, Richard Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lyell, Nicholas Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
McCrindle, Robert Rossi, Hugh
Macfarlane, Neil Rost, Peter
MacGregor, John Royle, Sir Anthony
MacKay, John (Argyll) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Scott, Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Madel, David Shelton, William (Streatham)
Major, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Marland, Paul Shepherd, Richard
Marlow, Tony Shersby, Michael
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Silvester, Fred
Marten, Neil (Banbury) Sims, Roger
Mates, Michael Skeet, T. H. H.
Mather, Carol Smith, Dudley
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Speed, Keith
Mawby, Ray Speller, Tony
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Spence, John
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Mayhew, Patrick Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mellor, David Sproat, Iain
Meyer, Sir Anthony Squire, Robin
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stainton, Keith
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Stanbrook, Ivor
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Stanley, John
Miscampbell, Norman Steen, Anthony
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stevens, Martin
Moate, Roger Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Monro, Hector Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Montgomery, Fergus Stokes, John
Moore, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Morgan, Geraint Tapsell, Peter
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Tebbit, Norman
Mudd, David Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Murphy, Christopher Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Myles, David Thompson, Donald
Neale, Gerrard Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Needham, Richard Thornton, Malcolm
Nelson, Anthony Townend, John (Bridlington)
Neubert, Michael Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Newton, Tony Trippier, David
Normanton, Tom Trotter, Neville
Nott, Rt Hon John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Onslow, Cranley Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Viggers, Peter
Osborn, John Waddington, David
Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Wakeham, John
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Waldegrave, Hon William
Parkinson, Cecil Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Parris, Matthew Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Wall, Patrick
Patten, John (Oxford) Waller, Gary
Pawsey, James Walters, Dennis
Percival, Sir Ian Ward, John
Peyton, Rt Hon John Warren, Kenneth
Pink, R. Bonner Watson, John
Pollock, Alexander Wells, John (Maidstone)
Porter, Barry Wells, Bowen
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wheeler, John
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Prior, Rt Hon James Whitney, Raymond
Proctor, K. Harvey Wickenden, Keith
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Wiggin, Jerry
Raison, Timothy Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Rathbone, Tim Winterion, Nicholas
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Wolfson, Mark
Young, Sir George (Acton) Tellers for the Noes:
Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Anthony Berry

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 2, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert: `4.—(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 for "£0.10" there shall be substituted "£0.1191".'.—[Mr. Skeet.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 276, Noes 304.

Division No. 165] [10.12 pm
Abse, Leo Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Adams, Allen Dubs, Alfred
Allaun, Frank Duffy, A. E. P.
Alton, David Dunn, James A.
Anderson, Donald Dunnett, Jack
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dykes, Hugh
Ashton, Joe Eadie, Alex
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,) Eastham, Ken
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Beith, A. J. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood English, Michael
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Ennals, Rt Hon David
Bidwell, Sydney Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Evans, John (Newton)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Ewing, Harry
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Farr, John
Bradley, Tom Faulds, Andrew
Bray, Dr Jeremy Field, Frank
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Fitch, Alan
Brotherton, Michael Flannery, Martin
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Ford, Ben
Buchan, Norman Forrester, John
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Foster, Derek
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Campbell, Ian Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Campbell-Savours, Dale Freud, Clement
Canavan, Dennis Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Cant, R. B. George, Bruce
Carmichael, Neil Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Golding, John
Cartwright, John Graham, Ted
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Grant, George (Morpeth)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Grant, John (Islington C)
Cohen, Stanley Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Coleman, Donald Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Conlan, Bernard Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Cook, Robin F. Hardy, Peter
Cowans, Harry Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Craigen, J. M. Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Crawshaw, Richard Haynes, Frank
Crowther, J. S. Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Cryer, Bob Heffer, Eric S.
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hicks, Robert
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Dalyell, Tam Home Robertson, John
Davidson, Arthur Homewood, William
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Hooley, Frank
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Horam, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Howell, Rt Hon D.
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Howells, Geraint
Deakins, Eric Huckfield, Les
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Dewar, Donald Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Dixon, Donald Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Dobson, Frank Janner, Hon Greville
Dormand, Jack Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Douglas, Dick John, Brynmor
Johnson, James (Hull West) Race, Reg
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Radice, Giles
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Richardson, Jo
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Kerr, Russell Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Kilfedder, James A. Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Robertson, George
Kinnock, Neil Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Knox, David Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Lambie, David Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Lamborn, Harry Rooker, J. W.
Lamond, James Roper, John
Leighton, Ronald Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Lestor, Miss Joan Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rowlands, Ted
Litherland, Robert Ryman, John
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Sandelson, Neville
Lyon, Alexander (York) Sever, John
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McCartney, Hugh Short, Mrs Renée
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
McElhone, Frank Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Silverman, Julius
McKelvey, William Skinner, Dennis
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Maclennan, Robert Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
McMahon, Andrew Snape, Peter
McNally, Thomas Soley, Clive
McNamara, Kevin Spearing, Nigel
McQuade, John Speller, Tony
McTaggart, Robert Spriggs, Leslie
McWilliam, John Stallard, A. W.
Magee, Bryan Steel, Rt Hon David
Marks, Kenneth Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton) Stoddart, David
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Strang, Gavin
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Straw, Jack
Martin, M(G'gow S'burn) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Tapsell, Peter
Maxton, John Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Meacher, Michael Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Tilley, John
Mikardo, Ian Tinn, James
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Torney, Tom
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Wainwright, R. (Colne V)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Walker, B. (Perth)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Watkins, David
Morton, George Weetch, Ken
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Welsh, Michael
Mudd, David White, Frank R.
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Newens, Stanley Whitehead, Phillip
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Whitlock, William
Ogden, Eric Wigley, Dafydd
O'Halloran, Michael Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
O'Neill, Martin Williams, Sir T. (W'ton)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Paisley, Rev Ian Winnick, David
Palmer, Arthur Winterton, Nicholas
Parker, John Woodall, Alec
Parry, Robert Woolmer, Kenneth
Pavitt, Laurie Wrigglesworth, Ian
Pendry, Tom Young, David (Bolton E)
Penhaligon, David
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Tellers for the Ayes:
Prescott, John Mr. Albert McQuarrie and Mr. Peter Temple-Morris.
Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Adley, Robert Alexander, Richard
Aitken, Jonathan Alison, Michael
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Ancram, Michael Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Arnold, Tom Fookes, Miss Janet
Aspinwall, Jack Forman, Nigel
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Fox, Marcus
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Banks, Robert Fry, Peter
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bell, Sir Ronald Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Bendall, Vivian Garel-Jones, Tristan
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Glyn, Dr Alan
Best, Keith Goodhart, Philip
Bevan, David Gilroy Goodhew, Victor
Biffen, Rt Hon John Goodlad, Alastair
Biggs-Davison, John Gorst, John
Blackburn, John Gow, Ian
Blaker, Peter Gower, Sir Raymond
Body, Richard Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gray, Hamish
Boscawen, Hon Robert Greenway, Harry
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Grieve, Percy
Bowden, Andrew Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Grist, Ian
Braine, Sir Bernard Grylls, Michael
Bright, Graham Gummer, John Selwyn
Brinton, Tim Hamilton, Hon A.
Brittan, Leon Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brooke, Hon Peter Hampson, Dr Keith
Brown, Michael(grigg & Sc'n) Hannam,John
Browne, John (Winchester) Haselhurst, Alan
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hastings, Stephen
Bryan, Sir Paul Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Hawksley, Warren
Buck, Antony Hayhoe, Barney
Budgen, Nick Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bulmer, Esmond Heddle, John
Burden, Sir Frederick Henderson, Barry
Butcher, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Butler, Hon Adam Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Cadbury, Jocelyn Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Hooson, Tom
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hordern, Peter
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Churchill, W. S. Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hurd, Hon Douglas
Clegg, Sir Walter Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Cockeram, Eric Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Colvin, Michael Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Cope, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Corrie, John Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Costain, Sir Albert Kaberry, Sir Donald
Cranborne, Viscount Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Kershaw, Anthony
Dickens, Geoffrey King, Rt Hon Tom
Dorrell, Stephen Kitson, Sir Timothy
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Knight, Mrs Jill
Dover, Denshore Lamont, Norman
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lang, Ian
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Durant, Tony Latham, Michael
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawrence, Ivan
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Eggar, Tim Lee, John
Elliott, Sir William Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Emery, Peter Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Eyre, Reginald Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Fairgrieve, Russell Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Loveridge, John
Fell, Anthony Luce, Richard
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lyell, Nicholas
Finsberg, Geoffrey McCrindle, Robert
Fisher, Sir Nigel Macfarlane, Neil
MacGregor, John Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
MacKay, John (Argyll) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Rossi, Hugh
McNair-Wllson, M. (N'bury) Rost, Peter
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Royle, Sir Anthony
Madel, David Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Major, John Scott, Nicholas
Marland, Paul Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Marlow, Tony Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Marten, Neil (Banbury) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Mates, Michael Shepherd, Richard
Mather, Carol Shersby, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Silvester, Fred
Mawby, Ray Sims, Roger
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Smith, Dudley
Mayhew, Patrick Speed, Keith
Mellor, David Spence, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Sproat, Iain
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Squire, Robin
Miscampbell, Norman Stainton, Keith
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stanbrook, Ivor
Moate, Roger Stanley, John
Monro, Hector Steen, Anthony
Montgomery, Fergus Stevens, Martin
Moore, John Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Morgan, Geraint Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Stokes, John
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Stradling Thomas, J.
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Murphy, Christopher Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Myles, David Tebbit, Norman
Neale, Gerrard Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Needham, Richard Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Nelson, Anthony Thompson, Donald
Neubert, Michael Thome, Neil (Ilford South)
Newton, Tony Thornton, Malcolm
Normanton, Tom Townend, John (Bridlington)
Nott, Rt Hon John Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Onslow, Cranley Trippier, David
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Trotter, Neville
Osborn, John van Straubenzee, W. R.
Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Viggers, Peter
Parkinson, Cecil Waddington, David
Parris, Matthew Wakeham, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Waldegrave, Hon William
Patten, John (Oxford) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Pawsey, James Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Perclval, Sir Ian Wall, Patrick
Peyton, Rt Hon John Waller, Gary
Pink, R. Bonner Walters, Dennis
Pollock, Alexander Ward, John
Porter, Barry Warren, Kenneth
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Watson, John
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Prior, Rt Hon James Wells, Bowen
Proctor, K. Harvey Wheeler, John
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Raison, Timothy Whitney, Raymond
Rathbone, Tim Wickenden, Keith
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Wiggin, Jerry
Rees-Davies, W. R. Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Renton, Tim Wolfson, Mark
Rhodes James, Robert Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Younger, Rt Hon George
Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Tellers for the Noes:
Rifkind, Malcolm Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Anthony Berry.
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 48, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert— '4--(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 leave out 'a duty of excise at the rate of £0.10 a litre" and insert "0.1382 a litre in the case of light oil and £0.115 a litre in the case of heavy oil". '.—[Mr. Shore.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 264, Noes 318.

Division No. 166] [10.28 pm
Abse, Leo Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Adams, Allen Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Allaun, Frank English, Michael
Alton, David Ennals, Rt Hon David
Anderson, Donald Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Evans, John (Newton)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Ewing, Harry
Ashton, Joe Faulds, Andrew
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Field, Frank
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fitch, Alan
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Flannery, Martin
Beith, A. J. Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Bennett, Andrew(Sr'Kp't N) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bidwell, Sydney Ford, Ben
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Forrester, John
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Foster, Derek
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Bradley, Tom Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Freud, Clement
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) George, Bruce
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Golding, John
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Graham, Ted
Buchan, Norman Grant, George (Morpeth)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Grant, John (Islington C)
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Campbell, Ian Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Canavan, Dennis Hardy, Peter
Cant, R. B. Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carmichael, Neil Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cartwright, John Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Heffer, Eric S.
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Cohen, Stanley Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Coleman, Donald Home Robertson, John
Conlan, Bernard Homewood, William
Cook, Robin F. Hooley, Frank
Cowans, Harry Horam, John
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Howell, Rt Hon D.
Craigen, J. M. Howells, Geraint
Crawshaw, Richard Huckfield, Les
Crowther, J. S, Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Janner, Hon Greville
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Dalyell, Tam John, Brynmor
Davidson, Arthur Johnson, James (Hull West)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Deakins, Eric Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dewar, Donald Kerr, Russell
Dixon, Donald Kilfedder, James A.
Dobson, Frank Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Dormand, Jack Kinnock, Neil
Douglas, Dick Lambie, David
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lamborn, Harry
Dubs, Alfred Lamond, James
Duffy, A. E. P. Leadbitter, Ted
Dunn, James A. Leighton, Ronald
Dunnett, Jack Lestor, Miss Joan
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Eadie, Alex Litherland, Robert
Eastham, Ken Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
McCartney, Hugh Rodgers, Rt Hon William
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Rooker, J. W.
McElhone, Frank Roper, John
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
McKelvey, William Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Rowlands, Ted
Maclennan, Robert Ryman, John
McMahon, Andrew Sandelson, Neville
McNally, Thomas Sever, John
McNamara, Kevin Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
McQuade, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McTaggart, Robert Short, Mrs Renée
McWilliam, John Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Magee, Bryan Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Marks, Kenneth Silverman, Julius
Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Martin, M(G'gow S'burn) Snape, Peter
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Soley, Clive
Maxton, John Spearing, Nigel
Maynard, Miss Joan Spriggs, Leslie
Meacher, Michael Stallard, A. W.
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Steel, Rt Hon David
Mikardo, Ian Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Stoddart, David
Miller, DrM. S. (E Kilbride) Strang, Gavin
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Straw, Jack
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Morton, George Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Tilley, John
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Tinn, James
Newens, Stanley Torney, Tom
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Ogden, Eric Wainwright, B.(Dearne V)
O'Halloran, Michael Wainwright, R(Colne V)
O'Neill, Martin Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Watkins, David
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Weetch, Ken
Paisley, Rev Ian Welsh, Michael
Palmer, Arthur White, Frank R.
Parker, John White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Parry, Robert Whitehead, Phillip
Pavitt, Laurie Whitlock, William
Pendry, Tom Wigley, Dafydd
Penhaligon, David Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Williams, Sir T.(W'ton)
Prescott, John Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Wilson, William (C'trySE)
Race, Reg Winnick, David
Radice, Giles Woodall, Alec
Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S) Woolmer, Kenneth
Richardson, Jo Wrigglesworth, Ian
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Young, David (Bolton E)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Tellers for the Ayes:
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Mr. Joseph Dean and Mr. Frank Haynes.
Robertson, George
Adley, Robert Bell, Sir Ronald
Aitken, Jonathan Bendall, Vivian
Alexander, Richard Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)
Alison, Michael Benyon, Thomas (A'don)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Benyon, W. (Buckingham)
Ancram, Michael Best, Keith
Arnold, Tom Bevan, David Gilroy
Aspinwall, Jack Biffen, Rt Hon John
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Biggs-Davison, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Blackburn, John
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Blaker, Peter
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Body, Richard
Banks, Robert Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Boscawen, Hon Robert
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Gray, Hamish
Bowden, Andrew Greenway, Harry
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Grieve, Percy
Braine, Sir Bernard Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)
Bright, Graham Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Brinton, Tim Grist, Ian
Brittan, Leon Grylls, Michael
Brooke, Hon Peter Gummer, John Selwyn
Brotherton, Michael Hamilton, Hon A.
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Browne, John (Winchester) Hampson, Dr Keith
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hannam, John
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Haselhurst, Alan
Buck, Antony Hastings, Stephen
Budgen, Nick Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Bulmer, Esmond Hawksley, Warren
Burden, Sir Frederick Hayhoe, Barney
Butcher, John Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Butler, Hon Adam Heddle, John
Cadbury, Jocelyn Henderson, Barry
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Hicks, Robert
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Chapman, Sydney Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Churchill, W. S. Hooson, Tom
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hordern, Peter
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldfd)
Clegg, Sir Walter Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Cockeram, Eric Hunt, David (Wirral)
Colvin, Michael Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Cope, John Hurd, Hon Douglas
Cormack, Patrick Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Corrie, John Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Costain, Sir Albert Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Cranborne, Viscount Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dickens, Geoffrey Kaberry, Sir Donald
Dorrell, Stephen Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Kershaw, Anthony
Dover, Denshore King, Rt Hon Tom
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kitson, Sir Timothy
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Knight, Mrs Jill
Durant, Tony Knox, David
Dykes, Hugh Lamont, Norman
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lang, Ian
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Eggar, Tim Latham, Michael
Elliott, Sir William Lawrence, Ivan
Emery, Peter Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Eyre, Reginald Lee, John
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fairgrieve, Russell Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Fell, Anthony Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Finsberg, Geoffrey Loveridge, John
Fisher, Sir Nigel Luce, Richard
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Lyell, Nicholas
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles McCrindle, Robert
Fookes, Miss Janet Macfarlane, Neil
Forman, Nigel MacGregor, John
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman MacKay, John (Argyll)
Fox, Marcus Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Fry, Peter Madel, David
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Major, John
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Marland, Paul
Garel-Jones, Tristan Marlow, Tony
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Glyn, Dr Alan Marten, Neil (Banbury)
Goodhart, Philip Mates, Michael
Goodhew, Victor Mather, Carol
Goodlad, Alastair Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Gorst, John Mawby, Ray
Gow, Ian Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gower, Sir Raymond Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mayhew, Patrick
Mellor, David Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Prior, Rt Hon James
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Proctor, K. Harvey
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Raison, Timothy
Miscampbell, Norman Rathbone, Tim
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Moate, Roger Rees-Davies, W. R.
Monro, Hector Renton, Tim
Montgomery, Fergus Rhodes James, Robert
Moore, John Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Morgan, Geraint Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Rifkind, Malcolm
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Mudd, David Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Murphy, Christopher Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Myles, David Rossi, Hugh
Neale, Gerrard Rost, Peter
Needham, Richard Royle, Sir Anthony
Nelson, Anthony Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Neubert, Michael St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Newton, Tony Scott, Nicholas
Normanton, Tom Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Nott, Rt Hon John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Onslow, Cranley Shelton, William (Streatham)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Osborn, John Shepherd, Richard
Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Shersby, Michael
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Silvester, Fred
Parkinson, Cecil Sims, Roger
Parris, Matthew Skeet, T. H. H.
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Smith, Dudley
Patten, John (Oxford) Speed, Keith
Pawsey, James Speller, Tony
Percival, Sir Ian Spence, John
Peyton, Rt Hon John Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Pink, R. Bonner Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Pollock, Alexander Sproat, Iain
Porter, Barry Squire, Robin
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Stainton, Keith
Stanbrook, Ivor Waldegrave, Hon William
Stanley, John Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Steen, Anthony Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Stevens, Martin Wall, Patrick
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Waller, Gary
Stewart, K.(E Renfrewshire) Walters, Dennis
Stokes, John Ward, John
Stradling Thomas, J. Warren, Kenneth
Tapsell, Peter Watson, John
Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wells, Bowen
Tebbit, Norman Wheeler, John
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Whitney, Raymond
Thompson, Donald Wickenden, Keith
Thorne, Neil (Ilford South) Wiggin, Jerry
Thornton, Malcolm Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Townend, John (Bridlington) Winterton, Nicholas
Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath) Wolfson, Mark
Trippier, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trotter, Neville Younger, Rt Hon George
van Straubenzee, W. R.
Vaughan, Dr Gerard Tellers for the Noes:
Viggers, Peter Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Anthony Berry.
Waddington, David
Wakeham, John

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment made: No. 1, in page 3, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert:— '4.—(1) In section 6(1) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 for the words "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.10 a litre" there shall be substituted the words "a duty of excise at the rate of £0.1382 a litre in the case of light oil and £0.1191 a litre in the case of heavy oil".'.—[Mr. Skeet.]

Clause 4, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

To report Progress and ask leave to sit again tomorrow.—[Mr. Brittan.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again tomorrow.

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