Orders of the Day — Finance Bill.

– in the House of Commons on 15th July 1926.

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As amended, again considered.

Mr. EDWARDS:

I was talking about the Report we have received from the police, confirming the position I have taken up that those vehicles could be used for nothing except taking miners to and from their work. If there are other industries in the country in a similar position, where vehicles can only be used for that kind of purpose, then I say that they, too, ought to be exempted from this tax. We say that a tax of this sort would be unfair. There might be a dozen men, or 20, 30, or 40—it depends on the size of the vehicle—who would use the same vehicle from one twelvemonths to the next, and we contend that it is unfair to put a tax of from £6 to £14, which the new rules would mean, upon these few men. They would have to share the extra cost that would be put on the general community the same as anybody else, and this would be a tax directly put upon these few people using these vehicles. The vehicles are laid up for the week-end and cannot be used for any other purpose, whereas in most industries the vehicles that convey people to and from their work morning and evening are used by day for other purposes, so that this tax would be put upon the general public in that case, and not upon a few people, as in the case with which I am dealing. I hope that we shall have a favourable reply to this demand, and I hope also that the other hon. Members whose names have been put down to this Amendment will be allowed to speak before the Minister rises. We look upon the proposal in the Bill as unfair to the whole of the mining community, and, therefore, if the Minister cannot meet us, I shall certainly divide the House on this Amendment.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

I beg to second the Amendment.

The Minister of Transport, when this question was raised during the Committee stage, was not quite sure what it meant, and he asked to be allowed to consider it. In many of the mining districts there is no housing accommodation, and I could quote several instances where pits are closed down and men have to pass along to other places for a matter of some six or eight miles. The colliery company, in order to get the men there, provide conveyances, but the men have got to pay for the hire of the vehicles. In some cases the colliery companies provide the conveyances, but in other cases they are provided by other people. If this tax is put on, the men will have to bear it themselves, and I want the Minister to con- sider it in that light. Already these men suffer hardship from having to travel long distances to their work, without having to bear the additional cost of the tax that is now proposed. I would also remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Royal Commission had some regard for men who have to go to other areas, and in a smaller degree that applies to these men. I, therefore, think the Minister might consider it from the standpoint of what the Royal Commission has done. Here is a case of hardship that has been recognised in a greater degree by the Royal Commission, and we are appealing on these lines for some consideration to be given to a body of men who are already suffering hardship through having to travel long distances to their work.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

The House will appreciate the great danger there is, if the Government once begin to make exceptions, that those exceptions will be used as a lever to get other concessions. Since the Committee stage another Amendment on the same lines has appeared on the Paper, namely, to exempt vehicles which carry food, and I cannot conceive, if you make exceptions in regard to vehicles taking miners to their work and then proceed to exempt food vehicles, why you should not go on and exempt drink vehicles and any other form of vehicle. I am afraid the Government cannot accept this Amendment, because what we have to deal with is the damage done by these vehicles to the roads, and not the people who use these vehicles. I would remind the House that in 1920, when the petrol tax was in operation, doctors got a rebate because they were considered to be a class which performed a specially useful service to the community, but later it was decided that there was to be no differentiation on the ground of the people who used the cars, but that the charge was to be made in respect to the damage which the cars did to the roads.

The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment conveyed the impression that this would be a considerable tax on the users of these vehicles. I will take the highest figure that can be taken, namely, £14. A little calculation will show that £14 is 280s I calculate that a vehicle, such as has been described, would be used 280 days out of the 365 in the year, and there- fore we find, roughly, that the tax on the vehicle is 1s. a day. We have been given the figure of 35 or 40 as the number of the people using the vehicle, but it may be assumed that 24 is the more probable number. That means that, at a shilling a day, every person at the maximum rate would pay ½d. a day of the tax. These vehicles will in many cases de more than one journey there and back in a day. Therefore, if you divide your tax by half, the whole thing means a penny farthing a week per head to cover the tax. I do submit that it is not justifiable in view of the damage that is done to the roads to make an exception of the kind that is asked.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

I should like to take the Minister's arguments one by one. First of all, we have his objection in regard to making an exception to the general rule. He says that, if he accepted this Amendment to benefit miners, he would be called upon to deal with vehicles conveying food or even beer and whisky. That does not seem to fit the case. The right hon. Gentleman must know that at present there is an exception. The conveyance which is used for hiring purposes is taxed at the different rate from the vehicle used for ordinary industrial purposes. There is the exception and there is the precedent, and the submission we are making is that where a body of workmen have to provide themselves with a vehicle to convey themselves to work, then the least tax possible ought to be imposed upon them. The vehicle is not used for profit-making in the ordinary sense. It is used to convey the men and to enable them to attend work. I could quote a case, which I suppose might be multiplied many times over. It is a case where a fairly large number of men are employed in a colliery which is three to three and a-half miles from where they live. In inclement weather it was usual for many men to have to lose one to two days' work a week. Then they provided themselves with a vehicle, and absenteeism was very quickly reduced. The fact that these men had to make provision to convey themselves backwards and forwards to work at least justifies them in asking that the least tax ought to be imposed upon them because of that provision. I understand that, at a previous stage, the Minister of Transport said that some communication had been received from Yorkshire, from a chief constable to whom inquiry had been submitted, and who said that the number of vehicles employed exclusively for this purpose was very small indeed. That may or may not be true, but, if the number is small, the concession would be small, and the exception would not form a precedent for others to appeal to.

With regard to payment, the right hon. Gentleman very ingeniously worked out a mathematical table showing that the tax would not cost much to the men. But he must remember that the £14 is only a portion of the tax. If you take the whole tax, you will see that the few coppers per this, added to the few coppers for insurance, for hospitals, for Dr. Barnardo's Homes, and for the various other things or which deductions are made, constitute a formidable deduction from a wage which sometimes scarcely reaches 30s. a week. The right hon. Gentleman said that motor taxation is based on the damage done to the roads, but would the right hon. Gentleman say that a heavy vehicle used for industrial purposes does no more damage to a road than a motor vehicle merely used for conveying men to and from their work? Unless he would make that statement, and I do not think he would, his argument about damage to the road falls to the ground immediately. The ordinary industrial vehicle carrying bricks or mortar or any other heavy luggage will be running several hours a day, while the workman's motor merely goes to the pit and makes possibly only two journeys a day backwards and forwards, and the damage to the road would be comparatively very small. I suggest that none of the arguments submitted by the right hon. Gentleman meets the case, and I think he might very well grant the concession under the exceptional circumstances.

Photo of Mr Horace Crawfurd Mr Horace Crawfurd , Walthamstow West

I wish to support this Amendment. I notice the Minister for Transport consulting with his right hon. colleague the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and I hope that consultation may lead to the acceptance of this proposal. The reply of the Minister of Transport is very disappointing, and it does not meet the case. He says that, if he makes this concession, it will be used as a lever to force other concessions. That may be so, but let him meet it on its merits and meet all the others on their merits. He says he cannot consider the Amendment because the whole basis of these duties is the damage done to the roads. If the right hon. Gentleman or his colleagues had kept to that principle throughout the Budget, there would be something in their contention. But they have not done so. In the case of pleasure vehicles, we now understand that one-third of the licence duties on such vehicles is to be paid in respect to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer calls the luxury aspect of the car. If you pay a luxury tax or an additional tax for luxury, why cannot you have a rebate for a necessity? The right hon. Gentleman recalled the days of the Motor Spirit Duty, when the doctors' vehicles were taxed below the full amount, and then that allowance for doctors was taken away. I suggest that, with the very strong hope that I think most hon. Members have, that by the time next year's Budget comes we shall revert to a Motor Spirit Duty, he may reasonably make this exception, because this will be an additional payment for one year only.

I do not quite agree with the calculation made by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) just now about the pence. Let us give right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench the benefit of every doubt, and they will still be wrong. It may be that by dividing this additional tax by the number of weeks the vehicle is used in a year and the number of people conveyed, it can be shown that this is an infinitesimal burden, but that does not get at the kernel of the business. The point made by the Seconder of the Amendment is that, in certain colliery districts where an old pit closes and a new one is opened and men live a few miles from their work, the management of the colliery sometimes provide vehicles which enable the men to be conveyed to their work instead of having to walk. It is not a case of the additional 2d. on each man, but what is to happen is that the person who has to pay down £12 for a vehicle of that sort will not run it at all. These men will then have to do without a vehicle all together and will be compelled to walk to their work. I hope, therefore, the Minister, in consultation with his colleagues on the Treasury Bench, Rill agree to grant this concession.

8.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr Charles Duncan Mr Charles Duncan , Clay Cross

Supposing, for the sake of argument, that this tax were in operation; those vehicles, which only make a few journeys a day, would only, if the petrol tax were enforced, pay taxation on the amount of petrol used. That would be to their advantage. There can he no doubt at all that the vehicles which convey people do not do damage to the roads; that damage is done by the vehicles which convey merchandise. It is the omnibuses that are constantly doing 16 hours a day over the same part of the road that chew the road up and do an enormous amount of damage. It is under my observation every day. Whatever taxation you put on them you never meet the damage they do to the road. On this ground especially, considering that this Government is passing or has passed legislation through this House which is

certainly going to do a great deal of damage to the miners, they might at least give this little consideration to this particular class of miners. There is every reason why this concession should be given.

Photo of Mr John Baker Mr John Baker , Wolverhampton Bilston

The Minister says it is only a matter of coppers a week, but there are 300 men in my constituency alone who have to pay cit of their earnings every week 12s. 6d. for travelling. The contractor who takes them does not deal in halfpennies, but will charge 6d., making the amount 13s. per week. Nothing is said about the 13½ per cent, reduction. Hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House gibe at this reduction, but the House should not make things impossible for the miners. That is what you are doing by reducing in one direction and piling it up in another.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill

The House divided: Ayes, 113; Noes, 193.

Division No. 376.]AYES[8.4 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-spring)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Hardie, George D.Riley, Ben
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHayday, ArthurRobinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)
Attlee, Clement RichardHayes, John HenryScrymgeour, E.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Scurr, John
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hirst, G. H.Sexton, James
Barr. J.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Batey, JosephHors-Belisha, LeslieShiels, Dr. Drummond
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Briant, FrankJenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Broad, F. A.John, William (Rhondda, West)Sitch, Charles H.
Bromley, J.Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Buchanan, G.Kelly, W. T.Snell, Harry
Cape, ThomasKennedy, T.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Charleton, H. C.Kirkwood,Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Close, W. S.Lawrence, SusanStamford, T. W.
Clynes, Right Hon. John R.Lee, F.Stephen, Campbell
Compton, JosephLindley, F. W.Sullivan, J.
Dalton, HughLivingstone, A. M.Sutton, J. E.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Lowth, T.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lunn, WilliamThurtle, E.
Day, Colonel HarryMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R.(Aberavon)Tinker, John Joseph
Dennison, R.Mackinder, W.Townend, A. E.
Duncan, C.MacLaren, AndrewVarley, Frank B.
Dunnico, H.Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Viant, S. P.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.March, S.Wallhead, Richard C.
Gardner, J. P.Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Gibbins, JosephMontague, FrederickWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Gillett, George M.Morris, R. H.Welsh, J. C.
Gosling, HarryMorrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Westwood, J.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Murnin, H.Whiteley, W.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Naylor, T. E.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)
Greenall, T.Oliver, George HaroldWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Palin, John HenryYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Groves, T.Paling, W.
Grundy, T. W.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.TELLERS FOR THE AYES —
Hall, F. (York., W.R., Norrnanton)Ponsonby, ArthurMr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)Potts, John S.Allen Parkinson.
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelGadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyPeto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Albery, Irving JamesGalbraith, J. F. W.Pitcher, G.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)Ganzonl, Sir JohnPilditch, Sir Philip
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Gates, Percy.Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George AbrahamPreston, William
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnPrice, Major C. W. M.
Atholl, Duchess ofGrant, Sir J. A.Raine, W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGuinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Ramsden, E.
Barclay-Harvey C. M.Gunston, Captain D. W.Rees, Sir Beddoe
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Remer, J. R.
Bennett, A. J.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Rhys. Hon. C. A. U.
Berry, Sir GeorgeHarland, A.Rice, Sir Frederick
Betterton, Henry B.Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)Ropner, Major L.
Birchall, Major J. DearmanHarrison, G. J, C.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Blades, Sir George RowlandHawke, John AnthonySamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Blundell. F. N.Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHenderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Sandeman, A. Stewart
Brass, Captain W.Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Brassey, Sir LeonardHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Sanderson, Sir Frank
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHilton, CecilShaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St.Marylebone)Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wilts, Westb'y)
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Hohier, Sir Gerald FitzroySheffield, Sir Berkeley
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardSimms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Buckingham, Sir H.Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William JamesHopkins, J. W. W.Smith, R. w. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne,C)
Burton, Colonel H. W.Huntingfield, LordSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Caine, Gordon HallHurd, Percy A.Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Hutchison,G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Cayzer, Maj, Sir Herbt.R.(Prtsmth.S.)Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonJackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Jacob, A. E.Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Christie, J. A.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertStorry-Deans, R.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerJephcott, A. R.Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeJoynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamStuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Cobb, Sir CyrilKennedy. A. R. (Preston)Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.King, Captain Henry DouglasStyles, Captain H. Walter
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.Lamb, J. O.Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Colfox, Major Wm. PhilipLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Conway, Sir W. MartinLister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipTempleton, W. P.
Cope, Major WilliamLloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Courtauld, Major J. S.MacAndrew, Major Charles GlenThomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Isllngtn., N.)Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell
Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald JohnTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Macquisten, F. A.Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough
Crookshank.Cpt.H. (Llndsey,Galnsbro)MacRobert, Alexander M.Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Cunllffe, Sir HerbertMaitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-Waddington, R.
Curtis-Bennett, Sir HenryMakins. Brigadier-General E.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Curzon, Captain ViscountMargesson, Captain D.Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Dalkeith, Earl ofMason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Davies, Dr. VernonMerriman, F. B.Watts. Dr. T.
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertMeyer, Sir FrankWells, S. R.
Drewe, C.Milne, J. S. WardlawWheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Edmondson, Major A. J.Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)White, Lieut. Col. Sir G. Dalrymple
Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Elliot, Major Walter E.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Ellis, R. G.Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
England, Colonel A.Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveWise, Sir Fredric
Erskine, Lord (Somerset,weston-s-M.)Neville, R. J.Womersley. W. J.
Everard, W. LindsayNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L, (Exeter)Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)Wragg, Herbert
Fielden, E. B.Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Finburgh, S.Nuttall. Ellis
Ford, Sir P. J.Oman, Sir Charles William C.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamMajor Sir Harry Barnston and
Forrest, W.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Captain Bowyer.
Frece, Sir Walter dePeto. Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)

Photo of Sir Smedley Crooke Sir Smedley Crooke , Birmingham Deritend

On a point of Order. I notice that my Amendment to Clause 13 has not been called. I am given to understand that Mr. Speaker has decided it is out of order. May I know the reason why it is out of order, in view of the fact that the preceding Amendment has been allowed?

Photo of Mr James Hope Mr James Hope , Sheffield Central

It is out of order because the word "foodstuffs" is indefinite. Some will deny and some will affirm that beer is a foodstuff or that tea is a foodstuff, and in the absence of any definition of the word "foodstuff" the Amendment falls.

Photo of Sir Smedley Crooke Sir Smedley Crooke , Birmingham Deritend

I bow to your ruling, Sir, but may we not get some assistance from tile Table in a case of this kind, instead of being allowed to bring these things forward and not know whether we .are at fault?

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER:

If the hon. Member had put down a definition of foodstuffs the Amendment would have been in order, but apart from that there is the further question of the relative importance of Amendments to be selected by the Speaker.

Photo of Sir Smedley Crooke Sir Smedley Crooke , Birmingham Deritend

Is it not evident that the word "foodstuffs" applied to those articles which are restricted?

Photo of Mr James Hope Mr James Hope , Sheffield Central

The term is too indefinite.