With the leave of the House I should like to make the following statement: The House will appreciate that it is necessary to look well ahead in the management of our oil supplies, and it was for this reason that I introduced the drastic reduction of private motoring at the very beginning of the war. That measure has made a large and continuing contribution to the strength of our oil position, but the development of the war now makes it necessary to impose further substantial reductions in the interests of a prudent oil policy.
Supplementary petrol allowances will therefore be further reduced, beginning with the period April-May. The value of the basic ration coupons for May and June will be halved, and as from 1st July the basic ration itself will cease to exist. I should make it clear that applications for supplementary allowances to make up for the loss of the basic ration will not be considered except in the case of people who can prove a genuine need. I include in this class people living in rural districts with inadequate transport services. These measures are designed to end pleasure motoring for the present, and I should emphasise that the Government want all unessential cars taken off the road.
Due in no small degree to the contribution from private motoring, there has not been so far any shortage of bulk supplies of oil products in any theatre of war, for operations by sea, land or air, or for any other essential war purpose. It is vital that this should continue, and I believe that motorists will willingly accept the new restrictions for the sake of giving greater strength to our oil position in the testing year that lies ahead.
Will these further restrictions result in further increases in the price of petrol? Was the recent increase imposed not because petrol was costing more but to make up losses on the lesser amount which will be consumed?