With the permission of the House I will answer this Question. Yes, Sir. The increasing needs of the Armed Forces for present, and still more for future, operations make it necessary to effect economies in all other consumption. The Government have therefore decided that the civilian motorist must be called on for a further contribution to this effort. Further general reductions will be made in petrol allowances for business and professional purposes. These reductions will take effect in the issues made in November for the period December-January-February. With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate a more detailed statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
I wish to raise a point of Order on this matter. Is it not very unusual for a Minister to get up and say that he desires to answer, after Questions, a Question that has not been asked? Is not the usual practice for the Minister to ask the permission of the House to make a statement?
Has not the time arrived, in the interests of economy of petrol, to restore the road signs up and down the country? Is it not a fact that many soldiers driving vehicles of all kinds go many more miles than they need to do, and are held up for many hours because they simply cannot find their way about? Would it not be much more sensible to put the signs back?
Will any steps be taken, in view of the further restrictions on private motorists, to see that bus services are put in such a condition as to assist those who have to get in to do the essential shopping necessary in the countryside, which at present they cannot do?
Yes, Sir, but it is a fact that the Fighting Services have made, and are continuing to make, drastic economies in all petrol consumption other than that necessary for operations and essential training.
Will consideration be given to encouraging the use of motor cycles instead of motor cars by people to whom it is necessary that there should be an allocation of petrol?
Yes, Sir, the arrangements to which I have referred, and which are given in more detail in the statement which I propose to circulate, do in fact make arrangements to encourage in suitable cases the use of motor cycles.
The Government have decided to apply the following further measures of economy, beginning with the issues of petrol coupons made to the majority of motorists in November for use during December, January and February: