Oral Answers to Questions — Civilian Motoring (Reduced Petrol Allowances)

– in the House of Commons on 22nd October 1942.

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Lewisham West

—to ask the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the loss of shipping and of life involved in importing petrol, he will consider introducing further measures of economy in civilian motoring?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

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.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Lewisham West

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the manner in which these further cuts will be accepted by private motorists will depend largely on whether or not they see waste of petrol by commercial, or Service, or Civil Defence vehicles?

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

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?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The Minister did ask the permission of the House. The usual practice is that I ask the permission of the House. I did not do so to-day, and I am sorry.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Do I understand the Minister to say that this was only a cut for these three months, to be restored later on?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

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?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

That would be a matter for my Noble Friend the Minister of War Transport. It could not possibly take the place of the measures which I have mentioned.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

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?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

The Minister of War Transport has undertaken to take into account these further restrictions in the arrangement of the bus services.

Mr. Astor:

Will this be accompanied by careful investigation into the use of petrol by the Armed Forces, especially the use of higher powered cars than are necessary for transportation?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

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.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Will the Minister also inquire into the petrol allotted to Corps Diplomatique, who waste extravagant quantities?

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

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?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham, Ladywood

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.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Cannot an economy be achieved by military personnel carrying something in some of the transport wagons that are going about?

Following is the statement:

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:

  1. (1) In the case of motorists whose work is directly related to the war (to whom therefore "E" coupons are issued) there will be general reductions of the allowances granted for journeys made in the actual course of their work. The reduction will be 10 per cent. in the case of normal allowances, and more on the larger. These motorists are asked to meet the reductions by a more economical planning of their journeys, and by increased use of public transport.
  2. (2) The allowances of motorists receiving "E" coupons for journeys between home and place of duty will also be reduced. They can no longer expect to make these journeys in their own cars on every working day, and will be expected to cover other days by sharing or other arrangements. Motor cyclists will be allowed a larger mileage than car-users, and car-users who enter into officially approved undertakings for the regular conveyance of other workers will be allowed a larger mileage than those who travel alone.
  3. (3) The maximum allowances for the cars of applicants engaged in work not directly connected with the war, and therefore receiving "S" coupons, will be reduced by 25 per cent. The motor cycle allowances of this class will not be reduced.
  4. (4) There will be special arrangements to discourage further the use of high-powered cars. In general, where other circumstances are equal, the allowance for a motor cycle will permit a larger mileage than for a car, and the mileage possible with a car will decrease as the horse-power increases. The rate of decrease will be very steep at the upper end of the horse-power range.
  5. (5) Further reductions may shortly be necessary, especially in regard to motorists who receive "S" coupons.
  6. (6) It is not intended to make any immediate general reduction of domestic allowances, but the sifting process already announced will be continued.
  7. (7) Comparable reductions will be imposed on the consumption of Government Departments and local authorities.