Orders of the Day — Clause 3. — (Power Methylated Spirits.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1952.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

12.15 a.m.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

The reply of the Financial Secretary was so gracious and so full in all other respects that I had not the heart to get up to say he had not answered one question of some considerable importance, namely, what was the actual financial effect of this particular Clause? After all, the hon. Gentleman being the Financial Secretary, one feels always that he will have the financial figures at his fingertips. For that reason I rise just to ask him what will be the financial effect of this particular Clause—if he is permitted to speak after the mystic hour of five minutes to 12, because at an early stage of his speech he said he had to finish anything he had to say by that time, for reasons which we should all appreciate.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Which the hon. and learned Member would appreciate.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

Yes, for that was the moment at which the Lord Privy Seal the other night thought it was necessary to move to report Progress because the hon. Gentleman could not explain anything after that hour—and the hon. Gentleman failed to answer my question just as we passed that moment, and I ascribed that to the inability the right hon. Gentleman attributed to him. Perhaps that was the reason. I do not know. I hope not, and in that hope I would address one or two questions to the hon. Gentleman on this Clause. I do not know whether he will be able to answer them until more figures are available.

It appears that these power spirits are not entered into the accounts at all. I do not know if they are included in a different type of power spirits that are locked together in the first big total of £240,000, which are duties which are different from common purse duties. But there is no figure actually given, and it is somewhat curious, because hops appear in the accounts, and, so far as I can see, far from there being any result of the hop tax, the Isle of Man has to pay some tax, rising to £2. It is, in a sense, minus £2. These are the sorts of things that make it difficult for hon. Members to follow these things up and to call the attention to them that they deserve.

I hope we shall not take long on this Clause, but I hope the Financial Secretary will be able to give us some actual figure that must have been estimated by Tynwald when it passed the Resolution on which this change in the law is based. What is the sum which will come in as a result of the passing of this Bill? It is a very simple question, and the hon. Gentleman could answer it in three or four words, and I hope he will.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I am afraid that I cannot satisfy the hon. and learned Member with any precise figure since, of course, the calculations on which this particular impost is based are not ours but those of the Isle of Man authorities, but on this Clause that is not, perhaps, as serious a difficulty as it may appear. What this Clause does is to raise the duty on imported power methylated spirits from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. a gallon. The main object of that, as the hon. and learned Member will appreciate, I think, is not particularly or specifically a revenue reason, but in order to secure that these spirits, which can be used as an alternative to petrol in motor vehicles, shall bear the same duty as is borne on petrol, otherwise there would be a disparity between the taxes with unfairness between the two. This is simply a consequential provision on the increase in the hydrocarbon oils duty generally as enacted in Clause 1.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.