Bearing in mind the fact that we all wish American Service men the best possible conditions while they are serving in our country, will my right hon. Friend say whether they are better off in this respect than our own Service men?
Can the Chancellor say what steps are being taken to prevent this petrol getting into wrong hands so that, thereby, others avoid tax? What steps is he taking to prevent the creation of a black market in this petrol? Is he aware that when Amendments to Finance Bills have been suggested in the past to establish tax discrimination in favour of public service vehicles, the argument has been advanced that it was not possible because a black market would be created? How is it that a black market will not be created in this case, but that one would be if petrol were made tax-free for public service vehicles?
Mr. H. Wilson:
In all seriousness, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look again at this matter, which I am sure is causing great concern in all parts of the country? I do not think that the country is satisfied that there should be this tax-free system for petrol. The concession does not apply to Purchase Tax, as we know from a case reported in today's Press. Will he have a look at the whole question again? If the system is to continue, will he, at any rate, explain to the country why it is necessary?
While not wanting to stop our American allies from getting this concession, is not it unfair that doctors and others in essential services should be in the position of being taxed, and taxed to a higher degree each time they do more work in the interests of the public, whereas our allies, who are also doing essential work, get away tax-free? The position now is that doctors and midwives are paying a tax to enable our American allies to have this petrol tax-free. Is that fair?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what initiative he decided to remit tax on the 8,000,000 gallons of petrol allowed to American Service men each year; and what is the total estimated loss to revenue in a given year on the remission of tax on this 8,000,000 gallons of petrol.