The total amount of duty paid in 1970 on hydrocarbon oil purchased by the paper and board industry was probably of the order of £3½ million. The duty on most fuel oil used by the horticultural industry is repaid; I regret that no information is available about the duty paid on road fuel by this industry.
I am grateful for that information. While I appreciate that both these industries enjoy the benefit of a generous rebate on heavy oils, will my hon. Friend have regard to their plight and the fact that their foreign competitors enjoy the benefit of lower fuel costs, and consider rebating in full the duty on these oils?
No, I cannot undertake to do that. There is a clear distinction between the two industries. The horticultural industry was regarded as an exceptional case when relief was first granted in 1971. Broader questions on relative fuel costs are a matter for my right hon. Friend.
The total amount of duty paid on hydrocarbon oil purchased by road hauliers who transport other people's goods will probably be of the order of £75 million in the current financial year.
Does my right hon. Friend not think that this would be an appropriate time to reduce this crippling burden of taxation on fuel oil and petrol? Would this not make a major contribution to controlling the cost of living and inflation which was stoked up by the previous Government?
My right hon. Friend in his Budget decided that the concessions on indirect taxation should be concentrated on S.E.T. I do not think he can contemplate making any changes at this stage by reducing the taxation on hydrocarbon oils.