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Mechanically-Propelled Vehicles

Volume 155: debated on Friday 16 June 1922

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Motion made, and Question proposed.

"That where a licence has been taken out for a mechanically-propelled vehicle at any rate under the Second Schedule to The Finance Act, 1920, and the vehicle is at any time while such licence is in force used in an altered condition or in a manner or for a purpose which brings it within, or which if it was used solely in that condition or in that manner or for that purpose, would bring it within a class or description of vehicles to which a higher rate of duty is applicable under the said Schedule, duty at such higher rate shall become chargeable in respect of the licence for the vehicle."—[Mr. Neal.]

The Resolution deals with a small matter which has arisen in the administration of the system of motor taxation. This motor taxation originated under the Finance Act, 1920, and was supplemented by the Roads Act of the same year. They established the system of the licensing of vehicles, and the vehicles were divided into six classes. It is necessary, however, for me to mention only three—"road locomotives, tractors, agricultural engines, etc.," which were taxed according to their weight; "commercial goods vehicles," which were taxed on a similar basis; and "any other vehicle," which was intended mainly to include private motor cars, taxed on a horse-power basis. It is not intended in the present Finance Bill to deal with the general system of taxation, and the Resolution which I move is the foundation of a small Amendment to stop up a leakage which was discovered by the ingenuity of the profession to which I belong, in reference to those three classes of vehicles. The taxation of the agricultural engine and commercial goods vehicle was based on weight, as I said, and the word "solely" was introduced in the Section dealing with the matter; that is to say, where a vehicle was solely used for the purposes which were indicated, it should become liable to the specific duty. Some persons thought, rightly or wrongly, that having got a vehicle which was clearly within the class named, if they used it even on an odd occasion for some other purpose, they might avail themselves of the lower duty which attached to the other class of vehicle.

Let me give a simple illustration. A five-ton electrically-propelled goods-carrying vehicle used by a flour merchant, is liable as a commercial goods vehicle to a duty of £30 per annum. Some ingenious person came to the conclusion that if that vehicle were transformed from its ordinary use as a goods-carrying vehicle

Rate of duty chargeable in respect of a licence tobe used only for vehicles chargeable with duty under paragraph 1 and 2 to the Second Schedule to the Finance Act, 1920.Rate of duty chargeable in other cases.
If the licence in a licence to which the one set of regulations is applicable.£5£25
If the licence is a licence to which the one set of regulations is applicable.£1£5

into a passenger-carrying vehicle, by putting a few forms upon it, and taking a few people for an outing, it would then become chargeable for the duty of £6. I will not trouble the Committee with further illustrations. The matter can he conveniently discussed when Amendments are put down to the Finance Bill, hut it will be seen that this is giving rise to anomalies and inequities not only on the part of the Ministry with which I am connected, and which is charged with the administration of the Road Fund, but on the part of other vehicle owners who have observed the spirit as well as the letter of the Act, and have paid their proper contribution. The Resolution which I move also incidentally deals with one other matter. Questions have arisen as to whether a person who has a licence of some sort, although not the appropriate licence for the vehicle he might use, is liable to any penalty under the provisions of Sections 8 and 13 of the Roads Act. It is to remedy those matters that it is proposed to move Amendments to the Finance Bill. This does not impose any new tax upon the public at large. It is really only a verbal Amendment of the. law which is thought to be necessary.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present. Committee counted, and 40 Members being present—

Question put, and agreed to.