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Clause 9—(Relief From Duty For Vehicles Fitted With Towing Contrivances)

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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I rise to make my protest at the language which the Chancellor and those advising him think fit to use in this Clause. In this age, when we have had the internal combustion engine for many years, the Treasury draftsmen might find some better word than "contrivances." It is typical of the whole attitude which the Treasury has shown towards the motor industry over a long course of years. It has always been ignored and badly treated by the Treasury, which is in complete ignorance of this trade. The result is that when they refer to a gas-producer plant they do not recognise it when they see it and call it a contrivance. Paragraph (b) refers to such a contrivance being attached to each end of the vehicle. I have been trying to imagine any designer except Heath Robinson being successful in doing such a thing.

My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. This Clause does not deal with trailers for gas-producer plants. It has to do with contrivances for towing. In severe winter conditions such as we had in two recent winters, when the roads were frequently blocked by snow, it was often desirable to clear them so as to get urgent stuff through for convoys to Russia and other purposes. Vehicles often blocked the roads to other transport, and they had not the necessary attachments to enable them either to tow another vehicle or to be towed themselves. Under the existing legislation goods vehicles pay tax according to their unladen weight. Hooks or other contrivances for permitting towing in an active or passive sense may weigh a considerable amount. The limits laid down in the latter part of the Clause are one cwt. if the contrivance is at one end only of the vehicle, that is for being towed if in front or towing if in the rear, and 2 cwts. if contrivances are attached to both ends. These contrivances may thus put the vehicles above the tax limit, and in order to encourage people to have the contrivances, so that in bad weather conditions any vehicle can tow or be towed, the Chancellor has made this concession.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.