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New Clause—(Reduction Of Duty And Other Relief In Respect Of Certain Mechanically Propelled Vehicles)

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

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(1) Section thirteen of the Finance Act, 1920 (which imposes duties of excise. in respect of mechanically propelled vehicles) shall have effect as if in paragraph 1 of the Second Schedule to that Act—

  • (i) for the word "Cycles," where it first occurs there were substituted the word "Vehicles";
  • (ii) after sub-paragraph (c) there were in serted the following sub-paragraph: —
  • £



    "(d) Vehicles other than mowing machines, being vehicles with more than three wheels neither constructed nor adapted for use nor used for the carriage of a driver or a passenger300;"


    (iii) at the end thereof there were added the following words: —

    "Vehicles chargeable with duty under this paragraph shall not be chargeable with duty under paragraph 5 of this Schedule."

    (2) The said section thirteen shall have effect as if in paragraph 4 of the said Second Schedule after sub-paragraph (6) there were inserted the following sub-paragraph: —



    "(bb) Vehicles designed and constructed as mobile cranes which are used on roads only either as cranes in connection with work being carried on on a site in the immediate vicinity or for the purpose of proceeding to and from a place wherethey are to be used as cranes and when so proceeding neither carry nor haul any load other than such as is necessary for their propulsion or equipment50,"

    and at the end of the said paragraph 4 there were added the following words: —

    "Vehicles chargeable with duty under sub-paragraph (bb) of this paragraph shall not be chargeable with duty under paragraph 5 of this Schedule."

    (3) The vehicles referred to in the said sub-paragraph (66) shall be excluded from the provisions of section two of the Finance Act, 1935, withdrawing the rebate on heavy oils used as fuel for mechanically propelled vehicles and accordingly in paragraph ( d)of

    subsection (7) of that section for the words "sub-paragraphs ( a), ( b)," there shall be substituted the words "sub-paragraphs ( a),( b),( bb),."

    (4) Subsection (1) of this section shall be deemed to have come into operation on the first day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, and subsections (2) and (3) thereof shall come into operation on the first day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-eight.— [ Mr. G. R. Strauss.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    11.0 p.m.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    This new Clause effects reductions in respect of two types of motor vehicles. One is a new type of vehicle—-a four-wheel pedestrian-controlled tight delivery van. There have for some time been delivery vans of three wheels which have been mechanically propelled—the delivery van which goes round the streets and is in the charge of a man walking behind it. It has been much used for the delivery of certain types of goods. Recently a new van of four wheels has come on the market and is apparently popular. According to the law as it stands, such a van is regarded as an ordinary trade van and would be dutiable to the extent of £10 per annum. The three-wheel van at the moment has to pay only £2a year duty because it is classed as a tricycle. It has been suggested to us that it is too much to charge a four wheel van £10—that it would stop its development for export purposes and many other purposes. Therefore it is suggested that we should reduce the tax, which we have done to £3 a year. That is the first part of the Clause.

    The second part is a reduction in the duty now payable on mobile cranes. At the moment these are regarded as goods vehicles, and are charged by reference to their unladen weight. Manufacturers and users have represented to us that the very high duties which are consequently payable are unreasonable, and may amount to as much as £120 for one of these vehicles. The result has been to make these mobile cranes very largely inflexible, which is particularly undesirable in present conditions when they are badly needed for housing operations. It has been represented to us that these vehicles should be considered as analagous to the excavating and shovelling plant now chargeable at a rate of 5s. per annum. We have agreed to these representations, and in future these mobile cranes will be put in the same category as excavating and shovelling plant and be charged at 5s. annually. A consequential change which flows from this alteration is that these vehicles will be entitled to a rebate on heavy fuel oil, to which all vehicles enjoying a 5s. tax are entitled.

    The first change in taxation that I mentioned comes into force as from 1st January this year. The second one on 1st January, 1948. The amount which the Exchequer will lose on the first concession will be negligible. On the second it will not be very much—a maximum of £40,000. I regret that the wording of this new Clause is rather complex, but that is unavoidable because the taxation of vehicles is referred to in several Acts. I am confident that these changes will be acceptable to the House.

    These appear to be two useful concessions and we are grateful for them. There are a few points on which I would like to be enlightened. One is in regard to these vehicles which are pedestrian propelled and mechanically controlled—or is it the other way round?

    The point is, is there any danger that these vehicles may at some time be fitted with side windows? If they were fitted with side windows, they would come within the definition of shooting brakes.

    No, but I gather there is no reason why they should not carry passengers. It is a point that wants looking into; otherwise, the unfortunate people who think they are getting a concession might find that under another section of this Bill and an Order made the other day, they have suffered a severe loss. Secondly, I was interested in what the right hon. Gentleman said about the export trade in these vehicles. I do congratulate him on doing this afternoon something the Chancellor of the Exchequer was unable to do last night, make one constructive suggestion for reducing the deficit in our dollar exchange. For that reason we welcome the concession he has announced.

    I gather from what the Parliamentary Secretary said, the first part of the Clause refer to vehicles which move on four wheels and are becoming more popular than those previously in use which moved on three wheels. I see that the reduction of duty is given only to those which have more than three wheels. I do not quite follow why the previously popular vehicles which moved on three wheels are not to be included in this reduction, whereas those having four wheels are to be included. I hope he will give us some explanation of that, I must confess I have never seen either a three- or four-wheeled vehicle of that kind, and perhaps there are other Members who feel as doubtful as I do about the quality and category of this type of vehicle. We might have examples put in Palace Yard so that we can see if my right hon. Friend is right in saying that side windows can be fitted into them, or whether they in any way resemble shooting brakes.

    In regard to the second part of the Clause, about cranes, which are now to be reduced from some hundred pounds in tax, I think the Parliamentary Secretary said, down to 5s., I see the reduction applies only in respect of those cranes used in the immediate vicinity of a building site. What does that mean? Does it mean that those cranes which are moving out from their base down the road will be taxed at the old rate, and that when they come into some particular area where building is to take place they are, for some reason or another, classified in a different category? They are cranes which can move only under their own steam. It is very difficult to transport them in any other way, and why should the reduction apply only to those which are operative within a particular vicinity? It seems to me that the Clause has not been tightened up sufficiently in that regard, and I think the House is entitled to some further explanation of this sudden drastic reduction of taxation in respect of cranes which only operate in particular areas.

    In the first class the vehicles are described as

    "vehicles other than mowing machines, being vehicles with more than three wheels."
    What happens if they are mowing machines? It may be that these words are necessary having regard to the complications of earlier provisions dealing with these vehicles, but I think it would interest the House to hear what is the taxation in the case of mowing machines, and whether any change is being made.

    11.15 p.m.

    I will briefly answer these various questions. The hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) is quite right. The mention of mowing machines is necessary because the original Section of the Act contained that word and we have to repeat it here. There is no change in the taxation on mowing machines. The noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has not fully read the new Clause. If he looks at lines 23 and 24 he will see that the cranes are defined as being used either on the site or proceeding to and from a place where they are to be used. Another question the noble Lord asked was whether there is any change in the taxtaion of the three-wheel vehicles. I obviously did not make myself clear. Three-wheel vehicles are now taxed at £2a year and the four-wheel vehicles at £10 a year. It is in order to make the four-wheel vehicles duty proportionate with the three-wheel vehicles duty that we are reducing it to £3 a year. In answer to the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) I can assure him that he need have no worry as this concession is confined to vehicles of a maximum weight of 8 cwt.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.