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Petrol Supplies

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 17 February 1949

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Commercial Travellers

2.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in the discussions that are about to take place regarding the petrol allowance to commercial travellers, he will specially bear in mind the needs of firms who supply farmers in rural areas and, if possible, make them a special allocation.

12.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that commercial travellers representing firms who supply farmers are particularly in need of extra petrol; and if he will now arrange for some special additional allowance to be made to such travellers.

I refer the hon. Members to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. M. Lindsay) on 3rd February. I cannot agree to a further increase in the maximum allowances for commercial travellers engaged in a particular class of business.

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House when he is likely to make a statement as a result of the negotiations now going on?

Is it not a fact that these particular commercial travellers have the maximum area to cover; and in view of the fact that the work of many of them has been brought to a standstill near the end of the period, would the Minister not review this application?

We have just had a long discussion with the representatives of commercial travellers to see whether we could devise a system whereby the ration varied according to the area covered. This has been found to be impracticable, and is recognised to be impracticable by all concerned. I have, however, increased the maximum allowance.

What is the good of the Minister of Agriculture appealing for increased production when the Minister of Fuel and Power withholds what is really the raw material of agriculture?

Standard Ration

3.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will consider restoring the full basic ration to all motorists, irrespective of whether they receive a supplementary allowance or not. by the Easter holidays.

I am afraid that, for reasons which I gave when I announced that the system of deducting the standard ration from supplementary allowances would be brought to an end, it would be administratively impracticable to stop the system of deductions before the end of April without introducing gross unfairness.

Is the Minister aware that the people of this country are conscious of the great saving which has been made since the introduction of red petrol, and that they expect at this time a concession from the Minister in order that they may take their Easter holidays? This would be a great benefit indeed to the seaside resorts.

I am afraid it is quite out of the question to make the change for which the hon. Gentleman asks. It would be unfair to all those people who have already had their ration deducted.

In view of the fact that the means of livelihood of a great many people depend on the holiday motorists, will the Minister consider giving a special ration just for the Easter holiday period?

Would it be possible, without increasing the amount of petrol, to allow supplementary coupons to be cashed in the middle of April instead of at the beginning of May, so that without giving more petrol in total, the fuel allowance might be used for the Easter holidays?

I doubt if that would be practicable, but I am prepared to look into the suggestion.

Is the Minister aware that the principle of deducting the basic ration against supplementary coupons was considered unfair by everybody in this country as well as in all quarters of this House? If he would make this concession for the Easter holidays, it would be appreciated by a very large number of people.

I would not agree that it was considered unfair by everybody, in view of the amount of petrol available. In any case, it will be brought to an end by 1st May.

If the Minister, as he told me a short time ago, has saved 150,000 tons of white petrol in five months owing to the introduction of red petrol, how on earth can he refuse this very miserable concession?

I have already explained that part of the saving which we made from introducing red petrol went to the needs of stocks for defence purposes, but from 1st May all savings will be absorbed by the standard ration.

Fuel Oil (Supplies)

10.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what allocations of fuel oil were made to separate industries during 1948; and in what ways allocations will be altered during 1949.

Fuel oil is not allocated to separate industries, but firms authorised by my Department to use fuel oil received their agreed requirements in full during 1948, and will continue to do so in 1949.

Can the Minister, nevertheless, reveal the allocations which were made to various industries during 1948, which was the subject of this Question, as I understand that the information is available in his own Department?

No allocations were made to separate industries as such. If the hon. Member is asking for the consumption of fuel oil by different industries, I will endeavour to give the information to him.