11 and 12.
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) under what authority his Department suggested to Radiospares, Ltd., that they should at their own expense have saloon bodies removed from their vehicles and van bodies put in their place at a cost of £5,000 in order to evade the regulations under which his own Department are operating;(2) why he has reduced the amount of petrol previously allowed to Radiospares, Ltd., 19–23, Fitzroy Street, London, W.1.
This firm originally received allowances for its cars from my regional petroleum officers. Last year, the firm converted its cars, obtained C licences and was given allowances by the district transport officer of the Ministry of Transport on the higher scale applicable to goods vehicles. When the definition of private motor vehicles was altered to include dual purpose vehicles so as to prevent their obtaining red petrol, the firm had once again to apply to the regional petroleum officer for allowances for its cars. After a careful review of the case, it was decided to increase by one-third the allowance previously issued by the regional petroleum officer.As regards the construction of the cars, my officers merely agreed that if certain alterations suggested by the firm were carried out, the vehicles would no longer fall within the structural definition of private motor vehicles contained in the Motor Spirit (Amendment) Regulations, 1948.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that a car needs the same amount of petrol, whether the petrol is supplied by the Ministry of Transport or the Ministry of Fuel and Power? The car does exactly the same job. Could the right hon. Gentleman give some explanation as to why a differential scale is applied by the two Ministries? As the Minister has answered my two Questions together, perhaps I may ask two supplementary questions. Is he aware whether the advice, given "under the counter," so to speak, by his Department, that this firm should convert its vehicles, is accurate? Are the regulations so silly that if a different body is put on a vehicle which does exactly the same work as it was doing before, it gets a different amount of petrol?
There has always been a quite natural distinction between the scales of allowance applicable to vehicles whose purpose is carrying goods, and to private cars which obviously can be far more easily used for private purposes. That distinction must, I think, be maintained. This firm converted its vehicles in effect to evade the anti-black market regulations which we introduced, and it is now being caught under the regulations which stop that evasion.
If the firm carries out a fresh conversion so that the vehicles conform to the definition required, can the Minister say whether they will get their former allowances of petrol back again?
If the firm conforms to the law, it conforms to the law.