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Gas Levy

Volume 21: debated on Tuesday 30 March 1982

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4.46 pm

I beg to move,

That the draft Gas Levy (Rate for 1982–83) Order 1982, which was laid before this House on 12th March, be approved.
This order follows on from the freeze on industrial gas contract renewal prices that took place last year, and the announcement made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech that the Government intend to revise British Gas's finances in order to enable the corporation to freeze, until the end of this year, the price of industrial gas sold under contract, for all but the first 25,000 therms taken in the contract year, at the level charged on 1 April.

Without those two measures, firm gas prices would have been 23 per cent. higher and interruptible prices 24·5 per cent. higher by the end of the year than they would otherwise have been. A very wide spread of customers has benefited- and will continue to benefit. The latest freeze will apply to 95 per cent. of gas sold to industry and 40 per cent. of gas sold to commercial premises. It will be of particular benefit to large, energy-intensive industries such as the chemical industry—40 per cent. of industrial sales in 1980–81 were to that industry—the engineering industry, the metals industry and the building materials industry.

How do those measures on industrial gas prices relate to the order? Obviously the action taken last year and this year's freeze have had and will have a significant adverse affect on the BGC's profits. Last year's freeze cost the corporation £73 million in lost profits. This year's action is estimated to cost over £60 million. Taking both measures together, therefore, the BGC has suffered a reduction in the profit which it would otherwise have earned of about £130 million to £140 million.

Although the corporation will benefit from the move, which will bring the price of gas to industry more in line with prices charged to the home, a loss of profits on this scale would have been a heavy financial burden for the corporation to bear. The Government therefore came to the conclusion that, since both freezes followed a specific request from the Government that the corporation should offer some help to industrial customers, it was only right and proper that the BGC should be fully compensated. I am sure that the House will recognise the fairness of that decision. Although, considered from the point of view of the public sector as a whole, it makes no difference whether the BGC or the Government absorb this shortfall—it is purely an accounting change—it makes a great deal of difference to the BGC management, who quite naturally attach great importance to a clear understanding of the financial framework in which they must operate.

Having agreed that the BGC should be compensated for the effects of this action by the Government, there remained the question of the precise mechanism for achieving it. The most obvious means, both in terms of simplicity and because it is the least disruptive of the financial framework within which the BGC operates, is to reduce the size of the corporation's payments under the Gas Levy Act 1981.

I know that the Opposition will not dispute that judgment. Speaking during the Committee stage of the Gas Levy Bill about just such a situation as we are now considering, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) said:
"If British Gas is asked to adopt such a policy…it will lose…revenue…That loss of revenue should be taken out of the gas levy, not from the revenues of British Gas…"
Speaking in the same debate of the method by which the corporation should be compensated for action to stabilise industrial gas prices, the hon. Gentleman said:
"The easiest way would be to reduce the levy to accommodate British Gas's lost revenue".—[Official Report, 25 February 1981; Vol. 999, c. 907–8.]
Consequently, at the time that the 1981 freeze was agreed with the corporation, the Government gave the BGC a clear undertaking to review the rate of the levy towards the end of the financial year 1981–82—around the time of the 1982 Budget—by which time the corporation's financial position was expected to be clearer. It would not have made sense to adjust the levy straight away, without the benefit of up-to-date financial forecasts, and run the risk of making an inappropriate adjustment, especially as the Gas Levy Act had only just passed into law and we had had no experience of how the new system would operate in practice. However, we took the immediate step of increasing the corporation's EFL for 1981–82 by £73 million to £317 million in respect of the 1981 freeze. That was necessary because at that time—it has subsequently been put on a post—levy basis—the BGC's EFL was still on a pre-levy basis. Any reduction in the post-levy revenue therefore acted directly to reduce the available amount of money on a pre-levy basis, thus impairing the BGC's ability to achieve its original EFL.

The reduction in the rate of the levy from 5p per therm to 4p per therm on those contracts that are PRT-exempt which would be brought about by the present order would reduce the BGC's costs by about £140 million in the financial year 1982–83. It will thus compensate the BGC for the effect on its profits of both freezes. The corporation's EFL for 1982–83 is on a post-levy basis, so there is no need to make any changes in respect of this year's freeze, which is forecast to cost £61 million. However, since the compensating reduction in the levy for the 1981 freeze is also being made in the financial year 1982–83, that will increase the amount of cash available to the BGC in that year. We have therefore agreed with the corporation that its original —£2 million EFL for 1982–83 should be reduced to —£75 million.

The net result of these changes is that BGC's profits over the period of the present financial target will be unaffected by the direct impact of the two freezes, and that BGC's ability to meet its financial target will not be impaired in any way as a direct result of Government action.

I said earlier that, apart from its simplicity, one attraction of choosing a reduction in the rate of the levy as the means by which BGC should be compensated was that it would leave the corporation's overall financial framework pretty well undisturbed. The other main alternative, that of reducing the financial target, would have been far more disruptive of the corporation's overall financial position, since it would have meant changing the rate of return on capital which the corporation has been aiming at, at a time when it is more than halfway through the three-year period of the present financial target.

The levy is also the most appropriate vehicle because of the way in which, by making it possible for BGC to have a financial target which envisages a normal commercial level of profit, it acts to encourage BGC to maintain its efficiency. Allowing the corporation to retain large windfall profits would, for obvious reasons, have been bound to put at risk its standards of efficiency. On the other hand, removing these windfall profits by means of a crude profits tax would have tended to act as a disincentive to efficiency, since, under such a tax, the corporation would not be allowed to keep any profits above the "normal" level, even if these resulted from increased efficiency. It could also have acted to encourage extravagance in expenditure. The solution which we have adopted, of a levy which operates to remove the source of these windfall profits while allowing the corporation to earn a normal rate of return and to enjoy any benefits resulting from increased efficiency, avoids both these risks. Compensating BGC for the effects of the freezes by changing the financial target would have undermined this framework, and made the levy into a heavy burden which could not fail to adversely affect the corporation's morale and efficiency.

Is the Minister implying that the windfall profits which he refers to in the case of the British Gas Corporation are not necessarily the result of increased efficiency or general efficiency, but that in the case of the banks they stem from efficiency alone?

I do not think that this is an appropriate time to debate the nature of windfall profits. By definition, windfall profits are in no way connected with the efficiency of banks or, in terms of this debate, of the BGC. They relate to the radical change in the underlying value of the particular asset caused by change in world oil and energy conditions. If the hon. Member wishes, I can come back to that point at the conclusion of this short debate.

The adjustment to be effected by the order can be supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and I therefore commend it to the House.

4.53 pm

The Under-Secretary did me the honour of quoting some of my observations during the Committee stage of what is now the Gas Levy Act. I should like to draw his attention to one or two other things we said about the gas levy in the context of this order. Since the introduction of the gas tax, as we call it, the Government have denied repeatedly that there is any connection between the amount raised under the levy and gas prices. It is our view, supported by the explanation the hon. Gentleman has given, that the order undermines those denials and demonstrates that there is a relationship, directly or indirectly, between the amount of money the Government are seeking to raise from British Gas under the levy and their gas price policy.

The order reduces the gas levy for 1982–83 by 1p per therm, reducing the tax on British Gas from £750 million, which the Government expected to obtain, to £570 million because the Government want to compensate British Gas for the price concessions made at their behest to industrial gas consumers.

The hon. Gentleman pointed out that had the Government not introduced the concessions in the Budget last year industrial gas prices would have risen by 23 per cent. They wish to prevent a similar increase this year by asking British Gas to make the concession, while they reduce the gas levy from £750 million to £570 million. Therefore there is a clear connection, as we argued in the debates on the Gas Ley Act, between the gas levy and gas prices.

The Government could help domestic consumers by taxing British Gas less and offering assistance to keep down price increases. That is what they are doing for industrial gas consumers by bringing forward this order and by their budgetary proposals.

We support the assistance that is being given to industrial gas consumers in the Budget, although we find it nauseating that the Government are trying to claim to be some sort of champion of industrial gas consumers. For the past 18 months hon. Members on both sides of the House have begged the Government to heed the pleas of industrial gas consumers. It is almost a year to the day that we had an Adjournment debate at the behest of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) on this subject. The Government waffled and procrastinated, but have come forward tardily with genuine assistance for industrial gas consumers who were facing hefty price increases. The cost of the concessions is the reduction proposed in the levy. So clearly there is a direct or indirect relationship between the amount of money raised by the gas levy and the gas prices imposed upon consumers.

We cannot support the order as it has been put forward; I am hoping to persuade the Minister to withdraw it and bring forward another order in due course. If British Gas can be compensated for concessions to industrial gas consumers, why can the Government not exercise the same sense of moderation and help domestic gas consumers? It is ironic that the Minister quotes a figure of 23 per cent. as the increase that industrial gas consumers would have had to bear without the concessions. That is exactly the increase that domestic gas consumers will face in the coming year as a result of the policy of the Government, not of British Gas.

We all know the incredible formula proposed by the previous Secretary of State and upheld by the present Secretary of State for Energy of increasing domestic gas prices by 10 per cent. over the rate of inflation. We have opposed it bitterly since its introduction and I have never understood how it helped fight the battle against inflation. It means that nearly 15 million gas customers will face price increases of 10 per cent. above the rate of inflation when they are expected to take wage increases of less than the rate of inflation; 6 per cent. is being offered to nurses and 3 to 4 per cent. to teachers and public service employees. Many firms, such as Hoover in my constituency, are taking no increase in wages this year so that they may survive. Yet the Government insist for the third year running that domestic gas prices will be increased by 10 per cent. above the rate of inflation. In three years this has resulted in a 100 per cent. increase in the price of domestic gas.

Stripped of the technical explanation that the hon. Gentleman gave, the order says that the Government planned to raid British Gas for £750 million in 1982–83. Because the Government are now belatedly converted to giving assistance to industrial gas consumers, they have decided to raid British Gas only to the tune of £570 million. That is the consequence of the so-called moderation of the order. In 1982–83, £570 million rather than £750 million is to be taken out of British Gas. That is the price of reducing the gas levy rate by 1p per therm.

Perhaps the Under-Secretary will confirm my figures on the cost of giving moderate support to the domestic gas consumer rather than ruthlessly pursuing the policy of imposing price increases of 10 per cent. more than the rate of inflation, which means 23 per cent. this year, on top of 60 per cent. and 70 per cent. in the past two years. What would be the cost of conceding to domestic consumers a reduction of 1p per therm rather than raising £570 million in tax from British Gas? Would not the cost to British Gas of a 1p per therm concession in order to moderate, however slightly, the savage increase that the Government are imposing on domestic gas consumers this year, amount to £90 million? If the price of gas were reduced by 2p per therm, would not the cost to British Gas be £180 million? That is only one-third of the amount that the Government plan to raise from this order.

I do not demand that the whole of the levy should be withdrawn, but domestic gas consumers should be given some support similar to that given to industrial consumers. The Under-Secretary should exercise some moderation rather than impose on British Gas a formula for charging domestic consumers an extra 23 per cent. this year, He could take rather less from British Gas through the levy and offer it back to domestic consumers by moderating the increase that the Government are imposing for 1982–83.

Reducing the price of gas by 1p per therm would cost £90 million. A reduction of 2p per therm would cost £180 million. That is about one-third of what the order will raise in 1982–83. The Government tell us how generous and moderate they are being to British Gas in offering back so much of the money that they intended to take away so as to help the industrial gas consumer. Why do not the Government exercise similar moderation with regard to domestic gas consumers?

It has been argued that the increase that domestic consumers must pay will fund the concessions made to industrial consumers. That was the Secretary of State's pitch. He suggested that the 100 per cent. increase in gas prices to domestic consumers during the past three years was designed to raise money that could then be offered to provide more assistance to industrial consumers. But the Government could have done both—they could have not raised the tax on British Gas and have offered back to the consumer, both industrial and domestic, the moderate concession that I have proposed.

I am always willing to be converted. I hope that the Under-Secretary is also open-minded on the subject. I ask him to withdraw the order.

I gather from what the hon. Gentleman says that the Opposition are likely to oppose the order. Does his pricing policy for gas depend solely on the social consequences for domestic gas consumers, or are there other criteria?

Many factors govern pricing policy towards domestic or industrial consumers. Social consequences are not the only criterion. It is crazy to raise domestic gas prices three years running by 10 times the rate of inflation while at the same time making firm demands on work people to moderate their wage claims. I do not see how a 23 per cent. increase helps the battle against inflation this year, any more than I could see how the 20-odd per cent. increase in domestic gas prices helped the battle against inflation last year. A balance must be struck between genuine economic and commercial considerations.

The price of gas is not an inessential or marginal item. It is fundamental to the average working person's home in terms of heating costs. There is a good case for asking the Government to think again. They should withdraw the order and return with a lower levy. The Opposition are not asking for the increases to be wiped out. The Government should moderately reduce the extra burdens that they are imposing on domestic gas consumers.

The Under-Secretary of State made two points in defence of his 23 per cent. domestic gas price increase for 1982–83. He said, first, that only by such a method could the Government give concessions to industrial consumers. The order and his own explanation disprove that. More assistance could be offered to each by not taking so much in the gas levy. Secondly, he argued that selective assistance should not be given to domestic gas consumers because people who do not use gas would not benefit. The same applies to industrial gas consumers, which are a minority of industrial concerns. Once again, a concession is being given to one section of industry. That is perfectly justifiable. Indeed, the Opposition have argued for it for the past year. Either way, 15 million customers are involved. Gas is such a basic resource—for heating factories or homes—that there is a good case for moderating price increases wherever possible. It is clear from the order that it is within the power of Government to moderate price increases to both industrial and domestic consumers. The Government should exercise that moderating influence.

I hope that the Under-Secretary will withdraw the order in the same spirit in which he moved it and in which I have responded. He could then reintroduce it with, perhaps, a lower rate for the levy in 1982–83, and thus at least graduate the savage increases to domestic consumers that the Government have imposed during the past three years.

5.7 pm

I am glad that the Government have come forward with this order to reduce the levy by 1p per therm. At long last, they have had to admit that the levy is not just a tax on windfall profits, with all the connotations of ill-gotten gains that that phrase somehow implies.

This order to reduce the levy by 20 per cent. is long overdue, and it does not go nearly far enough. The levy should never have been imposed in the first place. It was ill conceived and potentially damaging to the gas industry. Had it continued unchanged, there would have been a danger that the British Gas Corporation—a highly profitable nationalized industry—would have gone into deficit in about the third year of operation. By altering the levy at this stage, in response to the Government's own actions in freezing industrial gas prices, the Government are for the first time admitting that the profits of the BGC are due largely to its own actions and decisions.

The Government should go further into the realm of openness. What do they intend to do when the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill becomes effective? Will they return next Session with the argument that, as the BGC no longer has the volume of sales that it had, because the Government have handed a bonanza to the oil companies, the levy will therefore have to be changed again? In principle, of course, it will not need to be altered, but if the Government are already forgoing 20 per cent. of their take this year, will they seek to raise the levy at a later stage to claw back some revenue, or will they rest content with a lower take or seek to impose a similar levy on the private companies? The Government must turn their attention to this now. Otherwise, I fear that the BGC will again be made the involuntary tax collector, extracting ever steeper prices from the domestic consumer as the Government scramble to balance their books before the general election. That is, after all, what privatisation is about. We all know that every one of the privatisation measures introduced by the Government is designed to affect the public sector borrowing requirement in such a way as to allow the Government to amass sufficient funds—in my view, stolen from the British taxpayer—to make some tax handouts prior to the next general election.

Industrial gas prices would have increased by a further 23 per cent. if the Government had not decided to freeze them. I do not complain about the freezing of industrial gas prices at all, but I repeat the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands). Why should not the domestic gas consumer enjoy the benefits of the efficiency of the BGC rather than being punished by the Government year after year? The gas consumers of this country should be under no illusions. On more than one occasion in recent months, the Prime Minister has dishonestly suggested from the Dispatch Box that nationalised industries such as the BGC are causing inflation by what she calls needless price increases. As she well knows, price increases of 10 per cent. above the inflation rate have been imposed by the BGC at the direct dictation of the Government. She should at least be honest enough to admit that it is the Government and not the BGC who are crucifying the British gas consumer.

5.22 pm

I had not intended to take part in the debate, as I thought that it would be very much a routine affair, welcoming a measure that ought to please everyone. I was astounded by the approach adopted by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands).

I wish to put two points to the House. First, for 20 years or more, I worked in an energy industry. I found that the well-being of that industry was constantly bedevilled by what later came to be known as the unrealistic pricing of the fuel. It is extremely important that all our fuels should be realistically priced. Yet the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil seemed to consider only the social effect of gas prices on domestic consumers.

The hon. Gentleman said that all fuels should be realistically priced, and I agree. Does he suggest that a realistic price is arrived at by the Government of the day laying down that the price shall be increased by the rate of inflation plus 10 per cent?

The hon. Gentleman is entering a very wide area. The relationship of the Government to the nationalised industries is complex. I have long preached that it should be an arm's-length relationship, but precisely how that relationship should be achieved is a very complex matter, and I am not prepared to go into the details raised by the hon. Gentleman at this stage. The subject is far more complex than he appears to realise.

Secondly, in my constituency there is a large factory which, only six or nine months ago, was anxious to expand. That firm was a consumer of gas, but, unfortunately, the gas board was simply not able to supply the gas. Therefore, that factory failed to expand and to employ perhaps 100 additional workers. Perhaps it should have been available, but it was not. Any Government should bear in mind that energy policy must be designed in such a way as to ensure that problems such as occurred in my constituency are not common. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil gave the impression that nothing mattered but the effect on domestic consumers. In reply to my intervention, he said that there were many other criteria, but he did not mention them. He simply plugged the point about the effect of prices on the domestic consumer. If that is the official Opposition's approach, I am extremely surprised.

The hon. Gentleman's comments are completely misleading. His attendances in the House are so rare that he has not heard the debates on industrial energy pricing in the past 18 months to two years. Certainly, I do not recollect his taking part in any of them. Had he done so, he would have heard the balanced view put forward by the Labour Party on this as on every other occasion. He should come in a little more often to hear the debates.

I have taken part in such debates. Moreover, I have listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech today. I had not intended to take part today, but I was so flabbergasted by his naive approach that I felt that somebody had to say something sensible.

I should make it clear that if the matter is pressed to a Division, the Social Democrats will support the order.

5.26 pm

Like the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis), I was flabbergasted and staggered by the attitude of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands). Listening to nothing and learning nothing, he made the Bourbons seem quite enlightened by comparison.

We had an extensive debate on this subject on 2 March. The hon. Gentleman seems unable to get to grips with the reality of the difference between industrial and domestic gas prices, although we discussed it at inordinate length in the last debate on gas. The Labour Party's approach shows a blind refusal to face facts and reality while always seeking the easy route of trying to buy people's votes with their own money. That is one reason why we have to sort out the appalling mess left by the Labour Government.

I, too, was astonished at the hon. Gentleman's approach to the order, which reduces the gas levy and thus gives effect to the Government's Budget promise to freeze industrial contract prices at the 1 April level for the rest of this year. As such, it is a useful and desirable measure, which should be supported by all. I commend the order to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 263, Noes 178.

Division No. 110]

[5.17 pm>

AYES

Adley, RobertAtkins, Robert(PrestonN)
Alexander, RichardBaker, Kenneth(St.M'bone)
Alison, RtHonMichaelBeaumont-Dark, Anthony
Alton, DavidBeith, A.J.
Ancram, MichaelBendall, Vivian
Arnold, TomBenyon,W. (Buckingham)
Aspinwall, JackBerry, HonAnthony
Atkins, RtHonH.(S'thorne)Best, Keith

Bevan, DavidGilroyGrieve, Percy
Biffen, RtHonJohnGriffiths,E.(B'ySt. Edm'ds)
Biggs-Davison, SirJohnGriffiths, Peter Portsm'thN)
Blaker, PeterGrist, Ian
Bonsor, SirNicholasGrylls, Michael
Boscawen, HonRobertGummer, JohnSelwyn
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)Hamilton, HonA.
Boyson, DrRhodesHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bradley, TomHannam, John
Braine, SirBernardHaselhurst, Alan
Brittan, Rt.Hon.LeonHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Brocklebank-Fowler,C.Hawkins, Paul
Brooke, HonPeterHawksley, Warren
Brown, Michael(Brigg&Sc'n)Hayhoe, Barney
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'yS)Heddle, John
Browne, John (Winchester)Henderson, Barry
Bruce-Gardyne, JohnHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Bryan, Sir PaulHicks, Robert
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Buck, AntonyHill, James
Budgen, NickHolland, Philip(Carlton)
Bulmer,EsmondHooson,Tom
Burden,SirFrederickHordern,Peter
Butcher, JohnHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cadbury, JocelynHowell, Rt Hon D.(G'ldf'd)
Carlisle, John(LutonWesy)Howell, Ralph(NNorfolk)
Carlisle, Kenneth(Lincoln)Howells, Geraint
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)Hunt, John(Ravensbourne)
Cartwright, JohnHurd, RtHon Douglas
Chalker, Mrs. LyndaJessel, Toby
Chapman, SydneyJohnsonSmith, Geoffrey
Churchill,W.S.Jopling, RtHon Michael
Clark, HonA. (Plym'th, S'n)Kaberry, Sir Donald
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Cockeram, EricKimball, Sir Marcus
Corrie, JohnKing, Rt Hon Tom
Costain, Sir AlbertLamont, Norman
Cranborne, ViscountLang, Ian
Critchley, JulianLatham, Michael
Crouch, DavidLawrence, Ivan
Dean, Paul (North Somerset)Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Dorrell, StephenLee, John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Lennox-Boyd, Ho n Mark
Dover, DenshoreLester, Jim (Beeston)
Dunn, James A.Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Dunn, Robert (Dartford)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Durant, TonyLuce, Richard
Dykes, HughLyell, Nicholas
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnLyons, Edward (Bradt'dW)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Eggar, TimMacfarlane, Neil
Elliott, Sir WilliamMacGregor, John
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)MacKay, John (Argyll)
Emery, Sir PeterMaclennan, Robert
Eyre, ReginaldMcNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fairgrieve, Sir RussellMcNair-Wilson, P. (NewF'st)
Faith, Mrs SheilaMcNally, Thomas
Farr, JohnMcQuarrie, Albert
Fell, SirAnthonyMagee, Bryan
Fenner, Mrs PeggyMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Finsberg, GeoffreyMates, Michael
Fisher, Sir NigelMather, Carol
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'ghN)Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir CharlesMawby, Ray
Fookes, Miss JanetMawhinney, Dr Brian
Forman, NigelMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMayhew, Patrick
Fox, MarcusMellor, David
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir HughMeyer, Sir Anthony
Fraser, Peter (SouthAngus)Miller, Hal(B'grove)
Freud, ClementMills, Iain(Meriden)
Fry, PeterMills, Peter (West Devon)
Gardiner, George(Reigate)Miscampbell, Norman
Garel-Jones, TristanMoate, Roger
Ginsburg, DavidMonro, Sir Hector
Goodhew, Sir VictorMontgomery, Fergus
Goodlad, AlastairMoore, John
Gow, IanMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Gray, HamishMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)

Mudd, DavidSmith, Dudley
Murphy, ChristopherSpeed, Keith
Myles, DavidSpeller, Tony
Neale, GerrardSpence, John
Neubert, MichaelSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Newton, TonySproat, Iain
Normanton, TomSquire, Robin
O'Halloran, MichaelStainton, Keith
Onslow, CranleyStanbrook, Ivor
Osborn, JohnStanley, John
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidSteen, Anthony
Page, Richard (SW Herts)Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilStewart, Rt Hon D. (W lsles)
Parris, MatthewStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Patten, Christopher(Bath)Stokes, John
Pattie, GeoffreyStradling Thomas, J.
Pawsey, JamesTapsell, Peter
Penhaligon, DavidTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Percival, Sir IanTemple-Morris, Peter
Peyton, Rt Hon JohnThorne, Neil (IlfordSouth)
Pink, R. BonnerTownend, John(Bridlington)
Pollock, AlexanderTownsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Porter, BarryTrippier, David
Prentice, Rt Hon RegViggers, Peter
Proctor, K. HarveyWaddington, David
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWalker, B. (Perth)
Rathbone, TimWaller, Gary
Renton, TimWalters, Dennis
Rhodes James, RobertWard, John
Ridley, Hon NicholasWatson, John
Ridsdale, Sir JulianWells, John(Maidstone)
Rifkind, MalcolmWheeler, John
Roberts, M. (CardiffNW)Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Roper, JohnWhitney, Raymond
Rossi, HughWickenden, Keith
Rost, PeterWilkinson, John
Royle, Sir AnthonyWilliams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyWilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.Winterton, Nicholas
Sandelson, NevilleWolfson, Mark
Shaw, Michael(Scarborough)Younger, Rt Hon George
Shelton, William(Streatham)
Shepherd, Colin(Hereford)Tellers for the Ayes:
Shepherd, RichardMr. John Cope and Mr. David Hunt.
Sims, Roger
Skeet, T. H. H.

NOES

Abse, LeoCunliffe, Lawrence
Allaun, FrankCunningham, G. (Islington S)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterDalyell, Tam
Ashley, Rt Hon JackDavidson, Arthur
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,)Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Bagier, Gordon A.T.Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Davis, Terry (B 'ham, Stechf'd)
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp'tN)Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Bidwell, SydneyDixon, Donald
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertDobson, Frank
Boothroyd, Miss BettyDormand, Jack
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)Douglas, Dick
Bray, Dr JeremyDubs, Alfred
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Duffy, A. E. P.
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)Dunlop, John
Brown, Ron(E'burgh,Leith)Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Buchan, NormanEadie, Alex
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Eastham, Ken
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n&P)Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Campbell, IanEllis, R.(NED'bysh're)
Canavan, DennisEnglish, Michael
Carmichael, NeilEnnals, Rt Hon David
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)Evans, John (Newton)
Coleman, DonaldFaulds, Andrew
Conlan, BernardField, Frank
Cook, Robin F.Fitch, Alan
Cowans, HarryFletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)Ford, Ben
Crowther, StanForrester, John
Cryer, BobFoster, Derek

Foulkes, GeorgeNewens, Stanley
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Garrett, John (Norwich S)O'Neill, Martin
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Palmer, Arthur
George, BrucePark, George
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnParker, John
Golding, JohnParry, Robert
Graham, TedPavitt, Laurie
Grant, George (Morpeth)Pendry, Tom
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterPrescott, John
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithRadice, Giles
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Haynes, FrankRichardson, Jo
Healey, Rt Hon DenisRoberts, Albert(Normanton)
Heffer, Eric S.Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hogg, N. (EDunb't'nshire)Roberts, Ernest (HackneyN)
HomeRobertson, JohnRoberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Homewood, WilliamRobertson, George
Hooley, FrankRobinson, G. (CoventryNW)
Howell, Rt Hon D.Rooker, J. W.
Hughes, Robert (AberdeenN)Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Janner, Hon GrevilleRowlands, Ted
Jay, Rt Hon DouglasSever, John
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Barry (East Flint)Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldShore, Rt Hon Peter
Kerr, RussellShort, Mrs Renee
Kilfedder, James A.Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Lambie, DavidSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Lamborn, HarrySilverman, Julius
Lamond, JamesSkinner, Dennis
Leighton, RonaldSoley, Clive
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)Spearing, Nigel
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Spriggs, Leslie
Lofthouse, GeoffreyStoddart, David
McCartney, HughStott, Roger
McDonald, Dr OonaghSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McElhone, FrankTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
McGuire, Michael(Ince)Thomas, DrR.(Carmarthen)
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McKelvey, WilliamTilley, John
MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorTinn, James
McNamara, KevinVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McTaggart, RobertWainwright, E.(DearneV.)
Marshall,D(G'gowS'ton)Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Watkins, David
Mason, Rt Hon RoyWelsh, Michael
Maxton, JohnWhite, Frank R.
Maynard, Miss JoanWhite, J. (G'gowPollok)
Meacher, MichaelWhitlock, William
Mellish, Rt Hon RobertWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Mikardo, IanWilliams, Rt Hon A(S'sea W)
Millan, Rt Hon BruceWilson, William (C'trySE)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Winnick, David
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)Tellers for the Noes:
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Mr. James Hamilton and Dr. Edmund Marshall.
Morton, George

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,

That the draft Gas Levy (Rate for 1982–83) Order 1982, which was laid before this House on 12th March, be approved.