British drivers cheered the end of fuel rationing

Friday 26th May 1950

British drivers cheered the end of fuel rationing.
Long queues appeared at garages and motorists torn their ration books into confetti after the government announced an end to petrol rationing. The Minister of Fuel and Power, Philip Noel-Baker, told the House of Commons rationing would be abolished because two American companies had agreed a deal to supply oil in return for buying British goods.

“This is indeed VP [Victory for Petrol] day for the motor users’ campaign,” said a spokesman for three motoring organisations – the RAC, AA and Royal Scottish Automobile Club.

“The effect on the industrial, commercial and community life will be electric. Ration books now become as obsolete as the man with the red flag.”

Under a deal agreed earlier in May 1950, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and the California Texas Oil Company would be paid in sterling and in turn agreed to invest the money in British equipment, services and oil tankers.

It was hoped the policy would attract more dollar-spending tourists – to offset the amount of dollars paid for the new fuel supplies from America.

The government estimated an increase in fuel consumption of one million tons a year. About 430,000 tons of this would be supplied by the US firms. The rest would come from newly expanded refineries in Britain.

Discounted driving licences, known as half-rate licences – issued to drivers using basic petrol – were also be abolished.

The practice of putting red dye in commercial petrol to curb black market sales would also stop.

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