HC Deb 30 April 1919 vol 115 cc176-8
The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

If I turn from the expenditure side of the account to the Revenue side, the estimate was for £842,000,000—I give the figures in round numbers. The actual receipts were £889,000,000, in other words, the receipts exceeded the estimate by £47,000,000. There is an increase under Inland Revenue on every important head of duty except three. Income Tax and Super-tax realised just about £750,000 more than the estimate—a very remarkable approximation, I think, on a total of £291,000,000. The Death Duties failed to reach the estimate by £1,200,000, but that was one of those accidents and nothing more than one of those accidents to which we shall always be subject as long as a considerable portion of the Death Duties is derived from very large estates, because those large estates are not sufficient in number to give us a stable annual average. I may add that in this case, had the year closed a week later, the payment of duties on two estates would have brought up the receipts to the amount of the estimate. Excess Profits Duty showed a larger deficiency below the estimate. It was down £15,000,000, but that indicates no loss of Revenue except for the year. What was not paid last year will be paid this year.

I will say a few words about Stamps. My recollection of Stamps is of an uncertain Revenue that was apt to disappoint the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the year which has closed they have done remarkably well. Even apart from the new Cheque Duty they have beaten all previous records. The total yield was nearly £12,500,000, representing an excess of more than £3,000,000 over the estimate, and of £4,000,000 over the receipts for the preceding year. The produce of the increased Cheque Duty—I wish my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House were here to listen to me—has been more than double the estimate of £750,000, a result which is due, in part, to the bankers having sent in for embossment with the additional stamp larger stocks than were anticipated, and in part to the fact that the imposition of the tax would seem hardly to have restricted the use of cheques at all. The Duties on Conveyances exceeded by nearly £1,000,000 the receipts in the preceding year, due to the large number of sales of property that have taken place. Transfers on stocks and shares account for a further £400,000 of the increase, and the yield of the Companies Capital Duty has risen by over £500,000.

Customs and Excise have also done well. They show a surplus over the estimate of £14,520,000. It may be interesting to the Committee to know some of the articles which contributed to that surplus. Tobacco was up £5,750,000, spirits were up £3,000,000, tea showed an excess over the estimate of over £2,000,000, and the Entertainment Tax contributed £1,500,000. Beer showed a small deficit compared with the estimate.

Of the other items on the Revenue side I need only mention, the Miscellaneous Revenue, which contributes £37,000,000 out of a total excess of £47,000,000. I mention this because the item has given rise, I think, to a good deal of misapprehension. The excess was composed as to £33,000,000 of a contribution from India on account of the £100,000,000 of Five per Cent. War Loan for which she undertook to be responsible. I hope that the fact that I am ex-Secretary of State for India will not be held to debar me from expressing the gratitude of the Committee and the country to the people of India for the contribution which they have made in the financial as well as in the military sphere to the exertions which the Empire has been called upon to make during the last few years, and from expressing the hope that the loyal masses of Indians may soon recover from the sufferings which they are now enduring, whether they arise from the forces of nature or the destructive enterprise of man. A further sum of £2,500,000 represents additional Grants from the Colonies, making £4,500,000 in all. £1,500,000 was due to extra profits of the Mint, chiefly arising from the large demand for silver coinage. I think that is all I need say about the Revenue and Expenditure of the past year.