HC Deb 12 July 1922 vol 156 cc1386-405

On and after the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, section one of The Finance (New Duties) Act, 1916, as amended by any subsequent enactment, shall have effect as if the following scale of rates of entertainments duty were substituted for the scale set forth in that section as amended by any subsequent enactment.

I am, by this Clause, moving the adoption of a scale which I hope will meet with sympathetic consideration for several reasons. First of all, it has the good will of every branch of the entertainment world, including the theatres, music halls and cinemas. In the next place, it benefits the cheaper seats, and nothing over 3s. is affected by it. It also enables the managers of places of entertainment to reduce their charges of admission which they claim that they cannot do under the present scale. It also eliminates entirely, or at any rate reduces to a negligible figure, the loss which the Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated when the 12i per cent. flat rate was discussed. The slight decrease which I propose in the scale will on the average give 15 per cent. as against the present 21 per cent., but on some seats the Chancellor of the Exchequer will receive, 17 per cent. Simultaneously with this, the prices of seats will be lowered all round in an endeavour to attract the public, which is absolutely necessary if these places of entertainment are to continue to exist at all.

Hon. Members may ask what is the all-round reduction which under this scale would be made to the public? The reductions will vary from 2d. to 6d. in each case. I do not say that even this reduction would save many concerns which are already on the rocks. but at any rate it would give the industry a chance of tiding over the present depression I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was quite fail-when he compared this duty with the Beer Duty. The brewer can brew as much beer as he likes and the retailer can buy as much as he likes but if through trade depression he does not sell that beer as quickly as he would like the beer does not deteriorate. In the entertainment world arrangements have to he made for each particular week ahead, and if the people do not patronise the show the manager's loss is irrecoverable. Is there any taxed industry in which it can be said that the value of the article vanishes on the day of production?

When things were better all round the Chancellor of the Exchequer raised the tax and it was paid, and now in a time of acute depression I think that there might be a little relief given. Places of indoor amusement have cut down their expenses to a very dangerously low level. Staffs have been reduced, theatrical employés have been dismissed wholesale, and those who remain have had their wages reduced. The salaries of musicians are being reduced, the salaries of artistes being under contact cannot be reduced without their consent, and consent is being sought. Advertising and establishment expenses have been cut down, and yet there is hardly a cinema, theatre, or music hall that is paying its way at the present moment. One large group are losing, and have lost since the beginning of the year, at the rate, of £122,000 a year. High rents have nothing to do with it. Cheaply-rented theatres with apparent successes are meeting with disaster. and I am not surprised that the Trade Union Congress are alarmed at the number of unemployed theatrical employés. The stories of out-of-work artistes are, I assure the House, pitiful. The proposal is not drastic. It was not evolved with the idea of meeting the full equity or justice of the case, but in order to save the sinking ship until better nines arrive. The returns from the tax arc falling heavily. The yield of the tax for the year 1920–21 was nearly £11,750,000, for the year 1921– 22 it dropped to £10,250,000, and the returns to date indicate that it will be in the neighbourhood of £8,750,000 in the current year. The amount of duty is falling, and the revenue of the theatres is falling.

It is obvious that if public patronage, owing to trade depression, is lessened, it must hit the industry extremely hard if the State takes even twenty per cent. of the small sum the public can afford to set aside for amusement. The theatres, to pay, must play to "capacity" houses. A few empty seats makes all the difference, and in my view cheaper popular seats to attract the public are the only hope. To enable us to reduce the prices we ask the Chancellor to reduce the scale. I sincerely hope he will make the concession. I put this scale forward in the belief that it will save the industry for the time being, and also that it will help the State. I venture to suggest that the record of places of amusement in regard to charity and patriotic effort entitles them to a small measure of consideration at the present time. I therefore ask for it on these very real and genuine grounds.


I have very great pleasure in seconding this new Clause.

I have not the knowledge of the industry that my hon. Friend possesses, neither have I his quality of humour. I must, therefore, address myself only to a few facts. I support the motion in the main because of the inequity of the levying of these charges. The lower the price of the seat the greater the amount of the tax, and we on these benches are very interested, of course, in the lower-priced seats, particularly in the picture houses.

I have taken the trouble to find out exactly what is happening in a very poor district in Lancashire, and I will give one or two facts in relation to two picture houses which are an indication of what is transpiring. During the last eight weeks the gross receipts in one small picture house were £459, and of that sum the tax paid amounted to £92 18s. The nett loss on the working of the establishment for these eight weeks amounted to £121 17s. 6d. I know of no business, even in these very bad days, that could give an account like that. I have a further instance from the owner of another place, who tells me that he has held this picture hall for three years. In the first year he made £30 profit. Last year he suffered a loss; of £78, while he had paid during that year £422 in tax. The capital expenditure on this establishment is £4,000, and not a penny-piece has been paid in interest, neither has anything been set aside for depreciation. The Motion we arc making is to try to reduce the duty on the lower prices charged in the cinema theatres. We on these benches are not particularly interested in those people who can afford to pay five or ten shillings for entering a theatre, but we are particularly interested in the lower-priced seats. I think the Chancellor will have to adopt the principle already adopted by municipalities, and in fact, by the Post Office. We heard the Postmaster-General the other day saying he would reduce the charges for postage stamps, apparently believing that if you want to increase revenue, in some cases at any rate, the best way is to reduce your charges. Those connected with municipal life have found that there is a point reached in regard, say, to tramway charges that if you raise the charges too high your income is decreased, and that the best way to increase revenue is to reduce charges. We think that: if the Chancellor wanus to increase his receipts one of the best ways would be to reduce the tax for seats in those places of which we are speaking.

I have very little sympathy with those people who have entered the business of building picture palaces during the last few years. I consider there are too many of these places, but I have very great sympathy with people who set up in the entertainment business many years ago, particularly in the mining districts. I can speak with some feeling about those districts where I know full well that small men running small entertainment businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy. I trust that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot accept every point in this Clause he will give some sympathy to our views.

12 M.


I beg to support this Clause. When this subject was debated in Committee the Chancellor of the Exchequer at first gave indications of a kindly sympathy with the suggestions submitted to him, but as the debate proceeded he somehow or other hardened his heart, and in the end decided that he would make no concession at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who comes from that delightful country where logic is superabundant and supereminent is always quoting to us something from his own country, and I remember the other night he fell back, when he was criticised by some of my pressing friends above the Gangway, on his old friend John Stuart Mill. I am going to fall back on another old friend of his, and I commend to him in relation to this new Clause the first canon of taxation laid down by Adam Smith. Adam Smith, whose memory, no doubt, is warmly cherished by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said this in relation to taxation. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the Government as nearly as possible in proportion to their respective ability. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] I thank my hon. Friends above the Gangway for the recognition of that sentence—that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State. I am satisfied to quote this one, because it is quite sufficient for the purpose of my thesis in supporting this new Clause. My hon. Friend pleaded that this tax ought to be equally spread over the people who enter places of entertain- ment, and my main contention is that if we are to have an entertainment duty at all, it should be adjusted proportionately over all the classes of the community. As I submitted to the House the other evening, I think it is most unfair that the poorer classes should pay 41 per cent of the total entrance fee to a house of entertainment, while the classes who are better off are paying as small a proportion as 11 per cent. I think the classes of the community who are better off can pay, and ought to pay, if they wish to enter these places of entertainment and enjoy the better seats; but to the mass of people, to whom the picture theatre is at once a source of amusement and instruction, we ought to make it as easy as possible for them to have this recreation. May I recall to the House the fact that the Entertainments Duty was a War-time measure, and was never intended to be a permanent part of our public system of finance? Of course, the Chancellor of the Exchequer gets a considerable revenue out of it, and is, therefore, naturally inclined to make it permanent.

This tax, unlike other taxes, is not one upon profits, but is a tax upon gross receipts, and it is most unfair that the workman's 5d. seat should be taxed at the rate of 40 per cent., while a gentleman who has a box at a West End theatre should only pay 11 per cent. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has always been accessible to suggestions in relation to fair taxation since he went to the Exchequer, and I really think in this matter, where it is a question of dealing out fair play to the different classes of the community, he cannot possibly justify the continuance of the tax on its present basis. My hon. Friend's scale does recognise some relationship between ability to pay on the part of the poorer member of the community and the richer member of the community, and although the Chancellor of the Exchequer may say that he would lose some revenue, nevertheless he would be providing opportunities for great masses of people to have entertainment, enjoyment and instruction, which otherwise these people would be precluded from enjoying. I strongly support the proposal, and the tax should be readjusted on the basis of the new scale.


I am sure the House will not expect me to enter upon so elaborate an argument as that which I addressed to the Committee when this question was previously discussed. Upon that occasion I went into the whole field connected with the Entertainments Duty. Upon the present occasion, I hope the House will forgive me if I confine myself to a very few observations regarding the proposal made by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Sir W. de Frece). I listened to his speech with great sympathy and consideration, and when I first saw his Amendment on the Paper I thought that at last my hon. Friend had achieved that for which I had been asking for months. What I have always said to those who have supported an amelioration of the Entertainments Duty is that I should be ready to agree to any reasonable graduated scale which would provide the Exchequer with the same revenue as is being supplied at the present time. For a moment, I thought that my hon. Friend had brought about the desired result, but I am afraid that a close and analytical inquiry has produced a certain disappointment.

The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) has referred me to an ancient document of Adam Smith. I am very ready to accept the principle which he extracted from that great work upon "The Wealth of Nations," but I do not think that Adam Smith would have approved of the theory which the hon. Member enunciated. It is one of the canons of British taxation that you should tax people in proportion to the revenue which they themselves have, and which is protected by the State, but you never can arrive at an accurate conclusion upon that matter by taking one particular and individual tax and contending that that must be directly proportionate to the revenue which the individual enjoys. If you did apply the rule in the way that my hon. Friend suggests, there are innumerable taxes on the one side or the other which would show great discrepancy. Take the case of tea. It is constantly said that the tax upon tea ought to be graduated between the cheaper and the more expensive teas. There are also those who advocate that there should be no tax on tea at all. They are what we call the whole hoggers. I am accurately expressing the opinions of those who, without taking an extreme view, attempt to get graduated taxation on tea. You have to look at your taxation as a whole when you apply the doctrine of Adam Smith. I am afraid, for the reasons I have given, that I cannot accept the Amendment.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne made a very moderate speech, and I am sure that every hon. Member would accept his proposal if it were possible to do so under the present circumstances. He has referred to the fact that the produce from the tax has been reducing from year to year. That is true not only of the Entertainments Duty but of most of the other taxes, and for a very obvious reason. We are going through a period of very grave and deep depression, and the yield from every one of our taxes is decreasing. Reference has been made to the lower profits derived from certain entertainment houses, and one hon. Member suggested that very few businesses could show such losses as the entertainment business. If he had my access to the returns of the great staple businesses of this country, upon which the livelihood of the country depends, he. would find even more distressing results than any of those to which he referred. The fact is that profit from entertainments is suffering at present as much as receipts from every industry are suffering. You would expect that entertainments would suffer worst. After all, whatever is to be said in favour of entertainment, it is in the nature of a luxury. It is the first thing that a man would cut off when he finds himself in very straitened circumstances. His expenditure upon food will survive long after his expenditure upon entertainment has gone and, accordingly, you would expect that amongst all the industries which suffer in a time of depression, entertainment would suffer first and worst. Accordingly I am afraid one cannot look at this matter simply from the point of view of the depreciated returns you find now coming from the industry of entertainment.

I turn now to the other and more important argument of the Mover. He suggested that the Revenue would not suffer by the adoption of this proposal. That is exactly the point at which I was intrigued originally by the Clause when I first saw it, but I was forced to come to the conclusion that the Revenue would suffer to an extent of not less than £2,000,000 in a year. Even assuming that no more will be spent upon entertainment than is being spent at present—and I think that is an optimistic assumption—undoubtedly the depreciation in the Revenue would be not less than £2,000,000. In order to yield a Revenue equal to that which we at present enjoy from the Entertainments Duty it would be necessary that people should spend £10,000,000 more on entertainment than they do to-day. Is there any man who can hope that we are going to have that experience, whatever you do with regard to the Entertainments Duty, looking to the condition in which we find ourselves to-day? I wish it were possible to contemplate a great surge of reviving trade which would put people in a position to spend as much on entertainment as they did in 1920, but I am sure there is no one optimistic enough to suppose that we are going to have that experience, and with all the goodwill in the world towards this industry and with every anxiety to give every member of the community an opportunity of entertainment at the cheapest possible price, our present stringency makes it entirely impossible that I should accept the Clause.


I am disappointed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not regarded this tax in the same way that he has looked at a great many other reductions which he has made. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyme (Sir W. de Frece) probably knows the entertainment world from A to Z, better than any member of the House. I have not gone into the figures, but the right hon. Gentleman has told us that if we accept the Table set out by the hon. Member the loss to the Exchequer will be £2,000,000. That is the equivalent of ½d. in the £ in the Income Tax. This scale would bring in between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000, and therefore the loss to the Exchequer is not a big sum to ask for as a concession to the state in which this industry finds itself. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not dealt quite fairly with the argument with regard to this being a War tax. This surely is true, that the shareholders or the proprietors of the entertainment industry already pay Income Tax and Super-tax, they paid during the War Excess Profit Duty, and over and above that they have imposed upon them this peculiar tax which was originally a War tax. If the entertainment industry had been a monopoly industry there might have been some reason for retaining a peculiar tax upon that industry, but as a matter of fact this is the only new War tax which has been retained since the Armistice was signed. In every other direction the Chancellor has relieved industry from the taxation imposed during the War. [Interruption.] There was a tax on beer when the War broke out. I am not arguing whether there should be a tax on beer or spirits—whether that is good, bad or indifferent. During the War a Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, looking round for new sources of taxation, took the entertainment industry, and for the first time in the history of the country, imposed a tax. It is the only industry on which a new War tax is retained. The Chancellor says if he takes it off he will lose £2,000,000, but, due to the failure of the industry, there is a great loss accruing not only to the people who have their money in the industry. After all, that is not the most important part of it, but the loss of rates to our authorities, the loss to our municipalities in such things as the amount of the electric light that is taken from our great municipal undertakings- every one of these things is creating a loss which is surely equal to the £2.000,000 which the right hon. Gentleman says this claim will produce. There is also the condition of unemployment in the industry. So you have this fact, that while those engaged in the industry pay Income tax, Super-tax and Excess Profit Duty, they cannot get any relief.

There is a wider question than all this. What right has any Government to penalise the recreation of the people? We talk in this House of Commons about housing conditions. Those people who are interested in temperance reform talk about the value of counter attractions. Everyone who knows our housing conditions knows what the cinema has meant to the densely crowded masses of our industrial centres. It has meant everything to them. Somebody has said that there are too many cinemas in the country. If you take them in relation to the population there are not nearly enough to satisfy the claims of the people to legitimate recreation. No Chancellor of the Exchequer representing a Govern- ment interested in social reform, who believes that the people of the country have a right to legitimate recreation, would at this period after the war retain this tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says let those who pay the tax draw up a scheme and show him how he will obtain the same amount of revenue. What a ridiculous proposal; Does he go to the Income Tax payers of the country and say, "Bring me a scheme by which I shall impose Income Tax on you to get the same revenue"? What is a Chancellor of the Exchequer for if he has not got ideas of his own? He has no right to say to an industry, "You will tax yourselves in such a way that I shall get a certain revenue. After that I do not care." Something has been said by the Chancellor about the depression in trade and the loss of capital in other industries. There is no other business in the country in which the Government interferes with the direction of the business in the same way as it does in the case of the cinema industry. The Government goes inside the doors and interferes in the direction of the business. If it left the business to those who understand it, and if. as was suggested in Committee, it imposed a flat rate percentage on the business it would get a great deal more than the £2,000,000 which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has mentioned. It is unfair, and for financial reasons unwise, to interfere with the social problem as this duty is doing, and I am disappointed that the Chancellor has refused to accept even that suggestion.


I desire to support my hon. Friends in this very modest request. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his usual suave appeal to the House, tried to impress upon us, as the custodians of the public purse, that were it not for the exigencies of national claims, he would be very ready to concede this very moderate demand. Then he appealed to the House to meet the public requirements by saying that, despite his sympathy, he could not accept the proposal, because it meant the loss of £2,000,000 to the Treasury. That is a very moving appeal, but I want to call his attention to the position taken up by his predecessor. Whether entertainments are a luxury or a necessity, I am not going to argue, but in a former Budget his predecessor felt that there were certain commodities that must be taxed. Among them were cigars and champagne. He was warned that if he took this position on the taxation of these two luxuries he would not only lose taxation, but would destroy the trade. His predecessor took no notice of the warning. The facts are common knowledge to all Members of the House. Both cigars and champagne became a losing proposition, and last year we had to reverse the decision taken on former occasions. That is the basis of my appeal to-night. I want to say that an entertainment, while it may be a luxury, is a necessity. The great mass of the people of this country, who are more or less cabined and confined in narrow quarters, must have some outlet and means of enjoying the social amenities of life outside their own homes. You either have the public-house or the house of entertainment. The house of entertainment, especially the cinemas [laughter]—hon. Gentlemen who, because of their wealth, can buy tickets to go to the ends of the world, laugh—but I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look at this not merely as a source of revenue, but as a social amenity. When he says he is going to lose £2,000,000, what is his authority? It is his advisers. Even civil servants may be wrong in their calculations. They were wrong in regard to cigars and champagne. I take that as my text and I say to my right hon. Friend that, so far as this tax is concerned, it hits the very people who want some outlet from their drab surroundings. It is a very modest request, and, if he does not accede to the request of this House, he is not only doing an injury to the entertainment trade of this country but inflicting a hardship on the poorest that they ought not to bear.


I want to draw the attention of the House to the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in accepting the scale submitted by the hon. Member in whose name the Clause stands he would be losing a matter of £2,000,000 of the revenue. The point he put up against accepting this scale was that these £2,000,000 are necessary in order to permit him to balance his Budget, and he suggested to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment that he should put before the Government a scale that would enable them to win back the £2,000,000 that this scale would lose to them. Then I think he said he would be prepared to accept the proposition. May I submit to him this point? The scale submitted by the hon. Member has gone as far as he dare take it. He has rearranged the scale with regard to the lower-priced seats, but, according to the Rules of this House, it would not be in order for him to place any suggestion of a higher tax in the Amendment he submits. In the scale submitted they have revised the tax to the seats up to three shillings. Where the amount of the duty does not exceed three shillings they put on sixpence as being the tax. They are not in order in going further than that, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government would be in order in placing a higher proportionate tax on the higher-priced seats, and if the right hon. Gentleman feels there is going to be a loss of £2,000,000 upon it he can recoup the £2,000,000 by revising the tax himself, which cannot be done by the Member for Ashton-under-Lyme (Sir W. de Frece). I would go even further than that and point out that just as in the case stated by the Member for Hanley (Mr. Seddon), that of sparkling wines and cigars, where it had been found to be a losing proposition, the Government revised the taxes and came back to what might have been an income derived by the Government prior to the imposition of the heavy tax. I want also to put this issue specially to the Chancellor, which must appeal to every Member of the House. He pointed out that the proposal of the hon. Member for Hanley did not foot the Bill. I agree that Adam Smith's intention of taxation is applicable to this particular tax. This is not a tax upon income, but upon the spending of the people, upon the money they are spending upon an entertainment. It is not within the scope of any of the canons of taxation that Adam Smith wrote upon, and I would suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it would be as just and as fair to the people in this country if in taxing the people for their entertainments he placed a tax upon every book that is published and bought by the public


Very few books are entertaining.


It all depends upon the man who is reading it. He may find a great deal of entertainment in some books and a great deal of entertainment in listening to speeches. Sometimes he considers speeches to be dull. I see the Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) raises his eyebrows. That indicates, perhaps, that the shaft has gone home. If one likes to read instead of going to the theatre he can do so, but it is unfair that the smallest child who goes to a matinee performance should have to contribute to the revenue of this country. I suggest, therefore, that as this tax is unfair, undoubtedly the heavy taxation paid by those who go to entertainments is contributory to the reduction. The probabilities are that part of the £2,000,000 that the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks he will lose will be made up by accepting this reduction. The other part can be made up by heavier taxation upon the higher priced seats. I suggest it in fairness to the public who have to pay the tax, in fairness to an industry that has grown up in this country and made rapid strides—I mean the cinema industry, which is being faced with a grave situation, as well as the music hall profession and the theatrical profession—I submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and this House that something should be done by him and by the Government to relieve this industry from the heavy burden placed upon it, and at the same time confer upon the public who patronise these places a boon in the shape of the revision of this tax.


I would like to bring to the notice of my right hon. Friend the great difficulty in which Members who support him are placed over this Clause. As I read it the Entertainments Duty as it is at present framed, provides for a tax of 40 per cent. for the working man, whereas the rich man who goes to a boxing match and pays five guineas or two guineas for a box at the theatre only pays 10 per cent. It is a matter which wants some variation, at any rate, so as to make a more equitable distribution. I do appeal to my right hon. Friend to help those Members who usually support him, otherwise a great many of us will be forced to go in the Lobby against the Government.


Many hon. Members seem to condemn the tax simply because it is a War-time tax. I am one of those individuals who feel that the time is not opportune for the tax to be removed, but the object of this Amendment is to remove an inequality in the tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the terms of the Amendment, if accepted, would mean a loss of, roughly speaking, £2,000,000 to him as far as revenue is concerned. Seeing that the feeling of the House is that there is a great inequality, is it not within the province of my right hon. Friend, according to the procedure of this House, to suggest some means whereby he would not lose any revenue, and that would remove the inequality which exists. I put that proposition to him in all sincerity, because of the keenness with which we have to contend as far as our own constituencies are concerned where it is viewed as an inequality as between the rich man and the poor man. It is to me a very important thing. I believe that as far as the abolition of the tax is concerned their opinion ought to come first. There is a strong case against the Chancellor of the Exchequer as far as inequality is concerned, and I would like to ask him if there is any means at his disposal that would give the House an opportunity of reviewing the tax in the light of the facts submitted, with a view to relieving those individuals who have cheaper seats in the cinema theatres and placing the greater burden on those who have the greater ability to pay.


I should like to support this Clause. I remember when this tax was first introduced I spoke in the House against it, although certain Members at that time were of opinion that the poor people during the war ought not to go to the cinema theatres. I pointed out that at that time, while all the misery was existing, it was a good thing that those people should have somewhere to spend an hour or two. My hon. Friend the Member for Hanley (Mr. Seddon) has spoken of the inequality of this tax. I represent a very poor district where there are thousands of people working short time, and thousands of other people unemployed, and I have spoken to several cinema owners in that district who tell me they are losing money every week. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take into consideration the means of re- ducing this tax in accordance with the scale put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Aston-under-Lyne (Sir W. de Frece), he would not lose anything at all. Some of us who have served on different Corporations know that when fares have been reduced to a minimum the greater has been the revenue from these undertakings. I am of the opinion that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would only consider this matter seriously and adopt this Clause there would be a greater revenue obtained, even from the poor people who like to have a couple of hours in the cinema theatre, and I believe there would be very little loss to the revenue. I therefore appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Let him open his heart and do something for the poor people. He has done something for the rich people to-day; let him do something for the poor people. Do not let it be said that there is class legislation. I hope he will adopt the Clause which has been proposed.


As my name has been put down on one of the Amendments which I under stand has been ruled out, I only rise to suggest that if I could take the place of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer I would give an answer to the House that I would meet them halfway. I really had no idea that there was as great a difference as has been stated to-night between what might be called the more expensive seats in the theatre and those of the poorer classes in the cinemas. I do think that that ought to be taken into consideration. I realise the difficulty the Chancellor of the Exchequer is up against, and I have only to-night stated it at a meeting I had had to attend in regard to this and other things, but I do seriously think that some consideration should be given to this matter, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot meet the views which have been expressed to-night in various parts of the House—if he cannot meet them half-way—he might at any rate compromise and make a readjustment. I am perfectly sure that the majority of the people in this country, if they knew the great difference that does exist, would not mind paying the increase on their tickets if the prices could more or less be brought up to a level. No private member can move an increase of a tax at this stage, therefore it is up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to devise some mean6. I am sure, if he would do so, he would find himself at next Election with his picture on every cinema and he would be wooed as a bachelor by all the spinsters who attend the cinemas. I do think he might promise to readjust the matter if he possibly can. He will not lose £2,000,000, as he will get the better of the people to pay a little more on their tickets.


I have always been willing to adjust this scale if I could get the revenue. I would be very glad to look forward to a relief of this part of the taxation, but I am advised that at this time it cannot be done.


That is the whole point. The debate is at a point whore the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not asked to make a concession of revenue but to revise the scale. He is acting the whole time under advice, but he is not taking the advice of anybody in this House He is relying on his advisers. It is surely within the power of his advisers to give him a scale which would not reduce the revenue but would bring the higher and lower priced seats up to a level. It is not too late to do it. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would do something between now and to-morrow, without losing a penny of revenue, to satisfy the House on the point of bringing the higher and lower priced seats more nearly into relation with one another.


To reduce the scale in the way my hon. Friend describes would be to place such a burden on certain of the theatres of this country as they could not bear. My hon. Friend has made the best attempt that could be made to draw up such a scale, but nevertheless it cannot be accepted.


In regard to the scale put forward by the hon. Member for Aston-under-Lyne (Sir W. de Frece) it was obvious that as a private Member he could not suggest a higher tax on the higher priced seats. We are now asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he cannot consider the point. He and the Government only can increase the tax on those seats. Will he take that point into consideration, and I am sure the hon. Member would be prepared in that event to withdraw his Amendment.


It has already been considered.


It is really the West End theatres of London which are blocking the way.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 75; Noes, 143.

Division No, 223.] AYES. [12.48 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Grundy, T. W. Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.
Banton, George Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.) Halls, Walter Poison, Sir Thomas A.
Barrand, A. R. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Raffan, Peter Wilson
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff) Hayday, Arthur Renter, J. R.
Barton, Sir William (Oldham) Hayward, Evan Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk) Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Blair, Sir Reginald Hirst, G. H. Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Brittain, Sir Harry Hogge, James Myles Sexton, James
Bromfield, William Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Sitch, Charles H.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Holmes, J. Stanley Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Bruton. Sir James Hood, Sir Joseph Stanton, Charles Butt
Cape, Thomas Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Sutton, John Edward
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Swan, J. E.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Kidd, James Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Kiley, James Daniel Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) Lort-Williams. J. Waterson, A. E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedweilty) Lunn, William Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Foot, Isaac Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Wilson, James (Dudley)
Ford, Patrick Johnston Macqulsten, F. A. Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Gillis, William Mallalieu, Frederick William Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Goff, Sir R. Park Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Cot. J. T. C.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Newbould, Alfred Ernest TELLERS FOR THE AYES.-
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sir Walter de Frece and Mr. Seddon.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Evans, Ernest Morrison, Hugh
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M. Murchison, C. K.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L. Murray, John (Leeds, West)
Armstrong, Henry Bruce Forrest Walter Neat, Arthur
Atkey, A. R. Fraser, Major Sir Keith Newton. Sir D. G. c. (Cambridge)
Baird, Sir John Lawrence Ganzoni, Sir John Nicholson, Brig-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Gee, Captain Robert Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Barlow, Sir Montague Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.
Barnston, Major Harry Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John Parker, James
Bell, Liout.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Glyn, Major Ralph Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W. Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.) Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h) Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell Greenwood, William (Stockport) Ramsden, G. T.
Betterton, Henry B. Grenfell, Edward Charles Raw, Lieutenant Colonel Dr N.
Bigland, Alfred Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E. Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Birchall, J. Dearman Guthrie, Thomas Maule Roberts, Samuel (Hereford. Hereford)
Borwick, Major G. O. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Robinson, $. (Brecon and Radnor)
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E. Hailwood, Augustine Robinson, Sir T. (Lanc., Stretford)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Roundeli, Colonel R. F.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton) Samuel. A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Briggs, Harold Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Broad, Thomas Tucker Hinds, John Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Brown, Major D. C. Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian) Scott. A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury) Hopkins, John W. W. Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l. Exchange)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Burgoyne, Lt.-Col, Sir Alan Hughes Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead) Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Carr, W. Theodore Houfton, John Plowright Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Casey, T. W. Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) King, Captain Henry Douglas Starkey, Captain John Ralph
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Lane-Fox, G. R. Steel, Major S. Strang
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Stephenson. Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Lindsay, William Arthur Sturrock, J. Leng
Conway, Sir W. Martin Lorden, John William Sugden, W. H.
Cope, Major William Loseby, Captain C. E. Sutherland, Sir William
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L. Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith) Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford. Henley)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon) Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead) Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie) Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Du Pre, Colonel William Baring McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester) Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Edge, Captain Sir William Macpherson Rt. Hon. James I. Townley, Maximilian G.
Ednam, Viscount Matthews, David Tryon, Major George Clement
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz Turton, Edmund Russborough
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Wallace, J.
Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor Winterton, Earl Younger, Sir George
Ward, William Dudley (Southampton) Wise, Frederick
Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V. Wolmer, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Wills. Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H. Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon) Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond) Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde) McCurdy.