HC Deb 15 July 1924 vol 176 cc329-32

Amendment made: In page 5, line 19, after the word "charged," insert the words on payments."—[Mr. Snowden.]


I beg to move, in page 5, line 21, to leave out from the first word "the" to the end of the Clause, and to insert instead thereof the words entertainment has been promoted by a society or institution of a permanent character established or conducted solely or partly for philanthropic or charitable purposes, or by two or more such societies or institutions acting in combination, and that the whole of the net proceeds of the entertainment are devoted to philanthropic or charitable purposes, and the provisions in Sub-section (5) of Section one of the Finance (New Duties) Act, 1916, which, as amended by Sub-section (2) of Section thirteen of the Finance Act, 1922, require the repayment to the proprietor of an entertainment in certain cases of the amount of the Entertainments Duty paid in respect of the entertainment, shall have effect as if for the words and that the whole of the expenses of the entertainment do not exceed thirty per cent of the receipts' there wore substituted the words and that the whole of the expenses of the entertainment do not exceed fifty per cent of the receipts.' This Amendment deals with a matter in which the House took considerable interest during the Committee stage of the Bill. The Amendment I now propose will achieve the following result. I think the House, at any rate, a large majority of the House when this matter was under discussion in Committee, thought it was undesirable 10 tax entertainments which were promoted by and for charitable considerations. But every Member who took part in the debate realised that something also must be done to protect the Revenue against exploitation by charities or private individuals. This Amendment, I submit, achieves both those purposes. A charitable association or a combination of charitable associations promoting an entertainment for the furtherance of charity will be entirely exempt from Entertainments Duty. The reason why the words established or conducted solely or partly for philanthropic or charitable purposes are inserted is in order that certain societies which exist for more than one purpose, one purpose being to confer benefit, shall not be excluded. For instance, the National Union of Railway-men maintain orphanages in parts of the country and do charitable work. That is not a society primarily established for benevolent purposes, but unless we put in such words as "partly established for charitable purposes" the society would not benefit. It is a safeguard against exploitation. I think it is fur the benefit of every bona-fide effort thus to safeguard against exploitation. I have pleasure in moving this Amendment.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer has, to a great extent, if not almost entirely, accepted the views put forward in Committee. I just want to put one question to him. It relates to the meeting of the three Choirs' Festival held at Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester in turn. The proceeds of that festival go to what are clearly charitable purposes. The promoters are the committee that has been formed for a considerable number of years for the particular purpose of that festival. After that festival is held each year the accounts are got out and the proceeds are handed over to the charity for which they are intended. The assurance I would like to have is for that purpose the committee will be, as it ought to be, considered a society of a permanent character. I am quite sure about it. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks there is doubt about it, I wonder whether he could possibly add such words as "committee" after "society or institution." It is a case I know the Chancellor will sympathise with. There is nothing bogus about it. I should like to hear the Chancellor's opinion.

Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

I should like to thank the Chancellor for the way in which he has met the views of the Committee. When this was discussed in Committee I think the whole House agreed that charitable entertainments should be exempt from the Entertainments Duty. All parties in the House desire to prevent the bogus charity exploiter, and I think by the words put in he has found a method of preventing bogus charity promoters and has allowed all charitable entertainments to be free. I think the concession we have obtained is not likely to cost the Treasury a great amount of money, but it is of great importance to the hospitals, and it is going to be a very great benefit to the whole country.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to offer relief generally to entertain- ments, but this very small matter must have escaped his attention at the time he gave the larger concession. I was very glad to have the opportunity of bringing it before the right hon. Gentleman, and I am equally glad he has been able to so reasonably accept our views. I fully realise the necessity of guarding against bogus charity promoters and the second part of the Amendment, which raises the expenses limit from £30 to £50 for charities outside the actual charity itself, is, I think, a sufficient safeguard. I believe the Amendment will include all reasonable charities.


Many of my hon. Friends associated with me are interested in this Clause and took part in the Debate on the Committee stage. Indeed it is the only point during the Committee stage on which we joined issue with the right hon. Gentleman. I only rise to thank him for having interpreted correctly not only our views but the general sense of the House by incorporating this new Clause in his Bill.


I am very grateful to hon. Members for the generous way in which they have accepted this proposal. In reply to the question put to me by the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Roberts), I can say that the case he quoted, if it does not come in for exemption under the first part of the Clause, certainly should under the second, provided the expenses of promotion are below 50 per cent.


I am a little taken aback by the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because the example given by my hon. Friend behind me seems to be typical of a very large class of cases. I had certainly understood that, when a special committee was formed which had behind it an institution or society of a permanent character, the entertainment would be considered to be promoted by the society or institution, and not by a committee appointed ad hoc.


The right hon. Gentleman is quite right, but that is not the case cited by the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. S. Roberts). The hospitals are not in any way associated with the promotion of the Three Choirs Festivals. If they were promoted by the hospital, although they called in a committee for the purpose of working them, they would certainly come under the first part of the Clause.

Amendment agreed to.