HC Deb 24 June 1924 vol 175 cc243-5

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Board of Customs and Excise has issued new Regulations affecting the collection of the Entertainments Duty, providing for the examination of the books of all places of entertainment, whether their charges are exempt from the tax or not; and whether Members will be permitted an opportunity of examining their nature?


The Commissioners of Customs and Excise will not in future require the examination of the books of entertainment proprietors who do not charge more than 6d. for admission.

63. Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the promise by the entertainment industry to pass on to the public the benefit of the reduction of the tax was conditional upon the complete abolition of the tax and not on partial reduction; and whether he will state exactly what promise was given in this matter and by whom?


As I stated in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Bristol East on the 19th June, before making my Budget proposals I obtained an undertaking from a representative deputation of the entertainments trade that if the Entertainments Duty were reduced the public would get the benefit.


Has the right hon. Gentleman evidence that that is being carried into effect?


Of course I have not been idle in investigating the allegations which are being very widely made that the reduction is not being passed on, but up to the present I have no reason to think that in the vast majority of cases it does not pass on.


Has the right hon. Gentleman investigated the cases brought to his notice, and can he say when he will be able to make a statement on that particular aspect of the matter?


Every specific case brought to my notice is investigated.


Is the right hon. Gentleman confining his inquiries merely to picture houses and theatres, and is he giving any attention to branches of sport? Has his attention been called to the statement of the Football Associations of England and Scotland that they do not intend to reduce their gates by the amount of the tax?

Sir W. de FRECE

Is it not a fact that these people made no promise except on the condition of complete abolition?


I may say in reply to the last supplementary question that there can be no misunderstanding on that matter. I had a deputation from the entertainments trade when the Budget was under consideration, and it is quite true that they said that their undertaking would be conditional on the total abolition of the tax. Of course, their demand was for the total abolition of the tax, but I made it quite clear in my reply to them that I should expect the reduction to be passed on in one form or another, and that was accepted.


Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer assure the House that the stages of the Budget have not proceeded to that extent that this tax cannot be dealt with by the House if the answers are unsatisfactory?


I do not think I ought to give a reply to that question, but, of course, it can be raised in the discussions during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. We have had representations, not merely from cinemas, but from sports associations, and these are also being considered.


Do I understand that the theatres definitely accepted the new conditions after the right hon. Gentleman's announcement in the Budget statement?


No, Sir; the interview to which I referred took place before the Budget statement.