HC Deb 26 April 1926 vol 194 cc1717-8

I have now finished my immediate search for revenue and resources. The length of time which it has taken me to detail to the Committee those results only which have been fruitful will perhaps show that it has not been a short or an easy task; but in the result the appearance of the: national balance sheet has been considerably improved. I started with a prospective deficit of £7,900,000. Since then we have added by

New duties on imported wrapping paper and on commercial motor cars and by modifications in the Key Industry Duties 750,000
From the Road Fund surplus 7,000,000
From the new Exchequer share in motor taxes 3,500,000
From the Betting Tax 1,500,000
From the shortening of the Brewers' Credit 5,500,000
From the French Debt Provisional Settlement 4,000,000
This makes a total of £22,250,000

From this must be deducted the loss of £200,000, due to the arrangement about double Income Tax. Making allowance for this the deficit of £7,900,000 is thus converted into a surplus of £14,100,000 odd

What shall we do with it? I will no conceal from the Committee that I have been sorely tempted to give a portion in relief to the taxpayer. But let me reassure the Committee at once that I have resisted the temptation; I have risen superior to it. A long view of the public finances in no way justifies a remission of taxation. In this Parliament we must continue to think for more years than one. There is too much prospective shrinkage in the yield of the moribund taxes and in the special miscellaneous receipts to justify weakening our resources this year in any way. Moreover, the £7,000,000 reclaimed from the Road Fund surplus and the £5,500,000 from the Beer Duties are not annual revenue. They are only windfalls—windfalls produced not only by the wind but by a certain judicious shaking of the trees.