HC Deb 11 June 1934 vol 290 cc1434-67

(1) The following words shall be deleted from the Second Schedule to the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1931:— Exceeds 2d. and does not exceed 2½d. … one halfpenny. Exceeds 2½d. and does not exceed 6d. one penny. (2) This section shall come into operation on the sixth daw of November, nineteen hundred and thirty-four.—[Colonel Baldwin-Webb.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.36 p.m.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I feel sure that I am speaking for a large body of opinion inside and outside the House when I urge my right hon. Friend to accept this new Clause. It is true to say that this tax on the very cheap seats has been contributed by a very poor class of people, and they have so far not been fairly dealt with under the Budget. The cost of this concession in a full year would be something in the neighbourhood of £1,700,000, while for the five months commencing November, if the new Clause came into operation, the cost would be £730,000, which is well within the amount of the surplus that has been arranged for. I do not intend to keep the Committee long, because many hon. Members would like to express their views on this subject, but I feel that this is a matter of very great importance and that it is a hardship, because of the fact that it represents a tax of one-third on the cheaper seats, whereas on the more highly priced seats the tax is only 12½ per cent. It is grossly unfair that this differentiation should remain. The difference between the two percentages which I have quoted proves conclusively that the matter ought to be levelled up or dealt with in some fairer way.

The effect of this tax on employment must not be overlooked. There are many theatres in the poor parts of the country that are suffering very much. The proprietor of one theatre at Longton writes to say that his losses during last year amounted to £173, during which period he had to pay in tax no less than £605. In another case the loss was £57 during the year while the amount paid in tax was 453.


The hon. and gallant Member speaks of theatres. Does he mean picture theatres?


Yes. Another letter says: The cinema which I control in the east end of this town has had during five months of the current year to pay entertainment duty amounting to £281, despite the fact that during the same period the theatre has been operating at a loss of £275. It will be obvious to you as a business man that a small undertaking of this kind cannot much longer be carried on under such conditions, and unless some relief is given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the theatre must close, with resulting loss to the local rates, and consequent unemployment. It is the small man who is hit more than anybody else by this tax. I hope therefore that my right hon Friend will see his way to accept the new Clause.


On a point of Order. Is it intended to call the new Clause which stands in my name and the names of other hon. Members—(Exemption of stage plays, etc., from Entertainments Duty)? If not, will it be permissible to put forward the arguments in favour of that Clause on this occasion. The arguments are totally different.


I have noted the new Clause to which the hon. Member refers, and I had marked it in my list as a matter to which I would give consideration after I had listened to the Debate on this Clause. It would be best to keep strictly to the Amendment now before the Committee, and we will consider the hon. Member's Clause later in view of what may emerge in this discussion.

Vice-Admiral TAYLOR

May I suggest that the arguments in favour of the present Amendment are totally different from the arguments in favour of remission of taxation on stage plays. The arguments in relation to the cinema would not be arguments which apply to the theatre. Is it, therefore, possible for you to make up your mind on arguments which are not relevant to a discussion on the taxation of stage plays?


I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that all relevant considerations will be taken into account.

7.41 p.m.


My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) had a Clause down earlier on the Order Paper dealing with this subject, but for some reason with which we are not acquainted the Chair was not able to accept that Clause. Therefore, we are compelled to fall back upon supporting the present Clause. I am in entire agreement with the proposal submitted by the hon. and gallant Member. I am not quite sure whether his figures are strictly accurate, nor am I able to controvert them. I take it that he has had information available to him which is denied to me and that the figure which he gave is dependent, and that we may assume that the adoption of the new Clause would involve a cost of something like £750,000 for the remaining portion of the year. Some of us represent areas which are regarded as depressed. My own constituency is one of that unfortunate number, and I am sure that I am expressing the views of other hon. Members who represent depressed areas when I say that one of the tragedies that we see is that one of the means which the unemployed person has of obtaining some form of relaxation in the evenings is, I will not say entirely but very frequently closed to him.

The hon. and gallant Member has pointed out that the Entertainments Duty in so far as it affects the low priced seats has a good deal to do with the closing or otherwise of certain cinemas. It is possible that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be able to argue, and if so I shall not be able to contradict it, that that kind of argument is exaggerated and that the reason for the closing of these cinemas is not entirely attributable to the incidence of the Entertainments Duty; but I think it cannot be denied that the Entertainments Duty in its relation to the low priced seats has an effect upon the keeping open or closing of cinemas. I think the hon. and gallant Member was right when he said that we are concerned not with the affluent proprietor, but with the man who is in the cinema business in a very small way, the person who has, a limited sphere of operations and who, because of the limited resources at his command, must necesarily secure the whole-hearted sympathy of the Committee.

We must look upon the cinema with increasing interest. It is a growing industry and we are extremely glad to note that it is providing in an increasing degree employment in our own country. Happily, we are becoming less and less dependent upon foreign films than we used to be. Therefore, it is very important that as far as we can we should do nothing to arrest this most important development in the entertainment world. We are all very concerned about the deleterious effect of unemployment upon the mass of the people, especially the younger people. I am not here to say that all the fare provided at the cinemas is commendable in every way, far from it, but if I were asked whether it is better from the point of view of the community that the younger people should be in the cinemas, even where the fare is not as excellent as we would like it to be, or roaming the streets aimlessly, sometimes getting into mischievous pranks, I would at all times prefer that they should go to the cinema because the worst form of entertainment, or rather I should say the least desirable form of entertainment does oppose virtue against vice and the hero against the villain, and provides a medium by which the moral virtues are stimulated. From the standpoint of those who have to go through the bitter experience of unemployment it is well worth while encouraging the retention of cinemas in distressed areas.

Let me make one further point, not for the sake of being controversial; that is not my object at all. I submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is high time this industry should have some measure of sympathy from him. We, have made concessions to various groups of individuals and to various trades during the last year or two through our financial Bills, and I am convinced that this industry has a special claim upon us because of the extreme difficulty they have to exist in certain portions of the country. The Entertainments Duty is imposed upon the turnover, not on the profits of the cinema. If that is so then it becomes a particularly onerous Duty to sustain, especially when a man happens to be operating on a very narrow margin of profit or loss. I am sure if the Committee were free to express its mind regardless of the presence of Government Whips or the eloquence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it would vote almost unanimously for a repeal of this taxation but, of course, the Chancellor of the ffxchequer must have regard to the finances of the country and I cannot complain if he puts that point of view forward. At the same time, the Clause has very strong claims on its merits, and I look forward to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he is prepared to accept it.

7.48 p.m.


I rise to add my word to what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for the Wrekin Division (Colonel Baldwin-Webb). The new Clause simply means the removal of the duty from seats under 6d., and in that respect it makes a concession to a very large number of the poorer population of the country who seek some form of relaxation in the evenings from the sometimes sordid surroundings of their homes. We have heard deputations during the past few years presenting to us some pitiable examples of the evil wrought by the imposition of this duty. I am the last person to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to violate the exalted canons of taxation laid down by the Financial Secretary, but I would suggest that this is a question of enabling the masses of our poor people to enjoy some of the amenities of life in congenial surroundings, and I hope it is a proposal which will appeal to his generous sentiments. We have had statements made to us by various cinema organisations as to the hardship which is caused by the imposi- tion of this tax in small rural cinemas, and I have no reason to challenge their statements. My sympathy is with the poor people, the poor children especially, whom I should like to have the fullest opportunity to enjoy the advantages for recreation and education which the cinema now affords, because the quality of the exhibits in the cinemas of the country has undergone considerable improvement in recent times, their educational value has been substantially improved.

I know the difficulty the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in balancing the finances of the nation, and nobody appreciates more his wonderful contribution to the stability of our national finance. But I think this is a case in which he might, if he cannot make the whole concession, make some concession, and if not at once will be able to give some indication that in the future he will take into careful examination the arguments which have been submitted to him in favour of a remission being made, not for the sake of cinema proprietors or those who speculate, but for the sake of those who enjoy them.

7.52 p.m.


Whatever view the Chancellor of the Exchequer may take of the Clause, I hope the Committee will not let this opportunity go of informing him how widespread is the feeling against this duty on the lower-priced seats in cinemas. None of us in happier times would like to see an Entertainments Duty at all, still less a tax on the entertainments of the poorest classes of the people; we should all desire at the earliest opportunity to see the burden lifted, beginning with the lower-priced seats. I think the Committee ought to remember that there are a great variety of cinemas throughout the country. There are the rich and wealthy cinemas in London and the poor little struggling cinemas in country districts which find the greatest difficulty in keeping open. I should like to read a letter from a cinema proprietor in my own constituency, a poor and a small constituency. He says: Last year the entertainment tax paid was £100 less than the year before"— That will not please the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because it means that the amount which he will hand over to the Treasury is much less. This year the returns show even less. Out of every £35 paid in tax to the Government we pay out of our own pockets £25. If we were to increase the price to include the tax the number of attendances would decrease to such an extent that we would be forced to close the cinema for at least two nights in the week, which would lead to two or three people becoming unemployed. In that case the proprietor is paying the tax out of his own pocket. He cannot put it on to the lower-priced seats because it would keep people away altogether. If the attendance continues to decrease, it means that the cinema will have to close on two or three nights in the week and people will thus be deprived of the opportunity of going. That is a point which I think should be borne in mind. Cinemas in out of the way country districts have difficulties to contend with which are not met with in populous areas. In large and populous areas there is a large field to draw upon and cinemas can count on having valuable houses every day in the week, but in small areas, where there is only a small population to draw upon, if you get over the line and prevent a cinema paying it means that the opportunities are speedily reduced. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give his attention to this matter and will bear in mind the difficulties of small cinemas in the country.

7.56 p.m.


I should like to point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer how very hardly this duty works on cinema proprietors in depressed areas and also on the people in depressed areas. In some of the depressed areas cinema proprietors are now just carrying on and waiting to see if some relief will be afforded. In many cases they will not be able to continue to keep the cinema open if the duty is still imposed. Hon. Members may think that 1d. on the 3d. is a small amount, but I ask them to remember that these particular cinemas cater only for the very poor and are the only cinemas which have tickets at 3d. and 6d. For many people in congested areas where bad housing conditions exist, cinemas are almost a necessity. Where are these people to go? It may be said that they can go into the country, but they will not be able to go far into the country and return for 3d. I have been told also that the addition of 1d. on the 3d. is making a great deal of difference in this way. It is much more economical for the whole family to go to the cinema than for one ox two members to stay at home, because that means that lighting and heating must be provided. Those who do not come into contact with these poor people may not realise the position, but those who do know how the small amount of money which is put into the gas meter is counted out, and, if there is no lighting or heating in the home, the family can go to the cinema and get some form of entertainment which, though it may not be of the very best, is an entertainment, and they are able to sit there and for the time being forget their troubles and worries outside.

In these difficult times the cinemas in these poor districts are playing an important part. We have suggested regulations for various forms of entertainment and various places, where we think people may perhaps spend too much money in betting, but, if we let them go to the cinema for 3d., they know exactly the amount of their outlay, and they will find there entertainment and warmth, and to some extent oblivion from their worries. If the duty were remitted, it would be of great assistance to people who have not much hope of employment or better times. The hon. and gallant Member for the Wrekin Division (Colonel Baldwin-Webb) has pointed out the sum involved for three-quarters of the year. We shall, of course, have to face the sum which will be required for an entire year next year, but I would point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if by next year employment has improved a great many more people will be going to the more expensive seats, and he will get his revenue in that way. We are only asking for the duty to be remitted on the poorest and cheapest seats. If more money is in circulation, then, no doubt, more people will go to other forms of entertainment of a higher nature, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will get more money back by that means. For these reasons, I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to realise the great benefit it would be not only to the cinema interest, not only to the managers and owners of cinemas in distressed areas, but to the ordinary man and woman and their families, who are up against misery and despair, living in houses which are unfit for habitation, and who are only too thankful now and then to spend an evening away from their house at places of entertainment such as these.

8.0 p.m.


I desire to associate myself with the appeal to the Chancellor. In working-class areas the cinema receipts have gone down considerably because people have not been able to enjoy the entertainment which they had enjoyed in the past. My general experience is that throughout the country it was anticipated that in the Budget this year there would be some relief afforded in regard to the cheaper seats at cinemas. Those who pay the tax on the lower-price seats include unemployed people in a tremendous number of areas. Take the average family of a man and wife and three children, boys of 8, 10 or 12 years of age. Out of national funds or unemployment funds a sum of 2s. per week is allowed for each child to cover maintenance. I hold that part of the ordinary maintenance of a working-class family is the provision of some entertainment for those who are living such drab lives. To say that the Budget of this country can be balanced only by the extraction of halfpennies and pennies from the meagre 2s. that goes to these homes for the maintenance of the children, is to say what I do not believe.

I regard it as part of my ordinary life to spend two afternoons or evenings of the week at the pictures. It is a welcome relief from parliamentary and political troubles. If I were not to have that opportunity of entertainment and satisfaction I should regard life as a very dreary thing indeed. Since pictures have become part of the ordinary entertainment of the people I have spent one evening, and sometimes three evenings a week, at various cinemas, with my wife and family. I regard it as highly desirable that people should have that entertainment. We know what the demoralising effects of unemployment are in this country, and we should welcome opportunities being given to the working-classes for relief that will raise them out of their environment, so that even if they cannot enjoy life much themselves they can see in the pictures how other people enjoy themselves.

For a number of years in Glasgow we have had, with increasing unemployment, gang fights, young men in one area getting into conflict with those of another area. We have struggles in the streets, as the result of which people go to the police courts and get into prison, not because they are criminally minded but because they have not a proper opportunity for getting open-air recreation and entertainment, or even indoor entertainment, during their unemployment. Anything that helps to lessen that tendency to gang warfare and criminal hooliganism in our cities and takes people to the picture houses and open-air sports, ought to be encouraged. Instead of lessening such opportunities by penal taxes on the lower-priced seats at cinemas we ought to give those seats complete freedom.

I do not plead for the right of owners of cinemas to make higher profits. It is no part of my duty to defend their interests. But I am a realist. The proprietors of cinemas generally have tried to make their houses attractive. The cinemas are clean and orderly, and they provide fairly good fare. I have heard in various parts of the country expressions of antagonism towards certain pictures. But I disagree. I have had as complete an opportunity as any Member of this House of visiting cinemas, and I have found the entertainment generally clean, attractive, educational and stimulating, and therefore I appeal to the Chancellor to give some consideration to those who are hardest hit by unemployment in the depressed areas.

8.8 p.m.

Vice-Admiral TAYLOR

I support the arguments which have been brought forward in the appeal to the Chancellor to give some relief to the lower-priced seats in the cinemas, not because I am opposed in any way to the principle of Entertainments Duty, but because this tax is hitting very hard the poorest of the people, who are less and less able to afford a seat at the cinema. I have been told by proprietors of these low-priced cinemas that there is not the slightest question that since the imposition of this tax the attendance of poor people has very much decreased. They are not able to afford the payment, and they are being deprived of a legitimate form of entertainment. I would also emphasise what has been mentioned, namely, the very important part which the cinemas play in the lives of very poor people not only from the entertainment point of view but because in the winter time there is no other place to which they can go to get any warmth. They can go into a cinema and enjoy the entertainment, and at the same time get warmth. It is difficult for many to realise that when people are not able to afford sufficient clothing or sufficient food to keep them warm and cannot buy sufficient fuel to warm their rooms it is an enormous boon to them to be able to go to the cinema. I hope that the Chancellor will see his way to remove the tax from the low-priced seats at cinemas, not from the point of view of yelping the cinema houses, except where the incidence of the tax has made the proprietor close down, but chiefly because the tax is imposing very severe hardship upon the poorest people of the country.

8.12 p.m.


I want to add my appeal to the Chancellor. We appealed to the right hon. Gentleman almost successfully last year. He then said that he did not believe in halving the business and that he must either give nothing or give all, that is as far as seats up to 6d. are concerned. But this matter affects not only the cinemas. It affects three different matters that I will mention. To begin with, it affects junior football clubs very badly. The officials of the game are carrying on at a great loss. There is nothing professional about them; they give all their time because they believe in sport and in encouraging athletes. I am informed on the best authority that they have now great difficulty in getting as good athletes as formerly, because they have to deal with the products of the War. Therefore, they require even more consideration than formerly. What is to happen if we put a trammel on the attendance at junior football matches? I have the data here, but as many others want to speak I will not give them. I ask the Chancellor seriously to consider the matter.

I have here also, from the Glasgow City Council, particulars of open-air concerts given on week nights and on Saturday afternoons. The particulars show that as a result of the Entertainments Duty the receipts have dropped by thousands of pounds, and the council are considering the necessity of having to stop the concerts. Coming to the cinemas, here is a quotation from the "Glasgow Evening News," anything but a Labour paper. On Wednesday 6th June, 1934, it says, in reference to the constituency of the Secretary of State for the Home Department: There is a cinema in Pollokshaws known as the Palladium. It would be more correct to use past tense for it closed on Saturday. That fact will not concern the average picture-goer. He has dozens of other shows to choose from, so why worry about a little theatre that has only been struggling anyway P But human tragedy is associated with the closing of the Palladium. It is a story that should touch the heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, particularly as he is the person primarily responsible for the little snow's failure. A decent hard-working couple and their two children are the latest victims of this iniquitous Entertainments Tax. That is from a Tory paper. That is not from the "Daily Herald," and there are thousands of cases like that up and down the country. The sad thing about this is that it is only the poor who are affected as far as the cinemas are concerned. That is why great pressure is not being brought to bear on the Chancellor of the Exchequer such as would otherwise be brought to bear upon him. If the cinematograph proprietors were as unanimous and as powerful as the brewers, something would be done, but the well-off cinema people are not concerned. They are doing well. Those who have cinemas in Sauchiehall Street and the better parts of the town are doing well, but there are others. There is one in Kelvingrove in the constituency represented by the Minister of Agriculture. Many of them are just about ruined because of this duty. Our difficulty is to get the Chancellor of the Exchequer to appreciate how much this means to folk who have only a few pence. One penny means a great deal to those who are dealing with pence and not with pounds.

Think of what it means. It is bad enough that these entertainments are threatened by the competition of the open-air entertainments given in our public parks. In Glasgow the great mass of the people can get entertainment free in the public parks. The corporation is able to do that because they have, around the bandstand, an enclosure with chairs and those who can afford to do so pay for seats in the enclosure. By this means the corporation are able to provide better talent to entertain those folks who are not able to pay anything. But the Entertainment Duty affects this also to the extent that people are not going into the enclosure in the same number as formerly. In the case of the cinemas, think of what it means to poor people on a cold, withering, winter night to be able to get a whole evening's entertainment in one of these cinemas for 3d. or 4d. What the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) said is perfectly true. They get warmth. As I say, the difficulty which presents itself to us in discussing this question is the difficulty of getting the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put himself in their place and to realise what it means to be cold and miserable and for want of one penny to be debarred from enjoying two or three hours of this entertainment—and it is cheap, interesting and educative entertainment.

Once again an opportunity presents itself to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do a good turn, not only to the unemployed but to the partially employed and the lowly-paid. If he has the audacity to claim that his Budget is a generous one, let him carry that principle a little further and give this comparatively small concession. The poorest of the poor would benefit by it and I am sure that the House of Commons and the entire country irrespective of party would stand by the right hon. Gentleman if he took such a course. I know that if the right hon. Gentleman has made up his mind it will be difficult for me or anybody to induce him to change it. We can only do our best by placing before him the facts as we see them. I have here a sheaf of facts and figures which are irrefutable but I am sure a great many of them have already been placed before the Chancellor of the Exchequer and we can only hope that our human appeal to him to-night will find an echo in his action and that he will grant this concession.

8.22 p.m.


It is not often that I find myself in complete agreement with the hon. Members for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) and Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), but tonight I am with them in the very human appeal which they have made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is a subject about which we all know a good deal. It was considered and debated last year. We know that the tax upon the cheap seats was increased at a time of great national stress, and it is the view of some of us that when we have returned, at least to comparative prosperity, the Chancellor might take a more benignant view of the situation than he has taken up to the present. I appeal to the right Gentleman on two grounds. I appeal to him, first, on the human ground. I am sure that the information already in his possession covers the whole field referred to by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs. I am sure he is aware of that life amid the shadows which so many hundreds of thousands of our fellow-citizens are living to-day in the depressed areas. In my own constituency of Dunfermline I know how much the cinema means to thousands of men, women and children. To them an evening at the cinema is the event of the week. I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer takes a kindly view of that aspect of the question and knows it as fully as those of us who are advocating the adoption of this new Clause. It is sometimes thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose duty it is to guard jealously the public purse, shows a very stern demeanour to the House of Commons, but I believe that behind that sternness of demeanour there is a very kind heart, and to that heart we, tonight, are venturing to appeal.

Not only on those human grounds, do I venture to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider his decision on this matter, but on broader business grounds, which I think are of some importance. After all, this is an industry which is providing employment on a large and an increasing scale, but the incidence of this tax has had the effect of closing down many of these places of amusement, and it may not be uninteresting to the right hon. Gentleman to know the enormous changes that have taken place in the proprietorship of cinemas. I do not wish to weary him with unnecessary figures, but these are rather striking: In 1931 the number of cinemas that changed hands was 167, in 1932 the number was 275, and in 1933 the number was 448. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might well say that that shows a very ready market in cinemas, but surely everything depends upon the price at which a man was pos- sibly forced to sell his cinema on account of the very adverse conditions under which it was working. As a matter of fact, there has been an increase of something like 50 per cent. in the number of cinemas which have been temporarily or permanently closed down.

I think individual experiences are always Valuable in a matter of this kind, and I want to read one or two extracts from a letter which I have received from the proprietor of an electric theatre in Cowdenbeath which illustrates some very striking effects of this taxation. I do not think that when this tax was imposed it was ever expected that losses would be taxed, but that is its effect. Here are a few extracts from this letter: As you know, the Entertainment" Tax is a tax on turnover, and there is no rebate of same should the nett receipts for the week not cover the overhead expenses of the cinema. Many weeks during the last two years I have been working at a loss. My deficit on many occasions has been as high as £12 in the week, and the average loss on the bad weeks can be put roughly at £7 10s. per week My average weekly Entertainments Tax on the above deficit basis runs to about £17 per week. You will, therefore, see that the tax makes all the difference between a profit and loss. I now find that the average week's business just about covers expenses, and that I am meeting the deficit of the unhappily too numerous entirely bad weeks from profits made three years ago. Here are some figures which may interest you: From 10th November, 1930, to 7th November, 1931, my nett drawings were £6,620 16s., and the total Entertainments Tax for that year was £370 17s. 10d. The year following, when the Entertainments Tax was re-imposed on the cheaper seats, my nett drawing were £4,965 16s. 3d., and the Entertainments Tax on that amount was £985 12s. 7d. It seems to me a very serious matter, having regard to the purpose of taxation, that a decrease in profits year by year should mean an increase in the tax imposed upon the proprietors of cinemas. I know that several other hon. Members wish to take part in this Debate, and so I content myself, with very great respect but with some hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may grant us this concession, by appealing to him to review his previous decision on this important subject.

8.30 p.m.


Looking back over a long and ill-spent life, I should say that there are only three redeeming features in the march of progress and invention. We have learned how to travel more quickly, we have learned how to see farther, and we have learned how to produce more cheaply, but the only three things which have really improved the world are boy scouts, bicycles, and-cinemas. These inventions have been worth while, and they are generally realised as having done something in a dark age to brighten the existence of quite common people. We encourage boy scouts by every means in our power, even though they wear uniforms; in spite of invitation and temptation, we have so far resisted putting a tax on bicycles; and it is only the cinema that appears, out of that triple alliance of benefits, to be selected for penalisation and suppression. I cannot help thinking that this attitude towards the cinema is partly because a great many old fogeys do not like it. They think that it is the wrong form of education for the poor. They think the poor waste their money at the cinema, and this suppressed resentment at the cinema and at the affection felt by common people like myself for the cinema is at the back of this idea that you ought, in the interests of the public—that appalling institution, the public—to make going to the pictures a little bit more expensive.

It cannot be, really, that the money is wanted. I think it is only £1,750,000, the whole of this tax on the sixpenny seats. No, it is the idea that here are little children going to see the pictures and being corrupted there by visions of Tom Mix, of gangster dramas of the Middle East, or something of that sort. It is a passionate desire to interfere with the people's amusements. I resent the Government's attempts to keep me out of a public-house, but I resent far more their attempts to keep other people out of the cinema, and certainly this tax is one of the best ways of stopping working-class children going to the pictures. From the educational point of view, I think we ought to realise that the pictures are of infinitely better value than the national schools. Children up to the age of 10 take in infinitely more from what they see than from what they hear. A great deal of what they hear goes in at one ear and out at the other. They cannot assimilate it, but what they see—hon. Members know very well that what they have seen has affected them far more than what they have read—remains as a permanent part of their education.

It is possible or even permissible for people to say that you see at the pictures a great deal that it is unwise for children to see. Possibly you do, but that is a small item compared with the amount of real useful broadening of the mind that comes from the pictures. The alternative to the pictures is the novel, too often the novelette. I remember once during the War I had a great deal to do with H. G. Wells, and to make conversation on one occasion I said to him that Germany turned out 17 times the number of people from the universities that we did, and that therefore in the long run Germany was bound to win the War. He replied, "It is true that the German system of national education is better than ours, but I would ask you to observe that the youth of this country are not educated in our elementary schools; they are educated by me and George Bernard Shaw and G. K. Chesterton." He meant it as a joke, but there lb an element of truth in it.

The youth of this country, unlike Germany and France and any other Continental country, steep themselves in novels from the age of 14 to the age of 20. They acquire their ideas of what is right and wrong, not from their parents nor from the parson, but from the heroes and heroines of their novels. A great deal of that literature is just as deleterious to the child's mind as is that proportion of the pictures which we want to see banished from the cinemas. We have to take the bad with the good in any form of popular entertainment, and I maintain that the educational value of the cinema in the last 20 years is infinitely greater than the educational value of the British novel, which is still such a comparatively predominant element in the education of our race. If we are to get away from the idea that every production of the cinema must be useful, educational and beneficial to the child, I believe that this special taxation of the cinema is just as idiotic as would be taxation on bicycles or taxation of the Boy Scouts, both of which forms of amusement have also great educational value in building up self-reliance and self-confidence and all those things which we know to be the true aim and object of education.

Let me show the Committee how this tax, particularly the tax on the 6d. seats, is really stopping people from going to the cinemas. I will take an example from my own constituency, because, naturally, I know that best, but the same thing applies all over the country. There are a lot of small derelict mining villages in my division. In one of them is a cinema where the takings run to about £28 a week. All the seats, of course, are 6d. or less. The tax runs to just over £4 per week. The operation of the theatre, the rent it has to pay for the films, the wages of the operator and the two girls who show people to their seats, and the bookkeeping take away the rest of the takings, so that week by week there has been a dead loss. Inevitably before many months are out that picture palace will be closed and it will mean that that mining village, where the people are horribly poor, will have to go without its pictures. To my mind you might just as well close the national school as close the pictures. The alternative will be take a 2d. tram ride into the town in order to go to pictures where the seats are more expensive, and that is entirely out of the question. You can multiply that all over the country by hundreds if not by thousands. These small places are hanging on because they have a desperate belief that this Parliament and this Budget will remove this penal handicap on this particular form of amusement.

It seems to me that we have got into the habit now of supposing that taxation need not be justified by any of the old canons of taxation dear to the hearts of Adam Smith and Walter Bagehot or any of the nineteenth century economists. Nobody hates Income Tax more than I do, for I do not think anybody has a right to touch my income, but that tax is on something you realise, on profits you make. The local rates on this particular cinema duty has to be paid whether you make profits or not. It is on a principle which is entirely new; not new to English law but new to our economic practice. Therefore, it does want some justification against the charge of being penal and directed to suppressing that particular form of making money or amusing yourself. You could say that the industry is a bad industry, but, if that is your line you would have to prove it, and it would be better to suppress it violently and by order rather than attack it in this way. There is another canon of decent taxation that seems to me to be broken by this tax. This is a tax on a particular industry. Last year I was complaining to the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he selected raw material of a certain limited number of industries for penal taxation, because they used heavy oil fuel. I said that notice ought to be given so that people who have put their money into that particular form of furnace could have time to get it out before the tax was put upon them and so that the change-over could be made gradually.

Here you have the same thing. Three years ago we had an enormous increase in this tax. Were it on Income Tax it would have gone on all round, but here you put a special tax on cinemas. I ask the House what is the position of the men who have invested their money in pictures on the understanding that they can make a certain profit out of the business. You come along and put on this penalising tax which destroys the value of their property. People who put £5,000 or £10,000 into a string of picture palaces find their property destroyed by Government action. I maintain that that is wrong from the point of view of the community and of sound economics. You ought not to select specified individuals for any form of tax. You ought to have your taxation generally applicable. By all means get this money from Income Tax, which affects everybody, but do not penalise one particular trade, especially when that penalisation involves depriving the youth of the country particularly of a form of education and also, I regret to say, of the only place where they can keep warm in the evening.

There is one other point. Everybody will agree that the advance of the cinema has gone on pari passu with a decrease in the population of the public houses. Drunkenness has been going down in the country. The social conditions of the working classes have within my lifetime infinitely improved, not by forcibly closing down public houses but by providing a counter attraction which provides for the whole evening a place where one can be comfortable and warm and see something amusing about' which they can talk in the family for the rest of the week. I cannot help feeling at the back of my mind that here we have a desperate and determined battle between the interests of the public house and the interests of the cinema, and all of us who value the improvement in the social standing of the ordinary family in this country must be anxious that in that fight the cinema shall win against the public house. Leave the public house to those who like it, but let those who do not want to use it have their rival social gatherings and forms of innocent amusement.

8.47 p.m.


I think I have heard sufficient of one side of this case to enable me to make some contribution to the Debate before those who desire to oppose the Clause give expression to their thoughts. The observations I am going to make will be of a sympathetic character, and so, in order that there may be no misunderstanding, I think I should begin by saying that I cannot see my way to accept the Clause. That is not on account of its breach of any canon which has been laid down by me or by my hon. Friend in connection with the Budget, because the Clause is only a partial restoration of a burden which was imposed in 1931, and therefore will, at some time or another, take its place among those items which, as I have already said several times, I consider should have precedence over other forms of tax relief. Nor is my opposition due to either of the reasons so ingeniously put forward by the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). There is no battle, so far as the Government are concerned, between the interests of the public-house and of the cinema. I must correct him in his allusion to this as a cinema duty. It is not a cinema duty, although cinemas may be embraced in it. As the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) pointed out, it is an Entertainments Tax which applies to, and in fact restricts and is a trammel upon—to use the hon. Member's phrase—many forms of entertainment beside the cinema. Nor is it the fact, so far as I am concerned—I cannot speak for Lord Snowden—that I have any prejudice against cinemas, or any desire or intention by means of taxation to prevent any section of the population going to cinemas if they wish to do so. That has nothing to do with my opposition.

My difficulty in acceding to the request of my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Clause is one which I can hardly expect to appeal to him as much as it does to me, or, indeed, to anyone who is not Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is purely a matter of money. We have heard some vivid accounts of what the cinema means to the poorest class of people, who find in it not only their sole amusement but even their sole means of comfort. The inference which might be drawn from some of the speeches is that these people are now being deprived of that source of relaxation and comfort by the operation of the tax, but, as my hon. and gallant Friend and several other speakers pointed out, what the tax is really doing in the case of what I may call the poorest class of cinemas—I am not referring to the quality of the entertainment but to the price of the seats—is to hit the proprietors rather than the public, because the proprietors of those cinemas recognise that they cannot fill their cinemas if they are going to ask the public to pay the extra duty which is inflicted upon them by the tax.

Captain DOWER

That is only in a certain number of cases.


I do not mean to say that that applies to all these cases, but I think it will be recognised that that is the general trend of events, and that is the effect which has been adduced by speakers this afternoon. That being so, it is evident that the cinema proprietor is in a very poor way, and it is further evident that to the extent to which, that contention is true the original purpose of the tax is being defeated, because hon. Members will recollect that in imposing the extra tax Lord Snowden expressly stated that he did it to obtain from that section of the people who went to these cinemas a contribution towards the expenses of the country in a crisis. It appears that they are not paying this contribution, that it is being paid instead by the proprietor of the cinema, and if in the long run the proprietor is unable to carry on and closes down his theatre then, indeed, those poor people will suffer, and in addition to not making their contribution towards the country they will be deprived of something to which they have grown accustomed and which will make a very serious gap in their lives.

I point out what I believe to be the facts in regard to this tax on the cheaper seats, because it does lead to this further deduction: that the real danger to people who frequent these cinemas is not in the extra amount they have to pay, but in the proprietor being unable to maintain his theatre at all, and their being in that way deprived of their amusement altogether. No man who is engaged in business will readily throw it up if he thinks that there is a chance in the not too far distant future of things improving and of his being able once more to recoup his losses. If I cannot to-day, for reasons which I will presently explain to the Committee, accept this new Clause, I would point out that even if I did relief would not come till the 6th November, and there is not a very great deal of time between the 6th November and the 1st April in the following year.

I am not promising now what I will do next year. That must obviously depend upon the condition of affairs then. What I have said, and what may be some comfort to the cinema proprietors and others who are affected by the Entertainments Duty, is that I consider that they are—if I may put it so in this connection—at the top of the queue. I am not likely to be led away by the blandishments of those who are interested in public houses, or of other sections of the community who desire relief from what may seem to them to be hardships, if those hardships were not created in 1931. I must add this further point: Improvement in employment which has already taken place and will, I hope, continue during the year, must have the effect of putting more money into the pockets of the people, and even into the pockets of the very poorest section. That will enable them to go in larger numbers or more frequently to the poorest cinemas, and may help the cinema proprietors to carry on a little longer until the condition of the country permits me to do something for them.

My hon. Friend has very ingeniously arranged his Clause so that the cost which will fall upon the Exchequer within the current year will be within the surplus for which I have budgeted. If one could deal with this current year without regard to the future, I dare say that I might have been disposed to take the risk of accepting his proposal, but he does not contemplate that, having accepted his proposal and having therefore taken off this tax as between 6th November and 1st April ( I should put it on when the next financial year arises. This is a Clause involving not merely expenditure by the Exchequer of about £900,000 in the current year, but a promise to keep this tax off in the following year as well.

There I come up against my difficulties. The hon. Member has calculated that the cost of this concession would be £1,700,000. The estimate which I have at my disposal is that the cost in a full year would be £2,200,000. That is a little more than the hon. Member calculated. Of the increases in Entertainments Duty which were imposed in 1931, the great bulk come precisely upon the cheap seats, and, if I were to restore wholly the Entertainments Duty to where it was before the increases in 1931—a course which would give relief not only to the proprietors of the cinemas but upon the cheapest seats of the old theatres and music halls and other institutions who also have their case and their hardships and the feeling that they cannot carry on much longer under present circumstances—the cost in a full year would only be £400,000 more than the partial restoration which is contemplated by my hon. Friend; that is to say, the cost in a full year would only be £2,600,000.

Can I feel so certain that I shall have £2,600,000 to spend on this particular matter next year, doing full justice at the same time to the other sacrifices made in 1931, that I can afford to chance it at this stage, before I know what the conditions are in 1935–6? When hon. Members think a little of what is before us, I am sure they will see that the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is by no means so secure as that. If I found myself next year, having already restored not half but the whole of the increases in the Entertainments Duty, unable to complete the restoration of the cuts in salaries and remuneration and the other sacrifices that were made in 1931, I should be justly criticised for having, for the sake of making myself popular and exposing what a human heart I have to the Committee this evening——


The right hon. Gentleman must not do anything to make himself popular.


The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirk-wood) is quite right. That consideration never has any influence on me. I would be justly criticised, as I was saying, for having prejudiced the situation and for having given away something without leaving myself with the resources to deal with other hard cases. Let the Committee consider for one moment. The concessions I have endeavoured to make in this year's Budget do not cost their full amount in the current year. I have only dealt with a part of the year, but next year I have to provide for the full cost of the whole year. I wonder whether the Committee realise that I have to provide, for that purpose alone, £9,000,000 more than I have provided this year, without giving away anything at all. That is the first item that I have to consider. I have to consider the fact that besides this £9,000,000, of which I have spoken, I may want to be considering the restoration to some rough equality of the other sacrifices made in 1931. To do that would cost somewhere about—I give the figure roughly to the House—£27,000,000.


Is that all?


That is all. I have no doubt that the hon. Member has that sum in his pocket every day, but as Chancellor of the Exchequer I have to consider that £27,000,000, plus the £9,000,000; that is £36,000,000. The tale does not end there. In my financial statement in April I mentioned that the item of "Miscellaneous Revenue" still brought a substantial sum to the Exchequer year by year. Many items are declining, and we shall get out of it a diminishing revenue. My position next year may be that I shall have to make allowance for a very considerably reduced amount of miscellaneous revenue; put the reduction at £5,000,000. Probably that is on the conservative side. With the £27,000,000, the £9,000,000 and the £5,000,000 I have already gone to over £40,000,000, by which sum my position seems likely to be worse next year than it is this year, if I am to contemplate making those restorations.

Hon. Members will notice that I have not yet said anything about next year's costs. I may have to find more money-next year as compared with the very low costs that we have been experiencing last year and this year; there may be items in the expenses of the nation which of course I cannot foresee at this moment, but which may, by events beyond our control, be put upon ns, and which I cannot be sure will not arise in the coming year. For these reasons, with the greatest appreciation of the force of the arguments which have been addressed to me from various parts of the Committee this afternoon, and fully realising what difficulties are placed upon cinema proprietors and what hardships may ultimately be inflicted upon poor people whose place of entertainment may be closed if they cannot at some time or another get relief, and fully realising, also, that the tax is not, at any rate in some directions, doing what it was intended to do when it was imposed, still I say that, with the best will in the world, I cannot bring myself to undertake this liability next year in circumstances which I cannot foresee, but where I can plainly foresee that I may have to find money for demands to meet which my resources might prove to be hardly sufficient. In these circumstances, I regret that I cannot accept the proposal of my hon. and gallant Friend.

I do not often find myself in agreement with the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but I must say that on this occasion he struck some answering chords in my breast when he criticised the nature of this tax. For my part, I should be glad, if my resources enabled me to do so, not merely to effect a simple restoration of the particular imposts which were increased in 1931, but, if I may so put it, to remodel the whole tax, because I think that in its present form it is unsatisfactory in many ways, both theoretically and practically. Although, however, I should be glad to do that, and, indeed I hope I may have the opportunity of trying my hand at it, I do not feel that the time has yet come when I should do so.

9.8 p.m.


Listening to the speculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the amount that he would have to find, not only as a result of this tax being repealed, but for other items, which he worked out at the problematical total of £36,000,000, and also to his impressions of what would be likely to happen if his Budget should come out on the wrong side, one wonders that he ever made any concession or reduction at all this year. One remembers, however, that he has made certain reductions in Income Tax, and has also restored the transitional payments, and I take it that he did that with his eyes wide open. One remembers, further, that last year he made a very large concession to the brewers, and no very disastrous effect followed therefrom. One must take it, therefore, that the cautious manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has stated his case is indicative of the rather careful method that he has of considering his position as Chancellor of the Exchequer and making his provisions with regard to the future revenue and income of the country.

Speaking quite frankly, it seems to me that the Chancellor, in spite of his statement as to what he must find later, would be able to afford, in the five months from the 6th November to the end of March, the sum that would make it possible for him to grant this concession. It is very nice to inform those to whom the concession would be an infinite boon that they are at the head of the queue, and that next year, if it is at all possible, they will be the first to be considered. Might I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, if ever he had stood in a queue outside a picture-house waiting to get in, he would know that sometimes they can squeeze in an extra one who happens to be at the head of the queue when there seemed to be no further room? I suggest to him that he might look a little more sympathetically on the particular class who are at the head of the queue for his next consideration, more particularly because he informed the Committee that the class of people who will be affected by the granting of this concession have borne the greater part of the increase in Entertainments Duty which was put on in 1931. His statement to-night, based, I expect, on figures submitted by his officials, is that by far the larger proportion of the increase in the Entertainments Duty in the Budget of 1931 has had to be borne by the cheaper seats, namely, those at 6d. and under. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman himself now admits that this particular burden is being borne by the very poorest of the community, and, if he could grant this concession, the boon would be appreciated by that particular section of the community who can only afford to go to entertainments where the price of admission is 6d. and under.

With regard to the statements that have been made about cinemas closing down, two cinemas out of the six in my own constituency have had to close down, and those are the only two where the prices of admission do not exceed 6d. The same is the case in practically all other districts. The cinemas that are closing down are mostly small places owned by one man, or, perhaps, half-a-dozen men. Representations have been sent by them, and I am certain have been submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, making clear and definite statements as to how this burden of taxation bears upon them. It is not a tax upon any profit; it has to be paid whether there is anything to spare at the end of the week or not. It has to be paid on the turnover, on every seat occupied by a paying patron of the cinema. The Chancellor himself appears to recognise the harshness of the tax, taken as a tax all over the entertainments industry, to such an extent that he himself suggests that, if he is given the time and, I take it, the opportunity, he is prepared to remodel the entire imposition of the tax. If that be his view, he must admit the injustice of the tax.

What my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme said about the effect that this form of entertainment has had upon the social life of the community is by no means far-fetched. We can all remember when the little village "pub" seemed to be the only place to which people could go and spend their evenings. Now you find that in those places that are too small to have ft cinema of their own, people go by omnibus to the nearest town where there is a cinema and spend their evenings there in good, healthy enjoyment. All over the country cinemas have been closing down since this additional tax was imposed, and there is justification for asking the Chancellor to reconsider his statement.

It is not only a matter of cinemas. It applies to every form of entertainment for which a payment of 6d. or under is charged. The Scottish Junior and Juvenile Football Associations cannot charge admission without paying a tax upon it. The right hon. Gentleman has had no occasion to reimpose the taxation of beer that he remitted in his last Budget. I am certain there will be no occasion for him to reimpose the taxes that he has remitted in this Budget, and I am confident that he will have no occasion to tell us that his gloomy forebodings as to the large sums that he expects it will be necessary for him to find have been realised. If the Chancellor will give the matter further consideration, it may be possible to give to the entertainment industry at least some of the surplus that he claims to have had and enable a part of the industry, at all events, to carry on without having to pay this taxation out of its losses, and it may convey some hope to other sections of the industry, given a better financial year, of a further concession.

9.20 p.m.


I was very sympathetic towards this proposal. It is a tragedy that the wretched unemployed man should be deprived of the refuge of the picture house. I listened with great pleasure to the very sympathetic remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course, the thing that is troubling him is where to get the money, because, if he begins making concessions, he will have to make others. It is not for me to make suggestions, but I often wonder that he has not thought of other sources of taxation. No one has had so much benefit from all the expenditure on education as our newspapers. Why could we not have a tax on newspaper advertisements?


I cannot allow the hon. Member to pursue that matter any further.


I was only pointing out where the money could be found. I am sure no one would welcome it more than our great newspaper proprietors. I say that advisedly. Nothing would give them greater joy than the thought that they had allowed the poor to get the benefit of the pictures. It has been indicated that this is to have the first consideration, and I think hon. Members opposite ought to be content with that, because they have seen that the right hon. Gentleman agrees with all the views that they have expressed. It is not true, as has been suggested, that we desire to deprive the poor of enjoyment. It is the last thing that is thought of on these benches. One thing that we all believe in, the Chancellor above all, is that the most important thing for a man is what he does in his leisure time. It is almost more important than his work. This is something that fills in the leisure of all classes of people, and notably the poor. If we cannot get them all allotments, we ought at least to see that it is possible for them to fill in some of their leisure time at the picture house. It will probably keep a lot of them from making disturbances at Fascist meetings.

9.24 p.m.


I cannot agree with the hon. Member who claimed that the cinema was of more educational value than our schools, but I recognise that it really plays a large part and has a definite educational value. It might play a much more important part if film producers had not such a low estimate of the mentality of our people. I know, too, that cinemas have a great; social value. They offer to working men and women and their children an alternative place to the public house in hundreds of villages and towns in this country. I am one of those who believe that the decline in drunkenness in this country is, partially at any rate, due to the growth in attractiveness of cinema entertainment. I am sure that cinemas have great recreational value for millions of our people. I do not think that many hon. Member of this House will understand with how much enjoyment our people look forward to their weekly cinema. It provides them with what I might call the "high spot" in their life after working at, it may be, some miserable or sordid occupation. The Friday or Saturday night cinema means a great deal to working men and their children.

The Financial Secretary during these Debates has spoken a great deal about the "effective rate of taxation" on the incomes of many people. I wonder if he has thought what is the effective rate of taxation of this cinema tax on poor people, and especially on their children. Remember, it is not a tax upon their income; it is a tax upon their pocket-money, in the case of children whose pocket-money may perhaps be 3d., 4d., or 6d. a week. When they go to a three-penny cinema they have to pay an extra penny; if it is 3d., they have to pay 4d., and so on. In this case the effective rate ranges from 20 to 25 per cent. That means a great deal: it often means the difference between going to a cinema and not going. The Chancellor in his reply says that the cost would be something about £2,000,000 in a full year.

As I listen to these Debates, I always wonder what are the real factors that govern concessions in the process of a Finance Bill going through this Committee. When it is a question of remitting £20,000,000 to the wealthier income Tax payers, we are given peculiar reasons. We heard a lot of talk about the psychological effect of concessions when they concern wealthy people. I find it very difficult to weigh up the pros and cons of psychological arguments. If I were given some economic reasons, I might be able to put on one side the pros and on the other the cons; but when we are told that the £20,000,000 returned to the Income Tax payers has a psychological basis, it is very hard to understand the statement fairly or to see the Government point of view. When it is a question of remitting £14,000,000 of taxation to the brewers, we are told that it is to the benefit of the trade and employment over the country generally, and that at least £14,000,000 and perhaps £20,000,000 will be spent on boots, clothing and furniture, and that therefore it is beneficial from every point of view.

But what about this £2,000,000 compensation? £2,000,000 is less than £20,000,000. If this tax is remitted—let me use the same argument as was used on the other side—it will surely mean that there will be an additional £2,000,000 in the pockets of the people. If it is a loss to the Treasury, it will be a gain to those people and ultimately be to the benefit to the Treasury by increasing their purchasing power. It will be spent, like the other sum, in more boots, more stockings, more clothing, and so on, and likewise will result in increased employment. It will not be a loss to the State, but a gain. Not only will the poorer people have more enjoyment, more education, more recreation, but there will also be a gain to the general trade and employment of the country. For these reasons I hold that the Chancellor will show nearly as much kindness and consideration for this concession, which con- cerns the poorest people, as he has shown in regard to concessions to those who are better off.

In this House the most powerful and wealthiest interests have 500 representatives who support them very strongly. A concession for the brewers is supported by powerful speeches from the other side, with economic and other arguments. A concession to landlords will also call for eloquent speeches.


Is the hon. Member aware that the concessions which he says were made to the brewers were actually made to the brewers' customers?


I know they were intended to be given to the brewers' customers, but I know that their effect has been a tremendous increase in the value of brewery shares, so they have gone the wrong road. Just as concessions to those who are wealthy receive the most powerful support from hon. Members opposite, and perhaps for that reason they look down on my arguments, in this case the concession is only £2,000,000, one-tenth of what was given to the wealthier Income Tax payers. On our side of the House there are only perhaps 50 or 60 Members who will support this concession, and obviously this Clause cannot be put in the Finance Bill without help from the other side. Many hon. Members who have spoken from the other side have proclaimed their sympathy with this idea, but nobody who has spoken has proclaimed that the concession is a right and proper thing for the Government to give. If they mean this, they must see clearly that the Clause cannot be carried by the Votes on this side of the Committee, and that the only way to put their sympathy into practical operation is to vote for this Clause, to show that they are not merely talking with their tongue in their cheek but that they really mean the sympathy that they express with this concession to the poorest people. I hope that hon. Members opposite will show that they are sincere by going into the Lobby and voting with us in our endeavour to give this concession.


In view of the very sympathetic reply given by my right hon. Friend, and as I intend to raise the matter again at the earliest opportunity, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Clause.



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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 64; Noes, 221.

Division No. 279.] AYES. [9.35 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Nathan, Major H. L.
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Rea, Walter Russell
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, Thomas W. Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Banfield, John William Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Batey, Joseph Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Harris, Sir Percy Strickland, Captain W. F.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Janner, Barnett Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Jenkins, Sir William Summersby, Charles H.
Cape, Thomas Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Tinker, John Joseph
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Kirkwood, David Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Curry, A. C. Lawson, John James Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah
Daggar, George Leonard, William West, F. R.
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Logan, David Gilbert White, Henry Graham
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Edwards, Charles Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) McEntee, Valentine L. Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) McGovern, John Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Mainwaring, William Henry TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) Mr. John and Mr. Groves.
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maxton, James
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Milner, Major James
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Edmondson, Major Sir James Latham, Sir Herbert Paul
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Law, Sir Alfred
Albery, Irving James Elmley, Viscount Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)
Alexander, Sir William Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Levy, Thomas
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lewis, Oswald
Amery. Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Liddall, Walter S.
Aske, Sir Robert William Fermoy, Lord Lindsay, Noel Ker
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Fleming, Edward Lascelles Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Fremantle, Sir Francis Liewellin, Major John J.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Galbraith, James Francis Wallace Lloyd, Geoffrey
Bilnden, James Ganzonl, Sir John Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Bossom, A. C. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)
Boulton, W. W. Gillett, Sir George Mastarman Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George F. W. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Loftus, Pierce C.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Gluckstein, Louis Halle Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Brass, Captain Sir William Goodman, Colonel Albert W. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Broadbent, Colonel John Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Greene, William P. C. McLean, Dr. W. H, (Tradeston)
Brown. Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Macquisten, Frederick Alexander
Buchan, John Grimston, R. V. Maltland, Adam
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Gritten, W. G. Howard Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Gunston, Captain D. W. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Guy, J. C. Morrison Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Marsden, Commander Arthur
Cassels, James Dale Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Hanbury, Cecil Mayhaw, Lieut.-Colonel John
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Meller, Sir Richard James
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hartington, Marquess of Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Hartland, George A. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Clarke, Frank Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Moreing, Adrian C.
Clayton, Sir Christopher Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Morgan, Robert H.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Cheimsford) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)
Colfox, Major William Philip Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Morrison, William Shephard
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.
Cranborne, Viscount Hore-Bellsha, Leslle Munro, Patrick
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hornby, Frank Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Crooke, J. Smedley Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro) Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Patrick, Colin M.
Crossley, A. C. Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Peake, Captain Osbert
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Petherick, M
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Radford, E. A.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Dixey, Arthur C. N. James, Wing-Corn. A. W. H. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Dower, Captain A. V. G. Jesson, Major Thomas E. Ramsbotham, Herwald
Drewe, Cedric Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rankin, Robert
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Kimball, Lawrence Ray, Sir William
Dunglass, Lord Knox, Sir Alfred Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Eales, John Frederick Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Reid, David D. (County Down)
Reid, William Allan (Derby) Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Remer, John R. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Renwick, Major Gustav A. Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.) Todd. A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Rickards, George William Smithers, Sir Waldron Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Somerset, Thomas Train, John
Robinson, John Roland Somervell, Sir Donald Tree, Ronald
Ropner, Colonel L. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Sopar, Richard Turton, Robert Hugh
Ross, Ronald D. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Spencer, Captain Richard A Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Spans, William Patrick Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.
Runge, Norah Cecil Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Wells, Sidney Richard
Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy) Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland) Whyte, Jardine Bell
Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde) Stones, James Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Storey, Samuel Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George
Salmon, Sir Isidore Stourton, Hon. John J. Wise, Alfred R.
Salt, Edward W. Strauss, Edward A. Womersley, Sir Walter
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Worthington, Dr. John V.
Savery, Samuel Sarvington Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Selley, Harry R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Sutcliffe, Harold TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Shaw, Captain William T. (Forlar) Tate, Mavis Constance Sir George Penny and Dr. Morris-Jones.
Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A (Pd'gt'n, S.)

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