HC Deb 18 June 1935 vol 303 cc187-220

3.12 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 3, at the beginning, to insert: As respects entertainments to which the next succeeding sub-section applies the said duty shall cease to be charged on payments not exceeding one shilling and as respects other entertainments. The purpose of this Amendment, as no doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer realises, is to extend the remission of Entertainments Duty which he has granted on all seats at sports and entertainments where the charge does not exceed 6d. We take the view that, while that is a remission of taxation which is well warranted in a great many quarters, and will undoubtedly give satisfaction to a large number of people, there are certain entertainments which do not get that benefit and which we think ought to come within the scope of the remission. The Entertainments Duty is a war tax, and it has been juggled with by different Chancellors of the Exchequer, who at different periods have found it necessary to placate public sentiment by granting some remission of the tax, while on other occasions the duty has been re-imposed. I think the right hon. Gentleman, during his Budget speech, made a statement regarding some of the plays and entertainments affected, and suggested that, if it were possible for him to grant a remission of the duty in the case of some of the entertainments mentioned in Sub-section (3) of Clause 1, it would confer a considerable benefit and at the same time would not endanger the balancing of his Budget. He, of course, is in a better position than I am to state how much money this Amendment would involve, but I do not think the sum would be so large as to make it necessary to consider any question of risk in accepting it. The entertainments in the case of which we are asking for an extension of the remission include a stage play, a ballet (whether a stage play or not), a performance of music (whether vocal or instrumental), a lecture, a recitation, a music hall or other variety entertainment, a circus or a travelling show, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that in several of these cases the remission would confer a great deal of benefit. I am certain that hon. Members present will be able to enlarge upon the different classes of entertainments mentioned in the Sub-section, and will be able to show the benefit that would accrue to each and every one of these classes of entertainment. Taking the case of the circus or travelling show, where a marquee is set up at one of the periodical fairs which are held in small towns and villages throughout the country, where the charge for admission does not exceed 1s., the benefit that would accrue to those who run these entertainments and shows would be very considerable, and would go a long way to meet the expenses entailed upon them in travelling from one part of the country to another. It is unnecessary for me to detain the Committee at any length on this matter. The tax on the dearer seats will still be continued; we are only asking that the remission which has already been granted on the 6d. seats should be extended to those at 1s., but not over 1s.; and, in view of the smallness of the sum involved, I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to meet us and accept the Amendment.

3.18 p.m.


I trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept this Amendment. I am more anxious than ever to see an opportunity given to the legitimate stage to reduce its prices and so to get a larger clientele. While I have no objection to the cinema, I am anxious that those engaged in orchestras, instead of being mendicants on our streets, should have a favourable opportunity of employment in theatres. In our large cities, especially in Liverpool, the question of "canned" music is becoming acute, and when I look round, as I have had to do for the past 40 years, and see the popularity of the plays produced in Liverpool, I am convinced of the elevating influence that the theatre has upon our people. Recognising, as I do, that other forms of entertainment are now competing against the theatre, and finding that "canned" music is taking the place of the orchestra, I am anxious if possible to see a recrudescence of better times for those theatres which are now being practically driven out of business. The production of these plays in our great cities, and particularly Shakespearian plays, has a great educational influence on boys and girls from school, and many classes of people are able to see such productions without in any way impinging upon family life or involving any question of morals. They have had a good tendency. For these reasons, I would like if possible to see it popularised, so that a now dwindling professional body may once again take their place in the practice of the histrionic art.

Anyone who knows anything at all about it must be fully aware that the theatre is not the vagabond life it used to be in the olden days, but is really beneficial. If only our people could be encouraged to go and see good plays, and the theatres to engage artists, I am convinced that it would be beneficial, and the Chancellor would be doing a great justice if he could see his way to make the concession for which we ask to-day. In other classes of industry professional men have been thrown out of employment, and many theatres, owing to people not being able to go to see the plays, have not been able to keep their orchestras in employment. We have seen theatres turned into cinemas, displacing the performance of the drama and other stage plays, and orchestras have disappeared. It has been very hard lines upon professional musicians in their efforts to obtain a living. I want to see art, drama and the stage play take their proper part in the work of the nation. I am convinced that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would provide an opportunity for a reduction to be made in the charges for admission our people would be encouraged to take full advantage of the concession, and it is because of that that I make a plea to him to accept the Amendment.

3.22 p.m.


The purpose of the Amendment, I take it, is to make the employment of those engaged upon the stage more easy. There does not seem to be much hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer can accept the Amendment in its present form, but in the Bill that is before us to-day he has made an alteration which shows that he is not un-favourable to the principle embodied in the Amendment. He has made an alteration in the scale of Entertainments Duty which can have for its purpose but one thing, which is to make employment easier for all those engaged on the stage as opposed to the films. I have risen in order to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give a hopeful reply. I am sure that it would be a great encouragement to those engaged in this industry if he could give some indication that, if he had the funds available, he would be prepared to extend still further the principle which he has already embodied in the Finance Bill by exempting the particular form of entertainment mentioned in Sub-section (3) of the Clause from Entertainments Duty so far as prices not exceeding 6d. are concerned. If he could give such a hopeful reply he would encourage a greater number of people to carry on in times of great difficulty in the hope that the funds would become available, and that in due course they would be able to secure exemption from Entertainments Duty on seats for which a charge not exceeding 1s. is made in accordance with the terms of the Amendment. When one looks at the particular industry, it is difficult perhaps to believe that a concession even of this character would make the revival of the stage easily possible, because the advantage of the film is so enormous, but I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to make it possible for employment on the stage to continue and indeed to develop. If he could give but a hopeful reply to the Amendment, I am sure that he would be giving encouragement to a great number of people and to an industry which, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) has said, is not without its value in the life of the country.

3.25 p.m.


I want to pay tribute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. [Laughter.] Right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen seem surprised. I am an admirer of the very great abilities of the right hon. Gentleman, and I recognise that he has made a very real and constructive attempt to help the theatre. It looks a little ungrateful to ask for more, but the very fact that he is putting words into this Clause singling out the theatre for special consideration is a recognition of his interest in and sympathy for the drama. I agree that we have to consider the people employed in this important industry, the actors, the players, the musicians, the stage hands and all concerned, but, even more than that, the great public are concerned. They have to be weaned away from the mechanical theatre and encouraged to go back to the drama and the great British theatre which has been our pride and glory for centuries. It is well to pay tribute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he has recognised that principle. I have reason to believe that he is really interested in the theatre, and desires its progress and well-being. It is always easy to ask for more. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) that it would be a great thing if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could give a message of hope to the theatres, and say it is not going to end there, and that his aim is to give even further relief in the future.

One of the difficulties is the complexity and the elaborate differentiation between various seats. If the Committee will turn to the Schedule, it will be seen that on seats exceeding 6d. and not exceeding 8½d., a humble ½d. is to be charged as duty, from 8½d. to 11d., one penny is to be charged, and from 11d. to 1s. 1½d., 1½d. is to be charged, and so on. It seems to be a needless and complicated tax, and it would simplify matters very much if a clean sweep could be made of this tax upon what is, after all, a very low-priced seat. To people who can afford 1s., an extra ½d. or so is very irritating, it is difficult to collect, and is annoying to the box office and the owners of the theatre and cinema. It would be very satisfactory if the Amendment could be accepted, but I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman has recognised the principle, and it is right that it should be so recognised.

3.27 p.m.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

I am sincerely grateful to the hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), and also to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane), for their recognition of the advance in the direction which they desire which has been made in the Finance Bill, and I am the more grateful because I missed any recognition of that fact in the two opening speeches with which the Amendment was moved and seconded. The sentiments which were expressed by the hon. Member opposite are such as have my sympathy, and, indeed, although some of the greatest literature in the English language is to be found in dramatic writing and plays which are literary and are read for their own sake without necessarily having to be seen on the stage, we may perhaps recollect that they would never have been written if they had not been intended to be acted. But in these days when the theatre has fallen upon hard times in competition with a new form of entertainment, I certainly feel that one does not want to do anything to make the lot of the theatre proprietor, producer, playwright or play actors any harder than it is. I have for the first time in this Finance Bill drawn a distinction between what has been described as the living performance, by live performers, and the mechanical form of entertainment, and have made a concession to the former. I do not think it is fair either to one's self or to one's successor to express an opinion as to what may or what may not be done in the future when funds are available which are not available to-day, but I would point out that, once a distinction has been made, a most important advance, I should have thought if I were financially interested in theatres, has already been made, because it is always much simpler to increase a concession which has been given, when a definition has already appeared on the Statute Book, than it is to introduce a new definition and a new distinction between the different kinds of performance. Therefore, in taking this step and making this distinction between the living performance and the mechanical performance a most important advance has been made.

The hon. Member who moved and the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment were generous in the recognition of the value of this step. They thought it was so good that they would like to have more of it. But one has to consider not merely a particular item but the whole extent of the national expenditure, and I have, as best I can, to apportion whatever concessions can be made, with some attempt at fairness to all kinds of interests. In this particular case the Com- mittee may recollect the line which I took. I said that I would give back the whole value of the extra Entertainments Duty which had been imposed in 1931 but that I would make a somewhat different distribution of it. The bulk of the cost was involved in the abolition of the tax on seats up to 6d. There remained a sum of £400,000 distributed over the higher priced seats, which sum I said I would devote entirely to the relief of the living performances, concentrating the relief upon the cheaper seats. I thought that would be most helpful in the competition with the mechanical performances. It will be seen that in the result there is a uniform reduction of duty. Instead of a duty varying with the price of the seat there is a uniform reduction and the percentage reduction on the cheaper seats is much greater than the percentage on the dearer seats. In this way I have utilised the £400,000 which I had allotted myself for this purpose.

The hon. Member who moved the Amendment suggested that it would not cost very much to go a little bit further. I do not say that it would cost very much. It would cost perhaps about £150,000, but

it would make a break in the arrangement which I have made and would give a somewhat disproportionate relief in this particular direction. It would exceed the amount of the Entertainments Duty imposed in 1931. In view of the considerable concession that has been made already, I think that those who are interested in these performances might well be satisfied with this to go on with, especially with the distinction that I have made and await a more favourable opportunity before pressing for any further concession. In the case of the ninepenny seats, which are considered to be important, especially in the Provinces, and in the case of the shilling seats which are also important, there has been a reduction from 1½d. to ½d. and from 2d. to 1d., 1d. being taken off in both cases. In the case of both these cheaper seats there has been a substantial reduction. I hope that in view of the advance in this direction that I have made the hon. Member will not press his Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 50; Noes, 187.

Division No. 233.] AYES. [3.37 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Owen, Major Goronwy
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Rea, Sir Walter
Banfield, John William Grundy, Thomas W. Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Batey, Joseph Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Harris, Sir Percy Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Holdsworth, Herbert Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Buchanan, George Janner, Barnett Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)
Cleary, J. J. Jenkins, Sir William Thorne, William James
Cove, William G. John, William Tinker, John Joseph
Curry, A. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) West, F. R.
Daggar, George Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Denville, Alfred Leonard, William Wilmot, John
Dobbie, William Logan, David Gilbert Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Edwards, Sir Charles Lunn, William
Gardner, Benjamin Walter McEntee, Valentine L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Mr. Paling and Mr. Groves.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maxton, James
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Dalkeith, Earl of
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovll)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Clarke, Frank Doran, Edward
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Clayton, Sir Christopher Dower, Captain A. V. G.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cobb, Sir Cyril Drewe, Cedric
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel
Beit, Sir Alfred L. Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Conant, R. J. E. Elmley, Viscount
Bernays, Robert Cook, Thomas A. Emmott, Charles E. G. C.
Blindell, James Cooke, Douglas Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)
Boulton, W. W. Cooper, A. Duff Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.) Everard, W. Lindsay
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Fermoy, Lord
Browne, Captain A. C. Cranborne, Viscount Fuller, Captain A. G.
Burnett, John George Craven-Ellis, William Gibson, Charles Granville
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Critchley, Brig.-General A. C. Gledhill, Gilbert
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Cross, R. H. Granville, Edgar
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Crossley, A. C. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. Sir Charles Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Grimston, R. V. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Runge, Norah Cecil
Gunston, Captain D. W. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Guy, J. C. Morrison MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Bassetlaw) Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Salmon, Sir Isidore
Hales, Harold K. McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Salt, Edward W.
Hammersley, Samuel S. Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Harbord, Arthur Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Hartland, George A. Maitland, Adam Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Smithers, Sir Waldron
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Martin, Thomas B. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Soper, Richard
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. Leslie Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)
Horobin, Ian M. Morelng, Adrian C. Stevenson, James
Horsbrugh, Florence Morgan, Robert H. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hewitt, Dr. Alfred B. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Summersby, Charles H.
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Hume, Sir George Hopwood Munro, Patrick Thomson, Sir James D. W.
Hurd, Sir Percy Natlon, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Iveagh, Countess of Nunn, William Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Orr Ewing, I. L. Train, John
Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Patrick, Colin M. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Penny, Sir George Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Jamieson, Rt. Hon. Douglas Percy, Lord Eustace Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Petherick, M. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Watt, Major George Steven H.
Kerr, Hamilton W. Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Wayland, Sir William A.
Kirkpatrick, William M. Procter, Major Henry Adam Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Law, Sir Alfred Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.) Ramsbotham, Herwald Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Lees-Jones, John Ramsden, Sir Eugene Wills, Wilfrid D.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Bathbone, Eleanor Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Levy, Thomas Reid, David D. (County Down) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Liddall, Walter S. Rickards, George William Worthington, Sir John
Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock) Ropner, Colonel L.
Lloyd, Geoffrey Rosbotham, Sir Thomas TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. G'n) Ross, Ronald D. Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Loder, Captain J. de Vere Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) and Sir Walter Womersley.
Mabane, William Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward

3.44 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 14, at the end, to insert: a football or cricket match or other athletic or sporting contest or exhibition. The object of the Amendment is to extend the reduction in the Entertainments Duty to football and cricket matches and other athletic or sporting contests. I am not quite certain of the words, they may be too wide, but I am prepared to alter the phraseology of the Amendment so long as I can get the principle accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I want to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that there are thousands of people whose only pleasure to-day is to attend football or cricket matches. Anyone who has had any experience of running a football or cricket club will know how difficult it is to make it pay. There has been a tremendous falling off in the attendance at these matches. I want to encourage a larger attendance by lowering the duty, and also to encourage those people who find a pleasure in watching football or cricket. I am not complaining of the attendances in my own county; we invariably get good crowds at football and cricket matches. I have served in an honorary capacity for 20 years in a cricket club, and I know the great difficulty there is in meeting this duty. I can see no reason for drawing a distinction between the entertainments mentioned in Sub-section (3) and the legitimate sport of the people. Whatever may be said from the artistic point of view, there is no doubt that from the health point of view the best thing a person who has passed the age when he can take an active part in these sports can do is to attend the performances given by those who can give the best exhibitions of whatever game they may play. It would not be a very costly gift, and I hope the Chancellor will be able to grant the concession.

3.47 p.m.


I desire to support the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that he desires to apportion the relief which he is able to give. I would suggest to him that the Amendment covers a great number of people who have so far had no share in the apportionment and that they should get some of the benefits at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as anybody else. I do not know of any principle on which they should be excluded except perhaps that they have no mechanical competitors, but they have other difficulties to meet which we must all realise. On the principle that we should encourage performances by live performers—that may be somewhat doubtful in the case of some cricket matches—I hope the Chancellor will accept the Amendment and thus give some relief and encouragement to a class of people who I am sure he is most anxious to encourage.

3.49 p.m.


I have made no estimate at all of the amount which the concession would cost, but at the same time I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will grant it. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will be guided more by the cost than by anything else, but undoubtedly practically every hon. Member in the House, if the concession could be made at a reasonable cost, would agree that it should be made, and I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself would be willing to make it also. I had something to do with the propaganda which was successfully carried on so far as indoor recreation and entertainments are concerned and which was referred to by the Chancellor; but so far as these outdoor recreations are concerned no concession at all has been made.

It is probably true to say that from the point of view of popularity outdoor games are even more popular than the cinema. Certainly when the weather is reasonably fine most people would prefer to attend a football or cricket match rather than go to any indoor entertainment. The Chancellor has said that he has tried to divide up reasonably equally amongst those to whom he thought some concession ought to be made the surplus that he had available for distribution. The people who attend these outdoor games apparently did not came in for any consideration at all. I do not think it would be the Chancellor's desire to leave them out of consideration any more than others, but for some reason they were not considered. In all probability the reason was that they were not vocal enough. Had they been as vocal as some of us who associated ourselves with the cinema agitation, in all probability they would have got more consideration than they did get. Should the Chancellor refuse to make some concession to-day the probability is that once the matter has been raised the vocal part of the agitation will come.

I do not like to think that concessions will not be made to people who are entitled to them until those people become so vocal and carry on an agitation to such an extent as to become a nuisance to the Chancellor or the Government. These things ought to be judged on the justice of the appeal that is made and on the needs of the people concerned. I do not know any reason why a person who attends a football or cricket match is less in need of concession than the person who attends a cinema or concert. I hope, therefore, that the Chancellor will give favourable consideration to the Amendment.

3.54 p.m.


Perhaps the Chancellor will look with a favourable eye on this matter. It is rather a new line that we are having to-day. This is the first of the great Amendments to be proposed by this sub-section of the Liberal party. Those of us who have watched the Liberal party through many years have always rather associated them with some kill-joy matter such as the Tea Duty, or something of that kind, and we have never in our wildest dreams thought that they would come in and put up their foremost spokesmen to speak on behalf of football. It is a new frame of mind. If this is to be the new aspect of this section of the Liberal party surely the Chancellor ought to encourage it. It looks as if we might see the Liberals getting a little fresh air into their somewhat cobwebby minds, and that in due time they might come to realise other benefits which the Chancellor has given them.

There is one thing which the Chancellor might do for us. I hold very strongly that it is far better that people who are looking on at games, which I never think is the best way of spending time, should be encouraged to look on out of doors rather than indoors. As one who wishes to see as much outdoor amusement as is reasonably possible, I ask the Chancellor to consider this matter very carefully. If he cannot make the concession to-day, will he give the proposal special consideration between now and next year? There is a very strong feeling that the youth of the country should be encouraged to get out of doors. When such relics of the past as the hon. Members who sit in front of me appeal to the Chancellor in the matter, surely it is something to which my right hon. Friend might give very careful consideration. Although I do not pledge myself to go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment, I hope that the Chancellor will give most favourable consideration to it or the principle of it when occasion enables him to do so.

3.58 p.m.


I shall not follow my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) in his reference to the Amendment as one involving a question of high party political principle, but rather would I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give a specific denial to the statement which was made by the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee), who said that no remission of duty had been made in respect of entertainments of this kind. The hon. Member must have forgotten Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 which lays down that the duty charged under the Entertainments Duty shall cease to be charged on payments not exceeding 6d. To that extent there is direct assistance given to football and cricket matches. I should be glad if my right hon. Friend would give that statement official sanction. I have a personal knowledge of this subject. I happen to be the president of the football club in my Division, and my political reputation is at stake, for I have already told my constituents that to the extent of 6d. there will be no tax on admission to cricket and football matches. I should like an assurance on that point. I would remind the Chancellor that in various parts of the country, particularly in the smaller towns, there are cricket and football organisations which are being carried on with extreme difficulty. They are not the bigger football and cricket clubs, but they are clubs which are performing a distinct service in providing recreation for the people. If not on this occasion, perhaps on some other occasion the Chancellor would extend the principle already embodied in the Bill, and so encourage a number of people who, by carrying on these organisations under extreme difficulty, are well worthy of help.

4.0 p.m.


I feel sure that if my hon. Friends who moved the Amendment would cut out the part relating to sporting contests and exhibitions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have no difficulty in accepting this very admirable Amendment. Everyone, I am sure, will agree that, to whatever party we belong, we all want football and cricket. The tribute paid by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) to the Liberal party encourages myself and others to continue, I hope, to go forward on the right path. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will allow that it is a very narrow Amendment, merely to include football and cricket matches and athletic events, and that he will see his way now to grant, or, if not right away, to consider the granting of a concession which would be popular throughout the length and breadth of the country.

4.2 p.m.


I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Maitland) that he has understood the plain English of the Bill, and that it does mean what he conceives it to mean. In that respect he has an advantage over some hon. Members who have spoken to the Amendment, as he has read the Finance Bill, which, apparently, they have not. Even the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) said that those who attended football and cricket matches would have no share at all in these benefits, whereas it is very plainly stated in the Bill that they will benefit to the extent of 100 per cent. by the complete removal of the tax on seats up to 6d. I think hon. Members failed to appreciate that point, and I did not hear from them that note of gratitude which was so plainly discernible in the speeches of those who spoke on behalf of the first Amendment moved this afternoon.

The Amendment now before the Committee is one which I do not think hon. Members who reflect upon it will really urge my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to accept. Those who supported the first Amendment approved very strongly the principle which the Chancellor introduced of differentiating between living performances and mechanical performances, thereby, for the first time, putting entertainments of that sort, which are of some value to the intellectual and artistic life of the community, in a separate category. I hope the hon. Member opposite will use his influence with his party in impressing upon their minds the value of this new distinction which the Chancellor has made. But the value would disappear entirely if we were to place upon the same level a football or cricket match or other athletic or sporting contest or exhibition, and musical performances, concerts, the plays of Shakespeare and the other performances mentioned in the Bill. Then is there the same competition? One of the reasons which has moved my right hon. Friend to make this concession is that the people who are giving these performances do suffer very severely from the new competition to which they have been subjected by the invention of the cinematograph. It has not been contended by anyone this afternoon that cricket matches and football matches have suffered from such competition. Indeed, it has been admitted by the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) that people would far sooner attend an outdoor performance in the afternoon than go to the cinema. Therefore, the main argument of my right hon. Friend for differentiation in the case of living performances does not exist so far as cricket and football matches are concerned. The other reason which influenced my right hon. Friend was that it was made perfectly plain that it was not the public so much who suffered; it was not the people who went to see these entertainments, but it was the people who gave them, the closing down of entertainments and the consequent throwing people out of employment. That is not the case with regard to those who take part in football and cricket matches.

This Amendment has been supported on two different grounds. On the one hand, hon. Members have said that the people to-day enjoy more than anything else cricket and football on a Saturday afternoon, and will you not give them some relief? At the same time, the stronger argument has been put forward that cricket and football clubs cannot carry on because the attendances are so small that they must be given this relief. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. If such relief were given, it would be those who run the clubs and not those who go to the matches who would benefit. I think that those who support the Amendment, when they come to reflect upon it, will see that it would take away much of the advantage already given to living performances, that it is not based on any unfair or undue competition of a new industry, the cinema, and that it would not benefit the public or the people taking part in the matches. For these reasons, I do not think Members will be inclined to support the Amendment, and I hope that they will not insist on dividing upon it.


Could the hon. Gentleman give any estimate of what it would cost to make this concession?


Not without notice.

4.9 p.m.


My hon. Friends and I feel some disappointment at the speech of the Financial Secretary, and I am very surprised at his answer to the question of the hon. Gentleman. This Amendment has been on the Order Paper, and it is customary when hon. Members put these Amendments down to ask the Chancellor or the Financial Secretary how much they would cost.


I have not advanced the argument of cost against the Amendment. The cost would be about £250,000. That is not, however, the reason why the Government are refusing the Amendment.


I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving the answer to me now. I am not surprised that it is not on account of the cost that he rejects this Amendment, because, obviously, the cost is very small—only £250,000. No doubt the Financial Secretary has given an accurate figure, but it might well be, if he would consider the principle of the Amendment, that we could cut out various things. I have no doubt that the Amendment, as loosely drafted, includes dog-racing, for example, and I have no doubt we could cut it down and save a good deal of that £250,000, concentrating the benefits on purposes such as cricket and football, which we all wish to encourage. The Financial Secretary said that we should be putting football and cricket on the level of Shakespeare and classical music. Far be it from me to compare two such very unlike things, but I should say that cricket and football in their sphere are just as well to encourage as Shakespeare and classical music in their sphere, and I would point out to the Financial Secretary that his proposal puts on the same level not only Shakespeare and classical music, but revues and such entertainments as "Stop Press," and things which I should have thought far less comparable and of less value to the people of this country than two wholesome sports like football and cricket.

Then the hon. Member said that some hon. Members had stated that these clubs were so hard pressed that they needed this support, while others argued that they were so popular that we ought to give the benefit to the people who went to these outdoor pastimes, and he said that we could not have it both ways. As a matter of fact, that is exactly the position. In some parts of the country these clubs are very hard pressed, while in other parts people are flocking there in vast numbers. In the one case the benefit would go to the people who attend these matches, and in the other case you would give very much-needed help to some of these very hard-pressed clubs. I know of one club which is probably going to leave the minor championships because of the difficulty of maintaining its ground. I have no doubt that that is typical of many other cases where cricket clubs are struggling to maintain themselves in these difficult days.

Finally, the Financial Secretary said that we must not take away the advantage which this Bill is giving to living performances, or rather that the Amendment would, to some extent, take away the advantage the Bill is giving to living performances. I cannot imagine any argument more unsound. The living performances do not ask to be defended against football and cricket, but against the cinemas, and the passage of this Amendment would not in any way prejudice the position of the theatre employing living performers in the new position which they will enjoy under this Bill. Even now I hope that the Chancellor will give consideration to this very valuable Amendment. It is obvious that it would meet with the approval of Members in all parts of the Committee, and although I do not tie myself to the actual wording of the Amendment—he is aware of the difficulty under which those who put down Amendments labour when it comes to drafting—I hope very much that he will try to see if he cannot meet us in some way before the Report stage. Otherwise we must press the Amendment to a Division.

4.14 p.m.


I want to point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary that the effect of the Amendment is not calculated so much to help the big football clubs or the big cricket county clubs, but to help the small football and cricket clubs in the smaller towns and vilages of this country, which clubs perform a far more essential service to sport than do the great clubs in the great towns. The football clubs in the great towns attract a great number of people, but in the smaller towns, such as the one I represent in this House, many of the clubs, owing to their expenditure, have been obliged to go to the wall since the days of the War. The majority of Members here would I think lay claim to the name of sportsmen, and I suggest that by helping these small clubs they will be doing something of advantage to the youth of our country. Generally speaking, the players for these small clubs are drawn from the towns and villages in the locality. The boys who play are all known to each other and a number of people who interest themselves in these sports put their hands in their pockets to assist the small local clubs. In spite of that help the number of such clubs grows less every year, and I hope and trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may find some way of meeting their case. If he is not able to do anything now, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind the possibility of doing something at a later stage to help those organizations. I am sure that such an action on his part would be greatly appreciated at a time when we are paying great attention to the needs of the youth of this country and when a special appeal is being made on their behalf. Sport of this kind is essential to the happiness and wellbeing of our young men, and I hope that the appeal which has been made this afternoon will not fall on deaf ears.

4.17 p.m.


I am very much surprised at this Amendment. The youth of this country ought not to pay any more than 6d. for witnessing any football or cricket match. Remember that this is not a case of those who are playing football or cricket. It only concerns those who are looking on at those games and the little clubs for whom a special appeal is being made, as far as I know, never charge any more than 6d. for admission to their matches. I submit that it is plenty for any boy to pay for his amusement on a Saturday afternoon, and I am surprised at hon. Members taking up an attitude which would appear to encourage these young fellows in extravagance and encourage the charging of high prices. Those who can afford to pay more than 6d. for amusement of this kind can very well afford to pay their proportion of the tax and thus help other people. We have great football clubs making large profits out of what they charge for admission to their matches and engaged one with another in buying and selling players for thousands of pounds—like cattle being sold on the hoof. I have often been surprised at the extent to which this goes on, because it is nothing more nor less than a form of the slave trade in this country. I feel that I am speaking entirely in the interests of democracy when I say that I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not give way on this matter. A concession has been made as regards the 6d. charge, and I submit that that is quite enough to charge for admission to football and cricket matches except in the case of Lord's ground and great places like that, where the people concerned can well afford to make a contribution to the revenue of the country.

4.19 p.m.


I think something ought to be said on behalf of those who intend to support the Government on this matter. I feel that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) has been on wrong lines altogether in the case which he has placed before the Committee. In general, the case of the smaller clubs has been met by the remission of Entertainments Duty on charges of 6d. and below 6d. I think therefore that the point raised by hon. Members opposite is entirely wrong. As far as I am aware, and I have made inquiries into this matter, the smaller clubs recognise that they have received a valuable concession, and they are not greedy in this matter. The concession which is suggested in the Amendment would really be a concession, not to the smaller clubs but to the large clubs, in the First, Second and Third Divisions of the League.


Why not?


But the appeal which we have heard has been made on behalf of the smaller clubs. There is no sort of evidence that in the main the clubs in the Football League are not making substantial profits.


The hon. Member's own club made a loss last year. [Laughter.]


It is all very well for the Committee to laugh, but I think they ought to wait to find out whether that is the case or not. In fact it is not the case—




There is a general rule against advertising any business in our Debates, and I think that rule applies equally to advertisements of an unfriendly nature.


The Committee is well aware that the Huddersfield Football Club does not need advertising. Those of us who intend to support the Government on this matter desire it to be known that we consider the case to have been fully met by the concession on admission charges up to 6d. That meets the case of the smaller clubs and to go beyond that concession will not do any real good.

4.21 p.m.


I do not intend advertising any football club, except to say that my constituency's team took what steam there was out of Huddersfield and played remarkable football. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) argued that the removal of the tax on charges of 6d. and under had settled the problem, but it has not done so. We are grateful for what has been done. I took part in the agitation which led to the removal of the tax on charges up to 6d.


We all did.


I know that the country generally is not ungrateful for that concession, but what we are saying now is that the reduction on charges above sixpence ought to be extended to football and cricket clubs. The position with regard to the average cricket or football club is that attendances are not altogether determined by the tax. As a rule people will follow a winning team and the same thing applies both to the clubs in the smaller towns and those in the larger cities. When teams are doing well, they draw large attendances and when they are doing badly the attendances fall off. The point is that in the smaller towns prices higher than 6d. are charged

for admission to football matches. There are people who take a keen interest in football but who do not always feel like standing for an hour and a half watching a match. Many people for physical reasons like to have a seat on the stand which costs more than 6d., and I have yet to hear any sound reason why a person in that position should be penalised by the entertainments duty. I suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be conferring a great benefit on most of the football and cricket clubs in the smaller towns if he accepted the Amendment which I hope will be taken to a Division.


Is it not the case that the charge for a seat is a separate charge.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 64; Noes, 207.

Division No. 234.] AYES. [4.25 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Maxton, James.
Banfield, John William Groves, Thomas E. Moreing, Adrian C.
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Nathan, Major H. L.
Bernays, Robert Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Owen, Major Goronwy
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Harris, Sir Percy Paling, Wilfred
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Janner, Barnett Procter, Major Henry Adam
Buchanan, George Jenkins, Sir William Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cleary, J. J. John, William Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cove, William G. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Curry, A. C. Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Daggar, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Thorne, William James
Dobbie, William Lawson, John James Tinker, John Joseph
Edwards, Sir Charles Leonard, William West, F. R.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Lunn, William Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Wilmot, John
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McEntee, Valentine L. Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Sir Walter Rea and Mr. Holdsworth.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Cross, R. H.
Albery, Irving James Castlereagh, Viscount Crossley, A. C.
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Dalkeith, Earl of
Apsley, Lord Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W) Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Balley, Eric Alfred George Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Denman, Hon. R. D.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Clarke, Frank Doran, Edward
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Clayton, Sir Christopher Dower, Captain A. V. G.
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Cobb, Sir Cyril Drewe, Cedric
Beit, Sir Alfred L. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)
Blindell, James Conant, R. J. E. Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony
Boulton, W. W. Cook, Thomas A. Elmley, Viscount
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cooke, Douglas Emmott, Charles E. G. C.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cooper, A. Duff Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Cooper, T. M. (Edinburgh, W.) Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)
Broadbent, Colonel John Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cranborne, Viscount Everard, W. Lindsay
Browne, Captain A. C. Craven-Ellis, William Fermoy, Lord
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Critchley, Brig.-General A. C. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst
Burnett, John George Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Fremantle, Sir Francis
Gibson, Charles Granville Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Gledhill, Gilbert Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Russell, R. J. (Eddlsbury)
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mabane, William Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Llverp'l)
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. Sir Charles Salmon, Sir Isidore
Grimston, R. V. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Salt, Edward W.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Guy, J. C. Morrison Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Hales, Harold K. Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Maitland, Adam Shute, Colonel Sir John
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Harbord, Arthur Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Smithers, Sir Waldron
Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes) Mills, sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Somervell, Sir Donald
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tfd & Chisw'k) Soper, Richard
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Morgan, Robert H. Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Stevenson, James
Hornby, Frank Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Horobin, Ian M. Munro, Patrick Stourton, Hon. John J.
Horsbrugh, Florence Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Nunn, William Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Orr Ewing, I. L. Summersby, Charles H.
Hume, Sir George Hopwood Palmer, Francis Noel Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Hurd, Sir Percy Patrick, Colin M. Thomson, Sir James D. W.
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Penny, Sir George Thorp, Linton Theodore
Iveagh, Countess of Percy, Lord Eustace Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Perkins, Walter R. D. Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Petherick, M. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Jamieson, Rt. Hon. Douglas Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger Pickthorn, K. W. M. Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Kirkpatrick, William M. Purbrick, R. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Law, Sir Alfred Ramsbotham, Herwald Watt, Major George Steven H.
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.) Ramsden, Sir Eugene Wayland, Sir William A.
Lees-Jones, John Reid, David D. (County Down) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Remer, John R. Wells, Sydney Richard
Levy, Thomas Rickards, George William Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Liddall, Walter S. Robinson, John Roland Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Lindsay, Noel Ker Ropner, Colonel L. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Lloyd, Geoffrey Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n) Ross, Ronald D. Worthington, Sir John
Locker, Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Loder, Captain J. de Vere Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Loftus, Pierce C. Runge, Norah Cecil Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
and Sir Walter Womersley.

4.31 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 14, at the end, to insert "agricultural or horticultural shows."

Agricultural and horticultural shows are not chargeable as such for Entertainments Duty, but if they have entertainments, they are charged. The point comes up because of what happened in the case of the Shrewsbury floral fete. They asked if they would come under the Clause, under the reduced rate, and the answer was that they would not. If that is the ruling in that particular case, it seems to me that it would be the same with all agricultural shows. If an entertainment is given at a horticultural or an agricultural show, it is not solely that entertainment, but it is the agricultural or horticultural show as well which draws the people, and I feel that it was not the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he framed his Clause to penalise such shows. I think his idea was to prevent the cinemas introducing some small entertainment with living people in order to come under the reduced duty, but it does not seem to me that the right hon. Gentleman meant to bring in entertainments which are entirely of living people at these agricultural shows. The wording of the Amendment may not quite meet the case, but I would ask my right hon. Friend to consider the point and to see whether he cannot do something in order that entertainments at these shows shall benefit under this Clause. These entertainments are entirely by living performers, and as a rule they are variety entertainments, with horses, leaping, bands, and so on.

4.34 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel WINDSOR-CLIVE

I think there is a stronger case for this Amendment than for the last Amendment, because the last one related to amusements only. When an agricultural show has attached to it one of the items enumerated in Sub-section (3) of this Clause, I think it should come under the benefit of the Clause.

4.35 p.m.


As my hon. and gallant Friends will realise, the great difficulty in the Entertainments Duty is to draw the line between one entertainment and another. Suppose a cinema performance wished to benefit by the new provisions, it might be argued that it was a performance by living performers, and it is left to those who administer the Act to define what entertainments come under the Act and what do not, and to draw their own definitions. So far as agricultural and horticultural shows are concerned, exemption is granted in nearly every case, wherever it can be shown that they are run for philanthropic purposes. In such a case no tax at all is charged, and there is no question of any remission of tax. In the past year 4,000 shows were exempted from all taxation whatever. I am very sorry that we found it impossible last year to exempt the particular show mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend in the same way as the 4,000 other shows were exempted, but he will see that, as 4,000 shows in this country escaped the tax altogether, the numbers that came under the tax must have been very small. It should not be impossible, and I hope it will not be impossible, for those who failed to satisfy the tax inspectors in the past to satisfy them in the future. If 4,000 can succeed in escaping all taxation in one year, it should not be impossible for others to conform. It is obviously impossible to accept the Amendment, for all the reasons that applied to our regretted refusal to accept the previous Amendment. The only case in which agricultural shows come under the tax is where it is considered that a great part of the attendance at a show is due to some other form of entertainment which is deliberately given in order to attract attendance.


In view of what my hon. Friend has said, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, but I hope my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will look into the matter further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.40 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 14, at the end, to insert: Provided that in the case of an entertainment which includes both a stage play and an orchestra the duty shall be at the further reduced rate of one halfpenny less than the duties specified in the First Schedule to this Act. I am not at all sure that the words of this Amendment are the best that could be found for the purpose in view, but, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will look favourably on the principle involved, I have no doubt he can find some way of improving the drafting of the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech said he was making a gesture which was to help the theatres and those who give living performances. Unfortunately during a rather bad period the tendency has spread for theatres to instal a mechanical orchestra, which is, from the audience's point of view, I am sure the Committee will agree, regrettable. It is still more regrettable from the point of view of those persons who earn a livelihood as musicians. I believe a very great number of our best musicians get through what I might call their period of training, when they do not earn much money, by playing in orchestras in theatres, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to extend the concession which he has made to the living performer in a theatre a step further, so as to include the living performer in an orchestra. I believe it to be a matter even of some national importance. There are a great many musicians out of work to-day, and if the present tendency continues, the day must inevitably come when it will become increasingly difficult to find expert musicians to complete really high-class orchestras.

4.42 p.m.


It is with great pleasure that I rise to support the Amendment. I do it from the fact that I happen to know, I suppose, more about the reasons for this Amendment than does the average Member of this Committee. A short time ago I listened to what I considered was the most astounding thing I had ever heard since I have been in this House, and that was that it cost £150,000 more to concede the taking-off of the tax up to 1s. in the theatres. A sum of £150,000 more spent by the Government in relieving the theatres by 1s. would put into immediate work in this country anything from 10,000 to 15,000 people. It sounds an extraordinary thing for a small amount of money like that to do so much good, but when I tell the Committee that something like 200 theatres are prepared to-day to open their doors—in the provinces, that is—the moment they know that the tax is taken off up to 1s.—I am speaking with authority—


But the hon. Member is not speaking to the Amendment.


I am sorry, because I feel very deeply over this question, and I view this Amendment as the only means by which the living stage can be saved. We have during the past paid too much attention to the London complex of the theatre, and it is in my opinion wrong to consider the London theatre every time, without respect to the provinces. What is it that stays the hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer from granting this poor, miserable, little £150,000?


The hon. Member appears to be directing his speech entirely to an Amendment which has already been dealt with. Perhaps it will help him if he reads the Amendment which he is now supposed to be supporting. He will then see that it refers to entertainments which are partly theatrical and partly orchestral, or, shall I say, theatrical accompanied by an orchestra.


I value your suggestion, Sir Dennis. The Amendment, as I read it, will have the effect of making a further reduction in the Entertainments Duty to those places of entertainment where the entertainers have an orchestra. It is not the first time that such an Amendment has been before the Committee, but I hope that this is the last time. The value of the Amendment is that if the Entertainments Duty is taken off up to 1s.—[Interruption]—I find I am wandering from the Amendment again, and that is because I am letting my feelings get the better of me. Because I am anxious to see justice done in a certain quarter, and because I feel that justice has not been done, I am bound to support the Amendment.

4.47 p.m.


I support the Amendment although I realise that, as it is drawn, it may present certain administrative difficulties. The sentiment of the Amendment, however, appeals to us all because it recognises that a large number of people have for some years been engaged in the theatrical profession as musicians, and any proposal which will lead to a diminution of their unemployment will receive support from all parts of the Committee. I support the Amendment because of the musicians who are out of work and who may be helped if a further reduction is made in the Entertainments Duty. Acknowledgment has not been made to the Chancellor for what has been done for the theatre in this direction, and I wish to express thanks to him for the concession he has made.

4.48 p.m.


I take it that the purpose of the Amendment is to provide that where an orchestra of living performers is employed to provide the music incidental to a stage play, the performances of living actors and living orchestra shall be liable to a rate of tax still lower than the reduced rate for stage plays under the Schedule. If that be the intention of the Amendment, I should like to support it and to urge the Chancellor to accept it and to give such form as will make it workable. There is no doubt that the growing practice in the London theatres, if not in the provinces, is to get rid of the orchestra and to instal some kind of loud speaker gramophone in its place, and to cover it up with artificial palm leaves. From the point of view of the audience, it is a very poor substitute. From the point of view of the musicians and of musical art, it is a tragedy. This particular kind of employment, that is, playing for a short period in a theatre orchestra, provides what it is necessary that musicians should have, namely, some kind of small employment which will carry them over the period between larger and more serious and important artistic work. Theatre orchestras are often made up of students of great promise and accomplished musicians who are working at this employment between other more important engagements.

The disappearance of the theatre orchestra, small thing as it may seem, has been one of the heaviest blows to the musicians of this country, and it is difficult to think of any other way in which their loss could be made good. I feel certain that the public does not approve of the potted mechanical orchestra. Music is an essential part of most forms of theatrical art, and its place is not taken by the very poor substitutes which the hard times in the theatre have brought into being. The Chancellor has already indicated that it is his wish to do something to encourage the living performer. I am sure that it will be his wish to encourage the living musician. By making this concession he would do far more than merely give him an extra engagement; he would do something which may make it possible for him to go on being a musician instead of turning into a waiter or some sort of unskilled tradesman, to which he must turn if he is not able to earn his living as an artist. I, therefore, urge the Chancellor to make this concession which, small as it is in itself, will be far-reaching in its effects.

4.53 p.m.


I feel that the Amendment has been put before the Committee largely on account of the professional musicians who are unemployed. Any movement or suggestion on behalf of the unemployed always, of course, meets with a ready response in every quarter, but I would like to direct the attention of the committee to another phase of this problem. We are going forward into a new age in which, obviously, we must develop the arts to a degree that we have never tried to do before, and we must put the performance of the arts within reach of as many people as possible. At the same time as we are moving forward to that new age, however, we see on all hands mechanical devices being invented which tend to discourage people from developing the art of performing for themselves. If we frame our taxation without regard to the duty of encouraging people to play instruments for themselves rather than to listen to broadcast performances, we are failing to meet the requirements of the age in which we live. If we can give a greater outlet to those who seek to earn their livelihood by musical performance by making a concession of this kind without an undue cost to the nation, we should seize the opportunity to do it. It is for this reason that I am sure the Chancellor will give sympathetic consideration to the Amendment on a broader aspect than the financial aspect. We appreciate the great duties that he has to perform and the difficulties of the times, and we do not offer criticism where he feels that the financial situation will not permit the concessions which are being sought from him, but I would like to have the assurance that he does not consider these matters purely from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence, but from the point of view of encouraging the larger things in our national life.

4.56 p.m.


I would like to support the Amendment and to join in the appeal to the Chancellor to consider the case for the musician who takes his part in conjunction with living players on the stage. The plight of the musicians in this country during recent years has been deplorable. We appreciate the concession which has been made by the Chancellor to the living stage, a concession which has evoked widespread appreciation throughout the country. Those of us who have contact with the stage in various ways have heard the warmest gratitude expressed for what the Chancellor did in his Budget. The musician, who has had an exceedingly hard time, is really an essential part of the representation made by the living stage for the edification of the public. While the Amendment may not present a practical proposition and may have to be dealt with by the Treasury in order to make it administratively possible, there is, I think, a real case for the musician to be considered in any concession made to the living stage.

4.58 p.m.


I hope that the Chancellor will be able to give favourable consideration to this proposal, and I am sure that if he does so he will have the support of Members in all parts of the Committee. The cost to the Treasury cannot be excessive, but the benefits to the musical community will be substantial and immediate, because a number of theatres, in order to be able to secure a remission of the tax, will immediately employ an orchestra. It might mean a fall in the revenue, but there would be greater employment among musicians. I do not think that hon. Members who have pleaded for this concession have pleaded for it on the ground simply that a remission of tax will lead to an increase of employment, because I think that that argument is a bad one. The argument advanced for this Amendment is that this is employment of the kind which should be encouraged in the interests of orchestral music in Great Britain. It is an exceedingly bad thing that we should continually have our ears jangled with potted music. It ought to be universally appreciated that it is impossible to develop orchestral music unless people are accustomed to the exercise of musical instruments. In the same way that the theatrical art can only be developed in the theatre, so orchestral music can only be developed in the actual use of the instrument itself and, if the use of the musical instrument is retarded and depreciated, orchestral music must necessarily deteriorate. It seems to me, therefore, that there are very substantial reasons why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should sympathetically consider a proposal of this kind. I dare say hon. Members of all parties have received communications from time to time from their constituents many of whom have been thrown out of employment by the institution of some sort of mechanical device to provide music in theatres, and it is a real tragedy that people of artistic sensibility should have their careers frustrated because they have not the opportunity of carrying on their art in the one way in which it might be developed. I hope the Chancellor will give the Amendment the most sympathetic consideration, even if he is not able to accept it in the language in which it appears upon the Order Paper.

5.2 p.m.


Hon. Members in all parts of the Committee can be assured that in this matter I have not been guided solely by questions of pounds, shillings and pence. That was proved by the fact that I made a distinction between performances in which living performers are engaged and other kinds of performances. The particular point to which the Amendment draws attention is one of some importance, and I know from my own personal knowledge and experience that, in the past, opportunities of taking part in orchestras employed either in theatres or in cinemas have been of very great benefit to professional musicians who have had a certain number of engagements at concerts but who have filled in their time and very much added to their earnings by nightly employment in these small orchestras in houses of entertainment.

Therefore, I have very considerable sympathy with the object of my hon. Friend, who desires to secure this employment for musicians as against the competition of mechanical instruments. But I am bound to say that I do not think the proposal is one which is likely to be effective or which can be defended on grounds of logic. There are quite a number of performances given on the stage where there is no musical accompaniment of any kind, neither orchestra nor mechanical performance. Are they to have a smaller reduction of duty than where there is an orchestra, and are you to say, "When you have in bagpipes or saxophones you will get another halfpenny"? The thing is not really logical, and I can see no reason why a theatre that employs an orchestra should be better treated than a cinema that employs an orchestra. It seems to me that my hon. Friend has not gone about the idea in the right way. If he really feels that you can, by an alteration of taxation, induce theatres to employ living performers in their orchestras instead of mechanical music, why does he not put down an Amendment to say that this reduction of duty shall not take effect unless there is an orchestra provided for any music that may be required?


Would not such an Amendment be out of order?


I do not see why it should. At any rate, I am not the authority on that question. But if that be the sole object, to try to ensure that mechanical music shall not be used in theatres in place of living musicians, that seems to me to be a very much better way of going about it, and, if my hon. Friend thinks that he would have support for an Amendment of that kind, and discusses it with me, I shall consider it and see whether something of that sort can be done.


It would have to be the other way round—provided that where mechanical reproduction of music was used there would be no remission.


Do I take it that the right hon. Gentleman means that the words "both a stage play and" should be deleted and that it would apply only to a regular orchestra?


Perhaps we had better not discuss details. I think the general idea is quite clear.

5.7 p.m.


I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bear this point in mind. If such a proposal as he has suggested were adopted, this might be the result. There are many stage performances now, revues and musical comedies, which of necessity employ orchestras. I do not think he would want to make an alteration which would really increase the advantages of a performance which of necessity employs an orchestra and put at a disadvantage a play possibly of a much better character. [Interruption.] I think the point is a sound one. Suppose a panatrope were to play an overture. If I understand the proposal rightly, such a performance would not secure the concession. If that be so, that would simply be giving an additional advantage to a kind of performance which I am certain is not intended to benefit by the proposal of my hon. Friend behind me.

5.9 p.m.


I said in moving the Amendment that I was aware that in its present form it would probably not be accepted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am sure, is only too well aware of the great difficulty under which private Members labour in putting Amendments on the Order Paper. I am very grateful to the Committee for the discussion that has taken place and to the Chancellor for saying that he will give the matter further consideration. He asked whether I was likely to have much support for a proposal to debar the living theatre from getting the reduction unless there is a living orchestra also. I am not sure where he imagines that that support is to come from. It will naturally not come from the theatres. They have only put in the mechanical orchestra in a period of bad times when they were losing money in order to try and make ends meet. I do not think there is any management in London which itself prefers a mechanical orchestra to a living orchestra, so if any support is likely to be forthcoming it will obviously be forthcoming from some other direction. I had not in mind in moving the Amendment any intention of discussing anything that had anything to do with the profits made by theratres. I only had it in mind to direct attention to the case of musicians who are out of work in consequence of the present state of affairs and the damage that that is doing and will continue to do to music. I trust that the Chancellor will consider the matter on those lines, and I have no doubt that he and his expert advisers can find some solution which will help us. In the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.