HC Deb 21 April 1936 vol 311 cc38-9

Coming now to the revenue for 1935–36 Customs and Excise yielded a total of £303,342,000. That is an excess over the estimate of £8,500,000 and over the yield for the year before of £13,750,000. This is partly due no doubt to the stimulating effect of the Jubilee celebrations, but mainly to the general recovery of trade. The surplus was distributed over a large number of items, but particularly noteworthy is the excess of £1,000,000 over my estimate of the yield of the duty on spirits, which some of my Scottish correspondents will be relieved to hear showed a rise in consumption for the first time for many years. Other surpluses were £800,000 on beer, nearly £2,700,000 on tobacco, and nearly £900,000 on oil. Tariffs did very well and gave us a surplus of £1,250,000 on the duties under the Import Duties Act, and £1,000,000 on the Ottawa Duties, while the Special Duties on imports from the Irish Free State gave us an excess of more than £400,000.

Inland Revenue Duties gave us £404,899,000, an excess over the estimate of nearly £13,500,000, which was distributed between Death Duties, which had an excess of £8,000,000, and Income Tax, with an excess of £5,500,000. The Surtax, at just over £51,000,000, was within £500,000 of the amount which I had estimated from that duty. The Death Duties gave us almost £88,000,000, the highest yield that has ever been obtained from Death Duties since they began. On this occasion this large amount was not due to exceptional receipts from very large estates. It is to be attributed rather to the general rise in capital values which itself is a result of a growth of confidence and the existence of cheap money, an impressive illustration of the many ways in which the revenue benefits by an increase of prosperity as one channel after another fills up and proceeds to discharge into the national purse.

The Income Tax was swollen by a larger collection of arrears than I had anticipated and that again we must ascribe to the general increase in the wealth of the public. The current tax, the tax which is payable on 1st January and is collected in the last quarter of the financial year, was just about what I had expected, and therefore this excess of £5,500,000, which I was fortunate enough to get, is not to be considered as due to any underestimate on my part of the current tax. I do not think there is any other remark that I need make about the Inland Revenue, except that the excess of £800,000 over the estimates in the yield of Stamp Duties is another very welcome sign of the expansion of trade activity.

The Post Office Net Receipt at £11,670,000 is slightly less than the estimate, but this result really masks the encouraging fact that the gross revenue of the Post Office exceeded the estimate by nearly £2,000,000, and that, notwithstanding the fact that during the year there was a further reduction of telephone charges which, of course, meant the relinquishment of a substantial amount of revenue. The reason why the Net Receipt is not greater is that this increase in gross revenue was offset by the effect of the restoration of cuts in pay and also by the additional expenditure due to the increasing business of the Post Office. Sundry Loans and Miscellaneous Revenue together fell short of my anticipation by £3,198,000. The remaining items, Crown Lands, and the Exchequer share of Motor Vehicle Duties reached almost exactly where I had expected.