HC Deb 15 June 1939 vol 348 cc1510-2
Mr. Greenwood (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether he is in a position to make any further statement about the limitation of armament profits?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. The House will recall that on 26th April, when I announced the proposal of the Government to introduce a measure of compulsory military training, I indicated that it was also intended to take further steps to limit the profits of firms mainly engaged on the rearmament programme. The provisions contained in the Ministry of Supply Bill, together with the ordinary contracts procedure, revised as it has been from time to time to take account of changing conditions, go far in the direction of preventing excessive profits. The Government feel, however, that here may be cases where, in particular by reason of large increases of turnover, further measures of limitation are called for, and it is, therefore, proposed to include in the Finance Bill provisions for a tax on concerns engaged on a large scale on armament work in respect of any excess profits arising from that work. These provisions will require to be founded upon a Ways and Means Resolution which it is hoped to table on Monday.

Mr. Greenwood

May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that this very substantial principle of controversy is being included in the Finance Bill, additional time will be given for the consideration of the Bill, and, as the proposals are somewhat complicated, whether an explanatory memorandum will be published to hon. Members before the discussion takes place?

The Prime Minister

In reply to the first supplementary, I think we must take account of the fact that as new, and perhaps controversial, matter is being introduced by this new Clause further time may be required. In regard to the second part of the question, my right hon. Friend hopes to present an explanatory memorandum.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

The right hon. Gentleman said that the new proposals were to deal with businesses engaged on a large scale. Does that mean that the proposals will not include all subcontractors?

The Prime Minister

It means that the Clause will not apply to cases where the amount of orders is only small.

Sir A. Sinclair

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Resolution and the White Paper will be available— to-day or to-morrow?

The Prime Minister

I said that the Ways and Means Resolution will be tabled on Monday.

Mr. Peat

May I ask the Prime Minister whether before arriving at any excess profits he will take into consideration the various expenditure which industries will have to undertake to provide the necessary plant and machinery for carrying out the orders?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will realise that that is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Gallacher

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will seriously consider the reintroduction of the Excess Profits Duty?