HC Deb 21 January 1941 vol 368 cc28-30
66. Mr. Parker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, when goods are sent by post, traders have been instructed by customs and excise officers to reckon Purchase Tax not only on the total cost of goods but also on the postage involved; and whether he will put a stop to this indirect attempt to increase postal charges?

Sir K. Wood

As provided in No. 2 of the provisions in the Eighth Schedule to the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1940, the value for the charge of Purchase Tax includes the cost of delivery to the buyer. Accordingly, when delivery is made by post, the cost of postage must be included in the calculation of the value.

Sir J. Nall

Was it not understood that the tax was to be on the wholesale value and not on the retail value?

Sir K. Wood

If the cost of delivery had not been taken into account it would have been necessary to adjust each sale at a delivered price, on which basis the great proportion of goods are sold. It was for that reason and with the general concurrence of the trading community that the value was defined to include the cost of delivery.

Sir J. Nall

Does my right hon. Friend mean to indicate that after goods have been assessed and tax paid on the cost of producing them the Purchase Tax has to be added to the cost of transport-every time the goods are moved?

Sir K. Wood

This matter was the subject of consideration in the House of Commons and is part of the law.

Mr. Thorne

If people feel that the tax is too heavy do the Customs and Excise authorities allow goods to remain in bond?

Sir K. Wood

Perhaps my hon. Friend will be good enough to communicate with me on that point.

70. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that, in spite of the provision that children's wear is not to be subject to the Purchase Tax a boy's overcoat is so taxed if he is taller than the average height for his age; and will he take steps to remove this anomaly?

Mr. Munro (Lord of the Treasury)

The question whether a particular garment falls within the exempted class must he determined by reference to its description and size. It would not be practicable to take into account the age of the individual child for whom it is bought, since the tax becomes chargable when the retailer purchases the goods from the wholesaler or manufacturer.

Mr. Davies

Will not the hon. Gentleman suggest that where a man is of boyish appearance, like some hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench, there shall be exemption?

Mr. Munro

The matter will be looked into.

75. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the increasing hardship of people whose belongings have been destroyed in air raids having to pay the Purchase Tax in replacing their lost goods, he will take steps either to remit the tax on such purchases, or to authorise the payment of increased compensation to those people who have to replace their clothes or essential furniture as a result of enemy action?

Mr. Munro

Under the private chattels scheme provided in the War Damage Bill compensation will be paid, up to the amount for which property is insured, on the basis of the cost of replacement of the damaged articles at prices current at the time of damage, which, in the appropriate cases, will reflect any increase due to the Purchase Tax, and taking into account the extent to which they were depreciated at the time of damage. A similar basis will be adopted for the compensation payable in respect of property damaged since the beginning of the war and before the scheme comes into operation. I would add that, under the scheme whereby compensation is paid by the Assistance Board, without requiring premiums, to persons of limited incomes in respect of damage to essential furniture and clothing, it has been agreed that the compensation shall never be less than the sum necessary to meet basic requirements.

Mr. Strauss

Surely there are limits to the amount of compensation given by the Board to people who have lost their clothing; is not that limit far less than would enable them to replace their clothing properly, in view of the Purchase Tax?

Mr. Woods

Is the Minister aware that many people who have made claims have had to make their own replacements because they are still waiting for acknowledgement of their claims, let alone receiving any money? Could he give an assurance that the matter will be speeded up and that claims will be attended to?

Mr. Munro

I will see that the remarks of the hon. Gentleman are conveyed to the proper quarter.