HC Deb 10 December 1945 vol 417 cc86-7

5.45 p.m.

Sir A. Gridley

I beg to move, in page 53, line 8, after "ring," insert "electric kettles."

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have had a little consultation concerning this very modest Amendment. The reason I ask that this should be put in the Schedule is that the gas ring on which one may boil a kettle of water to make a cup of tea is excluded from Purchase Tax, but if one has an electric kettle that is subject to Purchase Tax. It is the practice of the majority of electrical suppliers, when the housewife has an electric cooker put in the kitchen instead of a gas cooker, or as well as a gas cooker, to provide with the cooker, as part of the regular equipment that goes with it, an electric kettle. The object of this Amendment is to put the electric kettle and the gas ring so far as Purchase Tax is concerned in a position in which they can look each other in the face. Therefore, I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can see his way to make this small concession.

Major Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. Dalton

It is indeed the case that I have had a word with the hon. Gentleman about this matter. I am, as I have said before, very keen on electrical development, particularly in the form of electric labour saving devices in the home and, therefore, at first sight, I felt sympathetic towards the Amendment. On the other hand it would be difficult, at this stage of our proceedings, to select for this purpose the electric kettle— although I appreciate its utility, desire to see it cheaper, and hope that it will become widely installed in houses. It would be difficult at this stage to accept the Amendment while continuing to impose the Purchase Tax on the simple tin kettle. The tin kettle, even with the Purchase Tax, is cheaper than the electric kettle, even with the Purchase Tax off. It would be inequitable, I think, to take the tax off the more expensive article. As I told the House, and recalled to the memory of the hon. Gentleman when he spoke to me about this matter, I gave a definite commitment, at an earlier stage, to make a close study—which I am already making, of the incidence of the Purchase Tax on articles of household necessity. It would be very wrong to anticipate my next Budget statement—although that is not very far away—but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am anxious to extend the field in which we can exempt altogether from Purchase Tax articles of household necessity, such as household utensils. It must not be taken that I commit myself to any particular exemption; but I am looking at the matter with every desire to put before the House next April proposals for extending the free field, the anti-tax field, so far as Purchase Tax now operates. If it were then found possible to exclude tin kettles, the road would be clear to give favourable consideration to this proposal, but it would not be right to exempt the electric kettle while continuing the tax upon the tin kettle. In saying that, I am going so far as it is reasonable for me to go in giving a picture of my future intentions. I hope, therefore, that the Amendment will not be pressed.

Sir A. Gridley

What the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said leaves me with some hope that the electric kettle will soon sing in its proper place. In those circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.