HC Deb 22 April 1947 vol 436 cc919-21

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Mr. Assheton

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has explained to the House the reasons which prompted him to make this change with regard to the Customs and Excise Duties on artificial silk. I wish to express the view of this side of the House in concurring with the Chancellor's recommendation. It has seemed to some of us rather strange that, for so many years, artificial silk has been subject to these particular duties. It is consistent with the great increase in the development of that trade, and with the position it has gained in the world as a whole, that we should now adopt the course which is proposed. I do not know whether there are any points of detail which any Members on this side of the House wish to put, but so far as the general principles are concerned, we on this side are glad to endorse the proposal.

Mr. C. Williams


Hon. Members


Mr. Williams

I really fail to see why, when something of this sort is proposed, and when my right hon. Friend on the Front Bench has said it is something good, hon. Gentlemen opposite should be so antagonistic to their own Front Bench, as to object to my saying something in favour of their Budget. I find these changes in their opinions most disheartening. This is a rather progressive policy which the Government are carrying out in this Resolution. For that reason I welcome it, and I wish that the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary or the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General would convey to the Chancellor of the Exchequer our appreciation of what he is doing here, and tell him it is a very great pity he could not have done something else in other respects. In spite of the jeers from the back benches behind the Government, he can be assured that our party will give him fair play when he is doing something reasonable, such as this is.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest and Christchurch)

There is one question I should like to ask. I should like to know how this question affects artificial silk used in tyres.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

That question arises on the next Resolution.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

This is one of the few Budget changes which repeals taxation, and I was expecting to see large numbers of hon. Members opposite rising in their places to express appreciation and approval of this very pleasant contrast with our rather painful experience in the matter of tobacco. I do not think it should go without a remark that here is a definite lightening of taxation which I should have thought the House as a whole would welcome. For that reason it was a little distressing that my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams)—

Mr. Tolley (Kidderminster)

He is always very distressing.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

I hope the hon. Member does not misunderstand me. I was about to say that it was distressing to me, that my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay when he rose to speak was greeted with groans coming from the chairman of the London County Council Housing Committee, who must have much on his mind and more on his conscience. But I wish to place on record how grateful the Opposition are for this concession in this matter of artifical silk, and I hope that before the Resolution is passed it will be commended by one of the Government supporters.

Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

It is indeed delightful to hear the Opposition supporting the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As a Member who represents a silk constituency, I rise to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on behalf of many of the people in my constituency in Staffordshire, for taking this action. I should like to remind the House that many Members on both sides of the House who represent silk constituencies pointed out the importance of this matter last year when we were discussing the Budget. I am quite sure that this reduction in taxation will play a big part in acting as an incentive in the coming year. On behalf of my constituency I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer.