HC Deb 11 June 1947 vol 438 cc1212-3

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Stanley

I really cannot allow this Clause to pass without calling the attention of the Government to its drafting and saying that I wonder whether it is really necessary for legislation that it should be couched in terms such as these. Subsection (I) is quite a short one, and, for the benefit of those hon. Members opposite who are following the discussion without a copy of the Bill in front of them, and have for the moment forgotten the exact terms of the Clause, I would like to read this Subsection to them. It reads: References in this Part of this Act to the computation of profits include references to the computation of any such losses as, under any enactment relating to the profits tax, fall to be computed in the same manner as profits are to be computed for the purposes of the profits tax. I defy any ordinary person to get any meaning out of that sentence except that —this is what I think—profit is to include loss and the word "loss" is to include profit. I know that is in the lexicon of the party opposite, but it has never been translated into the technicalities of this Committee, and I should like to have an explanation from the learned Solicitor-General and a promise that there will be a re-shaping of the Clause so that it can be expressed a little more clearly.

The Solicitor-General

If I say that this Clause is put in by way of precaution, I do not think that will commend it to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley); but I can say that that is its object. The expression used throughout this Clause has been "computation of profits." For the purpose of computation of profits, one has to compute profits and the key word is "include." Notwithstanding the fact that we have been talking about computation of profits, and one might perhaps think we are not concerned with losses, we have to think also of losses. It means no more than this. Although we have been talking of computation of profits, all the time, for some purposes, we have to know what the losses of the business are, and, notwithstanding that we have been considering computation of profits, one has to apply the same principle in talking of losses. That is what this means—or that is what it is meant to mean. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that it can be expressed more clearly, I promise that we will see whether there can be a different form of wording.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.