§ The Chairman
As the Committee will be aware, some 50 or 60 Amendments have been put down to this Schedule. If it meets with the approval of the Committee, and after having had consultations with one or two quarters, I propose to take the Amendments in groups. I will call the first Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher)—in page 63, line 41, at the end to insert:All types of refuse containers and dustbins.—to be discussed together with the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing)—in page 63, line 41, at the end to insert:Such types of refuse containers and dustbins fitted with lids as are used for the storage of refuse pending collection by a public authority.—the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling)—in page 63, line 41, at the end to insert:Such types of refuse containers and dustbins fitted with lids as are used for the storage of refuse or kitchen waste pending collecting by a public authority.—and the Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea 1870 (Commander Noble)—in page 63, line 41, at the end to insert:Such types of refuse containers, and dustbins fitted with lids, which are purchased and maintained by local authorities.I assume that is agreed and I call the hon. Member for East Islington to move his Amendment.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert:All types of refuse containers and dustbins.As you have said, Major Milner, there is a large number of Amendments down asking for inclusions to be made in this Schedule, which has the effect of giving total exemptions from Purchase Tax. The Amendments cover a very wide range, from taxi-cabs to tooth brushes, and from bishops' croziers to golf balls. I am concerned with the Amendment which asks that all types of refuse container shall be exempt from Purchase Tax. Whatever may be said in regard to the other items, the Committee will agree that this Amendment deals with a commodity which is a universal requirement of modern civilisation. I hope, therefore, that the appeal I am making will be sympathetically received. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said a moment ago that he was not prepared to consider remissions of Purchase Tax in so far as they affected different types of consumers, and that he was not prepared to discriminate as between one type of consumer and another.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That is so. Unlike some of the other Amendments in this group, this Amendment is not designed to discriminate in any way, and is intended to be of universal application. The Committee will appreciate that in these days local authorities have to provide dustbins and refuse containers. It may be true that there are provisions which enable them to recover costs from landlords and occupiers, but in practice this is an expense which is falling on local authorities to an ever-increasing degree. Dustbins, in the case of houses, and refuse containers, in the case of blocks of flats, are essential to urban civilisation, which de-pew first on its water supply, and then 1871 on the efficiency of its sanitary arrangements. Since dustbins and refuse containers are a prime necessity, they should be as inexpensive as possible. They are not an appropriate object for taxation. In view of the fact that there is no discrimination, I hope that I may secure the indulgence of the right hon. Gentleman and his blessing for this Amendment.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I have an Amendment on the Order Paper covering almost the same point as this Amendment. The fact that I have tried to stipulate such types of refuse containers as are fitted with lids, used for storing refuse until it is collected by the public authority, does not mean that I wish to cater for dustbin snobs. The Amendment now before the Committee goes a little too far. I can think of very few things which have three sides, if not four, which cannot be used as refuse containers. It means that someone can come along with a beautiful ornamental container, heavily embossed, and claim that it should be exempt from Purchase Tax because it is being used to store rubbish. I have tried to approach the matter in a practical way, and the question of lids is a very practical point—cats realise It if we do not, and local authorities certainly know a lot about it. Many local authorities are much concerned with the fact that nearly everyone's dustbin is falling to pieces, and that it is very difficult to insist on new dustbins being provided if people have to pay heavy Purchase Tax on them.
I hope that the Chancellor will look at this from a practical point of view, bearing in mind the difficulties of local authorities at the present time. When I walk along the streets and see some of the things in which rubbish is put out for collection, I cannot help wondering how the unfortunate man who comes to collect it can ever persuade the thing to hold together long enough for the rubbish to be tipped into the cart which is to carry it away. I should like to see lids, they look awfully nice, and they are very progressive. I hope the Chancellor will not give us a dusty reply.
§ Mr. Dalton
This was one of the stronger unsuccessful candidates last year, and I have been looking at the problem in the interval. There is, of course, a strong case on grounds of salvage.
§ Mr. Burden (Sheffield, Park)
Before the Chancellor develops that point, will he kindly say whether this Amendment covers salvage, because that is the point I was endeavouring to develop in the Amendment standing in my name?
§ Mr. Dalton
Perhaps I should put it this way. I ask that each Amendment should be withdrawn, because I am quite prepared to make some arrangement—we must get the definition right—after consulting with those who advise me on these matters, and put down an Amendment on Report stage to exempt from Purchase Tax certain types of containers which are chargeable at 16⅔ per cent. I put it in that general form. I do not want to develop the point of whether the containers should or should not have lids. What I am primarily concerned about is assisting salvage collection, and enabling local authorities and private persons to play their part in saving salvage and ceasing to waste on a terrible scale material which can be used again for other purposes. I think that the Borough of Tottenham was very successful in this during the war years, as well as other boroughs.
I am sympathetic to the idea of exempting from Purchase Tax a class of receptacle, to be carefully defined, which shall facilitate salvage. I will put down, for the consideration of the House on the Report stage, an Amendment defining the effect of what I have in mind. I must keep a check on these generous impulses, however, and I would point out that the cost would be, at a minimum, £300,000, and might rise to £500,000 per annum.
§ Mr. Burden
I was very glad indeed to hear the point which the Chancellor made about the collection of kitchen waste. Despite the claim of my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher), that his Amendment has universal application. I am advised that it does not cover kitchen waste, which is not refuse. To illustrate the point, may I mention that the Chancellor indicated in his Budget speech that receptacles for the storage of food would he excluded from tax.
The question was taken up with the Board of Trade whether that definition covered kitchen waste, and the answer was "No." In view of the losses we have had in sheep and cattle, we shall 1873 have a rather hard winter for meat, and no more desirable thing could be done than to encouragt local authorities to go in for the collection of kitchen waste for pig and poultry food. This Purchase Tax discourages even the most progressive authority from developing the collection of kitchen waste. I am not against dustbins being excluded; I have the cost figures for 1939 and today. In 1939, an ordinary dustbin cost 8s. Today, it is 22s. 8d., including 3s. 11d. Purchase Tax. Everyone with knowledge of local authorities will be aware that, outside London, authorities can charge only 2s. 6d. a year under a dustbin hire scheme. Obviously, that does not cover the expenditure. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington claimed so much for his own Amendment, may I point out that the Amendment down in the name of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) and myself is the one that has received the commendation of the Institute of Public Cleansing, the professional body charged with the responsibility for advising on these matters.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I appreciate the readiness with which the Chancellor has responded to the Amendment, and in view of the fact that he has said he will put down appropriate words on the Report stage to meet the general wish of the Committee, I desire to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.45 P.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert:London taxicabs being motor cars designed and constructed in compliance with the conditions of fitness required by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis for the grant of licences to ply for hire within the Metropolitan Police district.Your predecessor, Major Milner, was good enough to inform me earlier today that as I had an Amendment on the Order Paper dealing with taxicabs, which was covered by this Amendment, which is in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor), I might join in the discussion. The Chancellor has been taking things in his stride today, and I hope that that long stride of his will cover the subject of my Amendment, 1874 London taxicabs. This matter has been before successive Chancellors of the Exchequer for some years, but hitherto we have failed in our persuasion and arguments. However, I feel that the Chancellor is in a state of sweet reasonableness today; in fact, he has been so generous that I have hardly any doubt about his acceptance of this Amendment. I feel that he will rise before I have completed my argument, and say that I need not go any further because he proposes to accept it. If that is in his mind I am willing to forgo the rhetoric which I proposed to offer to the Committee, but as the right hon. Gentleman still keeps his seat I suppose I had better use my convincing arguments.
In 1944, this question was raised by myself and others with the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, and although the answer was in the negative then, I think the Committee will agree that considerable changes in the country's position have since taken place. Thousands, indeed millions, of young men have tumbled out of the Forces during the past 18 months. They have shown certain indications as to how they wish to earn their livelihood, and we must see how we can enable them to do that in the best possible way. It has been estimated that there were something like two million men in the Forces during the war who could drive, or were taught to drive, cars and maintain motor vehicles. That also happened in the First World War. A great number of them being mechanically minded, or open air minded, have had desire to continue this interest in civil life, to make use of motor transport as their livelihood.
We know that some have taken to road haulage—although their chances do not seem very bright, following the introduction of the Transport Bill—that some have taken to garage work, where they are earning an admirable living, and that some have gone in for the manufacture of motor cars. But quite a number have shown a strung desire to become London taxicab drivers. There is hardly a Member of this House who has not at some time or other travelled in a London taxi. Indeed, there are few people who, in order to catch a train, or keep an urgent appointment have not used a taxicab. What a lamentable journey, many of them have had to undergo. One has only to sit in some of the ramshackle affairs that 1875 pass for taxicabs to realise that. We ought to be ashamed to offer them to strangers and visitors to this great capital.
A great number of the young men who came out of the Forces had gratuities. They hoped to find it easy to enter taxicab life, but they found, to their horror, a 33⅓ Purchase Tax on taxicabs, to add to the fantastic increase in taxes since 1939. In that year a Beardmore cost £480; today, it costs, with Purchase Tax, £997 8s. 4d. If we take the cost of a taxicab on hire purchase we find that cab costing £550 in 1939 now costs £1,264 12s. 4d. That puts owning a cab practically outside the capacity of most of these young men. A taxicab is the taxi driver's stock in trade. It is his living, just as the scalpel or the knife, is the surgeon's living. But in the case of the scalpel, or the surgeon's knife, it is either exempt from tax altogether, or is subject only to 16⅔ per cent. tax. Why this discrimination between the stock in trade for the taxi driver, and the stock in trade for the surgeon?
In 1945 I asked two questions—one of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor and one of the right hon. Gentleman himself—on this subject, and the answer in each case, which showed the continuity of policy of the Treasury and his advisers, was to the effect that it was impossible to distinguish between taxis and private cars. I asked the right hon. Gentleman, as a sensible man, to agree with me when I say that is sheer bunkum. He, I am sure, will agree when I tell him that the present taxicabs, which are passed by Scotland Yard, have to be approved both in design and size by the Commissioner of Police. Every taxi that runs on the streets of London has to comply with certain restrictions as to turning space, length and so on, so it is quite impossible for any reasonable person to be unable to distinguish in appearance or in other ways between a private car and a taxi. There is a common phrase—a tool of trade—and it has been commonly regarded in the Treasury by successive Chancellors of the Exchequer that a tool of trade has been long recognised as something which should not be subject to taxation. Everyone knows what a tool of trade is. It is part and parcel of the individual in earning his living. I say that the taxicab is a tool of trade to the taxi driver and, therefore, in my submission, should be exempt.
1876 Why is there discrimination between a taxicab and an omnibus? The taxicab is a tool of trade for the small man, and the omnibus is a tool of trade generally of the big monopolies. That to my mind makes no justice, and I feel that the Chancellor has perhaps not had time to consider that marked discrepancy in the treatment of the small man and the treatment of the big monopoly. From the general point of view, we want more taxis, and the Minister of Transport has authorised another 3,000 for London; but how are they to be bought at this fantastic price? We want new taxis and comfortable taxis. We expect—and the Government have shown agreement with this expectation—hordes of visitors during the summer with hard currency. The Chancellor himself has authorised, I am told, £200,000 to the travel or tourist associations to facilitate the welcome we are prepared to give to these visitors and their currency. It seems to me that we are putting the cart before the horse. We want to make our country and the great city of London a place to which people will be glad to come, to stay in, and to spend their money in. One of the most reasonable preparations that could be made is to have plenty of new, comfortable taxis. The only way that can be done is to exempt taxis from Purchase Tax and to allow the 3,000 taxis authorised by the Ministry of Transport to come on to the roads, so as to make our lives more comfortable and safer.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
I have great pleasure in supporting this Amendment. This is not the first time the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been asked to remit the Purchase Tax on taxicabs. This was asked by the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) last year, and I hope that on this occasion the Chancellor will favourably consider it or else the arguments put forward on behalf of the taxicab drivers in London will become a hardy annual until eventually the Chancellor is overcome and gives justice to the taxicab trade in London. There is no question that new and up-to-date taxis are urgently required on the streets of London. We require more and up-to-date taxicabs to meet the modern conveniences which people expect. As proof of that the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Supply have authorised the construction 1877 of 3,000 new taxicabs to ply for hire in the London area.
I would point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the absolute necessity from the financial point of view of bringing the taxicabs in London up-to-date. The Government are anxious to increase tourist travel, and to encourage tourists to come to this country, and especially to this great city of London. Under present conditions, the scarcity of taxis, their complete out-of-dateness, and the difficulty of obtaining them must act as a deterrent to people coming here. Anyone arriving by train at one of the main line stations, after a long and tiring journey, who desires a taxi knows full well that he will have to queue up, and when his time comes and a taxi is driven up, invariably he will be asked to take someone else with him. That is a matter of great inconvenience.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
In many cases it is quite impossible because people coming by train have luggage and are unable to take other people in their taxis. It would be an advantage to the Chancellor to encourage the placing of new taxis on the streets of London to meet the needs of the public. People corning from abroad have a very tiring journey, and when they arrive at the London station instead of being able to obtain a taxi they have to queue up and wait their turn and naturally get terribly disgusted. While they are in London they have great difficulty in obtaining taxis in order to do their shopping, to see the sights and to go to the theatres, etc. That is a bad thing for the tourist traffic and also for business people. I hope that the Chancellor will take full notice of that particular point of view.
The requirements for the London taxis are a very important factor in this case, because the London taxicab is quite different from any other taxicab throughout the country. It has to be built to special requirements laid down by the Metropolitan police and that is not so in the case of provincial cities—it may be so in future, but it is not so today. London taxis have to comply with the specifications of the Metropolitan police and that makes them quite different from any other cab or private motor car. There is no question about that whatsoever.
1878 8.0 p.m.
These special designs prevent the London taxi trade from buying secondhand cars, converting them and using them as taxis, whereas in the provinces they are allowed to do that, and they can buy these good secondhand vehicles at prices less than the London taxi man has to pay today for a new cab. They can run them continuously and sell them afterwards if they please; they do not have to have a yearly overhaul of their cabs, and, therefore, it is not, as has been said by the Chancellor or by the Financial Secretary, a question of discrimination if London taxicab drivers are exempted from the Purchase Tax. The London taxicab drivers are already discriminated against by the special design required by the Metropolitan police, and to whom the driver must apply for a licence. I would point out to the Chancellor that a licence for a taxicab is given by the London police, and it is not given until the log book which the driver has with his taxi has had entered on it the words "Licensed as a London taxicab." Only when those words are inserted in the log book does a driver get a licence from the Metropolitan police to ply for hire in London.
One of the objections which has been made to this remission of the Purchase Tax is that one cannot tell the difference between a taxicab and an ordinary car. I ask the Chancellor—a man of the greatest commonsense—not to put forward any more the plea, which really does not hold water, that one cannot distinguish between a London taxicab and an ordinary private car. Another reason the Chancellor put forward was that a taxi might be converted for use as a private car or for, hire. The Ministry of Supply, which authorised the manufacture of these 3,000 cabs, has prohibited the manufacturer from using the raw materials for making these cabs for any other purpose and they must be sold solely for use as taxicabs. If the taxi driver, having received his licence from the Metropolitan police, endeavoured to sell his car to somebody for some other purpose, how could that person possibly get a licence? As I have stated, on the taxicab log book the words "Licensed as a London taxi cab" are inserted, and no licensing authority would give a licence to anybody to use that car unless those words were removed. If they were removed, and if the Chancellor 1879 accepted this Amendment whereby Purchase Tax did not have to be paid in the first place, the purchaser could thereupon be called on to pay the tax, or at any rate he would be prohibited from using the car as anything but a taxicab.
Those are two of the great objections, and I hope the Chancellor will fairly consider them, because they are of great importance. It is impossible for the taxicab not to be distinguished from any other car, and it is impossible for a taxicab to be sold and utilised for any purpose other than that for which it was designed. I will put the case also with regard to the vastly increased cost, since because of the initial rise in the cost of the taxi itself and its running, and of its repair, insurance and so on, the taxi trade will not be able to buy the new cabs unless the Purchase Tax is remitted, the cost will be too high. These new cabs should be put on the streets of London. The public want them and the trade want them, but they will not be there unless the Chancellor removes the Purchase Tax. The Chancellor may make the point that they did not do too badly during the war, so I will make it first. It is true, but the Chancellor will also agree with me that that was because there was a great scarcity of taxicabs, and also because the percentage of mileage with passengers and of vacant mileage altered most considerably. In 1938, for instance, the engaged time for a taxi was 40 per cent. and the vacant time 60 per cent., whereas during the war, in view of the inadequate number and so on, the engaged time rose to 75 per cent. and the vacant time fell to 25 per cent. Now the engaged time is going down, and it is anticipated by the motor cab trade that the ratio will be stabilised at about 60 per cent. engaged and 40 per cent, vacant time. That accounts for them having done well during the war, but I hope the Chancellor will not argue that because they did they must necessarily be doing well now and can afford the new cost.
I would like to give the figures of costs, though I apologise for keeping the Committee so long. In 1939 a Beardmore cab cost £480 and there was no Purchase Tax, so the outlay for a man who wanted to run a single cab was £480. If he could put down that sum he could run his cab. Many ex-Service men, especially those 1880 with very high disabilities, are running taxicabs. We must not forget that there are in fact some men with 100 per cent. disability who are running cabs, and if we want to do something to help the ex-Service men, therefore, we should make it possible for them to get new and up to date cabs. The vehicle or cab costs £780, with Purchase Tax at £217 8s. 4d., a total of £997 8s. 4d. That is an enormous increase, and if the cab is paid for on the hire purchase system, as many are, over a period of five years it will cost the man who buys it £1,264 12s. 4d., whereas in 1938 a taxicab bought on hire purchase over four and a half years would have cost £550. It costs two and a half times as much today, and I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he thinks this reasonable if he wishes to help the tourist traffic, as he does, and if he wishes to be fair to the taxicab owners, many of whom own only one cab. Does he think it fair that he should ask them to pay over £1,200 as the initial cost of their cab?
In passing, may I remark that the deposit which has to be put down for a new cab is £330, which includes Purchase Tax. That is too much. Before the war the sum was £50, so that it is now six times as much. I think it is monstrous to expect these men to have to meet this extra cost. May I also state the increase in other costs? The insurance premium will now be £31 as against £21 10s.; the owner will have to bear the first £5 damage as against the first £2 claim; spare parts for new cabs will cost 100 per cent. More, and for old cabs 75 per cent. More. Repairs estimated for a new cab owing to the altered design will cost 100 per cent. more.
The hon. and gallant Member is giving a long history of taxicabs. I must ask him to deal with the Amendment.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I quite accept the accusation, Mr. Beaumont, that I am making a long speech, but I would merely submit—
I do not wish the hon. and gallant Gentleman to misunderstand me. I was not questioning or challenging the length of his speech but merely its correctness in dealing with the present Amendment.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I must explain the difference today, and the reasons why the Chancellor should soften his heart and 1881 accept this Amendment They are very cogent reasons. There is also the question of fares. Fares are all laid down by the Metropolitan Police and those charged today are the same as those which were in force before the war. The cab trade are very averse from having the fares increased—
The hon. and gallant Member cannot bring in the question of fares on this Amendment.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I was endeavouring to show what it would mean to the taxi drivers if this remission of tax were granted, but, of course, Mr. Beaumont, I accept your Ruling and will not pursue that particular matter further. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad that everybody agrees with me, and I hope that I have put up a fair case for the taxicab drivers. I have been most sincere in everything I have said and there is no doubt that there is a discrimination against the London taxi men. They are in a category entirely by themselves compared with every other means of transport. The buses and commercial vehicles are free of tax.
They do not pay Purchase Tax, so why should the taxi drivers be obliged to do so? They are all part of the transport provided for London and contribute to the convenience of the people of London in enabling them to get about the city. Why should taxi cabs be singled out? They have to be built to a special design, and I do not understand why they should have to pay Purchase Tax when commercial vehicles and buses are not liable. It is not fair and I therefore ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider this Amendment most favourably and so enable the taxi drivers to put new and up-to-date taxis on the streets of London and improve the transport conditions in this great City of London.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Dalton
We have had two most eloquent speeches in support of this proposition which is not new, as has been admitted by the hon. Members who have spoken. The question of Purchase Tax on London taxi cabs has been raised before. We had it on the Second Finance Bill of 1945 and we had it again in 1946, although I think the Amendment was not called. Broadly speaking, therefore, the 1882 argument is familiar, although it has been stated with great fire and eloquence tonight. May I first say that I think that a large part of the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) was not really relevant to the question of Purchase Tax? We all want to encourage the construction of taxi cabs. We know there is a great scarcity of them in London and that many which are still running are in a dilapidated condition. I was very glad to be reminded by the hon. and gallant Gentleman that another 3,000 have been ordered by the Department responsible—I believe the Ministry of Transport.
Those 3,000 will be made, Purchase Tax or no Purchase Tax. Whether or not the tax remains will have no bearing whatever on the date of construction of these new taxicabs. They have been ordered, and what will determine the date of completion is availability of labour and materials against all the other claims upon it. I hope they will be completed soon, and there is no doubt at all that they will all be taken up and that none of them will be left without somebody who is prepared to purchase it even with Purchase Tax. The fact is that there is still a good deal of money knocking about London as compared with the provinces. There is no doubt that it is very much easier to make a living by plying for hire in London—never mind the type of vehicle—than in any of the provincial cities or, still more so, the country districts. That is a happy circumstance for Londoners and does perhaps furnish some justification if that were needed, for maintaining this particular tax at this time even though, at first sight, it may be represented as somewhat of a discrimination against London. If that were so London receives a favourable discrimination by the fact that there is much more money available and more fares clamouring to be taken on board here than in other parts of the country.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
May I deal with the statement of the Chancellor that 3,000 new cabs are being made?
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Is the Chancellor saying that they have been ordered by firms who are going to take them up? If so, my information is that only some 12 new taxicabs have been placed upon the streets of London and that the reason is that the cab trade cannot afford to buy them.
§ Mr. Dalton
I am quite sure that that is not the case. I was quoting what I understood to be what the hon. and gallant Gentleman had told the Committee. I understood him to say that 3,000 new taxicabs had been ordered for London.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
No, I said that they had been authorised by the Ministry concerned, which is a very different thing.
§ Mr. Dalton
Very well, they have been authorised to be made, and my point is a very simple one. It is that whether or not they are made has nothing to do with the Purchase Tax. If I were to accept this Amendment it would not in any degree accelerate the arrival of these new taxicabs on the streets. They will come on as fast or as slowly as the other claims on labour and materials allow.
Much as we must all desire to see more taxis in London and to encourage the tourist traffic and all the other desirable objects, I do not consider that that has any bearing on this Amendment. We all share those aspirations, but acceptance of the proposal would not bring them any nearer. The real reason why on previous occasions this proposal has not been accepted is a very simple one. If it were accepted, there would then be discrimination in favour of the London taxicab as against a number of other vehicles which ply for hire in other parts of the country.
§ Mr. Dalton
Design has nothing to do with the argument. I am trying to put this clearly. The argument is convincing to me. I do not know whether I can make it convincing to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. This would be discriminating in terms of taxation in favour of one particular class of vehicles of a certain design which ply for hire in London against other classes of vehicles of other designs plying for hire in other parts of the country. That would be discrimination which I 1884 could not justify. The hon. and gallant Gentleman attributed to me also the possibility of using certain arguments which I had not in mind to use. The arguments I had in mind were the two I have used. They are, first of all, that the major part of this consideration has no bearing at all upon the Purchase Tax, and, second, that we cannot discriminate in this way, as we should do if I accepted the Amendment, in favour of a particular class of vehicles and persons making their living from the use of those vehicles. I would only add that the cost of accepting the Amendment, if the production of London taxicabs were to return to the prewar level—we hope that may yet be so—would be £100,000 to £200,000 a year, and I cannot afford that on this occasion.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Brighton)
I find the right hon. Gentleman's answer very unsatisfactory. Indeed, it is more than that It is nonsense. The right hon. Gentleman put forward only two points. First, there was the one with regard to the numbers which, as he put it, were on order. It turns out that he completely misunderstood the point. The point is that these have been authorised by the Minister of Transport. The point of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) was that in view of the cost of the Purchase Tax, in spite of the authorisation, they were not being taken up because people could not afford to pay for them. The only other point the right hon. Gentleman made was that it would cause discrimination in favour of a particular type of vehicle plying for hire. That vehicle is already discriminated against by having to pay much more than any other vehicles plying for hire. Therefore, proportionately the cost of London taxicabs is higher than any other taxicabs. The man who wishes to drive a taxicab in London has already, without Purchase Tax, to pay more than others. Those are the Chancellor's two points and they do not make sense.
§ Mr. Dalton
I would like to make it completely clear. I was comparing the proposal to exempt from Purchase Tax this particular type of vehicle in relation to other types. New motor cars pay 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax, as do the London taxicabs. They are all on a level. A suggestion was made this afternoon about a higher Purchase Tax. That is why the 1885 hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) did not understand my argument about discrimination through removing the Purchase Tax from this type of vehicle only.
§ Mr. Marlowe
If the Chancellor removed the Purchase Tax, he would proportionately bring the price to the potential taxicab owner more into line with other vehicles. That is the point I am trying to make.
The question of the payment has been put by my hon. and gallant Friend, and I want the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this from the point of view of the ex-Serviceman. There was a good point made by my hon. and gallant Friend that before the war a man could become a taxi owner by depositing £50; now it is somewhere about £330. That is important to a large number of ex-Servicemen for whom this is the only suitable occupation. I have had cases of men who have to go into some outdoor occupation because they are suffering from a disability which renders them incapable of carrying on in any other industry. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider that they should have favourable recognition in those circumstances. Curiously enough, I was driven to the House only a little while ago by a taxi driver who, when I was paying him, asked, "Is there any hope of getting the Purchase Tax removed from these vehicles?" I said I did not think there was much, and he said that with his gratuity, if there was no Purchase Tax, he thought he would be able to buy his own taxi to drive, but the Purchase Tax made that impossible for him. He went on to say, "I suppose it would be more hopeful if the Chancellor were Ben Smith?" I said that I supposed Ben Smith had enough private cars of his own not to bother about taxi-cabs, and that was how our conversation ended. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider that the case of the ex-Serviceman is one deserving special consideration and will reconsider his decision.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)
I want to ask only one question. Earlier today the right hon. Gentleman made a statement about the proposed new Purchase Tax on ordinary cars. Supposing the cost of production goes up and the net cost of the taxicab becomes over 1886 £1,000, will the new rate of tax apply to taxicabs or not?
§ Mr. Dalton
I think we ought to look at that when the new Clause comes up. It would be out of Order for me to pursue that now, but I should be glad to deal with it when the new Clause is on the Paper.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton (Brixton)
May I endeavour to elucidate one point to which my right hon. Friend referred but which is still not quite clear to me? What is being sought in this Amendment is not any advantage to the detriment of persons other than London taxicab drivers who earn their living by plying for hire. What I think the movers of this Amendment have in mind is that the London taxicab drivers—of whom so many apparently reside in my constituency—have to bear a great burden by reason of special regulations imposed by the authorities upon them and not imposed upon people who ply for hire in other parts of the country. The taxicab is the only commercial vehicle on which Purchase Tax is payable, and it seems odd that the Treasury should persist in their determination to single out this form of conveyance for the discrimination to which it is subjected at present, and to which it will continue to be subject unless my right hon. Friend between now and the Report stage may suddenly see the light.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
It may be an interesting fact, but I do not think many London taxicab drivers live in my constituency. For once I think the Chancellor seems to be barking up the right tree because it seems a little unfair that the London taxicab driver should escape tax on a new car and those who live in my Division or in Scotland or Wales and wish for a new car cannot get it without paying tax. In many cases people will escape the tax by buying secondhand cars, but those who buy new ones will have to pay the tax. It would mean that some constituents of most of us would undoubtedly be labouring under a grievance if this concession were made. From that point of view, I think the Chancellor is perfectly fair and right.
The argument has been fully developed that these drivers have to observe special rules and regulations. But might not the Chancellor of the Exchequer, realising that the London taxidriver did great service 1887 during the war, running under worse conditions than almost every other type of driver plying for hire, give the concession now? Why not give these more worthy citizens this concession and, as a corollary, extend it to other drivers in the country next year? Of course, if the Chancellor would take the tax off all cars straightaway, I would support that. If there is a Division on this, I would not vote blind for preference for the London taxicab driver, but I would do so if it would help this concession to be spread another year over the whole country. I do not think
§ many of us would like to vote blind for the London taxi driver who serves us so excellently—when he can—without having some regard for similar drivers, especially ex-Service men, who wish to start up with their own cars. I hope the Chancellor will consider accepting this Amendment, and then going a little further on the Report stage, so that he could eventually put the whole trade on the same level.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 99; Noes, 273.1889
|Division No. 259.]||AYES.||[8.33 p.m.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Glyn Sir R.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Gridley, Sir A.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Grimston, R. V.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Rayner, Brig. R|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hogg, Hon. Q||Renton D|
|Bower, N.||Hollis, M. C.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)||Ross Sir R. D (Londonderry)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. G.||Howard, Hon. A.||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Butcher, H. W||Kendall, W. D.||Spence, H. R.|
|Byers, Frank||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O|
|Carson, E||Lambert, Hon. G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Challen, C||Langford-Holt, J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)|
|Channon, H||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H||Studholme, H. G.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Linstead, H. N||Taylor C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lipson, D. L.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A F|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U (Ludlow)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Touche, G. C.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F C||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Vane, W. M. F|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O E||Mackeson, Brig. H R||Wadsworth, G|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Maclay, Hon J. S.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Digby, S. W.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Wheatley, Colonel M J|
|Donnes, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A V G. (Penrith)||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Drayson, G B||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Drewe, C.||Marshall, D (Bodmin)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||York, C|
|Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)||Medlicott, F.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P M||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gage, C.||Nicholson, G.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore|
|Gammans, L. D.||Noble, Comdr A. H. P||and Vice-Admiral Taylor.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Osborne, C|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Colman, Miss G. M|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Cook, T. F.|
|Attewell, H. C||Bramall, E. A||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Corvedale, Viscount|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, George (Belper)||Cove W. G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Brown, T. J (Ince)||Daggar, G|
|Bacon, Miss A||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Daines, P.|
|Baird, J.||Buchanan, G.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Balfour, A||Burden, T. W||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Burke, W A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S)||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Barton, C.||Castle, Mrs. B. A||Deer, G|
|Battley, J. R.||Champion, A. J.||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Chater, D.||Diamond, J.|
|Berry, H||Chetwynd, G. R||Dobbie, W.|
|Binns, J.||Cobb, F. A.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Cocks, F. S.||Donovan, T.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Coldrick, W.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Collindridge, F||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Bottomley, A G.||Collins, V. J.||Dumpleton, C. W|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Lawson, Rt. Hon J. J||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Levy, B. W||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Lindgren, G S||Royle, C.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Logan, D. G.||Sargood, R.|
|Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)||Longden, F.||Scollan, T.|
|Ewart, R.||Lyne, A W||Scott-Elliot, W|
|Fairhurst, F.||McAdam, W.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Farthing, W. J||McAllister, G||Sharp, Granville|
|Field Capt. W. J.||McEntee, V. La T.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Fletcher, E G. M. (Islington, E.)||McGhee, H G||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Follick, M.||Mack, J D.||Shurmer, P.|
|Ferman, J. C.||Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McKinlay, A S||Simmons, C. J.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Maclean, N (Govan)||Skinnard, F. W|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||McLeavy, F.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mainwaring, W. H||Solley, L. J.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Mallalieu, J P W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mann, Mrs. J||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Gibson, C. W||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Stamford, W.|
|Gilzean, A.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Glanville, J E. (Consett)||Marquand, H A.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Swingler, S.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Mathers, G.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood)||Mellish, R. J||Symonds, A. L.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Messer, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mikardo, Ian||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Grierson, E||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mitchison, G. R||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J (Llanelly)||Monslow, W||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Griffiths, W. D (Moss, Side)||Moody, A. S||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Gunter, R. J||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Timmons, J.|
|Guy, W. H.||Morley, R.||Titterington M. F.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Tolley, L.|
|Hall, W. S.||Morris, P (Swansea, W.)||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Mort, D. L.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Moyle, A.||Usborne, Henry|
|Hardy, E A||Murray, J. D||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Harrison, J.||Nally, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hastings, Dr Somerville||Naylor, T. E||Walkden, E|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Walker, G. H|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Herbison, Miss M||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Watson, W. M.|
|Hobson, C R||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E (Brentford)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C)|
|Holman, P.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Weitzman, D.|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||O Brien, T||Wells P. L. (Faversham)|
|House, G||Oldfield, W H||Wells, W. T (Walsall)|
|Hoy, J.||Oliver, G. H||West, D. G.|
|Hudson, J. H (Ealing, W.)||Orbach, M.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Parkin, B T||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Irving, W. J||Pearson, A||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon G A||Peart, Thomas F.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Janner, B.||Piratin, P||Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)|
|Jay, D. P. [...]||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Jeger, Dr S. W (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Porter, E (Warrington)||Willis, E.|
|John, W||Pritt, D. N.||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A C (Shipley)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Jones, D T (Hartlepools)||Pryde, D. J.||Woods, G. S.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Yates, V. F.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Randall, H. E||Young, Sir R (Newton)|
|Keenan, W||Ranger, J||Zilliacus, K|
|Kenyon, C||Rankin, J.|
|Kinley, J.||Reeves, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kirby, B V||Reid T (Swindon)||Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.|
|Lang, G||Richards, R|
The next Amendment which will be called is the one in the name of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead). At the same time, hon. Members may discuss the Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) to include tooth paste, the hon. 1890 Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Baird) to include tooth brushes, and the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) to include asthma remedies.
§ Mr. Linstead (Putney)
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert:Medical, medical and surgical appliances.1891 After the Chancellor has somewhat summarily paid off my two hon. and gallant Friends, I hope that with this Amendment I may have a little more success at the hands of the Financial Secretary. This is a proposal for remitting Purchase Tax entirely from medicines and medical and surgical appliances. The situation at the present time is that drugs and medicines manufactured or prepared, other than essential drugs of an exceptionally costly character, bear tax at 16⅔per cent., and that tax is borne by all these medicines whether bought over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.
The definition has, in fact, given rise to a good many anomalies. First of all, we have the phrase "manufactured and prepared." That gives rise to the serious anomaly that a substance like glycerine or like chloroform, or a substance like bicarbonate of soda, if bought in its ordinary form, does not pay tax, but the moment it is prepared for medicinal use the purchaser has to pay 16⅔ per cent. tax on it. Then there is the phrase "essential drugs of an exceptionally costly character," which has also given rise to very great anomalies in practice. It puts the emphasis on cost, and not on their essentiality. We have the curious situation that a drug such as penicillin, which was decided by a Treasury Order to be a drug of exceptionally costly character, at a time when it was exceptionally costly, is still tax-free, long after the cost has been reduced very substantially, while a drug of the type of streptomycin which has not been added to the Order because it is still new, is still bearing a very substantial tax. I would like to indicate to the Committee how the incidence of this tax falls, and I have heard only today of a case in which a patient had paid in Purchase Tax the sum of £23 for streptomycin because it has not yet been added to the list of exceptionally costly drugs. The machine has not worked smoothly, and the burden has fallen very unfairly upon sick people.
Then, there are one or two administrative difficulties in connection with both wholesale and retail trade to which I would ask the Treasury to have regard. First of all, the wholesaler was assured, when this tax was to be imposed, that he 1892 would only have to pay it when he collected it, but, in actual fact, the machinery of collection is such that the wholesaler is expected each month to remit to the Treasury the equivalent amount of tax according to his sales, whether, in fact, he has or has not collected it. Similarly, with the retailer, and especially where the small retailer is concerned, he has to lock up a great deal of his capital in Purchase Tax.
I think the Committee will agree that there is no prima facie case whatever for a Purchase Tax on medicines, which is really a Purchase Tax on sickness and nothing else. I think that the Financial Secretary will probably say that, if it were merely a question of medicines prescribed by doctors or medicines bought by the public, the Treasury would not be anxious to see the tax retained. He will probably point to the existence of a large and flourishing trade in proprietary medicines, and say that he sees no reason why the Treasury should not have an additional "rake-off" from what he would regard as a very prosperous industry. I think there is a real answer to that, which is this: If, for reasons of public health, that industry is suitable for control, that control should be a direct control through the Ministry of Health, let us say, and the accident of taxation should not be used in order to effect that sort of control by a sidewind. I expect the Financial Secretary will tell us that a difficulty will arise because this tax is collected at the wholesale level, which makes it administratively difficult to differentiate between medicines supplied on medical prescription and those bought by the public over the counter. But I would urge him to consider whether mere administrative convenience ought to stand in the way of remitting at this stage taxation on sickness. I would suggest that even if the State is, in fact, going to pay, in the course of a year or two, for most of the medicines and most of the expenditure of hospitals, it still is a very clumsy device to go through the whole of an industry's machine in order to take the money out of one pocket and put it in the other. For every point of view, including that of administrative convenience, even if the State is paying the bill for a great deal of the medicine, it would be far simpler to remit this tax.
I would base my argument primarily on the consideration that this is a tax on sick- 1893 ness. We know the Chancellor is in a very healthy condition—far too healthy a condition sometimes—but, nevertheless, he ought to be able to realise that it is a tax on sickness and that on those grounds alone it deserves some remission at the present stage of our national finances.
§ Mr. Baird (Wolverhampton, East)
While I agree with much of what has been said by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), I think there is a much stronger argument for my Amendment, to insert "tooth brushes," which is of a much more limited nature than his. I refer to the question of withdrawing the tax of 33⅓ per cent. on tooth brushes. I think my argument is much stronger, because if my Amendment were accepted it would simply bring tooth brushes into line with all sorts of other brushes. Floor brushes, scrubbing brushes and brooms are free of tax, but brushes which clean the teeth bear Purchase Tax. Surely, it is just as important to keep one's mouth clean as to keep one's floors clean? I remember a woman who had a thoroughly clean kitchen and whose floors and table were well scrubbed. She took well cooked food out of a clean pantry and put it into her mouth which was filthy and full of germs. It is just as essential to remove the tax from brushes which clean the mouth as from brushes which clean the floors. The fact is that some kind of official in the Treasury has slipped up, because while most of these brushes for cleaning are classed together, tooth brushes and nail brushes are classed with aids to beauty. I appeal seriously to the Financial Secretary. No one can argue that a tooth brush is not an essential for health. Those of us who were in the Services during the war know that it was one of the most essential articles in a soldier's pack. It is essential, if we are to build up our health, to encourage the full use of tooth brushes on every possible occasion. At the present time the whole of the medical profession is trying to make the country tooth conscious. I believe that if the Financial Secretary would accept my Amendment to insert "tooth brushes" in the Schedule it would do very much to encourage us in this campaign for better dental health.
§ Mr. J. Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)
When the Purchase Tax was introduced, I think two reasons for its introduction were given. The first was that it was for the sake of the Revenue, and the second, 1894 that it should be a deterrent on expenditure. I should at this moment, and in connection with the Amendments of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) and of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Baird), like to inquire of the Financial Secretary whether it is in the interest of the country and in the interest of the health of the country that people should be deterred from purchasing medicines, medical appliances, tooth brushes—and tooth paste, which last is the subject of my own Amendment. Last year the Chancellor gave an undertaking—and I believe that the Financial Secretary also made a similar statement—that they would consider each case on its merits, and have regard also to the loss which the Exchequer would incur as a result of any remission given. We ask—I think I speak for my hon. Friend the Member for Putney and for the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton—for no less. We ask the Chancellor to consider these cases, as they are, purely and solely on their merits, and nothing more.
His Majesty's Commissioners of Customs and Excise have produced, and, I assume, will continue to produce, a long list of articles which are subject to tax, medical appliances and various medicines. I ask the Committee to consider on what logic this list is based. For instance, it is very difficult for one to see why liquid paraffin of a medicinal nature should be subject to Purchase Tax, whereas vinegar and treacle, in exactly the same list, are not subject to it. There is also an extensive list, which would take a considerable time even briefly to summarise for the Committee, whose basis is, that if I buy 100 gallons of cod liver oil I can get it free of tax; but immediately Mr. Crookes slaps his label on and tells me how big a dose to take I am required to pay Purchase Tax on it.
I should like to underline what the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton has said in favour of the remisson of tax on tooth brushes. I am rather disappointed he did not introduce tooth paste also while he was at it. I offered him my support and thought I might have had his support at the same time. But these articles do go together. There is no doubt in my own mind—and I am sure that the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, as a member of the dental profession will agree with me—that the two are Invaluable and the 1895 greatest assets to health. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) gave the Treasury Bench credit for a very high standard of intelligence.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
Well, that may be an over-statement, and I think that probably I should not put it as high as that. But I should be glad to reconsider that opinion if the Financial Secretary could and would—as, I believe, he should—see his way to consider these Amendments on their merits, and on their merits only.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Dr. Santo Jeger (St. Pancras, South- East)
Perhaps I, as a practising doctor, could be allowed to add my plea to the eloquence which has already been poured out on this subject in favour of these Amendments. When so many drugs and medicines are taxed and so many others are not taxed, it is rather difficult to find a basis for the differentiation. There seems to be no obvious reason why one preparation should be taxed and another should escape the tax. The distinction made by the Treasury seems to he quite arbitrary. It might be said, of course, that some medicines are luxuries, more so than others. But many of those which are taxed are at least no more luxuries than many of those which are not taxed.
There are two sorts of people on whom the tax falls: doctors and chemists. The smaller portion of the tax falls on the doctors; and it falls upon doctors in working class areas alone. They are accustomed to charging a comparatively small fee for a consultation and the dispensing of medicine. Since doctors are notoriously bad calculators they do not usually increase their fees by the amount of the Purchase Tax—at least, I have never heard of that being done. But chemists who dispense medicines, or who sell drugs over the counter, can always pass on the amount of the Purchase Tax to the customers who buy their drugs, or who have their medicines dispensed by them It is a fact, too, that there are more chemists' shops in poorer districts; that the consumption of medicine is far higher among poorer people than among those who are better off; and to that extent, therefore, the Purchase Tax on drugs and medicines 1896 is practically a working class tax. Would the Financial Secretary consider these points, and will he face the point of view that any tax upon sickness savours of immorality?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)
Surely social democracy has advanced sufficiently under the present Government for tooth brushes to be regarded in this country as a universal necessity rather than as a luxury for the idle rich? The low standard of the people's teeth in this country is notorious, and it is in order to try to remedy this defect that this Government, carrying out the policy of the Coalition Government, have embarked upon a vast policy of national expenditure under the health services, to try to improve the supply and numbers of dentists, and to arrange dental services. But they could save a great deal of this expenditure if they were to take the Purchase Tax off tooth brushes and tooth paste. If there is no tax on teeth, why should there be a tax on tooth brushes?
Surely, it is paradoxical that the Government should spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds a year on subsidising the food for the people of this country, and then tax the brushes with which the people seek to preserve their teeth in order to consume that food? It may well be, of course, that the Government envisage a steady diminution in both the quality and the quantity of the supplies of foodstuffs for this country. Judging by the recent statement of a Member of the Government Front Bench, that looks like a certainty. Therefore, one is forced to the conclusion that the Government actually desire to destroy the people's teeth in order to discourage their desire for eating. Even if this Finance Bill is a poor Bill and already has too many teeth in it, let us at least have tooth brushes in the Schedule. Surely, it is ridiculous that the brushes with which the women laboriously scrub their doorsteps should be free from tax whilst, in some cases, their own unscrubbed teeth may be decaying due to the high cost of tooth brushes?
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
I should like to add my support to the very powerful plea which has been put forward on the subject of tooth brushes. I am glad to find that I have so many disciples. Last 1897 year, I put down an Amendment on this subject, but I was not fortunate enough to have it called. This year, this matter has become much more popular The Purchase Tax, I understand, is something like the lower income groups, in that we shall always have it with us. It is, therefore, important that it should be levied on some sort of rational principle. The principle, I have always understood, was supposed to be that necessities were not to be taxed, and less essential things were to be taxed in order of their degree of importance.
As several hon. Members have pointed out, if we look at the Purchase Tax table we get some very curious results. In the same part as tooth brushes appear, there come in, at an equal rate of tax, eyebrow brushes, animal brushes, and other forms of personal brushes. One would think that eyebrow brushes were of less importance than such things as tooth brushes. In the same part of that table we find that cleaning brushes, artificial eyelashes and ringlets are free of tax. The question is whether it is as equally necessary to brush your teeth as it is to brush your eyebrows, and whether it is less important to brush your teeth than to polish your empty grate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to say, "Yes," in both cases, whereas the Minister of Health would say, "No." What one wants is a certain amount of co-ordination from the Government in these matters. I have taken a little trouble to find out what this concession would cost, and I am advised that it would cost about £350,000. I would draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that this is precisely the sum we are spending on a new embassy in Rome. That is another interesting point. Is it more important to have an embassy in Rome than that people should clean their teeth?
§ Mr. Birch
It is a question of relative importance, whether it is more important that people in this country should have clean teeth. I think it is more important that teeth should be clean, and I, therefore, commend this Amendment to the Financial Secretary, and hope that he will take as his motto "os sanum in corpore sano" and commend that motto to his 1898 right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. Howard (Westminster, St. George's)
I desire to give my support to those who have spoken on medicines generally, and on tooth brushes in particular. I wish to say a word in support of an Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman), in connection with asthma remedies, which I understand has not been selected. Fortunately, I am not a sufferer from asthma, but for many years I suffered each summer from hay fever, which is an allied complaint, and in consequence I have the greatest sympathy with those who suffer from asthma. These remedies, and particularly inhalers, are essential for some of these sufferers. It is probably not realised that many chronic sufferers of asthma regularly use these inhalers every day, just as those who suffer from diabetes have to take regular doses of insulin. They are absolutely essential to the maintenance of health.
We have the curious position that the actual inhaler is free from tax, because it is classified as an instrument, whereas some of the constituents from which the stuff which it is put into the inhaler is made, such as adrenalin, are free of tax, and others are subject to tax. Whether they are proprietary articles I know not, neither do I care, for they are in common use by these sufferers, and they give them relief. I will not mention the names, because I would be accused, possibly, of advertising, but there are two commonly used ones which can be bought for 9s. 9d. in one case, and 8s. 4d. in the other. The tax on the one costing 9s. 9d. is 1s. 1d., and the tax on the other is 10d. I am told that these unfortunate people who have to take the remedy regularly probably consume about a bottle every fortnight. So it works out that the tax on that which is essential for them to preserve their health may cost them anything from 10s. to over 25s. in a year. That is not a large amount, and I do not want to make the hardship case, but I would point out that this tax is a definite tax on productive capacity. Anyone who has suffered or who has friends who suffer, from asthma, or an allied complaint, will know the effect of a bad bout of it on the productive capacity of the individual.
1899 As I say, this is a definite tax on productive capacity, and in that case it must be contrary to the national interest. I fully accept the Chancellor's general argument that the question of user cannot be considered when dealing with Purchase Tax items, but if it can be shown that there is only one user, and that not contrary to the national interest, the argument falls to the ground. This is a limited Amendment. If the Government find themselves unable to accept the wide Amendment which is the first of this group on the Order Paper I hope they will consider, between now and the Report stage, the special and narrower Amendments dealing with tooth brushes and asthma remedies. If they find it practicable, as I am sure they will, I hope the Chancellor will bring forward an Amendment in his own name at the Report stage.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)
I would remind the Committee that Purchase Tax was put on in 1940. During the war it was not very reasonable for Members in any quarter of the Committee to suggest to the Chancellor of the day that he should reduce the tax on certain items. But the war is now over, and the present Chancellor, Budget by Budget and Finance Bill by Finance Bill, has been making concessions. In the aggregate they amount to a fairly large sum of money. It is easy, as tonight's Debate has shown for any of us to pick out articles which were in the original Schedules, and to say that it is absurd that they should continue to be subject to this tax. Tooth brushes are an excellent example of that. In fact, there has been a Purchase Tax charged on tooth brushes from the beginning. To remit the tax would cost the Exchequer £300,000, and not £350,000 as one hon. Member said, and tooth paste and tooth brushes taken together would cost my right hon. Friend, if he gave this concession, £1 million. Although the Purchase Tax on a tooth brush stands at 33⅓ per cent. we do not buy one or tooth paste every other day, and I think that it will be generally agreed that the tax is not an excessive burden on anyone. I am positive that there is no one here who would say that people do not clean their teeth and do not use tooth brushes and tooth paste simply because they cannot afford to do so by reason of the Purchase Tax.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
It is my contention that that is not so. People when they buy tooth brushes do not realise how much of the cost goes in Purchase Tax, and considering what people are prepared to pay for things just now, the price of a tooth brush, including Purchase Tax, is neither here nor there as compared with other things which have borne Purchase Tax and in respect of which my right hon. Friend either has or is anxious to make concessions.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Bromley- Davenport
The right hon. Gentleman says that it is a small amount. How about a father, mother and three children? Multiplied together, is that not quite a lot?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), who opened the Debate on this subject with a very reasonable speech, put in a plea for the exemption of medicines, medical and surgical appliances. To accede to his request would cost £9 million, and I think I have only to state the figure to show how impossible it is for my right hon. Friend to agree to exempt the appliances, medicines and drugs to which the hon. Member referred. The tax at present is 16⅔ per cent., which is less than the basic, rate, and there is, as the hon. Member knows because he is an expert in these matters, a long list of essential and scarce drugs which are completely exempt. It may be that at some time when the financial position of this country is better than it is now, it will be possible for my right hon. Friend, if he is still Chancellor of the Exchequer, to accede to the request of the hon. Member for Putney or someone else who makes the same plea. The tax on these particular items falls mainly on ready-made preparations—pills and things of that kind, about which I assume there can be a division of opinion.
Someone said—and here with others [...] pay my tribute to the chemist, who does produce for the people of this country wholesome drugs which we can trust—that on the whole people rush to the chemist much more often than they should. Many of us would probably be a good deal better if we did not find the chemist so convenient. The point I want to make, and I leave it at this, is that so far as these 1901 medicines and drugs are subject to tax, no one can say that they are essential to the life of the community or that anyone is going without something which they really ought to have. That being so, therefore, in the list of priorities which my right hon. Friend has to set himself, I am afraid that these drugs which at present are not exempt—there is a long list of those which are exempt, but I mean the particular drugs which make up the income of £9 million—are very low.
As regards medical and surgical appliances, as the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) knows only too well, the vast bulk of them are already exempt. Surgical instruments, prepared surgical dressings, bandages, hospital furniture and many other articles of specialised design have always been exempt from Purchase Tax, and those which are not exempt, it is impossible to identify them as particularly applicable to hospitals or use in the sick room. Suggestions have been made during the year, and they were made last year when we were dealing with this, that certain articles of domestic crockery which are used in hospitals or in the sick room should be exempt. It is impossible to do that because these things can be used not only in hospitals but in the home. Therefore, as their ultimate destination and their ultimate user is unknown, it is impossible that they should be exempt. My hon. Friend the Member for South East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger) said that chemists would pass on the tax, whereas doctors could not. I am sure that I can accept that as an assertion of the truth in its entirety. It is true that a chemist can pass on to the consumer the tax he may have paid, but surely a doctor too, if he finds drugs are costing him more than they previously did owing to the incidence of Purchase Tax, can add it to the fees he charges his patients—at any rate, the richer ones among his patients, who may possibly find that their bill is a little higher than it otherwise might have been if this tax had not been paid.
I think I have covered most of the points that have been raised except one dealing with asthma, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for the St. George's Division of Westminster (Mr. Howard). It is true that asthma is a scourge, and it would be possible, I suppose, to make an exception in favour of some of the medicines he mentioned— 1902 the names of which I too will not indicate, except to say that they are proprietary remedies. That being so, if you once allow a proprietary remedy for one particular disease like asthma to be sold free of Purchase Tax, you open the door to claims on behalf of other proprietary medicines for the same treatment. He mentioned adrenalin, but that, of course, is quite free of tax and many people find it of enormous benefit in the treatment of asthma. Where it is possible to except a drug in a case of this kind it has been done, but where, as I say, some new treatment has been discovered and at the moment it is either a secret or a proprietary article, obviously we cannot allow it to take the same place as another drug which is not proprietary in any shape or form. For these reasons, which I hope will commend themselves to the Committee, I am sorry that my right hon. Friend cannot accept any of the suggestions, and I will ask the Committee, if the matter is taken to a Division, to vote against their inclusion.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am disappointed in the right hon. Gentleman. I regard him with sincere affection, and I follow his career with interest and, I hope, with whatever assistance I can give. I consider that on this occasion he missed a unique opportunity. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is safely ensconced elsewhere in the House, the Whips on the Front Bench opposite do not look to me to be very agile, and it would have been perfectly easy for the right hon. Gentleman to stand at that Box and give the concession before the Whips could have informed the Chancellor of what was taking place. Had that happened the right hon. Gentleman, by one stroke—a chief stroke, a stroke equal to one embassy less the ball room—would have been able to inscribe himself in the hearts of the British people as the man who saved British teeth. All over the country statutes would have been erected to him—no doubt in ivory—in recognition of the great service he had performed. But he has thrown away that opportunity.
Now that the Chancellor himself has just returned it is too late. It is the same, sad story always in human life. If one misses an opportunity it never recurs. That chance which the right hon. Gentleman had has now gone. I really cannot believe that he was serious in the arguments that he advanced against 1903 exempting tooth brushes from the Purchase Tax. What were they? First, that tooth brushes had been subject to the tax for some time, but of course if they had never paid the tax before no Amendment to exempt them would appear on the Order Paper. Our whole object is to exempt, if we can, articles which have been and which are now on the list. During the golden age when the Chancellor is present that is continually being done. Therefore, I do not think we can accept the fact that because tooth brushes have hitherto been on the list they are sacrosanct and must remain thereon for ever. Surely they may join electric irons in the glad rush for freedom?
What is the Financial Secretary's other objection? He says, "Well, I do not believe that because of the Purchase Tax any one is prevented from buying a tooth brush." It is, of course, a matter which is difficult of proof because no one will admit either that he has not a tooth brush at all or that the tooth brush which he has is no longer serviceable. Even if it were true, what is the argument? It is that this thing is so cheap that it can perfectly well stand a tax upon it. That is a dangerous argument because it is one which could be extended to any article which is cheap. You can say, "Well, after all, this only costs a 1s. and 50 per cent. tax on that is only 6d. Who minds paying another 6d.?" But the fact is that we are taking £300,000 from the people of this country for the privilege of being allowed to clean their teeth. Put in that way, I really cannot see how any one can seriously justify the continued imposition of this tax.
To clean ones teeth is surely one of the basic lessons of modern hygiene. It is one of the things that every doctor, every school and every nursery class is trying to impress upon the growing generation, and when you have done that you say. "For the privilege of doing what your doctor, your teacher or your school tells you is essential for your health, you shall pay £300,000 a year into the pocket of the Chancellor of the Exchequer." I really cannot believe that this is an answer which has been given in all seriousness, I have been in the House a long time and I know what happens. The Chancellor has to go out from time to time to seek the normal refreshments of human nature, 1904 and before he goes he says to the Financial Secretary or the Solicitor-General, as it may be, "I shall be out for half an hour"—or it may be an hour or even an hour and a half. "While I am out mind that you do not give anything away." It is a fact that in the only instance I can remember of a Financial Secretary disobeying that injunction and giving something away during the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he found that he had given himself away too.
I hope, therefore, that now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is here he may resume the mantle of charity which he denies to his able assistants and give a more kindly answer to the plea which has come from all sides of the Committee. I have concentrated entirely upon the one Amendment to exempt tooth brushes. It is not that. I do not sympathise with the main Amendment on which this discussion has arisen, but I admit that that covers much wider ground and involves a more serious financial consideration. It is a matter of some £9 million, and it is probably true than an omnibus exemption of this kind goes too far and would exclude some articles and forfeit some tax which it is not really essential to give up. I would, however, ask that serious consideration should be given between this year and the next Budget to some of the anomalies which have been cited. If this tax is to be retained, at any rate let us retain it on a logical basis so that we realise why it is that certain articles must still be in the list while some have been excluded. I should have thought that an inquiry of that kind could quite well be conducted within the next year.
I was a little worried at the animus which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to display against chemists and chemist shops. He said that he thought that it would be good for the nation if chemists were not so convenient. That is the kind of thing I used to hear said by old-fashioned temperance reformers—
§ Mr. Stanley
I regard the hon. Gentleman as a modern, up-to-date temperance reformer. They used to say that there would be no drunkenness if only public houses were not so convenient for everybody. I really cannot join in this idea that chemists and chemist shops are bad 1905 for the population, and that to have so many about is a temptation to people to spend their money unwisely. I hope that it is not that kind of feeling which is behind the continuance of this sort of tax. The right hon. Gentleman must keep a watch on himself. He seems on this occasion to have spoken with almost more than his usual emphatic violence. I very much dislike seeing the right hon. Gentleman as a sort of modern Carrie Nation of the chemist shops going round smashing up all these articles of which he disapproves. For the reasons I have given, I do not press the main Amendment, although I would ask that consideration be given during the next 12 months to some of the illogicalities which exist. As far as I and my hon. Friends are concerned, unless the Chancellor, now that he has returned from his brief absence, feels able to give a more sympathetic and, I might say, a more sanitary answer than that given by the Financial Secretary, we shall certainly feel compelled to divide on the Amendment dealing with tooth brushes.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
Before the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives this further consideration, I feel it my duty to remind him and the Financial Secretary that he is going to have an interest as Chancellor in the good health of the teeth of the people of this country with effect from 1st April next year. That is to say, the worse the teeth of the people are the more the Chancellor will have to find for medical services, and the better they are the less he will have to find. I should have thought that for the sake of £300,000 it would be much better to insure that everybody, without any possible exception—we all know there are people who lack the means to get all the small necessities of life—should be able to get a tooth brush.
As part of his argument, the Financial Secretary said that the tax was so small that no one would notice it. But, as has been pointed out, where there are a number of people in a family having to buy teeth—[Laughter.]—if they have to buy teeth as well, their necessity will be even greater, for there will be less with which to buy tooth brushes—having to buy tooth brushes, perhaps not very durable ones because they have to buy the cheapest available, in the course of a year the bill mounts up, and if the family budget is worked on a very narrow margin it is a 1906 matter which will have to be borne in mind. For those reasons I most strongly urge that further consideration be given before this Amendment departs from us.
§ Mr. Linstead
Before asking leave to withdraw my Amendment in order to make way for what I imagine will be a Division on the tooth brush Amendment, I would like to say that the Financial Secretary, if l may use the expression, "got away" a little too easily with his reply on the main Amendment which I moved. I would like to have had from him some indication of the fact that he and the Chancellor realise that this tax is a tax on sickness and that it is in a very large number of cases a tax on medicines which are prescribed for sick people by doctors and a tax on hospitals. I would like to know that some ingenuity has been applied to find ways and means whereby the tax on medicines could be differentiated so that the two groups of people could be treated separately. I still hope that it will be possible for the Chancellor to give us some indication of his own views about the tooth brush tax. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir Stanley Holmes (Harwich)
On a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont. May I ask you whether, if this Amendment is withdrawn, we shall have the opportunity of voting on the Amendment concerning tooth brushes?
If the Committee agrees to this Amendment being withdrawn, and the other Amendment is moved, then a Division can take place on it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. York
I am sorry if I have been inopportune in raising a point of Order, Mr. Beaumont, but are you not calling my Amendment—in page 63, line 41, at end, insert:Articles designed as fuel economisers to be placed when required in stoves, grates, ranges and fireplaces above the fuel in order to convert an open fire temporarily into an enclosed fire?It comes before the Amendment you are now putting.
I admit that this places me in somewhat of a difficulty. I had not realised that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) came before the Amendment about tooth brushes. I think the hon. Member may find an opportunity of moving it later.
§ Captain Crookshank
On that point, would it not be more convenient to consider the Amendment of the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) which is under discussion as being one of a group and that, therefore, the other Amendment of the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) could come afterwards?
I am in a difficulty. I should not have accepted the Amendment under discussion because it is below the one on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Ripon and it would mean going back.
§ Captain Crookshank
Surely, the whole point of discussing Amendments by groups is that we shall have a general discussion and then a vote on any particular Amendment should it be found desirable or necessary? That implies doing it at the time, and not postponing the votes for, say,
§ three or four hours after the Debate. That would be bringing our proceedings to an altogether farcical conclusion. Surely, the logical thing is, if there is to be a Division within the group that it should be taken after the main discussion and then we could carry on in the order of the Paper?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
May I put this point before you decide, Mr. Beaumont? It appears to me that almost any Amendment to line 41 is in Order. All we are doing here is to take those to line 41 by votes and, by doing that, we jump some Amendments and we are not taking them strictly in order as they appear on the Paper. Therefore, in my submission, it would be quite in Order for you to take the one to line 41, in the name of the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) although you have taken some before it and some afterwards.
§ Sir T. Moore
On that point of Order, Mr. Beaumont, it is within my recollection that when you announced the four in that group, this particular Amendment was not included in the group. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was."] No.
The hon. and gallant Member is not quite accurate on the point that the Amendment about to be put was one of the group. I have now given the matter further consideration. I willingly accept and bow to the wishes of the Committee, and I now rule that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ripon can be taken after a Division has been taken upon the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) to insert "tooth brushes."
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 107; Noes, 257.1911
|Division No. 260.||AYES.||[9.44 p.m.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Butcher, H, W.||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr P. W.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Byers, Frank||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V G. (Penrith)|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Carson, E.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Challen, C.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir. T (Richmond)|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Channon, H||Eccles, D. M.|
|Beechman, N. A||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Birch, Nigel||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Fletcher, W (Bury)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D C. (Wells)||Conant, Mai. R. J. E.||Fraser, H. C. P (Stone)|
|Bower, N.||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P M|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Gage, C.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Crowder, Capt. John E||Gammans, L. D.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Digby, S. W||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G Lloyd (P'ke)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Marshall, D (Bodmin)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Medlicott, F.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Molson, A. H. E.||Taylor C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hogg, Hon. Q.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Nicholson, G.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Howard, Hon. A.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Touche, G. C.|
|Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Osborne, C.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Kendall, W. D.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Raikes, H. V.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Lipson, D. L.||Ramsay, Maj. S.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Renton, D.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr Roland||York, C.|
|Mackeson, Brig, H. R.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Sanderson, Sir F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studholme.|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Spence, H. R.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Dumpleton, C. W.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Kinley, J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lang, G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)||Levy, B. W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Ewart, R.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Fairhurst, F.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Farthing, W. J.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Field Capt. W. J.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Balfour, A.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Logan, D. G.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Forman, J. C.||Longden, P.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lyne, A. W.|
|Barton, C.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||McAdam, W.|
|Battley, J. R.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||McAllister, G.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||McEntee, V. La. T.|
|Berry, H.||Gibbins, J.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Binns, J.||Gibson, C. W.||Mack, J. D.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Gilzean, A.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Goodrich, H. E.||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||McLeavy, F.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Granfell, D. R.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Grey, C. F.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Grierson, E.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Buchanan, G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Burden, T. W.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Marquand, H. A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Gunter, R. J.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Guy, W. H.||Mathers, G.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Mellish, R. J|
|Chamberlain R. A.||Hall, W. G.||Musser, F.|
|Champion, A. [...]||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hardy, E. A.||Monslow, W.|
|Coldrick, W.||Harrison, J.||Moody, A. S.|
|Collindridge, F.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Morley, R.|
|Collins, V. J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Hobson, C. R.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Holman, P.||Mart, D. L.|
|Cook, T. F.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Moyle, A.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||House, G.||Murray, J. D.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Hoy, J.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Daggar, G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Daines, P.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Dalton. Rt. Hon. H.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Davies. Harold (Leek)||Irving, W. J.||O'Brien, T.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Deer, G.||Janner, B.||Oliver, G. H.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jay, D. P. T.||Orbach, M.|
|Diamond, J.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Paget, R. T.|
|Dobbie, W.||John, W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Donovan, T.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Keenan, W.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Peart, Thomas P.||Simmons, C. J.||Walker, G. H.|
|Piratin, P.||Skinnard, F. W.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Watson, W. M.|
|Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Solley, L. J.||Webb, M (Bradford, C.)|
|Popplewell, E.||Sorensen, R. W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Wells P. L. (Faversham)|
|Pritt, D. N.||Stamford, W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Proctor, W. T||Steele, T.||West, D. G.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||White, H. (Derbyshire N.E.)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Stubbs, A. E.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Randall, H. E.||Swingler, S.||Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B.|
|Ranger, J.||Sylvester, G. O.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Rankin, J.||Symonds, A. L.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Reid T. (Swindon)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Richards, R.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)||Willis, E.|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Royle, C.||Thurtle, Ernest||Wilson, J. H.|
|Sargood, R.||Timmons, J.||Woods, G. S.|
|Scott-Elliot, W.||Titterington, M. F.||Wyatt, W.|
|Segal, Dr. S.||Tolley, L.||Yates, V. F|
|Sharp, Granville||Turner-Samuels, M.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Usborne, Henry|
|Shinwell Rt. Hon. E.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Shurmer, P.||Viant, S. P.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Snow.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Walkden, E.|
§ Mr. York (Ripon)
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert:Articles designed as fuel economisers to be placed when required in stoves, grates, ranges and fireplaces above the fuel in order to convert an open fire temporarily into an enclosed fire.Unlike the last Amendment, this is designed merely to rectify what I think is a mistake in the Finance Act of 1946. In Part I of the Third Schedule there is given a list of goods to be exempted, and it includes:Accessories for domestic stoves, grates, ranges and fireplaces, of the following descriptions:—(1) Firebricks and similar articles designed for use as fuel economizers. …and then are given other things which do not effect the argument. We can take it that in the last Finance Act the Treasury intended to include fuel economisers which went into the grate within the scope of that Schedule. In point of fact, my case is proved by the fact that the Excise and Revenue accepted this fuel economiser as coming within the scope of the Schedule for the first nine months of the last financial year, until January, 1947. One type of fuel economiser which came within the scope of this Amendment was decided to be free of Purchase Tax. Then, for some reason of which I am not fully aware, the Excise people came forward with the plea that this instrument should not be included within the terms of the 1946 Act. From that moment, Purchase Tax was payable upon it at 33⅓ per cent. For the information of the Chancellor, I might say that 1912 the Purchase Tax amounted to 14s. per implement. I think I will have to develop my case a little more fully, although I do not want to waste time.
§ Mr. Dalton
This is a simple matter. I think I can dispose of it, I hope to the hon. Member's satisfaction, very briefly. This relates to a contrivance called the "Everburner." That is a trade name. It is the case that we are deliberately committed to the exemption from Purchase Tax of fuel economisers. This article, which I am informed is made by one particular firm, is now being tested. The tests are not yet complete. They are being carried out by the Department concerned. If those tests should be satisfactory, I will be very glad to make a Treasury Order, which I have power to do, to add this appliance to those which are now exempted from Purchase Tax. The principle is quite clear. Fuel economisers, when fully tested and found to be in fact and not merely in name economisers, shall be exempted. This is now being tested and, assuming the tests are satisfactory, no difficulty will arise.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert:Stationery used for educational purposes.The Chancellor may think that this Amendment offends against what he has already laid down, and that it is something that is being asked for on behalf of a particular type of user. I would like to maintain straightaway that it is not intended to do any such thing, as it is directed towards a particular kind of article. I think the Committee will agree with the general proposition that all aids to education should be made available as cheaply as possible. There is no Purchase Tax on textbooks used in schools, and I think the Chancellor must have overlooked this case, but, in any event, it is clear that leaving the Purchase Tax on educational stationery cannot primarily be due to the paper shortage. It may be that, since paper is short, tax on some forms of stationery may be quite defensible. For example, any tax that is directed to the minimum use of paper or to economy in the use of envelopes and things of that kind, would be defensible, but I submit that there is no reason to attack essential supplies where no economies can be effected.
At the present time, schools have to purchase stationery out of their grants. They cannot get enough stationery, not because the educational stationery is not available, but simply because their grants will not go far enough to enable them to get all the stationery they require. I would ask the Chancellor why he should expect them to pay back to him what he has already handed out to them by way of grant, especially in the case of educational stationery, and why that part of the grant which has been spent on stationery should be handed back to him? It may be that here, as in other cases, it is difficult for the Chancellor to draw the line, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. It would be quite easy, in my submission, to exempt stationery intended for educational purposes. What is admittedly difficult is to ensure that such stationery is in fact used for that purpose.
1914 I do not think the Chancellor would encounter any very great difficulty in exempting educational stationery if he exempted such stationery as was actually supplied to the schools. He might, of course, put into force arrangements whereby supplies from wholesalers to schools should be available without the payment of the Purchase Tax. Even if he did not like that idea, I claim that educational stationery for schools could well be exempted from Purchase Tax, because the benefit to education would far outweigh the fact that a small number of persons might be able to buy stationery at a cheaper price in consequence of its exemption from the tax. I beg the Chancellor to see if he cannot accept this very moderate Amendment.
§ The Chairman
It might be convenient if, with this Amendment, the Committee also dealt with the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Reeves) and for Central Cardiff (Mr. G. Thomas), to insert "16 mm. cinematograph projectors."
§ Mr. Reeves (Greenwich)
I would like to refer to the Amendment to exclude 16 millimetre cine projectors from Purchase Tax. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Budget last year, he excluded most of the 16 millimetre equipment from Purchase Tax, but, unfortunately, owing to what I consider to be an oversight, he failed to relieve the 16 millimetre projector from the Tax. This projector is used very largely for educational purposes, and the Ministry of Education have a big programme of film production which will be largely frustrated unless the 16 millimetre projector for exhibiting these films is available in larger numbers and as cheaply as possible. There is no doubt that voluntary bodies and educational authorities, when deciding whether to spend money on equipment of this kind, take into consideration the amount of Purchase Tax levied, and they very often feel that the matter might be deferred for some time in the hope that at some later date the Purchase Tax might be removed. All other forms of aids to education such as epidiascopes, episcopes, diascopes and film strip projectors have all been relieved of this tax, so that the solitary instrument which remains is the 16 millimetre projector, and it is felt that it would stimulate development in the field 1915 of visual aids to education if the tax were removed from this projector.
I feel that the Chancellor is probably very sympathetically disposed towards doing this, and that it only needs a very strong appeal for him to do so. It will not mean very much in terms of finance. The Minister of Education envisages approximately 5,000 projectors in the schools, perhaps within the next ten years, and, therefore, the amount of money involved is not very much, but it would be a very great stimulus to this type of educational work if these projectors were relieved of the tax.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
I will not detain the Committee very long, but this is a matter of such importance to schools that I do not think hon. Members would begrudge a little time spent on this subject. There are many modern developments in education which have been made possible because the Ministry of Education have been encouraged by the Treasury to spend money upon the schools, and the question of visual aids to education is one which has come to the fore very much in recent years. There are various types of children who are helped especially by these visual aids, and since schools receive a per capita grant and cannot spend more than they receive, if they buy one of these cinematograph projectors their work in other directions will have to suffer as long as this Purchase Tax remains on these projectors. The whole field of education looks to the Chancellor, who has already been very generous tonight, to grant this further concession in the interests of education.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) would have my right hon. Friend exempt from Purchase Tax stationery used for educational purposes. The whole Committee, of course, is interested in the advance of education. There can be no two views in any part of it on that matter. But I cannot accept this Amendament for two excellent reasons. The first is that it would be difficult—I do not say it would be impossible, because little is impossible to a real Labour Government—but it would certainly be very difficult to define what we mean by education. Those of us who have interested ourselves in the cultural theatre in connection with the 1916 Entertainment Tax realise what differences of opinion there can be as to what is and what is not education; and it would be very difficult to define what is education.
But, chiefly, I have to reject the hon. Member's suggestion on the sufficient but very simple ground that it would be completely impossible to define or to know what the destination of the stationery he would exempt would be. Pens, pencils, ink, paper and all the rest of it are very much alike whether used for education or not, and it is impossible at the wholesale stage to know which are going to be used in schools and which are not. Therefore, I am sorry but I must ask the Committee to reject his Amendment.
I come now to the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Reeves) and my hon. Friend the Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. G. Thomas). I am glad to say I can inform the Committee that my right hon. Friend is very willing to accept the Amendment. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) has for the moment left the Chamber, because he twitted me with not being willing to accept an Amendment in connection with toothbrushes which would have cost £300,000; and now I am able to say that this concession, as compared with toothbrushes, is well worth while, and will cost only £100,000. But it will help educational advancement in our schools, and it will take off the tax which is at present levied on the 16 mm. cinematograph projector. I see the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) in his place He has pressed over a long period for what my right hon. Friend is now doing, and I am sure that he for one will be delighted that at long last these projectors are to be exempt.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
I think the Committee will have heard with great satisfaction the Financial Secretary at last make an announcement of good news. We had the feeling that all the good news would come from the Chancellor, whilst all the stonewalling would come from his supporters, the Financial Secretary and the Solicitor-General. I expect the Solicitor-General looks forward to his turn, when he will be able to announce a slight revision of taxation. The Financial Secretary says his right 1917 hon. Friend still suggests it is not possible to exempt educational stationery, which my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) pleaded should be exempt. The difficulties of the child under this real Labour Government are pretty grim at the present time. Having cleaned his teeth with a tooth brush subject to tax, he proceeds to put away his toys subject to tax in the cupboard, to go to school where he has to work with taxed stationery. I think that two years after the war this Chancellor and this Government, if they really wanted to help the children of this country and their parents, when they can exempt from taxation tobacco intended to be used by old people at the risk of there being a black market in that commodity, would have been able to have made a similar exemption of stationery to be used by schoolchildren. I can assure the Chancellor that it is very unlikely that there will be any black market in notebooks, exercise books, and slates.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
I wish to associate myself with the hon. Member for South Cardiff—
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I hope I always speak as a Scotsman. I am grateful to know that cinematograph projectors have bean exempted from tax. However, I am a little alarmed that the Financial Secretary should think that cinematograph projectors are more important to school children than tooth brushes. The fact of the matter is, of course, that it is the other way about. While we want cinematograph projectors exempted, tooth brushes are far more important. In the customary absence of representatives of the Scottish Office from the Government Front Bench in these discussions, I should like to emphasise that tooth brushes are surely more important than cinematograph projectors—
§ The Chairman
The hon. and gallant Member cannot now discuss an Amendment which has been dealt with already.
§ Sir T. Moore
This is the first time, and possibly the last, on which I have to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer; not personally, of course, but in his capacity as head of the Treasury. I feel that I must register my gratitude for the concession he has given in the removal of this tax.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 253.1921
|Division No. 261.]||AYES.||[10.18 p.m.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Actor, Hon. M.||Eccles, D. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Fletcher W. (Bury)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Birch, Nigel||Gage, C.||Medlicott, F.|
|Boles, Ll.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Gammans, L. D.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Bower, N.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Grimston, R. V.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Osborne, C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Price-While, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Carson, E.||Hollis, M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Challen, C.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Channon, H.||Howard, Hon. A.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr Roland|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Kendall, W. D.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Spence, H. R.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Langford-Holt, J.||Stanley Rt. Hon. D.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Linstead, H. N.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|De la Bère, R.||Lipson, D. L.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Digby, S. W.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Taylor C. S (Eastbourne)|
|Drewe, C.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Walker-Smith, D.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.||Ward, Hon. G. R.||York, C.|
|Touche, G. C.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Vane, W. M. F.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wadsworth, G.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)||Mr. Butcher and|
|Mr. Niall Macpherson.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Murray, J. D.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Nally, W.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Grenfell, D. R.||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Grierson, E.||Nichol Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Gunter, R. J.||O'Brien, T.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Guy, W. H.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Baird, J.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Balfour, A.||Hall, W. G.||Orbach, M.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Paget, R. T.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Barton, C.||Hardy, E. A.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Harrison, J.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Berry, H.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Beswick, F.||Herbison, Miss M.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Binns, J.||Hobson, C. R.||Peart, Thomas F.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Holman, P.||Piratin, P.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|
|Blyton, W. R.||House, G.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hoy, J.||Popplewell, E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Braddock, T (Mitcham)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Price, M. Philips|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Randall, H. E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Irving, W. J.||Ranger, J.|
|Burden, T. W.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Rankin, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Janner, B.||Reeves, J.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Jay, D. P. T.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Champion, A. J.||Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Richards, R.|
|Cobb, F. A.||John, W.||Robens, A.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Collindridge, F.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Royle, C.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Keenan, W.||Sargood, R.|
|Cook, T. F.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Scollan, T.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Kinley, J.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Lang, G.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Daggar, G.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Sharp, Granville|
|Daines, P.||Levy, B. W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Shawcross, Rt. Ht. Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Lindgren, G. S.||Shurmer, P.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Deer, G.||Logan, D. G.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Longden, F.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Diamond, J.||Lyne, A. W.||Snow, Capt J. W.|
|Dobbie, W.||McAdam, W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McAllister, G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Donovan, T.||McGhee, H. G.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Duberg, T. E. N.||Mack, J. D.||Stamford, W.|
|Stubbs, A. E.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Swingler, S.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||McKinlay, A. S.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Mann, Mrs. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Farthing, W. J.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Field Capt. W. J.||Marquand, H. A.||Timmons, J.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Follick, M.||Mathers, G.||Tolley, L.|
|Forman, J. C.||Messer, F.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Mikardo, Ian||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mitchison G. R.||Usborne, Henry|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Monslow, W.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Gallacher, W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Viant, S. P.|
|Gibbins, J.||Morley, R.||Walkden, E.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Walker, G. H.|
|Gilzean, A.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mort, D. L.||Watson, W. M.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Moyle, A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)||Woods, G. S.|
|Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Wyatt, W.|
|West, D. G.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)||Yates, V. F.|
|White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.||Willis, E.|
|Wilkins, W. A.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)||Wilson, J. H.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons.|
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ The Chairman
The next Amendment I propose to call is that in the name of the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George), and I propose that the Amendments in the name of the noble Lady the Member for Norwich (Lady Noel-Buxton), the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce) and the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) should be discussed at the same time.
§ Mr. Wadsworth (Buckrose)
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert, "children's toys."
Last year a similar Amendment was moved by my noble Friend the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George) in a very convincing speech, and it was well received by the Chancellor on that occasion. I am sorry that my noble Friend is not here tonight, and that I have to take her place, because I feel that this Amendment would have borne fruit had she been here to propose it. We feel that the Government have not approached this question of children's toys from the proper point of view, because, by their tax of 33⅓ per cent., it seems that they consider toys a luxury, whereas we take the view that they are essentials, and have an important part to play in the development of child life. They have an educational advantage from the cradle to the—I think I had better not complete that sentence. However, I can safely say that the easel, chalk, slate, and the child's bricks all help in the formation of a child's character from an early age. Who knows but that some of the greatest inventions ever made owe their success to playing with a child's bricks at an early age?
Therefore, we feel that from this point of view the Chancellor of the Exchequer should concede this Amendment. But there is another important point, and that is the present cost of children's toys. I have made recent inquiries regarding the prices of children's toys and find that they are, on the average, four times as 1922 much as they were before the war. That is due, to a great extent, to the Purchase Tax. I have made specific inquiries and have found that a ball which cost sixpence before the war, today costs 4s., which is eight times the prewar price. A doll which formerly cost 15., today costs 6s. 5d. I should point out that these are today's prices, because I made my inquiries this afternoon. A doll which formerly cost 3s., now costs 13s. 6d., and a tricycle formerly priced at two guineas is sold today for eight guineas. When the ex-Serviceman came out of the Army, the first thing he did, if he had children, was to buy toys for them. At that time, therefore, they did not mind the prices. But today the prices enter into the picture to a large extent because—and I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to appreciate this—as the prices increase, so does the Purchase Tax; because it is based on the wholesale prices. That is why there is a great difference between the prices in 1939 and the prices today. But there is, I find, a great difference between the prices of even 12 months ago and those of today. We should realise that the children are the one section of the community who cannot speak for themselves. Hon. Members may laugh at that; but perhaps I should say, they are the one section who cannot speak for themselves in this House. Therefore, I would urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to concede our request.
§ Lady Noel-Buxton (Norwich)
I would like to draw the Chancellor's attention to the matter of children's reins. When we go to buy leads for our dogs, we are able to buy them complete with harness, such as the lead I have here, which is for a peke or pug, to keep them perfectly safe, and we pay no Purchase Tax. But when we buy children's reins, which are exactly the same things, to safeguard our children, we have to pay Purchase Tax at the rate of 33⅓ per cent. It is the duty of any Government to help parents to keep their children in safety. It is true that it is only a question of a shilling or two, but I need not remind a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer 1923 that there are thousands of homes in this country in which every penny counts. The question is more important today because of the shortage of perambulators, coupled with the praiseworthy rise in the birth-rate, in which I may say that my constituency is playing its part. Through the scarcity of perambulators these reins are more important than ever when children reach the age of toddlers. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a sympathetic gesture to the courageous mothers of this country, and to take the cold hand of the Purchase Tax off these children's reins.
§ Major Bruce (Portsmouth, North)
I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the Amendment on the Paper—in page 63, line 41, at end insert "Children's playground equipment." For a large number of years now there has been a tendency on the part of a growing number of local authorities throughout Great Britain—and on the part of other bodies as well—to instal in school playgrounds, or in playgrounds under the jurisdiction of the local authority, this playground equipment. They may be open air playgrounds or otherwise. I am not sure if the words in this Amendment precisely cover the apparatus I have in mind. But I am sure the Chancellor and everybody on either side of the Committee would agree that it is important that children's playgrounds should be as attractive as possible. I say this in the knowledge that the Minister of Transport has embarked on a "Keep Death Off The Road" campaign and if there is one thing which will attract children from the roads, it is the satisfactory playground where they can disport themselves without any possible danger from traffic.
During the war the majority of local authorities and other educational bodies found it difficult to get this equipment because, as we all know, our national effort was diverted to other channels and there are no doubt arrears to make up. The price of this equipment has increased. There are local authorities contemplating large programmes for the installation of playground equipment and those same local authorities, such as Portsmouth, have often suffered during the war and their rate burden is a severe one indeed. If the equipment to which I refer was removed from the ambit of the tax, it 1924 would help them. The Chancellor may say it is impossible to segregate the equipment for the body by whom it is supposed to be used. He may say that if he exempts equipment for local authorities he will have to exempt this equipment for all who may buy it. But the amount used by other bodies is small. But I will concede that point although I cannot see why this equipment cannot be exempt anyway. If the Chancellor would visit holiday camps, he would see that private limited companies are installing this equipment. I would like the Chancellor to consider this, although, as I have said, I do not know if he will approve of the precise wording.
§ Mr. N. Macpherson
I wish to refer to the Amendment in my name and the names of my hon. Friends to insert "Children's toys costing less than 10s." I associate myself with everything the hon. Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) has said regarding Purchase Tax on children's toys.
§ Mr. Howard
On a point of Order, Major Milner. Do I understand that this Amendment is now to be discussed, because there are other Amendments before it on the Paper which, I understand, are not to be called. I merely say this because I want to save the Amendment which stands in my name, and which I understand you will call.
§ Mr. Macpherson
While I associate myself very fully with what my hon. Friend the Member for Buckrose has said, it may be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not feel himself prepared to go the whole length in exempting toys this year. Should that be so, I would urge him very strongly to consider, at any fate, exempting the cheaper ranges of toys. As my hon. Friend the Member for Buckrose has said, toys play a very great part in the lives of children not only from the educational point of view, but in the relationships between parents and children. That 1925 there should be a Purchase Tax on the cheaper toys is a very great handicap indeed in the strengthening of those relations, which have to be cemented at a very early age. I would ask the Chancellor to consider, at any rate, the necessity of strengthening the home life, as I feel certain that this would be the effect of my Amendment in the poorer homes which this type of toy particularly affects. May I just say one word regarding the matter to which the noble Lady the Member for Norwich (Lady Noel-Buxton) has referred. She showed us two exhibits. I am not quite certain that exhibit A and exhibit B were exactly on all fours. Exhibit A is apparently intended to protect what is on exhibit B. I would like to support very much what she had to say. I might suggest to the Committee perhaps that, while it is extremely desirable that there should be a concession along these lines, the children who are taught to walk and who are protected by means of children's reins are also perhaps being given a foretaste of the kind of harness which, maybe,, their elders at the present time are having to experience under the present Administration.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The actual Amendment moved was the one moved by my hon. Friend, the noble Lady the Member for Norwich (Lady Noel-Buxton). [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Nevertheless, I gather we are now discussing a group of four Amendments—one moved, or rather spoken to, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth), who would exempt children's toys; another in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson), who would exempt children's toys costing less than 10s.; and another in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, which would exempt children's reins; and the fourth in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce), who wants to exempt children's playground equipment. I think that now I have got this right.
I am very happy to say that my right hon. Friend accepts straight away the suggestion that children's reins should be exempt. Actually the phrase "children's reins" is not the proper description of what I think the noble Lady has in mind; from her speech I understood that she 1926 really intends to convey that children's safety reins and harness should be exempt. There is a difference, a very real one, because these reins do assist mothers in the street when they are shopping to hold the child in check, and are rather different from what many people understand by the phrase "children's reins." As far as the suggestion made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth is concerned, I am sorry to say we cannot possibly accept his suggestion. It is quite impossible to define what is children's playground equipment. We cannot in an Act of Parliament or a Schedule define with any accuracy what would be meant or what he means by that phrase. I say quite frankly that there is no good reason why we should in this way relieve local authorities of what, after all, is their obligation to the children in their areas. Therefore, my right hon. Friend regrets that he is quite unable to accept the suggestion put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend. Now I come to the suggestion made by the two branches of the Liberal Party.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
If I may say so without offence, the Liberal Party pure and simple has been a little clearer in its thinking than the Liberal Party which, shall I say, sits in the ante-chamber of the Conservative Party. It is one thing to exempt children's toys because we know roughly what is meant, but it is another to know what a child's toy costing less than 10s. can be. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumfries really refers to 10s. as the retail or the wholesale price. If it is the retail price, we know where we are, but if it is the wholesale price—
§ Mr. Stanley
Which was the right hon. Gentleman referring to when he was talking about the one thousand pound car? No doubt he meant it in the same way.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I do not know whether that is relevant to this particular subject. We are now dealing with toys and not with a motor car which I imagine at that price is something more than a toy, although I realise that to some members of the party opposite it would be described perhaps as a toy and by, my hon. Friends on the side of the House 1927 as a rich man's toy. It would be interesting to know what my hon. Friend has in mind, whether it is the retail or wholesale price. If it is wholesale, then, frankly, the retail price could be something quite high. One can buy wholesale toys at a fairly cheap rate but when they reach the retail shops and are sold to the public the price becomes, as it has done, unfortunately, quite fantastic. Secondly, it would, we believe, lend itself to manipulation. If it is the view that toys below 10s. wholesale are to be exempt and those above are not, it would be perfectly simple for the wholesaler to invoice articles in such a way that they could keep the price below the 10s. limit, although actually, when they arrived in the shop and were sold, by manipulation, quite a good price could be shown. Finally, on the question of exempting children's toys, the cost would be in the nature of £7,000,000, so the Committee will understand how impossible it is for my right hon. Friend to look at this proposal. He is anxious that children should have good toys as cheaply as possible, but it would be too high a cost at the present juncture in our history for a sum of that dimension to be given away in this direction.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
I am sure members of the Housewives' League and other ladies will rejoice at the concession which has been made, but I speak on behalf of Christopher, Neill and Caroline, my grandchildren, with whom I had tea today. They will be gravely disappointed that the toys in which they are interested are not to be relieved of duty. They are not interested in reins but in soldiers, engines and dollies, and on their behalf I ask the Financial Secretary and the Chancellor to reconsider this matter.
§ Mr. George Wallace (Chislehurst)
I will not keep the Committee very long, but I want vigorously to support the hon. and gallant Member in his plea for the relief of Purchase Tax on playground equipment. This equipment is urgently needed in many areas to keep "death off the roads." I support his argument completely, but I would put another point. It the fashion today, in some quarters, to talk about the overburdened housewife. It is not something new on these benches and especially as far as I am concerned. I 1928 would draw attention to the very important activities which take place during the summer holidays in working class areas. I refer to the Play Leadership Scheme. It is a scheme sponsored by very many progressive local authorities and backed up by trained play leaders of the National Council of Physical and Recreative Training.
I can speak with some experience on this very important matter. I was chairman for some time of a local committee responsible for inaugurating a scheme. I know that during the summer period this scheme was operating one could hardly find a child on the streets except in the early hours of the morning when the children met the play leader at the station. One of the essential factors in the success of the scheme is the supply of efficient equipment in the parks selected for the purpose. This is not a question of taking Purchase Tax off toys. It is far more important. Not only does the child benefit morally, but he has instilled into him the spirit of leadership. The mother, the over-burdened housewife in the working class home, is relieved also. The mother in the average working class home usually looks forward to at least one week's holiday in the year. For the rest of the summer months she has to do her house work and run errands to the shops and put up with the children in the home as well. I do not claim that any child is an angel. There are times when they get on the nerves of their mothers. That is where this scheme comes in. There should be some relation of Purchase Tax in order that these schemes might go ahead in the summer months. I feel quite strongly on this point. The scheme has not been generally known and on that score, and from my own personal experience of its value, I would stress its importance. If it saves one child's life the expenditure has been worth while. With this point of view in mind I would appeal to the Chancellor to have a chat with me afterwards. This is not just a question of toys, but of vital equipment needed for child welfare.
§ Mr. Beechman (St. Ives)
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has succeeded tonight in doing what no other person has succeeded in doing before: he has united the Liberals. The pure agree with the simple. Speaking on behalf of the pure, I say that the right hon. Gentleman has 1929 found a response to this appeal throughout the Committee. He said he did not know at what level, wholesale or retail, the relief was to be given. It must be well known that the Purchase Tax is taken off or reduced at certain levels. What we suggest is that the relief should be given on the cheaper toys at the retail stage. Everybody in this Committee knows full well what difficulties there are at, say, Chirstmas-time for the ordinary mother in the ordinary home where there is not a very big income to buy toys at sufficiently low prices to give her children. One home after another had their happiness destroyed, or greatly reduced, by this insufficiency of toys, owing to their expense, although we could encourage the making of toys in this country greatly if this step were taken. I am greatly surprised that the Financial Secretary should assist the noble Lady in what seems to be maintaining unnecessary controls and not doing that which would bring joy and happiness into the average home. We are told that the concession with regard to toys will cost £7 million. I do not know at what level this sum was worked out. What I want to know is how much it would cost to bring a sufficiency of toys into the homes of the average people at Christmas time—to reduce the Purchase Tax on toys of the cheaper sorts which, I hope very much, will be made in our own country.
§ Mr. Byers
I do not want to enter into the arena of party politics and join issue with the new recruits of the Conservative Party, but I would seriously ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look at this problem again. I quite agree that £7 million is a big figure and one which the Chancellor must carefully consider before he accedes to a request of this nature. On the other hand, I had always supposed that the principle underlying Purchase Tax—and, after all, we were delighted with that dissertation on the underlying principles which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave us last night—was that wherever possible it should be applied to luxuries rather than to necessities. That being so, it seems to me that in looking round for a source of revenue, the Chancellor has hit on a wrong source. Toys, and particularly children' playground equipment, are to my mind a necessity. I am not thinking of the fancy toys—the £15 10s. jeeps and things of that sort. There are a certain number of toys 1930 which in effect are necessities and, therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at this again from that point of view.
The right hon. Gentleman had no difficulty whatever in drawing a line between different types of motor cars. When he wanted to put the Purchase Tax up he had no difficulty in striking a level. That level happened to be £1,000, a good round figure. Could not the same principle be applied in the case of toys—that Purchase Tax should not be levied on necessities, but only on luxuries? That would mean that he would have to find an alternative source of taxation. I agree that it is difficult, but it is up to the Treasury—people have suggested betting, football pools and so on—and I do not believe it is beyond the wit of the Treasury to suggest a tax that would bring in the £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 which the concession might cost. I do not think the cost would amount to £7,000,000. They would not have to take the tax off all these fancy toys, but only off those below a certain level. In so doing they would give great pleasure to a great number, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look at this again from that point of view.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
The Financial Secretary did not really answer the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce) on playground equipment, but tried to ride off on practical difficulties. I suggest to him that it would be perfectly feasible to schedule a list of equipment which it would be possible to free from tax, and that the list could be so drafted as to, include only the apparatus needed for the particular purpose. Before the Financial Secretary rides off on practical difficulties I think it is up to him to consider that. The only other matter to which I would invite the attention of the Committee is this—the amazing consequence of the Financial Secretary arguing that he cannot take the Purchase Tax off toys because of the cost to the Exchequer. It leaves us in this fantastic position, that if an hon. Member decides to purchase a toy for a child he has to pay tax, but if he desires to put a bet on a dog he does not pay tax. I hope the country will be interested to learn that it is an essential condition of Socialist finance to raise money by the taxation of children's toys.
§ Mr. Butcher
I hope the Financial Secretary will reconsider his views on this question of the children's playground equipment, which is perhaps one of the most practical exemptions that could be made by the Finance Bill. It is an astonishing thing that on the same Bill the Chancellor of the Exchequer should move that rowing boats specially designed as racing boats should bear tax at a lower rate, although these things are after all the recreation of an extremely limited number drawn in the main from the public schools, and that the Financial Secretary should refuse to give a similar relief on children's playground equipment, which is the absolute necessity of the ordinary children in the streets our cities. I believe there is one reason why this is done. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, is one of the most astute politicians in this House. He is always balancing the finances to make an appeal to the electorate, and he realises that the children have no votes.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I want to make an appeal to the Chancellor to give further consideration to this question of children's playground equipment and toys. The Financial Secretary referred earlier on another Amendment to the amount of the cost. The Chancellor will understand that in a working class family where there are a number of children toys for each of the children, while separately not costing a great deal, come to a considerable amount when all are taken together. I would remind the Chancellor of that classic Latin proverb "Every mickle makes a muckle." A little to some people might mean a good deal to a working class home. I know there are difficulties in the way, but I hope he can see his way to do something. When the Chancellor was young he had a toy I am sure, and it was probably an abacus. I am sure that he will give sympathetic consideration to the question. Before I sit down I should like to express my regret that on this group of Amendments on children's toys the Closure has not been applied.
§ Captain Crookshank
I am sure that the Communist Party did not expect to have the last word on this matter.
§ Captain Crookshank
The Chancellor has now listened to the Debate and I hope, therefore, that he will reconsider this question and see whether it is possible to have any kind of differentiation. It is now clear what was meant by the 10s. cost. When the original Amendment was before the Committee the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said that if children's toys were exempt it would cost £7 million, and I am bound to say that that is a considerable obstacle. In present circumstances it is doubtful if the Budget could stand such a loss of taxation, and, therefore, I would not be inclined to agree that the Chancellor should forego such an amount, but it looks as if some alleviation might be made now that the Chancellor has heard the Debate. I do not ask him to make any promise tonight, but if it were possible to do something, though not at a cost of £7 million, I think he should look at it again. It might be possible to exempt the cheaper kind of toys in some degree, and if he could do that the Chancellor would be doing a great service to the children with whose interests we are all concerned.
§ Mr. Byers
Could we have some assurance from the Chancellor that he will at least look at this matter again, because unless he can give that assurance I feel we ought to divide the Committee? I am certain that last year on this matter he said that he would look at it and e have not pressed him to accept this Amendment in the light of the information given. I feel that we are entitled as a Committee to some indication that the Chancellor's mind is not entirely closed in this matter.
§ Mr. Dalton
I have listened to the Debate and it has been very interesting in several aspects. With regard to the playground equipment there is no difference of view as to the value, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce) described it, but the objection which my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary quite properly took was the difficulty as to lack of definition. We cannot frame a Statute on the basis of good intentions and a warm heart. It is not my fault if this Amendment is completely unenforceable and meaningless in terms of the law. On the other hand, I gave an undertaking to my hon. and gallant Friend which I repeat publicly that if he will try to 1933 get some little precision into his ideas on this matter I shall be glad to look at it, but I must have clearly defined objects laid down and then I will look at it.
The question of toys is a very much more difficult problem. I am glad to find there is no suggestion that, at this stage, we should forego £7,000,000. I hope I give no offence to any trader, but the trade both in the manufacture of toys and distribution of them—either wholesale and retail—is pretty chaotic. It is not a thing which price control would alter, though, when I was President of the Board of Trade, I tried to get a reasonable control of prices to prevent profiteering. It is a difficult thing to do, and, very frankly, I am not at all sure—this is like certain other cases we have discussed previously—that the mere removal of the Purchase Tax is going to benefit parents or children. I am prepared to go on looking at it, but I can give no undertaking between now and the Report stage. The whole production and distribution of toys is conducted in such a fashion that I am doubtful whether it is possible to draw an administrable line. It is said with regard to a motor car that you can draw a line, but the production of motor cars is conducted in a more orderly manner, and is highly arranged so that the total number of objects concerned is very small. Here there are a great many miscellaneous articles produced in a variety of ways, and under varied conditions, so that it is extremely difficult to make a workable definition. I cannot give any undertaking this year, except in connection with playground equipment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Howard
I beg to move, in page 63, line 41, at the end, to insert:Industrial gloves including mittens, mitts or gauntlets made of—It is quite unnecessary in a Committee, which has the experience such as Members here possess, to attempt to run through the various occupations, trades and jobs for the proper performance of which industrial gloves are absolutely essential. I base my case on the simple argument that these gloves are essential for two purposes. They help to preserve 1934 health and to promote production. I will not go into every detailed argument for this particular type of article being exempted from Purchase Tax, but I wish to raise one other point on account of a remark which the Financial Secretary made in reply to a previous Amendment. It is very dangerous to take the line that because the overall cost of an article may be small, therefore, it does not matter adding the tax to it. Whatever tax may be added to an article must increase its cost. And if you add to the cost of an article it surely must act, to a certain extent, as a deterrent to the purchase of that article. We do not want to deter people from purchasing industrial gloves. We want to encourage people to purchase these gloves and I will say no more in support of this particular Amendment.
- (a) Leather with palms having metals reinforcements, or
- (b) Cotton or fabric and leather palms with or without reinforcement."
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Sir P. Bennett
I would like to support this Amendment. I will not add to what my hon. Friend has said beyond saying that we are doing all we can to urge the improvement of conditions for the workers. Industrial hygiene is being put in the front of the programme; we are asked by the doctors and other industrial advisers to provide gloves, and, naturally, we do so. As industry is spending its own money, equally it is entitled to ask the Government to help in whatever our medical and welfare advisers put in front of us. But there are a large number of smaller firms who have not those advantages, and to whom expense is a great consideration. We are anxious to extend, as far as possible, the use of safety provisions to prevent poisoning of the hands and the spread of disease. The prevention of absenteeism through illness and poisoning would, on the whole, save the country more money that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will ever gain by continuing this Purchase Tax. I hope he will grant this request, and I beg leave to support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Dalton
I am sympathetic to this request, and if we can get a proper definition, I am prepared to accept the suggestion. But here again I must point out that the matter is not quite so easy as it looks on paper. You have, if I am to do what I am asked to do, and what I would like to do, to have a definition of certain classes of gloves which 1935 are used by industrial workers for protection in carrying out certain processes, and used by them only. I will have this matter looked into and see if we can frame an administrative definition. If that can be done, I will put down something for the Report stage. Conceivably it will not be possible to do it, but that will not be our fault.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
On a point of Order, may I ask if that will include gloves used by hedgers and ditchers, and people doing such work?
§ Mr. Dalton
That illustrates what happens in these cases. I thought we were talking primarily of men working in dangerous occupations. I have done a certain amount of hedging and ditching myself, in a somewhat unskilled fashion. This question shows how one may get pushed on from point to point. I think we had better stick to industry in the narrow sense, and have some thought, as I gathered that the mover and supporter intended, to protect the hands of the workers against noxious chemicals, fumes and so on.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I would not like anything I have said to militate against the Chancellor of the Exchequer's consideration of the needs of other industries. But I would just remind the Chancellor that hedging and ditching, and the laying of a quickset fence certainly need gloves.
§ Mr. Howard
While I had considered that the definition on the Paper would have been sufficiently clear, in view of the manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has received this Amendment, and because I understand that if words can be found to meet the case he will meet us, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Chairman
There are on the Order Paper Amendments dealing with various sports requisites, and I would suggest that when hon. Members have put down Amendments dealing with such requisites the Committee should discuss them at the same time.
§ Mr. G. Thomas
On a point of Order, Major Milner, may I ask whether that means that a number of the Amendments 1936 are not to be discussed? There is one in my name and the name of an hon. Member opposite which comes second on Page 3779 of the Order Paper. Does your statement mean that this is ruled out?
§ Mr. Digby
I beg to move, in page 64, line 10, after "descriptions," to insert, "nets."
I also have the following Amendments—in line 12, at beginning, insert, "Football goal nets"; in line 14, after "descriptions," insert, "goal nets"; in line 16, at end, insert, "Tennis nets."
The object of these Amendments, or of the first three, is to correct an omission from the proposal regarding the reduction of Purchase Tax on certain sports equipment. The object of the fourth Amendment is to include in the games for which sports equipment is to have a reduced rate, the game of tennis. In this game, the principal item, apart from the court, is the net. The first three Amendments also deal with the question of nets. The effect of the Bill, as it stands at present, is to provide a reduced rate for football, cricket, and hockey requisites. It sets out the requisites for these games with the rather surprising omission of netting. I should perhaps explain that my constituency has a very special interest in this matter, for, from time very far back, nets and ropes were made in Bridport. It is recorded that King John, when he wanted hawsers for his ships, sent to Bridport. The rope and netting industry has been carried out in Bridport for a long time, and I think I am correct in saying that all the sports netting for this country is made in Bridport. These Amendments are clearly of importance to my constituents; it is of importance that this omission should be rectified. It is also of the greatest importance for all those who indulge in these three games, and in the game of lawn tennis.
Perhaps I should say something about the amount of money involved in Purchase Tax on netting for the purposes of cricket, football, and hockey. When I remind the Committee that a full-size cricket net of good quality costs £21 16s. 10d., on which the tax is over £7, and on the cheapest quality it is £6, it 1937 will be realised that this is a matter of importance. The people buying these nets are not always individuals, but often schools, and it will be seen that the nets constitute very heavy items. In the case of football nets, the cost is less. The tax for a pair of football nets is 50s., and in the case of hockey, it is a little more than that.
It may be that this was a chance omission—that the Chancellor' really did not intend the Bill should be as it is in this respect—and that it was not meant that netting should be excluded from the other items necessary to carry on these sports. The Chancellor may say that netting is not necessary for these three particular games, and that one does not need to practice at a cricket net at all. One can just carry on and play the game without nets. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he has included other items in his list which are not necessary. I will give the example of shinguards for football. They are not necessary, so the argument that these nets are not necessary does not seem to be a solid one. The second argument which the Chancellor may bring forward is that he wishes to assist individuals and not clubs. I do not know; that may be his intention, but, if it is, I do not see why he has included stumps and bails in his list, because individuals do not carry their own stumps and bails. These are provided for the individual by the club or school.
I should say that the people who will buy these nets—and this applies especially in the case of cricket nets—will very largely be schools which have limited funds. It is an interesting fact that the largest purchasers of cricket nets are local authorities, so that the right hon. Gentleman is imposing a special burden on local authorities by refusing to make this concession in the case of nets. I very much hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will look at this matter again. I really think that it is an anomaly and that it must be a mistake and I would be very grateful if he would give careful consideration to this matter.
§ The Chairman
Other Amendments analogous to those under consideration should be discussed and not moved.
§ Mr. Spence
Thank you, Sir. The Amendment to which I wish to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this Schedule is that relating to the exemption of golf clubs from Purchase Tax. I have perhaps an experience of golf that is in certain senses unique because I design golf clubs. I have been a member of golf clubs for many years and have followed their progress in Scotland. Golf occupies a position as a natural game in Scotland different from the position which it occupies in England. Golf in Scotland is a game of the people. Today we have clubs in my part of the world where the membership fee is as low as 15s. or so for apprentice golfers and where the adult subscription is 30s. There are many clubs with a fee of £2 and two guineas and so on. The working people of Scotland play golf as a national and normal recreation. The problem is this: the cheapest club one can buy today costs £2 10s. or more. We have many men back from the Forces and many young people growing up who want to take up the game of golf and cannot do so because they cannot afford to pay for six or seven clubs at two or three pounds apiece.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is now going to consider the points made regarding various items of sports equipment. I would ask him to give particular attention to the cheaper range of golf clubs used by the masses of the people. He has given way on various matters and he has refused to give way on others but I do put it to him that in looking at the question of Purchase Tax on golf clubs, he must view the Scottish position from a different angle from that of the English one, because the reason for golf in Scotland is that many parts of the country are a natural golf course. For that reason it is a truly democratic game and should be supported by the right hon. Gentleman and I hope he will give some consideration to the cheaper range of golf clubs so that they might be exempted from tax.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Wadsworth
I have two Amendments on the Order Paper, one dealing with golf balls and the other with rowing boats. I am taking the opportunity of eliciting from the Chancellor how he arrives at a decision whether he will reduce the tax on one article or another. Has he a points system? How does he 1939 decide that cricket balls should be reduced in the amount of Purchase Tax and not golf balls? Is there a sort of class distinction? I sincerely hope not because I think that Purchase Tax should be applied over a broad field and if the Chancellor makes a concession it should be made over a broad field. The same applies to toys. Toy sailing yachts and rowing boats are to be exempt, but ordinary rowing boats still pay Purchase Tax. There appears to be inconsistency in this matter and I should be glad if the Chancellor will take this opportunity of explaining why Purchase Tax is applied here and not there and if there is any plan behind it all.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I would like especially to apply myself to the requisites for shinty. I am happy to have given you, Major Milner, some cause for merriment but there are lots of people who do not know what shinty is.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I have never attempted to argue with a Yorkshireman and would not do so even if you were not in the Chair. Shinty is much played in the North of Scotland. [Interruption.] There seems to be misunderstanding on the subject of shinty. It is true that they do play golf in Scotland. In fact all people, practically, play golf in the North of Scotland but they also play shinty. It would not affect the Chancellor financially to any extent in the amount involved. There are a large number of clubs who play this game and it would be a graceful gesture if the Chancellor would exclude sticks, balls and shin guards. If the Chancellor has not tried it, I can assure him it is one of the most painful of games one can play and that shin guards are very important. Such a concession would cause pleasure in the North of Scotland and I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. M. Macpherson), although he resides in the South of England, is interested in shinty and will back me up. I hope this may be considered.
§ Mr. William Wells (Walsall)
The particular interest of the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) and myself is in an Amendment to include 1940Throwing hammers and handles therefor, regulation shot, relay batons, discuses, vaulting poles, hurdles, javelins and heads and shafts therefor.We have had concessions to-day to the games of cricket and football and concessions have been asked in respect of sports, such as shinty, and we remember the very eloquent plea made by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) on the Report stage of the Budget Resolution for concessions for the game of net ball. There have been no concessions so far for athletics. The cost of these concessions will be small but they will be a considerable help to the Amateur Athletic Association and for all these reasons I would commend them to the House. I feel sure that the hon. Member for Chippenham will shortly rise to invite the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a large concession to the opposite sex. I appeal to the Chancellor to support some of the most classical and virile of sports.
§ Mr. D. Marshall
I rise to speak in support of requisites for bowls. No doubt the Chancellor is well aware that this is the oldest pastime in this country, with the exception of archery. He is also no doubt aware that great controversy has occurred in all ages in this House on the subject of bowls. In 1511 there was a great controversy at which bowls were debarred from this country altogether in order to promote archery. Later on, in 1541, this House saw fit to make a small repeal against this Act, a rather strange one, enabling anyone whose property was rated at £100 a year to get a licence for bowls. One can well imagine the fuss and commotion in those days of having to obtain a licence. The Chancellor generally makes mention at the end of Budget proceedings of the glorious green fields of England. Does the Chancellor realise that he has already hit those who play bowls. Think of a lovely summer day in Cornwall. In the evening you get bitten by gnats because you can no longer smoke and prevent them biting. That again should be a case for sympathy in regard to this Schedule. I sincerely trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see fit to reduce the Purchase Tax on the requisites for bowls, and I assure him by requisites. I do not mean liquid refreshments.
§ Mr. Eccles
I would like to strike a blow for the girls. The Chancellor knows 1941 there are a million girls who play netball and a large number of both sexes who play lacrosse. I am not basing my submission on purely financial grounds. I ask for adherence to the doctrine of equal tax for equal play. The Chancellor has done nothing for girls' games and I think that is most unfair. This particular game of netball, as he knows, is rapidly growing and is considered to be one of the very best exercises that can be had in built-up areas. It does not require much space and the encouragement of clubs amongst girls is something which ought to have the Chancellor's sympathy. The tax is very heavy, for these posts, as I mentioned on a previous occasion, cost up to 16 guineas per set. I hope, therefore, the Chancellor, who rather disappointed the girls the other day with his statement about equal pay, will do a little something in this particular case to put that matter right.
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
I only want to ask the Chancellor if he will give consideration to the general point that it is much more important to the youth of the country to play games than to watch them. Even when in advanced age it is better to follow the Scottish habit of following a golf ball or a bowl when we cannot find anything else. I hope that the Chancellor will give the assurance that taxation will be arranged so that young people and old will play games rather than watch them.
§ Mr. Dalton
I am very glad my original initiative has been treated kindly in various sections of the Committee and that desires have been expressed for the further extensions of the reductions which I proposed in my Budget speech on cricket, football, hockey, boxing and rowing. Those were the five I selected. On what principles did I select them? First of all, I selected them very much on the ground which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has just put—in order to encourage the young and active members of the community, to encourage games and sports which require a certain degree of energy and which are better for people to play than merely to watch.
I did, however, have to make a qualification in that a number of these sports requisites are very good export lines and we must not in these times even at this late hour and in this happy general mood 1942 forget the importance of the export trade, without the stimulation of which we should not have the energy required to play these games because we should have to reduce our food rations and so on. That was why I had to exclude with great regret both golf and tennis. Golf and tennis requisites are admirable export lines. I have tried to assist those who are young and active to get more cheaply the requisites for the various sports in which youth and energy play a necessary part along with skill. But I have had to insist that we should not do so at the expense of export lines.
In regard to the various cases which have been put up—quite a number of them I am quite prepared to accept. Perhaps I may begin with the Amendment which stands later on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells). I think we would like to redefine it, but I think it is very nearly right. It has been, as I understand it, discussed with the amateur athletic association who have been making representations to the Treasury. I did not receive these representations personally but I indicated that I would be very glad to go as far as I could to meet their views. I dare say this is pretty nearly right but we would like to look at it again. But in substance we accept.
In regard to games played in the tar North—I am told shinty is really another name for hockey. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It has been suggested to me that hockey already covered it, but if that is not so I shall certainly have consultations made with certain Highland experts and we shall bring in whatever is necessary to enable the youth of the far North to play this game. I would like to see it sometime when I am up there. It seems to be an exciting game. Then I am told there is an Irish game called hurling—[HON. MEMBERS: Hurley."]—I am advised that there would be an Irish grievance if that was not put in. Although I have not been asked, I should like to add that. In regards to bowls: I have thought that perhaps bowls did not qualify in the first rank as games played by the young and active, but I am told you are never too old to play bowls. I do not feel strongly about it. I have tried to play bowls occasionally. I do not pretend to any skill at it. I 1943 am told many Members are very good at it. I do not think it is nearly as important to encourage it as it is other games for young people but if it is felt that an injustice is done I am quite prepared to introduce bowls. In the case of net-ball, here again I have no wish to seem to be refusing a reasonable request from those who play this game, but I am told that the ball is already covered and falls within the categories already covered by footballs. I gather it is not necessary to refer to net-balls, in terms, as net-balls, but will have that checked. I am advised that the balls used in that game are already covered under the head of "footballs." If that is not so, we will put it in. With regard to lacrosse, I am prepared to bring that in.
When we come to posts and nets, there I am in the same difficulty as I have already expressed to the Committee—the difficulty with regard to definition. I have two doubts. The first is that I think they are probably a good export line. I will have to check that; I have to keep this export consideration in mind all the time, and I have the impression that all these nets, and particularly tennis nets, are a very good export line and, if that is so, must continue. There is also the difficulty of definition. I am not quite sure whether for the purposes of administration I can separate nets and posts—goal-posts. I will look into that again. If we can get over these two difficulties, I have no objections whatever. I must continue to exclude golf and tennis—with regret. I am prepared to meet, I think, a great number of the other particular suggestions made, and will put down Amendments accordingly on the Report stage.
§ Mr. Stanley
As well as thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his concessions, might I include a rather vulgar consideration? I want to ask a question which, although it might be considered irrelevant, is not, I think, out of order. How much are these concessions going to cost?
§ Mr. Dalton
I am glad to find the right hon. Gentleman solicitous for the balance. The Opposition is sometimes carried away, but that is not the case tonight. There are ranges between which the cost will lie, according to whether 1944 certain things are or are not possible. The cost of these concessions would be of the order of £1 million. In my view this is a line on which we are right to make concessions. What we are doing here is aiming at the health and happiness of the younger generation. We do a great deal for the older people, but on this occasion it is just as well that we should have the young active people in mind.
§ Mr. Byers
The right hon. Gentleman has rightly stressed the necessity of keeping good lines for the export trade. I agree with him. I was under the impression that all these things which were for export had a quota; in other words, a quota of production had to go for export. Is that wrong, because from what the Chancellor said it seemed as if the only control over the demand on the home market against what was to go abroad was the Purchase Tax? Surely, that cannot be right. There must be a definite quota to go abroad, and, therefore, the Purchase Tax is irrelevant to the demand on the home market, because production is absolutely fixed.
§ Mr. Dalton
No, it is not irrelevant. There is in some cases a minimum quota, but I cannot say that for all of them because this matter comes within the field of the President of the Board of Trade, but I will have the matter checked up before I reach a final decision. As I say, I believe there is a minimum quota in some of these lines, but we do not wish to stick to minimums. One of the facts concerning the Purchase Tax is that it switches a certain amount of production, which is on the margin between the home and the export markets, to the export market. It keeps in check the demand for goods in the home market. That is simple economic planning.
§ Mr. Dalton
On the contrary, it is admirable planning. The Purchase Tax is an admirable instrument of planning. We want to get more exports. I apologise for repeating that simple proposition, and, therefore, over and above any minimum quota laid down by certain Purchase Tax arrangements we want to make it worth while for manufacturers to send goods abroad and a little less worth while for them to sell them at home. In that way we are doing a good job for exports.
§ Mr. Dalton
I was not sure who raised that matter, but I might say now that the intention here is to reduce the Purchase Tax upon boats used by the young and active people in competitive rowing. It is not intended to facilitate those who are punting about in back water.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. D. Marshall
I beg to move, in page 64, line 16, at the end, to insert:120-volt batteries for wireless sets.I know that the Committee would not wish me to go into this matter in detail at this hour of the night. It may well be that this Amendment is not covered by the wording which I have used. I am quite sure, however, that should the Chancellor agree with the spirit of this Amendment his Department will easily find the right words to cover the purpose of the Amendment. When I was speaking in this Committee on the Finance Bill with regard to the removal of the paraffin tax, the Chancellor said he would remove it in order to help the rural areas. It is in order to help the rural areas that I have put down this Amendment. I received a letter a short time ago from a retailer in my constituency and it puts the matter very well. Here is what is in that letter:If you allow for a reduction of quality it means that a poor widow living in a cottage two fields away from the mad has to expend five or six times what she had to in 1939 in order to maintain some contact with the wider world.I feel sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer realises that in the rural areas wireless sets needing dry batteries are an essential requirement. In view of that—and I am not going to keep the Committee any longer at this late hour—I trust that he will give it consideration, and at least that he will tell me what it would cost.
§ Mr. Dalton
This would cost £1,000,000 a year, and while I sympathise with the hon. Member's intention I do not think 1946 that a loss of that kind would be in scale with the importance of the matter.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Wadsworth
I beg to move, in page 64, line 16, at the end, to insert:Knives, forks and spoons (not fabricated from silver or gold).I made an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year on a similar Amendment, and on that occasion I had the satisfaction of hearing him say that knives, forks and spoons were high on the list of priorities and that he would give favourable consideration to the proposal this year. I am now giving him the opportunity of acceding to the request I then made. I make this appeal again, also, because the prices of knives, forks and spoons have increased considerably since last year and, therefore, there is a greater need now for this relief than there was then. Knives with stainless blades and white handles, the ordinary kind of household knife, have increased in price by 435 per cent. since 1939. That, of course, includes Purchase Tax. Knives, forks and spoons are essential requisites in the house, and as I am asking for a reduction only on those articles which are not fabricated of silver and gold I hope the Chancellor will accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. Dalton
It is true that I did say last year that we had this on the priority list, and I have given it careful consideration when going over the possible list of concessions this year. I am afraid, however, that I must ask the hon. Member not to press me on it this year, for two reasons. It is true that certain conditions have grown more difficult since last year, but so equally has the export-import position, and cutlery of this kind is a very good export line. We must, I am afraid, in this as in other cases, deliberately send away a number of articles that we would like to keep in order to get the even more essential food and raw materials that we need. Also, it would cost 1,500,000 in a full year. That again is something which I feel we ought not to lose. I do not want to make promises that seem empty, and, therefore, I do not want to use any general phrase such as that we will keep it high on the list. Obviously, if we could feel that the export position was well in hand and improving, half of the argument I have used with regard to the one and a half million would fall. We 1947 might look into it another time, but I am not making another promise for next year. I am stating quite frankly why I cannot accept it now.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 12 m.
§ Mrs. Ayrton Gould (Hendon, North)
I beg to move in page 64, line 18, at the end, to insert:Original works of art and reproductions of works of art.I hope the Chancellor will accept this Amendment. I believe he will, because I know him to have an invincible sense of logic. The position in connection with works of art is exactly like "Alice in Wonderland." I think the Chancellor will also be interested, because of his interest in education, and he has already given one concession on the visual aids to education. It is accepted today, and the Minister of Education is very keen 'on this, that the reproductions of the works of great masters form a very important part of education of children in schools. The Purchase Tax existing now makes it impossible for local authorities and others who control schools to purchase pictures they would like to have, particularly of the reproductions, for the school children.
A most extraordinary situation exists. There is a 100 per cent. tax on the reproductions if they are British made. Many of the reproductions of the greatest pictures have to be imported, either singly or in folios. I have the details of a consignment of very fine pictures here. The invoice is "Value, £300, Import duty, £60, Ex-shipping tax, £5"—making a total of £365. Purchase Tax on these was £365, making a total of £730, or about 145 per cent. Purchase Tax on the original value. How many people can see great pictures in the original? Obviously most people have to get their education and their visual enjoyment from reproductions. In the matter of originals the Chancellor rightly pats himself on the back and chalks it up, as he said, that he s the first Chancellor of the Exchequer who has given a grant to the National art galleries—and we hope he is going to extend his favours soon to provincial galleries—but it is impossible even with the grant to acquire new foreign works of art, because they have to be imported under licence which cannot be obtained. 1948 This is bad for art and very bad for British artists. There is another point, and this, as Alice said, is "curiouser and curiouser." Both originals and reproduction can be imported, and sold without any tax at all provided they come here in book form. There is a company called the Marlborough Rare Books Limited which has on sale a copy of the special edition of Bouffon's Histoire Naturelle for £900, and there are copies of the ordinary edition on sale for £350 each.
I am sure that it will interest the Chancellor of the Exchequer to know that the Leicester Galleries bought one of these copies, broke it up, had an exhibition of illustrations, which were a series of aqua-tints by Picasso, and sold them for 18 guineas each. There are 20 or 30 of such illustrated French books in this country, and I do want to suggest that if we are going to have a reasonable state of affairs it is essential that it should be possible to get reproductions so that they can be brought into the schools and so that we shall be able to get originals into the country. One word on the final irony of the situation. An original copy of an old master can be sold in this country for £20,000, £40,000 or £60,000, and there is no Purchase Tax charged. Incidentally, it is sold in its frame without tax, whereas any new frames are subject to zoo per cent. Purchase Tax. Reproduction of such a picture—which will probably have been moved from one collection to another, so cannot be viewed by the public—are needed both for education and for the visual enjoyment of the people, carries a Too per cent. Purchase Tax on each individual reproduction, and a too per cent. Purchase Tax on each frame. I do not ask that the Chancellor should necessarily carry out the terms of this Amendment, but he should look into this and see if he cannot give some concession to improve visual aids in the education both of children and of adults in this very vital way.
§ Commander Noble (Chelsea)
I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the Amendment in my name and in the name of the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. G. Thomas) which is on the Order Paper, and which refers to framed tures and reproductions of cultural interest purchased by schools and educa- 1949 tional authorities. I understand that before the advent of this tax there was a large sale of framed reproductions to schools, and that the London County Council and county education authorities, besides the schools themselves, were big buyers. There was an exhibition during the last few weeks at the Victoria and Albert Museum of pictures for schools. That exhibition was opened by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. Although those pictures were not the reproductions to which we have referred tonight, I was glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education is interested in this subject. I am sure he will agree that reproductions of well-known works are highly desirable in schools from the cultural and educational angle. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to consult with the Minister of Education and to reconsider this matter.
§ Mr. Dalton
I think it might be convenient if I give my view on these two Amendments. I think that to some extent they cover the same ground. The Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken is not, as it stands, one which I can accept; but I hope I shall be able to give him some satisfaction in what I am about to say. I must point out that it is difficult for the purpose of a Statute to talk about pictures of cultural interest. I think the lawyers would have a high time arguing the meaning of those words across the floor of a court. Furthermore, there is the difficulty of separating those pictures which are required by schools and by local authorities. The same point I have previously mentioned arises here, and I must apologise for making it again. It is difficult to work the Purchase Tax unless you tax or do not tax for some definite object, apart from the question of who needs or uses the article concerned.
Therefore, I do not think his Amendment will, for these reasons, quite do. On the other hand, the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould) was one which, to some extent, was pushing an open door because original works of art are not subject to tax unless they are made of silver or gold in which case, of course, they would be taxable in that sense. Therefore, I do not think we need consider that. But now we come to the 1950 point of substance—the reproduction of works of art. It is quite true that these are charged at the rate of 100 per cent., and we think they should be brought down. It is reasonable that they should be brought down to the class of 33⅓ per cent. I think probably that is all right, but I should like to refer to the terms of the proposition and how far it will carry us if we had it an the 100 per cent. plane. I promise the Committee that I will look at it, and I will accept in principle the Amendment which has been moved, in so far as it is necessary to do this. The first Amendment, as I have intimated, is not necessary. I will look at the cost and that will determine me in saying whether I can bring it to 66⅔ or 33⅓ per cent. I will do that and I think that is what the hon. Gentleman has in mind.
§ Mrs. Ayrton Gould
Before the Chancellor sits down, I would like to refer to imported reproductions because they should not have 145 per cent. duty. The duty is not only on the original value, but on the whole amount charged.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
I beg to move, in page 64, line 21, at the end, to insert:Pile fabrics and woven figured fabrics.In regard to the reduction of the Purchase Tax from 100 per cent. to 33⅓ per cent. I would draw the attention of the Committee to the anomaly that these are the only textile fabrics taxed at 100 per cent. Last year, I appealed to the Chancellor to reduce the Purchase Tax on silk which stood at 100 per cent., and he met my request by bringing it down to 33⅓. I am sorry the Chancellor has just left the Committee at this very moment because I would like him to have heard this Debate. The Financial Secretary received a deputation led by myself from the industry, representing all sides including the trade unions, and the right hon. Gentleman listened to it and said he thought a good case had been made. He promised to report to the Chancellor. This tax may have been appropriate when it was introduced during the war because it was at that time necessary to try to discourage the production of all textiles not required for the purposes of war, or for absolutely necessary domestic use. Today, our 1951 economic life depends on the development of our exports. We are continually being told that fact. This industry requires great skill. It is an industry built up over hundreds of years and it is bringing large sums of money to us from overseas—some from the hard currency areas.
It is a well known fact that in all industries like these, unless there is a good home market the export market will not thrive at all, because the 100 per cent. Purchase Tax is killing it at the moment. I have personal knowledge of manufacturers who have refused orders from American buyers this year. They have been over this year to buy some of these special fabrics and they were told that they are not being made because it is a seasonal fabric. The industry manufactures certain types of ribbon for two months, say, for export and unless it can supplement that with a few more months of work for the home market it is not economical to undertake manufacture at all. The consequence is that these American buyers have gone to Switzerland to buy their fabrics and ribbons. But it is not entirely on those grounds that my case is based, because the tax was originally imposed at this level with a view to discriminating against luxury type fabrics as opposed to the cheaper lines. But it is having grave repercussions on certain sections of the textile industry at the moment. For the benefit of hon. Members it would be as well to explain that the design or pattern on a fabric may be incorporated either in the process of weaving or by printing the plain fabrics. One hundred per cent. tax is levied in all cases where the design is incorporated in the process of weaving, and at 33⅓ per cent. in all other cases. I have seen examples of a fabric which is priced at 4s. per yard which is taxed at 100 per cent., and then another fabric costing 25s. per yard is taxed at 33⅓ per cent. This is not helpful. For narrow ribbon which ladies wear over their shoulders there are two types, one with spots and one without which is plain ribbon. The one without spots is 33⅓ per cent. and the one with is 100 per cent.
The cost of production of spotless ribbon is higher than the other. The hon. Lady opposite probably knows more about that than I do, but it is quite iniquitious 1952 that the cheaper article should be taxed higher. I am going on now to discuss the case of curtain materials such as are in the working class houses, that is woven curtains. The tax on these fabrics represent a very great hardship to the average housewife. If our homes are to be permitted to have the essential materials to make them bright in these difficult times, then there is a very good case for this tax to be reduced. The matter, as I have said, has been discussed with the trade union representatives and they are in complete agreement with the employers that something must be done if the industry is going to survive at all. The other category of fabric that is involved in this Amendment is that of pile fabrics, this covers not only silk velvets but the inexpensive cotton velours and velveteens which are very much needed in the home of which production should be encouraged so that we can keep out foreign cheap velvets. I believe that before the war there was a tremendous foreign competition in velvets and velveteens and we want to fight that in the future. Narrow fabrics, domestic fabrics—there is a case here for relief for where a pattern is woven into a table cloth or face towel or trimmings the tax is 100 per cent. If there is any pattern at all for the cloth, it is 100 per cent.
It may not be thought to be important because of the existing range of utility fabrics which are free of tax. Anyone having the necessary coupons can buy utility clothes but only the privileged few such as young married couples, and those whose houses have been bombed can buy this type of fabric. If one can get the dockets to furnish a home one is given 15 square yards, which does not go very far in furnishing a home. The production of non-utility fabrics should be encouraged and I hope the Chancellor will not say that he is unable to put this right. It is really a matter of national importance that it should be put right so as to maintain the skill in the industry and assist the export trade. I appreciate that if the Amendment is agreed to it will be costly, but I feel quite sure that in a matter of two or three years it will pay the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do hope he will give it his full consideration.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
The hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey) has already put his 1953 case very well. I would particularly like to refer to the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in my name and that of the hon. and gallant Member for Antrim (Major Haughton), which refers to damasks. The official wording says:figured textiles woven with jacquard, dobby, shaft or tappet looms.Anyone with knowledge of the trade will know that those are the particular looms which are used in the manufacture of patterned damasks. What we should like to do if the Chancellor or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is forthcoming, is to reduce the Purchase Tax from 100 per cent. to 33⅓ per cent. The reasons are these. Our weavers are great experts and in my constituency and in that of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Antrim there are very expert makers of these things. For six or seven years, if not more, they have been weaving nothing but plain goods. As the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield has said, there is a grave danger that this most valuable export trade, apart from the home trade's value, will be threatened because the people who weave these things are threatened with losing the art of weaving. There is no incentive for training young people in this particular line.
It is understood that damasks at the present time can only be woven under licence and we had hoped that before long this particular type of fine damask woven to a pattern would be allowed to be woven again. We had hoped it would he done in time for the British Industries Fair. Now that has passed, we hope it will be in time for a large exhibition arranged in Scotland under the auspices of the Board of Trade entitled "Enterprise Scotland." It would be a very great advantage to that exhibition and of value to the country as a result if these goods could be on the market by that time. It is held that because the article is figured and not plain that it should not be taxable at the additional rate of 661 per cent. In most cases it costs no more to weave the figured article than the plain one. It certainly costs no more to bleach or process it in any other way.
I ask the Financial Secretary to realise that such a tax as there is at present, puts it in the class of luxury goods to which it does not belong. It is 1954 only because of the tax it comes under the head of luxury goods and if it were reduced to 33⅓ per cent. it would not only make a very great difference to Scotland and Northern Ireland and also to Eire, but it would mean the export trade would be topped up very largely by a particularly valuable source of trade much sought after in foreign countries. I feel that just because there are figures on this damask, as opposed to plain damask, it should not therefore be considered a luxury article. The housewives of this country who, we know, are not backed by any particular political organisation, certainly not in Scotland, are surely entitled to a few changes in the everlasting utility. It is not really putting luxury goods on the market; it is putting on utility goods badly needed in a slightly more pleasing form.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)
I would like to support the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey) to reduce the Purchase Tax on pile and woven figured fabrics from 100 per cent. to 33⅓ per cent. Whatever may be our revenue needs, I am certain it would not be to the advantage of our national economy if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in order to save revenue, continued a tax which is handicapping us in the production of fabrics of best quality and workmanship, namely, those upon which we increasingly depend for the expansion of our export trade. I regard it of very great significance that it is not only the manufacturers of these fabrics who assure us that the present tax is too heavy a sum to be borne, but also the skilled workers in the industry itself, who are concerned to see that their traditional craftsmanship shall not be allowed to die as a result of this prohibitive Purchase Tax. On the grounds, therefore, of stimulating the production of goods greatly needed for export, of removing an inequitable anomaly, and of ensuring the continued use of the skill and craftsmanship of an important section of our textile industry, I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
It is quite true, as the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey) said, that I received, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a very representative deputation some 1955 while ago and I believe I also received one on his behalf a year ago, and, therefore, I think I can claim to know something about this subject. For that reason, if for no other, I have no reply on the merits to make to the speeches which have come from the other side. I think the case of hon. Members is a strong one, and all I can do tonight in explaining to the Committee that my right hon. Friend is unable to accept this Amendment, is to say he is, doing it almost exclusively on the basis of cost. It would, as I think at least one hon. Member indicated, cost a fairly considerable sum of money, something in the nature of at least £4,000,000 in the current year. For
§ that reason, and because my right hon. Friend cannot afford to lose that revenue at this time, I reluctantly have to say "no" to the suggestions put forward by hon. Members opposite.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Does the right hon. Gentleman make £4,000,000 the cost of a reduction from 100 to 33⅓ per cent.? Could we possibly ask for a crumb of mercy and suggest reducing the Purchase Tax to 50 per cent., or even 75 per cent.?
§ Question put, "That these words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 51; Noes, 158.1957
|Division No. 262.]||AYES.||[12.31 a.m.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hinchingbrocke, Viscount||Prior-Palmer, Brig O.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hollis, M. C.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hope, Lord J.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr, Roland|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hurd, A.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Spence, H. R.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Langford-Holt, J.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Carson, E.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A F|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Digby, S. W.||Marshall, D (Bodmin)||Wheatley, Colonel M J|
|Drayson, G. B.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Drewe, C.||Molson, A. H. E.||Willoughby de Eresby Lord|
|Eccles, D. M.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||York, C.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Noble, Comdr. A, H. P.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Osborne, C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hare, Hon. J H. (Woodbridge)||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.||Air-Commodore Harvey and|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Forman, J. C.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Levy, B. W.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Gallacher, W.||Lewis, A W. J. (Upton)|
|Barton, C.||Gibbins, J.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Gilzean, A.||Logan, D. G|
|Beswick, F.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Longden, F|
|Blyton, W. R.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||McAllister, G|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Grierson, E.||Mack, J. D.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N. W.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||McLeavy, F|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hall, W. G.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Hannar W. (Maryhill)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hardy, E. A.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Byers, Frank||Herbison, Miss M||Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hobson, C. R.||Mathers, G.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Holman, P.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R|
|Coldrick, W.||House, G.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hoy, J.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Collins, V. J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. Kt (Camb'well, N.W.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Moyle, A.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Irving, W. J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Janner, B.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Deer, G.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Orbach, M.|
|Diamond, J.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Paget, R. T|
|Dodds, N N.||Keenan, W.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Kendall, W. D||Palmer, A M. F.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Kenyon, C.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Pearson, A.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Kinley, J.||Peart, Thomas F.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lang, G||Platts-Mills, J. F. F|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wallace, H W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Price, M. Philips||Simmons, C J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Pritt, D. N.||Skeffington, A. M||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Snow, Capt. J. W||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Randall, H. E||Sorenson, R. W.||White, H (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Ranger, J.||Soskice, Maj. Sir P.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Rankin, J.||Stewart, Michael (Futham, E.)||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Robens, A.||Stokes, R. R.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Stubbs, A. E.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Swingler, S.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Symonds, A. L.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Royle, C.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Sargood, R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Willis, E.|
|Scollan, T.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Segal, Dr. S.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Yates, V. F.|
|Shackleton, E. A. A||Timmons, J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Sharp, Granville||Tolley, L.|
|Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Usborne, Henry||TELLERS FOR, THE NOES:|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Wadsworth, G.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Shurmet, P||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Mr. Popplewell.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. Holman (Bethnal Green, South-West)
I beg to move, in page 64, line 21, at the end to insert:Glass mirrors for domestic use.I feel confident that this matter is one which concerns every man, woman and child in the country. Mirrors are a necessity in every home. Every man requires a mirror when he shaves, every woman requires a mirror to see her hair is in order, and that her dress is correctly placed, and every child is encouraged to use a mirror to tidy itself and see that its face is clean. Mirrors are found in different categories. The mirror finds its way into utility furniture, where there is no tax upon it. It finds its way into a bathroom cabinet and there the tax is 33⅓ per cent.; but the simple little mirror that every man, woman and child wants in the simplest furnished home bears tax at the rate of 100 per cent. The result is that today mirrors cost from six to seven times what they did in 1939. The mirror whose wholesale price was 6s. in. 1939 was retailed today at from 7s. 6d. to 8s. Today the wholesale price is 20s.; the Purchase Tax is 20s., and it retails at 50s. It is true to say that such a mirror—I am referring to the type of mirror about 13 inches by 21 inches—is a necessity to our people. I appeal to the Chancellor to make some concession to take this type of article out of the luxury category and place it further down the list, bringing it nearer to the position where every article of necessity should be placed; in other words, in the 33⅓ per cent. category, if possible.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I want to say a word on this subject, because the position seems to be quite illogical. Mirrors are being treated as luxury articles, but obviously they are nothing of the sort. As I under- 1958 stand the position, when the Purchase Tax was first imposed on mirrors, it was at 33⅓ per cent., which I suggest would be the appropriate rate now. In 1942, it was increased to 66⅔ per cent., and in 1943 to 100 per cent. There is a good case here for reduction. It appears that when a mirror is purchased as utility furniture, there is no tax on the mirror. If a mirror is already fitted into some other kind of article, the tax is only 33⅓ per cent.; but if a mirror by itself is bought, the exorbitant rate of 100 per cent. Purchase Tax prevails. Under the relevant Statutory Rule and Order, under which the Board of Trade operates, mirrors are classified as furniture, and if they are pieces of furniture, they ought to carry Purchase Tax at 33⅓ per cent. Here the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is in conflict with his colleagues at the Board of Trade, because while they call a mirror furniture, he calls it a luxury article, which carries 100 per cent. tax. I hope he will consider this. There are, many matters on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us he would like to have a period for reflection. Here is a very good opportunity for him. I am sure he will not miss the opportunity of having on the table in front of him a suitable mirror, in which to rehearse the postures and gestures with which he delights the Committee, and while so doing, I hope he will consider sympathetically putting these necessary articles on a 33⅓ basis.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I agree that this is a very stringent tax for what, after all, is a domestic article which is needed by every person at some time of the day. One hundred per cent. is a lot. My right hon. Friend would be delighted to take it off altogether if he could feel that he could afford the amount involved. We are not 1959 sure what the amount is, as it is conjectural. So far as we can estimate, it is roughly £750,000 a year. My right hon. Friend authorises me to say, however—and I think that here I shall be mirroring the feeling of the Committee in informing them of this—that he is willing to reduce it from 100 per cent. to 66⅔, the intermediate rate, and he regrets that he is not able to do as my hon. Friend desires and take it right down to 33⅓ per cent. I hope the 66⅔ per cent. rate will be appreciated by the Committee as a gesture towards what I think is the general wish, that this tax should be reduced.
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Eccles
How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to distinguish between mirrors for domestic use and mirrors for other uses? If he is to give this concession to one, surely he will have to give it to all. Mirrors are used in offices and schools, among many other places.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I do not want to take up the time of the Committee at this late hour. A detailed matter like this is one which the experts in the Department can work out. One can distinguish between an ordinary common or garden mirror for domestic use or office use, and some of the more ornate mirrors which form part of sets or suites. If we leave it to the experts, I do not think we shall go far wrong, and I hope the Committee will allow the matter to rest there.
§ Mrs. Corbet (Camberwell, North-West)
As I put my name to this Amendment, I would like to say that the domestic mirror is the only form of mirror subject to the 100 per cent. tax. The others are all on the lower rate.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
Obviously, a mirror in an ornate frame, a Queen Anne mirror, for example, would not be an ordinary domestic mirror.
§ Mr. John Paton (Norwich)
The Financial Secretary said that the cost of extinguishing the tax completely would be about £750,000. I take it that means extinguishing the tax over the whole range of mirrors. To extinguish it over the section that could properly be described as 1960 domestic mirrors would obviously cost a great deal less. I would like to press him to consider this matter very carefully. This tax, by the enormous increase it represents in the price of mirrors over their prewar cost, represents an additional cost to those establishing new homes, and I ask him to reconsider it from that point of view.
§ Mrs. Corbet
I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. J. Paton) is right in this respect, and that the cost of relief in respect of the domestic mirror would be less than the Financial Secretary has estimated. There will be no more difficulty in distinguishing domestic mirrors for the 66⅔ per cent. than there has been for many years in distinguishing them for 100 per cent. tax. While we are very grateful for this concession, if the Financial Secretary could examine it again and do that little bit more, and reduce the tax from the full rate down to the basic rate, we should be even more grateful.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Schedule agreed to.