HC Deb 03 July 1950 vol 477 cc45-7

(1) In subsection (3) of section one of the Finance Act, 1935 (which provides for reduced rates of entertainments duty in the case of stage plays, &c.), after the words "variety entertainment," there shall be inserted the words "a puppet or marionette show."

(2) The entertainments chargeable with entertainments duty at reduced rates by virtue of the said subsection (3) shall include any entertainment which would be exempt from entertainments duty by virtue of section eleven of the Finance Act, 1923 (which relates to exhibitions provided by non-profit making societies), but for the fact that it consists partly of items not falling within paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of that section, if those items are items which fall within the said subsection (3) and in which all the performers whose words or actions constitute the item are actually present and performing.

(3) This section shall apply to entertainments held after the fifth day of August, nineteen hundred and fifty; and where entertainments duty has been charged on any payment made before the passing of this Act, and by virtue of this section the duty should have been charged at a lower rate than that at which it was in fact charged, the person by whom the duty was paid shall be entitled to repayment of the amount of the overcharge.—[Mr. Jay.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Douglas Jay)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This Clause does two things. First, it honours the undertaking which I gave on the Committee stage to apply the reduced rate of Entertainments Duty to puppets and marionette shows. Secondly, it applies the reduced rate to flower shows and certain other similar exhibitions which would themselves be exempted from Duty if they were held on their own; it applies the reduced rate when they are accompanied by other types of entertainment. Subsection (1) quite simply gives the concession on puppet and marionette shows. Subsection (2) applies the reduced rate to other types of exhibition.

The difficulty with regard to flower shows was that they were exempt from duty when provided by a non-profit making society if shown on their own account. It had always been assumed that if they were combined with sports or other forms of entertainment, to which the reduced rate applied, the whole performance would be subject to the reduced rate. It has come to light, however, that though that is, we think, reasonable practice, it was doubtful whether it was fully covered by the law. What this Clause does, therefore, is to bring the law into accord with what has been the practice up to now, and what we think is reasonable, that is to say, that the reduced rate should apply to the combined type of show, such as, for instance, a municipal fete. Subsection (3) ensures that in the case of advanced booking before 6th August, the date when this Clause comes into effect, the additional Duty shall not be charged.

Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)

I do not wish to delay the proceedings, but I think it would be discourteous if I did not thank the Financial Secretary for putting this new Clause on the Order Paper. So far as I can see, it meets very adequately the case which I put forward during the Committee stage, and it will bring relief to puppet and marionette shows. I am very glad that this matter has been settled in so amicable and satisfactory a fashion, and I welcome the new Clause.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

I wish to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the second concession, that is, as far as flower shows are concerned. This has been a matter of some concern to a good many people in the past, and I am glad that we have been able to get this concession. I make no apology for saying a few words because I was one of those who were very interested in this matter. While thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his earlier courteous interruption, may I, having obtained that great courtesy, hope he will follow my usual courteous habit for the rest of the day?

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

It would be ungracious if we on this side also did not express our thanks for this very useful concession, and for the way which it has been granted.

Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)

Can the Financial Secretary say why it is possible to reduce the Entertainments Duty on puppet shows and, at the same time, not include speedway racing? Is the one a more popular form of entertainment than the other?

Captain Crookshank

I do not want to intervene in this chorus of praise of what the Government have done, but while it is perfectly clear what subsection (1) does, I do not think that the Financial Secretary's explanation about the flower show part of it was at all clear. Is my understanding right that if there is a flower show held in conjunction with any other entertainment, the duty to be attracted will be at the lower rate? The hon. Gentleman mentioned municipal fetes, but nothing else. Of course, municipal fetes are a minority of the kind of occasions on which there are flower shows. It is generally the village agricultural show running up even as high as the big county show, and the Royal Flower Show. I was not at all clear, and I do not know whether he can make it a little clearer.

Mr. Jay

The duty will be charged at the lower rate if the other type of entertainment with which it is being combined is chargeable at that lower rate.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.