HC Deb 21 April 1952 vol 499 cc34-6
52. Mr. Ralph Assheton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the receipts from Purchase Tax on textiles, giving, if possible, the different categories for the three months January, February and March, 1951; and for the same months of 1952.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

Purchase Tax is payable quarterly and estimates are available of receipts of tax from the various categories of textiles in the quarter ended 31st March, 1951. I regret that similar information for the quarter ended 31st March, 1952, is not yet available.

I will with permission circulate the 1951 figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Assheton

Am I right in thinking that these figures are only estimates, and that, owing to the peculiar method of collection of Purchase Tax, it is impossible to get an accurate figure?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The figures are substantially accurate, although, as my right hon. Friend is aware, there are certain limitations on the degree of precision which is obtainable.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Will the Financial Secretary give the figure for the current quarter as soon as it is known?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As soon as the figures are available, I will do so, if a Question is put down.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my hon. Friend ensure that carpets are shown in a special category in these figures and that Purchase Tax collected is shown separately in view of the general indignation that the carpet and rug group is the only form of textiles which carries an overall Purchase Tax?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I should require notice of that question.

Mr. Hale

Surely the Financial Secretary knows that the resources of the Treasury are sufficient to give a general indication of what the general diminution in Purchase Tax on textiles has been? Cannot he give the House now what information is available in respect of any part of the last quarter?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I cannot give precise figures because, as the hon. Member is no doubt aware, Purchase Tax is collected quarterly in arrears and there is a considerable time lag. It would be misleading to give the House the information before it is fully available. As soon as it is available, it will be given.

Captain Charles Waterhouse

Does my hon. Friend recollect that when I put a similar Question to him, in the week before last, about boots and shoes, he had to tell me he had no figures available? Is it not extremely difficult to assess the effect on any trade of any tax if one does not know the amount of the tax?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I appreciate the difficulty to which my right hon. and gallant Friend has referred, but he will appreciate that this information has to be collected and collated from a wide variety of sources and takes time to collect, and there are certain limitations about the form in which it can be collected.

Mrs. Barbara Castle

Has the hon. Gentleman sufficient evidence to show where the reduction in Purchase Tax yield has been substantial?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I prefer not to comment until the figures are available.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Surely the hon. Gentleman appreciates that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted that a fall in revenue is probable in this quarter?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Member will appreciate that the figures received for the first quarter of this year refer to the last quarter of 1951.

Following are the figures:

Class of goods Estimated receipts of Purchase Tax in quarter ended 31st March, 1951
Clothing, except footwear and fur apparel 13,061
Fur apparel 1,362
Haberdashery 2,737
Piece goods (including plastic sheeting) 4,466
Domestic textile articles 2,564
Rugs 518
Floor coverings 5,339