HC Deb 15 February 1954 vol 523 cc1646-7
51 . Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will initiate a coupon scheme similar to tobacco tokens whereby old age pensioners can purchase tea at concession prices.

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

No, Sir. The tobacco scheme relieves old age pensioners from some part of the post-war increases in the tobacco duty. Most tea is duty-free.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present steep increase in the price of tea has dashed the cup that cheers from the lips of many old-age pensioners? Is he aware that the right thing to do is to increase the old-age pensions, but if he cannot do that will he at least allow the present tobacco coupon to be transferable to tea at the wish of the old-age pensioners because, in particular, many women are being deprived of these benefits?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Without accepting the large number of implications in the earlier part of the Question, I must point out to the hon. Member that the tobacco coupons scheme relates to a relief from taxation. As there is no tax on the greater part of the tea imported, the scheme has absolutely nothing to do with tea.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the fact that the tobacco manufacturers have so much money to spare, as was shown by their recent gesture in offering £250,000, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the tobacco people could be approached and asked to give something to the old-age pensioners?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am sure the hon. Member could make any such approach in a far more persuasive way than I could.