HC Deb 02 March 1954 vol 524 cc998-9
41. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the consumption of beer in gallons during 1953; how much tax was raised per pint; and the total revenue from this source.

Mr. R. A. Butler

About 920 million gallons of beer were consumed in the United Kingdom in 1953, the revenue from which amounted to £258.6 million: equivalent to 8.4 pence per pint.

Mr. Osborne

If the nation is prepared to pay for beer 8½d. a pint more than its cost of production, may I ask the Chancellor what social justification there can be in asking the farmers to sell milk to the consumers at a 1d. per pint below its cost of production?

Mr. Butler

That question raises a good many difficult points. My hon. Friend will understand that a good proportion of the subsidy on milk is for welfare schemes—including that for school children. Another proportion is used to keep the price lower for ordinary adult and other consumption.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain to the hon. Member that babies do not drink beer?

Mr. Remnant

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the duty figure per cent which he discloses is in excess of the 100 per cent, which, in the case of Purchase Tax, he considers to be the maxi mum tolerable?

Mr. Butler

It so happens that this industry has most nobly carried this burden for some time.

Mr. Gaitskell

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if we all became extremely virtuous and gave up our vices, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be in great difficulty?

Mr. Butler

I would not regard my definition of "vice" as being the same as that of the right hon. Gentleman.