HC Deb 03 November 1955 vol 545 cc1207-9
51. Dr. Stross

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has now considered representations from the British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation complaining of the imposition of 30 per cent. Purchase Tax on pottery articles used in the preparation and storage of food; and whether he has yet consented to receive a deputation from the industry.

52 and 53. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Chancellor the Exchequer (1) what consultations took place between his Department and the trade organisations concerned before the imposition of Purchase Tax on pottery; and what estimate he has formed of the effect of the tax on the pottery industry;

(2) if he has considered the memorandum sent to him on 28th October, 1955, by the British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation and the National Society of Pottery Workers; if he will make a statement on it; and what action he intends taking.

Mr. H. Brooke

On behalf of my right hon. Friend I am looking forward to receiving a deputation from this industry shortly, and hearing their views. I should like to discuss the probable effects of Purchase Tax with them in the first instance. For obvious reasons it is not and cannot be the practice to consult trade organisations about changes in taxation beforehand.

Dr. Stross

is the Financial Secretary aware that in north Staffordshire there has been very grievous dismay at the threat to the whole of the industry, and that, as I said earlier today, we fear the loss of craftsmen whom we shall not get back and that our export trade will decline, too? In view of the fact that ceramic ware is made of indigenous materials here in Britain, and that we do not import anything to manufacture it, there should be no tax on it.

Mr. Brooke

The British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation wrote to the Chancellor on the whole subject on Friday, and I am taking the earliest opportunity of saying that I shall be pleased to receive a deputation. I think it would be a mistake if I expressed my own views in advance of hearing the views which they desire to convey to me.

Mr. Smith

While welcoming that answer, may I ask the Financial Secretary, in view of the uncertainty that is being created, and the fact that the Finance Bill may be considered in the near future, whether he will consider this matter with urgency and receive the deputation as early as possible?

Mr. Brooke

I shall be at the Federation's service as soon as a convenient date can be arranged.

Mr. G. R. Howard

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask if he will consider also the position of the small working potter for whom the tax changes, I understand, are very serious indeed, especially as it is, I believe, the policy of the Government to encourage craftsmen, and as these men are doing a very useful work for the export trade, with overseas visitors, in places such as West Cornwall?

Mr. Brooke

Yes. All these matters will be taken into consideration.