HC Deb 09 February 1956 vol 548 cc1779-80
1. Miss Burton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the representations of the Midland Federation of Road Safety Committees, details of which have been sent to him, concerning the ruling of the Customs and Excise authorities to the effect that the proposed fitting, as a safety measure, of side windows to the vans of the Coventry water undertaking would result in an additional payment of Purchase Tax of £100 per vehicle, if he will, in the interests of road safety, reduce the Purchase Tax in such cases.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry Brooke)

No, Sir. Vans with side windows behind the driver's seat must be treated like shooting brakes and private cars for Purchase Tax purposes. This was decided some years ago after consideration of representations made on behalf of both manufacturers and users, when the road safety aspect was taken fully into account.

Miss Burton

Is the Financial Secretary aware that really that answer is not good enough; that in Coventry we have found that the vans are far more liable to accident when they are without side windows, and that it is quite impossible to pay the £100 extra in Purchase Tax? Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter again if I send representations to him?

Mr. Brooke

I am not sure that the hon. Lady appreciates that there is no objection to a window beside the driver's seat. This is a matter of windows in the sides of the van behind the driver's seat. I have driven a great many cars and vans and I have never had cause to look out of those windows.

7. Mr. Moss

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the tax on miners' safety gloves; and whether he will remove it, in view of the fact that about 30 per cent. of reportable accidents in coal mines are injuries to the hands and fingers of miners, causing loss of work and production.

Mr. H. Brooke

The tax is 5 per cent. of the wholesale value. My right hon. Friend could not make a special discrimination in favour of miners' gloves, and the possibility of exempting all protective clothing from tax has been examined by successive Governments and found to be impracticable.

Mr. Moss

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at these gloves which I have brought from a colliery? Does he realise that the National Coal Board subsidises them in order to protect miners' hands from injury and not suffer loss of production? Is it not foolish that the Coal Board should subsidise these gloves while the Government tax them?

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member has raised the difficult question, which has been considered by successive Governments, of how to deal with the many various kinds of protective clothing that exist. So far, we have found no solution that would not increase the number of anomalies.