HC Deb 31 May 1956 vol 553 cc415-6
12. Mr. Leather

asked the Secretary to the Treasury why overseas buyers are charged Purchase Tax on their own order forms, printed and purchased in their own countries, and used for the sole purpose of placing their own orders with British exporters.

Mr. H. Brooke

Under the law these order books are liable to Purchase Tax as stationery, whether they are made here or imported. It would be quite wrong to make arbitrary exceptions in particular cases of this kind.

Mr. Leather

Will not my right hon. Friend agree that it really is a lunacy that a man is allowed to bring a form into the country in his pocket and nobody says a word, but that if it happens to come in a day or two later in an envelope he is forced to pay Purchase Tax on it? Is my right hon. Friend aware that these are just the kind of legal lunacies which, as I have informed my right hon. Friend, persuade buyers to go to the Continent, where they are not subject to this kind of nonsense?

Mr. Brooke

This Question arises out of an unusual case about which my hon Friend and I have been in correspondence. My hon. Friend either wishes the tax law to be made so complicated as to provide for every conceivable situation, or else he wishes Customs officers to he given discretion to disregard the law when they think that imported items of cargo should be admitted free. The first

proposal would be impossible, and I suggest that the second would be thoroughly undesirable.