HC Deb 05 March 1957 vol 566 cc159-61
9. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the yield in the latest available year from Entertainments Duty on the living theatre and on sport, respectively.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

In 1956, the approximate receipts of Entertainments Duty on admissions to theatres and music halls were £2,030,000 and to sport £3,420,000.

Mr. Wilson

I should make it clear that this Question was put down before the events of last week. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that, following our very strong representations in debates on the Finance Bill last year and indeed in previous years, we thought that we had from the then Chancellor a clear commitment that the tax on the living theatre would not have to be defended by a Chancellor at any time in future? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware, in view of the quite small figures, that the time has now come to get rid of the tax entirely, both on the living theatre and on sport?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The right hon. Gentleman may ask the question, but I do not think that he will expect an answer to it.

27. Mr. Gordon Walker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer his proposals for a reduction of Entertainments Duty.

28. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much he proposes to reduce the entertainments tax in his next Budget.

31. Mr. Rankin

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has now completed his review of the structure and incidence of entertainments tax and if he will make a statement on the outcome.

32. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the uncertainty in the theatrical industry owing to the continual closing of theatres; and whether he will make a statement on the future of the Entertainments Duty.

36. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is now proposed to make a reduction in the Entertainments Duty on football matches.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I am engaged on the review of this duty promised by my right hon. Friend last June, but I cannot anticipate my Budget statement.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Will the right hon. Gentleman at least give an assurance that he will not be deterred by the indiscretion of the President of the Board of Trade from making the reduction that everybody is expecting?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman would expect me to add to the Answer which I have just given.

Mr. Jay

What prevents the Chancellor from anticipating his Budget statement?

Mr. Thorneycroft

A certain natural discretion.

Mr. Jay

Will the Chancellor put himself in touch with modern thought? Is he aware that the Prime Minister has laid down an important new ruling, that statements about future Budgets are perfectly proper, provided that they are made in this House?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Statements about future fiscal measures are occasionally made. Some were made by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). All I am saying is that I do not propose to anticipate my Budget statement now.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the Chancellor answer the question which the Prime Minister failed to answer last night? Was any assurance or hint given, directly or indirectly, by any of Her Majesty's Ministers at the meeting of the Conservative Trade and Industry Committee and Films Committee on 19th February?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think that we can reopen the debate which we had yesterday. All I can say is that I have not even made up my mind yet about what shall be done about Entertainments Duty.

Mr. Rankin

If the right hon. Gentleman has not yet completed the review that was promised by his predecessor, how was he able to give such optimistic assurances to the President of the Board of Trade with regard to the cinema tax?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I simply said that these matters would be taken into account.

Mr. Jeger

Is the Chancellor aware that the Committee stage of the Cinematograph Films Bill begins on Thursday, and that if he is not careful he will find his Budget statement anticipated when the President of the Board of Trade appears in that Committee?

Mrs. Castle

When making up his mind, will the Chancellor bear in mind the fact that three cinemas in my constituency have had to close in the last six months and six more will have to close unless there are substantial cuts in the tax? This is not a matter for humour, but one of great seriousness.