HC Deb 05 March 1957 vol 566 cc155-6
5. Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that, as a result of the increase of 3s. a lb. in the tobacco duty made in the 1956 Budget, one tobacco company made £2,250,000 extra profit overnight; and whether, in his forthcoming Budget, he will ensure that any proposed increase in tobacco duty is made applicable to all tobacco held in stock as on 1st April, 1957.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the fact that in accordance with the recommendations of the Hutton Committee on Tax-Paid Stocks the increase in the tobacco duty in the last Budget did not extend to stocks on which duty had already been paid. In regard to the second part of the Question I cannot speculate about possible future changes in taxation.

Mr. Lewis

Whether it was a result of the Hutton Committee or any other committee, does the Chancellor think it is right that one company should make, as is the case, £2¼ million tax-free overnight, for no effort at all? Can he not take some action to prevent that in the future?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The committee looked into this, and, of course, it recognised that when the duty went up a profit was made, but equally when the duty went down a loss was sustained, and it came to the conclusion, which I think any of us might have come to, that it was better to take the plusses and the minuses together.

Mr. Jay

Can the Chancellor say when the tobacco duty last went down?