HC Deb 13 November 1957 vol 577 cc1088-94

10.0 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

I beg to move, That section four of the Finance Act, 1947 (which provides for relief for pensioners in respect of increase in tobacco duty), shall cease to have effect. This Ways and Means Resolution is necessary to pave the way for Clause 3 of the Bill to which the House has just given a Second Reading, and which repeals the provisions of the 1947 Finance Act under which the tobacco token scheme has operated. A good deal of reference has been made to this alteration in the debate which has just concluded in the House, and I need not long detain the Committee in justifying this Ways and Means Resolution.

The Committee is familiar with the circumstances in which the scheme was introduced in 1947. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) had increased the Tobacco Duty by 43 per cent., and it was considered desirable, if possible, to work out a scheme which would prevent that dramatic increase in the Tobacco Duty from reducing the purchasing power of the existing retirement pensioners; and so, in that year, the tobacco token scheme as we have had it from than to now was brought into effect.

It was a complicated scheme, difficult to work out and expensive to operate. It costs about £125,000 a year to operate the scheme. When it came into force about 1,400,000 retirement pensioners benefited from it, about 40 per cent. of the total. That figure has now risen to 2,600,000, or 54 per cent. It is a remarkable but little noticed sociological fact that the proportion of habitual smokers among retirement pensioners has risen from 40 per cent. to 54 per cent. over the last ten years. Or has it?

From the beginning of this scheme it was found that it inevitably involved severe unfairness and anomalies. My right hon. Friend already reminded the House that it applies only to the retirement pensioners under the 1946 Act and to old-age pensioners under the 1936 Act. Whole classes of pensioners who are at least in equal need and in similar circumstances are excluded from it—the retirement pensioner who is in hospital or an institution where the pensions are collected by the schedule system instead of by the books; the war pensioner or the industrially injured pensioner who is not at the same time a retirement pensioner; and there is the recipient of National Assistance who is not also in receipt of a pension under the 1936 or 1946 Acts. All these classes of persons have been arbitrarily excluded, of administrative necessity, from the benefits of the scheme.

What is more important, however, is that its effect has totally changed over the years. What was intended to be a maintenance of the status quo for existing pensioners has become a gross discrimination between two pensioners in otherwise identical circumstances, between the pensioner who is and the pensioner who is not an habitual smoker. So the opinion has gained ground, and has been expressed repeatedly on both sides of the Committee, that the disappearance of this scheme was overdue. In the debate on 6th June last year, hon. Members on both-sides

argued that it ought to be abolished and replaced by a cash payment. Indeed, I think that there will be general agreement that social security payments ought to be made on a cash basis and not in terms of commodities or artificially cheapened prices.

That point of view was perhaps best expressed by the hon. Member for Tottenham (Sir F. Messer), in the debate on this year's Finance Bill, in a remarkable speech in which he said: I think that it is humiliating when a handicapped person has—as old people have to do at the present time—to show some sort of identification to get something on the cheap, old people getting tobacco coupons, cheap or free baths, free transport by the local authority…. What we ought to do is to assure them of an income."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 1469.]

These anomalies and this unjust discrimination between two otherwise identical classes of people will be removed by the Clause which this Ways and Means Resolution makes possible, and I would remind the Committee that throughout the whole range of benefits which are to be increased full account has been taken of the abolition of the scheme. What this Ways and Means Resolution makes possible is an act of fairness and of common sense, and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee know it to be so.

Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)

I will not detain the Committee except to say that this is the meanest thing that the Government have done yet and that they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Question put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 294, Noes 226.

Division No. 3.] AYES [10.7 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.
Aitken, W. T. Bennett, Dr. Reginald Burden, F. F. A.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Butcher, Sir Herbert
Alport, C. J. M. Biggs-Davison, J. A. Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Campbell, Sir David
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Bishop, F. P. Carr, Robert
Armstrong, C. W. Black, C. W. Cary, Sir Robert
Ashton, H. Body, R. F. Channon, Sir Henry
Astor, Hon. J. J. Boothby, Sir Robert Chichester-Clark, R.
Atkins, H. E. Bossom, Sir Alfred Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)
Baldwin, A. E. Boyle, Sir Edward Cole, Norman
Balniel, Lord Braine, B. R. Conant, Maj. Sir Roger
Barber, Anthony Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Cooke, Robert
Barlow, Sir John Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Cooper, A. E.
Barter, John Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Cooper-Key, E. M.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Brooman-White, R. C. Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.
Beamish. Maj. Tufton Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Corfield, Capt. F. V.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Bryan, P. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Osborne, C.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Page, R. G.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hulbert, Sir Norman Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Cunningham, Knox Hurd, A. R. Partridge, E.
Dance, J. C. G. Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Peyton, J. W. W.
Davidson, Viscountess Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hyde, Montgomery Pike, Miss Mervyn
Deedes, W. F. Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Pilktington, Capt. R. A.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Iremonger, T. L. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pott, H. P.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Powell, J. Enoch
Doughty, C. J. A. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Drayson, G. B. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
du Cann, E. D. L. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Profumo, J. D.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Rawlinson, Peter
Duncan, Sir James Kaberry, D. Redmayne, M.
Duthie, W. S. Keegan, D. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Kerby, Capt. H. B. Remnant, Hon. P.
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Kerr, Sir Hamilton Renton, D. L. M.
Elliott, R. W. (N'castle upon Tyne, N.) Kershaw, J. A. Ridsdale, J. E.
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Kimball, M. Rippon, A. G. F.
Errington, Sir Eric Kirk, P. M. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Erroll, F. J. Lagden, G. W. Robertson, Sir David
Farey-Jones, F. W. Lambert, Hon. G. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Fell, A. Lambton, Viscount Robson Brown, Sir William
Finlay, Graeme Lancaster, Col. C. G. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Fisher, Nigel Langford-Holt, J. A. Roper, Sir Harold
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Leavey, J. A. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Fort, R. Leburn, W. G. Russell. R. S.
Foster, John Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Freeth, Denzil Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Sharples, R. C.
Gammans, Lady Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Shepherd, William
Garner-Evans, E. H. Linstead, Sir H. N. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough W.)
George, J. C. (Pollok) Llewellyn, D. T. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Gibson-Watt, D. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield) Soames, Christopher
Glover, D. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Speir, R. M.
Godber, J. B. Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Stevens, Geoffrey
Goodhart, Philip Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Gough, C. F. H. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Gower, H. R. McAdden, S. J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Graham, Sir Fergus Macdonald, Sir Peter Storey, S.
Grant, W. (Woodside) McKibbin, Alan Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Studholme, Sir Henry
Green, A. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Summers, Sir Spencer
Gresham Cooke, R. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Gurden, Harold Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hall, John (Wycombe) McLean, Neil (Inverness) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Teeling, W.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Temple, John M.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Harvey, Sir Arthur (Macclesfd) Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Markham, Major Sir Frank Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Hay, John Marshall, Douglas Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Mathew, R. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maude, Angus Vane, W. M. F.
Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Vaughan, Morgan, J. K.
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Medlicott, Sir Frank Vickers, Miss Joan
Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Hesketh, R. F. Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Wall, Major Patrick
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Nabarro, G. D. N. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Nairn, D. L. S. Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Hirst, Geoffrey Neave, Airey Webbe, Sir H.
Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Nicholls, Harmar Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Holland-Martin, C. J. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Hornby, R. P. Nugent, G. R. H. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Wood, Hon. R.
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Howard, John (Test) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Wills.
Ainsley, J. W. Hannan, W. Parkin, B. T.
Albu, A. H. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Paton, John
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hastings, S. Pearson, A.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hayman, F. H. Peart, T. F.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Healey, Denis Pentland, N.
Awbery, S. S. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bacon, Miss Alice Herbison, Miss M. Popplewell, E.
Baird, J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Prentice, R. E.
Balfour, A. Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Holman, P. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Holmes, Horace Probert, A. R.
Benson, G. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Proctor, W. T.
Beswick, Frank Howell, Denis (All Saints) Pryde, D. J.
Blackburn, F. Hoy, J. H. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Blenkinsop, A. Hubbard, T. F. Randall, H. E.
Blyton, W. R. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Rankin, John
Boardman, H. Hunter, A. E. Redhead, E. C.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Reeves, J.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Reid, William
Bowles, F. G. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Boyd, T. C. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Janner, B. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Brockway, A. F. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Jeger, George (Goole) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.) Ross, William
Burke, W. A. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Royle, C.
Burton, Miss F. E. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Short, E. W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Callaghan, L. J. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Skeffington, A. M.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Champion, A. J. Kenyon, C. Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Clunie, J. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Coldrick, W. Lawson, G. M. Snow, J. W.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Sparks, J. A.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lover, Harold (Cheetham) Steele, T.
Cronin, J. D. Lewis, Arthur Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Crossman, R. H. S. Lindgren, G. S. Stonehouse, John
Cullen, Mrs. A. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. MacColl, J. E. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) McGhee, H. G. Swingler, S. T.
Davies, Harold (Leek) McInnes, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) McKay, John (Wallsend) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Deer, G. McLeavy, Frank Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Delargy, H. J. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Diamond, John MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thornton, E.
Donnelly, D. L. Mahon, Simon Timmons, J.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Tomney, F.
Dye, S. Mann, Mrs. Jean Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Viant, S. P.
Edelman, M. Mason, Roy Watkins, T. E.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Messer, Sir F. Weitzman, D.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mikardo, Ian Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mitchison, G. R. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Monslow, W. West, D. G.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Moody, A. S. Wheeldon, W. E.
Fernyhough, E. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Fienburgh, W. Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.) Wigg, George
Finch, H. J. Mort, D. L. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Fletcher, Eric Moss, R. Willey, Frederick
Foot, D. M. Moyle, A. Williams, David (Neath)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mulley, F. W. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Gibson, C. W. O'Brien, Sir Thomas Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Gooch, E. G. Oliver, G. H. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Greenwood, Anthony Oram, A. E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Orbach, M. Winterbottom, Richard
Grey, C. F. Oswald, T. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Owen, W. J. Woof, R. E.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hale, Leslie Palmer, A. M. F. Zilliacus, K.
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Pargiter, G. A.
Hamilton, W. W. Parker, J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Simmons.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow.

Committee to sit again Tomorrow.