HC Deb 24 April 1958 vol 586 cc1152-3
23. Mr. Swingler

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the annual loss of revenue from abolishing Purchase Tax on pottery.

27. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he retains Purchase Tax on pottery; and what yield he now secures from this tax.

Mr. Simon

I will, with permission, answer these Questions together.

Mr. Harold Davies

On a point of order. I appreciate your difficulty, Mr. Speaker, and I do not want to delay the House, but in view of the fact that I was deprived of an important supplementary question on the last Question. I sincerely object to Question No. 27 being answered at the same time as Question No. 23. I need a separate Answer.

Mr. Speaker

In this case, there are only two hon. Members. I think I can guarantee that I will call the hon. Member.

Mr. Simon

It would be anomalous to exempt pottery from the 15 per cent. tax which applies to many other household requisites. Pottery articles contribute about £3 million a year to the total revenue from this source.

Mr. Swingler

As the Purchase Tax is full of anomalies anyway, why is the Financial Secretary using this absurd argument? Is he aware of the decline in the pottery industry and the loss of skilled labour from it since the time when the Lord Privy Seal reimposed Purchase Tax on its goods in 1955? Is he aware that in North Staffordshire unemployment is higher than the national average, and it is 3½ per cent. in Newcastle-under-Lyme? When are the Government going to do something about this?

Mr. Simon

In reply to the first part of that supplementary question, as the hon. Member knows, in many cases pottery is closely competitive with articles made of glass, plastic, metal or wood. In reply to the second part of the question, I would remind the House that last year the rate of tax on pottery was reduced from 30 per cent. to 15 per cent. over the whole range of pottery and this year ornamental pottery articles are taxed at 15 per cent. as against 60 per cent. before Budget.

Mr. Harold Davies

With all due respect to the Financial Secretary, the last part of my Question has not been answered. It asks: and what yield he now secures from this tax.

Mr. Simon

I am sorry, I must have dropped by voice at the end of my Answer. They contribute about £3 million a year. …

Mr. Davies

I apologise to the Minister. I may not have heard him because of the hubbub going on around me. Does he really believe that this £3 million tax is worth it in view of the fact that the Purchase Tax itself is preventing local industry from developing to the full? The industry sincerely believes that Purchase Tax has a retarding effect. Therefore, is it worth the £3 million now obtained from the tax?

Mr. Simon

We shall be able to discuss precisely those considerations when we discuss the Finance Bill. Three million pounds is quite a lot of money.