§ 1. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why Customs and Excise require blinds to pay Purchase Tax at 12½ per cent. when containing a peep-hole less than 3 inches in diameter, whereas a blind containing a peep-hole more than 3 inches in diameter is free of Purchase Tax; what advice he has taken recently on this matter; and, as such discrimination is bringing the law into disrepute, whether he will now abolish Purchase Tax upon all blinds, with or without peep-holes and irrespective of the size of such peep-holes.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Derek Heathcoat Amory)
I would refer my hon. Friend to my Answer to the first of his Questions on 4th February, 1958, since which time I have had no occasion to seek further advice on this matter.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Has not my right hon. Friend failed to perceive that the current Purchase Tax Schedules, group 11, of which he is the author, contain the wordsfitted with a circular 'peep-hole' not less than three inches in diameter".Would he explain to the House what is his interest—his slightly disreputable interest—in peep-holes in blinds? Is he not inciting the community to offences under the Act of 1361, commonly called "The Peeping Tom Act"?
If my hon. Friend will allow me to say so, I think his preoccupation with peep-holes is perhaps a little morbid. I should like to assure him, however, that if he will confine himself to shop blinds he will make sure that he keeps out of mischief.
§ 2. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that heated carpets are required to pay Purchase Tax at 25 per cent., due to the fact that the heating element is taxed at 25 per cent., when otherwise they would be taxed at 12½ per cent., thus causing the finished article to be disproportionately high in price, with adverse influence upon export potentialities; and whether he will now classify heated carpets as carpets taxed at 12½ per cent., not as electrical appliances taxed at 25 per cent.
As I have already explained to my hon. Friend, a carpet which is also a heating appliance is chargeable with tax in both capacities, and under the law it is the higher alternative rate of tax which prevails.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Has my right hon. Friend been impervious to my continuous appeals to him in this matter? Would not he agree that a carpet is a carpet whether it is electrically heated or otherwise? As this new invention—now being manufactured on a small but growing scale in Kidderminster—is being gravely affected, notably on export possibilities, due to the fact that it is taxed at twice the rate of an ordinary carpet, would not my right hon. Friend put this matter into good order on 4th April and allow me to acclaim him on that occasion?
I certainly will not do anything which will make it more difficult for my hon. Friend to acclaim me, but I think the article in question—a carpet with a heating element—is analogous to an electrical heating appliance. It is in fact on the market in competition with other forms of electrical heating apparatus. Therefore, I do not think there is any anomaly in this treatment.