HC Deb 18 May 1960 vol 623 cc1309-24

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

5.0 p.m.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

I do not think that it is necessary to say very much on this subject, because we have at last achieved our objective of total abolition of the tax. The arrangement proposed in the Clause whereby the tax will not be collected for a certain period, although technically still due, is an obvious commonsense method of dealing with the situation.

I think it fair to say that, in the present condition of the cinema industry, the Chancellor is perhaps not quite as generous as he led us to suppose in the Budget debate, because the amount that he would have collected had he not abolished the tax would not have been anything as large as he said. However, we do not begrudge the right hon. Gentleman his claim to generosity, because we are glad that he has abolished the tax and we can fairly say "better late than never."

It is a pity that this tax was not abolished in earlier years, because it has been a bad thing for the industry to have the excuse of Entertainments Duty which has enabled a number of exhibitors, more particularly, perhaps to delude themselves into thinking that it was only the Entertainments Duty which was their trouble and, as a result, into postponing the rationalisation of the industry suggested by Mr. John Davies and Mr. Clifford Barclay at a famous conference in Gleneagles, about three or four years ago. I think that the Chancellor would have been a better friend to the cinema industry had he taken this decision some time back.

The other point I wish to make is that this abolition of Entertainments Duty will be of most benefit to the larger and more prosperous cinemas for the simple reason that the smaller ones were already exempted from tax under earlier concessions. I think it fair to say that the industry has been looking at this point recently and has expressed a little disquiet to the effect that it is precisely the smaller people who are not going to benefit and that to those who hath shall be given, which, of course, happens in other spheres of life.

We may be asked later to look at another aspect of the industry, namely, the statutory levy, and to do something to readjust it so as to make it a little more just and to see that those who are getting the maximum relief under this Clause shall pay, perhaps, a larger share of levy towards the production side of the industry.

We on this side of the Committee have always expressed great sympathy with the exhibitors, Who will, I think, benefit most by the abolition of the duty. I think the reckoning is that in a full year they will get about £4½ million extra revenue through the 'abolition of the tax. But we are also very much concerned with British film production as well as exhibition.

I think it right to say that the producers expect to get, roughly, £½ million as a result of the abolition, but one must, of course, also point out that cinema attendances are still falling. I believe that the official estimate is that one may even have to calculate another 10 per cent. fall in attendances in the next twelve months. I hope that that is an over-estimate. But if the estimate is correct, then, of course, one must recognise that the takings of the industry will fall by an extent which will almost exactly wipe out the benefit of the abolition of the tax. Therefore, anything that the industry can do to reorganise and to strengthen itself is all to the good.

I was much interested to see in the newspapers this morning a report of the conference of one of the main trade unions in the industry, N.A.T.K.E., in which one of their principal spokesmen said how necessary it was to concentrate the industry in those cinemas and those areas where it is likely to have the best return, which would be better for the general health of the industry. That is something which some of us have been preaching for some while. It is partly because the abolition of the duty will help the industry to face its problems realistically that we welcome the provisions in the Clause.

Mr. Nabarro

Before we part with the Clause, I wish to express on behalf of the consumers, the people who go to the cinema, dismay that, notwithstanding my right hon. Friend's generosity in abolishing the last vestige of Entertainments Duty on the cinema, not a penny piece by way of rebate on the price of cinema seats is to find its way into the pockets of the viewers.

The cinema owners and those associated with them have expressed the view that there will be no reduction in the price of cinema seats notwithstanding the Chancellor's abolition of Entertainments Duty. For years, Mr. Blackburn, you have sat in that Chair presiding over Committees and listening to arguments from all quarters of the Finance Committee to the effect that the cinemas are empty because of the Entertainments Duty. But once the duty is abolished nothing is going into the pockets of the viewers.

I think that that is a very bad show indeed on the part of the cinema owners. They ought to have reduced the prices of the seats. If what the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) says is correct, that cinema attendances are still falling, then the owners and exhibitors have only themselves to blame for that. I have no sympathy with them at all.

Mr. Rankin

We are grateful, of course, to the Chancellor for his decision to abolish Entertainments Duty. I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman really anticipated events and that he abolished the duty before it abolished itself. As my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said, I think that he somewhat exaggerated the occasion, because nobody within the industry expected for one moment that the right hon. Gentleman would extract the sum that he suggested he was losing, namely, a sum of the order of £7 million.

Mr. Amory

I recognise the point which the hon. Gentleman is making and which is the point made by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White). I think it a perfectly fair one. My unfortunate duty is always to have to count my chickens before they are hatched.

Mr. Rankin

We have realised that for a number of years, but whenever we have made that point at Question Time the Chancellor has always been somewhat loath to recognise it. Of course, no blame attaches to him, and we are grateful for what he has done.

The interesting point to me was that the actual sum anticipated would have been £5 million had the Chancellor not, quite properly, abandoned the duty. The interest in that sum lies in the fact that it was also the first amount that was extracted from the cinema industry forty-four years ago when Mr. Reginald McKenna introduced the duty for the first time. He said in his Budget speech of that year that he anticipated, as the right hon. Gentleman so often did— perhaps "calculated" is the proper word—that the industry would yield £5 million.

Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)

I think that my hon. Friend should remember that it was not a tax on the industry, but on the public, the people who went to the cinema.

Mr. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman is making my point for me.

Mr. Rankin

Of course, I am very familiar with the whole position. [Laughter.] Of course I am. I must be lacking in the gift of humour, because I fail to see any humour in the statement which I have just made. I hope that I am familiar with the position of the industry generally and with every aspect of the tax situation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) has repeated a point made by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). I will not go back on that, for I was merely pointing out that the amount of tax estimated to be derived from the industry by Mr. McKenna was £5 million and the amount of tax which would have finished the cycle would also have been £5 million. In the years between, however, the sum climbed from £5 million to nearly £40 million, and it finished at £5 million. If one tries to calculate the total, as I have tried to do while sitting here, one sees that at least £1,000 million has been paid in tax by the cinemas over these forty-three years.

Mr. Hunter

My hon. Friend will no doubt recall that when the tax was introduced in 1915 there were very few cinemas. The tax was mainly on theatres. The cinemas were built between the wars, between 1920 and 1939.

Mr. Rankin

The tax was introduced in 1916 and it was labelled Entertainments Duty, as it is still labelled in the Bill. That is the context in which I am speaking. Throughout the years the other aspects of entertainment to which the tax applied have been gradually released, and many of us have claimed since that it should have been called a cinema tax. Nevertheless, the term Entertainments Duty is still used. The amount collected from the other sources to which my hon. Friend referred was relatively small. In many cases the theatre was making a negligible contribution to the tax. The big contribution came from the cinema. In suggesting a total of £1,000 million, I was making allowances for all the other sources of entertainment which were covered by the tax. We must realise the enormous sum paid from the cinema trade to Chancellors of the Exchequer throughout these years.

When the hon. Member for Kidderminster criticises the cinemas on the ground that they have not reduced prices, he should recollect the great contribution which the cinemas have made financially and in many other ways, for instance by propaganda in times of distress and of need. He must put in the balance against what he said the other aspects of the work done by the industry.

Mr. Nabarro

I was not being rude about it. I wanted to make the point that for years past they have been lambasting me, as an hon. Member, because they said the cinemas were empty largely due to the incidence of Entertainments Duty. I alway quarrelled with that; I said that it was due much more to television than to anything else. Now that we have got rid of the Entertainments Duty they refuse to give back anything to the cinemagoer.

Mr. Rankin

I did not suggest for one moment that the hon. Member was being rude in what he said, nor am I being rude in referring to him. But he said that the public had not received back a penny piece by way of price reductions, and it is fair to say that, except on one occasion, which was three years ago, at no time when we have discussed this matter have they said that if the tax were reduced part of it would be applied to a reduction of prices. I have been in fairly close touch with the cinema people on the occasions when they have been here, and I can recollect only one occasion on which we were discussing this matter when they made a definite statement that if the tax were reduced, part of it would go towards reducing prices. I said to them at that time—and I think I repeated it in the House—that that was an unwise thing to do, for the reason that great developments were taking place in the industry, which involved much capital investment, and that a large majority of cinemas could not afford these new techniques within the cinemas because of a lack of capital.

But we do not want to fight these old battles again.

5.15 p.m.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. F. Blackburn)

Order. I am glad that the hon. Member has decided that he does not want to refight these old battles, because that would be out of order on this Clause.

Mr. Rankin

I think you will agree, Mr. Blackburn, that to some extent I was drawn out of order by the interruptions. In any event, we do not want to renew these old arguments. The tax has been abolished, and I am sure that no Chancellor will ever again reintroduce it.

Mr. Nabarro

I am not so sure about that.

Mr. Rankin

Is the hon. Member speaking for the Treasury? If so, I hope he will say so. He indicated earlier that he is a unique figure in the proceedings of the House of Commons. If he assumes the mantle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he will certainly be a unique figure. I hope that he will not remain seated where he is when he claims to wear the mantle which he has just assumed in the declaration which he has made. He said that the Chancellor may reintroduce the tax.

Mr. Nabarro

What I intended to imply was that I would not trust the Treasury not to reintroduce the tax.

Mr. Rankin

When the Treasury cannot depend on those who sit behind the Chancellor for support, there is every reason why we on this side of the Committee should show our distrust in a more open fashion than sometimes we do.

We welcome the abolition of the tax and thank the Chancellor, but we ask hon. Members on both sides to remember that the cinema industry has also played its part financially and in every other way with the Treasury, and made a great contribution to the needs of this country, very often when it was in great hazard.

Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)

I welcome the abolition of the duty, and I should only be repeating comments which have already been made if I pointed out that the duty should have been removed several years ago. Unfortunately, many of the smaller cinemas have already gone out of business, and to them this abolition comes too late. I have no doubt that the duty has been a contributory cause to their difficulties, although obviously not the only cause.

When I think of the long discussions which we had last year and the arguments then put forward from the Treasury Bench in support of partial remission instead of abolition, and when I now find that these arguments have been abandoned, my confidence in the validity of arguments from the Treasury Bench is somewhat shaken. But I must not be churlish when a duty is being abolished.

I also regret the fact that there is to be no reduction in the prices of seats. I should have thought that some of the larger cinemas, which are doing reasonably well, could have made some reduction in prices to their customers. I believe that there is a future for the cinema, though, obviously, there is great competition in view of the development of television. I believe that a good film, particularly a British film, will still continue to attract good audiences, but I think there is a case for some reduction in prices to the cinemagoer.

I readily admit that those who pressed us to urge the abolition of this duty did not pretend that this would necessarily result in a reduction in prices. They based their case on the injustice of this duty, and while I should like to see some reduction in the prices charged by some of the cinemas, I nevertheless welcome the repeal of the Entertainments Duty.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

I wish to say a word or two on the point about the failure of cinema exhibitors to reduce their prices. Clearly, it would be very desirable if, as a result of forgoing the Entertainments Duty, the prices of seats in cinemas were to be reduced. We would all welcome that, and some hon. Members may take the view that, with the substantial profits being earned by companies concerned in exhibiting, there is great justification for some reduction in seat prices.

I think it is true to say, however, that these large profits are illusory, because if we take the Rank Organisation as an example, it is probably true to say that no more than about 30 or 40 per cent. of its total profits come from exhibition, and that the rest are earned by other activities, many of them outside the cinema business itself. Therefore, there is not the amount available which some people may believe to be the case.

Moreover, I think it is true to say that in the past decade cinemas have not spent enough money on the maintenance of their establishments. Nor have they paid sufficient wages to their staffs, either on the ground of paying what are reasonable wages or on the ground of obtaining staffs which would give satisfaction to the public. I believe that these requirements—to establish a higher level of building and pay better wages in order to recruit better staffs—are the priorities in the distribution of this amount which will be made available as the result of the repeal of the duty.

We are abolishing this Entertainments Duty, but we are not abolishing duty on all forms of entertainment. We still have a duty upon television, and a substantial duty upon gramophone records.

Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)

Football pools.

Mr. Shepherd

I think it is unwise for the Committee to rush to the conclusion that for all time we have abolished duty on entertainments. I am one of those who hold the view that we have in the past ten years drafted towards too much direct taxation and too little indirect taxation, and I do not view this tendency without concern. Therefore, I would not for a moment like to feel that my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Committee take the view that never at any time, in any circumstances, whatever the degree of prosperity, shall we revert to some form of Entertainments Duty. I believe that if we must have indirect taxation—and I believe that we need more of it—we should make it a tax on industries which can bear it. If for any reason an industry cannot bear it, because of change, there is obviously a case for remission, but it would be quite wrong to try to lay down at this stage the principle that there should be for all time the abolition of Entertainments Duty.

Mr. Redhead

While the abolition of the Entertainments Duty has been welcomed on all sides of the Committee, as indeed we welcome it—

Mr. Nabarro

With qualifications.

Mr. Redhead

— with qualifications, and I propose to refer to one myself, I am bound to emphasise the fact that it is a very belated decision. Nevertheless, we welcome it as a logical and just step which has been constantly urged upon the Chancellor with increasing intensity over the last few years.

I am mindful of the efforts particularly of my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), who opened from this side of the Committee, and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) in his persistence in arguing this matter. We are exceedingly glad that it is to end, and it is a salutary comment on a duty introduced in 1916 as a temporary war-time tax which has existed for forty-four years. It is stretching the interpretation of the term "temporary", but I suppose we can take some consolation from the fact that, if the world is not yet free from crises, at least, we have emerged finally from the emergency of the First World War.

There is one aspect of the matter which has just been touched upon by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) to which I should like to refer, because the Chancellor was rather cagey about it and made no reference to it, although it is tied up with the question of Entertainments Duty and the limitation on what he is doing in this instance. I would remind him that his predecessor in 1957, when the duty was abolished in respect of all other forms of entertainment, took the view, apparently, because he was conscious of the unfairness of limiting the duty to the cinema, that although he was not willing to forgo the revenue which the cinema, which was the biggest contributor to the duty at that stage, gave him, there was a degree of unfairness about the situation which left the cinema still saddled with the burden of the duty while fighting its battle with competing forms of entertainment, primarily that of television.

The Chancellor of the day, the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), in effect said to the cinema industry, "I am not willing to forgo entirely the revenue from the cinema, but as a consolation I will tax your chief competitor," and so he promptly clamped on an Excise duty of £1 on television licences.

Mr. Nabarro

That is a faulty argument. [Interruption.] No, it is completely faulty, because the next year the Purchase Tax on television sets was reduced, which more than offset the temporary increase in the licence, and the year after that, in 1959, the Purchase Tax on television sets was again reduced, so that it all comes out in the wash.

Mr. Redhead

If the argument is illogical and does not apply, the fault lies with the right hon. Member for Monmouth, when Chancellor, because in making the proposal, he used these words: Entertainment is not in itself an unreasonable object of taxation and I must obviously continue to look to the patrons of entertainment for a substantial amount of revenue which I should otherwise have to collect in some different way. On the other hand, there have been many changes since the duty was introduced in 1916 and, indeed, since it was last revised in 1954. Some forms of entertainment are expanding. As they expand they affect the profit of the other types. In particular, television has, in recent years, grown to be a powerful competitor with other entertainments and I have had to consider whether it is bearing a share of taxation comparable with its rivals. I have not overlooked the fact that anyone who buys a television set pays a substantial amount of Purchase Tax upon it. But there is no tax on its use comparable with the tax on the admission price to a cinema. I am satisfied that a fair balance in the taxation of these competitive entertainments is desirable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1957; Vol. 568, c. 989.] Those were the grounds upon which the Chancellor imposed an Excise licence duty of £1 on the television licence. While at a subsequent date there were reductions of Purchase Tax on television sets, the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), familiar as he is with the subject of Purchase Tax, will, I am sure, acknowledge that they were coincident with many other changes in the Purchase Tax Schedules. In short, I venture to suggest they had nothing whatever to do with this particular aspect of the matter.

5.30 p.m.

What the Chancellor did then, of course, was completely consistent with a principle which used to be applied in relation to revenue duties. If a specific article was taxed, it was thought equitable to place a corresponding tax on any alternative or competing article serving the same purpose. In this way, we had a duty on matches followed by a duty on mechanical lighters. The same principle is to be seen, as the hon. Member for Kidderminster will have noted, in the Purchase Tax Schedules, whatever anomalies he discerns in them.

Although in this instance the television licence duty introduced in those circumstances and for the specific purpose of a countervailing duty was of no benefit to the cinema, the fact that it was adopted raises a pertinent question in connection with this Clause now that the Entertainments Duty on cinemas is to be abolished. Why does the Chancellor maintain the television licence duty? Clearly, the argument adduced for it as a countervailing duty no longer holds good. He is giving up £7,500,000, the estimated revenue from Entertainments Duty in respect of cinemas, but he is holding on to an estimated revenue of £11,500,000 from television licences.

I emphasise that from the limited change in respect of Entertainments Duty which he is now making the public derives no advantage whatever. The remission of Entertainments Duty is not and— I emphasise this in fairness to the exhibitors—was not expected to be passed on to the public. Latterly, the cinema exhibitors have made the point abundantly clear. Although in theory the Entertainments Duty was paid by the public on charges for admission, the case for its remission rested very largely on the fact that, so long as it existed, the cinema proprietors were limited in the opportunities they had for raising their basic prices to an economic level. Only with the removal of the duty, it was said, and with the ability to go on charging the same gross prices to the public would they be able, in their estimation, to be in a fair position to hope for a more economical basis for their business.

In present circumstances, it is relevant to point out that the cinema exhibitors have to contemplate not only rising costs but prospective rising costs, for already the employees of the industry, who hitherto, mindful of the difficulties, have exercised restraint, are now submitting pay claims because of the remission. In the circumstances, it is hardly to be wondered that the cinema proprietors have not felt it possible to pass on the tax remission to the public.

If, therefore, the people generally gain nothing out of this change, they, the licence holders, will still have to meet the duty which is charged directly in respect of the television licence. That situation will continue. I submit to the Chancellor that it is inequitable to take this step without taking into account the corresponding countervailing duty introduced in 1957.

Mr. Nabarro

Reduce Purchase Tax.

Mr. Redhead

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue that line, he will, no doubt, have his opportunities later during the Committee stage. There are some Amendments down which we shall, no doubt, argue in due course. I submit to the Chancellor that, if he feels it right and proper, notwithstanding the step he has taken in regard to Entertainments Duty, to extract revenue from television, he might more profitably direct his attention in some way or other to the enormous profits which are being made in commercial television.

Mr. Denzil Freeth (Basingstoke)

Did I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that it was reasonable that the exhibitors should not pass on the benefit of this tax remission to the public because the workers in the industry have put in a pay claim? Is not this a very dangerous doctrine to enunciate with approval? We shall never have a reduction in the duty on petrol because the Chancellor will quite reasonably argue that the workers in the transport industry would demand an equivalent increase in wages to make up for any tax remission, with the result that the public would have nothing.

Mr. Redhead

I referred to that fact as an additional reason for restraint and reserve on the part of the exhibitors, but I did say initially that their position was made abundantly clear, certainly during the last two years, that, given the remission or abolition of the tax which they sought, they would not hope to pass it on to the public. They have, I think, been perfectly frank about it. I am sure that hon. Members who have received representations from the trade will confirm that that has been made abundantly clear. The basic reason has been that, so long as the tax existed, the exhibitors were restricted in their ability to raise their basic prices because every rise in price obviously would attract a higher rate of duty and put the cinema still further out of reach.

Mr. Barber

This proposal has been universally welcomed, with qualifications, by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and her hon. Friends and by the spokesman for the Liberal Party the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade). The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Redhead) referred to the history of the tax and pointed out, quite rightly, that it was introduced as a temporary war-time measure in 1916. He then referred to what had occurred in 1957 when all forms of entertainment other than the cinema and public television shows were entirely relieved of the duty.

There was a slight further reduction of the duty in 1958 and liability was further limited in 1959. I need not go into the details of the several reductions, but the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East was quite right to point out that many smaller cinemas will not benefit from the reduction because, as a result of the reduction in liability last year alone, less than half the cinemas were, until the Budget, paying any duty at all.

I think you would regard it as somewhat inappropriate, Mr. Blackburn, if I were to attempt to answer in detail the points made by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West about the television licence duty and commercial television, but I have taken note of what he said.

Some hon. Members have regretted that this step to abolish totally the Entertainments Duty has not been taken before. I remember well from the debates last year during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill that considerable pressure was brought to bear on my right hon. Friend to do just that. He then took the view that the decline in admissions would tend to slow down during 1959 and would cease finally at a level of about 600 million a year. I think it is only fair to him to say that that view at that time was shared by the trade.

Unfortunately, my right hon. Friend's expectations and those of the trade were not fulfilled. The provisional figure for admissions in respect of the financial year 1959–60 is down to 575 million. The rate of closures has continued to be considerable during this last year. It is important to bear in mind, however, that there have been more closures of cinemas paying no duty than closures of those cinemas which were still paying duty. It is obvious, therefore, that it is not just the Entertainments Duty which has been responsible for the decline in cinema-going.

I ought to give the Committee two sets of figures which are very striking. Admissions for the year 1958 were 754 million. In 1959, admissions were reduced to 601 million. Net closures of cinemas during 1958 numbered 218. Last year, the number was 434.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) expressed regret that there had been no reduction in the price of cinema seats. I think that he will agree with the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) who pointed out that the cinema industry has had its difficulties, but, nevertheless, I feel bound to say, although my right hon. Friend has no authority in these matters, that I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster, regret that it has not been found possible to pass on at least part of this reduction by way of cheaper seats.

Mr. Nabarro

I thank my hon. Friend very much.

Mrs. White

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether in discussions with the trade there was any suggestion that any remission should be passed on? Has he any ground for supposing that it should be passed on in this way? I do not want to anticipate something which will come to the House later, but I thought it only right to mention that, as I am sure the hon. Member knows, there are discussions in the trade as a result of which the statutory levy may be adjusted. This will have the effect of making larger cinemas pay to the producers a larger proportion of that levy than smaller cinemas. That to some extent will offset for the larger cinemas the benefit arising from the abolition of Entertainments Duty. To suggest that there should be a considerable diminution in the price of seats is unrealistic in the present state of the industry.

Mr. Barber

I am sorry if the hon. Lady misunderstood me. I did not for one moment wish to minimise the difficulties with which the industry is faced, and I hope that she will acquit me of making any such suggestion. For that reason, I gave the Committee the figures of closures and of the fall in admissions and pointed out that many of these closures—I think more than half—were of cinemas which were not paying the duty. I would not for one moment suggest that the industry is not having difficulties other than those presented by the Entertainments Duty. All I did was to express my regret that at least some part of the remission could not be passed on.

As this is the occasion of the demise of the Entertainments Duty, I think that the Committee will be interested in the extent to which the yield has fallen in recent years, partly as a result, of course, of reductions in duty. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) spoke of the extent of the contribution of the cinema industry by way of Entertainments Duty The hon. Member was absolutely right. In 1956–57, out of a total of £41 million of Entertainments Duty the yield from cinemas alone was estimated at £35 million. In the following year, out of a total of £27 million, the estimated yield from cinemas was £26 million. By last year it had fallen to £7½ million, to a great extent as a result of the successive reductions which had been made.

The cinema provides a form of entertainment for tens of millions of people, including, I am happy to say, myself. I hope that the Committee will agree that this step is fully justified. It will cost about £7 million in a full year, but, as the hon. Lady recognised, we should be deluding ourselves if we thought that Entertainments Duty was the only difficulty with which the industry is faced. I believe that its abolition will do much to help the industry.

Mr. Rankin

Will not the hon. Member endorse what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said when he interrupted me? The Chancellor said, in effect, that £7½ million was his estimated return from the industry. He did not say that the abolition of the duty will cost that.

Mr. Barber

No. As I am sure the hon. Member will realise, if one abolishes a duty, it is difficult to give any but an estimated figure. That is why I said that the estimated figure was £7 million.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.