§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I beg to move, in page 3, line 14, to leave out "three shillings and fourpence" and to insert "one shilling and eightpence".
These figures were not selected at random. In Clause 5 my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer chose to increase the Tobacco Duty by 3s. 4d. a 1b. The purpose of the Amendment is to cut in half precisely the amount of the increase, for a variety of reasons. I wish to deal with the general proposition first and then add a word or two to what I said earlier concerning the increase in taxation in this context.
I am a smoker. Twelve times as many people smoke in this country as those who consume the wines referred to in Clauses 1 and 2. Twelve times as many people are interested in the Amendment as are interested in Clauses 1 and 2. The great majority of people, I think, smoke either cigarettes or a pipe. I do not like a fiscal policy which reduces the price of beer by 2d. one year and puts it on cigarettes the following year— [Interruption.] The hon. Member ought to wait until I have finished my sentence —with a General Election in between. I do not like the fiscal policy which takes duty off imported and home-produced wine, which affects only a relatively small part of the population, notoriously the middle classes and well-to-do, and in the same Budget clamps duty on cigarettes and tobacco, which affects the overwhelming majority of ordinary men and women, notably industrial workers. I stigmatise a policy of that kind as fiscal flatulence.
§ Mr. Nabarro
The right hon. Gentleman is confirming what I said in a Budget speech on this topic. All increases in taxation are inflationary.
I want to deal narrowly with the method of increasing the Tobacco Duty in this Finance Bill because of the widespread dislocation it has caused. A packet of 10 cigarettes of a popular brand before the Budget was priced at 1s. 11½d. and a packet of 20 cigarettes of a popular brand was priced at 3s. 11d. I refer to such brands as Player's, Gold 1326 Flake, Capstan and many more like them which most of us who are smokers smoke. An increase of 3s. 4d. a 1b. in the Tobacco Duty has had the effect of raising the price of a packet of 10 cigarettes from 1s. 11½d. to 2s. 0½d. and that of a packet of 20 of the same brand from 3s. 11d. to 4s. 1d.
About £25 million worth of cigarettes are sold every year through automatic vending machines, or, as they are more commonly called, slot machines. All of these machines are designed and manufactured to take florins. Now that the price of the popular brands of cigarettes are 2s. 0½d. for 10 and 4s. 1d. for 20 the whole of that valuable machinery has been immobilised, and much of it cannot be altered.
I suspect that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee know that this machinery contains relatively delicate testing devices to ensure that spurious coins are not put into the slot. A florin is carefully tested by that mechanism. There is only a relatively small clearance round it in the machine and the machine cannot easily be altered to take half-crowns. Even if it were altered to take half-crowns, 5½d. change in coppers for ten cigarettes would have to be given and, as it is not possible within the casement of one and the same machine to provide both for half-crown and two shilling pieces, for a packet of twenty cigarettes it would be necessary for two half-crowns to be inserted and 11d. change in coppers would have to be given. All of this is immensely cumbersome, but in addition it would involve the reconstruction and alteration of millions of pounds worth of these automatic vending or slot machines.
Of all the clumsy and cumbersome devices for raising taxes—first, to select tobacco and then to make the price of 10 cigarettes a halfpenny over the 2s. thereby immobilising the whole of this valuable machinery. It is impossible to conceive a more clumsy method of dealing with a situation than that.
I am not alone in these thoughts. On the day after the Budget the following telegram was dispatched to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I wish to read it to the Committee. It says:The Automatic Vending Machine Association regret that the interests of the industry that it represents do not appear to have been taken into account in the increased tax on 1327 tobacco and cigarettes proposed in the Budget speech. The Association have in mind the inconvenience to the public involved in having to receive 5½d. change on 10 cigarettes or 5d. on 20 cigarettes of a standard brand and the costs of up to £750,000 in altering 100,000 machines … that are said to be in operation.As a result of that telegram to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, and as they could not expect any earlier reply, the manufacturers communicated with me—[Laughter.] Yes, and not because I am occasionally critical of the Chancellor. I happen to have been engaged in engineering production for most of my life and I do, therefore, know how immensely difficult it is to alter machinery of this kind—especially when only ½d. is involved—and due, no doubt, to my affiliations outside this House with manufacturing interests, the association communicated with me.
It correctly summarised its views under seven short heads that I shall read. First, the effect of the proposed increase in the tobacco and cigarette duty will be to immobilise the entire sale of cigarettes from vending machines. Second, this disrupts a business whose annual turnover is between 1 per cent. and 2 per cent. of the total sales of cigarettes and, in terms of money, £25 million per annum. Third, equipment to the value of £10 million is immobilised. Fourth, the cost of alterations to the machines— if they can be altered at all—is provisionally estimated at £750,000. Fifth, it is estimated that before this trade can be brought into proper working order at the proposed new prices, six to twelve months' work by technicians and engineers will be required in order to alter, or endeavour to alter, the 100,000 machines involved. Sixth, this length of time must inevitably drive many operators of machines into bankruptcy through being unable to meet their hire-purchase commitments on the machines, and thereby cause unemployment in the works that make the machines.
I pause here to explain that most of these machines are sold to small tobacconists on hire-purchase arrangements over a period of two years. The tobacconists rely on paying their instalments month by month on the profits they earn from the sale of the cigarettes through the machines. Obviously, if they cannot sell any cigarettes they find it difficult to keep up their instalments.
1328 The seventh head says—and these are stern words, indeed—that it seems evident to the industry that when framing this proposal which puts the average price of 10 cigarettes at the ridiculously lopsided figure of 2s. 0½d., the practical consideration of selling involved was never taken into account by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I say this in the Chancellor's defence. He could not have gone to those in the trade before his Budget and consulted them about increasing the Tobacco Duty —for obvious reasons—but it does seem to me, from what I have said and on careful consideration of the problem, that he could have had very little regard to automatic machine sales before deciding on the particular measure of Tobacco Duty that he would have— 3s. 4d. per 1b.
Let me give to the Economic Secretary two analogies. I wonder what would have happened to the Postmaster-General had he decided to increase the price of a postage stamp to 3¼d. My hon. Friends laugh in derision, but that would be just about as sensible as making the price of a packet of 10 cigarettes 2s. 0½d.—just about as sensible. At one foul swoop every coin slot machine for selling stamps—[HON. MEMBERS: "Fell."] I am sorry; in deference to my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell), the term is a "fell swoop", not a "foul swoop". As I was saying, had the Postmaster-General done that, every coin slot machine for stamps in the country would have been put out of action.
Suppose that the Postmaster-General had decided to make the price of a local telephone call from a coin box 4½d. instead of 4d.—there being no provision for a halfpenny in any of that automatic machinery. We, in this House of Commons would have been in an uproar in five minutes attacking him; saying how utterly stupid and shortsighted it was either to waste this huge value of machinery or, alternatively, to cause the disruption of the telephone call arrangements and the wastage of resources in skilled labour to make alternative machinery. But none of that would have been any more sensible or any less sensible than to make the price of a packet of cigarettes 2s. 0½d. for 10 and 4s. 1d. for 20—
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) is comparing what the Chancellor has done with what the Postmaster-General might have done, but the Postmaster-General would have been fixing prices. What the Chancellor has done is to fix taxes. Is it beyond the resources of the tobacco industry, with its enormous wealth and its inflated dividends, to reduce the price of 10 cigarettes by ½d.? If it can do that, it solves its own problem, and has no need to come to the House for the problem to be solved in this way.
§ Mr. Nabarro
If the hon. Gentleman had allowed me to continue, I would have dealt with that point and, I hope, dealt with it faithfully. At the moment, out of a packet of 20 cigarettes that sells for 4s. 1d. about 3s. is duty. It may be 3s. 0½d. but, correct to the nearest penny, it is about 3s. The price of the cigarettes, excluding duty, is of the order of 1s. The margin of profit before taxation on that packet of 20 cigarettes is less than a halfpenny.
Unless the tobacco manufacturers were to sell 10 cigarettes at a loss they could not reduce the price from 2s. 0½d. to 2s. These are published facts. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has challenged me on this point, and I am glad to see him nodding his assent. If he looks up the figures relating to Player's of Nottingham, or Wills of Bristol and other firms, he will find that they could not reduce the price by ½d. on 10 cigarettes unless they were to sell at a loss.
I say to my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary—though far be it from me to recommend alternative sources of revenue to him—that there are many forms of indirect taxation that do not involve automatic machinery. If he had put a modicum on petrol, for example—I am not recommending it—he would not have immobilised every petrol pump in the country. If he had put a modicum on beer he would not have immobilised all the machinery in the public houses and elsewhere for pulling off pints of ale. He chose the one commodity which is sold very substantially by these automatic vending machines, and because of the amount of the increase in the duty he has caused this huge dislocation in the trade.
1330 6.0 p.m.
The effect of my Amendment is narrow, and I think it is wholly practical in its approach to this problem. If the amount of the duty were cut exactly in half from 3s. 4d. to 1s. 8d. the price of 10 popular brand cigarettes would be 2s., the price of 20 popular brand cigarettes would be 4s.
I am glad to have stimulated so much discussion on the Opposition Front Bench. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) is a little more vociferous than usual. As I was saying, the prices could be 2s. for 10 popular brand cigarettes and 4s. for 20.
Let me make this final point to my hon. Friend. The Treasury is going to pay 50 per cent. of all the losses entailed in altering this machinery. If it costs £1 million to alter the machinery the profits of the manufacturers of the machinery and the buyers of it, the retailers, will be diminished by an amount of £1 million or whatever is the cost of altering the machinery. Because of the diminution of those profits the Chancellor's revenue will fall by a sum equal to the incidence of Income Tax and Profits Tax, being 51¼ per cent. at the rate covered in this Bill. He is not going to get all the revenue he anticipates by increasing the Tobacco Duty. At least in the first year there will be a substantial countervailing charge arising from the fall in profits of those machinery makers.
I repeat, I have never witnessed in this Committee a more cumbersome manipulation of duty than the way the Chancellor has chosen to do it this year. I hope that the Economic Secretary, apart from all the general arguments against Tobacco Duty, will answer these specific points and try to justify to the Committee and to the country why he thinks it is desirable to have a clumsy amount like 2s. 0½d. for 10 popular brand cigarettes and 4s. 1d. for 20.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
Would the hon. Gentleman kindly give some more calculation of the point about the ½d. profit on cigarettes? Did he mean that this was the manufacturer's profit or the total profit? If it is the manufacturer's profit, would it not be possible to sell cigarettes by a marginal adjustment of the manufacturing, 1331 wholesale and retail profits in the vending machines to which the hon. Gentleman has referred?
§ Mr. Nabarro
No. I do not think it is practicable. Equally I do not think that it is practicable to deal with the matter by selling one less cigarette in a packet, because a dummy has to be inserted to fill the packet out, and that cannot be handled satisfactorily in an automatic machine. Neither would it be practicable to deal with it by the other alternative, by shortening the length of the cigarette, or reducing the amount of tobacco in it. All these are possible alternatives, but as automatic machinery is involved in all of them, the same difficulty arises.
If the manufacturers were to reduce by ½d. their price to the retailers they would be selling at a loss. The margin of distributors' profits on cigarettes is already so low as to be incapable of being further reduced. If any hon. Gentleman opposite doubts this let him go to the co-operative wholesale societies and ask them if they can cut the profits on a packet of 10 standard cigarettes. The co-operatives are always in this trouble, that they have to pay a dividend on popular brands of cigarettes, and that often involves their selling those cigarettes at a loss, so tiny is their margin of profit. I suggest to the Committee that it is not possible to take up this id. by manufacturers, retailers and distributors of all kinds combining together to knock it off, because the margin of profit is itself so slender.
For these reasons I hope that the Committee will support me in this Amendment.
§ Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield. Park)
For once, I rise to support the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), and I hope that not only he but a substantial number of his supporters, convinced by his arguments, will support the Amendment in the Lobby when the Division is called. Frankly, though, I am disappointed in the hon. Gentleman, because I had not before understood him to be a man of half-measures. I would have thought it rather more in keeping with his views on taxation if he had been bold enough, as, perhaps, we may convince him to be between now and the time when the Question is put, to vote against the whole 3s. 4d.
§ Mr. Nabarro
The hon. Gentleman has been a member of the House of Commons since—1945? No, 1950. Does he not know the simple procedural point, that had I put on the Notice Paper an Amendment to abolish the whole 3s. 4d. it would not have been in order and would not have been called? [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] It would have been dealt with on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill". I wanted my Amendment to knock off half of the duty dealt with in an individual and unique fashion, so that I could make my point about the machinery quite separately from the general point of the increase in the Tobacco Duty.
§ Mr. Mulley
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his further observations. No doubt, as his influence grows, we shall rearrange the procedure of the Committee so that he can have amenities which at the moment, owing to lack of foresight on the part of those who framed the Standing Orders, are not available.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
There is no need to criticise the procedure of the Committee in this way. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) has been a Member of the House of Commons since, I think, 1945—
§ Mr. Nabarro
No. I said that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) had been here since 1945, but corrected myself.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Member tot Kidderminster has not been here since 1945. It only sounds as long. He probably knows already that the rules of the Committee would entitle him to make his speech on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", and then to vote against it, and he could have made his point against the whole tax equally well.
§ Mr. Mulley
I do not wish to engage in discussion, which, I am sure, would be out of order, on the procedure of the Committee, as distinct from discussion on the Amendment before us. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I rather welcomed the further intervention of the hon. Member for Kidderminster, because I took that to be a pledge to vote against the Clause when the Question on the Clause is put.
1333 While I accept completely the hon. Gentleman's criticism of the Treasury in framing the tax increase in such a way as to involve substantial expenditure on the part of all those concerned with automatic vending machines, I would, in parenthesis, say that the Treasury itself will have to pay a substantial part of the cost of new machinery or the cost of making the necessary changes in the machinery. In the meantime, the consumer suffers because a great proportion of these machines, as the hon. Gentleman said, have had to be stopped. I understand that one has to walk a very long time after shop closing hours to get a packet of cigarettes from such a machine.
However, I take a rather different view from the hon. Gentleman. I am an admirer in many ways of the Treasury, and I take it that the Treasury did this because it knew that there were such things as cigarette vending machines, and I think that probably the difficulties now before the Committee arose because the Treasury took the view that smokers comprise such a good source of revenue that at some time or another the Treasury had to break the 2s. price for 10 standard cigarettes.
I view this as a deliberate decision on the Chancellor's part as being an indication that in years to come smokers will have further tax to pay. I believe that this is merely a trial run, otherwise I would take the view of the hon. Member for Kidderminster that, knowing the disclocation that would be caused, the Treasury would not have gone to this extent. The simple point that occurred to the hon. Member and is incorporated in his Amendment, that it would be neater and better for everyone to have had an increase that would mean a price of 2s. for 10 standard cigarettes, is probably within the grasp of the Treasury mind.
§ Mr. Mulley
The fact that the Treasury has gone beyond that point is possibly an indication of planning for the future and that it wants half-a-crown to be the coin in the machine, which would give 5½d. a packet as possible spoil for the future. I protest very strongly against the picking out of smokers for an unreasonably heavy 1334 share of our national taxation. No one will object that there is taxation on cigarettes, but when one reflects that tobacco alone represents 35 per cent. of the total yield of Income Tax and that £829 million is expected to be collected from this tax, as against £225 million from beer and £155 million from spirits, one sees the size of the contribution which the smoker makes to our national economy.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster often talks about Purchase Tax. Perhaps it is a revelation to recognise that the smoker is expected to pay £829 million in tax this year against a total yield from Purchase Tax of £535 million. When one further reflects that the smokers are contributing more than four times the total of Surtax, and nearly four times the amount of death duties and of the yield of Profits Tax, one realises these are people who are being asked to pay an unreasonably high proportion of our revenue.
Smokers are to be found among all sections of the community, from the old-age pensioner to the millionaire. Smoking is not a test of capacity to pay. In less affluent days, I have seen people exchanging half their daily food for a packet of cigarettes. Therefore, this is not a question of a luxury decision. It would be wrong for the Chancellor to pretend that there is an element of moral judgment in picking out, as his predecessors have succeeded in doing in the past, the smoker for this particularly heavy impost.
The only explanation is that this is a tax which one pays and which one does not notice when one buys in the way one would notice an addition to P.A.Y.E., and that it is thought in Treasury circles to be an ever-present source of additional revenue. It is the pip that will squeak the least. I think that it is only for that reason that every time the Chancellor wants more money he picks on the smoker. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not attempt to justify this additional tax on moral grounds and say that the public should not smoke. As a smoker, I freely admit that it is a stupid, dirty and irrational habit.
§ Mr. Mulley
I hope that the Treasury does not think that by putting on an additional tax it will discourage people from smoking, because it seems to me that the additional yield is based on the assumption that at least as many cigarettes and as much pipe tobacco will be smoked this year as last.
When the hon. Member for Kidderminster was giving his figures, I was not absolutely certain that the tax on the standard packet of cigarettes, now priced 4s. 1d., was 3s. I hope that the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, or the Chancellor, in reply to the debate, will tell us—and this should be given wide publicity—the actual tax element in the standard packet of 20 cigarettes. I notice that the rather complicated Customs and Excise schedules show that the Customs duty now will be £3 10s. per 1b. for cigarettes and that on that basis, with an increase of 3s. 4d. per lb. or 2d. per packet, the tax could amount to as much as 3s. 6d. per packet of 20 cigarettes.
I shall certainly support the hon. Member for Kidderminster in the Lobby, on the sound principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, but I also hope that he will join with us in the Lobby on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", to strike a blow for the smoker and reject this quite despicable duty.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Freeth
If my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) had moved this Amendment in Committee on the Bill before 5th May I should probably have supported him, first, for the very cogent reasons which he outlined from the point of the view of the effect of the extra 2d. per packet on the use of automatic vending machines. On that aspect of the matter I should like to mention a point which my hon. Friend did not raise, namely, that it is not only a matter of the profits of those who make, run or let out these vending machines. It is a matter of the comfort or discomfort of the smoker who, when the shops have closed, wants to be able to obtain cigarettes from a machine and who now will not be able to do so for at least a year.
I should have thought that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor might have considered the case of smokers who want 1336 to buy cigarettes after the shops have shut, and particularly those, including troops, travelling on long journeys who want to use vending machines on the railway platforms. I should have thought that there was a strong case for increasing the tax on 20 cigarettes by 1d. instead of by 2d., particularly when the extra annoyance involved in the present increase is experienced throughout such a wide range of the community.
At the beginning of 1958, the Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee estimated that 75 out of every 100 men and 41 out of every 100 women smoked cigarettes. That is a fairly substantial proportion of our population. My right hon. Friend, in planning to collect £19½ million extra tax in the current year, is annoying that section of our population virtually beyond endurance—and this is a sum out of a Budget of about £6,000 million. We are dealing with a sum equivalent to .003 per cent. of the Chancellor's total estimated revenue.
Sometimes, I have a high opinion of the Treasury and sometimes a very low one. I am certain that the Treasury tries to put its Budget estimates on a very conservative basis so that the likelihood of the Chancellor finding himself with a larger deficit above the line than he anticipated will be very small. But in the last financial year there was an error in the estimate of revenue of £305 million, or of 5.7 per cent., and an error in estimated total expenditure of £98 million, or 1.5 per cent., and we are arguing here not about a matter of 5.7 per cent., but of .003 per cent.
I should have said just after my right hon. Friend's Budget speech that a sum of this kind was one which, frankly, it was not the job of the Chancellor to try to meet by imposing a small amount of very irritating taxation, and I took the view that my right hon. Friend's object of restraining demand could have been met perfectly well by monetary means. Unfortunately, my right hon. Friend effectively scuppered any chance of success in that field. In his Budget speech he uttered the following words:I must tell the Committee that I think it likely that the time may soon arrive when it would be right that we should take other steps to restrain further expansion of private credit; and we stand ready to do so."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th April, 1956; Vol. 621 c. 46.]1337 In the four weeks ending mid-April the statement of bank advances from the clearing banks showed a rise over the month from £81 million to £98 million. This seemed to me an unusually large rise for this third month of the year, although the first quarter normally shows a fairly substantial rise in bank advances. From the inquiries that I made from bank managers, and so on, I discovered that everybody who read my right hon. Friend's Budget speech—and most people found this phrase highlighted in the Press as being the sting in the tail— had taken it as being a plain and frank warning that he intended to introduce credit restrictions, and had, therefore, hurried to their banks to get the overdrafts which they were afraid they would not get if they waited. Therefore, we had an increase in effective demand in the economy of £17 million in the month of March-April Which we need never, I am certain, otherwise have had.
Considering that my right hon. Friend's credit restrictions and hire-purchase restrictions were not announced until 5th May, nearly three weeks after the end of the clearing banks' month to which I have referred, it surely is obvious that the figures which we shall see for the month from mid-April to mid-May are likely to show a further substantial increase in respect of the people who did not get their overdrafts in the first eleven days after my right hon. Friend's rather extraordinary statement and threat. Therefore, on the side of bank advances it seems to me that my right hon. Friend has entailed this country having—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Norman Hulbert)
I hope that the hon. Member will deal with the Amendment.
§ Mr. Freeth
I am sorry, Sir Norman. I thought that I was explaining why I did not feel it possible to vote for a reduction in the Finance Bill by supporting the cut of £19½ million proposed in the Amendment by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster, and that one reason was that, owing to my right hon. Friend's mismanagement of the economy, we had already increased the effective demand by £17 million more through bank advances.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Did my hon. Friend— I want to get this correct; he was facing the other way and I could not hear 1338 clearly—say "owing to my right hon. Friend's mismanagement of the economy"?
§ Mr. Freeth
Alas, it is due to my right hon. Friend's mismanagement that I cannot join my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster in the Lobby tonight. As we have had an extra £17 million in demand in that month, and are likely to have a further large increase in bank advances in the month between mid-April and mid-May, with an increase in the last pre-Budget month in hire-purchase debt, not of £16 million, which was the rate of increase in both January and February, but of £31 million, it is, alas, painfully obvious that it would be unsafe to increase demand even by £19½ million as my hon. Friend wants. I therefore regret that my right hon. Friend's mismanagement will cause me to go into the Lobby with him tonight.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
The speeches of my hon. Friends and the "noises off" from the Opposition have been so encouraging and the speeches have been so well put—indeed, I have seen smiles on the Treasury Bench, the first time for a very long time—that I am absolutely convinced that the Chancellor is giving instructions that the speech in reply shall be one of acceptance. I hope that while the Government spokesman is accepting the Amendment he will speak for long enough to tell us why it was ever necessary to impose this rise in tax.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I should like to say a word about the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), although I shall not be able to follow him into the Lobby.
§ Mr. Shepherd
If it were not for the fact that I smoke an occasional cigarette I might be tempted to justify taxation on tobacco as a source of revenue. That is not my intention at the moment. What I want to do is to say a word or two about the precise method used and the amount of the increase.
1339 The hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) believed that there was a good deal of sophistication on the part of the Treasury in fixing this highly significant increase. I do not think there was an element of sophistication on the part of the Treasury. I rise principally to say that it is inevitable that through fiscal changes industry will be affected. It is the duty of Government Departments and, in particular, the Treasury to have more regard for the convenience of industry than they appear to have. I am prepared to believe that in many cases—and there is more than one instance of this matter other than the one with which we are dealing—where the Treasury has done something highly inconvenient to industry it has been done not because it is cussed, but because it has not thought of the effect of the change upon industry.
I am, in effect, asking my right hon. Friend to say that he will give instructions to the Treasury that in the changes that are being made and will be made in the future the convenience of industry will be borne in mind. I would emphasise that many people are involved, not only in this case but in other cases, in a great deal of work and trouble because someone in the Treasury does not think of the resulting effect of changes. We have had the instance in connection with the Purchase Tax where highly inconvenient percentages are chosen, whereas a more convenient percentage would greatly reduce the amount of work in offices. I hope that my right hon. Friend will make it clear to the very able men in the Treasury that they have a duty to regard the convenience of those in industry as well as a duty to regard the interests of the Revenue.
There is a further word that I should like to utter arising out of the interruption by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), who seemed to be working himself up into a high state of indignation. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster demonstrated beyond doubt that it would not be possible for some manufacturers to reduce their profits by ½d. per packet of 10 cigarettes, but there was some doubt about the retail 1340 margins. The retail margin that at present applies, of roughly 8 per cent. if one is buying as an ordinary retailer without any wholesale advantages, is an exceedingly small one, and it is impossible to make a reasonable living out of such a small margin unless one has a very high turnover.
I do not think that it would be possible for retailers to take out of their very small margin the amount of difference which this tax increase represents. I do not think that we could take the easy way out that the hon. Member for Sowerby would like to take. I do not intend to vote for the Amendment, but I wish to impress upon my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the need, in future changes, to have proper regard for the convenience of those engaged in trade and industry.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I am a supporter of the Amendment, but not for the reasons that have been given. What would be the position if the Chancellor, instead of increasing the tax, had reduced it? Would the hon. Gentleman have been prepared to say that the inconvenience to the trade should have denied the consumer that reduction?
§ Mr. Shinwell
If, as I understand it, the effect of the Amendment, if carried, would be to reduce the price of my tobacco, I extend to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) my wholehearted support and will willingly follow him into the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Somehow, in spite of the hon. Member's emphasis on the iniquities of the Chancellor, I have a suspicion that when it comes to the final fence he may refuse to jump over it, and that will be for me a matter of considerable disappointment.
I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth) and I understood from it that he was in complete accord with the views of the hon. Member for Kidderminster, but that because the Chancellor had committed the offence of implying that there might be some restriction of credit, as a result of which there was a rush on the part of those who sought bank advances to consult their bank managers, 1341 he could not extend his support. It occurred to me that if we could defer consideration of this matter for the next month to ascertain whether has predictions were likely to be fulfilled, and to see whether bank advances would rise more substantially than was anticipated by the Chancellor or by the hon. Member, then we might come to a rational conclusion on this Amendment, but as that is impossible we must obviously come to a conclusion now.
I cannot see why Chancellors of the Exchequer should always have a "down"—to use blunt language in this matter—on we smokers. We have heard my hon Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) talking about smoking as a dirty and irrational habit. It is nothing of the sort. People all over the world have been smoking, at any rate in this country, since the days of Sir Walter Raleigh. Although Sir Walter was subsequently beheaded, it certainly was not because of his smoking but because of other offences, into which I shall not enter. I have been smoking since the age of 13. My venerable father, who died two or three years ago at the age of 93—and that was due to an accident—smoked all his life. In his later years I provided him with a regular supply of tobacco.
I therefore deny absolutely and emphatically that smoking is a dirty or an irrational habit, or that it conduces to ill-health, or insanitary behaviour, or anything of that sort. Indeed, if it comes to dirty and irrational habits, some of the oratory that we have to listen to is much more irrational than excessive smoking. I think that it was the late Mr. Baldwin who described oratory as the "harlot of the arts". That surely was irrational and even obscene.
All this nonsense about the effects of excessive smoking being conducive to cancer and other ailments is a lot of poppycock, and all the medical experts are talking through their hats. It depends on the physical constitution of the person concerned. Some people could not smoke a cigarette—I do not smoke cigarettes because I do not think that it is worth while—and could not smoke a pipe of tobacco without turning green. But that is not an argument against smoking. It is an argument against those particular individuals indulging in it. Day by day I have to sit here and listen 1342 to questions about the effect of smoking, and it is a lot of nonsense and "flapdoodle".
Another thing which I must mention about the decision of the Chancellor is that I know how these things are done in the Treasury. I have some knowledge of these matters. The Chancellor is having his Budget prepared for him and he consults a number of officials in the Treasury. They all have ideas as to how taxation should be raised and increased, but very seldom reduced. It never occurs to them that some time they might suggest a reduction in taxation. They would not justify their existence if they did. So, some "fuddy-duddy" in the Treasury comes along, and when the Chancellor says that there is a little gap to be filled, suggests "Let us put it on the poor smoker." Thus this £19 million is put upon the smoker. It is a mere bagatelle compared with the amount that is embodied in the national budget. If the Chancellor had not imposed this extra tax it would not have made the slightest difference to the national economy, which would have carried on just as well.
§ Mr. Denzil Freeth
I may have misled the right hon. Gentleman and the House in talking about .003 per cent. It should be .3 per cent. Like others greater than myself, I have been misled by those "damned dots".
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am not a mathematician. I agree with the late Lord Randolph Churchill that these are "just damned dots" to me. I leave them to the experts and to the mathematicians. It is no use talking to me about percentages and decimals.
I pay 11s. 8d, for 2 oz. of tobacco. Why should I have to pay that simply because the Chancellor has succumbed to the blandishments of someone in the Treasury? He has conceived the silly notion that in order to balance the Budget he must impose this tax on the smoker. I see no sense in this at all.
We have to consider not people like ourselves, who can afford to smoke excessively—some of us even smoke cigars at great cost—but the wider public, the working classes, the poor people who want a smoke and regard it as a necessity. It is not merely a luxury but a necessity for many people. We impose 1343 this tax on them and it is one that I do not think people should endure without strong protest. On their behalf I make a strong protest. I wonder why some of my colleagues on the Front Bench do not take part in this discussion.
§ Mr. Shinwell
My right hon. Friends seem to foe waiting a long time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am bound to say that there was no attempt on the part of any of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to rise, and it was precisely because of their hesitation that I rose. It was because I saw nobody ready to get up that I did so in order to make the protest that I think ought to be made.
Mr. H. Wilson
As my right hon. Friend knows, we are always most grateful for his help, especially on a Finance Bill. Perhaps I should point out to my right hon. Friend, who has no doubt studied the Order Paper, that our Amendment on this important matter on the tax on tobacco is more fundamental than that at present being debated. That is still to come.
§ Mr. Nabarro
On a point of order. Is it any part of the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to decide on your behalf, evidently, Sir Norman, which are fundamental Amendments and which are not? Is it not an impertinence and a reflection on the Chair to suggest that my Amendment is not fundamental?
If I may continue, our main argument on the subject of the tobacco tax will be on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", when we propose to oppose the whole of the increase. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) is suggesting only a reduction in the increase. That is why we are reserving what we have to say for the later debate.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am sorry to interrupt the proceedings. These interjections are all very interesting, but they do not affect the argument which I have adduced in support of the contention which was argued by the hon. Member for Kidderminster. There is no Amendment on the Order Paper to leave out the Clause. Since this matter has been raised, I will deal with it and I hope that I can deal with it without interruption. If I am provoked, I will provide the necessary replies. [Interruption.] It is no use hon. Members trying that sort of thing. I will say what I want to say. I am not informed about the intentions of the Opposition Front Bench. Let us have it out now. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members that I did not start this quarrel. All I was doing was to support what I thought was a reasonable argument to reduce the Tobacco Duty.
I understand that we are still a democracy, in spite of the desire of some people to prohibit some of us from expressing an opinion. [Interruption.] It simply will not work. I want to express my opinion and I intend to state it. I did not intend to speak at any length. I was not aware of the opinions of the Opposition Front Bench. I waited to see whether someone on the Opposition Front Bench would get up to speak, and in fact I asked some of my hon. Friends beside me, "Why does not someone speak from our Front Bench?"
I thought that it was my party's opinion that the increase in the tobacco tax was an imposition. I found an Amendment on the Order Paper dealing with the provision of cheap tobacco to old-age pensioners, which I willingly support, but which has nothing to do with the general question of the effect of the tax on the ordinary smokers of cigarettes, tobacco and cigars. It was on their behalf that I ventured to make my protest. If a more emphatic protest is to be made later, I shall be glad to hear it and to support it, but I was not aware that it was coming.
I repeat that I cannot see why it is necessary for the Chancellor to impose this tax at a time when our finances are in a state of flux and it is difficult to see what will happen to the country's economic position over the next twelve months, or two or three years, but when 1345 we are certainly not in a precarious financial position. Everyone in the Committee would have supported an increase in taxation, derived from any source, if that had been our position. However, in the circumstances, I support the hon. Member for Kidderminster, much as I am reluctant to do so, if for no other reason than that he has produced substantial arguments which appeal to what intelligence I possess.
I support him, but I make it clear that I do not enter a fight of this kind unless I go all the way. I do not care for starting a fight and then running away. One should be beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, once having entered it, one should go all the way. I agree with Shakespeare in that regard—[Laughter]— although I agree that he did not consult me before putting that thought in writing. It is no use threatening the Chancellor and indulging in tactics of this sort if at the last minute one is to refuse to go into the Division Lobby.
I hope that the hon. Member for Kidderminster means business. The Government will not resign if they lose the battle on this issue, and there is no reason why they should. I am one of those who believe that the Government should not resign except on losing a vote of censure. That is the democratic method. I do not expect them to resign on this issue if they are defeated. I appeal to hon. Members on both sides of the Committee to support the hon. Member for Kidderminster if they believe that this is an imposition on smokers.
§ Mr. Barber
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has already explained, during the Budget and on Second Reading of the Bill, why it was necessary to provide for a very small net increase in taxation and, in particular, why tobacco was selected. When he moved this Amendment, my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) asked me to answer a particular point with which, as he put it, he had dealt in an individual and unique manner. I hope that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if I do precisely that.
Before doing so, perhaps I can assure the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinvvell) that if I limit my remarks to the subject of slot machines, I can certainly unreservedly accept, on behalf 1346 of my right hon. Friend, the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that his habits are neither dirty nor irrational.
I appreciate that the problem posed by my hon. Friend is a real problem, I do not wish to minimise it, but merely to try to give some idea of its extent. It may be that some slot machines cannot be adapted, but many thousands of them can be converted quite simply. As my hon. Friend will know, most of the slot machines with which we are concerned are designed to supply packets of 10 cigarettes at the standard price.
If some machines cannot be adapted to take 2s. 1d. and to give ½d. change, there is another method of dealing with the difficulty. I understand that the Imperial Tobacco Company, which produces the bulk of the cigarettes which are sold in the United Kingdom, has said that it does not propose to supply packets of cigarettes containing only nine cigarettes, which would be one answer to the problem. It has suggested that machines which cannot be converted could be stocked with filter tipped cigarettes at the new price of 1s. 9d. for 10. In that event, the machines could easily be altered to give 3d. change, 2s. having been inserted.
I realise that that is not the sort of answer which is wholly desirable, but it is fair to point out that in the case of the limited number of machines which cannot be converted in any circumstances there is an alternative which is worth consideration and which is being considered by the trade.
My hon. Friend referred to the tax loss. He said that the Treasury would pay 50 per cent. on Income Tax and Profits Tax resulting from the scrapping of some of these machines.
§ Mr. Nabarro
No. I must pull up the hon. Gentleman at once. I said that the Treasury would lose 51¼ per cent. as a result of the diminution of profit in respect of machines to be altered. Where the machines have to be scrapped, the total sum in respect of obsolescence allowance for Income Tax purposes—an entirely different matter, as the Economic Secretary should know—would be payable to the owner of the assets.
§ Mr. Barber
I did, in fact, take down what my hon. Friend said but, of course, I accept the wider remarks which he has now made.
1347 I would point out that the observations which I was about to make apply equally to all that he said just now. The essential point is that this charge against direct taxation is, of course, a once-and-for-all loss to the Revenue whereas the increased yield from the Tobacco Duty is a continuing one. Whatever it is, I doubt whether it is really of the significance that my hon. Friend suggests.
My right hon. Friend explained why it was necessary to raise this duty this year. If this Amendment were accepted, it would result in a loss of revenue in this year of nearly £20 million. The result would be that either the revenue would have to be obtained from some other source—my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster has declined to suggest an alternative source—or, secondly, we should have to abandon some of the concessions made by my right hon. Friend.
As to the difficulty concerning slot machines, I think it right that the Committee should keep the matter in perspective. I am told that only 2 per cent. of the cigarettes sold to the public are sold through slot machines. I am also told that many of the conversions are well under way. Despite the difficulties, I cannot believe that it would be right, regardless of fiscal requirements, to assume that the price of a packet of cigarettes must be kept permanently at or below 4s. for 20, or 2s. for 10, which is the logical consequence of my hon. Friend's argument. He referred to some of the difficulties, and he quoted at length from a telegram, which will be involved in converting machines and he also referred to the cost.
Before coming into the Chamber this afternoon, I was given the May issue of a trade journal which my hon. Friend may have seen, called Tobacco. As he has read at some length from the telegram which the trade association sent to my right hon. Friend, I think it relevant to inform the Committee that an article in it deals at length with the problem of modifying these machines, but does not say that scrapping is inevitable, although I realise that in some cases that may be so.
It states that work on the machines began immediately after the Budget. Within a fortnight, for example, the 1348 Imperial Tobacco Company dealt with about 50 per cent. of the vendors, that is, the automatic vending machines which they issue to retailers. In general, some machines are fairly easily adjustable, but in others it will be necessary to put in an entirely new coin selector, which is a more expensive operation.
Then there is a reference to costs. The article states that the costs of adjustment vary with the type of machine. In some cases it will be between £8 and £10, according to the Automatic Vending Machine Association. In the more elaborate machines, the cost is likely to be considerably more than £10. In most cases where machines are loaned or rented by retailers the cost will be borne by the owners of the machines. Some machines will be adjusted by fitting an extra slot to take the odd ½d. and this is likely to cost about £8. I think that the article in the trade journal puts the matter in perspective.
Since the last increase in the Tobacco Duty, in 1956, the trade itself increased the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes by 1d. Even if we were to accept my hon. Friend's Amendment to increase the price of a packet of cigarettes by only 1d. on this occasion, it is certainly not inconceivable that at some time—I hope in the distant future—the trade may find it necessary to take action to increase the price of 20 cigarettes by 1d. If that were done, it would have precisely the same result as the proposal of my hon. Friend. That is the main reason why I ask my hon. Friend, in all seriousness, not to press his Amendment.
§ Mr. Fell
I think that we are getting a little confused. My hon. Friend says that there may come a time when the trade has to increase the price, but he is assuming that the duty on tobacco will go on at the same new rate all the time. Why is it not equally possible that if the manufacturers have to put up the price for one reason or another the tax may come down a little? Why does he assume that the tax will for ever be 3s. or more on a packet of cigarettes?
§ Mr. Barber
I was proceeding on the hypothesis which I said I hoped would be in the far distant future, that the trade might have to increase the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes by 1d. I explained that if the Amendment were 1349 accepted—and I made no reference to the rate of duty, as I assumed that the rate of duty would be the same—this would be the inevitable consequence. Of course, I hope that it will be possible to reduce the duty in due course.
So I return to the main reason why this Amendment is not acceptable. Surely it would not be right for the Chancellor to abandon a proposal to raise £20 million in taxation, not on any fiscal grounds, not on any social grounds —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, this is a matter which we shall be discussing on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill"—but simply because a certain amount of difficulty will arise in converting some only of the slot machines, the total of which accounts for only 2 per cent. of the sale of cigarettes.
§ Mr. Jay
We shall certainly vote in favour of the Amendment because we do not believe that there ought to be any increase in the Tobacco Duty. I think that the Economic Secretary gave a most lame and unconvincing reply to the main argument of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) that this tax ought not to be increased. It is true that the Amendment proposes only half the increase, but since half a loaf is better than no bread, we shall certainly give it our support.
I have only two quarrels with the hon. Member for Kidderminster this evening. One is that he never supports his own proposals in the Division Lobby. We shall watch with interest today to see whether he shows more courage than the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth).
§ Mr. Nabarro
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman used the word "never", I refer him to the evening of Thursday, 7th April—[An HON. MEMBER: "Historic."] Not historic, one of many incidents when I was obliged to lead a large number of hon. Members opposite into the Lobby including the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins). They all fell in behind me.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I said "fiscal flatulence". I did not suggest that the Chancellor was guilty of physical flatulence.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Jay
And I said that I was not prepared to go as far as that. I accuse the Chancellor only of cynicism and opportunism in this tax imposition.
The hon. Member for Basingstoke, in a rather surprising speech, accused the Chancellor of mismanagement of the economy. Until a few weeks ago the hon. Member was a Parliamentary Private Secretary to an important economic Department. No doubt it was because he regards the Chancellor as mismanaging the economy that he resigned.
§ Mr. Freeth
Perhaps I may make the matter clear. I have not been Parliamentary Private Secretary to an economics Minister since immediately after the last election. I am Parliamentary Private Secretary to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education—and the Ministry of Education is not an economics Department.
§ Mr. Jay
Even so, the hon. Member's criticisms provide interesting evidence of the real feelings of hon. Members opposite.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster accused the Chancellor of reducing the tax on beer a year ago, before the election, and raising it on tobacco afterwards. This accusation has never been answered. Is it really coincidence that the tax on beer went down before the election and up on cigarettes afterwards? We have had no answer to that question—certainly not from the Economic Secretary today. I regard that as an example of cynicism.
Secondly, in this Finance Bill Tobacco Duty is increased and the duty on wines 1351 goes down. This also seems to be an example of cynicism and—here I agree with the hon. Member—of mismanagement of the economy. We have had no explanation or defence of that piece of mismanagement. In addition, as we shall argue at greater length on the subsequent Amendment, it seems to us that this use of the Tobacco Duty is a specially cynical deal for the old-age pensioners, who had their tobacco tokens taken away only two years ago.
I turn now to the argument of the hon. Member for Kidderminster concerning slot machines. This is not our main objection to the increase in tax. Nevertheless, it did not seem to us that the Economic Secretary answered the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Kidderminster. I do not know whether it is possible for manufacturers to reduce their prices by ½d. without losing the whole of their profit, but it would surely have been possible, and should have been possible, for the Treasury to work this out before taking this decision and to have made itself sufficiently knowledgeable on the subject of slot machines and the various multiples involved to have avoided inflicting this inconvenience on the industry.
The Customs and Excise authorities are in very close touch with the tobacco industry, and I should have thought that they would have known enough about it already to have been able to devise an increase which would not have given rise to the difficulty referred to. Everything the Economic Secretary said just now convinces me that the Treasury did not foresee this problem and made very little attempt to overcome it.
§ Mr. Barber
I want to make it clear that this kind of difficulty was foreseen. We considered it very sympathetically. Nevertheless, we did not feel that it overrode the other considerations which prompted us to increase the duty.
§ Mr. Jay
That merely amounts to the Economic Secretary saying that he knew that this increase would inflict great inconvenience upon everybody but that the Government nevertheless decided to go ahead with it.
For all the reasons I have given, and especially because we do not believe that the increase is justified, we shall divide in favour of the Amendment, and hope 1352 to have the support of the hon. Member for Kidderminster.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I initiated this discussion, and the Amendment stands in the names of my hon. Friends and myself. There is no question of my burking the issue. I regard the Economic Secretary's reply as wholly unsatisfactory. I confine my arguments to the very narrow front of the grave practical problems arising from an inconvenient sum such as 2s. 0½d. for 10 cigarettes of a popular brand and 4s. 1d. for 20. In his intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) my hon. Friend has admitted that the Treasury had thought about all these matters before increasing the Tobacco Duty by the sum stated in the Clause, and therefore knew that this huge sum of money was to be immobilised, in the value of slot machines or automatic vending machines all over the country. This simply makes the Chancellor's sins far, far worse.
It is not a question of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North dividing the Committee; I shall divide it. That is why I put down the Amendment. I invite as many of my hon. Friends as I can muster to join me, including those who made such sympathetic noises in the course of my speech. It is no good my looking at my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth); he stigmatises the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as mismanagement of the economy but he will not support the first venture to put the Chancellor back on to the primrose path.
§ Mr. Denzil Freeth
That is exactly why I will not vote for the Amendment. It would put the Chancellor even more on the primrose path of dalliance to destruction.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I cannot agree with that at all.
I do not wish to widen the argument, as the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) did, into general considerations of the increase in Tobacco Duty. In my view that question belongs to the debate on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", and I shall act appropriately then, for I have my own views on this matter in the general background of our economy today.
1353 This Amendment is concerned with a narrow issue, and I appeal to as many as possible of my hon. Friends to join with me in the protest that I am making. I invite hon. Members of the Liberal Party to join with me. I am glad to see that the two present are nodding assent. Lastly, I make a powerful appeal to the whole of the Socialist Party to get "fell in" behind me and to vote the right way.
In case their is any danger of the Patronage Secretary misunderstanding my point of view on this important matter, I would tell him that I do so as a practical individual who dislikes the
§ Chancellor of the Exchequer—who once in his career was a businessman— deliberately causing heavy wastage of machinery and resources, and a huge wastage of the time and labours of skilled men, over months and months ahead, in altering machinery, the whole of which wastage could have been avoided had he acted with a little fiscal prescience in this matter.
§ Question put, That "three shillings and fourpence" stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 234, Noes 179.1355
|Division No. 84.]||AYES||[7.10 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Gammans, Lady||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Allason, James||Gardner, Edward||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn)||Gibson-Watt, David||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Glover, Sir Douglas||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby|
|Barber, Anthony||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Barlow, Sir John||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||McAdden, Stephen|
|Barter, John||Goodhart, Philip||MacArthur, Ian|
|Batsford, Brian||Goodhew, Victor||McLaren, Martin|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Gower, Raymond||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Beamish, Sir Tufton||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute &N. Ayrs)|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Macleod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Green, Alan||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maddan, Martin|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Maginnis, John E.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.|
|Bossom, Clive||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Box, Donald||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Marten, Neil|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Brewis, John||Hay, John||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mawby, Ray|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hendry, Forbes||Maydon, Lt-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Mills, Stratton|
|Bullard, Denys||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Burden, F. A.||Hobson, John||Morgan, William|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hocking, Philip N.||Neave, Airey|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Holland, Philip||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hollingworth, John||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hopkins, Alan||Noble, Michael|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hornby, R. P.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Ormsby Gore, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hughes-Young, Michael||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Cole, Norman||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Collard, Richard||Iremonger, T. L.||Page, A. J. (Harrow, West)|
|Cooke, Robert||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, Graham|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Jackson, John||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Cordle, John||James, David||Partridge, E.|
|Costain, A. P.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Coulson, J. M.||Jennings, J. C.||Peel, John|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Percival, Ian|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Peyton, John|
|Cunningham, Knox||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Curran, Charles||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Dance, James||Kerr, sir Hamilton||Pitman, I. J.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kershaw, Anthony||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kimball, Marcus||Pott, Percivall|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kirk, Peter||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kitson, Timothy||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Doughty, Charles||Lambton, Viscount||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Eden, John||Langford-Holt, J.||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Emery, Peter||Leavey, J. A.||Ramsden, James|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leburn, Gilmour||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Finlay, Graeme||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Fisher, Nigel||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Rees, Hugh|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lilley, F. J. P.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lindsay, Martin||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Stodart, J. A.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Roots, William||Storey, Sir Samuel||Wall, Patrick|
|Ropner, Col, Sir Leonard||Studholme, Sir Henry||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Summers, Sir Spencer (Ayle bury)||Watts, James|
|Russell, Ronald||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)||Whitelaw, William|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Talbot, John E.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Seymour, Leslie||Tapsell, Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Shaw, M.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wise A. R|
|Shepherd, William||Teeling, William||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Simon, Sir Jocelyn||Temple, John M.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Smithers, Peter||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Woollam, John|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Turner, Colin||Worsley, Marcus|
|Speir, Rupert||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Stanley, Hon. Richard||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||van Straubenzee, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Vane, W. M. F.||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Ainsley, William||Healey, Denis||Pentland, Norman|
|Albu, Austen||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Awbery, Stan||Holman, Percy||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Holt, Arthur||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Houghton, Douglas||Rankin, John|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Howell, Charles A.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist'l, S. E.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Blyton, William||Hunter, A. E.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Boardman, H.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Ross, William|
|Bowles, Frank||Janner, Barnett||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Boyden, James||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Jeger, George||Short, Edward|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Small, William|
|Callaghan, James||Jones, T. W. (Merloneth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Kelley, Richard||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Chapman, Donald||Kenyon, Clifford||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Chetwynd, George||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Steele, Thomas|
|Cliffe, Michael||King, Dr. Horace||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lawson, George||Stones, William|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Darling, George||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Loughlin, Charles||Swain, Thomas|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Swingler, Stephen|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sylvester, George|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Mackie, John||Symonds, J. B.|
|Deer, George||McLeavy, Frank||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Delargy, Hugh||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Dempsey, James||Mahon, Simon||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Diamond, John||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Dodds, Norman||Manuel, A. C.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Driberg, Tom||Mapp, Charles||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Timmons, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mason, Roy||Tomney, Frank|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Mayhew, Christopher||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Evans, Albert||Mellish, R. J.||Wade, Donald|
|Fell, Anthony||Mendelson, J. J.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Fernyhough, E.||Millan, Bruce||Watkins, Tudor|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mitchison, G. R.||Weltzman, David|
|Foot, Dingle||Monslow, Walter||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Forman, J. C.||Moody, A. S.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Morris, John||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Ginsburg, David||Mort, D. L.||Whitlock, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moyle, Arthur||Willey, Frederick|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mulley, Frederick||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Grey, Charles||Nabarro, Gerald||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Neal, Harold||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Grimond, J.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Oliver, G. H.||Woof, Robert|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Oram, A. E.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Padley, W. E.|
|Hannan, William||Pargiter, G. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Paton, John||Mr. Cronin and Mr. Probert.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
§ Mr. Nabarro
On a point of order, Sir William. May I raise a point of order with you about the conduct of the last Division?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
What is the hon. Member's point of order?
§ Mr. Nabarro
It is this, Sir William. I initiated the last Amendment in connection with the Tobacco Duty and I made clear in the concluding stages of my speech on that Amendment that I wished to force a vote. Immediately the Question was put, and it was clear that there was a division of opinion in the Committee, I left my seat here and, as fast as my feet could carry me, I travelled to the Table to enter the Tellers for the Noes—a right hon. Gentleman opposite and myself. On my arrival at the Table I was greeted by the learned Clerk, who informed me that the Tellers for the Noes had already been entered, namely, the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) and the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert), Both of them are Opposition Whips.
I conceive that in certain circumstances it is of substantial political importance as to who are the Tellers in a particular Division, and as I initiated this Amendment and got to the Table as fast as I could get there, can you, Sir William, please inform me on what grounds the choice of Tellers—namely, the hon. Member for Loughborough and the hon. Member for Aberdare—was made and why, as I initiated this Amendment and was supported by a right hon. Gentleman opposite who had agreed to tell with me—I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman is now nodding assent—we were precluded from acting as Tellers, especially having regard to the fact that two Tellers— [Interruption.] No, I did not want someone who knew the job. I can line up at the Table much more smartly than those two hon. Gentlemen—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] May I complete my point of order, Sir William?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I think that I am sufficiently seized of the hon. Member's point. I sympathise with his feelings in the matter, but I take full responsibility for what I did. I called for Tellers. Tellers for the Ayes were handed in and Tellers for the Noes were handed in. It so happened that 1358 the Tellers for the Noes were two hon. Members both of whom sit on the Opposition Front Bench. It is normal for that to be the case. I accepted those names, the Division took place and it was an orderly Division.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Further to that point of order, Sir William. I would not wish you to think that I am casting any reflection at all on the conduct of the Chair. What I am endeavouring to bring to your attention is the manifest unfairness of the situation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Yes, the unfairness of the situation. I cannot go from my seat on these benches to the Table as fast as an hon. Gentleman sitting where the hon. Member for Aberdare and the hon. Member for Loughborough were sitting. The hon. Member for Aberdare had two names on a piece of paper which he put on the Table immediately the voices were collected—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because it is of political significance that I should be a Teller for my own Amendment. That is "why not".
I represent to you, Sir William, that this system is extremely unfair. I shall write to Mr. Speaker about it tomorrow.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Because I shall be engaged in making further speeches about the Tobacco Duty. I shall write to Mr. Speaker tomorrow, complaining, and I shall endeavour to have an appropriate entry made in the Standing Orders.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Whatever may happen in the future will be dealt with in the future, but the point of order raised by the hon. Member relating to the recent Division has been dealt with and I think that the Committee should now proceed to discuss the next Amendment.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Further to that point of order, Sir William. I came into the Chamber as the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) was raising his point of order, which concerns me to some extent. May I explain that what happened was that the hon. Member for Kidderminster had tabled an Amendment which could only be described as an unofficial Amendment. He asked if I would tell with him and 1359 I agreed. I make no apology to anyone for that. It is constitutional in respect of an unofficial Amendment.
It transpired that at the behest of the Opposition Front Bench we were to support the Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) intimated that we should support the Amendment. When I asked what was the position I was told by one of my hon. Friends who is a Whip that we were going to put in Tellers. I make no complaint; it was understood that it was an unofficial Amendment.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I heard what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not recognise in it any point of order for me to deal with.
§ Mr. Cronin
I have some responsibility in this matter in that I handed in the names of the Tellers for the Noes. I should mention the reason I did so, so that the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) may realise that no discourtesy was intended towards him at all. The hon. Member for Kidderminster had announced several times in his speech that he would lead the Opposition through the Division Lobby and I did not see how he could do that and be a Teller at the same time. [Laughter.]
§ Mr. Houghton
I beg to move, in page 3, line 18, at the end to insert:Provided that the Treasury may by regulations provide for mitigating, in the case of pensioners satisfying the conditions of the regulations (whether as to age, class of pension or otherwise), the effect of the increase in the retail price of tobacco occasioned by this subsection, for making up, out of sums received by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise on account of customs duties, the deficiency in the price received by persons supplying pensioners with tobacco in pursuance of the regulations and for purposes incidental and supplementary to the foregoing.It may be convenient if with this Amendment we discuss the next Amendment in line 24, at the end to insert:(3) In this section the expression "pensioner " means a person to whom a pension has been awarded under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1936, the National Insurance Act, 1946, or any corresponding enactment for the time being in force in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Houghton
This is a proposition to enable the Treasury to make regulations in the case of pensioners for mitigating the effect of the increase in the retail price of tobacco. In the debate on the previous Amendment the Committee was reminded on a number of occasions of the effect of the increases in taxation. There is an increase in the price of twenty cigarettes of a popular brand from 3s. l1d. to 4s. 1d. and an increase of perhaps l½d. to 2d. an ounce on pipe tobacco. Reference was made to the weight of taxation on tobacco at the present time. I understand that out of the price of 4s. 1d. for twenty cigarettes of a popular brand not less than 3s. 0½d. comprises taxation. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) referred to the enormous sum which the Revenue now collects from the tax on tobacco—nearly £830 million.
The Committee may ask whether the Amendment means that it will be necessary to reintroduce the Tobacco Duty relief concession given to pensioners until its withdrawal in 1958. The answer is that it may be and probably will be so. I recall what happened between 1947 and 1958 on this matter. From 1947 to 1958 a special concession was given to pensioners of an exemption from additional tax levied in 1947, the cash value of which for a single pensioner was 2s. 4d. a week and, for a married couple, 4s. 8d. In 1958, when the basic pension scales were increased, the Government withdrew that concession.
When the retirement pension for a single person was increased by 10s., from 40s. to 50s. a week, the Tobacco Duty relief concession, the cash equivalent of which was 2s. 4d. a week, was withdrawn. When the standard pension rate was increased by 15s. from 65s. to 80s. for a married couple, the relief concession, whether for one pensioner or two, was also withdrawn. They had had the benefit of that concession on the tobacco tax for eleven years, mitigating very substantially the burden of the increased taxation on tobacco during that period.
We questioned very sharply indeed the justice of withdrawing this concession 1361 at the time of the increase in the pension rates in 1958, but it was withdrawn. The question now is, would that system have to be reintroduced to give effect to this Amendment? It would probably be necessary to do something on similar lines, at all events, to give effect to the Amendment, although the Amendment itself does not prescribe any method by which it should be done.
The next question is whether it would mean re-erecting the apparatus which existed from 1947 to 1958 or, if some other elaborate administrative action is needed in order to give effect to this Amendment, would that be justified for what may appear superficially to be quite small increases in price? We on these benches believe that anything is justified to protect the standard of living of the pensioners, which is already too low. We are resolved to defend the pensioners from any erosion, however small, of their existing standards. We believe, therefore, that our Amendment is justified because of the imposition of this extra burden on the already too slender resources of old-age pensioners.
We heard from the Economic Secretary in the course of the last debate that this increase would bring the Exchequer very nearly £20 million a year, which is four times as much extra duty as will come to the Revenue from the Profits Tax this year and almost equivalent to the amount of Profits Tax levied in this Bill which will come to the Exchequer in a full year. It is, therefore, the most significant impost of extra taxation in the Bill. It is designed to curb the purchasing power of a very large section of people, because whatever they spend on tobacco the more tax they will pay and the less they will have to spend on other things. That seems to be the economic theory behind this increase in tax.
A few moments ago the Economic Secretary, when pressed to accept the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), said that a loss of nearly £20 million of increased taxation would involve either some compensating increases in taxation elsewhere, or perhaps render the Chancellor unable to make the concessions on taxation elsewhere in the Bill. In his Budget speech, the Chancellor said: 1362It follows from my assessment of the economic outlook that I must raise at least sufficient additional revenue to cover the cost of these concessions, and, indeed, rather more."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th April, 1960: Vol. 621, c. 63.]He then passed straight to his proposals to increase the Tobacco Duty. So this duty has both an economic and a fiscal purpose, economic because of the general climate in which the Chancellor introduced his Budget, leading him to conclude that restraint on demand was desirable, and fiscal because he needed compensating taxation to reimburse the Exchequer for the concessions being made elsewhere in the Bill. The Chancellor presumably intends the economic purpose of the increase in tax to apply to old-age pensioners as well as to the rest of the community.
The purpose of the Amendment is to contract out of this increase, to contract out of this purchasing squeeze, old-age pensioners, on whom we believe it is an oppressive and additional burden. This tax is a deliberate increase in the cost of living. We are against that in general, and even more against it in the particular context of old-age pensioners. There are about 5 million retirement and non-contributory old-age pensioners who would benefit under the Amendment. Without it they will contribute a substantial proportion of the total extra tax if they continue—as many of them may not be able to afford to do—the same level of consumption of tobacco. We believe that to be unjust and we seek to relieve them of it.
A question which may also be asked is, what amount per head in Tobacco Duty relief should be given under this Amendment? We have not fixed an amount. Previously it was 2s. 4d. a week in cash equivalent, but we are now dealing with the mitigation of the extra tax proposed in Clause 5 and not with events which have gone before. It may be that l0d. or 1s. a week is a reasonable concession to give to old-age pensioners who would apply for it under the conditions under which the concession would be likely to be operated.
Is it worth all this trouble to re-erect this scheme in order to achieve this purpose? We believe that it is, and if the Chancellor does not, then we suggest that there is another remedy, which his 1363 right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance can take in the debate on Friday. We have seen from the newspapers that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance was called to a Cabinet meeting this week. Whether it was to decide whether he or his right hon. Friend the Chancellor should meet our objections in this matter, or whether it was to decide that nothing should be done on either count, we shall not know until the end of the week, but if the Chancellor tells the Committee that this grievance can be met in another way and that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance will deal with it on Friday, then I am sure that I can persuade my right hon. and hon. Friends to permit the withdrawal of the Amendment. Failing such an assurance, we shall fight every inch of the way.
I hope it will not be said that, although there is an increase in the Tobacco Duty affecting old-age pensioners this year, reliefs were given to them last year or elsewhere which offset the addition which they will have to pay for their tobacco and cigarettes. It is true that last year there was a reduction in the beer tax and in the price of beer, but it is no reply to us to say that the old-age pensioners' beer is cheaper this year than last. And surely no one suggests that in the Bill we are to make their port and sherry cheaper. Apparently even the removal of the Entertainments Duty will not make cinema seats any cheaper, and yet the additional tax on tobacco is to some extent necessary in order to reimburse the Exchequer for the removal of the Entertainments Duty, which will bring no benefit to the consumers, including the old-age pensioners. None would suggest that the old-age pensioners' game of solo may be cheaper by the removal of the tax on playing cards.
The truth is that some of the concessions given in the Bill are of doubtful value to the consumer in more directions than one. In any case, any of these suggestions would be merely the miserable accountancy of cheeseparers, because what small concessions have been given to old-age pensioners are welcome and necessary and what additional burdens are imposed on them are unwelcome and hurtful, however small they may be.
1364 We therefore must take a stand here. It was a particularly heartless addition to taxation to select a commodity from which many old people get a good deal of solace, comfort and enjoyment. That was recognised in 1947 when, for urgent economic reasons at the time, the Labour Chancellor increased the Tobacco Duty and at the same time introduced the Tobacco Duty relief arrangements to which I have referred.
I admit straight away that not all retirement pensioners are poor. Bearing in mind what has been said by the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), it is also necessary to acknowledge that not all poor people are retirement pensioners. But I am sure that the Committee agrees that the old-age pensioners are not only a large and clearly defined group in the community, which makes the administration of a concession of this kind possible, but, on the whole, represent the poorest sections of the community. The fact that one-fifth of them receive National Assistance is clear proof of that.
The pension is inadequate. I hope that there will be no dispute about that. But what it should be and what steps should be taken about it is not a matter for debate on the Amendment. We hope, however, that we shall have sufficient response from the Chancellor to send some message of cheer to the old-age pensioners who will have and are having this increase in tax to bear. Have we to wait until the Chancellor himself retires before there is any conviction on the Conservative benches about the inadequacy of the retirement pension? Must he leave and live on 50s. a week?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Order. I hope that the hon. Member will not go too far outside the provisions of his Amendment.
§ Mr. Houghton
No Sir. I had got just as far as the Chancellor and I was about to leave him.
It is the inadequacy of the pension which makes our insistence on this Amendment stronger. If the pension were adequate we should not be debating the pennies on tobacco, even though they arose from a tax with which we did not agree. But these millions of people are still making their budgets in pence, and in a society which is beginning to 1365 call itself affluent and about which other political slogans have been used until we are a little tired of them, there is this large section of the community which is laying out its money each week literally in pence. An addition to their expenditure in terms of pence is, therefore, a serious matter. Because we believe that it is a serious matter, my right hon. and hon. Friends will not hesitate to press the Amendment to a Division.
I hope that the Chancellor, whose attendance during the debate we welcome, will find some means of mitigating this additional tax for those covered by the Amendment. Unless he does so, we on these benches will be more than disappointed and we shall be all the more angry that this Clause imposing additional taxation in this way is before us.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), in the course of his moderate and reasoned speech, said that not all retirement pensioners are poor. He could equally truthfully have said that not all retirement pensioners are smokers. That is of some importance when we consider this fairly narrow Amendment.
I do not dissent from the spirit in which he moved the Amendment, but I think that its implementation in all circumstances would be undesirable. By implication he compared the present increase in taxation with the very much larger increase in the Tobacco Duty which took place under the Labour Government about thirteen years ago, but he will recall that that was on a totally different scale and at a time when apparently there was no feasible chance of an early increase in the rates of basic retirement pension.
Indeed, in the lifetime of that Government there was for many pensioners no subsequent increase between 1947 and 1951. For others there was an increase of merely 2s. 6d. a week. Therefore, that rather small concession was perhaps of great importance to them at that time. It was admitted, even by those who thoughtfully, and perhaps in the circumstances considerately, brought the concession in, that in some ways it was an unfair concession because it gave a benefit only to some pensioners and not to others.
1366 A return to that sort of concession today might be regarded, even by some pensioners, with foreboding. It is so easy to say that anyone who would oppose this modest concession is hard hearted. I certainly like concessions given by private people in the nature of cheaper tickets to go into football matches, and so on, but when it comes to administration by the State, ultimately the most desirable thing is an increase in the basic pension. I cannot develop that aspect.
§ Mr. Gower
Yes. I would be out of order in developing that aspect.
The hon. Member for Sowerby also pointed out that one-fifth of the people for whom the concession is designed are in receipt of National Assistance. I remind him that a much larger number of people are now in receipt of National Assistance than a year ago. This is because of deliberate Government policy, which was designed to increase the real standard of those people who are in receipt of that kind of assistance and also, by increasing the disregards, to enlarge the number of people who receive it.
This sort of concession might be regarded as somewhat retrograde, as it would not perpetuate but revive a concession which formerly obtained which was in some measure unfair. If the concession were reintroduced at this stage, it might be regarded by pensioners with foreboding, as an indication that they were to get no increase in the basic rate for three or four years. They did not receive an increase in the three or four years which followed the concession of 1947. That would be an unhappy picture for them to face.
I have every confidence that they will not have to wait for anything like that time, or even a small proportion of that amount of time, before they receive a concession similar to that which has been already given to those in receipt of National Assistance. For those reasons, while I can sympathise with the object of the Amendment, I do not think that it would be advisable for my right hon. Friend to accept it.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
In the concluding part of his speech, the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said that he had sympathy with the two Amendments. I remind him now, as I have often reminded privately and in public, that we have a saying in Lancashire, "Sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef. It is very sharp". Therefore, I expect that a manifestation of the hon. Member's sympathy will be expressed by his vote in the Division Lobby.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said, the object of the two Amendments is to mitigate the effect of the increased Tobacco Duty on old-age pensioners and those who, unfortunately, happen to be in the lower income groups. That is the specific objective of the two Amendments. If there had been no increase in the Tobacco Duty, these Amendments would not have appeared on the Notice Paper.
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Budget in 1959, I used a Lancashire word. I said that he was "skinny". I did not mean skinny physically. I meant that in the application of his generosity he had been skinny towards old-age pensioners and those in the lower income groups. On this occasion, I must use another Lancashire word. He is very harsh. That is the word we use in Lancashire to describe a situation when people are withdrawing something, or holding something back which should be given. They are described as harsh. I leave it at that.
I remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of what was contained in the Gracious Speech, delivered in November, 1959. He will recall this, because it has been mentioned several times. It was said that the old people and those in the lower income group would have the care and attention of Her Majesty's Government. That promise was made. Since the Gracious Speech was delivered nothing has been done for the old-age pensioners. Does not the Chancellor of the Exchequer think that it is about time that something was done? A great responsibility rests upon him and the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance. They cannot escape it. It is their duty to act in accordance with what was laid down in the Gracious Speech.
1368 There lived in this country many years ago a very famous preacher and philosopher named the Rev. Charles Kingsley. When there was a condemnation of those who smoked, he said that tobacco and the smoking of tobacco was a hungry man's food, a thirsty man's drink, a lonely man's companion, a cold man's fire, and the finest weed that grew under the canopy of Heaven.
The question before us is not whether tobacco smoking is a bad habit or a good habit. It is to what extent we can help those who have reached the eventide of their life. It is on their behalf that I make my special plea, joining hands with my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby, that we should do something for the old folks in the eventide of their life. We should make it easy, more pleasant and more enjoyable for them.
The people for whom I plead are those who, by their activities in their various vocations in the years which lie behind them, played their part in building the prosperity that this country now enjoys. They did this by profound loyalty, deep devotion, and courage. They helped in no small way. I have said this before and I do not apologise for repeating it. They helped in no small way to enable this nation to become one of the greatest nations for its size in the whole world.
A study of the pages of history and an examination of our political, industrial and social background, with all our difficulties, will show that the people now in receipt of pensions played their part nobly and well, and that they are entitled to consideration at the hands of the Government. For what they have done for OUT industry and commerce they are entitled to any help that the Government can afford to give—and the Government can afford to give this help.
Surely, we will not deny the old folk some solace in their solitude. Let the Committee and the Chancellor remember that the old-age pensioners and those in the lower income groups live in loneliness, which is a terrible thing. I do not say that this concession would completely alleviate their loneliness, but it would go some way to help them. If, by enabling them to have a pipe of tobacco, or a cigarette, we can alleviate 1369 that loneliness let us do it, and let us not be so niggardly in our approach.
I have a number of social welfare clubs in my constituency—I shall have the pleasure attending the opening of one in a few days' time. I visit these clubs occasionally, and I take with me a few pipes and a little extra tobacco. I am always amazed at the psychological effect of those small gifts on the old people. Nothing gives them more pleasure than that extra tobacco, not because it comes from their Member but because it is a little extra over and above what they can afford to buy with their meagre pension.
We are not asking for a lot. According to the prison regulations, even the prisoner who is serving a sentence for wrong-doing is allowed 1 oz. of tobacco a week, or, alternatively, 100 cigarettes a week. If those who have done wrong and are paying the penalty can have a concession of this kind, surely the same consideration can be shown by the Government to those of whom I speak. The Government claim these days to be days of prosperity and a high standard of life. I do not challenge that claim, but though there is an improvement in our standard of life there is also a depreciation of the standard of living of the old folks. Therefore, I say again, if those in our prisons are entitled to a concession, so are our old people and those in the lower income groups.
Hon. Members opposite say that these people should save on this and on that, but I suggest that no hon. Member would be able to provide much for tobacco out of such a meagre pension as theirs. It would not be wise for me—and I have no desire to do so—to recite to the Committee typical budgets of these old folk, but those of us who go among them know that there is conclusive evidence that they cannot afford to pay the increased price of tobacco.
It is interesting to examine how the Tobacco Duty has grown and the effect that it has had, not only on the old-age pensioners but on other people. It is now 300 years since the duty was first introduced, and the increase in it in those three centuries is staggering. It originated in 1660, when it was 2d. per 1b. In the early part of the eighteenth century it was raised to 6½d. In 1910, the figure was 3s. 8d.; in 1915, it was 5s. 6d.; 1370 in 1917, 7s. 4d.—and when it was raised to 7s. 4d. there was such an outcry, not from the old-age pensioners—there were few if any then—but from the ordinary public that it was reduced to 6s. 5d.
From 1918 to 1926, the duty stood at 6s. 2d., and there was a slow but gradual increase until 1931, when it stood at 9s. 6d. per lb. In 1939, it was 11s. 6d.; in 1940, 17s. 6d.; in 1942, 29s. 6d.; in 1945, 38s. 8d.; and on 16th April, 1947, when a concession was made to old-age pensioners by the then right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, Mr. Dalton, as he then was, it stood at 54s. l0d. per lb. In 1948, the duty was raised to 58s. 2d., and on 17th April, 1956, it went to 61s. 2d. a lb.
Every time, without exception, the increase has hit the old-age pensioners and the people in the lower income groups. Before taking any step either to increase present taxation or to impose new taxes the Chancellor and his Treasury advisers should take into consideration what effect their action will have on the poorer sections of the community. I remember that When I was about 11 years old I would be sent for tobacco for my dear old dad. The tobacco had to be weighed, and it was weighed against 1d. weight. The 1d. weight was put on one end of the scale and the tobacco was put on the other end, and one got 1d. of tobacco. That was away back over 60 years ago, but these are things that stick in one's mind and cannot be erased. We cannot erase memories of past hardship. It seems to me that with all our development and evolution, with all our advances, things seem to get worse to worse for the people for whom I speak.
We must also remember the size of the family. Our family of old folks is increasing. In 1901, there were 1¾ million people over the ages of 60 and 65. Today, the figure has increased to over 5¼ million if not 5½ million, people of those ages. I do not suggest for a moment that they are all smokers, nor do I suggest that all of them cannot afford to pay the increase, but I do suggest that ways and means should be found by the Government to alleviate the suffering and hardship created by this increase in the Tobacco Duty.
May I briefly recite how this duty has increased since 1954–55? The net yield of the Tobacco Duty in 1954–55 was 1371 £649,879,583. In 1960, it has risen to £788,723,000, and in 1961, the year to which the Budget and this Finance Bill relate, it will be £829 million, the highest figure ever reached in this country by the medium of the Tobacco Duty. I have a great respect for the Chancellor, who is a very human man, but I must say to him that the increase in the Tobacco Duty cannot be justified on any grounds whatever.
I will not suggest that the Chancellor ought to have adopted other methods of raising money, but surely he could have selected some other section of the community to get the revenue. This certainly cannot be justified, and I therefore appeal to the Chancellor to accept our Amendments, remembering the promise that was made in the Gracious Speech that our old folk and those in the lower income groups shall participate in the increased pros-perky and standard of life of the people.
§ Mr. Hunter
I want, briefly, to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), and to appeal to the Chancellor to make this concession.
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the previous debate, said that the Treasury had considered the automatic machines and the difficulties with such apparatus before the decision to increase the duty. I want to ask the Chancellor whether he considered the old-age pensioners.
§ Mr. Hunter
The Chancellor nods. The old-age pensioners are not machines, but human beings, and I therefore hope that he will make this concession tonight.
The Amendment does not ask a lot from the Treasury, but this extra taxation does mean a lot to those in the lowest income scale, that is, the old-age pensioners mainly, whose pensions are supplemented by National Assistance. A penny on a packet of 10 cigarettes, 2d. on 20 or 3d. on 1 oz. of tobacco is a lot to those who live on a razor edge existence and have to balance every week a budget which is mainly concerned with food, with heat in the winter—and that is a big item—and in which cigarettes, or pipe 1372 tobacco, naturally cannot have a very important part.
For a man or a woman, who may be 70 or perhaps 80 years of age, and who for many years have been smokers, to have to give up the habit of smoking is a terrific break, especially when they are living alone, perhaps either as widow or widower, when cigarettes or a pipe of tobacco can be a great consolation to them. Therefore, I make an appeal to the Chancellor, This is not a "golden handshake" and has nothing to do with a gift of thousands of pounds to one individual. It would mean that the old-age pensioners, as they could under the arrangements previously made, could apply, if they are smokers, and receive a concession. I think the last concession was worth 2s. 4d. a week.
If the Chancellor agrees about the need for an increase in the retirement pension —and I know he is very human and that everyone in the Committee recognises that—surely he will also agree to make this concession. In almost every Budget a concession is generally made, perhaps on Income Tax allowances or on beer, and if the Chancellor is to make a concession this year during the Finance Bill debates, let him make it to the old-age pensioners. If the right hon. Gentleman does not want to take an extra 1d. on 10 cigarettes from the old-age pensioners, and 3d. oz. on tobacco, let him agree to revert to the lower tobacco tax in existence before his Budget was introduced. I make an earnest appeal to the Chancellor to make this concession tonight to the old people and so relieve them of the extra tobacco tax.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
I support the Amendment. Time after time we have discussed the problem of the old-age pensioners, and every time that I have addressed an old-age pensioners' rally, I have had to plead guilty and say that I had no news, no solace, and no hope for them at all. If the Chancellor accepted the two Amendments, he would be giving some alleviation to them in their problems today.
We have heard from the hon. Member for Barry (Mr, Gower), who, unfortunately, has left the Chamber, words full of sympathy for the old-age pensioners, but his constituents, unfortunately, will 1373 not know where he stands. He made some vague reference to the pensioners not having to wait for some relief, without saying whether he was in favour of the practical proposal contained in these Amendments. He cannot have it both ways. Either he is for supporting the Amendments and making a stand on behalf of the old-age pensioners, or he is against it.
Many of the old-age pensioners today, as the Chancellor knows, are living on National Assistance. The old-age pensioner has a weekly budget day. The Chancellor has an annual Budget Day. He deals in millions of pounds, but the weekly budget of the old-age pensioner is a budget of pence. I ask the Chancellor to have regard to the circumstances of the old-age pensioners today. The joys of old age do not increase, and one of the joys is that of tobacco. If the Amendments were accepted, they would give some consolation to the old-age pensioners. I therefore ask the Committee most sincerely to accept these Amendments in the light of the present terrible and pitiful plight of old-age pensioners.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
I should like to intervene very briefly in the debate on the Amendments because of the arguments that have been produced by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), and I do so particularly, although the hon. Member is not here at the moment, because I thought the Chancellor was nodding his head in approval of what he had heard put forward by his hon. Friend. I thought the Chancellor distinctly indicated his approval of the major argument put forward by the hon. Member.
First, the hon. Member for Barry put forward what I thought was a rather dangerous new doctrine, which I hope is not the sort of doctrine which the Chancellor will accept. He argued that because there are a considerable number of people who are poor and who are not old-age pensioners, that is in some peculiar way related to the Amendments which the Committee is discussing. Obviously, the implication of that argument and doctrine would be that we can at no time bring any relief to any section of the population unless at the very same time we bring relief to all other sections.
1374 That, certainly, is absurd. In all social legislation, it is agreed by all people involved, and certainly by all social workers, that from time to time we may find that we can do something to help alleviate distress for one section of our people, but cannot do similar things immediately for everybody else.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Barry has just returned, because I should like to deal with another argument which he put forward. He said that it ought to be remembered that on a past occasion when a concession was made to old-age pensioners it was justified because there was no immediate increase in the pension itself, and there was not one for some time. In the absence of any specific knowledge which the hon. Gentleman may have received from the Chancellor or the Cabinet that an increase in the basic pension is impending, I should say that that is a very dangerous argument to use in this debate, because it means that the Committee is being asked to be stultified in a justified demand.
I did not hear anything in the hon. Gentleman's speech saying that the Amendments were unjustifiable. If we are to assume at any given moment when discussing an important and justifiable Amendment that because an increase may be pending in some unspecified future therefore we ought not to press the Amendment, then all the useful work of the Committee on matters of this kind will become impossible.
§ Mr. Gower
I made it perfectly clear that, whereas we on this side of the Committee have stated that the retirement pensioners should share in increasing prosperity, in 1947 or 1948, when an allowance was made for them, there was no feasible prospect of any increase in their pension, and there was not one for the remaining three or four years of the Labour Party's term of office for some pensioners and only 2s. 6d. for others.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Does not the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) remember that in the last debate on old-age pensions one of his hon. Friends—I think it was the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth)—said that it was a little early to do anything and that we should do it when the time was opportune? That 1375 might mean in four years' time, before the next General Election.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I do not think that the hon. Member for Barry has answered my point at all. There does not seem to be any ability on his part to predict. What I am objecting to is the use of his argument that at some unspecified date in the future an increase in pensions may be pending, and that, therefore, it would be wrong for this Committee to give some immediate relief to a section of our people. That is an unjustifiable argument, and we should remove it from our minds in deciding how to vote on the Amendment.
The hon. Gentleman referred—and so may other people in this debate, and I rather suspect that the Chancellor will when he replies to it—to the fact that not all old-age pensioners are smokers. That also seems to me a very dangerous social doctrine. We have a great deal of social legislation which is not always used by everybody at any given moment. I refer, for instance, to our health services.
§ Mr. Mendelson
In any parallel case we have always used the argument that because not everybody may be making use of the service or benefiting by it that can never be a reason for not having it.
This is really very important. Let me give another example on not so vast a scale as the health services. I have been associated in my time, as I know many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have been, with schemes to provide special travelling facilities for old-age pensioners, or people handicapped in some way—blind people, for instance. We have never accepted the doctrine, now being introduced by the back door, that because not every old-age pensioner is a smoker therefore there is no real case for the Amendment.
I am driven to the conclusion that unless the Chancellor can tonight give the Committee a very definite assurance —so definite that we can go back and say to our constituents who are old-age pensioners that we have received such an assurance officially in the name of the Cabinet—that an increase in the basic pension is about to be announced, or 1376 that the Chancellor and his colleague the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance have agreed in some other way to meet the point of this Amendment, there are no grounds on which the Chancellor and his hon. and right hon. Friends can refuse to support it. I still hope that such an announcement will be made, but if it is not made I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) in saying that it is our duty to press the Amendment to a Division and, what is more, to make quite clear that the introduction of that kind of social doctrine ought to be denounced when it makes its appearance in Committee.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I support the Amendment because the Clause is incomplete without it. It is not only incomplete but it is also unjust. The Clause is Olympian in its calm and stupid disregard of the conditions of British life, and it assumes that in Britain we are all equal in capital, income and comforts. It imposes 3s. 4d. tax on all smokers equally—indeed, on all people equally whether they be smokers or not. It ignores the fact that some people are rich and some are poor, some have mansions and some live in slums, some smoke and some do not, some have big incomes and some have small incomes. It ignores, indeed, the fact that old-age pensioners are very poor indeed.
These Amendments seek to rectify these omissions in the Clause. These Amendments are realistic. They seek in a very small way to do justice to a very small, a limited, class. The Amendments, as I say, are realistic, and I appeal to the Committee to support them on those grounds.
I shall not repeat the arguments which have been put so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), who moved the Amendment, and, indeed, toy other speakers. I approach the Clause and the Amendment from another angle. The purchasing power of the pensioners mentioned in the Amendment is very small. It should be remembered—it is not remembered by the draftsmen of the Clause, but it is remembered by the draftsmen of the Amendment—that the pensioners mentioned in the Amendment were the 1377 wealth producers of yesterday, and it is right that they should be remembered now. The Amendments are an attempt in a realistic way to ease the life of the pensioners.
Not all people are addicted to smoking. I am not, for instance, though I would smoke the odd cigar on a ceremonial occasion once in six months. I am not putting forward my own addiction in this respect.
I shall not deal with the cold mathematics of it, which have been dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), but I beg the Committee to realise that the Clause states:Each of the rates of the duties of customs and excise on tobacco shall be increased by three shillings and fourpence per pound …and makes no exception of any class in the community, however deserving or however small it may be.
To implement these Amendments would cost the State very little money, but it would mean a great deal in comforts for a very small class. The plight of that class is terrible. Its access to the amenities and comforts of life is small. The Chancellor realises that under his régime many wealthy people get the golden handshake, but the poor pensioner gets very little.
These Amendments are a step in the right direction. Indeed, I go so far as to say that unless the Committee realises the facts of the situation and implements the Amendments it will be doing a disgraceful job of work. It is only right that these exceptions should be made, and I appeal to the Committee to pass the Amendments.
§ Mr. Ross
If he had been minded to satisfy and meet the complaints that have been made from this side of the Committee by accepting the Amendments, or by offering another way out by making an announcement of the kind which my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) had in mind, I am sure that the Chancellor would have risen a long time ago. From experience of Finance Bills and of the habits of those who reply to debates on Amendments we can deduce that we shall get no satisfaction from the Chancellor.
1378 We are trying to mitigate the effect on retirement pensioners of the increase in the tobacco tax, and not necessarily merely to the extent of the amount that is raised by the change which the Chancellor announced in his Budget. Is it right that we should do that? Is it right that old-age pensioners should have to bear this additional burden because, for some reason or other, in the handling of the nation's finances the economic situation has become rather precarious? In order to try to put things right and to tug at the reins, we have this additional tax on tobacco which has the result of imposing an additional cost of 1d. on ten cigarettes and 2d. on twenty and 3d. on an ounce of pipe tobacco.
Is it right that this should apply to the people who are specifically mentioned in the Amendments? Are we right in suggesting that the people who should not pay this penalty for national easy living should be the people who are not participating in that easy living— the old-age pensioners? I think that even the Chancellor would say that, if he could do it, he would prefer that old-age pensioners did not pay the additional tax on cigarettes and tobacco. If that is so, can he do it? We have a precedent. From 1951 to 1958 the party opposite was quite content to continue the tobacco concession. Indeed, on one occasion when there was an increase in the price of tobacco the concession was increased in value, and when it was withdrawn in 1958 it was worth 2s. 4d.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) is still in the Chamber. He pins his faith on how good his hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench were to old-age pensioners, and with particular reference to those on National Assistance. When the pension was increased by 10s., that was a reason given for doing away with the concession of 2s. 4d. Those in the greatest need at that time, those on National Assistance, did not have an increase of 10s., but one of 5s. Therefore, the historic safeguards from the Front Bench opposite in respect of those in greatest need do not bear very much examination. When we are asked by the hon. Member for Barry to rely on some future beneficence from people who are known for their niggardliness I do not think that he will find many supporters on this side of the Committee.
1379 We prefer to ask the Chancellor to reinstate a concession which should never have been taken away. Hon. Members should consider the injustice of it: port and sherry—cheap—and the tobacco tax which will affect the old-age pensioner. With all respect to what some hon. Members may think, old-age pensioners do not deluge themselves nightly with port and sherry. An old-age pensioner has £2s. 10s. a week. He will not be able to get very many packets of cigarettes at 4s. 1d. each with that.
In some of the changes in the spending pattern of old-age pensioners which are forced upon them by Government action —this is the second this week; last night the Minister of State, Board of Trade, defended a tariff proposal which would increase the price of imported tomatoes by 2d. per lb.—we cannot do very much to safeguard them. However, here we can safeguard the old-age pensioners by reinstating the concession which was accepted by the Conservatives for seven years. It would certainly help to mollify the feelings of not only old-age pensioners but people throughout the country whose reaction when the Budget was announced was, "Why is not something done for the old-age pensioners?". That was the instinctive and socially healthy reaction of the great mass of the people.
The Chancellor failed then. A man who realises he has made a mistake and recovers from it shows a tremendous amount of courage. We are told—I do not know with what truth—that the right hon. Gentleman will leave political life very soon. I invite him to seize this chance to enshrine himself in the hearts of the old-age pensioners. Actually, he has two chances, one tonight and another on Friday. Tonight he has the opportunity to insulate the old-age pensioners from the increase in the tobacco tax.
This is a serious matter for old-age pensioners. When men and women retire they face a considerable drop in income, but they cannot change the habits of a lifetime, and I do not think we should expect them to do so. Nevertheless, many of them have to accept a very considerable change in relation to their tobacco habits. They cling to what little they have left. Sixpence per week in respect of this increase means a lot to them.
1380 While the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) was speaking, many hon. Members opposite showed great sympathy and concern about the difficulties of the makers and users of automatic vending machines. Not many of those makers or the retailers will be on National Assistance as a result of what is done in the Budget, but many old-age pensioners will find life just that little bit more difficult with this additional impost.
Surely the Chancellor appreciates that our Amendment is right. He may say to us, "It is not very easy to do", and we shall suggest to him that it has been done before and could be done again. The only other argument is that it is not right to do it because there are among the old-age pensioners some who are not smokers. But it is only the smokers who are being hit by the tax. That is the logic of the answer to the hon. Member for Barry: only the smokers among the old-age pensioners will suffer additionally by this increase in tax. Our Amendment is addressed to this tax and to those people. There is nothing unfair in that.
§ Mr. Gower
Does not the hon. Gentleman recall that when these concessions were in force Members were constantly asking for similar concessions for people who did not smoke but who bought sweets? When the present Minister of Pensions and National Insurance decided to terminate that concession he did it because he felt that it would be better for all pensioners to get an equivalent money value. He therefore added to the increase which he proposed to bring in and so gave a larger increase to compensate for the loss of this concession to some pensioners.
§ Mr. Ross
I do not accept any of that argument. I do not accept the argument that it is wrong to adopt this Amendment because we would not have this concession for sweets. Discussing sweets would be out of order, but in any case there is no tax on them, so the question of an additional Government impost on them, causing hardship, does not arise.
I have already dealt with the adequacy of the additional pension. The increase for a man on National Assistance was 5s., but the Government took away 2s. 4d. and so gave a net increase of 1381 2s. 8d. When Members opposite argue that they always help those who are poorest, they should reflect on what they did in 1958, because, by their own proclamations they are judged as having done something very wrong. What we suggest here is right and practical, and I hope that the Chancellor in this, his last. Budget will do something to endear himself, though belatedly, to the old-age pensioners.
§ Mr. Cronin
I express my approbation of the excellent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). As he comes from north of the Tweed, he has particular experience of the difficult and miserable conditions of old-age pensioners, and unemployment in Scotland is substantially worse than in England.
The main aspect of the Amendment is that it is uncommon in that it gives the Committee an opportunity to do something which is largely for people who are in really straitened circumstances. Usually, Amendments to the Finance Bill refer to questions of Income Tax which very many people pay. Others deal with Purchase Tax and Excise duty and have a diffuse effect over the whole population. Here, however, the Committee has an opportunity to pass an Amendment which affects, almost exclusively, people who are in really difficult and unhappy circumstances. For that reason the Chancellor should give it sympathetic attention.
I shall attempt a little clairvoyance and prophesy what the Chancellor will say in reply. First, he will say that during the years 1947 to 1957 there were considerable practical difficulties when this scheme was administered. That is a fair point. During that period there were difficulties, for instance, when retirement pensioners were in hospital for long periods. There were complaints that pensioners, people suffering industrial injuries, post office workers, widows, retired policemen and various other categories, were excluded from the scheme, who could, on grounds of equity, normally have been considered to be suitable candidates. But we have drafted this Amendment in such a way that it gives the Chancellor a free hand to introduce any regulations he likes to fit the scheme to all possible circumstances. We do not confine him even to the Amend- 1382 ment. If he wishes to introduce an Amendment himself on Report, we shall be very happy to accept it, provided that it satisfies the principle which we have in mind.
The Chancellor may also say that this is intended to subsidise one kind of amenity, tobacco, and that there are some people who do not smoke and that it may be felt to have a rather unfair effect. Several hon. Members have already dealt with that argument. The Committee should bear in mind that when the Royal Assent was given to the National Insurance Act, 1958, retirement pensioners who were smokers were then deprived of their tobacco tokens to the value of 2s. 4d. a week, so that it was the smokers who then suffered. It seems to be no more than common justice that they should not receive some benefit.
The Chancellor may suggest that the benefits are rather small and may cause great administrative difficulty; but, if he says that, he will under-estimate the strength of feeling throughout the country about the need to improve the lot of retirement pensioners. I am sure that Post Office officials would handle this work with pleasure and would not for a moment grudge any extra work which they have to do to see that these old-age pensioners got their tokens.
This is undoubtedly a comparatively small concession, but we would be happy to withdraw the Amendments in to to if we had some assurance from the Chancellor that an equivalent concession was to be made to retirement pensioners in the immediate future. Hon. Members on this side of the Committee know that the plight of the vast majority of retirement pensioners is so miserable and is such an affront to our present civilisation that any concession, however small, is better than nothing. The smallness of the concession is an argument in its favour, because it will cost the Treasury very little.
It should be remembered that when my noble Friend, Lord Dalton, introduced this scheme in 1947, the tobacco tax was not as high as it now is and the scheme was received with general approbation. Lord Crookshank, who was handling the matter from the Front Bench for the then Conservative Opposition, gave the 1383 scheme the fullest possible approbation and said:We are very willing, of course, that this Clause should be read a Second time".— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th July, 1947; Vol. 439, c. 2338.]He gave unqualified approval and that was at a time not only when the Tobacco Duty was less than it now is, but when retirement pensioners had a pension which, in comparison with the whole cost of living, was higher than it is now. If the Chancellor rejects the Amendment, will he say what has been the specific change in the views of the Government supporters since that time? What is the difference between now and 1947? Have hon. Members opposite become more hard-hearted?
I do not think that the Chancellor himself is hard-hearted. I think that he is a sympathetic person. One sees rumors in the Press that he is shortly to cease to be Chancellor. Some of us may feel some slight symptoms of dismay at that prospect.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. F. Blackburn)
We cannot discuss the Chancellor's future prospects on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Cronin
The prospects of retirement pensioners are bound up with the question of who is the Chancellor. If we have a Chancellor—
§ Mr. Cronin
I do not want to delay the Committee and I would not think of questioning a Ruling from the Chair. I would suggest to the Chancellor that, although we think that he is a person of good intentions, good intentions are not enough. We want him to take some really effective action, and I would ask him carefully to bear in mind the traditional terminus of the road which is paved with good intentions.
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
I think that hon. Members on this side of the Committee have deployed almost every conceivable argument in an effort to persuade the Chancellor and the Government to accept the Amendment. I would add my pressure from the very human and personal angle of how it affects individual old-age pensioners.
1384 I had the privilege for several years of being warden of an old-age pensioners' hostel and of having a number of old people under my care. During that period it became increasingly obvious that the amount of enjoyment left to them in the evening of their Eves was very small indeed. As they reached the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, so the area of their enjoyment gradually receded.
I remember old gentlemen of 79, 80 and 81 whose main consolation and enjoyment in life was a pipe of "'baccy". I am not pleading in terms of millions or, like the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), in terms of statistics and £ s. d., but in terms of the individuals to whom this Amendment, if the Chancellor can see his way to accept it, will mean so much towards the end of their lives. These are people who have given their life and service to the community.
I am not a smoker. My experience with medical practitioners has convinced me of the very strong relationship between smoking and lung cancer. The old-age pensioners whom I served were East Londoners who refused to leave East London during the blitz. They had lived in Stepney all their lives and they wanted to remain in their own homes irrespective of enemy action. If old gentlemen wish to perpetuate their smoking I think that just as the heroes of the last war were permitted to die in their homes, so old-age pensioners should be permitted to smoke their pipes in peace.
One of my pensioners, who was 79, was a bachelor. His first girl friend was run over by a horse tram and he was twice jilted after that, but he was a cheerful old boy who found great pleasure in his little bit of tobacco which some of us helped to provide for him. I hope that the Chancellor will take on the rôle of fairy godmother in this instance. It is a hard story which we put to him, and we ask him to accept the Amendment.
This is the first time that I have been referred to as a potential fairy godmother.
The tone of the discussion that we have had is exactly what it should have been on a matter of this kind, quiet, objective and serious. I found the speech of 1385 the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), who has just left the Chamber, as attractive as I always do. Last year he called me "skinny" and this year he has called me "harsh," two Lancashire terms at which I take no offence. It may be that he is right. It may be that any Chancellor justifies both those terms.
I wish that I could have accepted the Amendment, but I really do believe that it would not be a good way of helping the old people. The effect would be to restore a scheme of concessions to old-age pensioners that was introduced in 1947 and ended in 1957. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said that 5 million people stood to gain. That would be so only if they were all habitual smokers; otherwise, the number would be just under 3 million.
But it is not upon the comparative smallness of the number that I base my case. It is worth reminding the Committee, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) did, that this scheme was introduced to mitigate a quite unprecedentedly heavy increase in the Tobacco Duty, amounting to 1s. on a packet of 20 cigarettes. The Government of the day felt that this increase was so sharp that it would bear unfairly upon old-age pensioners, and a scheme was introduced to provide for the issue of tokens, to a value of 2s. at that time, to certain specified classes of pensioners.
Looking back at the debate that took place it is difficult to believe that had the 1947 increase in duty been no more than 2d. a packet the scheme would ever have been invented. I say this because the scheme was open to serious objections in principle, as became evident fairly soon after it had been introduced. It is admitted to have been not wholly fair in its application, because it created anomalies as between one pensioner and another and as between one smoker and another. Those anomalies seem to have been felt. Some classes of pensioner were ineligible for the concession. I believe that it was the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) who said that the Amendment went wider, because it provided for regulations. I think he will find that it does not go wider than the same classes of pensioner that were covered by the previous scheme.
1386 The concession gave a relative benefit to the pensioner who smoked which was not available to the non-smoker, and a relief to the smoker who was a pensioner in one of the eligible classes which did not extend to any other smoker, although his or her circumstances might be just as difficult as those of a pensioner, or even more so. Whatever we may think, all this led up to a general feeling of unfairness. The scheme was subject to constant criticisms from those who thought that their claims to other benefits were as great as those of the eligible pensioner.
I would add that the scheme was difficult to administer, although I do not want to put much weight upon that fact. That is not a wholly satisfactory reason for rejecting an Amendment. The main reason is based upon the experience that we had during the years when the scheme was in operation, when some who benefited and many who did not considered it not to have been a fair or successful scheme. It was also subject to a lot of abuse, because it was quite impossible to make sure that the tokens were used only for their proper purposes and only by the proper people.
Fundamentally, the weakness of the scheme was that it was unsound as a piece of social policy. It was in flat contradiction to the general principle that social benefits for the old should be provided in cash and not in kind. Experience has shown that that principle is sound. Individual tastes and requirements vary very widely, and I think it wrong—and something which inevitably leads to the kind of inequities which I have been describing—to provide social benefits by way of concessions in relation to specific commodities.
I believe that we are bound to run into trouble if we adopt that principle generally. It was particularly undesirable to make this departure from general policy on something which was not absolutely essential, although I agree that when one has been in the habit of smoking all one's adult life it is reasonable to think that people will want to continue that habit. I do not want to make much of that point.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Mendelson
Would the Chancellor not agree that it is also an important social principle that, because 1387 the old-age pensioner faces such a drop in income when he becomes a pensioner compared with what he earned while he was at work, it is serious that he should also have to pay higher prices for something which he has been used to for many years?
I will say a word about higher prices, because there is no question but that higher prices bear more on the elderly than on any other section of the community.
When this concession was in force it gave rise to claims for similar relief on what people thought were still more essential and more universally used commodities, such as milk and tea. One thing would have led to another and if we had continued the principle we should have got into deeper trouble without providing the benefit to the elderly which would have been our object.
The policy of the present Government has been, first, to ease the position of pensioners by increasing their cash incomes, and, secondly, to do our utmost to hold steady the price level so that their real purchasing power may rise. The cost of living has been stable now for two years. We have no reason to be apologetic about our record on either of these two heads, and I am surprised at the way hon. Gentlemen from the opposite side of the Committee have spoken about what they referred to as the quite exceptionally hard position of old-age pensioners at the moment.
I do not want to go into this in detail, but the statistics are all against them if they are speaking relatively. This question arose at the General Election. The electorate gave a very sharp and clear answer on that, and that answer has been substantially repeated at the recent local elections.
§ Mrs. Slater
Would the right hon. Gentleman like to go to the old-age pensioners' conference next week and tell them what he has just told the Committee, that they are not suffering any hardship? He will then hear their answer.
I did not say that, and I hope that the hon. Lady will read what I said.
1388 The facts which I have made clear whenever I have spoken on this subject in public can be illustrated by one or two figures. I think that this is relevant to the Amendment because of the observations of many hon. Gentlemen. One hon. Gentleman said that the General Election was held seven-and-a-half months ago. For the last five years of the Socialist Government nothing at all was done. During those five years the cost of living rose by 30 per cent.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
It must be remembered that there was a substantial rise in the first year.
There was a tremendous rise in the first year after the war, and it would have been astonishing if the Government had not increased pensions. The sad thing was that almost from the moment they made the increase the value of it was eroded by rises in the cost of living.
Every remark made by members of this Government has been to the contrary, because it seemed incredible to them that the Socialist Government waited for so long before they finally increased the rate, and then they did it only for some pensions.
The figures relevant to the Amendment are that during the last five years of the Socialist Government the cost of living rose by 30 per cent., and the old-age pension increased by 15 per cent. Since 1951, the cost of living has risen by 32 per cent., and the basic old-age pension has been increased by 66 per cent. We have increased it three times and each time by more than the cost of living. Today, the pension for a single person buys 10s. l0d. worth of goods more than in 1951. The effect on the cost of living of the increase in the tobacco duty is taken into account when the National Assistance scales are fixed.
I thought that the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) got a little tangled up between direct and indirect taxation. He said 1389 that in indirect taxation the income of individual taxpayers should be taken into account. That would be a new principle. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) referred to the basic pension of 50s. and said that it would be difficult to provide many packets of cigarettes from that. We must remind ourselves that no one need live only on the old-age pension of 50s. The scheme pro-pounued in the Amendment involves a smaller amount than the original scheme, but were the concession made on strictly the same lines it would mean 4d. a week as opposed to the 2s. in the 1947 scheme.
The extension of this relatively small benefit on a narrowly selective basis would be open to all the objections of principle which I have described and all the objections of practice which became so apparent during the period in which the original concession was enforced. Therefore, I must advise the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Robens
Naturally, the Chancellor would expect me to say that we are very disappointed at the reply that he has felt compelled to make, and he would be quite right. The debate has taken place quietly and with narrow objectivity. It is an indication of the greatness of Parliament that in dealing with a Finance Bill destined to raise nearly £6,000 million it can pause for a few hours to think in terms of pence for the old-age pensioners. I am only sorry that the Chancellor has been unable to do what I hoped that he would do. I was certain that he would reject this Amendment for many of the reasons he has given, but I hoped he would say that it was proposed to give an increase in the old-age pension, and the right hon. Gentleman has not done so. Perhaps that is the most disappointing thing about his speech.
The Chancellor has forgotten that before and during the General Election Ministers of the Crown said that the position of all old-age pensioners would continue to improve vis-à-vis the rest of the community: the standard of living of every one would be raised by the action of the Government. This was a very firm pledge. This evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not applied himself to the fact that the Budget has reduced the standard of 1390 living of a large number of pensioners, but that is a fact that cannot be gainsaid.
When one considers those pensioners who smoke and are in receipt of public assistance, it is not that there is a reduction in their standard of living in relation to the things they eat, but there is a reduction in their standard of comfort and their happiness. I should have thought that the Chancellor would have taken the opportunity to say that it was not his intention to reduce the standard of the poorest of the population, those old-age pensioners subject to a means test and in receipt of public assistance.
§ Mr. Robens
Well, National Assistance. If the hon. Gentleman were in receipt of it he would not mind what it was called so long as he could get the few shillings to enable him to live.
§ Mr. McAdden
Will the right hon. Gentleman take it from me that I have been on National Assistance? He has not.
§ Mr. Robens
I should be very interested to know the circumstances under which the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) was on National Assistance, but that is a matter for another day and I am not particularly interested in it just now. What surprises me is why he should sit on the benches opposite—
§ Mr. Robens
Probably his pockets have been very well lined since his change-over from one class to another.
§ Mr. McAdden
On a point of order, Sir Gordon. Is it in order for a right hon. Gentleman, no matter who he may be, to make suggestions that an hon. Member on this side of the Committee has had his pockets so well lined that he is in a position to take a certain attitude and, by implication, to reflect that the views the hon. Member advocates in this Committee are dictated by the 1391 way in which his pockets are lined? If the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) has not the guts to give way, can you persuade him to do so?
§ The Chairman
It is in order to say that an hon. Member's pockets are well lined, but responsibility for the accuracy of that statement is for the hon. Member who makes it.
§ Mr. Robens
I am glad you support me, Sir Gordon. I now go back to what I was saying to the Chancellor when the hon. Member interrupted to tell us some of his life history.
What the Chancellor had done has meant that the poorest of the community, these old-age pensioners on a means test and National Assistance, have in fact had their standard of living reduced at a time when the Chancellor and his friends have been indicating that their prospects were going to be much brighter. He well knows that this was the only method open to us in order to draw attention to the peculiar position of the pensioner today and the effect of the Tobacco Duty on the old-age pensioner who smokes. We are well aware of the administrative difficulties which followed the introduction of tokens, but at least this gives the opportunity once again of having some statement from the Government on old-age pensions. It will give the old-age pensioners' annual conference a wonderful message of hope.
The Chancellor tonight is saying to the old-age pensioners, "There is nothing for you in the kitty. If you happen to smoke you will have to pay the same taxation as everyone who smokes, irrespective of their income". We regard this as mean and niggardly. It is outrageous and disgraceful—more broken pledges given to old-age pensioners at the General Election. We shall show our view of the way in which this matter has been treated by dividing the Committee.
§ Mr. McAdden
I am sorry to delay the proceedings of the Committee for a moment or two, but I cannot allow the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) to get away with some of the things that he has said. He has attempted to convey to the Committee that the only hon. Members who have any experience of the problems of working people in the country are those who sit 1392 on his side of the Committee. That is an arrogant and unjustifiable assumption, especially when it comes from a director of one of the wealthiest concerns on this country, indulging in a considerable amount of retail trade from which the directors receive a considerable profit.
§ Mr. Robens
On a point of order, Sir Gordon. May I be informed of what company I am a director? I have no knowledge of that.
§ Mr. McAdden
I am sorry the right hon. Member wishes to dissociate himself from the very considerable income which he formerly derived, if he does not now derive it, from the co-operative society. If he suggests that that is not of some importance, I am sorry.
The point which I am trying to make is that pensioners of all kinds, who are worried about this issue, are divided into political parties. Conservatives smoke in exactly the same way as do Socialists, and all are concerned about this problem. I can understand the agitation which the right hon. Gentleman seeks to stir up on this issue, but the fact is that under a Conservative Government the purchasing power of the pension is considerably higher than it was in 1951.
Although right hon. and hon. Members opposite may take some comfort to themselves that during the life-time of the Socialist Government there was a concession for old-age pensioners in respect of tobacco, the fact is that the amount which the pensioner could spend on other things was considerably reduced, and it is only since Conservative Governments have been in power that these substantial advances have been made.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor for the work which he has done over the last few years, since he has been Chancellor, to maintain the cost of living at a steady level. That is the greatest good which can be done not only for the old-age pensioners but for all the people of the country. I should not have intervened had not the right hon. Gentleman, who was unwilling to 1393 give way to me, made an unjustified attack upon me, which I now take the opportunity of rebutting. If he and his hon. Friends would only realise that the great majority of the people of this country are fed up with the class-war attitude which they seek to adopt, this country would be a better place in which to live.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I should be the last person in the world to engage in a dispute with the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden). Surely we do not need to inveigh against each other on account of our affluence; that is not the issue at stake. I am not concerned with defending my right hon. Friends, who are physically and mentally equipped to defend themselves against all comers and who require no assistance from me. But any accusation which is made against the integrity of my right hon. Friends will be emphatically rebutted by me. There is no occasion to indulge in personal accusations.
I confess that I have not listened to a substantial part of the debate. I popped In now and again, and the Chamber was so dull that I thought that the best thing to do was to retire. Having listened to some part of the debate, however, I want to pinpoint the vital issue. This was a concession enjoyed by the mass of old-age pensioners. There is no denying that, and I think the hon. Member for Southend, East will readily admit the truth of it. This was undoubtedly a beneficial concession, as we know from the experience of our contacts with old-age pensioners.
I do not dispute that hon. Members opposite make contacts with old-age pensioners, which is natural and inevitable, because from time to time they seek the support and solicit the suffrage of old-age pensioners. Very often they mislead them. But for the fact that the Conservative Party has misled the electors of the country ever since I can remember, they would never have gained office. They would be down and out, as they undoubtedly deserve to be.
I turn to the vital point. Once a concession has been enjoyed by people who, it will be readily admitted, are not too well off, why should it have been taken away? It is agreed that old-age pensioners, in spite of improvements in 1394 their financial position and in spite of National Assistance, are not too well off. That is conceded by everyone. These persons enjoyed a concession over a period of years. No matter who was responsible, the fact remains that the concession was beneficial to them. Why should it have been taken away? Because it was taken from them, we are entitled to protest.
I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite—who I am sure are anxious to treat these old persons, as we are, in a proper and humane fashion—do not support this proposal. Never mind about the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As I said in a previous speech, he cannot help himself. He has his Treasury officials behind him. He has to balance his Budget— not that I believe that it is necessary to balance a Budget in this fashion. There have been occasions in the past when we did not balance the Budget, and the country prospered. If it did not prosper at a particular time, it made a very speedy recovery.
I do not know what sum would be required. No doubt my right hon. Friends have stated all the facts in the course of the debate. However, I will put it at £1 million. A mere matter of £1 million, provided to assist old-age pensioners of the male variety, because I understand that this applies substantially to male old-age pensioners, will not ruin the country.
In those circumstances, I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to shake off the rigidity of the party system, as some of us are capable of doing from time to time. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to assert their independence, respond to their honesty and internal convictions, and not be afraid of the Patronage Secretary or any of his accomplices, or perhaps I should say "associates".
I understand that an increase in the rate of old-age pension is out for the time being, more is the pity, unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer would like to interject at this stage and make a promise that shortly he will revise the old-age pension. If he is not prepared to do that, he should be prepared to make this modest concession. That is all we ask for. If he does not do that, I am sorry to say—I say it with the greatest reluctance—that the Government ought to be ashamed of themselves.
§ Mrs. Slater
I am surprised that the fact that we have raised this issue should, at this late stage in the debate, be described as class warfare by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden). I do not suppose that he would like us to remind him that it will be class war with a vengeance when we come to later Clauses dealing with the amount of retirement pension which someone who retires from a directorship can get without having to pay tax on it. That will not be class warfare. It will be merely looking after the people whom hon. Members really represent in the House of Commons.
§ Mrs. Slater
With respect, Sir Gordon, I am not merely anticipating. I am drawing a comparison, which has already been levelled at us who have sat here throughout the debate tonight.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the statistics were all against us. He did not say specifically that old-age pensioners were not suffering any hardship, but the inference was there in his argument. I therefore intervene to say that I defy anyone in the Committee to go to industrial areas, not to Southend and comparable places, and talk to old-age pensioners and find that they agree that there is no undue hardship in having to live on £2 10s. a week. That is what it amounts to. There are thousands of old-age pensioners who live on £2 10s. a week and who will not apply for National Assistance.
A few weeks ago I told a meeting of old-age pensioners that every one of them should claim National Assistance, and should do so without any sense of inferiority at all, but, as I have said in the House before, this is the generation of old-age pensioners that has been reared in the school that did not like
§ charity. [HON. MEMBERS: "'It is not charity."] No, it is not charity, but the point is that one cannot convince them of that. They have been reared in the school that remembers the means test and the workhouse, and it is extremely difficult to convince them that National Assistance is not charity. We know that it is their right; that it is paid for by National Insurance. We hope that they will claim it, but many do not.
§ Those who have no conception of how old-age pensioners have to live, of how little £2 10s. buys today, cannot appreciate why we on this side have tabled this Amendment. We would rather have an increase in the old-age pension, of course. We think that is right, but, failing that, and when an injustice is done, all we on this side can do is to try to alleviate that injustice.
§ As has been said, many old-age pensioners have three things that give them comfort in their old age. One is a fire, another is a cup of tea, and the third is their tobacco or their cigarettes. An hon. Member opposite laughs—that shows an attitude of mind. How anybody can laugh at such a statement, I do not know. It only shows that some hon. Members opposite do not appreciate the conditions under which these people live. I feel indignant when people laugh during a discussion of such a subject as this.
§ We have tabled this Amendment to try to give some small measure of relief to those people to whom tobacco and cigarettes are some comfort, and I suggest that those who claim to be sympathetic with old people in present circumstances will have no hesitation in voting for the Amendment.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 166, Noes 244.1399
|Division No. 85.]||AYES||[9.28 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Bowles, Frank||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, C.)||Boyden, James||Davies, Ifor (Cower)|
|Allan, Scholefield (Crewe)||Brookway, A. Fenner||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Awbery, Stan||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Deer, George|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Delargy, Hugh|
|Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Cattle, Mrs. Barbara||Dempsey, James|
|Benee, Cyril (Dunbartornthire, E.)||Chetwynd, George||Diamond, John|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood(Brist'I, S.E.)||Cliffe, Michael||Dodds, Norman|
|Blyton, William||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Driberg, Tom|
|Boardman, H.||Cronin, John||Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Darling, George||Edelman, Maurice|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mabon, Or. J. Dickson||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Evans, Albert||Mackle, John||Short, Edward|
|Fernyhough, E.||McLeavy, Frank||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Fletcher, Eric||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Foot, Dingle||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Manuel, A. C.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mapp, Charles||Small, William|
|Ginsburg, David||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Gordon, Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mason, Roy||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mayhew, Christopher||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Grey, Charles||Mellish, R. J.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mendelson, J. J.||Steele, Thomas|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Millan, Bruce||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Clenvil (Colne Valley)||Mitchison, G. R.||Stones, William|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Monslow, Walter||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Hannan, William||Moody, A. S.||Swain, Thomas|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Morris, John||Swingler, Stephen|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mort, D. L.||Sylvester, George|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Moyle, Arthur||Symonds, J. B.|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mulley, Frederick||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Holman, Percy||Neal, Harold||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hughes Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oram, A. E.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hunter, A. E.||Padley, W, E.||Timmons, John|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pargiter, G. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Wainwrlght, Edwin|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Paton, John||Warbey, William|
|Janner, Barrett||Pavitt, Laurence||Watkins, Tudor|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Weltzman, David|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pentland, Norman||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Popplewell, Ernest||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Prentice, R. E.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||price, J, T. (westhoughton)||Whitlock, William|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Probert, Arthur||Willey, Frederick|
|Kelley, Richard||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Rankin, John||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. c. W.||Redhead, E. C.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|King, Dr. Horace||Reynolds, G. W.||Wnterbottom, R. E.|
|Lawson, George||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Woof, Robert|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Ross, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Howell and Mr. Mahon.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Cole, Norman||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)|
|Atlason, James||Collard, Richard||Goodhart, Philip|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat(Tlv'tn)||Cooke, Robert||Goodhew, Victor|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Gower, Raymond|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)|
|Barber, Anthony||Cordle, John||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Corfield, F. V.||Green, Alan|
|Barter, John||Costain, A. P.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Coulson, J. M.||Grimond, J.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos & Fhm)||Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Blggs-Davlson, John||Cunningham, Knox||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Blngham, R. M.||Curran, Charles||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Currie, G. B. H.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Dance, James||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Black, Sir Cyril||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hendry, Forbes|
|Bossom, Clive||Deedes, W. F.||Hiley, Joseph|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||de Ferranti, Basil||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)|
|Box, Donald||Doughty, Charles||Hill, j. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Drayson, G. B.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Brewls, John||Duncan, Sir James||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brooman-White, R.||Eden, John||Hobson, John|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Emery, Peter||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Bullard, Denye||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Holland, Philip|
|Burden, F. A.||Farr, John||Hollingworth, John|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Finlay, Graeme||Holt, Arthur|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Fisher, Nigel||Hopkins, Alan|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hornby, R. P.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Freeth, Denzil||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Chataway, Christopher||Gammans, Lady||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Gardner, Edward||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Gibson-Watt, David||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Jackson, John|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||James, David|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Stanley Hon. Richard|
|Jennings, J. C.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Page, A. J. (Harrow West)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Page, Graham||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Partridge, E.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Peel, John||Talbot, John E.|
|Kirk, Peter||Percival, Ian||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kitson, Timothy||Peyton, John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Teeling, William|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Temple, John M.|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pilkington, Capt. Richard||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Pitman, I. J.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Pitt, Miss Edith||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Pott, Percivall||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Powell, J. Enoch||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Lilley, F. J. P.||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Prior, J. M. L.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Turner, Colin|
|Longden, Gilbert||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Ramsden, James||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Rawlinson, Peter||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|McAdden, Stephen||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Vane, W. M. F.|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rees, Hugh||Wade, Donald|
|McLaren, Martin||Renton, David||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Wall, Patrick|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Ridsdale, Julian||Ward, At. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|McMaster, Stanley R.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool,S.)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Maddan, Martin||Roots, William||Watts, James|
|Maginnis, John E.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Wise, A. R.|
|Marshall, Douglas||Russell, Ronald||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Marten, Neil||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Seymour, Leslie||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Matthews, Robert (Meriden)||Sharples, Richard||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Mawby, Ray||Shaw, M.||Woollam, John|
|Mills, Stratton||Shepherd, William||Worsley, Marcus|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Simon, Sir Jocelyn||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Morgan, William||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Nabarro, Gerald||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Smithers, Peter||Mr. Edward Wakefield and|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Mr. Whitelaw.|
|Noble, Michael||Speir, Rupert|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
Mr. H. Wilson
We on this side of the Committee had envisaged that, after a suitable debate on the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), and on the Amendment which has just been disposed of, the main arguments about the Tobacco Duty would be deployed on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", but it seems to me—I do not know how it will seem to other hon. Members in the Committee—that we have had a fairly full discussion on the points in question while debating the Amendments—taking into account also, of course, the debate on the Budget.
I do not want in the least to discourage any of my hon. Friends who have substantial points to make on the increase in the Tobacco Duty from making them, but I think that most of us who have taken part on the debates on the Amendments proposed to this Clause will now feel that we have had 1400 a good run over the field. For my part, I would be prepared to recommend my hon. and right hon. Friends to allow us to come to a decision quite quickly on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
I do not think that the Chancellor will be in any doubt about what we intend to do about the Clause. We have opposed his decision to increase the Tobacco Duty. We voted against it immediately he announced it on Budget day. We voted against it on the Report stage of the Budget Resolutions. We have been dealing with it in Committee for some hours now and, obviously, we shall register our disapproval of the Chancellor's action in the Division Lobby when you, Sir Gordon, put the Question.
I do not intend to repeat the arguments which we have used. The Chancellor knows them and if those arguments did not convince him I have little hope that they will do so by repeating this evening. They were 1401 clearly stated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) two or three hours ago, and they emerged in the more recent debate on the position of old-age pensioners.
If I may suggest to my hon. and right hon. Friends that we now come to a speedy decision on the Question, " That the Clause stand part of the Bill" it is on the very clear understanding, as far as I am concerned, that if hon. Members opposite want to continue the argument on the Clause it will be very difficult for me to persuade any of my hon. Friends to take that attitude. I want to explain that while not only on this Clause, but throughout the Bill, we are more than willing to help the Bill go through fairly quickly—
My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has been so busy with other things, perhaps, that he has not had time to read the Bill. If he had read it he would know that it is the dullest Finance Bill introduced by a Chancellor of the Exchequer since Chancellors of the Exchequer were invented.
If my right hon. Friend is in any difficulty he can take the text of the Bill away with him and we will try to secure that he gets to bed early before he reaches Clause 12. If he is still in difficulty I advise him to skip some Clauses and get on to Clause 26; but I would be out of order in discussing the merits or demerits of Clause 26 tonight.
As I have said, while, throughout the Bill, we want a full debate on some of the big issues raised, we do not want to spend much time on the minutiae of the Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "The what?"] The minutiae; in other words talking about Amendments tabled by hon. Members opposite—if that is easier 1402 to understand. There are 74 of them against 38 tabled from this side of the Committee.
Yes, I did.
As I was trying to say before I was somewhat distracted, we are prepared to co-operate and to reserve our comments to the more important parts of the Bill, but if hon. Members opposite want to talk at great length on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", as they are fully entitled to do on the Bill, they will find inevitably that we cannot appeal with such confidence to hon. Friends to restrain themselves on points which they feel like making. While not wanting to block anybody who thinks it necessary to speak, I am willing that we should now come to a decision on the Clause and that we on this side of the Committee should vote against it for all the reasons which have been so eloquently urged by my hon. and right hon. Friends.
§ 9.45 p.m.
I rather agree with the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) that most of the arguments have been deployed. I gave in the Budget debate and in the House on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill the reasons why I felt it advisable to recommend an increase in this duty to bring in £40 million this year, which I felt it necessary to obtain for both budgetary reasons and economic reasons, making as it does some limited impact on consumer spending.
I should like to make it quite clear that I am not trying to exercise any moral judgment. Some hon. Gentlemen asked whether I was endeavouring to do that. It was certainly not my intention. The reasons are purely fiscal and economic.
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) told us that he started smoking at the age of 13. He looks very well on it, I must say, and I shall continue, I hope, to rely upon numbering him among my patrons for the Tobacco Duty.
One hon. Member said that my action in recommending an increase in this duty seemed wholly inconsistent with the reduction in the Beer Duty last year. 1403 But it is wholly consistent. The main reason, as I made clear to the House at the time last year, and to the Committee, for recommending a reduction in the Beer Duty was that the yield of the duty was falling away alarmingly year by year and it was necessary to do something for the protection of the Revenue. Indeed, Sir Stafford Cripps had attempted the same thing. The action that I took seems to have been successful, and the trend is now moving the other way.
I do not expect this increase in duty to lead to a reduction in consumption.
§ In fact, since the date of the Budget, apart from the increased yield due to the higher price, there has been an increase in the volume of tobacco on which duty has been paid.
§ I do not think there is any need for me to say anything more to the Committee and I hope that the Committee will now come to a conclusion on the Clause.
§ Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 235, Noes 159.1405
|Division No. 86.]||AYES||[9.47 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Eden, John||Lambton, Viscount|
|Allason, James||Emery, Peter||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathooat (Tiv'tn)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leavey, J. A.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Farr, John||Leburn, Gilmour|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Finlay, Graeme||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.|
|Barber, Anthony||Fisher, Nigel||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Barter, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lilley, F. J. P.|
|Batsford, Brian||Freeth, Denzll||Lindsay, Martin|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Gammans, Lady||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Bell Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Gardner, Edward||Longden, Gilbert|
|Bennett, Dr.Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Gibson-Watt, David||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Glover, Sir Douglas||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||McAdden, Stephen|
|Bishop, F. P.||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Goodhart, Philip||McLaren, Martin|
|Bossom, Clive||Goodhew, Victor||McLoughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Gower, Raymond||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Box, Donald||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Boyle Sir Edward||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Maddan, Martin|
|Brewis, John||Green, Alan||Maginnis, John E.|
|Brooman-White, R.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bullard, Denys||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marten, Neil|
|Burden, F. A.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Butcher Sir Herbert||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Harrison, Col. J.H. (Eye)||Mawby, Ray|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Mills, Stratton|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hay, John||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Morgan, William|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hendry, Forbes||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hiley, Joseph||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Noble, Michael|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.))||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hobson, John||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Cole, Norman||Hooking, Philip N.||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Collard, Richard||Holland, Philip||Page, A. J. (Harrow, West)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hollingworth, John||Page, Graham|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hopkins, Alan||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Partridge, E.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Peel, John|
|Costain, A. P.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Percival, Ian|
|Coulson, J. M.||Iremonger, T. L.||Peyton, John|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Jackson, John||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||James, David||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Jennings, J. C.||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pott, Percivall|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Dance, James||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Ramsden, James|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kershaw, Anthony||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Doughty, Charles||Kimball, Marcus||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kirk, Peter||Rees, Hugh|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kitson, Timothy||Renton, David|
|Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Stodart, J. A.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Roots, William||Storey, Sir Samuel||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Studholme, Sir Henry||Wall, Patrick|
|Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Summers, sir Spencer (Aylesbury)||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Russell, Ronald||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Talbot, John E.||Watts, James|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Tapsell, Peter||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Seymour, Leslie||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wise, A. R.|
|Shaw, M.||Teeling, William||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Shepherd, William||Temple, John M.||Wood, Rt. Hon, Richard|
|Simon, Sir Jocelyn||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Woollam, John|
|Smithers, Peter||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Speir, Rupert||Turner, Colin|
|Stanley, Hon. Richard||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. Sharples.|
|Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Ainsley, William||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Pentland, Norman|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Holman, Percy||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Houghton, Douglas||Prentice, R. E.|
|Awbery, Stan||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hunter, A. E.||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Rankin, John|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist' I, S.E.)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Blyton, William||Janner, Barnett||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Boardman, H.||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Ross, William|
|Bowles, Frank||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Short, Edward|
|Boyden, James||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Kelley, Richard||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Kenyon, Clifford||Small, William|
|Callaghan, James||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||King, Dr. Horace||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Clifle, Michael||Lawson, George||Soskice, Rt. Hon. sir Frank|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Cronin, John||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Steele, Thomas|
|Darling, George||Loughlin, Charles||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stones, William|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Mackie, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Deer, George||McLeavy, Frank||Swingter, Stephen|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Sylvester, George|
|Delargy, Hugh||Mahon, Simon||Symonds, J. B.|
|Dempsey, James||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Diamond, John||Manuel, A. C.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Dodds, Norman||Mapp, Charles||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Driberg, Tom||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Mason, Roy||Thornton, Ernest|
|Edelman, Maurice||Mayhew, Christopher||Timmons, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mellish, R. J.||Ungoed-Thomas, sir Lynn|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Millan, Bruce||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Evans, Albert||Mitchison, G. R.||Warbey, William|
|Fernyhough, E.||Monslow, Walter||Watkins, Tudor|
|Fletcher, Eric||Moody, A. S.||Weitzman, David|
|Foot, Dingle||Morris, John||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Forman, J. C.||Moyle, Arthur||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mulley, Frederick||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Ginsburg, David||Nabarro, Gerald||Whitlock, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C||Neal, Harold||Willey, Frederick|
|Gourlay, Harry||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Grey, Charles||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oram, A. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Padley, W. E.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Pargiter, G. A.||Woof, Robert|
|Hannan, William||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Paton, John|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pavitt, Laurence||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Mr. Howell and Mr. Redhead.|