HC Deb 02 April 1963 vol 675 cc232-3
30. Mr. Oram

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent proposals have been made to him for compensating retailers for losses incurred on stocks held by them when Purchase Tax reductions are made; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. Barber

The only specific proposal has been that the tax difference should be credited on deliveries in a period of one month up to the date of the reduction. Proposals on these lines were fully considered, and rejected, by the Hutton Committee in 1953. The answer to the second part of the Question is None, Sir.

Mr. Oram

Is it not quite unjust that retailers should continue to suffer losses in the way outlined in the Question? Is it not possible at least to have a limited scheme applicable to durable consumer goods, which can easily be traced through their serial numbers?

Mr. Barber

I do not think so. This is a very difficult problem, and when I was Economic Secretary I looked into it myself. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the Hutton Committee, which considered it some years ago, was an independent committee and tried to find some way of solving the difficulty, but failed to do so.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a real problem, which hits people such as small chemists in villages quite hard? It seems most unjust that a very small village shopkeeper should lose, say, a couple of hundred £s because of administrative difficulties.

Mr. Barber

I recognise the hardship that is caused when Purchase Tax is reduced. On the other hand, I should point out to my hon. Friend that, as I understand it, the pharmacists' proposal was specifically considered by the Hutton Committee—which turned it down and advised against its adoption.