HC Deb 10 March 1964 vol 691 cc239-41
25. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why girls' low-heeled shoes above size three are to be excluded from Purchase Tax exemption.

Mr. Maudling

Because increasing quantities of shoes of the types affected were being bought for adult wear.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is not this a retrograde step? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this tax has been an unfair burden on parents of large children? Does not the Treasury regard it in that way? Would it not be better, to avoid confusion, to withdraw the tax on footwear altogether?

Mr. Maudling

It is always simpler to abolish taxation, but the trouble is that one still has to get the money. When giving special treatment to children's things, one often finds that it is abused by people buying what is de- signed for children for wear by adults. I agree that it is not easy, but this is the right step to take now.

Mr. Vane

Will my right hon. Friend look at this again? It is not just parents of children with large feet who are concerned, but also the manufacturers of shoes, because over the years the distinction between shoes which bear Purchase Tax and shoes which do not has been very complicated. In order to make it work smoothly, it should be simplified.

Mr. Maudling

I agree that it is not easy and I will gladly consider any evidence from my hon. Friend or any other hon. Member.

Mrs. Slater

As the tendency is for children to be larger and therefore to have larger feet, and as most of the shoes for school children are so designed that an adult would not want to wear them, would it not be better in the interests of the parents of these children to take this tax off shoes of this kind?

Mr. Maudling

There may be a tendency for children's feet to be bigger, but the tendency for adults to buy shoes which are supposed to be children's shoes grows rather more rapidly.

34. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will end the Purchase Tax placed on infant girls' nursery sets, as similar gifts for boys are excluded from such a tax.

Mr. Maudling

No distinction is made for purchase tax purposes between infants' play outfits for girls and those for boys.

If the hon. Member will let me have details of the maker of the outfits he has in mind I will have the suggested differentiation investigated.

Mr. Dempsey

May I ask the Chancellor whether he is aware that I have seen an invoice showing that children's nursery sets are taxed at 25 per cent., whereas Western outfits, guns and tomahawks, are free of Purchase Tax? Does not that paradox suggest that something should be done to eliminate the anomaly to try to protect even at an early stage a noble profession, the nursing profession?

Mr. Maudling

I must declare a personal interest, as a fairly frequent purchaser of both types. If the hon. Gentleman sends me the evidence, I shall be very glad to look into it.

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