HC Deb 22 February 1966 vol 725 cc216-8
19. Mr. Stodart

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the exporting for the first time of £100 million of Scotch whisky in a single year, he will now take steps to assist the in crease of the industry's sales at home.

Mr. Callaghan

I raise my glass to the Scotch whisky industry on this splendid export achievement, but it does not enable me to anticipate my Budget.

Mr. Stodart

Does not the Chancellor think that a celebration of this splendid achievement is called for in particularly good measures? Is it not a fact that for the first time for many years the revenue that he has received in the first nine months since the Budget has fallen? Would not a possible celebration be to recover the £5 million lost to the Revenue as a result of his action in this respect in the last Budget?

Mr. Callaghan

I am ready to join the hon. Member in a celebration at any time, but it would be as well to wait for a longer period to elapse before judging the effect on the Revenue, because a considerable amount of forestalling went on before the last Budget.

Mr. Shinwell

Will my right hon. Friend consider reducing the tax on whisky and also the tax on tobacco? Does he realise that the cost of my living is rapidly increasing?

Mr. Callaghan

Perhaps I can help my right hon. Friend in another way, if he cares to see me afterwards.

32. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the reduction in volume of home sales of Scotch whisky in the nine months April to December, 1965, compared with the similar period of the previous year.

53. Mr. George Y. Mackie

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue has been collected from whisky duty in 1965–66 as against a similar period in 1964–65.

Mr. Callaghan

I have no figure for sales. Clearances from bonded warehouses were 7 per cent. lower, but there were unusually high clearances in anticipation of the last Budget. The amount of duty collected on whisky in the period April-December, 1965, was about £105 million compared with £100 million in the same period in 1964.

Mr. Campbell

Does not this reduction show that the tax is too high and that the Chancellor may gain little, if any, extra revenue? Is not nine months a long enough period to even out any pre-Budget forestalling?

Mr. Callaghan

No, Sir, I do not think it is. I think that, as the months go by—for example, April to December was far better than the April to October figures which the hon. Member gave me when he came to see me—he will see the constant improvement continue.

Mr. William Clark

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, with the high taxation on whisky and tobacco, the law of diminishing returns is operating? How does the reduction on the produce of this revenue compare with his estimate in his last Budget?

Mr. Callaghan

I am afraid that the figures do not show what the hon. Gentleman seems to have been misled into thinking they do. I will gladly give the figures, if he will put down a Question.

Mr. Rankin

Do not the figures also show that the amount of whisky sold to the consumer as a tot is far too small? Is it not time that the tot was allowed to grow into a toddler, at least?

Mr. Callaghan

My hon. Friend and I are completely at one on this, but I was under that impression long before the tax was put up.