§ 2.50 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill. I hope that I shall not be falling below the level of the occasion if I speak rather briefly this afternoon. We have had in recent months more than one very full discussion about the economic position of the country. I recall one in particular in which the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, played a prominent part, and in which I inflicted myself on the House at some length. On the other hand, those of you who are thoroughly expert in these matters have already studied the Finance Bill with great care and will not expect me to go through it clause by clause. Therefore, I think that I can best meet the feeling of the House by setting out broadly what has confronted the Chancellor of the Exchequer in particular and the Government generally, and by trying 884 to show how he has set about solving that problem. Your Lordships will realize of course that the Finance Bill covers a rather narrower sphere than the Budget, but in what I say this afternoon I am bound to touch upon questions of expenditure as well as those of revenue, because the problem that has confronted the Chancellor of the Exchequer inevitably covers both.
The essential components of any Budget consist of three types of figure. First of all we have an estimate of expenditure, then we have to meet that by borrowing—which is the second type of figure—and finally we have taxation and the rest of the revenue. This year the estimate of expenditure is £3,887,000,000. Last year it was £5,565,000,000. The difference is £1,678,000,000 or a reduction of expenditure of thirty-one per cent. The decrease is naturally in Defence expenditure. It would be very strange, when the war is over, if there were not a very large decrease there. The Civil Departments' estimated expenditure is £145,000,000 up, due to various items of social improvement all of which I think your Lordships approve. I refer particularly to education, housing, family allowances, increases in old age pensions, and the provision of milk in schools.
There has, of course, at different stages of the debates elsewhere, been criticism of this figure of expenditure as being too high, but I would respectfully submit that no one in another place—nor I think here since I have become a member of your Lordships' House—has come forward to question any important decision of policy by His Majesty's Government on the ground that it is too expensive. Indeed, we were severely taken to task the other day by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, because it was argued that some proposition which had a certain appeal in justice was possibly too expensive. I do not feel that anybody in a responsible position in any quarter of this House can seriously argue that it would have been easy to make any larger reduction in this figure of expenditure.
At the same time the fact that it is not easy imposes, as I am sure your Lordships will all agree, all the greater duty of vigilance, and it becomes all the more important, as has been recognized by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to scrutinize every item to see if by any administrative 885 economy we can bring the figure lower. Last night I happened to be reading Mr. Winston Churchill's biography of his father, who it will be remembered was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886. Mr. Churchill recalls that in the 80's it cost the Liberal Government of the day, in the period just before Mr. Randolph Churchill took office, something between £80,000,000 and £90,000,000 a year to govern the country and defend the Empire. This year we are faced with an expenditure of £3,887,000,000. Mr. Churchill recalls that in those days these figures of Liberal expenditure were greeted by what he calls "genial malice by the Tories." I am sure the spokesman of the Tories this afternoon, the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, will give evidence of geniality but not of malice. In view of the size of the figure I am sure that sympathy will be the emotion to which he will be most likely to give expression.
Be that as it may, we have a very heavy bill to meet and the Government proposes to meet £725,000,000 of it by borrowing. That is what appears at first sight but these things can be calculated in various ways. If non-recurrent items in this year's expenditure and revenue are excluded the deficit goes down to £268,000,000. The right honourable gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has estimated that in the current year we are going to pay 18s. 4d. out of every £1 spent out of revenue compared with 12s. in the last war year. So much for the relation between the total borrowed and the total to be raised in taxation. I will only mention further, while on the subject, that the cheap money policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer does seem to have been a great success. Even that very austere critic, the Financial Times, has admitted that we have brought off a big thing in that direction. I will not go into details but I think your Lordships will agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has deserved very well of the country by the ingenuity and persistence with which he has pursued the cheap money policy in recent months.
Now we come to revenue. This deficit estimate of £725,000,000 is a compromise. On the one hand, while expenditure has gone down by 31 per cent. the estimated revenue is only £123,000,000 below last year's receipts—a reduction of less than 4 per cent. The level of taxation has been kept, therefore, pretty stiff. 886 We have had in that policy two objects in mind. On the one hand we are determined to get back as soon as possible to a balanced Budget, and on the other hand we are under no delusions about the necessity of counteracting the danger of inflation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not shown himself a rigid doctrinaire. He has provided in the last two Budgets for which he has been responsible certain important reliefs which I will touch on in a moment. The cost of these reliefs means in a full year—they do not all come into effect at once—£500,000,000. Perhaps what is more significant and interesting is that out of that £500,000,000 of tax relief only £30,000,000 comes through Customs and Excise relief and the rest, some £470,000,000, comes under the Inland Revenue. That is to say the £470,000,000 relief is in the field of direct taxation and only £30,000,000 in the field of indirect taxation.
I will not weary you by running through the details of these reliefs which are of course available in the Bill. I will just mention one or two of the reliefs from Purchase Tax and instances of reduction of tax. Among the goods which, under the present Bill, are freed from tax altogether I may mention domestic pots and pans, dressers, and other kitchen equipment. I do not know whether that vitally concerns your Lordships at first hand, though very often we notice a psychological impact in the home from the absence of these articles at cheap prices. Others of your Lordships will be pleased, as I am myself pleased although I do not suffer from this infirmity, that the electric batteries for hearing aids are being freed from the Purchase Tax. I think that this House has played an important part, unless I am much mistaken, in securing that relief.
Those of your Lordships who are blessed with thick and beautiful crops of hair will be pleased that the tax on hair-waving machinery has been much reduced. It has not been altogether abolished. I, personally, am not so sorry as I would have been some years ago that hair-waving machinery is still subject to a certain level of tax. I confess that, looking ahead a year or two, I take more interest in the fact that, in another place, the tax on wigs was removed completely. In saying that I am, as I say, looking ahead at any rate in my own case, with 887 great forethought. My feeling may be shared by other noble Lords whose brows expand as their hair evaporates.
I will not say more about reductions of indirect taxation except to call the attention of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, who, I understand, is going to speak after me, and who, like myself, finds it a great pleasure to visit Lords cricket ground when he can steal a few minutes from our deliberations here, to the fact—which, I dare say he has not failed already to observe—that sports other than certain kinds of racing will be subject to a reduced rate of duty. I look forward to receiving some congratulations from so keen a cricketer as the noble Viscount, when he speaks.
In the Inland Revenue field, your Lordships will remember that the autumn Finance Act made provision for a reduction in the standard rate of Income Tax from ten shillings to nine shillings, and for increased personal allowances. The present Bill gives other relief: it increases earned income allowance to one-eighth, subject to a maximum allowance of tax on £150. It also makes provision for first instalments of the repayment of the postwar credits to women over 60 and men over 65. The Excess Profits Tax, as I expect everyone knows, which was reduced under the last Bill, will come to an end altogether under the provisions of the present Bill on December 31. The Bill also provides for a new scale of Estate Duty. Under this scale estates up to £2,000 will be exempted from Estate Duty. Estates of between £2,000 and £7,500 will pay less than at present. Estates of between £7,500 and £12,500 will pay the same. Estates above £12,500 will pay more. I should just point out the effect statistically of these changes. In an ordinary year, 150,000 estates will be relieved entirely, 30,000 will have duty reduced, 7,000 will be unaffected, and 10,000 will be subject to a measure of increase.
I am not going to speak very much longer, but perhaps, at this point, I might call attention to the implications of these proposals. They make clear, I think, that His Majesty's Government are very far from taking the view that private property is wrong, that savings are wrong, that inheritance is wrong. What we do say is that these are good things of life 888 and they should be distributed as equitably as possible, always bearing in mind that ultimately they spring from someone's exertions and sacrifices, and that in any steps we may take in re-distributing the burden we must be at pains to ensure that exertions and sacrifices are made more and not less attractive. If I may venture just one ideological reflection of my own, it will be this. The greatest sociological problem with which we in this country, or those in any country at all similar, are faced is to reconcile two great social principles which at first sight might seem to conflict.
On the one hand is the principle of equality, the principle that each one of us when he comes into the world should be given an equal chance to lead a good and happy life; and on the other hand is the principle of what you might call family continuity, that is, that a man who has made sacrifices, and saved, should be allowed to hand on some of the fruits of his exertions and his sacrifices to his children. It may be that noble Lords on this side lay more stress on the first principle, and it may be that noble Lords sitting opposite will lay more stress on the second. But it seems to me that all of us, if we reflect on these things, will agree that somehow or other we have to strike a balance between those two principles, and I will submit very respectfully to your Lordships that a balance is struck in the Bill which is now before the House, and that it should be broadly acceptable to all of us and to the nation as a whole.
I will add a word regarding future taxation arrangements. I have already touched upon that subject. I think that what strikes one most of all, if one studies this carefully, is the consistency with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has sought to apply the test of incentive at every point. He has asked himself: "Will this change increase incentive, will it lead people to produce more, to put forth greater exertions and to make greater sacrifices?" It will be observed from what I have said, that a far greater proportion of reliefs come under the heading of direct taxation: Income Tax, Surtax, and so on—a comparatively small amount comes under the "indirect" heading. In the old days, orthodox economists used to argue that indirect taxation was regressive, that it fell too heavily on the poor man, or at any rate, fell more heavily upon him than direct 889 taxation. I am inclined to say that, in the circumstances of the day, that view must be reversed, or at any rate reconsidered.
Without wishing to attempt to say anything final, or very authoritative, I would suggest that in the first place the taxpayer, while, of course, he would rather not be taxed at all, prefers to be taxed by indirect taxation rather than direct taxation. That, I suggest, is a matter of common observation as one moves about the country and meets one's fellow-countrymen. Secondly, it seems clear, I submit, that indirect taxation, taxation on commodities and so on, is seldom if ever a deterrent to production. Direct taxation very often deters people from producing as much as they might. As was cogently said the other day, you can give up smoking, you can give up drinking, and you can give up working, and the easiest of the three is to give up working. We have sought to avoid rendering that last option overwhelmingly attractive. This Bill, and the Budget from which it springs, has a simple theme, though it contains two notes. On the one hand there is the note of controlling inflation, and on the other the note of stimulating production. I would suggest that this Bill gives effect to those two ideas in a manner that we can approve of in this House, and it is my pleasant duty now to move that this Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Lord Pakenham.)
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, we shall all agree that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who is now the maid-of-all work among His Majesty's servants who sit on the Front Bench, has discharged his task in the very happiest manner. Of necessity, discussion of finance proposals in this House is an academic exercise. We can neither frame finance proposals, nor can we alter them. I remember that the late Lord Darling, when he was trying a case and was told that it was governed by a previous decision which he did not like, said that no doubt he was compelled to follow the precedent, but he was not compelled on that account to admire it. Perhaps your Lordships, in a similar vein, may say that we are called upon to swallow this Bill, but we are not required to say that we like the dose. I had not intended, in the short time that I shall detain the 890 House, to make detailed reference to these proposals, because I think more general reflections are suitable in your Lordships' House, but in view of one observation of the noble Lord opposite I must depart from my intention.
I had observed the provisions in this latest Finance Bill on the subject of the reduction of Entertainments Duty, and I had observed them with pleasure. They come under Clause 7. Of course Entertainments Duty goes back a long way. I think it was in 1935 that the duty was reduced in the case of stage plays—what was called the living drama, when actual people presented themselves on the boards. Now, Clause 7 (1), which deals with that matter says:… for the words 'a circus or a travelling show' there shall be substituted the words 'circus, a travelling show, a menagerie or any game or sport'"—such as cricket, I suppose—' other than the racing or trial of speed of animals, vehicles, motor vessels or aircraft'.No doubt that is very gratifying to many of us, although I think the language is curious. It becomes even more curious when I read the next provision, which says:… the reference to the racing or trial of speed of vehicles does not include a reference to cycle races where the cycles are propelled by the riders themselves.Apparently that is not regarded as a trial of the speed of animals. If it were monkeys who rode de bicycles, no doubt the sport would be subject to the higher tax. As it is, reduction of the tax is provided. I think many of us are very glad that it has been found possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the rate of Entertainments Tax on the great sports of the country like cricket and football. For a long time, as I have reminded your Lordships, there has been a similar reduction in the case of an actor on the stage. Under the present Entertainments Tax the noble game of cricket is dealt with in exactly the same way as a strip-tease turn. That is the position which we have now reached. Of course it does not apply to racing, because apparently the racing or trial of speed of thoroughbred racehorses is regarded as being a test of the animals themselves, rather than of the jockeys mounted upon their backs. Such is the present state—and it is an improved state—of the law of Entertainments Tax.
891 It was my purpose to devote myself not to any particular clause but rather to calling attention to one or two financial principles and prospects which suggest themselves when one considers the finance provision for this year. There is no sacrosanct character attached to that particular period of time called a fiscal year. There is nothing in the nature of things which equates the time it takes the earth to go round the sun with a new finance statement and provisions. But it is very convenient that we should have annual Budgets, especially when it becomes a question of whether the Budget is balanced. I propose to refer to the proposals for this particular year and to ask the House to consider for a few minutes a certain tendency which it may be important for us to watch—and possibly to criticize. What I ask your Lordships is this: what is the future of Income Tax, its amount and its productivity, in the hands of a Socialist and nationalizing Government? I think that is a perfectly apposite question, and it is one which I would like to develop for a short time.
I am not quite sure that my noble friend Lord Pakenham mentioned the figure, but it is as well to have it in mind that out of a total revenue of something like £2,900,000,000 Income Tax—in which I include Sur-tax—produces about £200,000,000. That is an enormous sum. For at least a generation past it has in fact been the principal single source of the revenue of the country. Sur-tax is comparatively unimportant. There may be occasions when the question of Sur-tax appeals to a certain kind of audience, when a certain kind of speaker assures the audience that only if a particular Government are returned will the rich man be properly taxed. Nobody can say that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has not done his best in that way. When he was reducing Income Tax he made up for that reduction by taking particular pleasure in squeezing a little more out of Sur-tax. In spite of that—and it is almost incredible that it should be so—out of the £1,200,000,000 which the Income Tax and the immense Sur-tax provide, only £80,000,000 will come out of Sur-tax. The reason for this is that there are so few people in this country who have these very large incomes, and such people who have them, I think, do not find that the incomes do them much 892 good. I believe it is correct that the income of those who have more than £2,000 a year in this country amounts to only 2 per cent. of the national income as a whole. What is going to happen to Income Tax, if we continue under this dispensation, or one like it, in the future?
In origin, of course, Income Tax was a war tax. It was imposed by Pitt in 1799. The moment the peace of Amiens was signed, Income Tax was taken off. It was put on again in 1803, when the war was resumed, and it was taken off the moment Waterloo was won and the Napoleonic Wars were over. One might have thought that was the end of it. But in 1842, I think, Sir Robert Peel re-introduced it in connexion with a great many very valuable reforms, and even then, or soon afterwards, there was a prospect of it disappearing, because, if I remember rightly, Mr. Gladstone, in the first (and some people think the greatest) of his Budgets, provided that in the course of the next three years Income Tax, which was then sixpence in the pound, should go down by twopence a year until it disappeared in the third year. There is not the slightest reason to doubt the genuineness of that calculation. What happened in the interval which prevented it was the Crimean War, and, the Crimean War interposing, again Income Tax was continued. It has since risen to the figure we know.
No doubt, as a matter of interest, your Lordships may have considered what it was when you were young. When I was born Income Tax was twopence in the pound. I agreed in the year before the last war, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make it 5s. 6d. but in the emergency war Budget I raised it to 7s. 6d., not without some prominent politicians and economists expressing doubt whether this was not too big a jump. I always shared the intention and held the view that it ought to be raised to 10s., as it was; but that it should continue at figures anything approaching that seems to me to be one of the most formidable facts connected with our financial future. Let us see what Income Tax at 9s. in the pound is likely to mean under a Socialist and nationalizing Government. It is an appropriate moment to consider it, because, up to the present, no actual case of nationalization, such as this Government has planned, has come into force 893 except the Bank of England Act, which is not, for this purpose, important. But we are on the way to the nationalization of the coal industry, to the nationalization of air transport and to the nationalization of iron and steel.
What I ask your Lordships for a moment to do is to consider the effect these changes are likely to have on the productivity of Income Tax. I assume that the boards, which are to take over the administration of these great branches of industry, will pay Income Tax. We have been told in terms, I think, that the National Coal Board will be subject to Income Tax. The Post Office is not. But I presume it is intended that each of these great organizations will pay Income Tax if they make profits. What is the prospect of their making any such contribution to the national revenue as is made now in those departments of commerce? Let us take the case of coal. As long as there are different colliery companies, those which make profits pay a tax on those profits. It is not true to say that Income Tax is a tax on income in the sense of the gross amount you receive; it is a tax only on what is left to you after you have made the necessary expenditure to earn your income. The prosperous separate colliery undertakings—A, B and C—each now pay Income Tax. There are no doubt others—D, E and F—which do not make profits, but losses. They, of course, do not pay any Income Tax if they have not made any profits. But under the existing system those people have to look after themselves.
Under the nationalization plan for the coal industry the Government take over and put into a single holding all these colliery companies, whether previously profitable or not. Is it not very probable that the losses which are made by some of them will be met by the profits made by others? And the Income Tax which has to be paid by the National Coal Board will be based on its profits as a whole. It will be entitled to set off the cases in which there has been a loss against the particular colliery undertakings where there has been a profit. But I must say I am much concerned that you should consider whether these nationalization schemes applied to many industries, such as iron and steel and others—taking a great group of enterprises of the same 894 sort, and treating them all as one under a particular board—will not, as a consequence, cause losses of some enterprises to be met by the profits made by others. If so, the result will be a very great reduction in the amount of Income Tax which the State will receive.
Let me take it a step further. When the Coal Industry Nationalisation Bill was discussed in this House we secured that adequate accounts should be kept. Let us suppose that the National Coal Board starts publishing intelligible accounts, and that those accounts do show profits on the Whole—which is much to be desired—will not there be a demand to increase wages until the profits disappear? Will not the miners say: "Look at your own accounts; you are making a profit; you have no business to make a profit; we have always heard from you that service is the thing that counts, not profit"? Of course, that does not apply to an application for a rise in wages! It seems to me extremely probable that that will be a further reason why some great nationalized industry of this sort will not in fact provide revenue in the form of Income Tax. Increased coal prices may well result, and if that occurs there will be injury to everybody. My noble friend opposite is a very clear-headed and ingenious man, and he may be prompted to say, "After all, the present owners are going to be paid compensation. That compensation they can invest. The profits on those investments will be taxed, and they will take the place of the profits which are lost by nationalization." I think this is one of the matters where we might wait and see. I do not know how much the compensation is going to be. I do not know whether it is really going to operate as an effective substitute or not.
Lastly there is this consideration under this head. All this matter is based on the assumption that you are going to maintain and, I hope, increase output. But are you? That is the source from which increased profit would come, no doubt, but there is certainly no sign since the passing of the Act that increased output is being achieved. So we are now in the position that the miners are face to face with the State. Incidentally, we have repealed the Trades Disputes Act. Speaking not at all as a partisan but as one trying to analyse the future financial situation of Income Tax, I wonder, in the case of the nationalized industries, whether 895 you are not more likely to find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to provide a subsidy instead of deriving great amounts of Income Tax from the nationalized industries. That is the first point I wish to put before your Lordships for consideration.
Now for a few moments let us consider the demands of the social services to which the noble Lord quite properly referred. I am glad that before I spoke the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition said what he did about social services. I certainly am the last to be counted among their critics or their opponents. If the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, were here, he would confirm my claim to be one of the first who took a ministerial part in these matters, and that at a time when social services were not so universally approved as they are to-day. None the less, there is a tremendous bill being piled up for those excellent services, and so long as you supplement revenue you are meeting it out of borrowings; therefore, you are really not trying to make both ends meet. You are going to have a very anxious situation, and still more anxious if that revenue itself, which has hitherto depended almost entirely on private enterprise, is going, in the matter of profits and Income Tax, to subsidize nationalization.
Look how the Government themselves are at this moment relying upon private enterprise. Their supporters from every platform are told to believe—and many of them do believe—that there is something wicked in private profit. Yet how does the matter stand? The Lord President of the Council, in one of his many manifestations, feels that there should be great production to help the export trade. Who is going to do that? Why, the people who are engaged in private enterprise. Nobody suggests that the nationalization schemes are going to get back for this country its export trade. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day pointed out that he was getting rid of the Excess Profits Tax. He said that it was an excellent war-time tax. Excess Profits Tax is a duty on excess private profits. Its whole productivity is due to the fact that you are relying upon the productive effects of private enterprise. If we have a Budget—as we shall have in the future—which more and more will be endeavouring to substitute nationalization 896 (I am sure with the best intentions) for private enterprise, I confess myself to an anxiety as to whether or not the revenue we get by these means will be anything like so productive and abundant as it has been under the system the Government are seeking to displace. Whether or not with an annual expenditure of more than £3,000,000,000 you will get an annual revenue to meet the high increase in expenditure, remains to be seen. There has been an improvement this year, I admit, but you are faced with the fact that the country is undertaking an immense number of new enterprises under an entirely novel system of management. The Government have to find the revenue year by year sufficient to meet current demands—each of them justified in itself—for social services, for policing our part of Europe, and all sorts of things. I ask myself, is it wise in that situation to go on substituting this new method for the method which has produced so much revenue?
Lastly, I put this question—and I put it again without any desire to crab anyone. I quite understand the good purpose in what is being done, but I would earnestly ask those who are principally concerned whether so high a figure of Income Tax—I am including Sur-tax—can be maintained without injuring the community. There was a remarkable passage in Mr. Dalton's speech early this month. I have copied it out. I think perhaps the noble Lord opposite had this in mind when making some very interesting observations at the end of his speech—rather surprising, from his point of view—to the general effect that indirect taxation was to be preferred to direct taxation. When I think of all the speeches I have heard made in another place from the Labour benches denouncing indirect taxation and insisting that the whole revenue be got by direct taxation, that is an astounding thing to hear from the Benches opposite. Let me read what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in another place on July 19:I am quite sure that what most people need, and what gives the greatest stimulus to incentive, so far as incentive is dulled and blunted and repressed by taxation, is to pay less Income Tax.I call attention to those most remarkable words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is saying in terms that the greatest stimulus to incentive would be reduced Income Tax. As we know from 897 another passage, he favours indirect taxation. It is true that indirect taxation is borne by people with less appreciation of what they are bearing. A man smokes his pipe of tobacco, having paid so much for it, and he believes he has paid all of that for the tobacco. He has done nothing of the kind; he has paid only a small fraction for tobacco, and most of the money is taken by the State through indirect taxation. We are all being indirectly taxed all the time, and large numbers of us do not know it. It is an entirely novel doctrine to me to be told that the most important thing from the Socialist point of view is to keep on indirect taxation, as opposed to maintaining high Income Tax. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer may well be right; but after inveighing, as he and others have, against the profit motive, after vowing that he was going to see to it that the people who had got a considerable income should be taxed to blazes, it is to me very remarkable to hear him say that from his point of view indirect taxes are much more to be preferred to Income Tax, because people do not really feel them so much. They do not indeed.
That brings me to the conclusion I wish to reach. Is so high a figure of Income Tax and Sur-tax really consistent with maintaining the health of and the best services for the community? I have come very strongly to the view that it is not worth while for the best brains in business to accept a highly paid job. I think there are, a good many members of this House who will confirm me in that view. I do not say a man will not take a directorship if he has not got one, but I do say that to offer a large additional salary to a man who is already in a substantial position, if only he will undertake the management of some great concern, is really to invite him to do a very public-spirited and generous thing, for the amount he will get out of it will not be worth talking about. We are all of us, I am sure, entirely in favour of equality of opportunity, equality of treatment and every other sort of equality. Nobody desires that more than I; I want to see it with all my heart. But when you have it, you are not going to get a whole race of people who are equal in capacity. How many people are there in this country to-day who really have those exceptional qualities of judgment, organization, business drive and knowledge as to how best to manage some enormous enterprise? 898 There are Very few. There are not thousands; there may be hundreds.
If you say to those people (who already have, I am assuming, an income which counts as adequate), "I appeal to you to take charge of this national affair and to manage it for me, and if you do I will give you an income of five figures" (which I gather, according to the true doctrine, nobody ought to have), why should he do so? I am convinced that at the Bar at the present moment quite a new situation is arising, although I speak now as an old fogey who is not in the least interested in wigs becoming untaxed. I am convinced that at the Bar you would find that the small numbers of people who are really making considerable incomes and who have a great business are, far more than they ever did before, refusing business, although it might seem valuable to them (and certainly their clerks would think that way). They say to themselves, "Why should I sit up half the night with a wet towel round my head and work away at these extra, briefs when, after I have done it all, the only result is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is determined to swat the Sur-tax payer, takes the whole of it back again?" That is certainly happening all through the higher grades of occupation and I feel sure it is happening in that select group of people with great commercial qualities.
I put it on record that I fear (I do not say more than this because I am only engaged in pointing out what is, I think, a tendency) that what we are doing in this series of Budgets is depriving industry of the brains which are more needed now than they ever were. For a man to get up and to say that the keynote of the Government's financial policy is to encourage incentive is to me a little surprising. There it is. I appreciate the difficulties. I am perfectly willing to loin with anybody in taking as cheerful a view as is reasonable in the circumstances, but those difficulties are formidable, and I do not find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer says things which are in all cases greatly encouraging. It is all very well for the noble Lord opposite to say that one of the keynotes (there are only two, so it is a simple chord and not, I hope, a discord) of the Government's policy was that it was determined to resist inflation; but is it not on record that when Mr. Dalton went to Bournemouth—no 899 doubt a most bracing place—he told the people there that the fear of inflation is passing? Is it? I hope devoutly that it is. But it is far more easy to talk about the fear having passed than it is to get rid of the thing itself. What I do know is that wholesale prices are rising and that wage levels are going up. It is obviously much more difficult to restrain spending now in peace-time than it was in war-time. While we owe an absolutely inexpressible measure of gratitude to the National Savings Movement which was started at the beginning of the war, none the less they are going to have a very hard task. I do not see myself that there is such a great sign of the Government appreciating the possible imminence of this danger.
In his speech the other day the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was looking forward to a continuous process of tax reduction. So are we all, but when the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that, I suppose it means he is going to make the tax smaller if he can. I therefore repeat the question I put before: how on earth are you going to finance this immense programme of public expenditure if at the same time you are going substantially to reduce taxes? There is only one possible answer, and that is that your new method is somehow or other going to result in greater production than the method which you denounce and which you are supplanting. The Chancellor of the Exchequer rather shocked me when last week he seemed to speak as though he thought the Purchase Tax might be permanent. The Purchase Tax was a very good tax in war-time (and I say so because I first devised it and imposed it) because it made things indiscriminately more expensive. The result was that people were not able to buy so much and thereby the call upon supplies was reduced and the inflation which occurs when Governments compete with private people for the things which are to be bought was prevented. But although it was a very good tax in war-time, it is, I venture to say, one of the worst of taxes in peacetime, because it is completely indiscriminate in its operations, so far as the figure is not modified, on poor and rich people alike. The poor woman who wants to buy an article on which Purchase Tax is imposed has to pay exactly the same addition as a rich person, and that is the fundamental objection to indirect taxation 900 which is, I gather, now rather favoured by the noble Lord and not looked at at all askance by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
That is the situation in which I think we find ourselves. Therefore, while I wish to be as cheerful as is right in the circumstances and to place all the confidence I can in those who now control our financial affairs, I venture to think that the whole matter depends upon increased production. If we cannot get increased production, and thereby increased profits and increased taxes, then indeed we shall run the danger of being in a most anxious and difficult situation in a few years' time. I hope the House has not thought that I have travelled too far from the subject of debate by making these observations, which frankly are not connected particularly with the present Budget, many of the features of which seem to me to be admirable; but I think we ought to look ahead, and if we do look ahead I am myself greatly disturbed by some of the considerations which I have ventured to put forward. Not now, but at some suitable date, I shall be very glad, either in public or private, to receive from the noble Lord opposite suitable correction.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I have enjoyed the analysis to which we have just listened, and I suspect that feeling is shared by all on this side of the House. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, as an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, is well qualified to speak on this subject, and he has covered the ground, wide as it is, with great effect. He has done a great service in bringing up at this stage many of the points on which he laid emphasis. It has been the experience in recent years that on more than one occasion the Second Reading of the Budget in this House has gone by without the intervention of any speaker. I intended to intervene to-day, not knowing who else was to speak, because it seemed that that was a precedent which should not be followed. I would remind you, as you know well, even although, as the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said, our functions are largely perfunctory, that the preamble of this Bill, as is customary in asking for further provision in connexion with finance, requires that it be by and with the advice and consent of the House of Lords. That means that custom has decreed that advice should be 901 received from this House. Personally, I think that as our lives are so largely dependent upon the character of the Finance Bill, it would be right that that custom should be revived and it be assumed on the Order Paper that this opportunity to give advice, provided in the Constitution, be taken advantage of more regularly on the occasion which is offered by the introduction of the Finance Bill. This House has such a wealth of authorities on agricultural and industrial matters that it would be of benefit to the nation that convention should allow time for more wide expression than has been customary in the past.
I do not approach this Bill with any theme of criticism, but rather, in the main, of commendation. That feeling was certainly reinforced by the considerate, appealing and persuasive manner in which this Bill was presented by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. Indeed, had we not had rooted in our minds some of the convictions of which the caveat of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, has reminded us, we might almost have left the Chamber convinced that none of the anxieties which we really feel were justified after that persuasive presentation. I am particularly thankful that the Budget has as its underlying principle a final purge of the school of contractionist or deflationist policy which brought such misery in the past. There was lingering around in Government circles, in the Bank of England (although certainly not now existing under nationalization) and in the big banks, an archaic out-dated theme that contractionist policy was right. I have no doubt in my mind that the cause of the result at the last Election—I am only speaking from this side of the House—was the aftermath of the recollection of all the misery which was brought about by that deflationist and contractionist policy, the reduction of spending, dismissals and the repayments of borrowings, which brought about the disastrous position which then existed. In addition, there was a cessation of encouragement to overseas enterprise. I repeat the commendation that the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I speak as an industrialist—went a long way to meet the requests of industry in the matters on which they had made fundamental representations.
There are, however, three short points I would like to draw to the attention of my noble friends. The rehabilitation time- 902 limit, which is due to finish at the end of 1949, seems short. It may well be that under the difficulties existing today it will not be possible to expend the moneys which industry is entitled to do under the Bill. Again, there is the uncertainty which comes not only from the policy of nationalization but from the fact that the Excess Profits Tax will be withdrawn. Again, the Purchase Tax is a disadvantageous tax. It misleads the buying public and encourages extravagance. I realize that all this is tied to the food subsidy programme which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said is going to cost £340,000,000. It may well be a lesser evil than the spiral rising of wages, but still those are the anxieties. Those anxieties have increased, as the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, has said, and in disregard of the reassurances of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that incentive is the aim of the Chancellor and that the planners should be encouraged in some way beyond what they are now if risks are to be taken. I am not suggesting that more should be available for spending, but that companies should be allowed to build up their reserves.
I urge further a relaxation of the foreign exchange restrictions in order to attempt to build up business overseas on which we must in future rely for our increase in income, and in the exchange which we shall need to supplement the exports upon which we are dependent. The whole Budget was based on an export programme, and it is in that direction that I want to reinforce the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. I do not think he touched on this particular angle. We have large commitments for social services and for shorter hours, and other advantages of easier living encouraging an inclination to less effort. We have also the heavy burden of agricultural prices, but that price policy I am sure commends itself to this House. The present easy attainments of markets may well turn out to be illusory, and it will be proved that far from achieving the goal which has been imposed by this seventy-five per cent. increase in volume above our pre-war exports, we shall find that the recapture of production by competing overseas countries will result in their sending goods to neutral markets at a price below that which we, with these high burdens, are able to make available to our buyers.
903 The trade position seems easy to-day, but those of us who remember the acid times of the 30's will realize that the moment is not one on which to base the expectations of long continuance. Full employment is expected to be the back on which these heavy burdens of expenditure will be carried, but full employment here must depend on full employment in the United States. If that begins to relax we are in a world of wide competition and we are in a hazardous position. Therefore it may well be that the belief existing to-day that we can pile burdens on to industry and yet produce goods at a price that will bring us the big volume of trade that we must have is an illusion. Yet that is the belief on which this Finance Bill and the Budget are based.
I would not like to conclude without a reference to the national land fund. Surely the Chancellor is entitled to commendation for having the vision and enterprise to take advantage of an opportunity which lay open to but was neglected by several of his predecessors. I feel that in this case he has grounds for wide commendation. It is on that note that I will end, while supporting and endorsing the caveats which were entered by my noble friend Viscount Simon, and his expression of anxiety concerning the matter of the encouragement given to enterprise. I sincerely hope that the spokesman for the Government will bear in mind the considerations which my noble friend has urged.
§ 4.1 p.m.
My Lords, I very willingly follow my noble friend, Viscount Simon, if only to add something to the remarks which he made on the subject of Income Tax, and the burden of taxation generally. A point which, I think, was rather skated over in his remarks was that the right comparison of expenditure this year is not with expenditure last year, but expenditure in 1939. The subject of the burden of taxation as a whole raises so many questions going beyond the scope of this Bill that it will be neither appropriate to touch upon them now, nor germane to a discussion which, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, has already said, is largely of academic interest to your Lordships. But it is only fair to say—speaking for myself, and I 904 think for other noble Lords who sit on these Benches—that the provisions of the present Finance Bill, broadly speaking, commend themselves, and should commend themselves, to anyone who has examined the situation in detail. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has referred to a few of the problems that have had to be faced, and I think we must all agree that what it has been possible to do in this Finance Bill has very largely been done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is, therefore, perhaps, rather more pertinent for me to address my remarks to one or two individual points than to the Bill as a whole.
If I select one or two points of a slightly academic nature, it is with the object of calling attention to certain matters and certain changes which might be made and which might be brought to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. First, I would say that one thing which would ease the task of those trying to deal with national finance very considerably would be to ensure that the fiscal year of a number of Government and quasi-Government enterprises should coincide with the fiscal year of the Budget. It is not for me to point out that the statement of national accounts, which is supposed to reflect the activities of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a whole, cannot, in fact, reflect those activities accurately when some of the funds with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned close their fiscal year on a different date. That may seem a small matter, but I submit that the suggestion, if adopted, would certainly enable the position to be clarified.
My second point is that there is an omission on a matter of some importance. It is one which obviously cannot be rectified at this moment, but I hope that it will be borne in mind by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and by any Chancellor of the Exchequer who may succeed him. This point deals with the application of Income Tax to the profits of companies in respect of allowances and charges for depreciation and obsolescence. In my humble view, if there is one factor more than any other which has brought so many industrial enterprises to the state of, I will not say inefficiency, but lack of modernity in which they are to be found to-day, it has been the inadequate allowances made by the authorities for depreciation 905 and obsolescence. This applies especially to modern industries where changes are rapid, where processes in use have constantly to give way to more modern discoveries. There is no doubt that in the matter of the allowances that are made in this respect, we fall very considerably behind what is done in America. It is on that more than, perhaps, any other single factor that the continuous modernization of American industry depends.
That modernization of American industry has formed the subject of quite odious comparisons with British industry. Those comparisons have been made very freely, and I think it is not unfair to say that they have been made more freely, perhaps, from the Benches occupied by the noble Lords opposite than from any other quarter. That some recognition of the need which I have touched upon has been granted is a very welcome fact. That recognition is certainly to be found in this Finance Bill and in the last one, for there are certain increased scales of allowances in respect of new plant installed, allowances to agriculture, and for depreciation. That recognition has been given to this problem is a matter for satisfaction, and we are all grateful for it. But the mere fact that the problem has been recognized by these concessions leads me to express the hope that greater concessions of the same sort, once the principle has been recognized, will find their place in future Finance Acts, whether introduced by the Government to which noble Lords opposite belong, or by other Governments hereafter.
The recognition of the due which must be given to modern industries is also to be found in the concessions made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for instance, in the remission of Excise Duty on certain products of the artificial silk and similar industries, in the matter of fibre and yarn. I think I am right in quoting him as saying in another place that he hoped to remit these Excise Duties in full when it was possible to afford it. It is the recognition of certain realities of that sort which, I think, makes this Finance Bill particularly commendable to most of my noble friends on these Benches, and I have no doubt to others also in your Lordships' House.
There is also the recognition which has been accorded in so great a measure in this Finance Bill (in a greater measure 906 perhaps in this Finance Bill, introduced as it has been by the Government now in power) to the family incentive, to which reference has already been made. There is certainly recognition now of what might be called the sanctity of private property. In spite of many statements which have been made to the contrary by friends or colleagues of those associated with the noble Lords opposite, the sanctity of private property is recognized in the remission of the Estate Duties on estates of £2,000 and under, and the remission of certain duties on estates over that amount. That concession, in my view, is one which has been all too little remarked in the Press and in public conversation in this country and in other countries. The social consequences of that—if I may say so, the political consequences—are as far reaching as those of any piece of legislation which this Government have introduced in the course of the present Parliamentary Session. Does not that concession not only create and sanctify but indeed stimulate among the whole of the public of this country the idea of the acquisition of private property which shah not go out of the hands of their successors when they die? Does not that concession, in fact, create that very class which at any rate the more theoretical Communists have described as the Kulak class—the very body of people who have been regarded by the Communists as the greatest obstacle to the realization of the Communist State? If, as I believe, that is the case, all of us on this side side of this House have to express our thanks to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer for having introduced that concession into the Finance Bill.
There are one or two smaller points of which much the same could be said. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has referred to the concessions made and to the views expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of land, and the preservation of that land and of its amenities for the sake of the country as a whole. They are sentiments with which no one in your Lordships' House could disagree. There again, in fairness, we must recognize that the Chancellor has done what many of us could have wished his predecessors had done before him. I have only one other point, and that is, again, the question of the burden of taxation as a whole. It is difficult not to 907 regard the future as black so long as expenditure continues on this level. It is also difficult not to share some of the doubts, perhaps all the doubts, of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, about the sources from which the revenue is to come to meet that expenditure so long as it lasts. But—and this is perhaps the only really important point at this moment, because the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, has spoken on the long-term view—at this late stage and in these (for this purpose) somewhat academic surroundings, I wish to refer only to the immediate future; to the next year or so.
The sources of revenue are still there, if only because the measures of nationalization to which the noble Lord referred have not yet been placed upon the Statute Book. Is it not equally important to ensure, by whatever means are open to the Chancellor, that every step is taken to combat the inflation which we fear and which some of us, perhaps more than others, think is very real? I am not sure on that point myself yet. I expressed those views in the course of a Motion tabled in your Lordships' House by the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell. It is early yet, within a year of the determination of hostilities, to say how far that inevitable measure of inflation consequent upon a war has gone. I would prefer to reserve judgment for another year, but I must recognize, as we must all recognize, that those measures which can be taken to ward off dangers of this kind must be taken. If such measures involve high taxation, high indirect taxation, and the continuance of Purchase Tax for some time to come, that is better than to risk the consequences of a movement getting, if not out of hand, at least partly out of hand. It would mean we should have the task of stopping the horse from running away at a time when, if it has not actually got the bit between its teeth it has, at any rate, shied at an obstacle, and looks a little mischievous. I do not think, therefore, that the dangers of the burden of taxation for, say, this year are quite so great as the noble and learned Viscount suggested, although I am not sure that the noble Viscount intended to refer to the dangers of the next twelve months in particular.
My feeling is rather that the policy of this Finance Bill has been right, and that we must reserve judgment and see how the situation develops in twelve months' time. Your Lordships may share with me one other regret. Under Clause 7 the Government have provided this country with more and better circuses, but they have not been so successful or so generous in providing bread. Even if this is an academic discussion, it may have the effect of drawing attention to points such as those mentioned in the course of this afternoon's debate, and in that way it will serve a good purpose. It is a fitting, if slightly ironical, thought to close what I have to say, that your Lordships may take only an academic interest in that which affects us all, being powerless to change it as a part of the Legislature, and equally powerless to change it, in that your Lordships are for these purposes disfranchised; we cannot even express by our votes a choice in those on whom depend our financial and economic well being.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, in the brief contribution which I venture to make to this interesting discussion I shall endeavour to emulate noble Lords who have taken part in the debate, and who in a very interesting way have dealt with specific points of the Finance Bill in the present situation, rather than attempt to range over the whole field. I make one qualification; I propose to confine my remarks to one specific point. Reading through the debates in another place on the Finance Bill, my interest was most aroused by a brilliant speech delivered by the senior Burgess for Oxford University, Sir Alan Herbert. He apparently impressed the House so much with the contribution that he made upon the subject of betting that in closing the debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised that what Sir Alan had said would be considered immediately. I want to put before your Lordships some views on a particular phase of this subject which seem to me to indicate that unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Government, take almost immediate steps in one department of this evil there will be a worse financial ramp than there has been for a very long time indeed.
Many of your Lordships are sportsmen, although, like myself, you have 909 reached a stage at which perhaps you spend more time watching sport than participating in it. This particularly applies to the sport about which I am going to make reference in the remarks that I have to make, namely, the sport of Association football. There are 40,000 football clubs in this country, all of them, with the exception of perhaps two hundred, amateur clubs playing purely for the love of the game. In some quarters of the community to-day it is popular to gibe at people who only watch games and do not play them. But I give you these figures. If you take a basis of twenty-five participants per match—that is eleven players on each side, two linesmen and the referee—and multiply that by 40,000, you will find that a million players are, every week, playing in organized football during the football season. Let us now look at the number of spectators. If we have two hundred professional football clubs in this country, with an average attendance of 20,000 (some of them have a great many more, and some a great many less) we get, roughly, two million people who are watching Association football matches weekly in England and Wales. My figures do not include Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you add Scotland you greatly increase those figures.
Based upon these football matches, an enormous betting business has been built up within recent years, known as football pools. For payment by postal order of a small sum of money—usually from one shilling to five shillings per week—anyone can send in a coupon attempting to forecast what will be the results of football matches. The prizes are dependent upon the amounts paid into the pools, and they range sometimes from a few shillings to very vast sums. It may surprise your Lordships, but one firm alone, in the year before the war broke out, on six different occasions paid out £30,000 to the prize-winner of what was called a "penny pool"—the people investing a penny and trying to forecast results. On six separate occasions a person won £30,000. Before I proceed further, may I tell your Lordships that I am not asking for legislation to stop this, and for two very definite reasons. The first reason is that I know of no legislation that could possibly stop it. It would be quite impossible for all the Acts of Parliament that were ever passed to stop millions and 910 millions of people from indulging in this pastime or hobby. Therefore, I am not in favour of attempting to stop it, because you cannot do it. The second reason is because all over this land, in thousands if not millions of homes, the father, mother and family gather round the family table and endeavour to fill up one of these football coupons, investing perhaps half-a-crown a week. For the life of me, I cannot see that they are doing any harm or committing any crime. Therefore, I am not in favour of interfering with them.
My object in raising this subject is to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to certain matters which are arising and which urgently require his attention. In the first place, pool betting is increasing with tremendous rapidity. Secondly, enormous profits are being made out of pool betting—and not by those who send in half-a-crown or five shilling postal orders. It may be within the recollection of those of your Lordships who follow this form of sport or betting that only last year one firm alone made an offer to the Football Association of £100,000 per year, as a free gift, in return for their co-operation in helping to run these pools. The Football Association, to their credit, refused that offer. The third point I want to make is that not one penny of the profits made in this business goes back into sport. There is nothing to prevent any person or group of persons from forming a football pool. There would be nothing to prevent any of your Lordships from putting your names to an organization and starting a football pool, and appealing to the public in every way possible to send in coupons and postal orders. No one takes any trouble to find out whether the amount paid out in prizes bears any relation to the amount that is sent in. The whole matter is left entirely free.
There is tremendous activity going on in this business at the present moment. That is the reason why I have taken this unusual course of bringing these facts before your Lordships, in the hope that this matter may receive the urgent attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although we are told that there is a tremendous scarcity of paper, millions of letters are being sent out by these people. In the district where I live, within the last lay or two every person has received a letter. I myself have received three, probably owing to 911 the fact that on past occasions I have taken part in filling up a football coupon, and I shall probably do so again. As I said a moment ago, I see no harm in it. But, in addition to the letters that are being sent out, newsagents and small shopkeepers throughout the country are being appointed as agents of the football pools for the coming football season. Some of your Lordships, when entering your newsagent's shop, will probably see a card in the window announcing that the shopkeeper has had the great honour of being appointed an agent of one of the football pools. When the football season starts at the end of August, I venture to say that there will not be a single factory or workshop in this country which has not an agent working inside the factory, who will be collecting money from the workmen and sending it to the pools.
Although we are always being told that it is impossible to get on with certain work because of the scarcity of labour (and urgent vital work should be proceeded with) two weeks ago a small army of people were engaged by the leading football pools in door-to-door canvassing for members. That army is now operating in some of the industrial centres, going from door to door and enrolling customers for one particular firm. When scores of industrialists are clamouring for factories in which to carry on their business, one of these firms has succeeded in getting an enormous factory in North London, and within the last fortnight has sent out a circular letter to every person resident in that Parliamentary area, offering employment. To girls leaving school at the age of fourteen they have offered thirty-five shillings a week for a five-day working week, working from half past nine till five o'clock. The result is that many of the businesses in that area are complaining bitterly that their staffs are leaving them and going to work in this football pool business.
Just before I left to come to your Lordships' House this afternoon I had yet another letter handed to me which was received from a firm which describes itself as the only pool to guarantee to their clients a return in dividends of between 80 and 90 per cent. of the money received. They add that in 1939 the staff employed by them totalled 15,000. That is one firm alone. A group of the larger of these 912 firms have announced that their aim is to try and get a turnover of £100,000,000 by the end of the season after next. Before the war, in so far as it is possible to ascertain figures, the amount they took was something like £3,500,000. They are now agreed that by an all-out and vigorous campaign they will try and get, by the end of the season after next, a £100,000,000 turnover. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a very simple method is at hand to deal with this problem. Already the Government recognizes betting through the Racecourse Betting Control Board which controls totalisators and horse-racing. It seems to me that it would be a simple thing to apply this control to the football pools. In 1939 the total invested on the totalisator in horse-racing was £7,000,000. Football pools this year will probably get seven times that amount. The Betting Control Board, set up by the Government in 1928, makes considerable profits, and some of these profits are devoted to improving bloodstock and the sport of racing. I suggest that a Football Pool Board should be set up on similar lines to license those who carry on football pools, the licence to be based on a percentage of the pools.
Your Lordships may be interested in what Sweden did in this connexion. Apparently Sweden, with a population not so big as that of Greater London, took an interest in British football matches to such an extent that the Government found it necessary to take control of football pools in Sweden. In three years before the war, in Sweden, from football pools carried out on the results of British football matches, the Government collected £8,000,000, which was used for creating playing fields and recreation grounds for children and for generally promoting sport in the commonest sense of the word. If Sweden can do that, surely we are not going to lag behind them. The suggestion I make, if carried out, would bring in revenue to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of £1,000,000 a year to begin with. There would be no serious objection from the public, who would be guaranteed an honest deal, which they are not getting at the present time, or from the genuine football pools, who would be protected from unfair competition; and that revenue could be used in the interests of sport, for the provision of playing fields and to aid struggling clubs.
913 I apologize to your Lordships for having introduced this speech into the debate on the Finance Bill, but Sir Alan Herbert raised it in another place in another connexion. I have pointed out the evil which I think is going to be unmanageable unless somebody does something about it quickly, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the only person who can take rapid action. I have ventured to suggest how he could obtain control of this business before it gets out of hand. I hope to receive some assurance from the noble Lord who is going to reply.
My Lords, I do not think that it would be the desire of the House that I should deal extensively with the questions which have arisen during the debate. The best service I can render to the various speakers is to assure them that everything they have said will be faithfully laid before the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some of the points that have been made will no doubt improve his digestion, and others will no doubt retard it. I am sure he will be as interested to read what has been said as I have been to listen to it this afternoon. I would just like to thank all those noble Lords who have been kind enough to say some pleasant and agreeable things about me, and those who did not but who no doubt intended to do so.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª;Committee negatived.