§ 65. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having regard to reduction of the number of Purchase Tax rates from seven to four as a measure of simplification in the Finance Act, 1958, what general economy in assessment and collection has been effected in Customs and Excise; what is the value in the current year of such economy; and what estimate he has made of labour saving among Purchase Tax payers consequential upon simplification of rates.
§ 66. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware, in connection with the difficulties arising from assessment of Purchase Tax on particular items of stationery, that following trade protests, a meeting between traders and Customs and Excise took place on 12th November, 1958, when traders again made a request for arbitration, which has not so far been accepted; and when such arbitration is to be accepted with a view to settling difficulties arising from Purchase Tax assessment on stationery, including theatre tickets, competition entry forms, lottery tickets, and stamp albums; and whether he will make a statement.
The articles mentioned are representative a broad class of stationery goods; their liability to tax raises a question of principle which it would be inappropriate to settle by informal arbitration. On a previous occasion, the Customs and Excise offered to facilitate a test action in the courts if that should be desired, and this offer remains open.
At the trade's request, however, the Customs are themselves reviewing the criteria of tax liability in this field and 175W they will let the trade Committee know as soon as this review is completed with a view to further discussion.
§ 67. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that an industrial type of polythene bucket over two pounds in weight and with a pouring lip is free of Purchase Tax, whereas a polythene jug, big in section and four and a half pints in capacity, is subject to 15 per cent. Purchase Tax; as both the polythene bucket and polythene jug described are specifically for industrial use, why he is discriminating in favour of buckets and against jugs, both vessels having broadly comparable purposes; and what remedy he proposes to dispose of this anomaly.
Yes. This is unavoidable, because all sizes of jugs are used domestically, but not all sizes of buckets.
71. Mrs. Hill
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, when framing his Budget, he will consider the removal of Purchase Tax from those gas and coke fires with a gas poker point combined which are necessary to comply with the Clean Air Act.
I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend has in mind; grates for burning coke, including those fitted with gas ignition, are not taxable.
§ 73. Lady Gammans
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of the fact that gramophone records are used extensively by the British Council and others to demonstrate the British way of life, if he will consider reducing or removing the Purchase Tax on them.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that the rate of Purchase Tax on gramophone records amounts to twice as much as the tax on mink coats; that the gramophone industry provides for Great Britain more in employment and foreign currency than the mink coat industry; and, in framing his next Budget, if he will take these facts into account, with a view to reducing the Purchase Tax on gramophone records.176W
I do not doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman's facts, but I think the relevance of his comparisons is questionable.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the principle on which he acts when, in framing his Budget, he imposes tax on some of the media for the propagation of knowledge, culture and education, namely, gramophone records, but not on other media, namely, books.
I explained in my Budget speech last year why I believe that a comprehensive tax extending to such things as books and newspapers is for practical purposes a mirage; and why I had to retain tax at a relatively high rate on gramophones and records.