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New Clause—(Exemption Of Exhibitions Of Art Societies From Entertainments Duty)

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1922

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  • (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Finance (New Duties) Act, 1916, and the Finance Act, 1917, or the Finance Act, 1919, Entertainments Duty shall not be charged on payments for admission to any exhibition for the promotion and encouragement of the arts of painting, etching, or sculpture, held by a society or institution incorporated for such purposes by Royal Charter or by a society or institution whose sole objects are the promotion of the said arts and whose rules contain provisions that the net profits of such exhibition are devoted to the promotion and encouragement of the general interests and objects of the society or institution holding the exhibition and are not and will not be distributed by way of dividend to any members of such society or institution.
  • (2) The Commissioners may make Regulations for carrying the provisions of this Section into effect.—[Mr. Ormsby-Gore.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    I do so on behalf of the Imperial Arts League, a sort of loose federation of professional artists. They say, and I think rightly, that there are certain glaring anomalies in the way that Entertainments Duty is charged now. The Royal Academy does not pay Entertainments Duty, but the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers does. A large number of the professional artists' societies are exempt, while others have to pay, under the existing law. What the artists feel most of all is that last year this House gave complete exemption from Entertainments Duty to trade shows. That is to say, if the textile manufacturers arranged an exhibition in London of art textiles and things of that kind for sale, they were not charged Entertainments Duty. But the unfortunate artists, who have had a very bad time since the trade depression, have to pay Entertainments Duty on the large majority of their professional society exhibitions. They feel a double injustice. It is a manifest injustice that the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers should pay the duty, while the Royal West of England Academy at Bristol escapes. I have made every effort to safeguard the Clause against abuses. I do not want to include the exhibition of amateur work or the one-man show. If an artist can get up a one-man show, which is no doubt in the nature of an exhibition, he is in a somewhat different position. I want to confine the proposal to bonâ fide professional societies, which are incorporated by Royal Charter or are limited as to the distribution of any profits they make. As a matter of fact, most of these societies do not make any profit. I have evidence to show that the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, rather than pass on the tax to the public, pay it themselves, and as a result, the whole of the profits of their exhibitions have been swallowed up. It would be unfortunate for this country if trade shows, motor shows, and things of that kind were exempt, and the higher craftsmanship was penalised. We let off ordinary mercantile exhibitions, but when it comes to etching, painting, and sculpture we come down on them. If my words are not sufficient safeguard, I shall be glad to accept any other words that the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests.

    I do not resent at all the principle which has been affirmed, and I am prepared to adopt it. I cannot adopt my hon. Friend's Clause as it stands. If he will allow me, I will put down for the Report Stage a Clause which will entirely cover what he desires.

    Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.