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Parts Of Musical Instruments

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move,

"That the Purchase Tax (Alteration of Rates) (No. 1) Order, 1943, dated 16th March, 1943, made by the Treasury under Section 20 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1940, a copy of which was presented to this House on 23rd March, be approved."
It is very seldom that the Government have an opportunity in these days of proposing a reduction of taxation. I have not any doubt that the House will welcome the reduction, even although it is a small one. In the last Finance Act the Purchase Tax on certain articles of luxury, or at any rate articles that were not essential, was increased from 33⅓ per cent. to 66⅔ per cent., and among these articles were strings and reeds of musical instruments. It was represented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that not only were these strings and reeds the tools of trade of musicians and that they should have some consideration on that account, but it was also represented to him that the strings of tennis racquets were subject to only 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax. The heart of the Chancellor was wrung by the plaintive note of the musicians, and he decided that it was only right and proper to make the concession which is asked for in this Order and which is brought before the House to-day for that purpose.

May I ask a question? What rate of Purchase Tax is charged has rather ceased to be a matter of interest, because the Treasury have produced a new device called "uplift," which has nothing to do with the moral condition of the people. If the Financial Secretary will examine the pertinent Section in the Finance Act under which Purchase Tax is collected, I think he will find—and I am only paraphrasing—that the Commissioners of Excise, in estimating the value of goods for the purpose of Purchase Tax, are required to take into account what is a fair price as between a willing seller and a willing buyer. But instead of doing that they have, in a number of cases, struck an entirely artificial value, and I want to know something about this artificial value called "uplift." I have seen some correspondence with the Customs and Excise people on the matter which, quite frankly, I do not understand, and it appears that in every case when anybody tries to bring them to book by instituting proceedings they have promptly surrendered. It is a most extraordinary exploitation that is taking place, and I wonder whether it is going to take place on the question of musical instruments.

While fully in favour, of course, of the reductions suggested, why is it that this is of such immediate consequence, and why could he not wait until the Budget Statement?

This is an Order which was before the House on 16th March, and it has to be confirmed within a certain number of days. In answer to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), I have nothing to say.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved,

"That the Purchase Tax (Alteration of Rates) (No. 1) Order, 1943, dated 16th March, 1943, made by the Treasury under Section 20 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1940, a copy of which was presented to this House on 23rd March, be approved."

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

It being after the hour appointed for the Adjournment of the House, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.