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Artificial Silk

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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I propose to repeal the Excise Duty on artificial silk as from the 1st May next. This, I have always thought, was a stupid and inappropriate tax in modern conditions. It dates back to a time—I remember Debates in the 'twenties about it—when artificial silk was something of an exotic luxury, and had not then become a normal part of the garments of so many of our fellow citizens. Nowadays the tax places an unfair burden on one of the liveliest and most hopeful of our industries, a particularly hopeful industry for export. And here I reach what I said just now This industry is widely dispersed over the country, it does not suffer from undue localisation. It is also setting about the construction of new factories, and new projects of factories, many of them set in the development areas.

Therefore, I propose to repeal the Excise Duty. There is a complicated system of Customs Duties on imported artificial silk products which gives some advantage to home-produced material. I propose to adjust those Customs Duties, corresponding to the repeal of the Excise Duty, but leaving the advantage to the home produced material undiminished. I shall withdraw the allowance, which was granted last year in the Finance Bill, but is no longer necessary, on duty-paid artificial silk used in the manufacture of tyres. I estimate the cost of these changes in Customs and Excise on artificial silk, which the Board of Trade will take into account in considering future rayon prices, at £2,250,000 in a full year, and about £2 million this year.