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Review Of Past Year

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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Looking back over the Revenue for the past year, the Budget estimate of £1,187 million for Customs and Excise was reduced to £1,184 million by concessions which I gave, following most persuasive representations, in Committee. during the passage of the Finance Bill. The receipts were, exactly, £1,184 million, to the nearest million. We hit the target exactly, in spite of the fact that I lost £52 million on beer, owing to the fact that there was less barley for brewing. That was not my fault. But this loss of revenue on beer was almost exactly balanced by a series of surpluses from tobacco, entertainments, Purchase Tax and other import duties. Tobacco brought in £446 million, £21 million more than the estimate. Entertainments Duty, in spite of remissions which I gave in my last Budget on a wide range of sports, none the less yielded £53 million, or £3 million more than the 'estimate. Purchase Tax yielded £181 million, £23 million more than the estimate. The duties under the Import Duties Act yielded £29 million, or £7 million more than the estimate.

Turning to the other great branch, the Inland Revenue, these duties, last year, yielded £1,777 million, a surplus of £9r million over the estimate. Income Tax at £1,156 million beat the estimate by £45 million. Excess Profits Tax and Profits Tax together, at £358 million, beat the estimate by £33 million. Stamps, at £38 million, beat the estimate by £9 million. On the Stock Exchange, there was a high, and sometimes even hectic, level of activity during the year. Stockbrokers have done very well under this Government. They have almost the least cause of all to complain. Death Duties at £148 million beat the estimate by £8 million. Surtax at £76 million, alone of the Inland Revenue duties, fell short of the estimate by £4 million, but, even so, it brought in £7 million more than in the previous year, although the rates of tax were still the same—[ Interruption.] No, the right hon. Gentleman must not assume that. The higher rates—I was about to emphasise this to the Committee—which were imposed in my Budget of October, 1945, in partial compensation for reliefs in Income Tax, only come into effect for the first time this year. They will normally be paid in January next by those happy persons entitled to pay them. This increase in Surtax is therefore all the more satisfactory, from the revenue point of view. I have made inquiries regarding Surtax collection, and I find that there are consider. able arrears of Surtax still to be gathered in. I have given instructions to the officers concerned that these overdue contributions from well-to-do people, shall be energetically collected.