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National Finance

Volume 462: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1949

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Europe (American And British Aid)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the value, in pounds sterling, of the total aid received by Great Britain from the United States of America since the end of the European war by way of loan and Marshall Aid; and the total value, in pounds sterling, of the aid in cash and kind given by Great Britain to European countries during the same period.

£931 million has been received from the U.S.A. since the end of the European war by way of loan under the line of credit established by the Anglo-American Financial Agreement of 1945, and £208 million to date as Marshall Aid.

Aid by the United Kingdom to European countries in the form of cash, goods and services, amounted to £790 million between the end of the war and 31st December, 1948. This figure includes the net use of drawing rights resulting from the first two months' operation of the Intra-European Payments Scheme. Of the total assistance, £440 million is recoverable.

Invisible Earnings (Statistics)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the value, adjusted for changes in the value of the pound sterling, of the total invisible earnings of Great Britain for each of the years 1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1946 and 1947.

I will, with permission, circulate the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman also circulate the figures he has taken in adjustment of the pound in the calculations he has made, and add them to the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

I think it will be quite clear from the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT how it has been arrived at.

Will the answer convey the net invisible earnings, or will it be concerned merely with the gross figure?

Following is the answer:

Before the war our "invisible" earnings were computed on a different basis from those for 1946 and 1947. The principal difference was that, as U.K. imports were expressed c.i.f. in the balance of payments, freight and insurance earned on these imports by U.K. firms were included as "invisible" earnings even though they were earned, for the most part, from U.K. importers and not from overseas residents. At present imports are entered f.o.b. and the freight and insurance earnings referred to above are excluded from our receipts. For the year 1938, however, net invisible earnings

(£ million)
1938 Purchasing Power of net invisible earnings.
(i) With Imports calculated on c.i.f. Basis360370270320370320
(ii) With Imports calculated on f.o.b. Basis230—80—70

Purchase Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer with whom the Commissioners of Customs and Excise consult in drawing up lists of medicines and drugs to be exempted from Purchase Tax.

The Commissioners of Customs and Excise rely primarily upon the Ministries of Health and Agriculture on "human" and "animal" medicines, respectively.

Death Duties


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will issue a classification of the number of estates and net receipts of Death Duties and the net capital values for such estates for any convenient year since 1944.

A classification of numbers of estates and net capital values for the year 1946–47 appears in the 90th Report of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue; a similar classification for the year 1947–48 will appear in the forthcoming Report. The total receipt of death duties in each estate range is not separately recorded.

have been computed on both bases, and are shown below for comparison.

It is not clear which changes in the value of the pound my hon. Friend has in mind, but the following table shows the purchasing power of net "invisible" earnings in terms of the imports that these would have bought in the years in question. Indices of the average value of imports have been applied to the estimated net "invisible" receipts or payments, taking 1938 as the base. If Government overseas expenditure were not taken into account in 1946 and 1947, figures would be +60 and +10, respectively.

Civil Service (Equal Pay)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated cost in the first operative year of the proposed increases in civil servants' emoluments, and how does this compare with the cost of raising the increments of women civil servants on the incremental part of the scale to the level of the men's increment, and of allowing women at the maximum of the scale to proceed to the men's maximum by equal yearly increments; also for the first operative year of such a scheme.

The Chorley Committee estimated the full cost of implementing their proposals as about £400,000 a year. The extent to which the cost in the first operative year will be less than the full cost cannot yet be estimated as I am still considering the appropriate method of gradual assimilation to the new rates. The eventual cost of the sort of scheme suggested in the second part of the Question for the gradual introduction of equal pay would be more than £10 million for the Civil Service; the cost in the first operative year would be about £2 million. It would, however, be quite impracticable to introduce such a scheme in the Civil Service alone. It would have to extend at least to the other public services which would increase the cost to some £7 million in the first year rising to an eventual total of £35 million.

Motor Car Taxation


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an estimate of the loss to the Exchequer for the current year and the next financial year if the registration tax on older motor cars was reduced to that allowed for new motor cars.

In a full year, £5¾ million. If a change were introduced, the effect in the financial year would depend on the date as from which the change applied and the arrangements made for refunds.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman, when preparing his Budget, consider this claim of the motoring community, and has he not had representations from the motoring associations on this matter?

I have had representations on every conceivable point that might come into the Budget, and I have borne them all in mind.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind the invitation of his predecessor that, after a suitable period, we should exert pressure on him in this matter, and will he show himself as accommodating as his predecessor appeared to me?

Is it not hard that the Ministry of Supply should prevent persons from getting new cars, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should penalise them for having old cars?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislation to put pre-January, 1947, and post-January, 1947, motor cars on the same tax basis.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will extend the flat rate of car road fund tax to cover all cars regardless of date of purchase or first taxation.

Is the Chancellor aware that the whole arrangements are full of anomalies and are grossly unjust, which is so typical of the Socialist Government?

War Damaged Property (Claims)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many war damage claims in respect or residential property were outstanding at the beginning and end of 1948.

Can my right hon. and learned Friend give any indication of how long it is likely to be before these war damage claims are eventually disposed of?

That is another question. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will put it on the Paper?

Government Hospitality, London (Cost)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how £50,000 of current expenditure was incurred between 3rd May and 31st December, 1948, at No. 2, Park Street, W.1, in so far as that figure exceeds £28,200, the cost of 96 overseas guests for 2,351 nights during that period; and if he will identify the chief items.

The final accounts in respect of No. 2, Park Street for the period ending on 31st December last are not yet available. I am not, therefore, in a position to give the hon. Member an accurate analysis of the total expenditure.

As £50,000 was spent during this period on a total of 32,351 nights for overseas guests, was not the average cost per guest per night over £20, and not approximately £12, as stated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman previously?

The estimate, I believe, was an accurate one but until we get the final figures we obviously cannot check it.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what charges were made and to whom for accommodation and refreshments, provided for visitors, other than Government guests from overseas, at No. 2, Park Street, W.1, between 3rd May and 31st December, 1948; how many of these visitors were, and how many were not, sponsored by the Government; and what distinction was drawn between Government guests and Government-sponsored guests.

Five hundred and forty-two visitors, other than Government guests, were accommodated at No. 2, Park Street between 3rd May and 31st December last, for a total of 3,598 nights. Of these, 467 were sponsored by the Government directly or by Embassies and High Commissioners' Offices. The other 75 of these were accommodated for short periods at the request of neighbouring hotels. The accommodation and refreshment services are available to Government and Government-sponsored visitors without distinction. I am sending the hon. Member a list of current charges.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what are Government guests as distinct from Government-sponsored guests?

Government guests are people who are here receiving hospitality at the invitation of the Government. Government-sponsored guests are guests for whom the Government try to find accommodation at the request of Embassies, High Commissioners or other persons.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the charges paid by Government-sponsored guests cover, in fact, the cost of providing the accommodation?

I could not say until we have had the accounts, as I have already stated. I should think that the answer, probably, is, "No, they do not cover the cost." In other words, we are losing money on the guests.

Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether any of these guests are bona fide workers and not-contact men?

Medical Treatment Abroad (Special Allowance)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will consider the granting of a special sterling allocation to certain tuberculous patients, who can be certified as having become acclimatised to residence only at high altitudes.

I do not think that it would be appropriate to issue a general instruction in the sense suggested. All applications for foreign currency on health grounds are considered by the Medical Advisory Committee, who base their recommendations on the medical evidence submitted in each individual case. If such evidence included a reference to the effect of climatic conditions on the patient, it would no doubt be taken into account along with other factors.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many patients of this particular group have had their resistance to disease lowered after their return to this country and have died of quite minor ailments; and, in connection with this particular group, would he accept the medical evidence of foreign doctors resident in Switzerland and urge that upon his medical advisory council?

The Medical Advisory Committee do take these factors into account. We must leave it to them. They are the experts in these matters.

Is there any reason why the Medical Advisory Committee should remain anonymous?

That question has been answered on more than one occasion. It is necessary in order that pressure should not be brought upon the members in individual cases.

Does the Advisory Committee consider individual cases or does it merely lay down rules which are applied without discretion?

Indeed, no. The panel does consider individual cases. The papers sent on individual cases are considered in great detail.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what are the terms of reference of the Committee from the financial point of view?

What I meant was, to what extent are they hampered or limited by Treasury instructions from the point of view of exchange?

If the hon. Gentleman would put that question on the Order Paper I will endeavour to answer it.

Central Office Of Information (Exhibition)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the estimated cost of the exhibition "On Our Way," which is being held at the Hall of the Central Office of Information, in Oxford Street; and what is the object of the novelty feature, which includes a fun fair, pin tables and other sideshows.

Thirty-three thousand pounds. The object of the novelty feature is to bring home salient economic facts in such a way as to impress them on the memory of the public. A similar technique has been used in other Central Office exhibitions.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the announcement about this exhibition says that the fun fair will contain

"distorting mirrors, Aladdin's Cave, a for-tune-telling machine and the Biggest Rat out of Captivity,"
and will he explain which facts the mirrors are supposed to distort and who or what is "the Biggest Rat out of Captivity"?

In these exhibitions we have to cater for all tastes. We hope to get Conservatives there in order to educate them.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the fortune-telling machine was consulted by the Conservative Party before the South Hammersmith by-election?

Can the Financial Secretary say whether the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State were led astray about the British economic position by these distorting mirrors?