Considered in Committee. [ Progress, 27th June.]
[MAJOR MILNER in the Chair]
New Clause—(Dependent Relatives Allowance)
Subsection (1) of section twenty-two of the Finance Act, 1920 (which, as amended by subsequent enactments, provides that where a claimant maintains an infirm or aged relative or widowed mother of his or his wife's whose total income does not exceed one hundred and twenty pounds a year he is entitled to a deduction of fifty pounds reduced, if the total income of the person maintained exceeds seventy pounds a year, by the amount of the excess, and provides for a like deduction in respect of the services of a daughter resident with an aged or infirm claimant), shall have effect as if the words "one hundred and fifty pounds" were substituted for the words "one hundred and twenty pounds," the words "sixty pounds," were substituted for the words "fifty pounds" and the words "ninety pounds," were substituted for the words "seventy pounds."—[ Viscount Hinchingbrooke.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."This new Clause in the name of a number of my hon. Friends and myself is with respect to dependent relatives allowances. At first sight, it looks very complicated, but I assure the Committee that it is a Clause which has immensely respectable antecedents and, with the assistance of the Committee, I hope to give the allowance even more virtue and substance than it has had before. The Clause is designed to ease the position of a claimant—and there are about a million of them in the country today—who maintains an infirm or aged relative or a widowed mother. There is also a subsidiary class of claimants who are themselves aged or infirm and have resident daughters living with them. The object of this Clause is to raise the allowance from £50 to £60 and to lift the brackets within which the allowance is payable to £90 and £150 respectively. I think probably all hon. Members who have had anything to do with this matter in public life or who have been Members of the House for any considerable period, will know in detail the history of this allowance and, therefore, I shall not repeat it now. Suffice to say that the allowance was originally recommended by the Royal Commission on Income Tax in 1919 and was for the first time embodied in the Finance Act of 1920. It has been amended and enlarged on a number of occasions since then—in 1927, 1943 and 1947. May I first make a point about the allowance itself? It appears to me that the £50 is now out of line with the other allowances which are obtainable—for example, the £60 allowance for the child and the £70 allowance for a wife, being the difference between the marriage allowance of £180 and the single allowance of £110. I therefore suggest that the allowance should be raised by £10 to bring it in line with the child allowance. I must point out the anomaly which exists today in that a child who may be incapacitated or invalided and who is under 16 years of age receives £60, whereas the moment he or she passes his or her 16th birthday the allowance drops to £50. I think it is only fair that we should all acknowledge that the cost of maintaining invalid children would, if anything, go up rather than down, with their wider interests as they grow up. The allowance ought to be maintained at £60. Secondly, with regard to the brackets. The present brackets within which the allowance works are £70 and £120 respectively. Where the income from all sources of the maintained person is £70 or less the full allowance is operative, but when we get beyond the £70 the allowance tapers off pound by pound until, when the maintained person has an income from all sources of £120, it disappears altogether as far as benefit to the claimant is concerned. It seems to me that both brackets are too low today in relation to the cost of living and to the general level of pensions and earnings. For example, since the last concession was made in 1947 by the present Chancellor of the Duchy the cost of living has risen nine points. I have the figures here in money values and could give them. But the thing is apparent. It seems to me it is miserly—quite miserly—for the Treasury today to stop the allowance when the maintained person is earning £2 6s. a week, which is not, after all, a very princely weekly sum. The Clause, is therefore, designed to help those persons—and, as I say, there are about a million of them—on whom the burden of the maintenance of relatives falls very hardly in these times. If the Chancellor had been prepared to do something about Purchase Tax this year, that might have been a way in which we could have assisted these people even more notably than in this, but that possibility having been ruthlessly removed by the Treasury we are forced on this side of the Committee to look for ways and means, within the general frame of the Income Tax laws, for assisting these people. I do not know at all what the cost of this concession would be. It may be £10 million or £20 million. If it is £20 million it is only a half of the 1 per cent. of what the Treasury are extracting from the pockets of the people. I do not know, but it seems to me that the Financial Secretary is unusually unhappy this year. Poor man, he has not been allowed to open his shoulders one little bit in this Committee, whereas under what in many ways was the more unfortunate dispensation of the Chancellor of the Duchy there was usually £30 million or £40 million to play about with on the Committee stage. And I have seen the face of the Financial Secretary glow once or twice during our Debates two or three years ago, when opportunity was given to him by the then Chancellor to make some concession. I do hope that he has so prevailed upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman today, the fourth day of our Debates in Committee on this Bill, as to be able to come down here to give us—who, after all, are trying to represent the state of living of some of these people so desperately hit by the right hon. and learned Gentleman's general financial policy—some concession, and help remove a burden that now exists.
I am sure the Committee will be grateful to my noble Friend for bringing before us this extremely benevolent proposal. My recollection is not quite the same as his regarding the past activities of the Financial Secretary on previous occasions. I seem to recall that the right hon. Gentleman was never given the opportunity of making concessions, but was invariably left on the burning deck in order to resist proposals, and that it was always the role of the Chancellor to take the bows and the applause. Today the Financial Secretary has an opportunity—or the Economic Secretary has—to meet us in this matter.My noble Friend has pointed out with profound truth that the cost of living has not kept pace with the concessions that have been made during the lifetime of this Parliament under this particular heading; that there has been a further rise; and that it would be right and proper for us to take cognisance of that, and to make an effort, by the adoption of this Clause, to bring the law into line in this matter of aged dependants. They are, as my noble Friend has said, a small but particularly helpless minority. Whereas the concession will be made to the young and active, in many cases the effect of it will benefit those aged and infirm relatives whom they are maintaining. The other part of the Clause is designed, of course, to help the aged persons themselves. To assist the infirm is, after all, one of the noblest actions of which the human race is capable. I think it would be appropriate and proper if today we were to take regard of the fact that the cost of living, since we last adjusted the matter during the lifetime of this Parliament, has risen, and I hope very much that the Economic Secretary, who, I understand, is to reply to the Debate on this new Clause, will open our proceedings today, the fourth day, in admirable fashion by telling us that the Government have agreed to accede to my noble Friends' proposal.
I think it was a little hard of the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) to say that my right hon. Friend had not so far opened his shoulders during these proceedings, because, as a matter of fact, he did hit two boundaries off successive balls just before we ourselves on this side, strictly in accordance with the rules, I hope, declared the innings closed last night.
It did not cost anything.
I do not think that is correct. The noble Lord correctly rehearsed the history of this particular allowance, and he and the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) have spoken very persuasively in moving this further concession. Of course, we would all sympathise with their desire to assist the aged and infirm. However all that both hon. Gentlemen have said could have been said with equal force at whatever level this allowance stood. If we made this concession this year and enlarged the scope of the allowance, it would still be possible to advance very much the same arguments a year hence.So I am afraid what we have to look at is not simply the merits of this Clause, but the claim of this particular allowance in relation to the other allowances under Income Tax, and, indeed, other claims of remission of taxation. When we do that the first thing which appears, as the noble Lord quite correctly said, is that this allowance has been increased no fewer than three times, and twice in quite recent years. It was increased in 1927, again in 1943, and yet again in 1947. 4.0 p.m. By the Finance Act, 1943, the allowance was increased from £25 at which it had originally stood, to £50 in any case where the relative's income was below £30, and in those cases where it lay between £30 and £80 the amount of the allowance was to be £50 less the excess over the £30, as I think the noble Lord pointed out. In the Finance Act, 1947, we made a further substantial concession in that we raised the lower limit of £30 to £70 and the higher limit of £80 to £120. I think, therefore, that having gone so far, the case cannot be made out for extending this concession any further unless, indeed, the cost would be trivial. In point of fact, the cost of operating this new Clause would not be trivial; it would amount to £7 million, which is quite considerable. For these reasons I do not think we can accept it this year. The noble Lord invoked to aid his argument the rise in the cost of living. That is a very natural claim to put forward for the people concerned, but I think the Committee will agree that if the Government were to accept that argument as sufficient in itself for making increases in payments of this kind, or indeed of other kinds, that undoubtedly would be the way to inflation, and it would be out of line with our White Paper policy and our general policy of disinflation.
Has it not always been the policy of this and, indeed, of other Governments to select for protection against the effect of inflation the aged and infirm members of the community in particular?
The Economic Secretary has given a somewhat limp answer to the points which have been made by my noble Friend the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). This is the only new Clause to which I have put my name because I believe it concerns such a deserving cause. Hon. Members are always in difficulty when trying to decide which are the most worthy causes, and my own feeling is that there could be few more worthy causes than this. I say that because I believe that, apart from anything else, it is always highly desirable that as many people as possible should look after the least fortunate in their own families instead of putting them on the State.The whole principle which lies behind the original measure is a happy compromise in which we have an individual trying to look after the less fortunate members of his family and at the same time the State giving him some reward for doing it. The Economic Secretary has merely questioned the extent to which that reward should be given. My own feeling is that there is a much better case for this Clause than there was yesterday for the two Clauses which were accepted. The Economic Secretary says that his right hon. Friend hit the Opposition and their Amendment for a boundary yesterday, but I should have thought that all he could really say was that he finished up in the dark with a 1s. 3d. cinema ticket and a dog licence. That is confusing sports and entertainment a little, but if that is considered hitting a boundary, I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman could only have had experience on the river rather than with a cricket bat in his hands. This new Clause is very fair in view of the increase in the cost of living. The Economic Secretary said that the increase in 1943 over the original amount was from £25 to £50. I should have said that there was certainly that increase in the cost of living in that period, and I should say that there has also been a small increase since 1947, as my noble Friend said. I believe that although this proposal would cost £7 million, it is much better that we should do it this way than have a demand for increased social services or something of that sort, because that would seem to be the alternative. If these people are really going to be put into a difficult financial position, the State has an immediate remedy by making it possible for the National Assistance Board to help them out. Surely, it is much more desirable that individual families should try to help these people and should be given some reward for so doing. My own feeling is that the reward would be much cheaper than would be the case if the National Assistance Board had to be authorised to make good the loss of income owing to the rise in the cost of living. Therefore, I hope that the Financial Secretary will reconsider this matter. If he cannot accept it, perhaps he will go further into it. I certainly believe that it is a highly estimable and desirable new Clause, and I hope the Committee will give it support.
The Economic Secretary's argument appeared to indicate that he was feeling the heat because it was not up to his normal controversial standard. He began by saying that at whatever figure these allowances were fixed an argument could be adduced for raising them. That may be so, but that is no argument for maintaining the present figure. It is no argument for simply ignoring the changes in the general price level since 1947, and it is no argument at all for the present figure. I think the Economic Secretary will agree that he was rather below his standard when he put forward that argument.The Economic Secretary's much more interesting and important point was in his inflation argument, and I should like to say a word upon it. The hon. Gentleman said, perfectly truly, that concessions of this sort have an inflationary effect, but he did not seem to me at all to face the intervention of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) as to whether it was his intention and the intention of the Government to apply that doctrine at its most rigorous to the aged and infirm. As I understand the theory in broad terms, it is that we should restrict the amount of spending power generally available in the hands of that part of the community which can look after itself. That is the general argument, whether it be valid or invalid. I should, no doubt, be out of Order if I pursued that question. I have always understood that every effort had at the same time to be made to insulate from its effect certain special classes such as the aged, war disabled and children. Surely that is the case which is presented again and again from the Box opposite. That is surely directly material to this point. The figure of £7 million which the Economic Secretary gave was lower than that which my noble Friend had intimated was his impression. This comparatively small amount would be concentrated upon the worst hit section of the community—that part of the community who have to maintain aged and dependent relatives. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee know perfectly well of many cases in which that imposes an all but intolerable burden upon hard working and responsible individuals and particularly upon those individuals whose sense of self-reliance and responsibility leads them to seek to maintain their dependent relatives rather than cast family burdens upon the community. All hon. Members know of cases of that sort; they are pathetic cases, and I should have thought that the case for giving some limited relief in that direction cannot be met by broad generalisations about anti-inflationary policies. It calls for at least a reply which indicates, as the Economic Secretary's reply did not indicate, that the Government have seriously gone into the merits of this question. It demands a considered reply which indicates the same appreciation of the hardships involved. I trust that the very moderate and reasonable concession for which my noble Friend asked will not be brushed aside with the airy and ill-considered generalisations with which the Economic Secretary regaled the Committee.
Frankly, I was amazed at the smallness of the sum which the Economic Secretary said would be needed for this proposal. I thought it would have been considerably more. I have a very large number of cases of this type in my own constituency; again and again I have endeavoured in one way or another to obtain relief, and on several occasions a considerable amount of relief has been given to these people. In that estimate of £7 million, I wonder whether any deduction has been made in respect of the fact that if it was not for the maintenance given by these relatives a considerable number of the dependants would be obliged to apply for State assistance. These people who take care of their dependent relatives are doing something which in a large number of cases has to be borne by the State.As has been pointed out by one or two hon. Members on this side of the Committee—incidentally, no hon. Members opposite have taken the trouble to support these old people—these people who take care of their dependent relatives are relieving the State of a large burden, a burden which is quite likely far larger than the £7 million which the relief proposed in this new Clause would cost. That £7 million, of course, would not carry the whole burden but it would be an immense relief to those people who are trying to do their best to look after their own families. I should like to raise a point which has not been mentioned today. It is not always very easy, especially in these days of housing shortage, to have an aged person in one's house. It is not very easy to have in one's house any of the classes mentioned in the new Clause. In many cases, as a result of the housing shortage, members of the community have taken on this obligation and have tried to help their own families. Very often there is a whole family plus another person in one house, as those of us who know the poorer sections of the community realise, and that makes available a larger amount of accommodation for the rest of the community. This is being done entirely voluntarily by those people for whom we are asking a concession. 4.15 p.m. This matter of helping one's own family has always been one of the strongest virtues of the British people. It is a matter on which I have heard the Home Secretary make brilliant speeches. Perhaps I ought not to say "brilliant," but doing his best to advance somewhere along the road towards brilliancy. I do not want to exaggerate matters, because I do not think exaggeration is right, but it is an undoubted fact that we should do everything possible to encourage family life. In this case, an enormous job of work is being done by individuals to help the State, a job which carries out the high traditions of our race. Surely some concession might be made in this case. The amount involved is not large. I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone away, or will be going away very soon. Why does the Financial Secretary not take the law into his own hands in the absence of his right hon. and learned Friend? If he will do so we shall back him up, and in all probability, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer returns, he will not sack him but will be thankful for what he has done. For some unknown reason it is only the Conservative minority who speak for these people. It has always been the privilege of our party to be the main defence for the elderly. I am astonished that no Member opposite has so far taken part in this Debate, or has yet turned down this proposal. In those circumstances, it is very wrong of the Government to take this obdurate view towards this proposal.
Cannot the Financial Secretary answer the appeal which has been made to him in one sentence, namely, that owing to the probable rate of national expenditure neither he nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer can abate taxation by one shilling? It would be far more realistic on their part to put that plain fact before the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman has not dared to tell the Committee that, despite the rise in the cost of living and the very strong case of these people, he cannot make any adjustment because no taxation relief can be given until the total volume of national expenditure is reduced. I know that the right hon. Gentleman will ask how the national expenditure can be reduced, but that is not our business but his. I ask him to adopt the maxim of Napoleon to his marshals, that if it is difficult it is done, and if it is impossible it will take a little time.
I hope that the Economic Secretary will forgive me if I do not follow him in the realm of cricketing metaphors. Sporting metaphors are always dangerous. For example, we might have the Solicitor-General indulging in metaphors drawn from his experience on the turf, which would be most embarrassing to many of us. I must confess that I share my hon. Friends' disappointment with the answer that has been given. It seemed to me to be a machine-made answer, with very little if any relevance to the case we are now considering. The stock answer is, of course, that any increase in taxation relief is an inflationary movement. It is true to say that in some degree any release of purchasing power is inflationary in its tendency, but I cannot understand why that argument should be adduced for a proposal such as this, when no such argument is adduced if it is a question of giving £20 million to those who drink beer. I should have thought, speaking both economically and otherwise, that the £20 million to beer drinkers was likely to be the more inflationary.The fact is, of course, that the Government are now in a position where expenditure is so high that they are unable to give a concession however meritorious or well deserved. The right hon. Gentleman referred to two concessions which were made last night. It is quite true that there were two concessions, but it was not that those new Clauses were more desirable for the sake of human happiness than the many other new Clauses that have been discussed, but merely because the concessions cost no money. It was on that ground and that ground alone, that the Government made them. I should like to have a little more information on this figure of £7 million. I understood it was a Treasury estimate of the loss of revenue they would suffer, but has there been any attempt to put against that, any decrease in social service payments which might otherwise be made? These people who will benefit are all in low income groups, and cer- tainly the probability is that in most of these cases the rise in the cost of living, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said is not to be remedied by taxation reliefs, will have to be met by increased assistance payments. If, as I suspect, the saving by the Treasury in refusing this proposal is to some extent off-set by the increased expenditure which is to fall on some other Department, I would far rather, for the sake of the pride and independence of the people concerned, that the relief, if it is to be given by the Government, should be given in this form instead of in the other form which, however humanely it is done, still has the appearance of charity payments. The Opposition in dealing with these new Clauses, are always in the difficulty that they are not allowed to select the particular taxation relief to which they give the greatest priority. The eagle eye of the Chair goes through the new Clauses and excludes a number of them, not on grounds of intrinsic merit, but on such grounds as whether they have been discussed in some other form, or whatever the appropriate grounds may be. It means it is not necessarily the case that the particular proposal we are able to put forward, is the one to which we give the highest priority, which is the case here. I would not say, even if the Government by a reduction of expenditure had the money available, that this was necessarily the highest of all priorities, but it is certainly one that is a high priority. As far as I am concerned, unless the Government are prepared to make some concession, I shall go into the Division Lobby to vote against the position in which the Government are now in, that owing to the high rate of expenditure to which they are committed they find themselves impotent to give any concession to any cause however good.
I wish to associate myself with those who comprise our little party representing that part of the United Kingdom from which I come. We get a good opportunity during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill to make our pleas to the Treasury, and I feel that in this matter a case has been made out. We know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary cannot meet all the pleas that are made, but I hope that they will not disagree with this one, because those who have looked after the old and infirm know what a hard task it is in many cases. The suggestion put forward is very reasonable indeed, and I hope it will not be turned down.
There are two points I should like to make. The Economic Secretary said, quite rightly, that a good case can be made out for a concession of this sort at whatever level allowances are standardised. The point is that the allowances are out of line with the allowances given in the case of a wife and four dependent children, and that the Economic Secretary completely failed to answer. It is clear that there is always a good case, whatever the allowance may be, for making it better, but there is certainly a case for making the allowances fair one with the other.The second point is one that has already been partially made, and that is the consequences of the Chancellor's policy of deflation by taxation. I believe that we should now use the word "disinflation," which I will use because the right hon. and learned Gentleman attaches a particular importance to that fig leaf which I will not snatch away from him. If expenditure is at this level and the Government try to balance things by raising taxation, they are bound to produce a condition where the cost of living rises steadily, as it has risen steadily since 1947 and as it is likely to continue to rise. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that what we want to do is to stop incomes and wages rising, regardless of the cost of living. There is something to be said for that, although it is a rather gloomy policy, but what occurs, in fact, is that wages follow the cost of living a small move behind, whereas dependent relatives and people of that sort do not move upwards at all. They are, therefore, ground between the upper and nether mill-stones. We want to put on record that, as a result of the present policy, the faces of people like this are being ground in the dirt.
The tendency, one gathers from reading parts of the Report on Population, is to have more and more elderly people in this country, precisely the sort of people who will to some extent be benefited by this new Clause. It is worth remembering that if these people do not fall on the private charity of the family, they will fall on the charity and assistance of the State. From the national point of view, it must be clear that these small reliefs in respect of dependent relatives will make life very much easier for them than can be the case in an institution, which undoubtedly for many of them will be the only alternative. It is no great concession to make; the alternative is whether the money is to go to honest tax relief or for ignoble public assistance. Perhaps that is an over-simplification, but I hope the hon. Gentleman will give the matter more sympathetic consideration than it has been given hitherto and will accept the Clause.
As serious arguments have been advanced on this point I should like briefly to reply. The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said that my main argument for regarding the allowance as being at the correct level at present was that at whatever level it stood, it could be argued that it should go higher. That was my comment on what was said by the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke); it was not my principal argument. We have made three increases in the allowance in recent years, two of them in very recent years. It has been said, rightly, that there is a special case for helping the aged and infirm, and we were asked whether it was not our general policy, although following, generally, a disinflationary policy, when the cost of living rose, to moderate its impact on those least able to face it. That is our policy; that is why we have subsidised the cost of living, among other things, and why the work of the National Assistance Board is, as we all agree, conducted along humanitarian lines.All the arguments about special claims on behalf of the aged and infirm, however, could be advanced equally cogently in the case of the general mass of old age pensioners who are living below the Income Tax level, and of whom I have a large number in my constituency as, no doubt, has the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). In all the circumstances, I think it would be unfair to make this concession, strong as the arguments are, if we could not do something comparable for the large number of people who are, on the whole, worse off—old age pensioners living below the Income Tax level. Finally, the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) said, very candidly, that he did not regard this proposal as having the very highest priority among the taxation reliefs which he and his party would wish to obtain. That is also our position. Having looked at possible reliefs, both before the Budget and since, we agree that in all the circumstances we do not put this in the very highest priority class which we are able this year to accept.
As the Committee wishes to get on, I do not intend to take up more than a few minutes, but I must say that the arguments adduced by the Economic Secretary amount in my view to little or nothing. The hon. Gentleman said that two concessions had been made in recent years, and suggested that this was a reason for doing nothing now. The point is that since the last allowance was made the cost of living has gone up by seven points, so that the time has now arrived to make a further step forward. It may be that if we got this concession now and the cost of living rose 10 or 20 points we should have to try again to get fairness for these people. I should not have asked for a concession of this kind unless the need for it had been due to the deliberate policy of the Government during the last few years.The hon. Gentleman said we should be justified in doing this only if we were to make comparable concessions to the general class of old age pensioners. In 1947, when this particular allowance was increased, nothing was done for pensioners then; the increase followed something done for pensioners a year or two previously. Is it not reasonable to take things by stages? For various reasons we now want this extra concession for this class of people, and in a few years it may be necessary to do something for the whole class of pensioners. It is not right to suggest that nothing should be done until the whole thing is lined up, because legislation has never proceeded in that way. The hon. Gentleman made no impression upon me at all in what he said about inflation. If it is the deliberate instruction of the Chancellor that every Amend- ment and new Clause is to be turned down on the grounds that it will cost 2½d., and will lead to inflation, why should right hon. and hon. Members opposite prepare any briefs in connection with specific Amendments and clauses at all. In fact they do not do so. We are finding out that there is no attempt to argue on the merits of any of our proposals. This concession would cost £7 million. I am not seeking to unbalance the Budget by gaining an exemption of this kind today; I am suggesting that it should be granted, and that the Government themselves should save the inflationary position by reducing their own expenditure. What produces inflation is the aggregate of personal and Government expenditure. It is logical for us on this side to argue that inflation can be held by granting a concession and the Government meeting that concession by the same amount in a reduction of expenditure. That could be done in hundreds of ways, as we have detailed many times and which I would like to develop now if it were not out of Order. I regret that the hon. Gentleman has not been able to meet us, and I can only hope that in the night hours he and the Financial Secretary will reconsider the matter and bring it forward again either on Report or next year.
Question put, and negatived.
New Clause—(Amendment Of Section 3 Of Finance Act, 1920)
Subsection (2) of section three of the Finance Act, 1920, shall have effect as if for the words "nineteen hundred and twenty," "nineteen hundred and forty-nine" were substituted, and as if for the words "ten pounds, ten shillings and tenpence," "seven pounds, seventeen shillings and sixpence" were substituted.—[ Mr. James Stuart.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
On a point of Order. Before we go any further, Major Milner, could you tell the Committee whether the subject matter of this Clause deals merely with whisky, or whether gin and other spirits come within its scope?
It appears to me that all spirits are included.
I cannot actually claim the indulgence of the Committee in speaking today, but may I preface my remarks by saying that, unaccustomed as I am to speaking in this Chamber, I hope the Committee will bear with me for a short time? It may be of some interest to note that I copied this Clause, except in so far as the amounts are concerned, from a similar Clause moved on 7th July, 1927, by my old friend the late Mr. Fred Macquisten, former Member for Argyll. I wish he were here to perform this task today. He represented, and I represent, a constituency which has perhaps more interest in the whisky trade, along with Banffshire, than any other part of Britain. Both he and I always felt strongly on this matter.Although I am not a total abstainer the interest of my hon. Friends and I does not lie in the fact that we wish merely to obtain cheaper alcoholic drinks; it is far more than that. Tens of thousands of pounds have been poured into the building of great distilleries; there is the question of local employment—a matter of great importance to our constituents—and also the agricultural side of the problem, distilleries being the best market for the best malting barley that our farmers can produce. In 1927, Mr. Macquisten argued that the rate of duty on whisky in those days, which was £3 12s. 6d. on a proof gallon, amounted to £300 to £350 tax on an acre of malting barley. If that be the case, then the present rate of duty, which is £10 10s. 10d., on a proof gallon, works out at about £900 on an acre of good barley. That is a terrible tax. Quite apart from that, there is the question of the revenue itself, in which I know the Financial Secretary will be interested because I was present with a deputation which waited upon him at the Treasury a few weeks ago. We had a friendly reception, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be equally friendly today. At a deputation in the Treasury the Minister cannot, of course, take any action; he can only listen and reply, all of which the Financial Secretary did with the greatest courtesy. But here, in this Committee, he is in a position to go a step further, and I hope he will not fail to assist us on this occasion. I am very sorry that the Chancellor himself is not here today, because I am sure he would be kindly disposed towards us. I do not suggest that he is very keen on the absorption of alcoholic liquor, but during the war I had the privilege of working with him for some months when he was Leader of the House and I was then occupying the position occupied today by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury—it is with the greatest difficulty that I can refrain from calling him my right hon. Friend. Although the Chancellor and I did not always agree on everything we were next to being a couple of cooing doves, and I cannot help thinking that if he were here today he would view this proposal favourably. I can only hope that he has left instructions with the Financial Secretary to do what he would have done had he been here himself. I shall not go into details because my hon. Friends behind me will do that and elaborate this case. I referred to the fact that the duty in 1927 was £3 12s. 6d. per proof gallon, and that I was associated with the former Member for Argyll who, in those days, moved to reduce the duty to 30s. The duty has now risen to over 10 guineas, and, as I think is clear to anyone, the domestic consumption of whisky in particular has dropped steadily throughout the last half century. It is most extraordinary that the Government should adopt their present attitude to our own industry, that is to say, penalise it by excessive taxation while, at the same time—and I am not criticising their action—helping the French wine trade by reducing the duty on wines so as to allow us to have cheaper French wines. 4.45 p.m. The French, as we know, have always done everything to assist and foster the wine trade in France because it is one of their primary industries. Well, here we have a product of Scotland which I believe cannot be imitated in any other part of the world, yet we do everything in our power, not to foster it but to murder it. In Scotland, when we lay golden eggs we very much dislike having our necks wrung; and I may say that these eggs, as the Financial Secretary knows very well, have been of the purest gold—or they may be paper now—throughout many years. I shall not go into a lot of detail, but I hope that this new Clause will be viewed with sympathy. It affects local employment; it affects agriculture very materially, and it affects the revenue. If the present duty is maintained it cannot fail to kill this industry, which I am sure we should all view with regret. I know that America produces her own Bourbon and other whiskies; they put a very considerable duty on Scottish whisky, and naturally keep their own Bourbon sufficiently cheap to encourage people to drink it. That is quite natural. I do not know whether the Chancellor can rely upon maintaining this export trade. I believe it to be a maxim that an export trade cannot be maintained unless there is a healthy home industry to back it up. Well, the way things are going today, we shall soon not have any home industry, and I therefore hope that this new Clause will be viewed favourably.
I wish to support this new Clause as strongly as possible. I, with other hon. and right hon. Members who sponsor this Clause, represent an area in which whisky distilling is an extremely important industry. Indeed, in the whisky distilling areas of Scotland this industry is just as important as coal is to the Welsh valleys. As my right hon. Friend has said, whisky production is a basic factor in the economy of our Highland glens, where we are circumscribed by the nature of the country to the growing of two cereal crops, and two only: barley and oats. The outlook for oats is far from encouraging, and we now view with very grave apprehension indeed the outlook for our barley, because the outlet for our barley is in the distillery which is hard by. The barley, in conjunction with the local water and the local climate, is responsible for the production of Scottish malt whisky, which is the finest thing of its kind in the world, and is so estimated.We hear and have heard a great deal in this Committee about the Highlander and what the Government aim to do to help the Highlander. The Highlander looks upon this duty with a great deal of shrewd suspicion and misgiving, because he sees his one great national industry being murdered by this prohibitive taxation. In pleading for the reduction of the whisky duty, I should imagine that we on this side, in supporting this new Clause, were following on the efforts of the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Minister of Agriculture, and the President of the Board of Trade, for they should be leading the fight for a reduction of this duty. Whisky is all-important to Scottish farming and to our export drive, because it is the greatest single dollar earner, and without a substantial and healthy home trade, whisky exports cannot be maintained. This is not a question of temperance reform. I am not myself a whisky drinker, but that is entirely by the way. This is a question of the survival of what to us in Scotland is a key industry. Nothing that this Committee can do in the field of taxation can alter the desire for alcoholic stimulants on the part of the people. Taxation, however, can to a very large extent determine what people shall drink. The price of whisky has become quite prohibitive, and its place is being taken by all sorts of concoctions, some of them straight drinks, but others what I might term to be veritable hell brews which are definitely more deleterious to the human body, the human frame and the human mind than whisky. What is happening in the liquor trade? Let us look at comparative spirits which bear relatively the same duty as whisky. In 1948 we imported 30 per cent. more brandy than in 1938. In 1948 we imported three times more rum than in 1938; in addition, vast quantities of rum were being imported for manufacture into gin. In 1938 brandy imports were 523,000 gallons; in 1948, 702,000 gallons. In 1938 rum imports were 1,737,000 gallons; in 1948 the amount of rum imported for beverage purposes was six million gallons—and that does not include about three million gallons imported for commercial purposes and for distillation into gin. In 1948 the total consumption of whisky in the home market was 2¼ million gallons; it was more than twice that in 1938. I submit that it is unfair that these imported liquors, which function in more or less the same field as whisky, should bear a duty comparable with that on whisky. Whisky deserves some preference, if for nothing else than that it is a native product from beginning to end. I further maintain that it is grossly unfair that six million gallons of rum should be available for retail sale in this country, while our own native product is restricted to 2¼ million gallons. This Finance Bill gives concessions to French wines, yet this perfectly just case for our own one national beverage is ignored. I think I ought to give these figures for the benefit of the Committee. In 1910 the duty on whisky was 11s. per proof gallon. Today the duty per proof gallon is 210s. 10d.—20 times greater than it was in 1910. Today the full retail price of a bottle of whisky is 33s. 4d.; that is, if it can be got at the price the distillers hope it can be bought for. The, wholesale price is 29s. 2½d., which includes tax of 24s. 7d. The net wholesale price after tax is deducted is 4s. 7½d. At the wholesale level whisky is bearing what is tantamount to a Purchase Tax of 530 per cent.—400 per cent. greater than any other British product has to stand in the home market. That is a matter which the Committee ought to take very seriously to heart. What of the effect the restrictions at home may have upon our present export drive and our future exports of whisky? Whisky drinking is dying out.
The hon. Lady may say "hear, hear," but let us look at this from the purely economic point of view. It is a tragedy. The appreciation of quality is being lost; and any manufacturer knows that in order to maintain the standard of his goods in the export market he must have critical examination and estimation of his quality at home, otherwise it becomes only a name, and the value of that name goes down. There has in recent years been a tendency, following the lead of successive Governments, to increase the duties on imported whisky. There is still a considerable gap between the excessive Excise duties we impose in this country and those imposed abroad; they are still, on the average, twice as great here as abroad. But there is no reason in the world why those countries should not close the gap, and close it instantly. If they did, if they imposed on whisky an import duty comparable with the Excise duty we impose at home, our whisky export business would be killed overnight.When we ask for a decrease in duty we are asking for something like £2 13s. 4d. a gallon. That will not have such an enormous effect upon revenue returns. After all is said and done, the present amount of whisky which we are selling in the home market is 2¼ million gallons, and if only a small increase were permitted for the home market with a reduced duty the Treasury would not be the loser; but the industry would gain that fillip, that infusion of new lifeblood in home sales which is so vitally necessary for the future. Many hon. Members may be asking themselves the age-old question: what is the relative value of barley as a feedingstuff compared with barley used for whisky manufacture. I will tell them. One ton of barley yields 105 gallons of proof whisky, which are available in the export field at £2 a gallon and produce £210. That amount of sterling or dollars can purchase 10 tons of wheat at present values. Much has been said by the President of the Board of Trade and others on the Government Front Bench regarding the favourable treatment that was to be accorded to those industries which were showing the greatest success and endeavour in the export field. I claim that no industry has transcended the efforts and the success of Scottish distilleries in achieving results in the export market. In order to concentrate their available stocks on hard currency countries they have gladly and willingly at the request of the Chancellor, yielded up markets in soft currency countries which they enjoyed for generations. I submit that in common fairness, in return for their loss of those markets in soft currency countries, the Chancellor should use his power to give a quid pro quo by reducing the duty at home and giving an increased liberation of their stocks. I sincerely hope, for the reasons my right hon. Friend and I have given, that the Chancellor will accept this new Clause. If he cannot go all the way, I appeal to him to let us have at least a token reduction. There has been a succession of increased imposts on this industry for 55 years without a halt. This is a golden opportunity to put the tax machine in reverse, because already this industry has been burdened with the straw which breaks the camel's back. We cannot go further; we must go back if we are to save this industry. In giving us a concession, however small, the Chancellor would be halting that savage and, from our point of view, entirely suicidal onslaught on this industry, which is such an important national asset—a savage onslaught which I regret to say has been participated in by Chancellors of all parties.
I understand, Major Milner, that you have ruled that while this new Clause deals specifically with whisky, it would be in Order to mention gin as well. Perhaps I might make reference to another new Clause on the Order Paper, which deals with the Spirit Duty as a whole.
For the information of the hon. and gallant Member, the Clause to which he has referred will be out of Order.
I was not aware of that, but I gather it is in Order to make some reference to gin on the new Clause which we are now discussing. Before I come to that, may I as a colleague, who sat in previous Parliaments with him, say how pleased I was to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), who for many years has confined his oratory to the refreshing suggestion, "That this House do now adjourn" or possibly under very extreme provocation to the Motion, "That the Question be now put."I desire to support this new Clause not for the same reason as I supported the last, which was on humanitarian grounds, but purely on the grounds of the financial interests of this country. This, of course, is a hardy annual, which has been argued over and over again as the duty has steadily risen year by year, but the main arguments hold good still. There is, however, an additional one which is coming more and more into the picture as the present Government raises the duty. It is that of all people the Socialist Government are imposing a harsh policy of price rationing on what are known as the members of the lower income groups by placing the consumption of whisky out of their reach. I remember when I was a great deal younger than I am now, watching the dockers in Glasgow going to work, and invariably they had a dram early in the morning. Those days have gone. Successive Governments have placed it out of their reach. It is a great pity that the very healthy beverage known as whisky has been priced right out of the reach of those whom we describe, for want of a better term, as the working classes. At this particular moment in our affairs I am bound to say that while that argument is potent, infinitely more so is the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) as to the vital importance of whisky in our dollar earnings. The very grave matters which the Chancellor is endeavouring to grapple with at the present time are intimately bound up with this, and surely it is true to say that in proportion to the amount of labour involved in its production, whisky stands high, if not the highest of all, in our list of export industries. The Financial Secretary may say, "Yes, all these things are true, but we are not raising the duty to consumers in foreign countries. This is merely a domestic proposal." May I submit to the right hon. Gentleman, whom I strongly suspect has hardened his heart in this matter or has had it hardened by his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that wherever there has been a rise in the whisky duty here in the country of production it has almost invariably been followed by a similar increase abroad, in countries to which we have exported; so by this proposal of the Government's we are indirectly making it more difficult for our whisky to be consumed in foreign lands. There is an argument which follows from that, and which I impress upon the right hon. Gentleman. We all know that in the United States, in particular, there has been an increase in the distillation of their own products, and one can say without any offensiveness whatsoever that those home-produced products of the United States are vastly inferior in quality to our Scotch whisky. The higher our prices are, the better is the opportunity for the inferior whisky, and there is the danger of consumption in those foreign countries becoming more and more concentrated on the home and inferior product, so that one day a generation will rise that does not know and has not experienced the supreme quality of our Scotch whisky.
Would the hon. Gentleman say how much Scotch whisky is available to America at the moment? He is talking about the high price, but we have constantly been told here that it is too low.
Does the hon. Gentleman want to know what is the price which is being charged?
The argument, as I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman, is that if the price of our British product is too high, it will stimulate the production of American whisky, which he says is inferior. For the information of the House, will he kindly tell us what is the price paid for Scotch whisky in America now?
I speak subject to correction, but I understand that it is in the neighbourhood of eight dollars a bottle, which is very much lower than it is here at home.
What does the seller get? What does the producer get when it is sold?
I understand that it is in the vicinity of a dollar a bottle. I do not think that that affects the main argument which I was trying to make, and which I hope the Committee will not think is unfair. My argument was that if we attempt to raise the duty here at home, it has an effect in increasing the price abroad, and there is a danger of the home distilled whisky in those countries ousting the product which we are endeavouring to sell them at this particular moment.
I think my hon. and gallant Friend should make it clear that when he mentions that prices will be raised abroad, it is because of an increase in import duty that those prices have to be increased.
I did say at the outset of my remarks that an increase here was almost invariably followed by a balancing rise in those countries.I regret that this form of price rationing has placed this product out of the reach of the lower income groups at home, but it is a greater pity that we are in the very greatest danger of striking a blow, in order to raise revenue at home, against our prime dollar earner, having regard to the labour employed, and one of the greatest weapons to our hands to enable us to get out of our present difficulties. Whatever instructions have been given to the Financial Secretary, I trust that, having listened to the arguments, he will meet us in the realisation that this is an important issue at the present time.
I should like to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) in his reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart). His speech was so charming and disarming and made with such lucidity that I had the utmost difficulty in restraining myself from jumping to my feet and offering everything he wanted. However, I fortunately restrained myself, and I have now to put before the Committee certain arguments which are conclusive as to why we on this side of the Committee cannot accept this new Clause.What was said by the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) is also true. A very high-powered deputation from the other side of the Committee waited upon us at the Treasury, and we had a very interesting exchange of views. I was sorry that I was not able to meet them in some small way. It is undoubtedly true that the duty on spirits is exceedingly high. It is £10 10s. 10d. per proof gallon, and if this Clause is accepted it would reduce it to £7 17s. 6d. The present duty on a bottle that is sold is £1 4s. 7d., and it is sold at £1 13s. 4d. If this new Clause were accepted, it would mean a reduction of the price by about 6s. 2½d. Even though that may seem a reasonable suggestion to make, the figures which I will give to the Committee in a few moments will show that the total is more than my right hon. and learned Friend can afford. The points made by hon. Members include the one that the demand for Scotch whisky in the home market has declined during the past year. Reference has also been made to the fact that over a long period it was declining. The hon. and gallant Member for Holderness referred to this himself when he said that when he was young, and I gather living in Glasgow—
When he was visiting Glasgow he noticed that the ordinary working classes started the day with a tot or a dram. That is true, but the duty on whisky was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. a bottle, and it was available as a drink for the people known as the working classes. Whisky has now been put out of the range of the great mass of people, because of the duty and the price. It is also outside the range of people who normally one might suppose could afford it.I do not think there is any ground for the suggestion that the reduced amount that now comes on the home market has been a handicap on the export trade. Whisky is one of our best exports, and that is one of the difficulties about it at the present time. The Ministry of Food have to see to it that in the releases for the home market there is enough left for the export market in order to earn dollars, which this country needs so badly now. It is one of the penalties which we have to pay in order to earn dollars, and whether we keep it at home or send it abroad it all goes. 5.15 p.m. The whisky which comes into the home market is easily sold, as is the whisky which goes overseas. It is more important at the moment that it should go overseas, and we have to take that into account. The Ministry of Food have liberated more barley this year than previously in order to assist the catering for both the home and foreign markets. If the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn were accepted and the reduction in the duty were limited purely to home-produced whisky, the cost would be about £6 million. The effect of the Clause would also be to reduce the duty on home-made gin as well, even if rum and brandy could be excluded, and if we took that fact into account, the cost of the Clause would be in the neighbourhood of £15 million. If we went further and accepted the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness the cost would be in the neighbourhood of £20 million. To sum up, the reply I would make to the Committee is that we see no signs at the moment that the fact that the home market has had to be restricted is having any effect on overseas sales or on the limited production—I admit that it is limited—in which the whisky distillers are able at the moment to engage. Even if my right hon. and learned Friend accepted the more modest suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn, it would cost £6 million. If we extended it as proposed, we would have to consider the distillers of gin, who are interested. If we made this concession for all home-produced spirits, it would cost £15 million. I think I have only to mention that figure to show that it is quite beyond our power to accept such a suggestion.
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I put it to him that the effect on the export drive of a limited home sale is a long-term one? I admit what the right hon. Gentleman says about there being no immediate effect. However, a discriminating taste for whisky is being lost through the inability of the connoisseurs in the North to buy it, and we are thus losing the essential critical taste which gave our whisky its prestige abroad.
I feel rather diffident about addressing the Committee on this subject as I am personally interested financially, being a gin distiller. I propose to approach the subject not from the point of view of any hardship from which the gin distiller may suffer, but simply from the point of view of revenue and leave it to the judgment of the Committee as to what conclusion they reach. I do not think it necessary to consider here whether the drinking of spirits is desirable or undesirable; we are here today to consider the tax purely from the point of view of yield.I feel bound to warn the Treasury that my opinion is that they are tending to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The right hon. Gentleman said that acceptance of the new Clause would entail a loss in revenue of so many million pounds and therefore he could not even contemplate it. I tell him this, that the duty on spirits has risen to such a high level that he is in grave danger of not being able to maintain the existing revenue. The duty on spirits has been put up and up, and in time of boom and prosperity it has been possible to carry it, but with the decline in the purchasing power in the hands of the public, the duty tends to defeat its own ends and the yield will tend to dwindle. To make a reductio ad absurdum, if the duty on spirits were £100 a bottle, nobody would buy spirits; if the duty were 1d. a bottle, there would be a heavy loss to the revenue, and many headaches. Somewhere between the two must lie a figure which will produce the optimum result from the point of view of the revenue, and that figure is not the same in time of boom and expansion as it is in time of depression or recession. I repeat that I am looking at this question merely from the point of view of the yield of revenue, as a taxpayer and as a Member of this Committee, and I repeat that the tax is too high from the point of view of the Treasury. How much it should be reduced I do not venture to say. I think it should come down at least 25 per cent. If we reduced the price of spirits by 1s. a bottle, we would not get much increased consumption but probably an actual loss in revenue. The duty should come down something in the nature of 25 per cent. I believe that we should then make up the loss of duty through increased consumption. We should then be better off than when we started. I want to say a word in defence of my own trade. It may interest hon. Members to know that the duty on gin is 212s. 4d. per proof gallon and it is sold for 14s. per gallon. Therefore, the villain of the piece is not the distiller. I hope that the Treasury will consider my remarks, and that hon. Members will not think that I am pursuing my own private ends.
I intervene not for the purpose of curtailing in any way this interesting Debate, but because I want to express my own particular difficulties and to point to the sort of arguments which I want to hear. All of us feel that this is a matter which must be put not on the convenience, the comfort or the pleasure of individuals but on the economic basis. If we were merely considering the gratification of the whisky drinker or the gin drinker, we should have to weigh that against the gratification of the smoker or the man who goes in for football pools or other varieties of taxpayer.There is an economic fact behind the Clause and the arguments of my hon. Friends. I can see that there might be excellent economic arguments for a reduction in the spirit duties, and I wonder if subsequent speakers will produce tax and figures to justify that conclusion. Clearly there would be an economic justification for a reduction of the duties if they were on the same basis as the Beer Duty which we have already considered; that is to say, that the duties were now so high that they were defeating their own ends and that a reduction in duty was the only way of arresting the decline in the revenue and, possibly, of increasing revenue. My hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), who speaks with great authority on this matter, referred to the effect of what he called the "Spirit Duty" on consumption. I wondered whether he was referring only to the effect the duty was having on the consumption of gin.
This is a very important question. With reference to the restricted allocation of whisky in the home market, I was not attempting to make out any case for whisky, but we are all hoping that one day whisky will be in increased supply on the home market. Then, I believe, precisely the same law of cause and effect will apply in the case of the consumption of whisky as in the case of gin. I do not think that we can separate gin and whisky; I call them both spirits. It is the high duty on spirits which will lead to such a fall in the consumption that the revenue will suffer.
I thought my hon. Friend meant that and that he was devoting his argument not to whisky with which he started, but to the gin to which he was specifically referring. As I see it there is a difference at the moment between the two. We have not yet heard any facts or figures—perhaps we shall later on—to show that the consumption of whisky is falling off as the result of this duty, but I believe that there are facts and figures which show quite clearly that the consumption of gin is falling off. Therefore, at any rate, it may well be that gin is coming in the same category as beer in the case of which a reduction of the duty is necessary if the revenue is to be maintained.With regard to whisky, I should like to hear from hon. Members who can take advantage of the Debate some facts and figures on what appears to me to be the most important question of whether there is any evidence that the consumption of whisky is falling off as the result of this high duty so that we might say as an economic fact that a reduction of the duty would aid rather than hamper the revenue. So much for the economic effects inside the country. Now for the question of the export trade. Apart from the rather long-distance matter to which one of my hon. Friends referred, I cannot see at the moment how the high internal duty is affecting the export trade. There again, it may be that hon. Members dealing with that aspect can show that in some way the price of whisky abroad is affected by the high duties which are being put on the sales at home. I agree that the point is an important one but it is a long-distance one. It may very well be that if we reduced the consumption of whisky in this country more and more, when export tends to fall off we may find that we have so small a home market that it will be unable to support an industry which will perhaps still be capable of a considerable export. That is important for the future but it is not an immediate matter at this crisis. I do not think that it has yet been argued that the reduction in duty would lead to some immediate increase in exports which, if it were so, would justify to me a reduction in the duty. I have expressed to my hon. Friends my diffidence in this matter and mentioned some of the points I should like to have cleared up. As far as I can see, unless it can be shown that a reduction in the duty on spirits would prevent a fall in consumption and therefore a fall in revenue, or it can be shown that a reduction would lead to an increase in our all important exports, I should not feel justified in putting the claims of those consumers above the claims of other consumers between whom we ought to judge if the money was available. Whatever hon. Members who hold strong views on this matter may feel, in those circumstances unless those two points are met, I could not support the Clause or advise my hon. Friends to do so.
I am sorry that attendance at a Committee upstairs prevented me from having the opportunity and pleasure of listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart). I have no doubt that he very quickly showed the Committee of what it had been deprived by his long occupancy of the Whips' Office. We are all happy to think that we are deprived of it no longer. I want to mention a question raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) concerning the consumption in this country and the effect of the duty upon it. It is impossible to give a definite opinion on that for this reason. The arrangement which was come to two years ago between the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Food and the distillers was that the distillers undertook, in exchange for getting the barley that they required to start the industry up again after the war, to export 75 per cent. of the total production to the dollar area, leaving only 25 per cent. of the total production of whisky—and that included stocks—for the home market.5.30 p.m. The result has been that the home market has been deprived of good whisky to a fantastic extent during the last two years. Therefore, in my submission, there is not enough whisky available here to test the home market. The trouble about whisky today is not only that it is far too expensive, but that it is almost unobtainable unless one pays a fantastic price. All I know is that the home consumption of whisky is small, and in the long run that will be bad for the industry because it is only a question of time before the people of this country will lose their taste for it. In fact, it is true to say that the young generation are losing their taste for whisky, if they have not lost it already, and that is a pity because it is a good drink and not an unhealthy drink. The position is different with regard to gin because there has never been a quantitative limitation on that spirit. The consumption of gin is falling, and one can get plenty of gin in any grocer's shop today at the fixed price. Therefore it is a fair test to take the fall in gin but not in whisky. That brings me to another point made by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson). It is true that under the new doctrine of taxation inculcated by the late Lord Keynes, tax should be high in times of boom, especially on luxuries, and that it should be reduced with the approach of a depression and lowered pretty sharply when the depression arrives. By "depression" I mean a recession, because I am not talking of a major slump. However, there is no question that we are leaving the sellers' market and entering the buyers' market, and accordingly there is less money about. That in itself is an argument for a remission of this Duty. The Financial Secretary admitted that the taxation on whisky at present is penal. The right hon. Gentleman said that not only does it put whisky out of the range of the working classes but out of the range of the well-to-do classes as well. That cannot go on indefinitely because, if it does, we shall lose the home market. The right hon. Gentleman said that whisky is a popular drink. I think it has been, but I am certain that it will not remain a popular drink if it is unobtainable either through lack of its existence in this country or through this penal taxation which raises the price to a point at which ordinary people will not be prepared to buy it. Whisky remains our greatest single dollar earner per unit of labour, and dollars are, as we are repeatedly reminded by the Treasury, absolutely vital to this country at present. I say that if we want to keep it as a good dollar earner, as surely we do, we must take some steps to revive a home market. An export trade can never be conducted without a home market because it is subject to violent fluctuations and, with no home market to fall back upon, there is not sufficient stability for the export trade. Nor, as the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) rightly said, have we the connoisseurs who can tell the difference between good whisky and bad. I am absolutely convinced that the definite continuation of this scale of duty will kill the whisky industry, and that would be a disaster for Scotland and a disaster for our dollar trade.
I shall revert to a few remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) who drew a distinction between whisky and gin. There I think my right hon. Friend was right, because the question of whisky is complicated by that of dollar exports. His main point was that what we have to look at in this Committee is the effect upon the revenue of anything we may do about these duties. He also called for figures from those concerned in this matter. The trouble about the figures which are published in the "Statistical Digest" is that they relate to the consumption of spirits and do not give whisky and gin separately. However, such figures as have been published are extremely significant.The monthly consumption of proof gallons in 1938 was 860,000. For the first three months of 1948 the consumption averaged rather over 800,000 gallons, and in March, 1948, it was 870,000 gallons. Therefore, by the first quarter of last year there had not been a heavy reduction in the consumption of spirits in this country. The figures for the first quarter of this year are quite different. In January the consumption was 700,000 gallons, not a large fall. In February it was 490,000 gallons, and in March it was 380,000 gallons. Therefore, by March this year the consumption of spirits was appreciably less than half of what it was last year. As I understand it, the consumption of gin in this country last year is higher than the consumption of whisky and as there has not been any great decrease in the consumption of whisky here because of shortage of supply, then presumably the decrease in the consumption of gin must have been much more than 50 per cent. In fact the figures indicate that the consumption of gin is running something like one-third of what it was last year. When the wine duty was reduced, we were told specifically that the object was to preserve the Revenue. When the beer duty was reduced, we were told specifically that the object was to reduce the cost of living, but I do not think we were meant to take that seriously, and I take it that in that case too the object was to preserve the Revenue. The right hon. Gentleman said that if the duty on home spirits were reduced it would cost the Revenue £15 million. I think we are entitled to know on what assumptions of consumption that figure was based. If I am right in supposing that the consumption of spirits will go on declining as it has done in the first quarter of this year, there will be an enormous reduction in the revenue raised from spirits in this country. If that happens, a serious situation will face the Government because this is one of our major revenue earners. We might be entitled to ask right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite a question which they always ask us—if they do not raise the revenue from spirits, where will they find it? Looking at these figures, I do not believe that they will raise in the current year from spirits anything like the amount raised last year. If the remedy in the case of wine and beer was to reduce the duty, that must be the remedy also in the case of spirits. If we are not to press this new Clause, we should have from the Government a statement showing on what the £15 million is based, and what are their assumptions about consumption for the rest of this year. It looks to me as if they are simply assuming that consumption will be the same and that on that basis the cost would be £15 million. My guess is that the cost to the Revenue of going on as we are now will be much greater than that, and if some reduction were made in the duty, the cost would probably be a great deal less.
By a curious coincidence I was entertained at Lords today by a firm of distillers, and I asked them various questions on this topic. I must tell the Committee that they had no idea I was a Member of Parliament. I was introduced quite casually and I asked whether or not sales had gone down in their public houses throughout the country during the past six months. The gentleman speaking to me said that not only had sales gone down but that the Chancellor will be sharply surprised when he finds he will get at least 30 per cent. less than he expects to get from this duty.
Whisky. He added, "It really makes me laugh when I see all the fuss that is made throughout the country about Purchase Tax at the rate of 33⅓ per cent., or whatever it may be, for here are we taxed at the rate of 530 per cent."
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how many bottles of whisky were going spare on the shelves of those public houses?
No, I could not tell the hon. Gentleman that. What that gentleman felt keenly, and what I feel keenly, is that the tax on this commodity is prohibitive at 530 per cent. above its cost. I heartily support my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart) who moved this new Clause for some readjustment of the tax in the future to allow the home market to benefit by knowing what good whisky tastes like. At the present moment it is completely denied the opportunity of distinguishing between good or bad whisky because there is none available.
Mr. Hugh Fraser.
I want to ask a question—
The hon. Gentleman can make his speech in a few minutes? I have already called on Mr. Fraser.
I wanted to ask a question.
I should like to add a few figures to try to convince my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) who seems not absolutely convinced. I do not want to have a border foray with the house of Stanley, but Scottish Members feel strongly about this and I think they feel rightly so because their intuition, their touch of Celtic inspiration, is borne out by the figures produced by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch). I would draw the attention of the Financial Secretary to some of these overall figures of whisky consumption. In 1900, when I must say that the Republic of Ireland was included, whisky consumption was 38 million proof gallons in this country. In 1948 the consumption was just over five million proof gallons. There is no doubt that in 1900 whisky came into the cost-of-living index. It is undoubtedly one of the tragedies which Scotsmen on both sides of the Committee mourn, that no longer is whisky the drink of the British people as it was in the past.5.45 p.m. I would point out that in 1900 duty was 11s. per proof gallon. We went through various epochs and in 1940, when the duty was at 97s. per proof gallon, the consumption was about 9 million gallons. Since then, of course, as the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) pointed out, there have been difficulties about the quantity of barley available. In 1947 and 1948—as far as the distillation carried out in 1940 and 1941 is concerned—approximately the same amount of barley was available, although, as hon. Members will know, there obviously was not the same amount of barley for several years before. The amount of whisky available to the market in 1947 and 1948 was approximately the same, but the actual consumption in 1947, when the tax was 190s. per proof gallon, was just under 7 million gallons; in 1948, when the tax was 210s. per proof gallon, the consumption—this is of whisky alone—was just over 5 million gallons, a drop of approximately 2 million gallons, which has put the Treasury out of pocket by several hundred thousands of pounds.
I want to ask somebody a question; perhaps I may ask my hon. Friend. I find myself in great sympathy with the various whisky Members who are putting the case for Scotland, but I should like to ask this question. We are constantly being told that the consumption of whisky in this country is dropping, and it is a very harrowing and disturbing story. Why is it so difficult to get whisky? I have an order with my local provider for a bottle a week. I cannot get a bottle a week. Every now and then I get half a bottle, and sometimes none. Will some of the Scottish Members explain this mystery?
I explained it just now but the hon. Gentleman was not here.
No doubt that mystery will be explained to the hon. Gentleman later on. I want to pursue my argument into the question of returns to the Revenue. There is absolutely no question that at present the tax gatherers are losing money on this form of taxation. Beyond that, there is absolutely no question that if the weight of taxation on this product remains at the present height, and when, as has been pointed out on this side, there is £900 tax on every acre of barley which is distilled, it will undoubtedly lead—if we start going a bit more groggy economically than at present, which we look like doing—to a growing up, as I hope it will, of a series of stills in the Highlands. It is inevitable, if this penal taxation continues, that if people want the stuff they will get it. What my hon. Friend has rightly said, is that the thing which is being destroyed is the taste of whisky. We are having all sorts of bogus brews—dews of this and mists of that—being put on the market, and I can only suggest that if the Government do not accept the Clause a new one should be christened, called "The mist of Glenvil Hall."
My right hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), who raised this matter, made an admirable speech. We on this side can be gratified at its reception, but we can hardly be satisfied with the response from the Financial Secretary, for he seemed to give no concessions and to hold out not even a promise that he would consider this matter or give any cogent reasons for his refusal. All the arguments in the Debate have, quite rightly, turned not on the hardship to the producer or the consumer, but entirely on the question of the revenue. The Financial Secretary would agree that it is possible to raise taxation so high that it produces diminishing returns. In fact, the Chancellor admitted that when making his reduction in the tax on wines in his Budget.I should like the Financial Secretary to tell us, first, whether the Government, in their decision to maintain this very high rate of taxation, are guided entirely by the belief that that will produce more revenue. If so, how can the right hon. Gentleman answer the arguments put forward by, amongst others, my hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch), who explained so clearly how revenue was falling on spirits generally, and the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), who suggested that this very valuable revenue producer would be endangered in the future through a lessening of the taste for whisky? The second point I want to ask the Financial Secretary is whether this is entirely a question of revenue, or whether he and his colleagues are governed by the fact that they think they know better than the public the things upon which the public ought to spend their money. If so, what does he think are their qualifications for being the judges in that matter?
Perhaps I might reply briefly to the main points made in this discussion. I have admitted, and the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) has underlined it since, that the duty on whisky is very high. No doubt there are some people who do not drink it, even if they could get it, because the duty is so high. The fear has been expressed that people will lose their taste for whisky. That may be so, but it applies equally to tobacco. The manufacturers of tobacco are equally fearful—[HON. MEMBERS: "We do not export tobacco"]—that the rising generation will not smoke because of the cost of cigarettes and that, therefore, presently that industry will decline and with it, of course, the revenue which the Government now obtain from the sale of tobacco.
Surely, the right hon. Gentleman would agree that that hardly applies in the same way to the manufacture of whisky inside this country and the re-export of a certain amount of tobacco from this country.
All I was about to say was that those factors may or may not be true. The point is, should any Chancellor of the Exchequer, to whatever party he might belong, at this juncture take those facts into account, and do they override the other factors which I endeavoured briefly to put before the Committee when I spoke earlier? To begin with, he must remember that barley, one of the ingredients in the manufacture of whisky, can also be sold, and is needed, elsewhere. Therefore, the amount of barley available is not unlimited. The second point is that we have to consider exports. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen reminded us that whisky is one of our best exports. When we take the number of men employed in this industry and the amount earned by the exports, the export value of a bottle of whisky is tremendous, both in North and in South America and elsewhere, where we want, if we can, to earn hard currency. Thirdly, we must take into account the Revenue.The Chancellor has to take all those things into account and to balance them. My right hon. and learned Friend has done that and he feels that, as the taxation on whisky does not affect exports; that, as it is essential that the great bulk of what is made now should go abroad, therefore the fact that the duty is as high as it is does not really affect the position at this juncture. It may well be that as the years go by, when things become normal, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day may want to pay much more attention to the home market, if he is seeking revenue, than the present Chancellor can afford to do, because he is after exports and must also think of the barley that is consumed. In reply to the question by the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch), I think he must have got his figures from the Statistical Digest.
What, I think, he overlooked—I am not complaining about this—is that a Budget was to be opened in April; and that although normally the figures for clearances from bond are a very good guide to consumption, they cannot be considered a good guide just then, particularly for the first three months of the year, because, quite obviously, those who had whisky in bond were not clearing it because they had no notion of what changes might be made in the Budget.
That is not a very valid argument, because the figures show that for 1948 the consumption in January was 800,000 proof gallons, and went up in March to 870,000; whereas, in this year, it went down from 700,000 in January to 380,000 proof gallons in March. The same considerations, surely, applied in both years; in each of them a Budget was to be presented.
For this year, for some reason into which I will not go now, there were great hopes by the public—people were misinformed; hopes were expressed in newspapers and elsewhere—that as last year ended with a substantial surplus, relief of taxation could be hoped for on, perhaps, both drink and tobacco. Although I make the point for no more than it is worth, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that, for the reasons I have given, the figures for the first quarter of this year are not entirely to be relied upon.The chief proof—the point has already been made and I do not want to labour it—is that whisky is almost unobtainable; every bottle that is produced is sold. I think it was the hon. and gallant Member for Barnstaple (Brigadier Peto) who said that whisky distillers had indicated to him that the consumption in this country was going down. From our Revenue returns, however, we have no figures to show that that is so. On the contrary, our figures show that the Revenue in this matter is—I hesitate to use the word—buoyant; that all the whisky that can be put on the home market is snapped up. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of course it is."] There is a conflict, therefore, between what the hon. and
Division No. 183.]
|Acland, Sir Richard||Champion, A. J.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Chetwynd, G. R.||Follick, M.|
|Albu, A. H.||Cluse, W. S.||Foot, M. M.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Cobb, F. A.||Forman, J. C.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Cocks, F. S.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Collick, P.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Collindridge, F.||Gallacher, W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Collins, V. J.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Gibbins, J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Cook, T. F.||Gilzean, A.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Cooper, G.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Balfour, A.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Crawley, A.||Grey, C. F.|
|Barton, C.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Grierson, E.|
|Battley, J. R.||Daggar, G.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Daines, P.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Benson, G.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.|
|Beswick, F.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gunter, R. J.|
|Binns, J.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hale, Leslie|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Deer, G.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil|
|Blyton, W. R.||Delargy, H. J.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.|
|Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.||Diamond, J.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Dobbie, W.||Haworth, J.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Dodds, N. N.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hewitson, Capt. W.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Dye, S.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Holman, P.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Edelman, M.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Horabin, T. L.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Houghton, A. L. N. D. (Sowerby)|
|Burden, T. W.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Hoy, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Hubbard, T.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Ewart, R.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Callaghan, James||Fairhurst, F.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Carmichael, James||Farthing, W. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)|
gallant Gentleman has told us and my information; but I can tell him that we are relying on actual figures and also the evidence of our own senses.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any comparative figures for the period since the Budget? We have already been given the figures for beer consumption in April and, possibly, in May. After people found out that the duties on spirits were not being reduced—after all, the Budget was as long ago as 6th April—did they all drink the Chancellor's health and did consumption go up on last year, or did the downward tendency still continue? This information is very material.
The right hon. Gentleman, surely, will now answer that important question and—
rose in his place and claimed to move,"That the Question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 135.
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Mort, D. L.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Moyle, A.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Murray, J. D.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Nally, W.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Naylor, T. E.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Swingler, S.|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Jenkins, R. H.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Symonds, A. L.|
|John, W.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Oldfield, W. H.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Oliver, G. H.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Keenan, W.||Orbach, M.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Kinley, J.||Parker, J.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Kirby, B. V.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lang, G.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Lavers, S.||Pearson, A.||Tolley, L.|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Peart, T. F.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Piratin, P.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Leonard, W.||Popplewell, E.||Usborne, Henry|
|Levy, B. W.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Viant, S. P.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Walker, G. H.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Price, M. Philips||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Logan, D. G.||Pryde, D. J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Longden, F.||Pursey, Comdr. H.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Randall, H. E.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|McAdam, W.||Ranger, J.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|McAllister, G.||Rankin, J.||West, D. G.|
|McEntee, V. La. T.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|McGovern, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mack, J. D.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Wilkes, L.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Rogers, G. H. R.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|McLeavy, F.||Royle, C.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Scollan, T.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Segal, Dr. S.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Mann, Mrs. J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Willis, E.|
|Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Sharp, Granville||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Messer, F.||Shurmer, P.||Wyatt, W.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Yates, V. F.|
|Mikardo, Ian.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Simmons, G. J.|
|Monslow, W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Morley, R.||Skinnard, F. W.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Mr. Hannan.|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Kendall, W. D.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Fox, Sir G.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Birch, Nigel||Gammans, L. D.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Boothby, R.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Bower, N.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Grimston, R. V.||Low, A. R. W.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Harden, J. R. E.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Challen, C.||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||McFarlane, C. S.|
|Channon, H.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Haughton, S. G.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||MacLeod, J.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Hollis, M. C.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|De la Bère, R.||Hope, Lord J.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Howard, Hon. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Drewe, C.||Hurd, A.||Marlowe, A A. H.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Eccles, D. M.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Nicholson, G.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Odey, G. W.||Savory, Prof. D. L.||Touche, G. C.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Scott, Lord W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Osborne, C.||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Snadden, W. M.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Pickthorn, K.||Stanley, Rt Hon. O.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Raikes, H. V.||Studholme, H. G.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Ramsay, Maj. S.||Sutcliffe, H.||York, C.|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Renton, D.||Teeling, William||Major Conant and|
|Mr. Wingfield Digby.|
Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
Division No. 184.]
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Headlam Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hollis, M. C.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Howard, Hon. A.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Price-White, Lt-Col. D.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hurd, A.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boothby, R.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Bower, N.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Channon, H.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Langford-Holt, J.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Linstead, H. N.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Low, A. R. W.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|De la Bère, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Taylor, Vice-Adm, E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Drewe, C.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Teeling, William|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||McFarlane, C. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Elliot, Lieut-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Touche, G. C.|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||MacLeod, J.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Marples, A. E.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Maude, J. C.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mellor, Sir J.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||York, C.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Odey, G. W.||Lieut-Commander Braithwaite and|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Binns, J.||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Blackburn, A. R.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Albu, A. H.||Blenkinsop, A.||Cobb, F. A.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Blyton, W. R.||Cocks, F. S.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.||Collick, P.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Collindridge, F.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Collins, V. J.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Bramall, E. A.||Colman, Miss G. M.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Cook, T. F.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Cooper, G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Crawley, A.|
|Balfour, A.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Burden, T. W.||Daggar, G.|
|Barton, C.||Burke, W. A.||Daines, P.|
|Battley, J. R.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Callaghan, James||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Benson, G.||Carmichael, James||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Beswick, F.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Champion, A. J.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 275.
|Deer, G.||Lang, G.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lavers, S.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Diamond, J.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Dobbie, W.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Leonard, W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Dye, S.||Leslie, J. R.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Levy, B. W.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Edelman, M.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Royle, C.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Scollan, T.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lipson, D. L.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lipton, Lt.-Col M.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Logan, D. G.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Ewart, R.||Longden, F.||Sharp, Granville|
|Fairhurst, F.||Lyne, A. W.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Farthing, W. J.||McAdam, W.||Shurmer, P.|
|Fernyhough, E.||McAllister, G.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||McEntee, V. La T.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Follick, M.||McGhee, H. G.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Foot, M. M.||McGovern, J.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mack, J. D.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||McKinlay, A. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||McLeavy, F.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Gibbins, J.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Gilzean, A.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Mann, Mrs. J.||Swingler, S.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mathers, Rt. Hon George||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Grierson, E.||Mellish, R. J.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Messer, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Gunter, R. J.||Monslow, W.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Moody, A. S.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hale, Leslie||Morley, R.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Tolley, L.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||Mort, D. L.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Haworth, J.||Moyle, A.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Murray, J. D.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hewitson, Capt M.||Nally, W.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Naylor, T. E.||Walker, G. H.|
|Holman, P.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Horabin, T. L.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Houghton, A. L. N. D. (Sowerby)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hoy, J.||Oldfield, W. H.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hubbard, T.||Oliver, G. H.||West, D. G.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Orbach, M.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)||Parker, J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pearson, A.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Peart, T. F.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Piratin, P.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Popplewell, E.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Jenkins, R. H.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Willis, E.|
|John, W.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Price, M. Philips||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Proctor, W. T.||Wyatt, W.|
|Keenan, W.||Pryde, D. J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Kendall, W. D.||Pursey, Comdr. H.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Randall, H. E.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Ranger, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kinley, J.||Rankin, J.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Kirby, B. V.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Mr. Hannan.|
New Clause—(Initial And Annual Allowances, &C, For Office Buildings)
(1) In section twenty-five of the Income Tax Act, 1945 (which defines the expenditure on which allowances may be given under Part III of that Act) sub-paragraphs (vi) and (vii) to the proviso to subsection (1) shall be deleted.
(2) In no case shall the amount on which a balancing charge is made upon a person be increased by virtue of the provisions of this section by more than the total amount by which annual allowances made to that person are increased by virtue thereof.
(3) The preceding provisions of this section shall be deemed always to have had effect.—[ Mr. Eccles.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."The object of this new Clause is to extend to certain office buildings the initial allowance and the annual allowances given under the Income Tax Act, 1945. That Act excluded all office buildings from the scope of the allowances, and the Committee will remember that the argument used by the Treasury Bench in defence, of that exclusion was that office buildings have a value independent of the production unit with which for the time being they are connected. The head office, or it may be the sales office, of a manufacturing company might be in London, and might not lose any of its value if the factory with which it is concerned closed its doors. There was also the argument that office buildings are very often two or three rooms in a big block of buildings, and it would be very difficult to give the allowances in respect of two or three rooms in a large block of buildings. That argument had some force in relation to the United Kingdom, which is a small and crowded country, though I was not entirely convinced by it at the time, but the Committee will see the force of the proposition put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson). We have taken it into consideration in this new Clause, and therefore we have confined the extension of the allowance to office buildings to those belonging to British mining companies operating overseas. Part III of the Income Tax Act, 1945, gives an allowance to other types of buildings which are erected as part of the equipment of the mine; for example, the building in which the mining stores are kept, the building in which the production plant is housed, the building in which the winding engine is erected; all these buildings get the allowance. What reason can there be not to extend the cover to other office buildings which may be used for the purpose of drawing offices or assay offices, all of which buildings become substantially valueless when the mine is exhausted? I think the principle of this new Clause was conceded by the Government when we were discussing Amendments to Clause 18, because, with one small exception, the Government said that the site acquired for buildings such as these would rank for the allowances. If we give the allowance for the site, it is really only reasonable to give it for the buildings erected upon the site, and therefore I think that the principle has already been given away on Clause 18. It does sometimes happen that buildings of this type right on the site of operations may have some value when the mine shuts down. After all, there is a housing shortage in other countries as well as Great Britain, and it is quite conceivable that when a mine closes down somebody may wish to take over the office buildings and live in them. If that does happen, the Act takes care of it, and a balancing charge is imposed upon the value for which the building is sold if it is higher than its written-down value. I therefore urge the new Clause on three grounds. First, on sheer common sense, because there is really no substantial difference between a building which is used for mining stores and a building used for assaying the mineral daily brought up for testing from the mine itself. I think we ought to go further. The whole of the changes which we are urging in the taxation of British overseas mining companies, many of which were embodied in Clause 18, are designed to remove handicaps upon British companies as compared with mining companies of other countries, and this new Clause represents a small but none the less definite handicap to be removed from British companies. We are in no position for American, Canadian and other companies to have advantages over our companies in developing our material resources abroad. I hope the Government will look beyond the purely legal principle or the Income Tax principles which governed the situation in July, 1945, when we were discussing for the first time the original Bill. We did not then think how keen would be our anxiety to earn every possible sum in foreign exchange. The Chancellor met us to the extent of setting up a Departmental Committee, upon whose recommendations the changes in this Bill have been founded, and I should like to thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for having let me know that he is prepared to publish the report of that Committee. I am sure it will be of great assistance to mining interests.
I am sorry that we feel that we cannot accept the proposal in this new Clause, and for these general reasons. The considerations which led to the exclusion of office buildings when the 1945 Income Tax Act was being drafted were not legalistic. They were based on the general economic considerations that priority should be given to buildings which could be said to be industrial. The hon. Gentleman moved a very similar Amendment in 1945 to the Income Tax Act of that year, and the Chancellor of that time, the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), opposed it upon the general economic considerations that office buildings were not the sort of buildings designed to be comprehended by the relief provisions of that Act.That was subject to one qualification. They are excluded from the initial allowance provided by the first part of the Act, which still stands, but when the question of allowances in connection with mining and oil companies was concerned, there was a slight exception embodied in framing that Act, and it was that, although relief could not be given if there was a separate office building, it could be given in the cases where the office buildings formed part of the main industrial production plant, and provided that the expenditure on the office buildings did not exceed one-tenth of the total expenditure on buildings. The Chancellor of the day felt that he could not go beyond that in replying to the proposal which the hon. Gentleman then made during the Committee stage of the 1945 Income Tax Act. Substantially, the position now is as it was then, and I say substantially because there is, after all, the Committee on Income Tax which has been set up which will take just this sort of consideration particularly into account. It is par excellence the sort of problem with which that Committee should concern itself, and, in asking the Committee to reject the present proposal, I would say that it was rejected in 1945 for considerations which, broadly speaking, are still applic- able. It is just the sort of problem which the Committee now sitting should investigate, and it really would be unwise for us to make a change which amends the general principle upon which the 1945 Act was framed. It is precisely the desirability of such changes which will be considered by the Committee now set up to deal with the question of Income Tax and other questions of the basis upon which profits should be computed for purposes of Income Tax. For these reasons, I recommend the Committee to reject the present proposal and to leave it for the consideration of the Committee which has been set up to consider and report upon it. I would make one comment on the new Clause as it stands. The hon. Gentleman said that he had limited the new Clause to the case of foreign mining concessions. I speak subject to correction, but, certainly as I read it, it does not have that effect, but has the effect of embodying a general exception to the provisions of Section 25 of the Income Tax Act, 1945. For the general reasons that this matter was dealt with in 1945, that there has not been any radical change in the situation which would justify a departure from the principle upon which that Act was framed, that a Committee has been set up to investigate this sort of problem, I would ask the Committee to say that this new proposal should not be accepted.
I should like to say one or two words on this subject because my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Camborne (Commander Agnew), whose name is down to the new Clause, is unable to be present. This is a matter of fairly common knowledge to those connected with this kind of industry and one which has existed for a long time. There are one or two instances where companies are working abroad, particularly in tin in Malaya and places like that. Where they have an office which is actually on the mine itself they will get the relief, but supposing that office serves two mines or two or three concerns together, or supposing it does not happen to be so closely connected as far as the location of the building is concerned; then it does not get relief.There exists, therefore, a definite handicap to those mining industries which are of great value in developing mining abroad and earning dollars. It has been one of the troubles throughout the whole of the Income Tax laws as far as these companies are concerned. I believe it is the desire of every section of the House to help these companies overseas. It has already been admitted that it is essential to provide the relief for the office on the mine. I think it would be wrong if this Clause were withdrawn without some other hon. Member, in addition to my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles), who put the case strongly, protesting against this position. It is wrong that we should have this blank refusal by the Government to this comparatively small concession, which would be a dollar-earning concession. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said, "It will come before a committee very shortly." That, of course, is a great help and it is a point as a result of which, to my mind, we should not be forced into the Divisional Lobby on this Clause. It is, however, a pity that the Government are always putting off these small matters, which are of great value to individuals and as dollar earners, and pushing them out to some other body. If we really wish to develop our mining overseas, especially within the British Empire, a small concession such as this would be important. It is wrong to hit the mines simply because an office does not happen to be on the site. It is probably highly inconvenient in many cases to have it on the site. There may be several mines where it is not possible to have an office on each one of them; it may be the most economical thing to have one office in a central position dealing with all the mines. Surely the practical proposals in all these things should outweigh the other facts. I feel sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham, who has shown industry and capacity in this, has at any rate done a useful service in bringing it to the notice of the Committee and showing how completely incapable is the Treasury mind of appreciating, even in this sort of thing, how much the Treasury could do to help our industries abroad.
I think it is very unreasonable of the Solicitor-General to pass this off by saying that it will be looked at by the committee. We already have Clause 18, which alters the provisions of Part III of the Income Tax Act of 1945 without reference to this Committee. These alterations were the result of a special Departmental Committee and their Report. There is no logic in giving an allowance on the site but refusing it on the buildings on that site, because it may be that the buildings are worth more than one-tenth of the whole amount of the construction. I think this is a very foolish and an obviously arbitrary thing; and when we see something which should be put right we should put it right at once and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) said, we should not wait for the report of another committee.I believe the Solicitor-General is right and that, the new Clause, as we have drafted it, appears to apply to all mines and not only to overseas mines. A very difficult problem arises in regard to mines in this country because they may have head offices in big cities and may bring up a comparison between the way we treat their offices and the way we treat the offices of other industries. I should be ready to withdraw my Clause, but I should like to put it down again, this time restricting it to overseas mines. If the Committee will agree, that is the course I would advise them to take. I, therefore, beg to ask leave to withdraw the Clause.
Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
New Clause—(Relief In Respect Of Foreign Income Tax)
(1) In order to extend the provisions of the law relating to relief in respect of Dominion income tax so as to grant similar relief in respect of foreign income tax, the following enactments shall have effect in relation to the year of assessment commencing on the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and forty-nine, and all future years of assessment, as if wherever reference is made in each such enactment to a Dominion, there appeared by way of alternative a similar reference to any foreign country:—
(2) ( a) On the making of an Order in Council under section fifty-one of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1945, (which provides as to arrangements for relief from double taxation of income) with respect to any arrangements relating to a foreign country, this section shall cease to have effect as respects that foreign country except in so far as the said arrangements otherwise provide.
Provided that the preceding provisions of this subsection shall not apply where the said arrangements do not provide that tax payable under the laws of the foreign country concerned shall be allowed as a credit against tax payable in the United Kingdom.
( b) The provisions of this section shall not apply in relation to any taxes payable in the Republic of Ireland.
(3) The expression "any Foreign Country" means any territory outside the United Kingdom which is not a British possession or which is not under His Majesty's protection or in respect of which a mandate is not being exercised by the Government of any part of His Majesty's Dominions.
(4) In no case shall any charge to tax made upon any person be increased by virtue of the provisions of this section.—[ Mr. Eccles.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."This new Clause is important, in our view. It is very difficult to understand from reading the Order Paper, but I will endeavour to make the matter clear. The Clause seeks to extend compendiously, in one stroke, the provision of Dominion Income Tax reliefs so as to apply to Income Tax payable in foreign countries. The expression "foreign country" is defined in subsection (3). There are arguments for and against this important proposal. I have tried to give them careful consideration and I have come to the conclusion that it is right to press this Clause at this time because of the difficulties which face us in our export trade. The Committee will agree that if British companies and citizens are to have equal scope and equal encouragement to trade and earn money in foreign countries with citizens of other industrial countries, then they must not be handicapped by having to bear altogether more onerous taxation than their competitors. That seems to me to be a very clear proposition. Any company which embarks upon a foreign venture does so only if it is satisfied with the prospect of making a profit and also with the proportion of that profit which the taxation in the country of operation and the taxation here in the United Kingdom leaves to it for distribution. All trade is risky, but there are additional risks in doing business in a foreign country. That means to say that if the profits made by British companies in countries like Mexico or Siam, for example, are first taxed by the local government and afterwards taxed by His Majesty's Government at the standard rate of Income Tax, there will be only a modest fraction of the profit left to the British company. The fact is that the Government of the United States and the Government of Canada give unilateral relief from this kind of double taxation. For example, in the United States of America complete relief from foreign taxes is given up to the full rate of American taxation by Section 131 of the Internal Revenue Code. An American company which is operating, let us say, in Mexico, pays the Mexican Income Tax and can deduct the whole of that payment from its liabilities to United States Income Tax. Obviously, therefore, the attraction of doing new business in a country like Mexico is much greater to an American company than to a British company, since the American company knows that if it makes a profit it will be able to bring home a much larger proportion of its earnings. It is to get rid of this handicap that we have put down this new Clause. His Majesty's Government have been well aware of the problem for a long time and they have been tackling it on quite different lines. They have been negotiating a series of double taxation agreements with all those countries which were willing to enter into such agreements. Under those agreements the two countries concerned give reciprocal concessions and the scope of the agreements has been extended to cover property as well as income. These double taxation agreements are very useful and thoroughly to be commended. They have been made, or are still in the process of negotiation, with nearly all countries with whom we have a substantial two-way flow of income. It is quite obvious that if there is not income flowing from the United Kingdom to a foreign country, there is not much inducement to the foreign country to enter into a multilateral tax agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom. We come to the point where there remains a group of countries, of which the majority can be called undeveloped countries, with whom agreements are not being made and are not very likely to be made. Among the most important of these are the following: the Belgian Congo, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Portugal, Siam, Spain and Venezuela. Of those countries it might be said that all except two are too young to make a double taxation agreement and two of them—Spain and Portugal—are too old. What are we going to do about the great handicap which is laid upon British business because we do not appear likely to be able to make these multilateral taxation agreements with these important countries? There seems to me to be two courses open to His Majesty's Government. Either they can go on hoping that one day or other they will be able to make double taxation agreements with this remaining group of countries or they can rest upon the number of multilateral agreements they have made so far and add a Clause to the Finance Bill of the type of which I am speaking which would give unilateral relief to British citizens in respect of this small remaining group of countries. I know there are arguments on both sides of this question, but I believe the time has come to adopt the latter course. The Solicitor-General may tell us that it would be unfair to those countries with which we have concluded a double taxation agreement now to rush in and give unilateral relief and encouragement to British traders in all the other countries who have not entered into such agreements. I do not think we should make too much of that argument. There is something rather disagreeable about the fact, but this is a hard world and we have to do the best we can for British trade. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) and I feel that we should take some notice of the argument, however, and therefore in our Clause we are not seeking to give the whole relief to the British taxpayer; we are seeking only to apply the provisions of Dominion Income Tax relief to those countries with which we have not a double taxation agreement. That still leaves to our Treasury negotiators some- thing to bargain with if it ever does become possible to make double taxation agreements with this remaining group of countries. 6.45 p.m. The Committee is probably only too familiar with the exact rates and conditions of Dominion double taxation relief. Broadly speaking, that is the relief which is set against the United Kingdom tax on income, which is either the rate of foreign tax that has been suffered or half the standard rate of British tax, whichever is the lower. I do not know what the rate of tax may be, but if Income Tax in Brazil is 6s. in the £, under Dominion Income Tax relief it is roughly true to say the British company is relieved to the extent of 4s. 6d., being half of the British standard rate. That may not be exactly true, but it is near enough. So we are not even doing in our new Clause what I hope we may do one day, namely, to put British companies on all fours with the United States and Canadian companies in the matter. However, we are going a long way towards it, and it is an important step which I think we ought to take. It really must appear to the Government, in the present predicament of our balance of payments, that any suggestion which encourages the earning of foreign exchange by this country is worthy of very sympathetic consideration. It is quite clear that we are now entering a phase of international trade where the stocking boom is over, and that there is going to be very keen competition in the capital goods industries of the world to get the contracts to open up new sources of supply, to build harbours, railways, airfields, and things of that sort. There cannot be any doubt that the capital goods industries of the great industrial nations are going to have a hard tussle between each other to see who gets these contracts, and the Americans are as keen as anyone else. Is it right that we should handicap British business compared with American business? If I thought that the Treasury could negotiate double taxation agreements with all those remaining countries—taking particularly the Middle Eastern countries and Venezuela, where great development is bound to take place—if I thought it could do that within a very short period, I should leave it to the Treasury to do it. If anyone can do it, then I say—because I know them well—that the Treasury negotiators can do it. However, it is not so. Those developing countries do not see what they get out of an agreement of that sort, and so they do not enter into negotiations; or if they do, they pitch their demands so high that nothing ever comes of them. Therefore, as I say, this is one of the steps it is open to the Government to take to encourage foreign exchange earnings, and they ought to consider this proposal sympathetically. What would it cost? I do not know. I know only that the cost would be a mere fraction of the sort of sums which we place at the disposal of the President of the Board of Trade through the Export Credits Guarantee Department—the vast sums which are now being given to that Minister to spend where he thinks it is possible to back up projects for increasing our earnings overseas. I think it better to equalise the handicaps between British traders and American traders and let them "go to it." I believe that to be much the most economical way, from the point of view of the Revenue, and one that is likely to bring in more foreign exchange. I apologise for setting out the argument at some length, but obviously this is an important Clause. I hope that even if the Solicitor-General has not the Chancellor's permission to accept it, it may be that he will take this argument seriously, and that between now and Report stage something can be done about it. All our friends throughout the world are asking whether we are doing our best to get on our own feet. Here is something which we can do. I feel that the whole Committee will agree with me that there are no politics in this at all. We just want to make things equal as between Canadian business, American business and British business.
I wish to support every word my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) has said. During the last year I have been pressing on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to negotiate something in the way of an agreement to deal with taxation in France, Belgium and this country. Only a fortnight ago I asked a Question on that, and was told that it is very difficult indeed to arrive at a conclusion. How much more difficult is it to arrive at a conclusion with people not in the same advanced stage of business organisation as are those two countries.At the present moment, some of the greatest exports to which we have to look in the near and the distant future are those comprised in invisible exports. There is no doubt about it that the export of the "know-how," of knowledge and experience, in the near future, when we have a big economic crisis lowering down on us, will be a great potential source of revenue. I believe that other countries will turn to us as the most experienced traders and the most experienced solvers of difficult economic riddles—which we have proved ourselves to be over centuries—for our experience and knowledge. This great handicap put on the trader, which is much increased, should at this juncture be mitigated and, if possible, brought to an end. It took the Government a year or two to learn what invisible exports are—they did not appear in the Government's programme in their first year or two in office—and then they gave them high priority, especially under the present Chancellor. Just as they were slow to learn what invisible exports are, so must they learn that the extension of our invisible exports at present is of vital importance, and that there is no greater handicap—and I speak as one who has trading posts, so to say, in countries all over the world, from Indo-China to South America—than this harsh taxation, which presses extremely heavily on the working of any public company on behalf of shareholders. It means that directors are faced with a bet of something like four to one on behalf of their shareholders the whole time. Those are difficult conditions, and not what directors can face with any degree of equanimity. I believe that this Clause is in a way far more important even than it appears to be on the surface. If we are to get more multilateral trade, surely the last thing we ought to do is to handicap and hamstring those people who are able and willing and enterprising enough to undertake trade. If we continue to place such heavy handicaps on them, we shall kill enterprise, or we shall export it altogether, which is the possible alternative. I have very great pleasure in supporting my hon. Friend's new Clause.
We feel, having given very careful consideration to this matter, that really it is undesirable to deal with these questions of foreign taxation otherwise than through bilateral arrangements. One has to remember this, that foreign tax is treated as a deduction in computing profits in this country both for the purpose of Income Tax and Profits Tax. Therefore, with the standard rate at 9s. in the £—if we can take Income Tax and Profits Tax together—approximately already, as the law stands at the moment, without any unilateral relief being afforded as suggested, relief is given to the extent of half the foreign tax. The whole foreign tax is treated as a deduction, and, therefore, relief is given in the respect of foreign tax, and is allowed against profits for Income Tax and Profits Tax.I do not feel that I really can put the matter any better—perhaps, it would be presumption on my part if I supposed I could—than it was put by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) during his Budget speech on 24th April, 1945, when he was dealing with this particular topic. He was referring then to the convention at that time recently negotiated between the United Kingdom and the United States. I desire to quote what he said:
The case made by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) is that, in present-day circumstances, it is urgently necessary to lift from the shoulders of British undertakers operating in foreign markets, so far as we can, the burdens which impinge upon them. It is not as if we had not already made very substantial progress in regard to the conclusion of these bilateral agreements. If it could be said that this had been an extraordinarily slow business, and that we were making very little advance in concluding agreements which included other countries, then there would be more in the argument that we should proceed in this unilateral fashion. However, I think that probably the Committee would be interested to know and have from me a short statement as to the present position in the case of a number of countries. I shall just give the details showing what is the position approximately at the moment. Agreements have been so far made with the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, most of the Colonies, and the Netherlands. An agreement with Sweden has been signed but not yet ratified, and an agreement at the official level has been reached with Denmark. An agreement with France is at present being negotiated, and that was one of the countries the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) mentioned. Discussions are continuing with Belgium, which I think he also mentioned, and also with Burma. Draft agreements have been put to the Governments of Norway and Indonesia, and, in the Commonwealth, to India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. The first approach has been made to Finland. With regard to South American countries, which the hon. Member for Chippenham rather put in the forefront of his argument, the position is that we have recently concluded an agreement with the Argentine restricted to shipping and air transport, and we propose to follow it up with negotiations for a more comprehensive agreement not limited to those particular industries. Brazil, which I think he also mentioned as one of the countries he had particularly in mind, has expressed willingness to enter into discussions, and proposals will shortly be sent to Brazil. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned Venezuela, and Venezuela has also been recently asked whether it will negotiate an agreement of this sort."We could, of course, deal with the problem by ourselves if we liked. There is no reason why this House, if so minded, should not provide that income for assets coming under charge to tax in foreign countries should be charged in this country only to the extent that the appropriate British charge might exceed the foreign charge. Such an allowance, no doubt, provides an appropriate solution over part of the field, but the unilateral approach is not in my view the way to tackle the question. Double charges of this kind ought to be eliminated in a regulated fashion which will distribute the cost equitably between the Governments concerned and for that purpose we have to proceed by agreement with like minded foreign Governments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1945; Vol. 410, c. 704.]
Has there been any answer?
An approach has been made. It has not yet said it will, so far as I know from the note before me. However an approach has been made.What I am concerned to show is that substantial progress has been made, and I am attempting to argue that there would have been more force in the hon. Gentleman's case if such progress had not been made. But as I have established, as I hope he will agree I have established, that we have really covered a great many of the countries already, and that we are taking active steps to go further with this policy of bilateral agreements to include other countries with which we conduct international trade, then really the case which he submitted instead is much weaker than it may appear at first sight. 7.0 p.m. As he said, there are two schools of thought. The question is: should we try to have an overall arrangement which embraces all the countries and which shares out the burden of expense equitably between the countries concerned in the negotiations, or should this country take it upon itself to afford relief unilaterally and at its own expense? I would remind the Committee of what the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said in 1945. We think that is right, and we do not really think that the situation can be said to have altered from what it was when he used, in relation to it, the words which I have quoted. An important consideration to bear in mind is that the burden really is only approximately half of what it was, as I understand from the argument of the hon. Member for Chippenham, because already there is taxation relief as to half the foreign tax. For those general reasons I hope the Committee will agree that the considerations against unilateral relief, on the whole, outweigh the considerations in favour of unilateral relief, and will therefore agree with the submission that I make that this new Clause ought not to be adopted.
There is a factor in relation to double taxation which the Solicitor-General has not appreciated. The United States have been the pioneers in making double taxation agreements, and in 1944, when this country was very reluctant to enter into a double taxation agreement, it was due to the initiative and the arguments of the United States delegates that we were persuaded to enter into that first great agreement. Although the United States are the pioneers of double taxation, they also have a section in their law to which this new Clause approxi- mates, namely, Section 131 which is a very well-known provision in the realm of double taxation.This new Clause has a different object and a different result. It does not conflict in any way with the system of making bilateral agreements with foreign countries. Section 131, like this Clause, is designed to save people a certain amount of tax because it is felt that it is unfair to charge them tax twice over. The object of a bilateral double taxation agreement is to benefit the citizens of both countries; we give up some tax to a foreign country and they give up some tax to us. The Americans have kept it quite distinct. They have had Section 131 in their law for many years and they are also very anxious to conclude as many bilateral agreements as possible. Putting it in layman's language, the Clause says that if a person has paid some tax in a foreign country and he is assessable to British Income Tax, he is entitled to set off the amount of tax he paid in the foreign country against his British tax, but, following the line of British Dominion tax relief in relation to Section 131 of the United States Code, he does not get the whole of it; he gets either the British standard rate or another alternative which I have forgotten for the moment. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the foreign tax."] I am obliged to my hon. Friend. That is quite a different object. I ask the Solicitor-General to consider this Clause from that point of view. It does not affect foreign countries in the least. A foreign country which realises that America has Section 131 does not say, "We will conclude a bilateral agreement." An undeveloped country which is not anxious to conclude a bilateral agreement is not affected one way or another by the principle of Section 131. The answer of the Solicitor-General, that foreign tax is deducted in computing profits and Income Tax, is not correct. A simple mathematical computation will show that if a person earns £100 abroad, after paying British Income Tax he gets a profit of £55. If a foreign country imposes a tax of 20 per cent., the present method is to charge 45 per cent. on £80, because £100 less £20 is £80. Suppose that this was a straight Section 131 principle; one would charge 45 per cent. in England, the man would be credited with having paid 20 per cent. abroad; he would pay 25 per cent. in England and 20 per cent. abroad, which is 45 per cent., and he would have 55 per cent. left, exactly as if he had paid 55 per cent. in England. That is the object of Section 131. The foreign tax rate is reduced to half the standard rate or the foreign rate whichever is the least. There is no antithesis between Section 131, which is the easy United States method, and double taxation agreements, The advantages are those set up by my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles). It encourages British subjects to export to those countries where they would get the benefit of what corresponds to Dominion tax relief. It is fair because they paid tax in a foreign country, and, instead of just getting the advantage of the foreign tax being counted as an expense, it would be counted as a credit against the tax which they paid here. There are still many reasons for concluding double taxation agreements, because with a system of Dominion taxation reliefs there are many anomalies and injustices on the taxpayer. In the British-American Agreement, there is a liberalisation of the tax systems of the two countries. For instance, professors and lecturers who go to the United States and who are domiciled in this country do not pay any more or any less Income Tax. It is levied on them here, and the same applies in the reverse case. That is very different from saying that a lecturer who pays American Income Tax should be entitled to credit it against his British Income Tax. The situation is quite different. In the case of American Corporation Tax, that is levied on corporations and, therefore, is attributable to each share in an American corporation. Under the double taxation agreement the Americans have let off British subjects—I use that expression to illustrate persons domiciled in this country and so on—paying that tax because they feel that it is a liberalisation of the economic relations between the two countries. One could go through the British-American double taxation agreement and find many instances where we have given up the tax for persons who came over here—for instance, persons other than those in the entertainment industry who spend less than 168 days in England. Those people are let off the tax. We get a corresponding advantage. People who go to the United States are let off the American tax. The double taxation agreement works the same in both countries. It says, "We in England will do so-and-so to your people if you will do so-and-so to ours." All that this provision says is that if our people have to pay tax abroad they will get a credit. I ask the Solicitor-General to consider this Clause from that point of view and to appreciate that it is not a question of bilateral agreements against unilateral agreements. They are not in opposition. We are proposing a relief to our people who trade abroad, to encourage them to trade, and to develop invisible exports so that these people will receive, not more profit than if they had traded in England, but at least as much. A man who can sell for £100 profit in England gets £55. After a lot of trouble in exporting and so on, let us assume that he gets £100 in the Argentine. If he pays £20 in Argentine tax he only gets 45 per cent. of £80. Why should he go to all that trouble if he can sell in this country? We want him at least to be able to make as much in foreign markets as he makes in this country. To penalise a man who trades in a country where he has to pay foreign tax cannot be sensible. There is no question of party politics; this is a technical matter. I would refer the Solicitor-General to some very learned articles and proceedings in the two Congresses of the International Fiscal Association, which has been adopted as one of the societies working under United Nations. They have done a lot of study on this, and in one of their proceedings it was pointed out that Section 131 of the United States code was a very enlightened Section when passed. It has been of very great benefit to the Americans, and all we are asking is to give us half of that back.
I must say that my hon. Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster), who has very great knowledge on this particular topic, has put up a formidable case, and I trust that some further answer will be given from the Treasury Bench. As he says, this is not a matter which raises any party division. It is a technical matter, and with the general object I think we are all agreed. We want to give to the industrialists trading abroad a fair deal compared with their fellow industrialists who trade in this country. It is, indeed, the avowed object of this Government to make it, on the whole, more advantageous to trade abroad than to trade at home. Therefore, I think that all of us start with a desire to clear up this anomaly, unless there are very grave reasons against it.I admit straight away that I was impressed by the Solicitor-General's speech. If it is true that there is a complete antithesis between the method proposed in this new Clause, the method of unilateral legislation, and the method which has been pursued now for three or four years, then all of us would prefer the method of bilateral agreements so long as that method still has a chance. It is quite clear that if we fall back on that method alone, a time will come when bilateral agreements have been completed with all the countries with which we are likely to be successful, and then, presumably, we legislate for the rest. The Solicitor-General produced a not at all unsatisfactory list of agreements which have been concluded or are being discussed, and he made a good case for saying that this bilateral method is still going well, even if finally we have to deal with the residue by legislation, and that we ought to give the treaty method a chance for a bit longer. That, of course, depends on there being this antithesis between the two methods. The purpose of my hon. Friend's speech was to point out that experience shows that no such antithesis exists in America, the country which is the pioneer in this field and which has on its statute book the type of Clause we are proposing here. It is that argument, from experience and not from theory, that no antithesis exists which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have got to meet. I must confess that, unless they have some answer to the proved fact that the United States, devoted as they are to the methods of bilateral agreements, have yet found it necessary and advisable and in no way disadvantageous to have a Clause of this character, that fact will certainly guide me in my action upon this Clause. We are all looking for the same thing, and we do not want to press this to a conclusion now, if the Solicitor-General wishes to look at the matter again. It is certainly a matter of considerable importance to which at some time or other we must have an answer, which we all hope will be a favourable one.
I fear that I did not make my argument completely clear, thus producing the impression that there was an antithesis. What I was trying to convey is that there are two methods. There is the Section 131 method, which puts the whole of the cost of relief on the country which gives the relief, and there is the bilateral method, the method by which each country shares the cost, which is the method we prefer. The only antithesis is that the methods differ in that respect. We think, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) thought, that it is in the long run desirable that the bilateral method should be adopted. When the right hon. Gentleman used the words I quoted, he had fully in mind Section 131 of the American Code. That has been part of the American Code for a long time, it was part of the American Code before the right hon. Gentleman made his speech in 1945. I have not the smallest doubt that, with his great experience of these matters, he must have considered it. He was particularly talking in relation to the American Convention which had been concluded.The two systems are, in a sense, complementary, but we think we should aim at the cost of this taxation relief being equally borne. The case I have tried to make is that we have made substantial progress along that path. I did not mean Members opposite to understand that the relief which is obtained from the fact that foreign tax is relief against expenses is as advantageous as the relief afforded under either system to the taxpayer. On the contrary, foreign tax is treated as deductions both for Profits Tax and Income Tax purposes, with the result that there is relief, not in respect of the whole of the foreign tax, but in respect of half—that is, crediting the Profits Tax and Income Tax at 9s. in the £. I used that argument, not to destroy the argument which was used against me, but to submit that it would have less force if any relief were given under the existing law. For these reasons, notwithstanding the invitation extended to me, and in spite of the arguments of the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster), we feel that we must adhere to the decision we have given. Therefore, I invite the Committee to reject the new Clause.
I am sorry, but I think that there is a fallacy underlying the Solicitor-General's argument. The relief in a double taxation convention is not shared by both countries. In a double taxation convention each country gives relief to its own people, and under Section 131 agreements one country gives relief to its own people. The cost is never shared under bilateral agreements.
My right hon. and learned Friend has just said so.
If he said so, he is wrong. Without giving away any official secrets one can say that the attitude of the Treasury at that time was very much against double taxation, and there was a great deal of difficulty in persuading them. Take the British subject who owns £100. He pays £20 in the Argentine and is taxed on the £80. Section 131 gives him relief in the sense that he pays tax on £100 and gets credited with the £20 he has paid in the Argentine. It is difficult to work out the fraction, but it means that a British subject has relief of tax to the extent of about £7 or £8. If a bilateral agreement is made with the Argentine they will not take £3 10s. They will say, "We shall let our own people have £7. In certain other cases, where you tax Argentinians and we tax British subjects, we will give you relief and you will give us relief."In the case of royalties, following the British-American pattern, the English would say, "We shall not tax Argentinian authors" and the Argentine would say, "We shall not tax British authors in the Argentine." In any case British and Argentine subjects would share the relief given by the British to British subjects. There is no question of that. The British are saying, "We do not care for a moment what other countries are doing; we think it only fair that British subjects should pay taxes abroad and have that amount of relief against English taxes." In other words, 45 per cent. of the £s will be what they gain. The Section 131 principle, divided by half, has been working for many years in the Dominions. There is no question of Australians and us sharing relief given to United Kingdom people who have to pay Australian taxes. If the Australians do the same to their own people, that is no concern of ours. There is no question of the cost we incur being later taken over by a double taxation agreement with other countries. I press the Government to say that the Section 131 principle is a good one and that it encourages our export trade and should be introduced in this country on the principle of extending to foreign countries relief which we think is right for our people who suffer taxation in the Dominions.
We put down this Clause with the object of equalising the handicaps between business men of Britain and other countries. I am sure that Members on all sides of the Committee will agree with that object. The only reason for withdrawing the Clause would be if the Solicitor-General had convinced the Committee that the adoption of the principle of Section 131 would make it much more difficult to conclude double taxation agreements. Personally, I like such agreements; they cover a wide range of things and I think they are a good thing. The Solicitor-General has not put forward any argument to show that the adoption of the Clause would impede the Government's negotiators any more than Section 131 has impeded the American Government's negotiators. That being so, I hope the Clause will be pressed to a Division.
The Solicitor-General quoted a speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) some time ago, and said that the situation today was very much the same as it was at the time that speech was made. We differ from that suggestion. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) pointed out that the importance of invisible exports is now realised, and that there is a growing realisation of their importance. That being so, what is involved is not only what is made as profit in this country but profit made by means of royalties on what is sold abroad, such as books. The Debate has shown all reasonable and right-minded people that this is an important point, and it is very unsatisfactory that the Government should say that the situation today is as it was when my right hon. Friend made his speech, and allow the matter to go by default.I deplore the fact that the technical aspect of this matter should be stressed so much. We should come back to the commonsense point of view. We should all agree that there ought not to be double taxation, that invisible exports should be encouraged and that people who use their energy to create these exports should not be put at a disadvan-
Division No. 185.]
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hollis, M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Howard, Hon. A.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Bower, N.||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hurd, A.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hutohison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C)||Renton, D.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roberts H. (Handsworth)|
|Channon, H.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Kendall, W. D.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Langford-Holt, J.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Linstead, H. N.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lipson, D. L.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Low, A. R. W.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Drewe, C.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Sulcliffe, H.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Teeling, William|
|Eccles, D. M.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Marples, A. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Gage, C.||Maude, J. C.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Meltor, Sir J.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hitthead)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Mott-Radelyffe, C. E.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Odey, G. W.||York, C.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Osborne, C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Commander Agnew and|
|Haughton, Colonel S. G. (Antrim)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Colonel Wheatley.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Beswick, F.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Chamberlain, R. A.|
|Albu, A. H.||Binns, J.||Champion, A. J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Blackburn, A. R.||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Blenkinsop, A.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Blyton, W. R.||Cobb, F. A.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.||Cocks, F. S.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Braddock, Mrs E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Collick, P.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Collins, V. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Bramall, E. A.||Colman, Miss G. M.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Cook, T. F.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Cooper, G.|
|Baird, J.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Corlett, Dr J.|
|Balfour, A.||Brown, George (Belper)||Crawley, A.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Barsbow, P. G.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Cullen, Mrs.|
|Barton C.||Burden, T. W.||Daggar, G.|
|Battley, J. R.||Burke, W. A.||Daines, P.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Callaghan, James||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Benson, G.||Carmichael, James||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
tage. When a Clause such as this has been brought forward, after deep thought, it is wrong for the Government to say that they prefer some other method, and to rely on something which has been said in the past. I ask the Solicitor-General to give the matter further consideration.
Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 115; Noes, 272.
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Lavers, S.||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Deer, G.||Leonard, W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Leslie, J. R.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)|
|Diamond, J.||Levy, B. W.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lindgren, G. S.||Royle, C.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Scollan, T.|
|Dye, S.||Logan, D. G.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Longden, F.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Lyne, A. W.||Sharp, Granville|
|Evans, E. (Lowestaff)||McAdam, W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||McAllister, G.||Shurmer, P.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McEntee, V. La T.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Ewart, R.||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Fairhurst, F.||McGovern, J.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Mack, J. D.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Fernyhough, E.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Follick, M.||McKinlay, A. S.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Foot, M. M.||McLeavy, F.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Forman, J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Gallacher, W.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Swingler, S.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Gilzean, A.||Mann, Mrs. J.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Grierson, E.||Mellish, R. J.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Messer, F.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mitchison, G. R.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Moody, A. S.||Timmons, J.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Morley, R.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hale, Leslie||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Tolley, L.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Mort, D. L.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Moyle, A.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Murray, J. D.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Nally, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Walker, G. H.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Holmam, P.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Noel-Buxlon, Lady||Warkins, T. E.|
|Horabin, T. L.||Oldfield, W. H.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Houghton, A. L. N. D. (Sowerby)||Oliver, G. H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Hoy, J.||Orbach, M.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hubbard, T.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||West, D. G.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edin'gh, E.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Pargitsr, G. A.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parker, J.||Whiteley, Rt Hon. W.|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Parkin, B. T.||Wigg, George|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Wilkes, L.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pearson, A.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Peart, T. F.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Popplewell, E.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|John, W.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Price, M. Philips||Willis, E.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Proctor, W. T.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Pryde, D. J.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Pursey, Comdr. H.||Wyatt, W.|
|Keenan, W.||Randall, H. E.||Yates, V. F.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Ranger, J.|
|Kinley, J.||Rankin, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kirby, B. V.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Mr. Collindridge and Mr. Hannan.|
|Lang, G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
New Clause—(Relief Of Income Tax Where Total Cost Of Education Is Borne By Taxpayer)
If an individual proves that he has living at the commencement of the year of assessment any child who is receiving full time instruction at an independent school recognised by the Board of Education he shall be entitled in computing his liability to income tax to a
deduction in respect of that child of seventy-five pounds.—[ Mr. Hollis.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."This new Clause asks, quite frankly, for assistance to independent schools and to those parents who send their children to independent schools. We can, without great difficulty, make out a case for the justice of some relief being given to those persons because, as is quite obvious, under the present system they pay education bills twice over, in the sense that they have to pay their rates and taxes for the maintenance of the free schools and they have to pay their personal school bills for sending their children to the independent schools. The only argument that could ever have been advanced, if it ever was advanced, against granting them some relief was that Government schools were available for them to make use of if they wished to do so; and if they were such snobs that they were not good enough for them, then they deserved to pay for it.
Well, if there ever was a time when it was possible to use that argument, it clearly is not possible to use it at the present moment, because it is notorious that there are not sufficient free schools available, and if all the parents who send their children to independent schools saw fit to, as it were, go on strike and demanded to send their children to the free schools, the educational policy of the Minister of Education would be thrown into complete chaos. Therefore, at this time at any rate, it cannot be pretended that it is in general a voluntary act, whatever it may be in the case of a particular individual, for people to make use of the independent schools.I should not be content to rest my case on those comparatively negative and narrow grounds. I am prepared, and intend, to argue that the independent schools and the parents who send their children to those schools are performing a function of importance to the whole community which deserves encouragement. In support of that I shall read to the Committee a passage which I read to it some four years ago when discussing a somewhat similar Amendment, where it is said of such people:
"Nor is it certain that we shall replace him by a more admirable type.… The leader of the future seems not unlikely to be the remorseless one-idea'd man, who governs us by hewing his way to his goal. He has no time for the open mind. He takes clemency for weakness and difference of opinion for crime. He has a horror of various civilisation and he means by freedom only a stronger kind of chain. Where we would be peaceful, he calls us to the affirmation of power. For the music of idle dreams he offers us the hum of giant machines. The majesty of the forest is, for him, the volume of a timber supply, the rush of waters in the river the source of electric power. The gentleman scourged us with whips. We must beware lest our new masters drive us to our toil for sport."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1945; Vol. 416, c. 1369.]
My noble Friend might not have said "Hear, hear" so vigorously if he had known that that was a passage from Professor Laski. Is it quite clear that there is a considerable volume of general support for our claim.If the evidence of Professor Laski is not sufficient, there is the report of the Royal Commission on population, which was published quite recently. We read in that report that "the ordinary economic deterrents to parenthood are aggravated in the higher and upper-medium income ranges by an unfair incidence of taxation. Parents in those income ranges are entitled to such further tax relief as can be justified on the grounds of fiscal equity." It is fairly clear that there is an overwhelming body of support, by no means drawn from people who would vote for hon. Members who sit on these benches, that here is a genuine problem, which must be solved not only in the interests of individuals but in the general national interest. The Population Commission tells us there are roughly speaking three great demographic problems which this country has to solve if it is to survive. With two of them this particular Clause is not specially concerned. On the one hand we must have sufficient population to replace the numbers and, secondly, there is the problem of the age distribution of the population. This Clause is not directly concerned with those two causes, but in the third place there is the problem of the quality of the population. I myself would not put the problem as one "in crude financial terms," as the Royal Commission would put it. By that quotation they did not do justice to themselves, because elsewhere they show in their report that it is by no means a crude financial problem. This great problem is sketched out by Sir Cyril Burt, one of the best known living eugenist, who said that first it was on the whole true that ability is hereditary, and, secondly, it is also on the whole true that the most intelligent people have the fewest children. The terrible and obvious and radical conclusion of that is that the population must inevitably get stupider and stupider, and that is the great problem we have to face and take some steps to prevent. Clearly, it will not be prevented by mere rhetoric or by demagogic appeals. I want clearly to divide my speech into two parts. I am anxious to make it quite clear, first, that here is a very grave problem to be tackled, and then I am willing to be open minded about the particular solution which at the moment we are proposing. I want to make it clear that this is a very great problem, and I do not think there is any doubt that the preservation of the independent schools is a most important national objective. The Commission had no doubt about that at all in their unanimous report. The only reservation to that report was that made by Mrs. Jay. I do not know whether it is hitting below the belt—I have never done it before—to quote an hon. Member's wife against him, and I am not quite sure what is the rule of Privilege on the point, but Mrs. Jay, as hon. Members will know, so far from condemning the independent schools, admitted their quality, and was anxious that their quality should be maintained. Her argument is that they should cease to be fee paying, and should become places where children go as a result of an examination instead of as a result of a parent's income. 7.45 p.m. Quite frankly I do not myself agree with that. It would be a retrograde step if it was made impossible for parents in any circumstances to benefit their children. I agree with the general verdict of the Commission in regard to a
Nobody has a stronger respect for the free schools than I. I sent my own child to one for a time, and I am very grateful I did so. I was fortunate enough to receive my education at expensive schools but entirely free, and for that I am extremely grateful, but my education would have suffered if I had had to spend it entirely in the company of people who had won scholarships. On the contrary, it would have become largely valueless had that been so. I would not have had the privilege of being educated alongside the Solicitor-General if that rule had existed, and I would have suffered from many other disadvantages. We need not pursue the point whether Mrs. Jay's argument is right or wrong, because what we are talking about here is something which should be done here and now. Mrs. Jay herself admits that what she suggests should be done progressively. It is not practical politics or indeed desirable in the present state of the country that the nation should take upon itself the entire burden of maintaining the independent schools. And it is extraordinarily fortunate for the nation that there are parents who are willing to take their share of that burden off the nation's shoulders. Therefore, on Mrs. Jay's admission, on Professor Laski's admission, on Sir Cyril Burr's and on many other people's admission, here is a problem, which must be solved. At the same time it is of vital national importance, that that section of society should survive, which has made contributions to the general well-being of society far beyond the average of its numbers. It can only survive if amongst other things a certain policy of tax relief is followed. That is my first point. I quite agree that there is plenty of room for differences of opinion as to what is the best form of financial relief. For instance, the Commission itself reports not in favour of helping school bills as such, but of granting Income Tax allowances for people, who have children irrespective of what schools they send them to, and in another part it advocates a scheme to be worked out within industry, by which there shall be larger family allowances granted in accordance with the principle of greater allowances for those with higher incomes, on the ground that as a general rule such people spend more upon their children. If whoever is to reply for the Government would tell us that the Government will adopt one or other of those policies, certainly I should listen with sympathy to what he says. On the whole I prefer to relieve the education bill rather than the absolute income. I spoke in favour of increased family allowances before they were granted. The vast majority of parents in every walk of life are extraordinarily unselfish and self-sacrificing towards their children—it is one of the greatest things upon which we can build—and one of the first concerns of the overwhelming majority of parents who have good incomes is to give their children a good education. A small minority who have large incomes do not do their duty in that way but prefer to use their incomes for selfish purposes. If the allowance is given on the income rather than on the education bill, the people we least wish to benefit are those who will benefit exceptionally under it. Again, when we come to education and educational reform, there is a great deal to be said for the remedy applied by some local education authorities of paying the cost of free places, which the parent does not take up, towards the school bill at an independent school to which he sends his child. There remains the scheme advocated in the Clause of granting allowances in Income Tax. I am advocating this not because it is the only scheme but because it is the most modest scheme there is and one which would cost the country least. Although this is a time when it is desperately necessary that we should show that we have a policy on this subject, it is also unfortunately a time when it is desperately necessary carefully to count the cost of everything we do, however desirable it may be. It is for that reason that I and my hon. Friends have commended the Clause to the Committee. I do not know what reply we shall get from the Government but the Report of the Royal Commission on Population is published, and it is obvious that it is essential to have a policy on this all-important topic, and to talk about a planned economy when we are planning fiddling and secondary things and have no policy at all about the most important topic of all, which is population, is fantastic. The lessons of history are alarming. The teaching of Professor Flinders Petrie shows that the general law of history is that when civilisation attains a certain pitch of material comfort, the birth-rate declines and after a time more fecund bar- barians burst in and overthrow the civilisation. According to mere mathematical probability, that is what is likely to happen to us, and we must face it. If we are talking about a planned economy in a large and sensible sense and not in a mere party sense, we have a great opportunity for the first time in history to avert that. I am not without hope that we may do so, but we cannot do so unless we have a Government with a definite policy on this subject which is incomparably more important than many of the things which fill the controversies of the day."readiness to incur reasonable financial sacrifices for one's children as an indispensable element in the responsible code of values which must form the basis of a successful population policy."
I generally find myself agreeing with most of what the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) says, but tonight I find it rather difficult to agree with anything that he has said. We should really do better to bring this discussion from population to education. Whatever the hon. Member may think about independent schools—he thinks very highly of them—at least he made it clear that he believes in independent wives. It is clear from what he said that we on this side believe in complete independence on the part of the wives of our own representatives on the Front Bench even on such a joint matter as children.If the new Clause is accepted we shall encourage parents to regard maintained day schools as quite inferior to the independent schools. That seems inevitable, and it is completely unfair. The hon. Member said that a person was saving the authorities expense when he took his children to private schools and that it was a good sign of liberty in this country that a man could take his children elsewhere to be educated. I am a firm believer in independent schools and I would be no party at any time to wiping them out—it would be a very bad day for this country if we ever pursued such a policy—but that is an entirely different matter from talking about giving financial inducements to parents to send their children to independent schools. If the parents are dissatisfied with the educational fare provided by the local authority, so long as we are prepared to allow freedom to send children elsewhere, they must be prepared to foot the bill. For 50 years we have been building up an efficient system of State secondary education, and we have made a remarkably good job of it. It is true that there is plenty to be done yet, but every educationist is astonished at the progress we have made. We have only to realise that for building some of our maintained secondary and modern schools we are paying £300 a place to appreciate what a good job we are doing at least so far as premises are concerned. It seems to me that we should seek to encourage every parent to desire to take an interest in this State system of education. Surely none of us would want a parent to desire better for his children in education than he is prepared to see every other child get. If we accept this clause we say to a parent, "You need not attend these secondary schools of ours; you can send your children elsewhere and we will help you." Is that the way to encourage parents to take an interest in the schools provided by the local authorities? Our job should be to get every parent interested in the efficiency of the maintained schools. It is not the job of any Government, no matter what its colour, to do anything at any time to lessen the prestige of the maintained schools. This Clause would very definitely lower the prestige of the maintained schools in the eyes of many parents. But there is something even deeper than prestige, that is, the whole question of boarding education. Before the State should be prepared in any way to finance any expenditure on boarding education, for normal children we ought really to know whether we believe in boarding education. No one has yet been able to determine which normal child should be given a boarding education for educational reasons.
Is not the hon. Member aware that the State is already subsidising boarding education by paying the contributions towards the fees of children sent by local authorities to these schools?
Of course, and I intend to deal with that later. I was saying that no one has yet been able to determine which normal child should be given a boarding education. It is not just a question of day school education versus boarding school education, but of a normal child with a good home, good parents, reasonable accessibility to a good secondary school and all the benefits a child gets from the give and take of home life and healthy social life, as against education in completely artificial surroundings.8.0 p.m. That is the problem, and that is why it is so difficult for any educationist to decide which child shall have a boarding education. Hon. Members will remember that the Fleming Report stressed strongly that one of the most difficult things to do was to decide which child should have a boarding education. I see, too, that the late headmaster of Rugby, Mr. Lyon, made the same statement. In fact he went further and said that it was an insuperable difficulty to select which child from a maintained school should have a boarding education. Hon. Members should be clear that public schools did not become boarding schools because anybody believed that boarding education was superior to that given in day schools. They became boarding schools first for geographical reasons, because the people in the middle of the last century who were doing well out of the industrial revolution wanted schools for their children and there were not good enough schools near their homes. They next came into being for social reasons, because of the prestige connected with them and the prospects they offered for future careers. It is only latterly that there has been any suggestion that even a limited number of them offer boarding education for educational reasons. There are of course other reasons why some boarding schools give better education—smaller classes, better paid staffs and so on. The difficulty of selection for boarding education is so pronounced that, as the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) knows, many local education authorities are finding it almost impossible to implement Sections 61 and 76 of his great Education Act. It is a statutory duty on them to provide boarding education, and yet they are rightly running away from it because none of them knows how to select the children and, what is more important, none knows how to reject another child, whose parents desire it, and that is equally important when dealing with public money. Those egregious Circulars 90 and 120 sent out by the Ministry, and the Administrative Memorandum 225 have completely failed to persuade education authorities to fill up the 580 places offered last year by the independent boarding schools to children from the maintained schools. And this is almost entirely due to the difficulty of selection. Although I have a great admiration for the right hon. Gentleman, I was always puzzled as to why he set up the Fleming Committee. I could not understand why the Governing Bodies Association suddenly became so powerful. Nobody else asked for that committee to be set up so far as I can remember. It was heavily weighted with boarding school representatives. It is only since the Fleming Report was published that we have had these discussions and are beginning to consider which child should have a boarding education, and still very few of us know. The hon. Member mentioned Professor Laski, and I thought he used the point effectively. May I draw the attention of the Committee to what happened at the Conservative Teachers' Conference in March, 1948, when they strongly opposed boarding education because it shifted parental responsibility on to the school staff and tended to undermine British home life. Surely the Benches opposite will not support any Clause that will undermine British home life and which will shift the parental responsibility on to school teachers? I often feel that many parents avoid their responsibilities and opportunities by sending their children to boarding schools. I sometimes feel inclined to agree with Karl Mannheim that the justification for a boarding school is to protect a child from the domination of his parents. So on those three counts alone I oppose the Clause and I hope sincerely that public money will never be spent in that way.
The hon. Member for York (Mr. Corlett) always debates fairly and I am extremely grateful to the luck of the game and to you, Sir Charles, that I should be called immediately after him. I hope he will not think that I am voluntarily or excessively litigious if I say that I think his general line of argument against boarding schools on two main grounds—first that it is awfully difficult to know which children ought to go to them and, secondly, that anyway they are not in the main probably good either for the children or the parents—
I did not say that.
I am within the recollection of the Committee. I am not trying to parody the hon. Gentleman in any way. I think that was the second part of his argument, that it made him wonder whether family life was not being broken up, and the children presumably suffering in that way, and whether parents were not being deprived of their due responsibilities and enjoyments and opportunities. I think that is fair. At any rate I think that all hon. Members who are in the Committee now were in the Committee when he spoke—
And therefore if I have reproduced him unfairly, no substantial injustice will be done. Let me finish this paragraph and then I will give way. I do not think really that his general argument—that is to say, the general argument whether boarding school education is a good thing and, if so, for whom—I do not honestly think that general argument is really relevant to the specific proposal before us, and to that I will return in a second—I will now give way.
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I was merely putting the view of people who really do know something about this, and who say that we must know more about boarding education and which children should have it before we spend public money.
I was not distinguishing between the views of people who really know something about it and the view of the hon. Gentleman; that is a distinction which the Committee owes to him and I think he is doing himself less than justice.His only other real argument against the thing was that we must not, at any cost, lower the prestige of the State system. I would invite the Committee to consider what a national system of education is for. Is the object of it to produce equality, egalitarianism, uniformity of the population? Is that what the object of the thing is, or is the object to produce as much as possible of as good an education as possible? I quite understand, Sir Charles, that I am rather begging a question there, the question what is or what is not a good education, but that question must be begged if any of us are to keep within the Rules of Order upon this new Clause. Which of the two is the object? If the object is not merely the production of uniformity and egalitarianism—and I do not think the hon. Gentleman really meant us to believe that—then the object must be to produce the best education possible. And I would say that we should all be modest about this—and I certainly include myself in the matter. No one of us should be foolish enough to think—indeed it is a complete proof that a man is ill educated if he does think, that there is some one sort of education which is clearly so much better than any other sort that it ought to be the only sort. All I am pleading for is that the beginning of wisdom, after the fear of the Lord, in the educational field is the belief that there ought to be, is sure to be, more than one sort of education. That is all I am asking for. That is the first step in my argument. The second step in my argument is that it is almost always agreed now, I think, that the independent schools do provide a good sort of education. I do not believe that any candid and informed person would say that on average they produce less good education than the average of the State system. I do not think that any candid and informed person would say that.
Is not one of the reasons why the cost of education in our independent schools is so much more is that the size of the classes is so much smaller? And is the hon. Gentleman then saying that the state should give money to help those parents who can afford to give that privileged kind of education?
I should hate to get into a bi-sectional argument on this matter, but I really do not understand why the hon. Lady puts that as an intervention rather than as a speech. [Interruption.] If any hon. Gentleman prefers an answer now rather than to make a speech, I do not think the point is a difficult one.The second point in my argument, which I am trying to put, is that no candid and informed person denies that the independent schools provide education on the average, at any rate, not noticeably worse than that provided by the State system. That is all I want for the purposes of my argument, and for the purposes of that argument it is wholly irrelevant whether it is because classes are bigger or smaller, endways or sideways or anything else. That is the second point in my argument. But in practice—I should not like to let the hon. Lady think I am being discourteous or not paying attention to the point she has made—I would say to her that all she is doing is strengthening my argument, She is saying that the reason why the independent schools—she appears, apparently, to think—are better, is because the classes are smaller. The object of the new Clause is that persons should not be forced by financial need into the schools where the classes are larger, thereby making them larger still. Therefore, the purpose of her intervention, so far as I see it, cuts entirely against the thesis which, I think, she believes the right one. That is the second point in my argument, that nobody denies that the independent schools provide as much and as good education as the other schools. The first point in my argument was that nobody, I think, denies that there should be variety in education.
Does the hon. Gentleman maintain that there is no variety in the State system of education? There is a great deal of variety between one grammar school and another and between one secondary school and another. There is every scope for variety and choice within the State system of education.
I do not say there is no variety in the State system. What I do say is that if there is a single system, we have no guarantee that variety will continue to be allowed. [Interruption.] Certainly, that must clearly be true—it is merely a statement of a truism. That is all I need for the purposes of my argument.The third step in my argument is that if it is desirable that there should be another system—"system," perhaps, is not a fair word—another nexus or category of schools besides the State system if that is desirable, then it is not right that taxation or rates—fiscal burdens— should kill them off. I thought, if I may say so, that the hon. Member for York (Mr. Corlett) was really a little less than fair on this point. He said he was all for parents freely sending their children to what are called the independent rather than the maintained schools. He thought they ought to have that alternative and thought it a great argument for the liberty of our country that they are allowed to. Yet he was arguing that parents who do so choose should be punished—I think it is a fair word; at any rate, burdened, have the thing made more difficult for them—by being compelled to pay for the State system as well as paying the charges of the schools which they, rightly or wrongly, prefer.
The hon. Gentleman has used the word "compelled." Does he say that anybody is compelled to send their children to the independent schools? Nobody is compelled to do so.
Quite honestly, the hon. Gentleman ought really not if I may say so, to intervene on such very slight authority, for this reason: That I did not say that people were compelled to send their children to the maintained schools. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, you did."] No; I am within the recollection of the Committee. What I said was, that if parents do what the hon. Member for York commends them for doing as a sign of the freedom of our country—that is to say, send their children to independent schools—they are compelled to pay also the education rate for the other schools. That is what I said, and I think I said it quite plainly, as anyone would know who listened to me carefully—God knows, I don't assume I am worth listening to; but it is not fair for hon. Members to interrupt if they do not bother to listen. That is the third step in my argument.8.15 p.m. If each of those three steps is held to be fair, it becomes difficult to resist the new Clause. If it is true that we ought to make sure there is variety in education; if it is true that the main alternative kind of school to the State system is not, in fact, noticeably worse than the State system; if those two things are true, then surely we should not, by our fiscal and administrative arrangements, make it very difficult indeed for parents to choose that one of the two alternatives. It is difficult anyway, because they have got to pay very heavy fees; but to make it necessary to pay for both sorts of school, in order to take that half of the choice, seems to me to make it very difficult indeed. If the first two steps of my argument are right, then that imposition of difficulty upon the parents who choose the independent rather than the State system seems to me excessive. Therefore, I commend to the Committee the new Clause, which has been so convincingly moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis).
I just want to say a word or two about the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). As it happened, in the Scottish Grand Committee this morning we had a Debate on education, which is a very important subject for the Scottish Grand Committee. The hon. Member began by basing his claim on the ground that if there were not independent schools—fee-paying and boarding schools—we should create a sort of robot type, an egalitarianism, as he called it, with everybody alike. I know a very fine secondary school in my home town. Even if there were not another school in the country, it would have variety. It has turned out large numbers of very capable mathematicians; lads come out proficient in chemistry, in English, in music and the arts. What nonsense to talk about lack of variety because it is not an independent school! Do they teach a different kind of mathematics in the independent school?
Only in Marxist schools.
All this is so much nonsense. I guarantee that in that secondary school, as in others, the finest possible education is being given; none better will be found in any fee-paying or boarding school.Why do parents send their children to the fee-paying schools and the boarding schools? Is it to get better education? It has nothing to do with education. What the other side want us to do is to subsidise little snobs. [Interruption.] Yes. No justification can be given for the independent and the boarding schools. I do not agree with the hon. Member for York (Mr. Corlett) about the maintenance of the independent school. I do not think there is any justification now for the maintenance of fee-paying schools. In the Scottish Grand Committee the feeling generally is against such schools. As a matter of fact, in the recent Education Act it was decided to make an inroad into the fee-paying schools and that each of them should take a certain number of ordinary boarding-school children; of course, the fees for those pupils were paid. We have a situation, therefore, where some of the children are being paid for by their parents and others are paid for by the education authority. That is a very undesirable situation. It would be much better to remove fee-paying altogether and to use the schools for children without any distinction whatever. There are parents who are not prepared to send their children to elementary or secondary schools, where they can get the very best education, but want to send them to a special type of school, although it is not because they will get a better education. Not even the hon. Member the senior Burgess for Cambridge University would make the claim that a better education is obtained in a fee-paying school; he would not even make the claim that as good an education is obtained; he put it in the negative form that it is not any worse than education in the secondary school. That is the argument he put forward. He had not the courage to come out and suggest that it was even—
The hon. Member is running a very serious risk; he is running the extremely serious risk of slipping into deviationism if he does not understand that the first rule of dialectic is that one does not at any step in the argument prove more than is necessary to get one on to the next step.
That is typical of Cambridge—[Interruption]—not agricultural Cambridge but educated Cambridge. I said in the Scottish Grand Committee this morning that I had received a letter from a keen student of 20 years of age, asking me questions. In it he makes the statement, and wishes to know how I stand in regard to it, that Marx advocated the liquidation of the family and was for "the community of women." That is what he asserted about Marx, an outstanding family man. I will bet any money that that student is from one of the fee-paying educational establishments.Every encouragement possible should be given to parents, whoever they may be, to send their children to be educated in authority schools and there should be as little discrimination amongst children as possible. The taking away of certain groups and placing them apart from the rest will never be helpful. I strongly urge, if any urging be needed, that the Minister reject this new Clause.
I think that my hon. Friend the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) said that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) was in danger of deviation. I believe that that danger is really serious. My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) has just handed me a note quoting a letter from Karl Marx to Engels, in which he said:
that is, Marx's children—"It would be against their interests—"
I do not want to be brought into this battle, but I can introduce the hon. Member to my hon. Friend, and they can go into the matter afterwards. If that is true, the hon. Member had indeed better look out."that they should be brought up as proletarians considering the circles in which they move."
Will hon. Members on the other side of the Committee, particularly the hon. Member for Devizes, advise me to accept without demur everything said or written by Karl Marx?
It seems to me that an enormous part of the world accepts what he said as gospel truth, and it would be an extraordinarily good thing if they did not do so.I should like to deal rather more seriously with the argument of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Corlett). I am afraid that he has not really read this new Clause as carefully as he might have done. Had he done so, he would have seen that the amount which would accrue to the parent who claimed the exemption asked for, would not in any way meet the full fees of an independent school. I do not claim that this new Clause is in any way perfect, and it can obviously be improved; but all that we are asking is that the educational fees should be met, and not necessarily, or not at all, the maintenance fees. The hon. Member for York entered into an argument about boarding schools and day schools. That is entirely beside the point; it has nothing to do with the new Clause. It is of great help to the Committee that we have had the Report on Population so recently published. I would remind the Committee that all the well-known national newspapers greeted that Report with extreme interest. They all commented on it and applauded it for its realism. I agree, and I would like to quote part of that Report, to which the majority agreed, to try to prove that point of realism. The Royal Commission say:
that is, the form to which we are now referring—"More and more parents have been willing to incur the cost involved in these forms of education"—
Let us have no nonsense about it; that is true."because in general they give to their children considerable advantages in after life."
That is a realistic approach, and whether we like it or not most of us would agree that in our innermost hearts it is true. But there are many families who, even though they have the minimum family of one, even though they themselves went to independent schools, and perhaps their fathers before them—officers serving in the Army or Navy, clergymen, junior Ministers and professional men of all sorts—simply cannot afford to send their children to an independent school. It is for this reason that we are asking the Committee to support this new Clause. 8.30 p.m. I listened last week with interest to the rather virulent speech of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). It was a very good Parliamentary performance. I did not agree with it, but it was, as is always the case with the speeches of the hon. Member, a well-delivered speech. He said, and he placed tremendous emphasis on it, that we can, and we must, afford education. I believe that we must do that, and I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman on that particular point. It would be quite wrong, simply because they cannot afford it, to deny to the professional men and women in this country today this form of education which they desire and which the Report on Population indicates that they desire. This particular difficulty is recognised by many local authorities which make a grant in aid, perhaps with certain stipulations, to parents of children educated at independent schools, and I believe that the Ministry have recently turned down proposals by local education authorities to make these grants. I do not think that is right. Personally, I prefer the system of grants, because I think it would be economically fairer, but now is not the time to do it, and in any case it would need legislation and would take time to have any effect. That is the main reason why I believe this new Clause meets the point, because it does something at once and there is very definite evidence that something is needed at once. One of the most astonishing anomalies is that, now that we have the Socialist Party in power, the value of being wealthy has never been so apparent as it is at the present moment in regard to education. It is only the really rich man who can afford to educate his children at these schools. The people of this country are not getting the best value from the public schools, and, therefore, the man of moderate means has to restrict his family and has to pinch in order to give his child the education which he chooses, or has to use his capital to have his children educated. I am quite certain that that principle is not one with which the party opposite agree, and it really is astonishing that there is at the moment a set of circumstances which deliberately gives the wealthy an advantage in this particular field. If this new Clause is agreed to, many more people would be able to send their children to the public schools, and there would be more competition. There is already enormous competition for the public schools, but there are far too many rich people sending their children there, and this new Clause would enable the serving officer and other professional men to send their children to the public schools. I emphasise the great importance of the point which has already been made about the congestion in the secondary grammar schools. There is at present an enormous desire to send children to these schools, and in many cases there would be a speedier dispersal of this congestion if we were to accept the new Clause. Finally, I think it is quite monstrous that, when we have a tried and valued system of education in this country, as we have in the independent schools, and when we have a system which has not done so badly—in spite of what was said by the hon. Member for York, they have produced very fine men and women, and will continue to do so—it is quite wrong not to use that great educational weapon to the best advantage. At the moment, it is not being used to the best advantage, and one of the objects of this new Clause is to see that we make the best use of the independent system."To secure these advantages many parents have to make real sacrifices, to the point sometimes of cutting down expenditure on their food and other essentials of health. There is here a strong motive for restricting the number of children to be educated, since the fewer the children in the family the more can be spent on educating them and preparing them for a career; and it is not surprising that amongst responsible and intelligent parents this is one of the most commonly stated reasons for keeping the family very small."
I must say that I am entirely unimpressed by the arguments advanced by hon. Members opposite, including the argument of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis), who said that the electorate were getting stupider and stupider. We do not accept that at all.The position at the moment is that Income Tax payers get an allowance of £60 in respect of every child. What this new Clause apparently proposes is that they shall get a further £75 in the case of any child going to an independent school. They apparently would get that relief whether or not the parent paying the Income Tax was actually bearing the cost of the fees. The principle in Income Tax has always been that a flat rate deduction is granted in virtue of the existence of the dependant, whether it be a child or some other dependant. What is now proposed is that we shall get away from that and grant relief in virtue of a particular form of expenditure in which the Income Tax payer chooses to indulge. It seems to me that, as soon as we accept that principle, we get into all sorts of difficulties. In the first place, expenditure on education is not the only form of expenditure. There are many other forms which people may have to meet, and I have no doubt that eloquent speeches could be made on their claims for Income Tax relief. Furthermore, there is a particular disadvantage involved in this new Clause in that it is proposed that we should give relief for a form of expenditure which is discretionary or voluntary and the Income Tax payer does not have to embark upon unless he chooses. I think it would create a very difficult position if the Government or the Treasury granted relief in virtue of a voluntary form of expenditure and refused it for other forms of expenditure which the tax-payer is bound to meet—for instance, rent and many other things we could think of. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) was Chancellor of the Exchequer and was presented with a proposal like this in the Finance Bill Debates of 1944, I think it was, he stated the argument and summed it up in these words, with which I entirely agree:
That was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities. There is also, surely, an added, overwhelming objection to this proposal and it has been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Corlett). It is, of course, the case that certain parents choose to spend money on purchasing what they regard as special educational facilities for their children. That is a fact. I am not now arguing whether those educational privileges are real or whether or not it is a good society in which people are enabled to buy those privileges for their own children. One could argue a great deal on that, but I am not taking a view on it now. I do, however, agree with my hon. Friend that it certainly would be entirely wrong and, indeed, fantastic that the State should subsidise people in order that they could do so, and the position would be anomalous in the extreme, because it is only if they already had a large enough income to afford to pay these fees in the first place that they would come into the privileged class which would then get the relief. We should, therefore, be introducing into Income Tax a form of relief not for the person with the lower income but for the individual with the higher income."I am bound to say to the Committee that, whatever the case may be for making provision which will bring higher or special educacational facilities more effectively within the reach of people in all classes of the community, this is not the appropriate way to do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1944; Vol. 400, c. 2193.]
In order that I might not have to intervene later in the Debate, would my hon. Friend also be good enough to confirm what is the position in my constituency—that there are many scholarship pupils at independent schools paid for by the State and that these people would get a subsidy, as against the parents of similar students at the other schools?
Certainly, that would be the case. It, therefore, seems to me that if we had this money to spend on education it would be far better to spend it on improving and increasing the facilities at the State schools. If the hon. Member for Devizes is right in saying that there are insufficient places now available in the State schools so that people are induced to send their children elsewhere, then this money should be spent on improving and increasing the facilities in the State schools.The senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) asked what was the purpose of our educational system. Was it, he asked, to establish some sort of formal egalitarianism? I would say, quite simply, that presumably it is to establish equality of opportunity. Surely that is what we are after. I am not sure whether he would understand that, but I think it is the first thing we are seeking. Secondly, we are surely seeking to see that the best education is given to those who are best fitted to take advantage of it. I am not sure that he would understand that either. But we shall not do that by making our selection according to the income of the child's parents and not according to the ability of the child. Finally, it is not a small sum that we are discussing here. This relief would amount to about £10 million a year. If we adopted this Amendment, therefore, in effect we should be diverting £10 million from the improvement of the State schools for the great mass of the children of the community, to paying this subsidy to certain classes to enable them to buy special educational facilities for themselves. I am quite sure the Income Tax should not be used for any purpose of that kind, and I really feel that this Amendment shows how completely hostile are the Tory Party to the whole idea of equality.
I had not intended to take part in the Debate had not the Economic Secretary made these purely class remarks at the end of his speech. I think we have had quite enough of those in the course of our Debates. The standard of the Debate before the hon. Gentleman rose was uniformly high and was devoted to educational subjects. The hon. Gentleman opened his speech with a reference to the next election, taking advantage of a statement made on this side that the electorate was no longer intelligent—or some such remark—and attempted at the end of his speech to import into the argument a purely class argument which I have always believed it right to keep out of education. I do not believe we can decide any educational issue in this country if we are obsessed with the class question. Nor do I think we can decide any educational question of this kind if we refer to snob values or anything of that sort.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he regards it as a class issue to say that we believe in equality of opportunity?
No. I referred only to the opening and closing portions of the hon. Gentleman's speech, and if he will allow me to continue my very short speech he will be surprised to find that I have something quite agreeable to say about certain other parts of his argument. Perhaps he will allow me now to continue my very short speech? When deciding educational issues, for goodness sake do not let us decide them on a class basis. Let us realise that many Members of this Committee have attempted to keep education out of the clash of party politics in the course of this Parliament. Personally, I do not intend to be dragged away from that determination, which I share; and although I do not agree with everything this Government have done in education, I do agree that they are in general attempting to carry out the spirit of the 1944 Act. On that understanding I have no desire to drag this matter any lower than it need be dragged in the ordinary cut and thrust of Debate.As to this particular issue, I am very glad my hon. Friends have raised it, because there is behind it a very serious problem. Whether we like it or not, we have to face the fact that in 1944 we all agreed that the independent schools were an integral part of education in this country. Reference to them forms a part of the Act. I am particularly glad that the Minister of Education has decided to put into force inspection of those schools, because without inspection of those schools we can have no certainty about standards. We also have to face the fact that, unfortunately, the State system is very much over-crowded. One of the great problems of the day, which has been a problem for several years, is the question of the overloading of the size of classes, which makes it quite impossible to establish that relationship of teacher to taught which is the only basis of all true education. In this respect the independent schools are very valuable as an addition to the education provision in this country. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Corlett) raised a very important point. He talked with regret of the inability to link up the local authorities and the pupils they can find, with the boarding school system of this country. I believe that that is a most unfortunate thing. I have always believed that what we call the public schools, what we call the small preparatory schools, should try to link themselves up with the State system, and the pupils coming from the State system should by any method that can be devised, be admitted to them, which would build a bridge between these two sections of the educational provision in the country. From the point of view of education it would be a great pity to reduce the standard of the independent schools, and from the point of view of the country it would be intensely valuable to have as many people as possible entering the independent schools and taking advantage of them. I therefore hope that, whether or not this Clause can be accepted by the Government, some solution can be found of this problem—that with the very heavy tax burden today those people who have been using the independent schools are finding it very difficult to send their children to those schools. Looking at it educationally, there is some chance that these schools will not receive the support they deserve. In some way a solution has to be found by this country whereby we link up the various types of education, whereby we do not destroy any good school that has a good form of education, and whereby our people may take advantage of whatever provision is most suitable to each child's individual character. 8.45 p.m. Looking at the terms of the new Clause, I think there is a lot in what the hon. Gentleman says about the use of the Income Tax law. There are certain traditions behind the Income Tax law, and it would be very difficult to go against them. I am aware of the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have studied this subject very closely, and I personally think that it would be very difficult to find an easy solution on the lines proposed. Nevertheless, I would appeal to the hon. Gentleman, who is obviously interested in education and has a fine educational record himself, to investigate whether any other solution can be found which is equitable to all concerned. I would only add that the Preparatory Schools Association and the Headmasters' Conference have both been very exercised about this matter. At some date, no doubt, they will be making their own official representations to the Government. They have already been in touch with the Ministry of Education, and when their official representatives meet the hon. Gentleman's colleagues, perhaps he will encourage them to find some solution which can be regarded as entirely equitable to all concerned. I do not think it will be easy. I would make one further observation about this new Clause. In the discussions on the Education Act we laid down that it was impossible for the State to pay for a whole-time type of education given independently of the State schools. The taxpayer could not bear that particular burden. This encouraged a crisis with the Roman Catholic community, but I was obliged for reasons of principle to stick to my guns, and the House of Commons supported me at that time. My hon. Friends may feel inclined to take their views as far as they like, but in view of the position that I have been in on the education Debates, I do not think it would be right in principle to allot State money to a section of the population for a particular type of education, although I think in equity there is a case for so doing, because in equity it is possible to say that if a person takes his child out of the State system and yet pays taxes for the State system he should be rewarded. Tonight, without the whole knowledge of experts behind me and without the resources which are at the disposal of the Economic Secretary, I cannot find an absolutely certain solution to this problem. It may work out in the form of some sort of children's allowance; it may work out in some other way; but I wish to say that I hope we shall continue to decide educational matters in this House without regard to snob issues or social considerations, that we shall not think
Division No. 186.]
|Acland, Sir Richard||Collindridge, F.||Grey, C. F.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Collins, V. J.||Grierson, E.|
|Albu, A. H.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Cook, T. F.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cooper, G.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Corlett, Dr. J.||Gunter, R. J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cove, W. G.||Guy, W. H.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Crawley, A.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hale, Leslie|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Cullen, Mrs.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil|
|Baird, J.||Daggar, G.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.|
|Balfour, A.||Daines, P.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Barton, C.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Haworth, J.|
|Battley, J. R.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Benson, G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Berry, H.||Deer, G.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Beswick, F.||Delargy, H. J.||Holman, P.|
|Binns, J.||Diamond, J.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Dobbie, W.||Horabin, T. L.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Dodds, N. N.||Houghton, A. L. N. D. (Sowerby)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hoy, J.|
|Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.||Dugdale, J. (W Bromwich)||Hubbard, T.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Dye, S.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Hughes, Hector [Aberdeen, N.)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ewart, R.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Fairhurst, F.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Farthing, W. J.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Fernyhough, E.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Burke, W. A.||Follick, M.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Foot, M. M.||Jenkins, R. H.|
|Callaghan, James||Forman, J. C.||John, W.|
|Carmichael, James||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Champion, A. J.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Gibbins, J.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Keenan, W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Gilzean, A.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Coldrick, W.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Kinley, J.|
|Collick, P.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Kirby, B. V.|
that education is a tool which can alter society. I believe that education normally in most countries reflects the society which exists at the time. English society is in process of change and we are moving into a new period. At the same time, in this change I sincerely trust that the very high standards of the independent schools will be preserved, that a link may be built up between them and the State system, and that the Government, if they are approached by sincere and devoted bodies on behalf of these schools, will give their representations every consideration.
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 274; Noes, 125.
|Lang, G.||Oliver, G. H.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Lavers, S.||Orbach, M.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Paget, R. T.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Leonard, W.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Leslie, J. R.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Levy, B. W.||Pargiter, G. A.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Parker, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Parkin, B. T.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rusholiffe)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Logan, D. G.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Longden, F.||Pearson, A.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Lyne, A. W.||Peart, T. F.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|McAdam, W.||Poole, Cecil (Liohfield)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McAllister, G.||Popplewell, E.||Timmons, J.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Titterington, M. F.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Tolley, L.|
|McGovern, J.||Proctor, W. T.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Mack, J. D.||Pryde, D. J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Pursey, Comdr. H.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Randall, H. E.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|McLeavy, F.||Ranger, J.||Walker, G. H.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Rankin, J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Rhodes, H.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Mann, Mrs. J.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||West, D. G.|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Robens, A.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Rober's, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Mathers, Rt. Hon George||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wigg, George|
|Messer, F.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Wilkes, L.|
|Moody, A. S.||Royle, C.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Morley, R.||Sargood, R.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Scollan, T.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Scott-Elliot, W.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Mort, D. L.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Moyle, A.||Sharp, Granville||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Murray, J. D.||Shurmer, P.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Nally, W.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Willis, E.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Simmons, C. J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Skinnard, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Mr. Snow and Mr. George Wallace.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Glyn, Sir R.||Marples, A. E.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Maude, J. C.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Grimston, R. V.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Harden, J. R. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Birch, Nigel||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Bower, N.||Headlam Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nutting, Anthony|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Odey, G. W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hollis, M. C.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Howard, Hon. A.||Osborne, C.|
|Challen, C.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Hurd, A.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Kendall, W. D.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Renton, D.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Law, Rt Hon. R. K.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Linstead, H. N.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lipson, D. L.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Low, A. R. W.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Gage, C.||McFarlane, C. S.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Strauss, Henry (English Universities)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Touche, G. C.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Studholme, H. G.||Turton, R. H.||York, C.|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Teeling, William||Walker-Smith, D.||Mr. Drewe and|
|Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)||Brigadier Mackeson|
Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
Division No. 187.]
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Howard, Hon. A.||Renton, D.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hurd, A.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Bower, N.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Keeling, E. H.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Channon, H.||Langford-Holt, J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Law, Rt Hon. R. K.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Linstead, H. N.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lipson, D. L.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Low, A. R. W.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||McCallum, Maj. D.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Drewe, C.||McFarlane, C. S.||Teeling, William|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marples, A. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Maude, J. C.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Mellor, Sir J.||Touche, G. C.|
|Gage, C.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Nutting, Anthony||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Odey, G. W.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Osborne, C.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Pickthorn, K.||York, C.|
|Headlam Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Raikes, H. V.||Commander Maitland and|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Blyton W. R.||Colman, Miss G. M.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.||Cook, T. F.|
|Albu, A. H.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Cooper, G.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bramall, E. A.||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Cove, W. G.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Cullen, Mrs.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, George (Belper)||Daggar, G.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Daines, P.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Baird, J.||Burke, W. A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Balfour, A.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Callaghan, James||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Carmichael, James||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)|
|Barton, C.||Champion, A. J.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Battley, J. R.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Deer, G.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Cluse, W. S.||Delargy, H. J.|
|Benson, G.||Cobb, F. A.||Diamond, J.|
|Berry, H.||Cocks, F. S.||Dobbie, W.|
|Beswick, F.||Coldrick, W.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Binns, J.||Collick, P.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Collindridge, F.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Collins, V. J.||Dye, S.|
The Committee divided: Ayes, 112; Noes, 280.
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Rhodes, H.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Leonard, W.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Leslie, J. R.||Robens, A.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Levy, B. W.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Ewart, R.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Farthing, W. J.||Lindgren, G. S.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Logan, D. G.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Follick, M.||Longden, F.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Foot, M. M.||Lyne, A. W.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Forman, J. C.||McAdam, W.||Royle, C.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McAllister, G.||Sargood, R.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McEntee, V. La T.||Scollan, T.|
|Gallacher, W.||McGhee, H. G.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||McGovern, J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mack, J. D.||Sharp, Granville|
|Gibbins, J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Shurmer, P.|
|Gibson, C. W.||McKinlay, A. S.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Gilzean, A.||McLeavy, F.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Grierson, E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mann, Mrs. J.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Mathers, Rt. Hon George||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Gunter, R. J.||Mellish, R. J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Guy, W. H.||Messer, F.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Middleton, Mrs L.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hale, Leslie||Moody, A S.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Morley, R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hamilton, Lieut -Col R.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Haworth, J.||Moyle, A.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Murray, J. D.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Nally, W.||Timmons, J.|
|Hewitson, Capt M.||Naylor, T. E.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Tolley, L.|
|Holman, P.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Horabin, T. L.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Houghton, A. L. N. D.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Hoy, J.||Oldfield, W. H.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Hubbard, T.||Oliver, G. H.||Walker, G. H.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Orbach, M.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paget, R. T.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'ton, W.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pargiter, G. A.||West, D. G.|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Parker, J.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon G. A.||Parkin B. T.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)||Pearson, A.||Wilkes, L.|
|Jenkins, R. H.||Peart, T. F.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|John, W.||Poole, Cecll (Lichfield)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Jones, Rt Hon. A C. (Shipley)||Popplewell, E.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Proctor, W. T.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Keenan, W.||Pryde, D. J.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Kendall, W. D.||Pursey, Comdr. H.||Wills, E.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Randall, H. E.||Wills, Mrs E. A.|
|Kinley, J.||Ranger, J.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Rankin, J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Lang, G.||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Lavers, S.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Snow and Mr. George Wallace.|
New Clause—(Amendment Of Finance Act, 1948, S 42)
Section forty-two of the Finance Act, 1948, shall have effect as if the words "Commissioners of Inland Revenue," were substituted for the word "surveyor," wherever it appears.—[ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."The Committee has just been discussing a matter of great human and social interest beside which I fear the new Clause entrusted to me makes a somewhat tedious substitute. I hope it will commend itself to hon. Gentlemen opposite because it costs nothing. It is a purely machinery Clause of a technical and I fear a tedious nature. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who helped to pilot it through, will recall, Part IV of the Finance Act of last year dealt, in extenso, with the whole question of expenses and allowances, but did not attempt to alter the substantive law which is to be found in Rules 1 and 9 of Schedule E, and the cases decided with reference to those rules. The right hon. Gentleman will agree that since 1939 the Revenue authorities have been in the position of being able to get the necessary information to enable them to deal with abuses in connection with taxation allowances. Before the war the subject was increasingly attracting the attention of Chancellors of the Exchequer. Preoccupation with the many problems of the war no doubt meant that the necessary time and attention could not be provided to deal with this matter, since the law on the subject had been clear for a number of years, and Rule 9 was distinctly narrow in scope. As the right hon. Gentleman knows and as has been stated in the House more than once, the inspectors of taxes have received instructions to tighten up their scrutiny of expenses and, in particular, to enforce the provisions of Part IV of last year's Finance Act. There is already evidence that the application of the law as it has existed for many years is causing hardship and impeding the proper conduct of business. This arises, for example, in the disallowance of expenses incurred by directors in attending board meetings, particularly directors resident in the provinces who have to come up to London for that purpose, and the inverse argument is also true in respect of experienced men in London who may sit on boards of companies situated in provincial areas. For some 60 years it has been the law that these expenses are not chargeable under Rule 9. In the past the practice has been not to tax sums paid to directors in respect of such travelling expenses. I hope the Financial Secretary will agree when I suggest that the new practice has, in some cases, led to directors feeling obliged to resign from some boards and that that has the effect of making such boards less representative in their character.
Do I take it that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is addressing himself to the Clause in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) where the proposal is that the words "Commissioners of Inland Revenue" shall be substituted for the word "surveyor"?
That is the Clause with which I am dealing, Mr. Bowles. I hope that my remarks will be addressed to that point, for that will be my intention. As this deals with the whole question of expenses, I hope that you will allow me to review the matter not briefly, but over a somewhat wide field.I was remarking that it would make the constitution and character of these boards rather less representative than is really desirable. There are many cases where a director is appointed because of his knowledge of business conditions in some part of the country a long way from where the head office is situated. Last year when this matter was discussed at some length during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill, right hon. Gentlemen opposite made considerable play with the dispensation provisions now contained in Section 42, but it should be noted that the person who has to be satisfied on this matter of the expenses allowance is the surveyor—in other words, the local inspector of taxes—and that there is no machinery for appealing against his decision when it is given. 9.15 p.m. If the taxpayer so appeals against his assessment to the General or Special Commissioners, their duty is to apply the law, which is strict, and cases show that, where the General Commissioners have been sympathetic to a taxpayer's claim under Rule 9, their decision has on occasion been reversed on appeal to the High Court by way of a case being stated. The suggestion behind this new Clause is to try to get the law altered, in particular, by seeking the amendment of Rule 9. Again, the Financial Secretary will recall that unsuccessful attempts were made during the passage of the two Finance Bills previous to this one. There is one other point which I will submit to the Financial Secretary, and that is the amendment of the machinery provisions of Part IV of last year's Act. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is possible that Section 42 might be amended so as to have the effect of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue being satisfied rather than the surveyor. May I repeat the point? There is appeal machinery there which does not exist in the case of the surveyor. That was the course adopted in relation to the approval of retirement benefit schemes which were covered in that long subsection of Clause 47. Again, the Financial Secretary may remember four Clauses being bodily removed and four entirely new ones inserted after consultation took place between the then Chancellor and certain representatives of industry. Under Section 21, which was inserted then, it is the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and not the surveyor who have to give such proof. All that valuable amendment which took place at that time had the beneficial result of setting up a department at Somerset House which has since administered these matters on practical lines and built up a body of consistent practice in the matter. In putting forward this new Clause for consideration, we suggest that here is a parallel which might be followed and that the right hon. Gentleman might consider the setting up of machinery of that sort to deal with one grievance in particular, namely, the discrepancy in outlook which we find in practice between one tax district and another. That would render possible the decision of questions arising on a sufficiently high level without placing the taxpayer under his present necessity of appealing to the Commissioners, General or Special, with the doubtful prospect of success which I have endeavoured to indicate. I thank hon. Members for listening with patience to what is a somewhat complicated argument—
Jolly well read.
I hope hon. Members will not be sarcastic on those grounds because, when the Financial Secretary himself has to deal with difficult technical matters, he is provided with what is known in this honourable House as "copious notes" with which to make his comments, and it is rather better that the matter should be put correctly, even if it does mean a good deal of reference to information supplied to the hon. Member moving the Clause. Hon. Members would be rather worthier of the House if, instead of engaging in sarcasm, they addressed themselves to the argument. It is in the interests of uniformity that I move this new Clause.
I want to add very little to what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) has said. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury will remember that during the Third Reading Debates on the Finance Bill last year I raised this question of directors' expenses and forecast, I think, precisely the difficulty which the Clause is designed to resolve. The right hon. Gentleman said then that the administration of these new provisions in Part IV of the Finance Act, 1948, would be carefully watched by the Treasury in the course of the following 12 months to see whether or not any adjustments were necessary.The general point, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, is that for 60 years directors of companies have been allowed to deduct travelling expenses in going to board meetings or to treat them as moneys expended wholly, exclusively and necessarily in performing the duties of their office of employment. That has been the practice, I am instructed, for 60 years. They have been allowed to count those travelling expenses as expenses which can be deductible. That proposition had some doubt cast upon it in the course of the discussions of Part IV of the Finance Act, 1948. I understand the effect has been that in some areas the interpretation has been one way and in other areas in another way. It seems to us, first, that the Treasury should make it quite clear that this practice of 60 years should be maintained; and secondly, that the general methods of computing and allowing these expenses, and giving the certificate referred to in Section 42 of the 1948 Act, should be dealt with by one centralised Department. That is the common sense way of dealing with the matter. I shall not elaborate on the point, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give some indication of the way in which Part IV has been administered during the past year and say whether or not he can accept this proposition.
As the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) said, the new Clause relates to a very narrow point. It is concerned simply with the power which the taxation authorities possess in carrying out the provisions of Section 42 of the Finance Act, 1948, to grant dispensations in respect of certain expenses incurred by directors or highly paid employees. The only real issue between us is whether that power of dispensation should be in the hands of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue or in the hands of the surveyor—that is to say, the local tax inspector. The hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) asked whether we had considered the working of this provision and were satisfied with it. The answer is that we have watched it and that we are, broadly, satisfied. We do not agree that it is necessary or desirable to substitute the Commissioners in this case for the surveyors. This is, of course, largely a matter of administration and, naturally, the opinion of the Department responsible for it about the best method to employ must carry some weight.If the hon. Gentlemen were to ask the reasons why we think it is preferable to leave the power in the hands of the surveyor I would mention, briefly, three. First, there really is no difference in kind between this function which we are discussing and the normal job of allowing or disallowing admissible expenses for Income Tax. Therefore, the local inspector is, naturally, qualified to do the job. Secondly, of course, he is, by virtue of his local knowledge and experience, conversant with the taxation affairs of the company in question and, as a normal principle of administration, he should be better able to judge than somebody who is less decentralised and not as close at hand. Thirdly, as both hon. Members will realise, the Commissioners issue general instructions on general points to local inspectors all over the country for their guidance in exercising this power of dispensation. That, of course, should ensure that similar principles on general points are followed in different areas. Both hon. Members suggested that in the case of travelling expenses in particular that apparently did not happen, according to their information. We are certainly fully prepared to look at that matter, and any evidence of it; and if it is shown that there are different practices being followed we should certainly take steps to see that general instructions were sent out which would correct any anomalies. That would apply equally to anomalies on other points. If that were done it would not be necessary to go so far as this new Clause suggests.
I apologise for intervening, and I admit at once that I am not an expert and do not retain in my memory all the Clauses which the experts know so well. The hon. Gentleman in his reply has put the matter on a very simple basis. We admit that the Clause which we are discussing is of a very narrow and restricted character, although apparently it is a symptom of what appears to be a much bigger grievance, and one which could only be affected by some alteration in the rules.I do not know what my hon. Friends who are responsible for this new Clause think, but the hon. Gentleman did go some way to meet them in promising that he would look into any evidence which could be provided of different treatment in different areas. That is a matter which all of us, experts or amateurs like myself, must be anxious to avoid. We must always want to ensure that people are treated in the same way in all parts of the country in matters of this kind. We have put forward this new Clause because we believe that differences are arising and that if that is so, this may be the best way of solving them. There is nothing revolutionary in the proposal which my hon. Friends have made. It was the proposal of the Government themselves for dealing with that part of the 1947 Act which dealt with the whole question of retirement pensions. If the hon. Gentleman is prepared to look into this matter with a genuine desire—as I am sure he will—to see if a grievance exists, and if a grievance is found to exist to remedy it in whichever way is found best from the point of view of administration, I hope that my hon. Friends will be satisfied at having raised this point and at having received some satisfaction at any rate from the Minister.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain to me why he is anxious to emphasise that there is nothing revolutionary about this proposal? Is he afraid that if there was anything revolutionary, it might frighten the Government Front Bench?
That is precisely the point. We on this side, who belong to a progressive party, always know that our best hope of obtaining any satisfaction from the Front Bench opposite is to be able to cite a precedent. It is for that reason that I have emphasised that a precedent exists for the action here proposed.
There are one or two points of elucidation which I should like to raise. As I understand it, the position today is such that many companies are denied the benefit of very capable directors because of this financial hardship if they accept a position in the capacity of director, whereas, if they became executives, they would be permitted to make this charge. If we take the obvious comparison with Members of Parliament, I think it is right to say that they are permitted the expenses of coming to Parliament as an actual allowance, and yet we have the position in which we are denying private enterprise the considerable benefits of very capable people because of this unfair situation. I understood the Economic Secretary to say that instructions had been sent to inspectors generally on this point. Would he be good enough to tell the Committee what the details of those instructions are? Should we not enjoy the same privilege as he has in that respect?
Hon. Members will recall that one of the principal objects in moving this new Clause was to provide the machinery of appeal, and I was disappointed that the Economic Secretary did not see the force of that line of thought. However, as the hon. Gentleman has said that this matter will be constantly watched, and as it has only operated since the Finance Act of last year, and he has given an assurance that if the procedure works unsatisfactorily and produces unfairness, he will not be too proud to come down here to put down his own Amendment, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion, and Clause, by leave withdrawn.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd.
On a point of Order. May I ask whether any of the new Clauses dealing with postwar credits are being called, because the subject is one of great importance and interest in the country?
None is being called, because they are all out of Order since they increase the charge on the Consolidated Fund.
New Clause—(Amendment Of Finance Act, 1947, S 33)
Section thirty-three of the Finance Act, 1947, shall have effect as if there were substituted for the words "two thousand pounds," the words "three thousand pounds," and for the words "twelve thousand pounds," the words "eighteen thousand pounds," wherever they appear.—[ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."This new Clause proposes an Amendment to the Finance Act, 1947, and the relevant provision of that Act which I want to raise is Section 33. It deals with the abatement in respect of Profits Tax, which is given to small businesses. The effect of that Section is that any business or any limited company which earns £12,000 or less receives an abatement in respect of Profits Tax, and the way in which that abatement is calculated is for the amount of the profits actually made to be deducted from £12,000 and the resulting sum to be divided by five. If, for example, a company made a profit of £2,000, that sum deducted from £12,000 would leave £10,000, which, divided by five, produces £2,000, which is the amount of the abatement. I notice that the Solicitor-General seems to be doubtful about my method of working it out, but I am advised that it is calculated that way. To take another example, that of a company which earns £8,000, in that case that figure is deducted from £12,000, bringing it to £4,000, one-fifth of which is £800, which is the amount of the abatement, and the company therefore pays Profits Tax on £7,200. I am greatly reinforced to find that both right hon. Gentlemen, the Financial Secretary and the Solicitor-General, are now nodding vigorously to that proposition. This new Clause increases the limit up to £18,000, so that a company which earns £3,000 will pay no Profits Tax, and, beween £3,000 and £18,000, there will be an abatement calculated in the way I have described. This new Clause is meant to be a direct encouragement to the smaller type of limited company. At the present time we receive a great many exhortations to enterprise. Individuals are invited to become merchant adventurers, to go forth and sell British goods in all parts of the world, to develop new processes, to make new inventions, and to display that great spirit of enterprise which our forefathers certainly had. Those are the exhortations. Let us give these people, whom we expect to undertake such tasks, some encouragement. It is extremely unlikely these days that they will embark on such projects unless protected by the Companies Act, unless they are in the form of limited liability companies. This new Clause deals only with limited liability companies and it will provide a direct incentive to the smaller type of company, because I suggest that hon. Gentlemen opposite and the Government are completely blind to the facts of life in this respect. [HON. MEMBERS: "In every respect."] I am not dealing with every respect, although it may be in every respect. In this respect they continue to expect people to risk their money on the basis that if they make profits the Government will take 50 per cent. of the profits and if they make losses the Government will not contribute one penny towards those losses. That is a statement of fact; in fact, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury had the effrontery the other day to say that that made the Government a partner in industry. Of course, it is perfectly true that the whole of the social services and the other structures of Government in this country depend on the sums of money which are extracted by the Government from private enterprise, and I hope that hon. Members will believe me when I say—and I say it as one whose constituency is closely concerned with a great trading and commercial area—that the smaller type of enterprise is just not being begun at the present time. People are not prepared to risk their money, if they have any, on those terms. It is really essential, if these exhortations are to have any practical effect, for the Government to do something concrete about them. This proposal, for which I ask support in all parts of the Committee, is a pretty modest one, as I think even the Government will admit. It gives no relief at all to a company earning over £18,000; it simply increases the range of this abatement. I submit to the Committee that it is a small but definite step whereby the Government can change this Finance Bill, which is a disincentive Bill, in one small respect at least, into an incentive Bill. It is a Clause which will help British industry in its present tasks.
I rise to support the new Clause moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). We are constantly talking in this country about helping the smaller manufacturer and the smaller trader and from time to time His Majesty's Government have indicated their support of that proposal. Here is an opportunity to give evidence of the desire to help the smaller manufacturer by making a modest concession through this new Clause.At the present time, the small manufacturer in this country is making a most substantial contribution to our export trade, particularly to the United States. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here, I should ask him to witness the extent to which the small manufacturer is responding to the appeal which is constantly made to intensify our efforts to improve our competitive power in markets abroad. The small manufacturers are suffering from a heavy burden in very many of the costs of production. The load of taxation on their shoulders is beyond expression, and it bears heavily upon them in dealing with their everyday life in productive enterprise in this country. Unless the Committee are prepared to give some consideration to the difficulties which beset smaller manufacturers from day to day, they will feel themselves helpless in dealing with the constant exhortations and appeals made to them by the Administration for enterprise, for extending production, and so on. I know that the Financial Secretary has made speeches all over the country saying what a magnificent thing it would be if the smaller productive enterprises competed more effectively abroad. Now he has an opportunity to say to smaller manufacturers, "We are going to do something to help you over the difficulties you experience in every-day life in industry." It is no good right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite making pleasant speeches about sympathy to industry in this country in fighting our battles in foreign markets. Let the Government do something practical and helpful. An opportunity is submitted to them by my hon. and learned Friend. I ask the Government to show evidence of their real sympathy with the smaller manufacturers of this country by helping them to get out of the difficulties in which they find themselves.
I do not think it is realised how great a part in the industrial life of this country is played by the small businesses employing anything from 10 to 200 or 300 people. It is vital for the country at the present time, as Government spokesmen have said, to increase our productivity and to develop our export trade. Here is one way—it is only a small way, but it is one way—to help the small businesses to develop. Much of the present prosperity of this country was developed and built up by small businesses which became large businesses at the end of the last century and the beginning of this. With the burden of taxation we now have, it will be quite impossible in future for any small businesses to develop. Here is one effective way in which some relief of the burden and some inducement to enterprise can be given to the small manufacturer—inducement to put his back into his business and to go ahead. I do hope that the Financial Secretary, for the reasons which I have given and which other hon. Members on this side have given, will sympathetically consider accepting this proposal.
I am sorry to say the Government cannot see their way to make the further concession which is asked for by this new Clause. The Profits Tax was designed in part to reimburse the Exchequer for the fact that the Excess Profits Tax came to an end in 1946. The exemption in respect of companies earning less than £2,000, and the further provision for abatement were, in fact, intended, as hon. Gentlemen opposite have reminded the Committee, to assist small businesses. That was their object. I am afraid that in present day circumstances it would be impossible, having regard to the general calls on the Exchequer, to extend that exemption further than it exists at the moment. The cost of the concession would be £6,500,000, or, having regard to the fact that Profits Tax counts as a deduction for the purposes of Income Tax, the net sum of £3,500,000. I therefore regret to say that, having regard to the cost that would be entailed, the Government do not see their way to extend further the provision which they have made in the existing framework of the Profits Tax legislation to assist small companies.
Has the Treasury advised the right hon. and learned Gentleman, or has any calculation been made, of the extent that the export trade, as a result of this concession, would gain as against the £3,500,000 lost by the Treasury? Saving money for the Exchequer in many respects means crippling business and our competitive power abroad.
It is extremely difficult to make a calculation of the gains that would come to the Exchequer from increased export trade owing to this concession. There would be no certain basis upon which any such calculation could be made.
I think the Solicitor-General has done himself less than justice. This measure is one which he might consider because it may well be that it is an insurance against the problems and difficulties which we are facing. He may be aware that during the great American slump small businesses with little capital collapsed like ninepins, and large businesses employing tens of thousands of people were so overcapitalised that they collapsed by the score. The businesses which strengthened the economy of the United States during that great slump were the large number of small family or privately-owned businesses.This proposal is offered to the Treasury as a buttress against the impending slump which may well come upon us. This reinforcement of £3,500,000 seems petty when we consider the additional estimate for health services of £50 million. I cannot think that £3,500,000 could be better spent. These individually-owned businesses are not run by bloated capitalists; they are not people who are going to enrich themselves at the expense of the community. These people are at the grindstone and are grappling with the day-to-day and the hour-to-hour problems of business. There is a case for this new Clause if only because of the fear that is in the minds of all of us, and not least in the minds of those who occupy the Treasury Bench. Are we going to offer a lift to these people, to encourage them in the ordeal through which they are going to carry the country? Do His Majesty's Government recognise that this is a nation of shopkeepers, small industrialists and small business men, and that while the great schemes to which we have set our minds may well be realised, it is this solid group—some 60 per cent. of our manufacturing and industrial population—who are carrying the burden of this country's taxation? I ask the Treasury to accept this Clause. They will not regret it, and it will give encouragement to a class who have had, goodness knows, little encouragement from His Majesty's Government.
I think that the statement made by the Solicitor-General is a most shortsighted statement of policy. The position is vastly different from what it was a year or two ago from the point of view of small traders. My hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) said that 60 per cent. of our manufacturing population are carrying the burden of the taxation in this country. I think not 60 per cent. but the better part of 70 per cent. of these small traders are experiencing great difficulties today. The situation with regard to outstanding accounts in respect of debtors, and the stocks that they are having to carry and which are moving so very slowly, is getting them into a difficult financial situation.If the Government want any proof of this fact, they have only to refer to many of the banks to see how the accounts turn over from the blue to the red. If the Government really want private enterprise to go ahead, how can a paltry £3,500,000 affect such a major decision as this? A year or two ago their decision may have been right, but the position has now materially changed. The small traders are the backbone of our country and have built it up to what it is today. They are the people who must have assistance under the present circumstances. Taking the long-sighted point of view, the Government might well get back much more than they give. As far as the machinery is concerned, and as far as their internal resources are concerned, the small private traders need further assistance to strengthen their position. They are breaking down in many respects against the competition they are having to meet, but they are trying to play their part in the export market by linking themselves together to make themselves sounder to meet that competition. But behind them the machinery is not supporting their efforts. We are making it impossible for them to play their full part. The concession I am most anxious to see is a relaxation of the Profits Tax. Surely the Government can take a bold step to help the small traders. I hope that my hon. Friends will press this to a Division, if the Government will not give way.
The reply which has been given by the Solicitor-General is a very disturbing reply from the point of view of its revelation of the mentality of the Government. He dealt with the new Clause purely from the budgetary point of view. He said that this would cost £3½ million which we cannot afford, and that therefore it must be rejected. He never addressed any arguments to the far more important consideration, the stimulus which would be given to the small companies concerned. That quite rightly, was the essence of the case that has been put forward; that in the situation which confronts the country today it is essential to provide some additional encouragement and incentive to those who are running these small businesses. The Solicitor-General did not reply to that at all, nor did he say a single word on that part of the case.It is surely significant and disquieting that the Government, in supplying the right hon. and learned Gentleman with his brief, did not think that that was an aspect of the matter at all. It indicates that the Government have no appreciation of the situation into which we are proceeding very rapidly at this moment. They are dealing with it only in the old fashioned budgetary way. When they are faced with a situation of ever-increasing difficulties in regard to British exports, and ever-increasing difficulties for British industry and enterprise, one would have thought that the Government would decide to help British industry and enterprise, and that therefore they would think that to be a consideration worth mentioning. What is terribly disquieting is that these things are considered by the Government to be unimportant and irrelevant, and if that is the mentality with which they are conducting our affairs against the gathering background of a world economic crisis, then heaven help this country.
I hope that by now it is apparent to Members opposite how restrictive this Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been. For four days now we have pleaded for concessions to be made to different classes of the community, and many of these classes are classes with which Members opposite have the greatest sympathy. They now see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has deserted the Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—has left to go to Paris where he may or may not do this country any good—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]—has left this Debate and gone to Paris—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—leaving the Treasury with the instructions—
Since the noble Lord does not seem likely to withdraw—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has nothing to withdraw."] I am not suggesting that he has anything to withdraw—the Debate will now continue in quietness.
The Chancellor has left those who represent him on the Treasury Bench with explicit instructions that no concession costing any money at all is to be made in these Debates. That is a situation which, in my short Parliamentary experience, is without parallel. Last year the Chancellor and his predecessor allowed latitude to Members of the House to develop the merits of their cases and to secure concessions of a relatively simple order. But on this occasion we have not been allowed to get away with any concession costing any money. The only things which have been conceded are two minor points affecting cinemas and dogs, which did not cost the Treasury a penny. The diktat is that nothing is to be done to restore the fortunes of small businesses, or families, or local groups, or whatever it may be. Not one item of Government expenditure is to be remitted. I wonder why my right hon. and hon. Friends have bothered to continue the Debate, because it is obvious that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have come here without any intention of entering into the merits of any of our discussions.This is the most deplorable exhibition I have ever seen. It shows the mentality of the Treasury and the Chancellor under the new dispensation and the contumely with which the right hon. and learned Gentleman treats the House of Commons. I know that many Members opposite would like to see concessions made to their own constituents; indeed, they pleaded for them not only in the Debate on the Budget but also in a private committee upstairs, as was revealed to us in the newspapers. How they are able to sit still and accept a blank refusal to grant them any kind of concession, I simply do not know. Here we have a typical case of small businesses which, as has been pointed out, are serving the country magnificently today. Perhaps a small company, two years ago, made £2,000 profit and paid no Excess Profits Tax. Within the last two years it expanded until now it is penalised by entering into the range in which it has to pay Profits Tax. Instead of being rewarded for the extra profit it has made in carrying out the wishes of the country in increasing productivity and exports, it is denied any remission of tax. The spectacle now before us is deplorable; the Committee is being treated as a rubber stamp by the Treasury and the iron Chancellor, and the sooner we get rid of him and his ideas the better it will be for the country.
I often find myself in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), but I did so more particularly tonight when he expressed his anxiety at the state of mind of the Government as exposed by the Solicitor-General. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us, as he has told us on previous occasions, that this concession must be refused because it would cost £3½ million, but he made no difference whatever between the cost of £3½ million going out to undistributed profits and the cost of a concession amounting to £3½ million if it were to reduce Purchase Tax or some other tax which would increase the spending power of the country.10.0 p.m. I think the Solicitor-General must have been forgetting his present master, and must have thought that he was still in the days of the Chancellor of the Duchy, who was renowned for being entirely old-fashioned and out of date in his economic views. I would not say the same of the present Chancellor to the same extent. Surely under the modern conception of finance it is clearly understood that in a time of full employment, such as we are experiencing now, the whole point of the Budget is to sterilise that amount of purchasing power in order to get a balance between the total resources of the country and the total demand. There is no point in having an enormous Budget for the sake of it, in order to get that balance. A concession on undistributed profits makes no difference to the amount of purchasing power, so that that is a concession of an altogether different order of merit from a concession on Purchase Tax or any other concession which would increase the purchasing power of the country. On any concession of that sort I should very much hesitate to vote against the Government; but a concession of this sort is an entirely different matter. I ask the Solicitor-General whether he really appreciates the fundamental difference between those two, because I can assure him that there is a considerable number of thinking people in the country who are not particularly opposed to the Socialist Party but who are extremely disturbed at the complete inability of the Socialist Party Front Bench at the present time to understand the modern conception of finance, and who realise that in many ways they are completely out of date. Indeed, I can very well understand why, if the Government anticipate such old-fashioned, out-of-date, obtuse statements such as we have had from the Solicitor-General tonight, they prefer all-night Sittings in the hope that those statements will not be widely reported in the Press.
I would make an appeal to the leaders on the Treasury Bench to give an answer to the arguments put forward from this side of the Committee. The Solicitor-General has obviously come to the Committee with a brief marked "This is a most unimportant Clause," because he has not given us any arguments or reasons in response to those put forward by my hon. Friends. It must be quite clear to all sides of the Committee that we on this side attach great importance to this new Clause. It may seem very small upon the Order Paper, but it is very important. We cannot make a success of the British economy and of our drive for production unless some incentive and encouragement is given to the small businesses of this country.During the Debate I heard a remark passed from the Government Benches "What about the workers?" [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I now hear it repeated. Let hon. Members opposite address themselves to this argument. We on this side at least have tried to attach importance to the value of the British workers and of the work they can do for us at the present time; it is quite clear that they form a most vital element of our population. Let us take that for granted. I assure hon. Members that we are quite sincere on that point. Yet these small businesses have particularly close and personal relations with their workers, and I feel quite convinced that we shall have the support of the majority of workers attached to businesses like these when they realise the negative stand the Government have taken on this matter tonight. One advantage of the small business, especially a family business, is that there is this close personal relationship between what is known as "the boss" and the workers; they know that they are all in the same boat together, and they must know the difficulties their businesses are suffering from at the present time. I feel convinced that there is a fundamental difference of principle between the Opposition and the Government tonight. We believe that it would restore the productivity of this country and assure the standard of life of the workers if business and industry were given incentives. But if the Government take up a wholly negative attitude we cannot be sure where that will lead. It is because we have been disappointed at the Government's attitude that we are determined to take this matter to a Division. I implore the Government to give us some reasons against the considered arguments we have put forward.
I am disturbed about the impending disaster which we are told is awaiting the small traders. The Opposition have suggested that 60, or may be 70 per cent. of the businesses carried on in this country are small businesses, and that taking this £3½ million will almost ruin them. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, at least they say that there is no incentive. The profits earned last year were somewhere in the region of £2,000 million.
Not by this type of business.
It includes all that kind of business. What effect would £3½ million have on those profits?
Let me quote the words which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose absence we all regret tonight and the reasons for which we understand, used at Workington on the subject of profits on 9th January, when he said:
It is in the exact sense of those words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we are moving this Amendment tonight, and I am using the Chancellor's words to answer the hon. Gentleman and the Government."A large part of the so-called profit is not a bare surplus, but must be put to reserve to pay for replacements and repairs of plant and machinery and for industrial expansion to meet our new production needs."
As I understood it, the argument of the Solicitor-General for maintaining this £3½ million is because of the abolition of part of the Excess Profits Tax in 1946. He said it was necessary to have some compensation for the loss of revenues from Excess Profits Tax. I find it very hard to understand that argument, because the existence of this £3½ million and the loss of of revenue by the abolition of the Excess Profits Tax cannot be related in importance or in any other way. How can it be compensation for the loss of Excess Profits Tax? The sum of £3½ million is in no sense compensation, but it would be of great advantage to the small businessmen of this country. As I see it, the one argument put forward by the Solicitor-General appears to be quite irrelevant in this connection.
I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman opposite has not thought fit to reply to the moderate suggestions put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). I should like to recall to the Committee that at the end of April, the President of the Board of Trade saw fit to summon rather peremptorily, a gathering of businessmen representing groups of small businesses in this country and to exhort them to further efforts in order to overcome the difficulties which he and the Government quite rightly saw were facing this country. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what concrete help are the Government giving to those persons to help them to become merchant adventurers, a phrase used on that occasion, and to fulfil the task that was set them by the right hon. Gentleman.At that meeting the attitude was that it was all very well to offer words of that kind to industry, but actions were necessary. The attitude of the Government Front Bench tonight, in refusing to reply to my right hon. Friend, is deplorable, and I am bound to say that the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite shows exactly how much the Socialist Party are prepared to support the sort of plea put forward in April by the President of the Board of Trade. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that the Members of the Government can call a conference of the kind I have mentioned, and then two or three months later, when pleas are made to them, similar to the pleas which they made on that occasion to those small businesses, they should flatly refuse to give even moderate support to those industries to carry out the tasks which they have to undertake.
Neither my right hon. and learned Friend nor I, speaking for the Government, desires to appear in the slightest bit discourteous to the arguments which have been advanced by hon. Gentlemen opposite. What my right hon. and learned Friend said, in brief, was that we had in existence an Excess Profits Tax. In 1946, for reasons which appeared good, it was brought to an end, and the question arose whether anything should take its place. In the circumstances of the time, in view of the appeals made to the workers generally, it was felt—at that time the House generally agreed—that some other tax on profits should take its place, and the Profits Tax as such came into existence. Even then my right hon. and learned Friend took into account that there were small businesses of the kind which have been spoken about with such lucidity this evening by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I think that the concession then made was not a bad one.What the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) now wants to do is to increase the £2,000 to £3,000 at the lower end and the £12,000 to £18,000 at the higher. As
Division No. 188.]
|Acland, Sir R.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Brown, George (Belper)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Albu, A. H.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Deer, G.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Delargy, H. J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Burden, T. W.||Diamond, J.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Burke, W. A.||Dobbie, W.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Dodds, N. N.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Callaghan, James||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Carmichael, James||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Champion, A. J.||Dye, S.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Baird, J.||Cobb, F. A.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Balfour, A.||Cocks, F. S.||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Coldrick, W.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Collick, P.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Barton, C.||Collindridge, F.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Collins, V. J.||Ewart, R.|
|Benson, G.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Fairhurst, F.|
|Berry, H.||Cook, T. F.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Beswick, F.||Cooper, G.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Follick, M.|
|Binns, J.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Forman, J. C.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Cove, W. G.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Crawley, A.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Cullen, Mrs.||Gallacher, W.|
|Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.||Daggar, G.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Daines, P.||Gibbins, J.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Gilzean, A.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.|
my right hon. and learned Friend said, apart altogether from the arguments for and against, it would cost him too much. However, something is being done for small businesses. As somebody remarked, if a firm previously making less than £2,000 profits went to £3,000, they ought not be penalised for so doing. However, that would apply to all of us. We are all bearing our fair share of the very heavy taxation, and it would be unfair at this juncture to pick out one class, however deserving that class might be, and say, "We are going to put you into a special category by yourself." It would not look well.
The case has not been made out. In any case, whether a case is made out or not, the cost to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this juncture would be more than my right hon. and learned Friend can contemplate. It is £6,500,000 gross and £3,500,000 net. I am sorry, but my right hon. and learned Friend cannot agree to forgo that amount.
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 137.
|Grey, C. F.||McGhee, H. G.||Stott-Elliot, W.|
|Grierson, E.||McGovern, J.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mack, J. D.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Sharp, Granville|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Shurmer, P.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||McKinlay, A. S.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Gunter, R. J.||McLeavy, F.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Guy, W. H.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Hale, Leslie||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Mann, Mrs. J.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Marquand, Rt Hon. H. A.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Mathers, Rt Hon George||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville.||Mellish, R. J.||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank|
|Haworth, J.||Messer, F.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Monslow, W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morley, R.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Holman, P.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Mort, D. L.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Horabin, T. L.||Moyle, A.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Houghton, A. L. N. D. (Sowerby)||Murray, J. D.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Hoy, J.||Nally, W.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hubbard, T.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Timmons, J.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Tolley, L.|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Oldfield, W. H.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Oliver, G. H.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Orbach, M.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N)||Paget, R. T.||Usborne, Henry|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Walker, G. H.|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)||Parker, J.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Jenkins, R. H.||Parkin, B. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|John, W.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Pearson, A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Peart, T. F.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Poole, Cecil (Llehfield)||West, D. G.|
|Keenan, W.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edin'gh, E.)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Proctor, W. T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W.|
|Kinley, J.||Pryde, D. J.||Wigg, George|
|Kirby, B. V.||Pursey, Comdr. H.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Lang, G.||Randall, H. E.||Wilkes, L.|
|Lavers, S.||Ranger, J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Rankin, J.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Leonard, W.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Rhodes, H.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Levy, B. W.||Richards, R.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Robens, A.||Willis, E.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Logan, D. G.||Robinson, Kenneth (St Pancras, N.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Longden, F.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Wyatt, W.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Yates, V. F.|
|McAdam, W.||Royle, C.|
|McAllister, G.||Sargood, R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McEntee, V. La. T.||Scollan, T.||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Snow.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col G.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Fox, Sir G.|
|Birch, Nigel||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.|
|Bowen, R.||Crowder, Capt, John E.||Gage, C.|
|Bower, N.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Darling, Sir W. Y.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Gammans, L. D.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Gates, Maj. E. E.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Carsen, E.||Drewe, C.||Glyn, Sir R.|
|Challen, C.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Channon, H.||Duthie, W. S.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Marples, A. E.||Stanley, Rt. Hon O.|
|Headlam, Lieut-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Maude, J. C.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mellor, Sir J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hogg, Hon Q.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Howard, Hon. A.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Teeling, William|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Hurd, A.||Nutting, Anthony||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hutchison, Lt-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)||Odey, G. W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Osborne, C.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Touche, G. C.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Peto, Brig C. H. M.||Turton, R. H.|
|Kendall, W. D.||Pickthorn, K.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Raikes, H. V.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Linstead, H. N.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lipson, D. L.||Renton, D.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Low, A. R. W.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||York, C.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Ropner, Col. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Commander Agnew and|
|McFarlane, C. S.||Sanderson, Sir F.||Colonel Wheatley.|
Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a second time."
Division No. 189.]
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Grimston, R. V.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Osborne, C.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Harden, J. R. E.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Beamish Maj. T. V. H.||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Birch, Nigel||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Bowen, R.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Bower, N.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Renton, D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. G.||Hollis, M. C.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Howard, Hon. A.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Carson, E.||Hurd, A.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Challen, C.||Hutchison, Lt-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Channon, H.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C)||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Keeling, E. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Kendall, W. D.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Langford-Holt, J.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Crowder, Capt, John E.||Linstead, H. N.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lipson, D. L.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Low, A. R. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Teeling, William|
|Drewe, C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||McFarlane, C. S.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Turton, R. H.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Maclean, F. M. R. (Lancaster)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Maitland Comdr. J. W.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Marples, A. E.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Gage, C.||Maude, J. C.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Mellor, Sir J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||York, C.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Nutting, Anthony||Commander Agnew and|
The Committee divided: Ayes, 135; Noes, 288.
|Acland, Sir Richard||Follick, M.||McLeavy, F.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Forman, J. C.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Albu, A. H.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Gallacher, W.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Gibbins, J.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Gibson, C. W.||Mathers, Rt. Hon George|
|Ayles, W. H.||Gilzean, A.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Messer, F.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Middleton, Mrs L.|
|Baird, J.||Grey, C. F.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.|
|Balfour, A.||Grierson, E.||Monslow W.|