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Clause 17—(Extension Of Purchase Tax Exemption For War Memorials)

Volume 477: debated on Tuesday 4 July 1950

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I beg to move, in page 15, line 45, to leave out

"within the period hereinafter mentioned,"
and to insert:
"whether before or after the coming into force of this section."
This Amendment goes with that to the same Clause, in page 16, line 7, and together they carry out fully and completely the undertaking which we gave on the Committee stage. The effect of the Amendments is to make permanent the exemption from Purchase Tax enjoyed by war memorials in places of worship. According to the Bill as introduced, that exemption was to be continued for five years, but in response to requests from hon. Members on the Committee stage we undertook to make it permanent. I should only like to emphasise that war memorials are, of course, fairly widely defined in the Bill as including articles of
"furniture, plate, or textile material or an ornament."
We regard it as exceptional treatment of Purchase Tax to grant permanent exemptions in this form. In the obviously very exceptional circumstances of war memorials, we think that is justified.

7.30 p.m.

We are much obliged to the Government for having acceded to the suggestion that we made. I hope that Purchase Tax will not be with us in five years' time in one form or the other but, on the Government's estimation that horrors have to go on for ever, I think they are wise in making this exemption permanent. Ten years from the end of the war seems a very long time for war memorials still to be put in' places of worship, but no doubt many churches which were destroyed by bombs will not have been replaced in the ten years' period and it is just in those places that congregations are likely to put up war memorials. Because of the delay, that is bound to occur, and it must be plain to many hon. Members. We are very much obliged to the Government.

As one who took part in the original discussion on this matter in 1947, when the present Minister of Town and Country Planning introduced an autumn Budget in which the concession was made, and who took part the other day in the Debate during the Committee stage of the present Bill, I would add my grateful thanks to the Government for having taken this course. It was obvious that hon. Members on all sides disliked very much the idea of war memorials carrying Purchase Tax in any circumstances. To have got rid of the whole thing in one sweep is a matter upon which we ought to congratulate ourselves.

I would remind the Financial Secretary that he has a certain safeguard in regard to what the concession will cost the Treasury. War memorials in churches cannot exist without a faculty obtained—and not easily obtained—from the ecclesiastical authorities. The authorities are very careful, before granting a faculty, to make sure that the war memorial is of a genuine nature desired by the people in the area. The Financial Secretary can feel that the concession will not be abused in any way and that it will give great satisfaction to the people of the country.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: in page 16, line 7, leave out subsection (2).—

[ Mr. Jay.]