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Purchase Tax (Textiles)

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1952

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount collected as Purchase Tax on textiles in the years 1949–50 and 1951–52; and the amount collected in the last six months of 1951–52.

Purchase Tax collected in 1949 to 1950 from clothing (except footwear), haberdashery, textile piece goods, household textile goods and floor coverings was about £112 million. I am afraid I cannot give a comparable figure for 1951 to 1952, as the necessary details are not yet available for the March quarter just ended: but I estimate it will probably be something like £95 million. The tax collected from these classes of goods during the last six months, up to December, 1951, for which firm figures are available, was about £46 million.

If the Chancellor will make inquiries as to what is being collected towards the end of that time. I think he will find that as regards textiles—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] I am asking a question on the figures. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he will find that the amount now runs at something like the rate of a sixth of what it was in 1949 to 1950? In view of that, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it would be possible to abolish this tax and still not lose any great amount to the Exchequer?

As far as figures are available, I would not say that the hon. Gentleman is correct; but, of course, we would watch any tendency such as that. I think it is impossible in the March quarter yet to use the expression "breakdown"—that is, to put into detail the different types of categories within this whole heading of textiles. If I am able to, I will certainly do so.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, unless the Government do more than they have so far to expand the sale of textiles, the yield of Purchase Tax over the next quarter will be negligible?

Of course I regret the very serious recession in the textile industry as much as anybody. I also regret its results on the Revenue. Anything the Government can do to keep up the Revenue we shall do.