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National Finance

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 13 April 1954

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D Scheme


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to be able to carry out his promised review of the D Scheme.

I am afraid I cannot give any forecast about this.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the D Scheme contains very many anomalies which remain unassailed because of the promised review and does he think it fair to try too far the patience of these who are affected?

I am aware of the particular anomaly to which my hon. Friend refers but I cannot go further than what I have said today.

Entertainments Duty (Receipts)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the present annual yield of Entertainments Duty for stage plays; and what will be the estimated reduction in the yield of such duty as a result of his proposal to reduce the amount of duty on admission payments by ½d.

Particulars of receipts of Entertainments Duty from admissions to stage plays alone are not available but receipts from admissions to theatres and music-halls together amounted to £24 million in 1953–54. The cost of my proposal to reduce the duty charged on such admissions by ½d. is estimated at £175,000 a year.

Purchase Tax (Registration)

32, 33 and 34.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will give an undertaking that registration for Purchase Tax will not be withheld or withdrawn from wholesalers because of a fear of tax evasion, in view of the heavy penalties that can be imposed by the courts where there is evasion and the powers possessed by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to demand adequate sureties where the integrity of an applicant is open to suspicion;

(2) if he will undertake that registration for Purchase Tax will not be withdrawn from wholesalers because of change of address or change of legal status where there is a good tax record prior to change of legal status, providing the construction of the company remains substantially the same;

(3) if he will undertake that registration for Purchase Tax will not be withheld from wholesalers for the convenience or believed more economic administion of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

I think my hon. Friend will find our answers to all these Questions in the statement which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury made in the debate on the Adjournment on 18th March.

That is just what the Financial Secretary did not say. Will my right hon. Friend answer the point which I made to the effect that Her Majesty's Commissioners of Customs and Excise were ultra vires in their action following their interpretation of the Act, which view is supported by counsel? Will he look into the matter to see whether that is so?

If my hon. Friend feels that, perhaps he will put a Question about it on the Order Paper.

Tax Allowances (Fares)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the high cost of fares, and the impossibility of knowing when they will be stabilised, he will consider allowing essential travel to and from work to count as an Income Tax allowance.

Why does the right hon. Gentleman brush this very important matter aside in this way? Is he aware that a large number of people have had to move to districts a considerable distance from their work, that the fares which they have to pay are of a very substantial nature in comparison with what they earn, and that the cost of living is so high that very many of them cannot afford these very heavy expenses? Will he reconsider the position?

The position has been before the revenue authorities for many years. It has been impossible to differentiate fairly between persons who get compensating advantages in rent and so on in the places where they may be living, and others. Some may have cheaper rents, and that ought to be taken into account in giving them relief from Income Tax. The whole consideration has led to the negative answer which I have been obliged to give the hon. Gentleman.

Government Departments (Used Stamps)


asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he will consider having the foreign and domestic stamps on all mail received by Government offices collected and sold for the benefit of the Treasury.

It has never been thought that a central scheme of this kind would be worth the cost of its administration. Sometimes in the past, however, particular Departments have arranged to sell stamps; the amounts likely to be realised will vary considerably, of course, as between one Department and another. I am drawing the attention of all Departments to the possibilities of this suggestion, for which I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend.

War Effort (Publication Of Statistics)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will have published as a White Paper the whole of the papers, notes, figures, etc., that passed between Her Majesty's Government, the United States Government and Lord Keynes during the loan negotiations in 1945 and 1946.

Statistical material presented during these negotiations has already been published in Cmd. 6707. I am not prepared in this case to depart further from the normal rule about the publication of State papers.

Is it not a fact that Lord Keynes had a cruel and gruelling time during these negotiations? In view of the fact that Britain's war effort was treated most unfairly, and in order that we can consider our relationship in correct perspective, should not these facts be placed on record?

Many of the facts and the substance of them have already been brought out, and I am afraid that I cannot depart from the decision that we cannot depart from the normal practice in these cases.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will have brought up to date the White Paper No. 6564, entitled, "Statistics relating to the War Effort," so as to include the whole of our war effort and add a report on the Commonwealth war effort.

No, Sir. The Statistical Digest of the War published in May, 1951, in the Civil Series of the History of the Second World War, brought up to date the figures in the White Paper, Cmd. 6564, and gave more details. Statistics about the war effort of other Commonwealth countries have appeared in publications issued officially and privately in the different countries.