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National Finance

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1954

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Petrol-Driven Fork-Lift Trucks (Fuel Rebate)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to extend to petrol-driven fork-lift trucks used in factories the fuel tax rebate at present given to similar diesel-driven fork-lift trucks.

As satisfactory machinery already exists for giving a rebate on taxable diesel fuel, will the Chancellor consider extending the main advantage to the users of petrol fuel in these circumstances in order to avoid the unfair discrimination which now exists, which, whether intentionally or not, has a substantial and not altogether desirable influence on engineering development?

I regret that there are very few exceptions in relation to light oil. They relate only to lifeboats, chemical synthesis and fishing boats. I am not prepared to extend the list of exceptions.

Purchase Tax Revenue, Wales And Monmouthshire


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the approximate annual amount of Purchase Tax collected from persons resident in Wales and Monmouthshire, adopting approximate methods of calculation which enabled him to estimate the amount of Income Tax paid by Welsh people.

If it is assumed that consumption per head in Wales and Monmouthshire is not very different from that in the rest of the United Kingdom, the amount of Purchase Tax involved would be in the region of £15 million a year. I am afraid that no material is available on which to make any closer estimate.

National Land Fund


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the balance of the National Land Fund; how much has been spent; and on what projects.

The balance at 31st March, 1954, was £56,799,174. Since the inception of the Fund, £906,881 has been spent.

I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the properties in respect of which payment has been made since the date of the last list supplied to the hon. Member.

What steps is the Chancellor of the Exchequer taking to further the objects of the Fund?

I took special powers to pay for chattels in my last Budget. That is a further indication of my interest in using the Fund.

If the hon. Gentleman will put that question on the Order Paper, I will tell him. Receipts apart from interest amount to about £55,000.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make some of the Fund available for the National Parks Commission, for which purpose it was established?

I am aware of the reasons for which the Fund was established, and I will certainly use the Fund where I think it proper to use it.

Following is the information:

Following is the list of properties in respect of which payment has been made from the National Land Fund, since mid-1952. There were 27 earlier cases.

l. The High Close Estate, Ambleside.535National Trust.
2. Stoke Wood and Stoke Hill Farm, near Exeter.196Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries.
3. Mount Grace Priory, Northallerton, Yorkshire.10National Trust.
4. Highstand Wood and Farm, near Carlisle.649Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries.
5. Loch Alsh House, grounds & cottage, Balmacara, Ross-shire.15National Trust for Scotland.
6. "The Old Lifeboat House", Port Eynon, Glamorganshire.Youth Hostels Trust of England & Wales.
7. Pare Le Breos Estate, Glamorgan-shire.410Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries.
8. Northchurch Estate (comprising three farms), Hertfordshire.371National Trust.
9. Kildermorie Estate, Ross-shire.18,600Secretary of State for Scotland.

German Shipbuilders (Steel Rebates)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has completed his inquiries about the proposed financial aid to German shipbuilders; and if he will make a further statement.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) on 24th June.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that reply has failed to allay the very deep anxiety of our shipbuilding industry? Is he satisfied that we are taking sufficiently energetic action to prevent this blatant evasion of the spirit of the Anglo-German agreement?

We have taken a lot of action in so far as we can operate within the field controlled by Governments. I am certainly trying to find out what further opportunities there are in this field, but I cannot interfere in a field outside the field of Government.

Is not this practice of the German steel industry in conflict with the rules of the Coal and Steel Community? Will the Chancellor consider instructing our delegation at Luxembourg to make representations on this point?

This point was raised when the Economic Secretary answered Questions, and he very wisely said that it was a very complicated subject. I am investigating it, and if I see a line of action I will certainly take it.

English Steel Company Shareholders (Voting Rights)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the £10 million of capital of the English Steel Company still remaining in the hands of the Iron and Steel Realisation Agency has any voting rights in normal circumstances.

The holders of these securities have rights of the kind commonly attached to debentures and preference shares respectively. In the hon. Member's phrase, these do not include voting rights in normal circumstances.

Is it the policy of the Government where half the capital of an iron and steel company passes into private hands and half remains in public hands that all the control of the company should be concentrated in private hands?

No, Sir, not as a general proposition. It happens to have been a convenient operation in this case. That exactly carries out the sense of Section 18 (1) of the Iron and Steel Act, to the terms of which I would refer the hon. Member.

Does the Chancellor think he will be regarded as a reliable trustee for the taxpayer if he goes on approving dubious deals of this kind?

I should not think it was a dubious deal to sell the risk-bearing part and to keep the safe part.

Imported Vehicles (Duty)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the rate of duty chargeable on motor cars and commercial vehicles imported into the United Kingdom.

The rate of Customs duty chargeable on such vehicles is generally 33⅓ per cent. ad valorem, or 22 2/9 per cent. If the vehicles are entitled to the benefit of Imperial Preference. With certain exceptions, Purchase Tax is also chargeable on passenger vehicles at the rate of 50 per cent. of the duty-inclusive wholesale value, and on goods vehicles at the rate of 25 per cent. of the duty-inclusive wholesale value of their chassis.

In view of the great success of the motor industry in selling in markets all over the world, what justification is there now for protecting the industry in the home market in this respect? In view of the complete lack of protection offered to, for instance, the Lancashire cotton industry against its chief competitors—there is no protection whatever—does not the Chancellor think it time that these duties were changed?

The duties date back to 1915. They were assimilated in 1938 into the structure based on the Import Duties Act, 1932, and they are now charged under the Import Duties (Consolidation) Order, 1949. They have at least a respectable history.

Tips And Gratuities (Income Tax)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the present instructions given to inspectors of taxes with regard to taking into account for Income Tax assessment purposes the personal and voluntary payments made by customers and clients by way of tips and gratuities to employees in hotels, restaurants and other catering establishments.

Tips of this kind are chargeable to Income Tax and tax offices have instructions to arrange that the appropriate tax is collected.

Since it has always been the practice—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."] Keep quiet you Lobby fodder. Since it has always been the practice for the Inland Revenue to regard tips and gratuities as part of the assessable income of the catering staff, surely it is only reasonable that employers should equally be allowed to take personal and voluntary payments into account when assessing their total remuneration?

My hon. and gallant Friend's forcible intervention will need a little study.

International Monetary Fund (Annual Meeting)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he proposes to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund this summer.

Balance Of Payments (Information)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish the figures of the sterling balance every month, at the same time as the publication of the gold and dollar reserves.

I am reviewing the publication of information about various aspects of the balance of payments and will bear the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion in mind.

£1,000 Per Annum (Purchasing Power)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the purchasing power today of an income of £1,000 per annum, as compared with November, 1951, for a married man with two children, taking into account the changes in taxation and allowances and in the cost-of-living index.

A married man with two children earning £1,000 now has a net income, after tax, of £898. This is equivalent in purchasing power to about £854 in November, 1951, when the net income corresponding to a similar gross income would have been £833.

In any conversations on the financial position of Members, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the improvement that has taken place under a Conservative Government in the salary of a Member with no other income and with the average family?

Will the Chancellor give a comparable figure for an income of £100,000 per annum?

Income Tax Act, 1952 (Section 468 Applications)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the general principles upon which 14 applications have been refused under Section 468 (1) of the Income Tax Act, 1952.

The general principle on which Treasury consent has been refused in these cases is that on a balance of considerations it would not have been in the national interest to grant consent. These considerations are, on the one hand, any new factors or circumstances which are represented to require the proposed transaction or other reasons for it based on the efficiency and development of the applicant's operations, and, on the other hand, the prospective loss of revenue or of foreign exchange to this country involved in the transaction.

This general principle is embodied in the terms of reference of the advisory panel to which applications are referred in cases of difficulty. The decision in all these cases to refuse consent has coincided with the advice of that panel.

While I do not think that the principle as stated by the Chancellor is absolutely crystal clear, may I draw the attention of the Chancellor to the strictures made on the Section when the Conservative Party was in Opposition and ask him whether, in view of the criticism then made, he has considered repealing it?

As a matter of fact, its operation has been so smooth that the strictures upon it have been very considerably reduced.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is at least one member of the Conservative Party who still maintains the strictures on that Section?

Dollar Allocations


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a White Paper setting out the amount of dollars allocated to various classes of persons and industries; and the principles upon which the allocation is made.

I think that the hon. Member's request requires further definition before I can judge whether the White Paper on the United Kingdom Balance of Payments, 1946–1953 (Cmd. 9119) covers the subject.

Does the Chancellor agree that this is a matter of importance—and of growing importance—as the possibility of convertibility gets nearer? Will he consider letting us have more detailed figures than those at present available in the White Paper?

If the hon. Member defines the figures he wants I will do my best to find them.

Guatemala (Situation)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about the situation in Guatemala and about the proceedings of the, Security Council of the United Nations on the appeal made to it by the Guatemalan Government.

I have been asked to reply. Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Guatemala has confirmed that a state of seige has been declared and that a military junta has taken over power under Colonel Diaz, Chief of Armed Forces. A decree has been issued outlawing the Guatemalan Communist Party.

I have nothing to add to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State about the proceedings of the Security Council.

As the American Commission of Inquiry is to act for the United Nations in this matter, will the right hon. Gentleman urge that the Commission should arrive on the spot before the fighting ends and that it should go first to the place from which the invasion was launched? Would it not be dangerous to the authority of the United Nations if it were thought that the Commission was merely a device to gain time while the rebellion succeeds?

As far as I am aware the Commission is under the Organisation of American States, and comes under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. It is something which is entirely constitutional and within the general framework of the United Nations. We certainly hope that it will operate not only constitutionally, but in an expeditious manner.

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Commission has now started its investigations and whether the Government made a request that the Commission should investigate the circumstances surrounding the bombing of the British merchant ship two days ago, with special reference to the identity of the aircraft which caused the damage?

Yes, I was aware of this incident. We are making our own inquiries about that and as soon as we have the information we shall make it available.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the fact-finding Commission has any time-table within which it has to report?

It is difficult for me to reply on the exact physical details of the Commission, but as far as we are concerned I can say on behalf of Her Majesty's Government that the sooner we hear of its activities and report the better.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the matter does or does not still remain on the agenda of the Security Council?

I am informed by the Minister of State that it is not on the day-to-day agenda.

Since this Commission is to act for the United Nations, and it is four days since the decision was made by the Council, will the Government now urge that the Commission should leave immediately?

I think we can take it that my answer will be noted as representing the views of Her Majesty's Government.

Disarmament Sub-Committee Report (White Paper)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will lay the recent Report of the Sub-Committee of the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations before the House as a White Paper.

I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir. The Report of the Sub-Committee will be included in a White Paper on the proceedings of the Sub-Committee which it is hoped to lay before the House in the near future.

In view of the very great importance of these discussions, could the right hon. Gentleman say whether we can have a full record of what was said by the delegates so that we may fully understand the attitude of the different Governments?

As far as I know this will be a full report, but whether it will contain absolutely every word I cannot say.

Wartime Hutted Camps (Closing)

47, 48 and 49.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) if he will fix a date after which no local authority may use wartime hutted camps to assist in discharging its housing duties;

(2) if he will consider increasing the allocation of houses and giving financial assistance to local authorities who still have to use hutted camps for housing purposes, in order to enable them to discontinue their use.

(3) what steps he is taking to abolish the slums created by the continued use of wartime hutted camps for housing purposes.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what action he proposes to take on the Third and Final Report of the Working Party on Requisitioned Properties in Use for Housing.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government
(Mr. Ernest Marples)

My right hon. Friend has already asked housing authorities to close down these camps as soon as possible. The number of families which have to be rehoused from camps is taken into account together with all the other relevant factors when settling a housing authority's programme. Houses built to replace hutted camps qualify for subsidy.

Does my hon. Friend realise that these hutted camps "cannot be tolerated any longer" and that this is a quotation from a report recently made on them? Will he not seriously consider setting a date by which no local authority will be allowed to use these camps for this purpose? Will he also bear in mind the condition of the children in them, realising that this is a matter of national importance?

I realise the seriousness of this problem. It was on 22nd March that the local authorities were asked to discuss this matter with the principal regional officers. Generally speaking, the hope is that these camps will be closed within three years.

Will my hon. Friend use his influence with the Secretary of State for Scotland to make sure

Division No. 178.]


[3.31 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Butcher, Sir HerbertFinlay, Graeme
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Fisher, Nigel
Alport, C. J. M.Campbell, Sir DavidFleetwood-Hesketh, R. F
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Cary, Sir RobertFletcher-Cooke, C.
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Channon, H.Ford, Mrs. Patricia
Arbuthnot, JohnClarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Fort, R.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.Foster, John
Astor, Hon. J. J.Cole, NormanFraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MColegate, W. A.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)
Baldwin, A. E.Conant, Maj. Sir RogerFyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell
Barlow, Sir JohnCooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertGalbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)
Beach, Maj. HicksCooper-Key, E. M.Gammans, L. D.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Garner-Evans, E. H.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Glover, D.
Bennett, William (Woodside)Crouch, R, F.Godber, J. B.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Gomme-Duncan, Col. A
Birch, NigelCrowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Gough, C. F. H.
Bishop, F. P.Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Gower, H. R.
Black, C. WDavidson, ViscountessGraham, Sir Fergus
Bossom, Sir A. C.Deedes, W. F.Grimond, J.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Digby, S. WingfieldGrimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Boyle, Sir EdwardDodds-Parker, A. D.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Braine, B. R.Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Hall, John (Wycombe)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Doughty, C. J. A.Harden, J. R. E.
Braithwaite, Sir GurneyDrayson, G. B.Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W H.Drewe, Sir C.Harris, Reader (Heston)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Brooman-White, R. C.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)
Browne, Jack (Govan)Duthie, W. S.Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Bullard, D. G.Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Burden, F. F. A.Erroll, F. J.Heath, Edward

that a similar policy is pursued in Scotland and that the scandal is understood and appreciated there?

I would hesitate to say that my right hon. Friend would give any advice to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

May I ask my hon. Friend whether, as some local authorities took on a very big job in providing these camps, and have done a great deal of work in connection with them, a special financial arrangement will not be requires to enable them to build enough houses to rehouse those living in the camps when they are closed?

If my hon. Friend has any specific case in mind of a local authority being swamped in this connection, and will send it to me, I would like to look at it.