Clause 1. — (Purchase Tax.)
Orders of the Day — Finance Bill
Mr Albert Cooper (Ilford South)
The furniture manufacturers to whom I have spoken all say that this is one of the finest things that could have happened to the industry. It may not generally be realised that in this country we have a fair export trade in furniture of very high quality. [HON. MEMBERS: "What the percentage?"] The firm of Frederick Tibbenham Limited, for example, has a very substantial factory in Ipswich and employs a considerable number of people. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has no desire to see that company go out of existence. The company is a very substantial dollar earner, but it has not been able to produce the type of first quality furniture which it would like to produce in quantity because of the high level of taxation to which that furniture has been subject.
It is common knowledge that one can develop a substantial export market only if one has a firmly based home market. Firms like Frederick Tibbenham have not been able to develop a substantial market in this country for their high quality reproduction furniture of the Sheraton and Chippendale type. It is a firm which employs some of the finest craftsmen in the country. Those men in Ipswich now have a real opportunity of demonstrating their skill and finding new markets here at home, thereby enabling their firm to sell goods at more competitive prices in overseas markets.
I should like the hon. Member for Edmonton to try to be fair about this. Wherever the D-line has operated, whether in furniture or in any other type of commodity, the effect has been that the manufacturers have endeavoured to produce down to a quality which would keep them outside the D-level and away from tax.