On a point of Order. I would like to ask whether there is a possibility of a Member discussing the whole question before any Amendments are moved in connection with this matter?
On the Report stage, Amendments must be moved before I put the Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution." When that Question is put from the Chair, hon. Members are at liberty to discuss the whole Motion.
I beg to move, to leave out lines 5 and 6.
It is rather a strange coincidence, after what has transpired this afternoon, that the House should be asked to give consideration to the question of an amusement duty. The Eighth Resolution proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now before us, and, if the House will bear with me, will try to make clear the intention of this Amendment, which stands in my name and in those of other Members sitting behind me. There has been in existence in this country since 1916 what has been known as an Entertainments Duty, a tax upon tickets of admission to places of amusement. That tax has been varied from time to time, but the House of Commons has always set its face against the imposition of this duty on the very lowest prices paid for entry into these places of entertainment; and it has been left to this Government, for the first time since 1916, to propose a duty on seats even at the price of 1d. That is to say, if a place of amusement is open, and tickets are to be sold at the price of 1d., or, indeed, ½d. or even ½d., a duty of ½d. will be imposed on such a ticket up to the figure of 2½d.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in trying to balance his Budget and in endeavouring to bolster up the pound sterling, has gone to the breweries, the public houses, the tobacconists' shops, the petrol pumps, and everywhere where he thought there was money lying idle, and he has taxed them all; and then he thought he would take a look round the children, whose little money-boxes he has found, and he is going to rob the children's money-boxes by this taxation. As has already been said in this House, the imposition proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I am now opposing, is about the meanest and most niggardly thing that was ever proposed by any Chancellor of the Exchequer, as I shall try to show.
It will be noticed that, up to the 9th November of this year, all seats in a place of entertainment the price of admission to which does not exceed 6d. are exempt from taxation. Let me make this point clear, in order that the House may see exactly what cur Amendment means. No ticket securing admission to any place of amusement or entertainment—cinemas, theatres, dog racing, concerts, boxing bouts or anything else—is taxed at the moment if its price is less than 6d., and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is endeavouring to let us down gently by making it clear that the new tax on the lower-priced scats will not be imposed where the concert or entertainment is intended for children only. That, apparently, is the concession that he is to make. Then he proceeds to say that this tax, which he is now imposing for the first time on tickets up to the price of 6d., will not be imposed in the case of adults who are entering a show in charge of children. I should imagine that it would be fairly easy for all the adults in a village to be in charge of all the children, and so get their seats at a cheaper rate, and I feel sure that in some parts of the United Kingdom—I will not mention any territory in particular—all the people will be in charge of children at all the entertainments.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who is in charge of the Debate this afternoon will probably be able to tell us how much of this tax imposed in respect of adult persons in charge of children will be expected from Scotland. I think that that is a very proper question. The Resolution says that, where art adult, is in charge of children, this, taxation in respect of the lower priced seats will not be imposed. I should like to know how far the hon. and gallant. Gentleman can guarantee that all the adults, in Scotland in particular, will not be in charge of infants and whether he can expect the same amount of revenue pro rata to the population in Scotland as he will get in England, and certainly in Wales. Apart from that, I think the House is entitled to know how much revenue is expected from this new impost up to 6d. I understand the total revenue from the Entertainment Duty runs to £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 per annum. Seats from ½d., 1d., 2d. and 2½d. will henceforth be charged with an impost of ½d. I have an impression that the trade itself is not very much enamoured of these proposals in respect of the lower priced seats. I understand that a deputation was appointed to meet the Treasury today to see whether they could not go hack to the straits quo in respect to starting prices at 6d. and not going below that sum.
I do not remember speaking on any Budget proposals before and I may be pardoned if I put what I understand are the principles and canons of taxation and try to find out whether this new impost. harmonises with them. I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman who is in charge of the Debate is very well versed in economies, political economy, political geography and all the rest of it. I feel sure he will be able to tell me whether I am right in saying that the canons of all taxation in civilised communities are classified in different ways as follows: There is direct and indirect taxation, there is a beneficial and an onerous tax, and there is proportional, regressive and progressive taxation. I am trying to find out under which category this ½d. tax falls. I understand it was Adam Smith, the father of all economists, who laid down these canons and I cannot find whether this tax is direct or indirect. Whether it is bene- ficial or not I cannot tell, but I am sure it will be onerous. This is undoubtedly another blow at the people who are unable to pay a very high price for seats at entertainments. I shall be able to show how unfair the tax is and how it weighs unduly proportionally on a percentage basis as against the poor and in favour of the rich. It seems to me to be a combination of both direct and indirect. It will certainly be beneficial to the State but very onerous to the poorest of the community, and I am certain that it is not proportionate. A tax of any kind must produce revenue, and I am wondering whether the bankers have had anything to do with asking the Treasury to impose this halfpenny tax. Imagine the Governor of the Bank of England and the President of the Federal Reserve Board coming down in a Rolls-Royce to Whitehall and demanding that the Treasury should put a tax of a halfpenny on a 2d. entertainment ticket. I should imagine that that may have happened and we are entitled to ask whether the banks have had any influence whatever in calling for the imposition of this tax.
I am sorry I do not seem to make much impression on the hon. and gallant Gentleman but I will try once again. I will come a little nearer to him. We both belong to the Celtic race and we have a great deal of imagination. I think he will be able to see my point before I sit down. I shall be glad if he will follow me into a little arithmetic. One thing astonishes me in speeches of Members opposite talking about high finance, banking and investments. They look down upon us as if we knew nothing about it. I was in Berlin for a week when the German mark was 82,000,000 to the pound. I know a little about the, value of the pound sterling. I am in charge of a great deal of investment for my society and I know exactly how investments can deteriorate or appreciate. It is not right, therefore, that hon. Members, simply because they are better educated than we are, should assume that we do not understand anything at all about this balancing business, the value of the pound sterling and so forth. I want to show how disproportionate this new tax is. A 3d. seat will carry a charge of 33 per cent., so I understand from the arithmetic that I was taught at school. There was no charge at all on a 3d. ticket under the old scale. We all thought that the National Government would improve the situation, but this is a downward tendency in respect of these amusement taxes. When you come to the higher prices, the tax on a 6d. ticket is 23 per cent., and so on right up the scale. The higher the price of admission the lower the percentage of the tax. That, of course, is typical of Tory policy throughout in throwing the burden upon the poorest of the poor. It is very much easier for some men to pay 10 shillings for admission and 10 shillings tax than for others to pay 6d. and a penny. That is understood, at any rate by those who come from working-class homes.
There is another point about this tax. It is not a tax on income but on expenditure. It means in effect that going to a cinema show is regarded as a luxury by right. hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a Yorkshireman and his deputy is a Scotsman; I am wondering whether this is a combination of the attributes of Yorkshire and of Scotland. This tax was introduced during the War period and it has gone on until now. I suppose the greatest Empire in the world, the Empire upon which the sun never sets, and in which wages never rise, is going to be sustained by ½d. taxes on entrance to places of amusement. I do not know how the Treasury is going to distinguish between adults who are and who are not in charge of children. I do not remember anything so petty, so small, so mean as this new impost. I trust the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have an interview with the Chancellor before we close and will withdraw this very ridiculous proposition, because I cannot see how the revenue is going to gain very much from it. If you exclude all the children attending entertainments provided exclusively for children, and also all those adults who are in charge of children, I do not know how much revenue can possibly be gained thereby. We shall be obliged if the hon. and gallant Gentleman will enlighten the House as to the amount that he thinks will be available from this impost. I should like the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the Chancellor to be magnanimous enough to say that they have thought the matter over, that the people engaged in the business of providing entertainments are opposed to it and that, in view of all the circumstances, they will withdraw it. In any case, this is a blow at the children. I cannot conceive many places of amusement with fees for entrance very much under 6d., consequently I think we are right in pleading the cause of the children. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will secure the gratitude of many poor people if he will, before the day is out, declare that this part of the Budget, at any rate, is withdrawn.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I look upon this as evidence of the same policy that has been embodied in one or two other Resolutions which I oppose. It is not only bad in itself but is one of a series of taxes and reductions in income levied upon certain sections of the community with the direct object of impoverishing them in the interest of national economy. I am not sure that my hon. Friend has realised the full implications of the Resolution, because he suggests that in Scotland, to which I originally belonged, and in Yorkshire, where I now reside, the tax will be evaded because all the adults will be in charge of children. Unfortunately the Chancellor of the Exchequer has looked after that point and the adult only escapes if the charge is 2d. If it is in excess of 2d. he has to pay the full charge and the tax as well, so that in the majority of cases, even in Yorkshire or in Scotland, the adult will not escape while he is in charge of children.
This tax is, moreover, an attempt to do something which even the majority of these proposals do not do. We have heard a good deal about equal sacrifice. Equal sacrifice at the best is presented to us in the terms of equal proportionate increases. In this case even that rule is abandoned. You are not increasing existing taxes as far as concerns the part of the Resolution with which the Amendment deals. You are imposing entirely new taxes, so that it is not a case of adding 10 per cent. to something that already exists but of reaching certain people who hitherto have completely escaped and who are to be reached in various other ways. One can imagine that a person who can only afford to pay 2d. or 6d. is not likely to squander his money in riotous living. In these circumstances,
it is intended to reach a class of people whom until now we had always considered to be completely outside the range of taxation, at least as far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer's views were concerned. I can remember him quite distinctly in days gone by laying down the dictum that there were some people in the country whose income was so low, whose standard of life was so little removed from absolute destitution that it was nothing less than a crime to impose any taxation upon them whatever. That was his philosophy in the days gone by. I do not know whether he has entirely abandoned that philosophy now. In those far off days he often concluded his speeches in exactly the same way as he concluded his speech on the Budget by quotations from a poem. In those days he did not quote Swinburne but he sometimes quoted Gerald Massey and William Blake. One of those quotations is a very familiar one and is an explanation of his attitude on this particular proposal. He used to say:
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
I think that this is his latest attempt to establish Jerusalem in this pleasant land. He has taken great strides towards it in connection with the levies upon the unemployed and the taxation of other commodities, and he finally taxes the poor people who cannot afford more than 3d., 2d. or even 1d. for their entertainment. There is only one addition required in order to make this a perfect Budget, and that is, to take something from the old age pensioners, who, I understand, are all falling over each other to help the Chancellor in his need. This is a clear indication that, though in his peroration the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that England yet will stand, he believes that England can only stand by depriving a great number of people of a great proportion of their incomes and then imposing a tax of this description. I say that advisedly, because I should have imagined that, having tried to deprive the poor people of a considerable proportion of their income, the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have encouraged people to seek recreation in order that they might be as cheerful as possible.
I do not say that the picture palace provides the same class of entertainment as that which one can get at grand opera, but at any rate the picture palace may be a very satisfactory substitute for less satisfactory means of entertainment. In this case there is a uniform imposition on all poor people who desire to forget their sorrows in any way whatever, and I am very sorry, in those circumstances, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has forgotten, not merely his past practice—because I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer was responsible for abolishing the tax on small-priced entertainments in days gone by—but has actually abandoned all his professions as well. I regret this very much, and I hope that the House will resist this and similar taxes, not merely on their merits or demerits, but because of the accumulative effect of the taxation. We have not only got double taxation but treble and even quadruple taxation, and the same people are paying all the time.
At a time when most of us think that this House should be occupied on much graver matters I do not propose to trespass upon the time of the House for more than a few minutes, but I rise to oppose the Amendment which has been moved. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment and painted such a pathetic picture of poor children being deprived of their entertainment unless they were able to pay an additional ½d., or were accompanied in every case by adults, that we do not know at the present moment that they are likely to be called upon to pay the tax at all. A very large proportion of the entertainments provided for children at that price are cinematograph entertainments, and I believe that the cinematograph entertainments are well able to make a charge inclusive of the very small amount of tax. The hon. Member, in proposing the Amendment, endeavoured to create class prejudice once more by suggesting that the tax was much more excessive on the lower stages than it is higher up the scale, but he forgot to remind the House that since 1927 visitors to entertainments where the seats were priced below 6d. have escaped altogether, quite unfairly, any contribution to the Entertainments Duty.
The entertainment industry as a whole, I feel quite certain, do not welcome this tax, and I believe that many theatrical undertakings and many theatres will be hardly hit by the additional expenditure that is to be placed upon their patrons, because there is no doubt that the spending power of the public must diminish. At the same time, I believe that the theatrical world are as ready as any other class of citizens to bear any sacrifices, and for that reason I do not propose to oppose the additional taxation.
I am going to make an appeal to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury upon another matter. Until 1927 royalties in this country from plays and entertainments imported from abroad escaped all taxation. I think that we are all agreed that art is world-wide and has no nationality, and that. we have benefited in this country very much by foreign art, and we do not want in any way to exclude it, but I appeal to the Financial Secretary to consider the question of film renting. I believe that he will find that, consequent upon the Amendment of the Finance Act, 1927, the revenue now received from royalties on foreign plays is very considerable. I am informed—
It would not be in order on this Amendment to refer to the subject which the hon. Member has raised. It would come more suitably on the Motion "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution." That is the subject of the whole question of the tax.
I will not pursue the subject in face of your Ruling, but I understood that this was for the purpose of obtaining additional revenue from entertainments, and in, those circumstances I thought that to refer to the fact—
I asked you, Mr. Speaker, some time ago whether we should be able to speak upon the general question of the tax, but I think that I shall be able to get in a few words upon this Amendment which will satisfy my constituents. I am in favour of the Amendment. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh but there are a large number of persons in my constituency who will not be able to pay this tax in conjunction with the other taxes which are going to be imposed upon them. There are a very large number of poor people in my constituency; many of them are casual workers receiving very low wages. The result is that they will not be able to go to the cinema as often as formerly. Perhaps hon. Members opposite may say that that is one of the sacrifices which they ought to make, but in my opinion the Treasury are not going to reap any benefit out of people staying away from the cinemas.
By a very ingenious method the framers of this tax have proceeded in stages. There are twopenny entertainment charges for children at what is generally called matinees, and adults will be able to go with children, according to this proposition, in order to look after them. The matinee entertainments which are given to children in the East End are not suitable for parents at all because they are different from the entertainments given for the benefit of adults. Therefore, there will not be many adults attending those matinees. You will get the children, as you get them now, by the hundreds. It is proposed to go from 2½d. to 5d. You pass over the 4d. admission, which is very often the admission for adults. They will have to pay an extra penny. Then you go from 5d. to 7½d. The usual prices of admission are 2d., 4d. and 6d. There are, of course, higher prices, but of these I am not going to complain because they only affect those who can well afford to go to entertainments. The poor people cannot afford to pay any more than what has been charged for the lower priced seats. The result will be that these people will not be able to go to the cinema to pass away their time and so relieve their monotony as often as they have done previously.
There was a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer used to say in this House that when the Treasury wanted money they went to the place where it was to be found. I presume that he has forgotten all about that now that he has joined the Tory ranks, and since the Tories are backing him and have been enabled to stand up in the House and wave their papers because of the glorified speech he made in this House in connection with this and other taxes. He has gone into the camp where they have always thought that the money should be obtained from the poorer classes of the community. We have always been taught that the best way to get money, if it is wanted for the Treasury and the upkeep of the nation, is to obtain it from those who have plenty. I oppose this tax, and I believe that the Treasury will not gain anything by it but will suffer more than if they had left it alone.
My name is associated with the Amendment because I am convinced that, of all the new taxation which the. Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed, the imposition of an additional tax on entertainment tickets under 6d. is the most miserable and the most parsimonious. The hon. Member for Balham and Tooting (Sir A. Butt) made two statements which are very interesting in view of the present discussion. I understand the hon. Member is to some extent associated with those who provide entertainment at the theatres and cinemas. He said that the Mover of the Amendment was speaking without the book, because the theatre and cinema proprietors had not yet decided whether this additional tax would be passed on to those who visited those places of entertainment. If there be any merit in that statement, my only hope is that the hon. Member is to some extent a prophet and that the people who control the theatres and cinemas will realise that to place this tax upon those who use the cheaper seats will be a real hardship. If the proprietors can bear the new imposition themselves they will prove to those who patronise their shows that they are not wanting all the profits that they are making out of the people who visit the entertainments.
The second point made by the hon. Member was, that those who have paid for seats under 6d. had escaped the pay- meat of Entertainments Duty. If so, it is only because those who were responsible for the imposition of the Entertainments Duty realised that those who were compelled to sit in seats, many of which are miserable in the extreme, were the very people who owing to their lack of spending power, were incapable of paying any additional amount for their seats by way of Entertainments Duty. Ever since I have had associations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer I have always understood that he has deep regard for the poor. He has always taken the public platforms as a man who at all times would stand in his place in the House of Commons to defend the interests of the working classes. It was the right hon. Gentleman who, giving effect to that principle and policy, made it possible for the Entertainments Duty to be withdrawn from some of the cheaper seats. Now, we find him re-introducing the Entertainments Duty on the cheapest seats occupied by working class people who, assuming that they need to visit an entertainment, are compelled to sit in the cheapest seats.
It may be true that hitherto that section of people have escaped the payment of the tax, but surely it is too late in the day, with the spending power of the workers diminished as it is, to use this opportunity to place upon these poor people this very great hardship if they wish to attend entertainments in the future. It is provided that for children's entertainments no tax shall be payable, and that will apply to those who accompany the children, in case the admission fee does not amount to more than 2d. There are many cinema entertainments provided specially for children in the way of Saturday afternoon matinees. The provision in question will give the children and those who accompany them some advantage. I wonder if the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows the development there has been in the home life of the people; a development which is most admirable and which we ought to encourage as much as possible. It is a common and pleasant thing to see the father and the mother, on Saturday evenings or on evenings during the week, taking their children to the cinemas. Contrast that with what happened some years ago, when the children were left to roam the streets and to follow their own bent and desires. That is a step in the right direction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, at one fell swoop, has made it impossible for those people of limited resources to follow that line in the years to come.
If the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is a family man, by the grace of God he is not having to live under the conditions that apply to millions of people in this country. He must realise the small amount that the working classes have at their disposal to enable them to look after their children and to bring them up in the right way. I hope that he will go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say: "We have made a great mistake in interfering with this new development in the home life of the people. Let us do everything we can to encourage that family life." The hon. Member for Balham and Tooting spoke about people having hitherto escaped this tax. Does he know the village life of this country? Does he know that when the village football club has a match on a Saturday afternoon the price charged is 3d. for adults and 1d. for boys up to the age of 14? What is going to happen? Under this recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer we are going to go to the little fellow who in the past has spent his Saturday penny in going to the village football match and seeing what he considers the finest football team in the world, and we are going to ask him to pay an extra halfpenny. This imposition is miserable in the extreme, and I urge the Financial Secretary to beg the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the sake of the home life of the people, to remove it. If he will do that, he will do something that will redound to the credit of every Member of this House.
While everyone has the utmost sympathy with the people who have a very small sum to spend on enjoyment, and whose only chance of enjoyment is to go to the cinema, one has to realise that £2,500,000 in a full year is a sum worthy of the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in these times. While the lower-priced seats must be raised, I would suggest that the higher-priced seats should be raised still further. We have to realise that the majority of the profits made in the cinemas go to America and that very little British labour is employed in the cinemas. If we increase the tax on the higher-priced seats in the cinemas it might be possible to reduce the tax on the theatres. That would encourage the theatres and would encourage the employment of British theatre artistes, who to-day are having an extremely bad time. That would encourage employment in this country and reduce the amount of money that is sent out of this country. The profits on the showing of most of the films, which are to a great extent produced in America, are exacted for the benefit of America. The Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to take every possible means of increasing employment in this country, at a time when unemployment is increasing and, I am afraid, must continue to increase.
This tax was imposed during War time by the late Mr. Bonar Law, as a temporary measure. At that time it was definitely stated that it was intended to be temporary. I am informed that the reason given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that occasion was that there were great numbers of foreigners in this country and that they ought to make some contribution to the taxation of the country. This was one of the means by which the Government sought to make them con- tribute. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer was one of the most vehement opponents of the introduction of the tax. I am also informed that the right lion. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who himself has been a Chancellor of the Exchequer, was also opposed to any taxation on the amusements of the people. It is extraordinary how people when placed in different circumstances change their views, and it would be well if the Financial Secretary, who is now so well supported on the benches behind, would represent to his new right hon. Friend and quite recent bitter opponent—I mean politically—that in the past he opposed this tax on principle.
I quite agree. I am sorry that the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) has put his question. It would not be in order for me to answer him, but I think he certainty has given much consideration to the question of principle; he must have made a study of it. Certainly the principles which he was advocating a few weeks ago have been forgotten and deserted.
In ordinary circumstances, I should call your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to such an impertinent observation, but considering the quarter from which it comes I make no complaint. I merely wish to ask the hon. Member for Walthamstow West (Mr. McEntee) to do me the justice to believe that I have not changed my principles, and in a friendly way to ask him to mention the principles to which he is referring.
I did not make any reference to the hon. Member. He made an interjection and I was merely replying to it. He now asks to what principle I am referring; I will tell him how it strikes me. He and I in the past have always stood for the principle that there should be some equality of sacrifice in taxation. I still stand by that principle, and all I say is that it occurs to me that the hon. Member has forgotten it. No one can argue that there is any equality of sacrifice in the Entertainments Tax which we are now discussing. The hon. Member who spoke last admitted that there was no equality of sacrifice. That is at least one principle which I should like to discuss, but it would not be relevant to this particular Amendment.
In regard to the tax itself, the hon. Member for Balham and Tooting (Sir A. Butt), said that it was quite possible that the children and adults who usually go to the cheaper seats in cinemas would not be called upon to pay the tax at all, that possibly the proprietors of cinemas would pay the tax themselves. That may be true. It may be quite true that certain cinemas which are prosperous may be able to meet the tax themselves, but it is also true that there are many cinemas which are owned by people who cannot afford to pay the tax themselves and who will be compelled to pass it on to those who, after all, it was meant to be imposed upon, the very poor people. This is one of an accumulation of taxes which are to be imposed upon poor people. They are to be taxed on their food, not directly but indirectly, on their beer, if they drink it—I hope they will not, I do not drink it myself, although I have no objection to anyone drinking beer if they desire to do so—and they are to be taxed on their tobacco if they smoke a, pipe, as I do regularly. And, in addition, if they indulge in any form of amusement they are to be taxed. I hope the Financial Secretary, who is not paying the slightest attention to what I am saying—
Indeed I am, and I can repeat the speech of the hon. Member word for word. I was calling for a memorandum to confute the powerful arguments which the hon. Member is putting forward.
If the hon. and gallant Member can repeat my speech I should have some assurance that he had heard it. I think it is very necessary to point out that this is a direct additional tax on the very poor and that it will not be borne by the people who own cinemas. If that had been in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, obviously, it would have been imposed on the people who own the cinemas and not on the people who occupy the seats. But why should the cinema owners bear this tax? They are hearing, we are told, their equal share of sacrifice, and to suggest that they should bear this additional tax, meant to be imposed upon the very poor, would not put their sacrifice more on an equality.
There is one other point I desire to make, and I make it with the knowledge that in the poorer districts of the towns in the United Kingdom, including the town which has sent me to this House, the very poor people go into the cinemas, particularly in winter time, and stay there until the very last moment, paying the lowest price they possibly can because they cannot afford the higher priced seats, for the definite purpose of keeping warm. There are hundreds and thousands of people who find it cheaper to sit in the cinema and keep warm in the winter months during the frost and rain and snow because of the inadequacy of their clothing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was associated with me in a movement which still professes—the movement does, not the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to represent these people, and I ask the Financial Secretary to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer again and remind him of his speeches and writings in the past, when he appeared to me to be concerned about the very poor, and ask him whether even now he cannot sacrifice the small sum of money which he expects to get from the poorest of the poor who go to the cinema.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow West (Mr. McEntee) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his argument. I join with him and with most hon. Members in regretting that it is necessary to impose these additional burdens. I rise for the purpose of asking the Financial Secretary a question in connection with the season tickets which have been purchased by people in connection with the large football clubs throughout the country. I am associated with one which was once in the first division of football, but which is now struggling in the second division, and is not in a very happy state of affairs financially. Any serious inroad on our revenue in this way will react seriously on this particular club. There is no great source of profit in football, although I notice that some of the London clubs do much better than provincial clubs. We have a hard struggle to keep first class football before our public and it is not always possible to balance our accounts.
Personally, I should like to see taxation of this sort taken away altogether, but I realise the serious financial position of the country and the fact that we shall all have to do our share in trying to pull national credit together. I do not believe that any of those who go to football matches will regret having to pay a little more if they feel that it is necessary in the public interest. A great many clubs sell a large number of season tickets. They are sold early in the season and are very helpful in paying summer wages. The ticket operate until next May. The question I want to ask is this: Is a football club to be called upon to pay in this financial year the additional tax upon that ticket? We cannot collect it from the man who has the ticket, he has already paid for it, and the club cannot bear the extra expense. I hope the Financial Secretary will give me an answer on this point, because it is a matter of importance to all football clubs.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is looking forward to the revenue that he will obtain from this Entertainments Duty. I should have thought that he would have applied his knowledge of taxation to the taxing of those who go abroad for holidays. Such holidays are a source of entertainment; people go abroad for entertainment, and if they can afford to neglect the many places where they could spend their holidays this country, it is not unfair to ask them to contribute a little towards the national exchequer by paying some sort of duty on visits to casinos and other places of amusement abroad. If the right hon. Gentleman would apply his ingenuity to the framing of a tax of that sort it would be supported by most Members of the House. Finally, as an alternative to going abroad, I would suggest that holiday makers would find my own constituency a likely place to visit.
I am one of those who believe, with the late Lord Salisbury, a very great philosopher, that "People do not want politics. What they require is bread and circuses." Evidently, according to the new philosophy in politics, people do not want circuses; they do not want cinemas; they simply want to pay to get the Government out of its difficulties. Balance the Budget—I have listened for a week to discussions upon that subject. I have heard about the flight from the pound. As far as I am concerned the pound has been flying from me ever since I was born, and I have not caught up with it yet. On any Friday night I am as far away from the pound as I was the previous Friday. An hon. Gentleman opposite spoke about the woes of the foreign producers who come into this country to provide entertainment. He knows full well that he is one of the persons most responsible for bringing these foreigners into this country. I would like to see him prepare a Budget to tax himself for bringing foreign singers and actors into the country. He has not proposed such a thing up to now.
What I said precisely was that art was world-wide and that plays and entertainments imported from abroad should be taxed, and I included royalties on films.
I withdraw my statement quite frankly, because I know quite well that the hon. Gentleman has his eggs in both baskets. I know that his interests are not national but international, and that what he loses on the swings he gains on the roundabouts every time of asking. He is not a national theatre proprietor but an international theatre proprietor.
I am extremely sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but his statement is absolutely untrue. I never had one penny of interest in a theatre outside the United Kingdom.
If I have made a mistake, I withdraw it at once. I am only taking the professional Press for it. It states that certain people in this country are organising international combines in the matter of entertainments.
Not the "Daily Herald." I read the "Era." I am speaking here for the common and garden people of this country, the people who have to go to the ordinary cinema, particularly in times like this, when trade is bad and we have a large number of people out of employment. The Government say to the unemployed workman, who has very little to spend and has to look at every penny before he can spend it, "If you now go to a cinema you must pay a tax of 20 per cent. on your tickets." What is he going to do? He cannot go to the public house. A lot of my comrades are glad of that, I know. The price of beer has gone up to such an extent that he cannot afford to drink beer now. The only alternative is the cheapest seat in a cinema. Then he has to pay proportionately the same increase in taxation as he would have to pay upon a pint of beer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to gain I do not know how many thousands of pounds. I do not care whether it is millions or thousands. What he loses or gains in the matter of finance is nothing compared with what he will lose in the sense of the satisfaction of the people.
We in the, East End run Sunday evening entertainments. Some of us take our wives and children to a cinema. I do not, for I am very seldom at home on Sundays. I am on the missionary platform on those occasions, carrying the gospel to foreign parts, and I am sorry that I have not converted some of my old-time colleagues, who have forgotten 30 and 40 years ago. What is the position of a man with a wife and a few childern, who takes them on Sunday evenings to the entertainments provided in the locality and has to pay a halfpenny or a penny more for each seat in addition to what he has already to pay on tobacco and beer? I know that beer is not a welcome subject to some Members of this House, but beer, after all, is a substantial addition to the glories of the British Empire. Many a Tory Government would not have existed if it had not been for "Beer, beer, beer." We ask the Government to realise that this tax is a stomach tax in reality. It is circumscribing the opportunity of the ordinary people to enjoy life. They have very little enjoyment.
The Government are telling the local authorities that they have to cut down all their expenditure. One of the things we do in the East End is to provide bands in the parks and various other entertainments. According to the latest information we have received we must cut all that down in the interests of economy. What it amounts to is that the people who can least afford to make the sacrifice are called upon to make the greatest sacrifice. There is no equality of sacrifice. The Government call upon a man with a wife and children, a man who is lucky if he works three days a week at the docks, to pay 1s. more a week for the entertainment of his wife and children. That is not equality of sacrifice compared with the case of the man getting £5 or £6 a week who is able to please himself what kinds of seats he takes. The hon. Gentleman who interrupted me just now may know more about the West End of London and about theatrical enterprises than I know, because I do not know anything, but I do know that the cinema has provided a happy hunting ground for the people who have money. I remember the first cinema established in my division. It was a little shop which would not hold more than 50 people. Now a great cinema costing many thousands of pounds is on the same site. All over our borough we have these huge establishments. I do not know who controls them, but I have a slight idea that they are not Britishers. A large number of them are cosmopolitan patriots who sing "God save the King" in broken English. A large number of them are the people who now say "Keep out American films." When you inquire you discover that they are interested in America as much as they are in Great Britain; they have eggs in both baskets.
I hope that the Chancellor in his calmer moments, when he gets back to his old philosophy, will relieve the poor of this taxation, and that he will find some other means of balancing the Budget. The people I represent have never been able to balance their budget. On the 31st December they are where they were on 1st January—a year in pawn. It is ridiculous that there should be this kind of taxation on the theory of equality of sacrifice. There is no equality in the Budget. The people who can afford it are escaping. I did not speak yesterday on the Beer Duty. I was not allowed to do so because I am an expert on beer. Some of my friends think that I live on it. They cannot live without it. The Government may ask the workers to carry the baby but they cannot carry it for ever. This particular tax is about the meanest tax in the Budget. It goes down to the very bottom of the poverty problem, so far as the great masses of the people are concerned. The poorest are paying the biggest portion of the tax.
All through the Budget the same principle rules. A penny a pint on beer. What are the champagne drinkers going to pay, and those who drink fancy drinks, cocktails? Some of them ought to have their tales told for them. Those people can get away. The only tax for them is the Income Tax, and they dodge that. They grumble about the Death Duties, but they have not to pay them until they are dead. Working people pay all their duties when alive. They have to pay the duties before they get the stuff. We are entitled to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider the whole position. Instead of increasing the taxes on the poor he should ask the other people who are so patriotic that they want to see the nation saved and the Budget balanced. Let the right hon. Gentleman give the worker a chance to balance his budget. As a trade union official I have to meet many bodies of employers. My union has 130 different sections of people in it. We are being asked once again to meet the employers in order to discuss the possibility of further wage reductions. Wages have been reduced since 1920 up to now—
Yes, but I am entertaining you, Sir, and am not asking for any tax upon it. My argument is that in addition to the taxes of the Budget these reductions in wages are taxes also. We are expected to meet higher taxation on a lower income. The poorest of the poor, in addition to suffering a reduction of in- come, are suffering an increase of taxation. There are others who seem to think that they are the only people who pay, but I believe, with John Ruskin, that the working-class is the nation, and that all other classes live upon it. This tax is the worst tax of all upon the working-class. These entertainments are not luxuries. They are necessities if you want to keep the people in a civilised condition. The Government propose to put this tax on the people in districts like mine, who have very few opportunities of seeing the better things of life. These entertainments lift them up to a higher standard, but by this proposal you are asking them to pay in greater proportion than those who are better able to afford it.
I rise to ask the Financial Secretary two questions. Can he say how much of the money taken at cinemas goes to the United States, and if he does not know the exact amount will he agree that many millions in that way go across the Atlantic? Secondly, will he say whether any portion of the tax will fall indirectly on America?
Before those questions were put the argument had been used on the other side about money going to America from cinemas. There is a great deal of truth in it, but you are not going to stop that process by taxing the poor people in this country. I regard this as purely an industrial ques- tion. This is a tax which immediately and in a large degree affects working men and women in this country and thinking of it merely in terms of a halfpenny will not meet the situation. A halfpenny or a penny or twopence or threepence a week may be vital in a working-class home. I have seen huge strikes in the Manchester district for 6d. or a 1s. per week advance in wages. If this tax is increased to the poorest section of the people it is equivalent to a reduction of their wages. It is an interference with their spending power.
There is a tendency in the House of Commons and other places to regard London as the centre of the cinema industry, but, looking at London exclusively, one gets a false impression of that industry. In the centre of London there are palatial cinemas, almost luxuriously furnished. If a king 100 years ago had lived in a palace such as the picture house in Leicester Square, people would have come hundreds of miles to look at it. Those cinemas are patronised by people who can well afford to pay the tax. Some time ago I tried to get into a cinema in the Strand, and I found that the seats were priced at 8s. 6d. each. I did not pay that price, but anybody who can afford to pay it can afford to pay a substantial tax. It must not be forgotten, however, that over 3,000 out of 3,750 cinemas are in the industrial districts and that most of these are owned not by syndicates but by private individuals. In many cases the private individual who owns a cinema has a great struggle to make it pay. I believe these proprietors are going to endeavour to meet some part of the additional tax themselves, but it will be impossible to meet the 1½d. tax, which will have to be passed on to the picture-going community.
I remember how valuable a penny was in my young days. That was before there were cinemas and the only entertainment in which some worthy people indulged then was their pint in the evening, and reading the newspaper. There were very few open spaces or parks, and when I was a boy I remember how about half-past nine o'clock I used to be called in from the street and instructed by my father to go to the local public house. He gave me one penny and told me; "Go down to the public house, bring me a pint of beer, ask the man for a clay pipe and to lend you the evening newspaper and what is the time." The utility of a penny impressed itself upon me then and to-day one penny is as much to people in these poor districts as a pound is to many other people.
We ought to remember what the cinema has done for the poor. Very few indecent films are shown in the poor districts. If you want such films you have to go to London where they are exhibited to people who can afford to pay fancy prices, but the poor people of the industrial districts do not go to London. Generally speaking the cinema has been a great educational factor among the working-class community. It has brought foreign scenes to the slums. Children who had never seen the sea have been able, by means of the cinema, to realise what the sea is like. It has been educative in the highest sense of the term. It has brought forest scenes and pictures of all kinds of animals before children who formerly could only read about them.
Why should hon. Members opposite tell us that it was necessary to impose this tax on the very poor? It was not necessary at all. This Budget has been as illconsidered, as hasty and as panicky as the removal of the last Government. The motor industry I know expected a 6d. or 8d. tax on petrol. The argument was that as petrol was 4s. 6d. a gallon during the War and 3s. 6d. a gallon just after the War, and had now fallen to 1s. 3d. a gallon, there was room for an additional tax of 6d. or 8d. But to my astonishment the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the man who is regarded in Lancashire and Yorkshire as the patron saint of the cheap cinema, because he was the first to take the tax off the low-priced seats, has gone to the poorest section of the population to fleece them for 1½d. which they can ill-afford.
I would put another point of view to the Financial Secretary. While many interested in the industry and owning the cheaper theatres may be willing to pay 1d. on the 2½d., I want him to consider that by line 6 of the Resolution you are going to cause chaos and confusion not only in the industry but among the general public. What you are doing there is fiddling with a, ½d. Cinemas in industrial districts usually run two shows a night, one concluding at twenty past eight and the other beginning at twenty minutes to nine. If this tax is left at 1½d. on 6d.—
I think that the discussion so far has been more or less a general discussion covering the various points raised by the Amendments, and I had hoped that it would be convenient to hon. Members to take a general discussion of the subject on this Amendment and to deal more specifically with the others when they arose. The discussion has surveyed a very wide field, covering almost all the points which could be raised either by this Amendment or the others.
I had no indication from Mr. Speaker when he left the Chair that he was allowing a wider discussion on this Amendment than its actual terms require. Of course I am to some extent in the hands of the House, but I must point out that I do not see present the hon. Members in whose names the next Amendments stand, and if this discussion is allowed to include those Amendments then they can only be moved formally.
May I say that I asked Mr. Speaker before this Amendment was moved whether I could discuss the whole subject on this proposition and he said "No." He said that the general subject could only be dealt with when the Resolution as a whole was put, and therefore that I was limited to the first Amendment.
Then I address myself to the question of the halfpenny. You are charging one halfpenny on 2½d. That is easy to collect, but if the Chancellor had made it ½d. on 3d. that would have been very difficult to collect. I do not enter into any discussion now about the 1½d. on 6d., that having been forbidden, but I must point out to the Financial Secretary that when he comes to deal with that point he will be faced with the same difficulty—that it is practically impossible to collect it. If you had put the ½d. on 3d. instead of 2½d. the cinema owners would have found it physically impossible to get the people into the second house at the theatre without the utmost confusion. I put it to the Financial Secreary that the Treasury would not miss it if they dropped one halfpenny in this tax. I think it would mean about £50,000, and they could afford to allow that for the sake of the efficiency in getting the people into and out of the theatres. Taxation is now being imposed in other directions, upon the middle-class sections as well as others, and those who have been paying 1s. 3d. and 1s. 6d. for seats will be driven to 6d. seats. In consequence the Treasury might get even more from this tax if they did away with the halfpenny and made confusion less confounded.
I suppose it is almost useless to make an appeal because the mind of the Treasury has been made up on the general question but I would point out that the cinema is practically the only entertainment which poor people have. The cinema and the football match are their only entertainments. I wonder how many hon. Members know how the poor enjoy themselves. That is the trouble in this place ever since I have been here, that people do not understand how the poor live—they have not lived among them, they have not lived their lives—but when you do you recognise the great joy with which small boys go to a football match in a big city or a local village, where they have special arrangements for them. I have been connected with football, both as a player and am associated with a team that used to do well, for many years, and nothing gives us greater delight and joy in the industrial districts than to see what we term the "penny rush" filling up on Saturday afternoons. The "penny rush" is an enclosure specially reserved for small boys, and we know very well that unless we can develop the small boy "gate" we are not going to have a "gate" when they grow up to be men, so we make special arrangements for them and charge a penny. That is the "penny rush." With a halfpenny on them, you are charging a halfpenny on the children's Saturday penny.
It is a common practice in our large working class centres, when dad comes home on Saturday with his wages—and he will be coming home with a little bit less after the present Government have had their way with him—for the children to jump on to his knee, if he is a decent father, as he was in my own case, when he has a week's hard earned wage, for the children to say, "Daddy, what about my Saturday penny?" He gives them the pennies, as much as he can afford, and Billy and Tommy go to the football match; and this Government, through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, bred among the poor, reared by the poor, put where he is by the poor, has so much forgotten his responsibilities as to tax, not only the poor, but the very poorest of the poor.
That is the truth, and nobody can deny it. That is what astonishes me in these Debates this week. I can forgive anything; I can forgive a man changing his principles; I can understand the difficulties facing the Government and those that faced the last Government; I can understand the haste in the crisis that compelled them to take a certain line of action, but I can never understand, and never will forget, as long as I live, two men in this House—and it is time that the gloves were off in this business and that we said something about it—one of them taxing the poorest of the poor, from whom he came and among whom he was born and bred, and the other bringing himself to the microphone to tell the unemployed that when he took 10 per cent. from their wages they would be better off. That statement showed as little understanding of working class conditions as does the Chancellor of the Exchequer's tax on entertainments, because whatever the Board of Trade figure may say about the rise or fall in the cost of living, whatever those gentlemen who are civil servants and who are paid to say it may tell us on a graph, the fact is that when the cost of living figure falls there is something that happens between the point of production and the kitchen table. Somebody gets it. It is because of these things, and because of the hardships that the people would have to bear, that I am opposed to this tax and am delighted to support the Amendment.
I wish to support the Amendment in the interests of the very large number of people in the unemployed and semi-employed districts. I come from a, district that has been as hard hit through unemployment as any part of Great Britain. Some little joy needs to be put into the lives of these people who are partly employed or totally unemployed, and this tax will be another barrier against part of the enjoyment that these people occasionally get. In the district that I come from nearly 40 per cent. of the people are unemployed or semi-employed, and one of the joys that the people have on a Monday is to go to a cheap entertainment at the cinema, at a cheap price arranged for them. This is going to be an additional tax on that cheap price in those cinemas, and I do not see where the equality of sacrifice comes in in putting an additional burden upon that class of people.
On a Saturday afternoon a very large number of children hope to get to the cinema, but I am afraid that if this halfpenny is put on, many parents will be prevented from letting their children have the entertainment. Then again on a Monday and a Thursday in certain industrial towns provision is made for special cheap entertainments for old age pensioners. They can go in at a cheaper rate than on ordinary days, and this very halfpenny is going to be another barrier against some of them having that little enjoyment that elderly folk are entitled to before they pass away from this earth. I do not see any equality of sacrifice in this proposition. Beer, entertainments, tobacco, are three of the essential things for a bit of human pleasure among the poorest of the poor. I am a teetotaler and can speak with frankness when I say that thousands and thousands of persons would feel a loss in life if they were deprived of their gill or pint of beer.
I come from a working-class family; I am of the working class myself. The greatest joy of my life in my poorer days, when my father and mother lived with me, was to be able to provide a few coppers for my father to go out on Saturday and Sunday to have his pint of beer and his chat with his pals and his colleagues in the public-house. It was not a crime or a sin. I do not need it, I do not require it, I do not desire it, but I know of thousands of decent folk who do, and equality of sacrifice is not coming along to that class of the population. I come from the county of Yorkshire, where the employers have imposed reductions of wages amounting to 21 per cent. in the past 18 months, and many of those persons, because of that reduction of wages, have not been able to have this little enjoyment that comes from the cinema arid similar entertainments. This is going to be an additional burden to them. They have been sacrificed on the altar of low wages, and they are to be sacrificed now on the altar of extra taxes that are absolutely out of proportion if the phrase "equality of sacrifice" means anything at all.
Mention has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite) of the football question, and I agree with him. I happen to be a non-football player, and I do not understand football, but I go and shout with the rest of them, as I did on Saturday afternoon, when our own team won, because that is the time when you can shout with joy. [Interruption.] Yes, Batley, one of the best teams in Great Britain! What happens on Saturday afternoons? We have, just outside the football grounds, a number of people who cannot raise the contribution to go in at the beginning at the full price, and you see them waiting around until half-time comes along, when a cheaper price is allowed for them. We shall have another amount put on to the tax there. They were going to lower the price of entry last week but one, when the whisper went round that some taxes were going about. They were going to allow it because of our unemployment crisis and suffering, and to give them a natural local pride in their own football team, but the directors have been compelled to reconsider things, and in place of lowering the price, they may have to raise it to meet the extra tax.
It seems to me that this proposition on the part of—I am going to say quite frankly—my dear old friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because even if certain persons run off the rails, as I think both he and the Prime Minister have done, I am not going to forget my friendships of the past, even though I dislike the present proposition; but I want to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister and those who understand working-class life not to add these extra burdens to the bit of enjoyment that people are entitled to have, but to spread the burden where it can best be borne. Take your beer. Why not tax cocktails 2d. per cocktail? It would stop a very bad habit. [Interruption.] The cocktail habit is a very bad habit; it will he the ruin not alone of the digestion but of the morals of folk, and a tax there would be more prudent and proper than a tax on beer. All this is part of the whole picture of taxation, placing the burden more heavily on the working folk, and I therefore support the Amendment.
I rise to speak on this Amendment because of its effect upon working-class life in the slum areas. Of all the mean taxes that have been outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, this is perhaps the meanest and the smallest. It is small-minded in a man who knows what the life of a working-class mother in an overcrowded slum district is on holidays and Saturdays, when she has all her children at home and not under the care of the teacher, who is the mother's best friend in this country, although the teacher is going to be cut as if she were not a loyal and useful person in the community. The life of a working-class mother in a poor home is extremely difficult on Saturday, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to think he has done his whole duty by excluding children's entertainments from the list of entertainments which will be subject to this tax.
As a matter of fact, children go just as often to the cinema during an open entertainment as they do to a children's entertainment, and if they are not to go—I do not think there are many who will be able to afford to go under the altered conditions in working-class homes—because they cannot afford to pay this extra tax, they have either to sit in a little stuffy dwelling with their overworked mother or to go into the street to play and be out of her way. There they are under the nose of the traffic, or in the gutter, or providing some other kind of entertainment for themselves, which certainly is not going to be in their interests. I have not in the past particularly supported the ordinary cinema entertainments as being suitable for children—I think very often they are unsuitable—but I am sure that a cinema on a wet winter afternoon is an infinitely better place for a child than either the dirty wet streets, with all their dangers, or the stuffy, slummy homes in which so many of these poor children have to be reared.
It is about the meanest of all the taxes which the Chancellor has imposed, especially at a time like this, when the lot of the children, as far as the discomfort in their homes and their hunger and their poor clothing are concerned, is so bad. To hit at these poor little kids when they are being hit at through their stomachs, and starved in education, and when the new schools that were being built under the reorganisation of education are to be stopped down, is another cut on the children. We are talking about double and treble cuts in this House, but the children of this nation have to pay time and time again for the disgraceful behaviour of their elders during the last 25 years. I never knew a House or a Government which so carried out the Mosaic law of visiting the sins of the parents on the children as the present Government have done. For the War, for the peace, these children are not responsible, but the Government intend to make then pay by starving them, by cutting off their educational facilities, and now by making it more difficult for them to get their little tiny bit of pleasure, which at least will give them comfort and warmth when out of school. It is the meanest of all the taxes which a mean Chancellor has put on the children of this nation.
As far as football is concerned, unfortunately we have not got nearly as many playing fields in this country as we should like to have, so that boys can get a football at the end of their own toes. That is what they would like to do better than anything else, but if they cannot get a football at the end of their toes, it gives them immense pleasure to watch a football match. The hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole) spoke about the "penny rush" outside a football match at Manchester. Imagine taxing a little boy who wants to look at a football match! I really think there must have been some imp of disagreeable malice on the shoulders of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he conceived this increase. That imp sits on his shoulders very often, but there must have been one on each shoulder when he designed this wretched, mean and despicable tax on the poor children. The teachers of the country have tried to give the children a love of sport, and they have done it in their own time. The work of the teachers does not conclude at 4.30 and begin at 9, or run for only five days a week. They spend a great deal of their own time trying to inculcate the spirit of sport in their boys and girls. A boy who cannot get a football on the end of his toes as much as he likes, gets immense pleasure in watching rival teams. To tax a thing like that is particularly mean and contemptible.
There are a lot of other things on which I should like to see money saved. I should like to wipe out the Economy Bill altogether, because I realise how fantastic the whole of this legislation is, but we have an iron Chancellor who will not listen to any of our pleadings. Perhaps, however, he will listen to the fact that there are boys and girls who, during this coming winter, are to be extremely hard hit, and that their mothers will be worse hit, because the mothers of the working class will take much more than the 10 per cent. of the cut upon their own shoulders. The mothers will suffer most. In the distribution of the cut in working-class homes, the mother will go much shorter of food and clothes than anyone else, and she will have to be burdened also with her little family on Saturday afternoons because the Chancellor wants a halfpenny tax from their children. I utter my protest, but I do not suppose it will be much use. Perhaps the Financial Secretary is a little more kind-hearted.
What a lot we have on the opposite benches! I always thought that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was a kind-hearted man. I am sorry that I have been mistaken. I thought, perhaps, that he would add a little plea to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remember these overworked mothers, and the boys and girls who want a little entertainment on Saturday afternoons.
I listened to the plea of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mrs. Manning) with great sympathy, because no respectable, ordinary person looks upon this tax with other than feelings of great disgust. It is a bad thing for us to tax the children who properly like to be entertained. I would remind hon. Members opposite, however, that the responsibility is not that of hon. Members on this side of the House. We never asked for this tax. A large number of Members look upon this as a panic Budget, framed entirely by an incompetent Front Benches of the party opposite. [Interruption.] We are quite frank about it, and the gloves must be off. An attack has been made on the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole), and it is only right that we on this side should reply. What is the reason we are here debating this tax?
We are discussing this tax because the hon. Gentleman's Government, having been in office for two years, reduced the financial position of the country to the state that it is in at present. When they were actually confronted with a situation unparalleled in the economic life of this country, they called midnight meetings, and right hon. Gentlemen who belong to the Labour party came back from playing golf, and from distant parts, to do what? To frame a supplementary Budget and to bring in an Economy Bill. That party admitted that £56,000,000 of economies were necessary. Undoubtedly their approval had to be obtained by their own Chancellor of the Exchequer, a gentleman whose name is a household word in that party, who had been in office as their only Chancellor with the unanimous support of the party. He is their own Chancellor, a man bred among the working class and thrown up by the Socialist party to get justice in the world—not a friend of mine or of hon. Members on this side of the House; he is the gentleman whom we are called upon at this moment to support because there is a national emergency. I, for my part, want to make my position clear. I deprecate most of these taxes. I think that they are entirely unnecessary. Had we had a Chancellor who was a Protectionist, a large portion of these new taxes would not have been imposed. As far as we are concerned, we have no responsibility for voting for these taxes, and only do so because there is a national emergency and because we know we cannot put into operation what we think would be the only successful way of dealing with the situation. That is why aye grudge giving our support to these taxes.
Towards midnight last night we were endeavouring to get the Minister of Transport to alter the decision to save £7,500,000 by throwing on to the local authorities the burden of the upkeep of roads. We got very little change, because the Minister was without a brief. It was not his fault, so we could only make our protest and await the Estimates. To-day we are asked to support an addition to the Entertainments Duty which the Chancellor said will bring in £2,500,000. This Amendment provides that the tax shall not be charged if the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are satisfied that the entertainment is provided only for children. Other speakers in the Debate have given the experience of their areas. The hon. Member for East Islington (Mrs. Manning) spoke with a lifelong experience as a school teacher. I speak as one who, since the days of playing, have done my best to help the children to inculcate a sporting spirit. Every Saturday for years, to my knowledge, teachers and men and women belonging to the educational staffs of London, have given their time and organising ability to this end. For a small sum the boys who are not picked to play are able to attend the various matches that are held all over London. I commend that to the Financial Secretary as a reason to be put before the Chancellor why the Amendment should be accepted.
The money involved is a very small proportion of the £2,500,000. The additional tax will be a tremendous handicap to those who are endeavouring to run sports and entertainments for the children, and is therefore anti-social in its character. The hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite), a director of the Leeds United Football Club, dealt with the hardships of football clubs. In the Dartford division we have three amateur clubs, one of them a famous club which has finished in the final of the Amateur Cup—Erith and Belvedere. The Erith and Belvedere, Bexley Heath and Dartford clubs are trying to provide a form of entertainment during the big industrial depression in an area which was fifth in the list of necessitous areas in all Britain. Dartford is a devastated area of commerce and employment, and it will suffer the effects of every economy that the Economy Committee put forward. That Committee's report has been flung at us as the cause of the crisis, and has led to one of the biggest tragedies in the Labour movement, causing us to be in opposition to men with whom we have lived and worked practically all our lives. The net sum of it all must be that whether it be in education, on the Road Fund or in any other direction, the expense will have to be met out of local rates instead of made a national burden and placed on the taxpayers.
Surely there are alternative ways in which the Chancellor could raise £2,500,000. What happened in Germany this year? A £5 holiday tax was placed on every family leaving Germany for their holidays, because of the terrible position in the economic life of Germany. If people are well enough off to be able to afford to leave their country and to spend their money in another country—
I can only say in extenuation that the discussion has gone over a wide range. We shall fight for the principle in this Amendment right through, because it is a violation of the spirit of equality of sacrifice which has been so widely advertised by Government spokesmen in every cinema—a shameful exploitation of their power.
We have now had a full discussion of the Amendment which deals with the incidence of the lower level of the tax, and I do not complain of that, because it is right that this tax should be fully considered, and certainly there is great substance in the case which has been made out this afternoon. Why put a tax upon what is, after all, if it be a luxury, a small luxury; if it be a privilege is a tiny privilege? Why should we not remit this tax altogether or, if not, remit a substantial portion of it? The argument was also brought forward that the suggested remission would not represent a substantial portion of the whole amount which the Chancellor expects to obtain from the tax. There are other Amendments on the Paper to which it would be out of order for me to do more than refer in passing, and on which I may say a word later. At present I can only say that the sum total of the taxes which the Chancellor of the Exchequer expects to obtain this year is £40,500,000, and he does not expect to obtain more than £1,000,000 from this tax.
But then he expects to get £81,500,000 from all the taxes in a full year. I am speaking of the present year, and I ask whether it is unreasonable to obtain £1,000,000 from entertainments out of a total of £40,500,000? It is the necessity of raising revenue, and only the necessity of raising revenue, which has compelled the Chancellor of the Exchequer to lay these proposals before the House. They are not unreasonable proposals. They amount to 1d. in the 6d. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) said that according to his arithmetic it is a very awkward form of taxation. I do not know that it is. If you have to pay 6d. the Chancellor takes 1d., and if you pay 1s. he takes 1d. out of each 6d. I do not know that that is unreasonable, or that it justifies all the elaborate arithmetic which the hon. Member submitted to the House. It is simple, it is easy to understand, and if it be obnoxious, it is obnoxious only in the sense that all taxation is obnoxious.
A further point brought forward was that certain of the proposals would be unworkable. The hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole) treated us to a speech of great energy. If he charged down the football field with as much energy as he charges his opponents across the Floor of the House, I have no doubt his onslaughts were as much feared in those circles as they are undoubtedly dangerous to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He said, arguing with great skill, that although he was discussing this ½d., it was not this ½d. he was talking of but another ½d., which it would be out of order to discuss now. By that cannon off the halfpenny, he argued that 6½d. would be an inconvenient tax, and that it would be necessary in rush conditions to think of some other method of dealing with these problems. Those are practical problems to which, no doubt, those of us who are examining these proposals will have to give our closest attention; but the general argument brought forward, and the particular accusations advanced against the tax, have not been able to shake the decision of the Government that this is an Amendment which they do not find it possible to accept.
It is possible for me, however, to reassure one or two hon. Members as to the effects of this tax in its various aspects. The hon. and gallant Member for the Buckrose division of Yorkshire (Major Braithwaite), speaking for a great football club, asked what was the position of those who had taken season tickets. He said the club sold season tickets in the summer, and that it would be awkward for them if they found taxation laid upon those tickets now. The hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) supported that view. I can reassure them. Season tickets which have been paid for before this tax becomes operative will not be subject to the new tax. That will save confusion in the minds of the clubs. The hon. Member for West-houghton, while remarking that the trade was not enamoured of the tax—no trade is enamoured of any tax—said that it would be unworkable because of the concession to the effect that adults having charge of children would not be charged admission to these entertainments. He said that in my native country of Scotland all adults would be found taking charge of children, and that it would be almost impossible for anybody to determine whether an adult had or had not charge of a child. I think it is one of the easiest things to determine whether an adult has charge of a child or not. It is not a question of deluding some softhearted inspector, because although the population of Scotland may be Scottish the tax gatherers will be Scottish also, and it will be very easy for them to determine whether, in fact, an adult has charge of a child in any given case.
The general proposition which has been brought forward that the cinema has been, on the whole, an elevating influence in our social life is one to which I shall not take exception, although it is not the argument brought forward from all sides of the House when other aspects of our national life are under consideration. The hon. Member for West-hougihton, who has been Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, will remember that the influence of the cinema is often mentioned in the courts and elsewhere as a fertile cause of lawlessness, if not of something worse—of demoralisation—among the junior population. But I do not propose to found my argument for this tax on any social or moral advantage to be derived from keeping people out of cinemas. If we can allow the inhabitants of these islands to vary the ordinary round of existence with a little luxury which is a consolation to them, none of us would wish to stand in the way of their doing so. However, I come back to what I have said before, that to ask £1,000,000 from the cinema industry out of a total of £40,500,000 of new taxation is not unreasonable.
They were taxed en bloc; and, in any case, cinema proprietors, in the interviews they have had with us, have made it clear that the conditions when these taxes were first imposed and the conditions nowadays are quite different. Therefore, it would not be possible to draw any conclusions from the figures, it is true to say that a substantial amount of revenue will be derived from these admissions, but without taking some census of admissions it is impossible to say more. I think I have dealt with all the points raised from various parts of the House. The real accusation has been made by hon. Members like the hon. Member for South Poplar (Mr. March), the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Longbottom), the hon. Member for East Islington (Mrs. Manning), and other hon. Members for divisions where many poor people are congregated together. If it were possible to avoid these new taxes none of us would be more pleased than the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself. The Chancellor was the man who remitted a great block of these taxes when he found himself in a position to do so, and we may be sure that, he will keep these taxes under close scrutiny. That he will keep them in mind against better times is a pledge which, I am sure, he would give to the House. But here and now, in the conditions in which we find ourselves, I would ask the House to let us come to a decision on this Amendment, because it has been fully argued, and I am afraid it is not possible for the Government to alter their view.
Those of us who sit on this side of the House wi11 be greatly disappointed by the observations of the hon. and gallant. Member. He spoke of a total revenue of £1,000,000 for this year, but I gather that is the total that will be raised from the whole of the increases under the Entertainments Duty, and that he realises that the great bulk of that, £1,000,000 must come from entertainments other than those referred to in this Amendment. If he had been able to examine this subject in greater detail than has been possible, apparently, from the lack of information at his disposal, I think it would have been found that the revenue coming from the sources which have been under discussion in connection with this Amendment will be, relatively speaking, a very small sum indeed. While making all allowance for the fact that the times are exceptional, and that therefore exceptional methods have to be adopted, it is greatly to be regretted that this tax should have to be carried to the extent of imposing additional difficulties upon the opportunities of entertainment for the children of this country.
He referred to this subject in terms of its being a luxury or a privilege, but I suggest that recreation and entertainment for the younger part of our population hardly come under those headings. In most large industrial centres, and, indeed, in the small ones, it has become part of the social problem to know how best to provide entertainment for the younger people, in order to prevent them from spending their time in the more or less aimless fashion they do when playing in the streets. In recent years many people have taken steps to get special forms of these entertainments provided for them, at low prices to meet what is a real social need. However much difficulty there may be in regard to other Amendments which may be moved subsequently, a means of adjusting the Entertainments Duty so as to allow of this concession ought to be found.
I do not think that I have ever before listened to a Debate in this House where the speeches in support of an Amendment have shown less party spirit. Many sound and important arguments have been put forward which have indicated that we are dealing with a subject which cannot be limited to mere financial considerations, that it is a matter which definitely affects the social side of the people, and demands better consideration than that which has been given to it by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It may be that my appeal in this respect will meet with the same fate as the appeal which has been made by other speakers on this side of the House, but I emphasise the point that if anything is done which is going to limit the opportunity of our young people participating in entertainment it will have a disastrous effect.
I know it has been suggested that this tax will not be passed on to those who go to the entertainments, and that it will be met by the proprietors, but I know that the class of cinemas which provides entertainments for poor children is one that has great difficulties in making both ends meet. The bigger cinemas, which have a monopoly of the better-class films, will not suffer in the same way as the smaller cinemas. One of the disadvantages of the smaller cinemas has been the difficulty of getting the right class of films to improve their takings, and in almost every case those cinemas have been in the poorer districts. For these reasons it will not be possible for them to bear this extra tax, and it will have to be passed on to the customer. Therefore, I ask the Financial Secretary to give this subject further consideration to see if the sum of money which it is proposed to raise by this tax cannot be obtained in some other way instead of placing it on the shoulders of the children.
I earnestly request the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who represents the same city as I do, to reconsider this matter. The question I wish to put is whether this tax is justifiable. I represent a large city in which there is the greatest poverty, and in many respects shocking housing conditions. There are other large towns in the same position, but they cannot be blamed for that. I remember in 1925 Lord Thankerton stated that, with regard to crime in the case of boys above 21, the statistics showed a constant decrease, but in the case of boys between 14 and 18 years of age there was an increase of crime of a certain kind. There is no doubt, as Lord Thankerton put it, that the real remedy for this was to encourage entertainments and sport. I ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to consider whether he is really effecting a saving by closing cinemas to the younger population and throwing the young people on the streets, a process which will entail the expense of additional police and criminal proceedings.
By excluding these young people from cinema entertainments and other forms of entertainment you must inevitably find that there will be an increase in crime—it is really not crime, but such offences as playing football in the street and obstructing at street corners. That is not crime in the same sense as picking pockets. I have had much experience with prison officials in trying to get these young people out of prison. Very often these young people are not bad at all, and what I fear by the passing of these proposals is that, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer may get his £2,500,000 by the Entertainments Duty, he will find that his proposal has produced increased expenditure in other ways. Surely it is possible to raise the money which the Chancellor of the Exchequer requires in some other way.
In the city of Glasgow the young people run a number of junior football clubs. I am not concerned with organisations like the Chelsea Football Club and the Woolwich Arsenal Football Club. Those clubs do not cause me any deep concern, and to tax their supporters does not raise the same resentment with me as reducing unemployment benefit. It is the junior clubs that concern me most. In Glasgow a considerable amount of money has been spent providing young fellows with parks, but what is the use of providing these parks if the Government come along with a tax of this kind? Only last week a park was opened in my own Division in the city of Glasgow provided by the Playing Fields' Association in order that the young people might enjoy themselves. Now the Government, by proposing this tax, are doing their best to keep the young people out of the parks. I ask the Financial Secretary, who is well aware of the state of things in Glasgow, to consult the police and others in authority in the West of Scotland who have to deal with these young people, and they will demonstrate to him the good effect of healthy sport among these young people. I ask the Government not to do anything that will tend to bring these young people into contact with crime, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree to accept this Amendment.
The Financial Secretary has told us that if it were possible to avoid this tax nobody would be happier than himself, but he says that this imposition is necessary because we are face to face with an emergency and a crisis. My comment upon that is that we must be faced with a very real emergency. Is there no other way of raising this money except that of taxing by 50 per cent. the spending powers of the kiddies belonging to the working classes? It must be a real crisis if it is necessary to tax the kiddies who go to football matches. I think it is possible to avoid doing that. I suppose that it is proposed to raise £2,500,000 by these taxes, and a rough estimate will show that about £1,000,000 will be derived from the portion of the tax which we are proposing to delete. Surely orders from Wall Street have not demanded that we should tax our kiddies 50 per cent.? I know there are some people mean enough to steal candies from a baby. One million pounds out of an £800;000,000 Budget! A national emergency has taken us to the very edge of the precipice, and we are going to prevent ourselves from toppling over into the abyss by taking 50 per cent. from the kiddies of the poorest of the poor. Some people ought to hang their heads in shame. [Interruption.] Well, there are some people without any shame!
We know now what a poor deal we are giving to our kiddies. The first thing that struck me when I came to this country was that the joys of childhood were not possible for the kiddies. There was no place to play in. That is why we welcomed the cinema. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in order to make some sort of apology, said that there were some films that were not too elevating, and that the cinemas were a fertile cause of lawlessness and crime. What has that to do with taxation? If there are undesirable films it is a question for the censor, and not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If there are undesirable films, stop them. There are many desirable films. The cinemas might be just about as valuable an educational factor as the schools. The cinema ought to supplement education in the schools. It is marvellous what we now can get from the cinema. If there are bad cinemas, do not tax them; prohibit them. If the Government proposed to do that, there would be lots of support for them from this side of the House. I do not believe that either children or grownups ought to see some of the cinema shows which are now being exhibited.
The note struck by everybody on the other side of the House is typified by what was said by the hon. Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Mr. Dixey), who told us that he dislikes this taxation intensely, and that our Front Bench enjoy the patent rights of this taxation because they discussed it when they were Members of the last Cabinet. If he dislikes it so much, it, is quite possible for him to vote against it. If he is to be logical, he must not try to get away by blaming our Front Bench. That applies to other hon. Members who say they dislike this tax. They should vote against it. That is their proud privilege, and I would like to see that mood of independence. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is very enthused about the matter. Hon. Members who do not like the Chancellor, do not like any of his works. I would say to each of them: "Courage, courage, brother!" and I would urge them to vote in the right harness. There is nothing to prevent anybody voting against this mean, shabby, small, contemptible tax, invented by very small minds and small people. It is the meanest and most contemptible tax. It is a tax upon happiness—
I agree. I will endeavour not to transgress the rule. I was saying that there is sufficient misery and unhappiness in this country and in the world without the Government making people more miserable and un-
happy. The workers of this country are now walking the roads. There is mighty little joy in their lives. They are being tortured through the sense of insecurity. They do not know what is going to happen to-morrow or the day after to-morrow. Those in work are being worried, and the others are living, metaphorically speaking, in the Garden of Gethsemane. If we could help them to get away from this hell upon earth by means of a little joy in the cinema, we should, and I cannot understand the mental make-up of the person who would deprive them of it and make their lives more miserable than they are. We want people who can make them forget their torture. One good comedian to-day is worth four Prime Ministers. Charles Chaplin is one of the greatest benefactors the world has ever known.
There are women who will be tortured and who will sob their pillows wet, because before them there is nothing but despair. Now we are making it harder for them to enjoy themselves. I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet, but I believe the common people will understand and will not forget, and that when they get an opportunity they will send a message to those who would steal joy from them and would make their trials and tribulations harder. There will be a day of reckoning as soon as people can express themselves. They have had no opportunity of expressing themselves on this situation. There has been no mandate. If the people had a say on it, they would not accept the position at all.
This Motion is not necessary. We have an income of £4,000,000,000, and we are taking £1,000,000 of it in this way. Far better take a little more from Dives than steal the joys of Lazarus. There will be a day of reckoning, and this last thing will be responsible for unrest. The people will understand how mean and contemptible this is, and when they first get the opportunity they will repay.
|Division No, 477.]||AYES.||[7.9 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut,-Colonel||Allen. Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Atkinson, C.|
|Albery, Irving James||Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Aske, Sir Robert||Balfour, George (Hampstead)|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Balniel, Lord||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Millar, J. D.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Gault, Lieut. Col. A. Hamilton||Moore, Lieut-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Berry, Sir George||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Gillett, George M.||Muirhead. A. J.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nail-Cain, A. R. N.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Glassey, A. E.||Newman, Sir H. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Birkett, w. Norman||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G. (Ptsf'ld)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Granville, E.||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Grattan-Doyte, Sir N.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Bracken, B.||Gray, Milner||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Buchan, John||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Butler, R. A.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hammersley, S. S.||Ramesbotham, H.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hanbury, C.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Harbord, A.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Harris, Percy A.||Remer, John R.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hartington, Marquess of||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Haslam, Henry C.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Church, Major A. O.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rosbotham, D. s. T,|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Horne, Rt. Hon., Sir Robert S.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cockerill, Brig-General Sir George||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Ay[...]mer||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey. Farnham)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hurd, Percy A.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hutchison, Ma).-Gen. Sir R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Iveagh, Countess of||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G, D.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Jones, Lleweliyn-, F.||Savery, S. S.|
|Courtauld. Major J. S.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Scott, James|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Kindersley. Major G. M.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Knight, Holford||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlns, C.)|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Dalrymple-White. Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Liewellin, Major J. J.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Steel-Maitland. Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lovat-Fraser. J. A.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Lymington, Viscount||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Dugdale, Capt, T. L.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Walton s. M.)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Train, J.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Maltland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Fielden, E. B.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Markham, S. F.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor|
|Foot, Isaac||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Meller, R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Wayland, Sir William A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Wells, Sydney R.||Withers. Sir John James|
|White, H. G.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||Womersley, W. J.||Captain Margesson and Viscount Elmley.|
|Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Haycock, A. W.||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayday, Arthur||Palmer, E. T.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Hayes, John Henry||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Perry, S. F.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Amnion, Charles George||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Phillips, Dr. Marlon|
|Arnott, John||Her Notts, J.||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hicks, Ernest George||Potts, John S.|
|Ayles, Walter||Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R., Wentworth)||Price, M. P.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Hoffman, P. C.||Raynes, W. R,|
|Barr, James||Horrabin, J. F.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Jenkins, Sir William||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Benson, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ritson, J.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rowson, Guy|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon Charles W.||Kelly, W. T,||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Broad. Francis Alfred||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bromley, J.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Sandham, E.|
|Brooke, W.||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Brothers, M.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Scrymgeour. E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Sexton, Sir James|
|Buchanan, G.||Lawrence, Susan||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Burgess, F. G.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Lawson, John James||Shield, George William|
|Cameron, A. G.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Cape, Thomas||Leach, W.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Shinwell. E.|
|Chater, Daniel||Lee. Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leonard, W,||Simmons, C. J.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sinkinson, George|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Compton, Joseph||Logan, David Gilbert||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Cove, William G.||Longbottom, A. W.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Longden, F.||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H.B.(Keighley)|
|Daggar, George||Lunn, William||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||McElwee, A,||Sorensen, R.|
|Davies. Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, V. L.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Day, Harry||McKinlay, A.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacLaren, Andrew||Sullivan, J.|
|Dukes, C.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Duncan, Charles||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Toole, Joseph|
|Dunnico, H.||McShane, John James||Tout, W. J.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Turner, Sir Ben|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Manning, E. L.||Vaughan, David|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mansfield, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||March, S.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Egan, W. H.||Marley, J.||Walker, J.|
|Freeman, Peter||Marshall, Fred||Watkins, F. C.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Mathers, George||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Maxton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)||Messer, Fred||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gill, T. H.||Middleton, G.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Mills, J. E.||West. F. R.|
|Gould, F.||Milner, Major J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Montague, Frederick||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morley, Ralph||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mort, D. L.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murnin, Hugh||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Wise, E. F.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Young. R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Oldfield. J. R.||Young, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Palin, John Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Charleton and Mr. Thurtle.|
Tenth Resolution read a Second time.
I think that the next two Amendments, standing in the name
of the hon. Member for paisley (Mr. J. Welsh)—to leave out line 7, and insert:
Exceeds 5d. and does not exceed 6d.—One penny,
and, in line 7, at the end, to insert the words:
Exceeds 6d. and does not exceed 7½d—Three halfpence,
might be discussed together. I might remind the House that we have had a pro- longed discussion on another Amendment which to a very large extent deals with the same question, and I hope that that discussion will not be repeated.
Mr. JAMES WELSH (Paisley):
I beg to move, to leave out line 7, and to insert instead thereof the words:
"Exceeds 5d. and does not exceed 6d.—One penny."
In view of your indication, Mr. Speaker, I propose to be very brief in moving this Amendment, and the second Amendment is consequential. I think we are all agreed that an Entertainments Duty should follow a scale that is not difficult for the public to understand and for the trade itself to operate. The popular 6d., which up to the present has been entirely free of tax, is now to be subject to a tax of 1½d., or 25 per cent. on that particular investment. That would involve the raising of the price of admission to 7½d., if the tax is to be passed on to the public. I suggest to the Financial Secretary that the small modification proposed in this Amendment is one which he could quite readily accept, and which would make the duty more workable for the industry and better from every point of view. It may be said that the way out is for the entertainment industry either to cut off the ½d. or to add an additional ½d., but I think that those who know anything about the conditions in the cinema industry and the other entertainment industries will agree that on such figures it would be impossible for nine-tenths of the establishments to be carried on.
I beg to second the Amendment.
The arguments which have been used in relation to the tax upon children who went to football matches or cinemas apply with equal or greater force to this particular tax, because it obviously includes a wider range of people. We oppose the tax because as a party we have always been opposed to the idea of indirect taxation. As a party we believe to-day that, if a national emergency exists, and if a hypothetical sum is to be raised in order to meet this hypothetical emergency, it ought to be raised on the principle of ability to pay; and a direct tax levied according to that ability is, I submit, the fairest way. That, therefore, is one of our main grounds of opposition to this duty. I think that, if there were time to dig up the arguments used by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, the present Secretary of State for the Dominions, and the present Prime Minister, when they were in Opposition, against this tax, we could make some very entertaining quotations which would show how far they have departed from the principles that they used to uphold.
My main objection to this tax is, however, one that will apply in the big industrial areas, namely, that by common consent the May Committee, like the Geddes Committee, are proposing the securing of economies from the taxpayer as a taxpayer, and the putting of the burden on to the ratepayer in the urban areas. Just in proportion to the size of an industrial constituency and the amount of unemployment existing in the area, so the incidence of the rate burden will fall upon the ratepayer as well as upon the shopkeeper, the cinema owner and other members of the community. As I have said, the tendency of every one of these so-called acts of economy is to inflict further and heavier burdens upon the resources of each community. This tax is going to hit the teacher who goes to a cinema, and who, equally, as a ratepayer, will have to pay his proportion of the local costs which are met out of the rates. We shall hear something presently of the soldier and the sailor. If there are any people who can be certain of having to pay this tax doubly every time they go into a cinema, they are the married man, the soldier and the sailor. Very few soldiers or sailors ever go into a cinema alone, and, consequently, out of the very small wages that a soldier or sailor may enjoy from the State, it is certain that they, as well as the married man, will be called upon to pay a double tax every time they enter a cinema. I oppose this tax for that reason, and for the larger reason that in this emergency the cleavage of the burden should be clear-cut and beyond dispute, and should carry with it no imputation of an unbalanced theory with regard to the bearing of such burdens.
The argument in favour of this Amendment is one which was put before the Chancellor of the Exchequer this morning by the deputation of the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association, and it has also been put to me privately by hon. Members in many quarters of the House, including the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Welsh). It certainly seems that his underlying case is a reasonable one, and, if he can show how the revenue can be obtained, or practically the same revenue, in a more convenient manner, we are most anxious to meet the convenience of the trade. The hon. Member will not expect me at this moment to give any further undertaking than that the matter shall certainly be considered, and that I will go into it with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, if we can make any modification along the lines suggested, or along other lines, I shall be very glad to do so. I am sure that the hon. Member will not expect any more of me at this stage. There will be an opportunity for discussing the matter on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "That," to the second word "the" in line 3.
I move this Amendment because I feel that, of all the blunders that the Government have made in their Budget, the re-grading of the allowances is undoubtedly the greatest. The English Income Tax is undoubtedly the most powerful engine of taxation that the world has ever seen. Since it was instituted, 130 years ago, it has been steadily improved, until now, as an instrument of power for raising enormous sums, and an instrument of extreme delicacy in placing the burden upon the taxpayer where that burden should be, it is unequalled in fiscal history. The strength of the Income Tax has always been that it has carried public opinion with it. The delicacy of the machine, and the fact that it is so precise in the burden that it lays upon individual backs, has given it public confidence, and has enabled it to work as powerfully as it has worked.