Oral Answers to Questions — Medicine Stamp Duties.

– in the House of Commons on 29th June 1939.

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Photo of Mr James de Rothschild Mr James de Rothschild , Isle of Ely

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations were made to him, previous to the introduction of the Budget, in favour of the repeal of the Medicine Stamp Duties; and by whom, or on behalf of what organisations and interests, such representations were made?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

The Department of Customs and Excise, which is responsible for the administration of this duty, represented to me the extreme difficulties of administering the existing duty and the many anomalies involved. It was with these considerations in mind that I felt that the repeal of the duties was desirable. As regards representations by trade interests, which have been received from time to time, I may mention that the Parliamentary Committee of the Co-operative Congress and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain conveyed to me their views in favour of the repeal of the duty; moreover, the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, after criticising the Select Committee's re-commendations, represented to me that no reasons were advanced in the report, nor were any substantial reasons given in evidence before the Committee, why medicines should be preferred for taxation before many other more obviously suitable commodities and that they could not find in the report any justification for the imposition of a heavy duty upon the products of one particular industry and that an industry concerned with the public health.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

How is the right hon. Gentleman going to carry on during the next 12 months? Does he anticipate a lot of trouble?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

We shall carry on as well as we can, but it still remains true that there is extreme difficulty in the administration of these duties.

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

Is the right hon. Gentleman quite sure that patent medicines are always advantageous to the public health?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

I am not at all sure of that, but I have no means at my disposal to distinguish between one and the other.