Beer and Tobacco Taxation.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 30th April 1940.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of prospective taxation of beer and tobacco and increased cost of postage and travelling, he will consider making an increased allowance to the lower ranks in the Army?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

No, Sir. The taxation and other increases quoted, which affect all classes of the community, do not in my opinion afford ground for an increase in the emoluments of the Army.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Is the Minister aware that in fact a large majority of private soldiers, receiving only 7s. per week after they have made an allotment to their wives, will be taxed 20, 30 or 40 per cent. through the incidence of the new taxes and increased expenditure? Under these circumstances will not the Minister recognise that great hardship is imposed on many serving soldiers, and will he not sympathetically consider this problem in the near future?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

These taxes do impose hardship on all classes of the community, but of course they are designed to bear less harshly on the taxpayer than if placed on articles of more vital necessity.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the tax on tobacco and cigarettes bears very heavily on soldiers who receive only 7s. a week after making an allotment to dependants? Is it not possible to arrange for some rationing of duty-free cigarettes at a cheaper cost through the medium of the N.A.A.F.I., who are making huge profits?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

Of course, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, a free issue of cigarettes is made to soldiers on active service?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

As regards the men on home service, is it not possible to make some arrangement that the N.A.A.F.I., in view of the fact that they made £60,000 profit last year, most of which is returned to the regiments, should return some of it in the form of cheaper cigarettes and tobacco?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

I will certainly look into that. I am glad that the hon. Member made it plain that these profits are returned to the Services. The hon. Gentleman will realise that in ordinary cases where articles of this kind are sold below the ordinary price there is an immediate danger arising of their being bought for re-sale and not for consumption by the soldier.

Photo of Sir Mervyn Manningham-Buller Sir Mervyn Manningham-Buller , Northampton

Is it not a fact that all men serving overseas have a free ration of cigarettes every week?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

I have already answered that question. It is when they are on active service in operations of war.